Let's make this thread the semi-speculative "what is the long run gambit here" ( https://twitter.com/theoryofcovid/status/1333152612154306561) thread. I guess it's smart to begin with
The point of this thread specifically is to look at long-run ruling class strategy here, rather than to focus on the short run explosion in wealth inequality (quite obvious to all but that certain brand of anarchist who's hooked up to a CNN drip). That will be a separate thread
but, in a sense, it is almost "too easy" to comment on (although I do know people who appear unaware of it and continue to, without irony, refer to the lockdowns as a general strike of workers, so perhaps that thread will be useful to some).
I think it's worth noting two things right from the outset. First, the lockdown idea is relatively new, and it's a W. Bush-era security state policy, at a minimum the result of a direct request by Bush. At least, that's the cover story, and even in itself, it's worth nothing this
because it points up a) the recent origins of this idea and b) that the Bad Ranch Manager himself endorsed it--maybe it would cause more people to think twice? What's more interesting is the ludicrous addition to the cover story mentioned in this @nytimes article, which, though
I'm sure that it mixes in some limited hang-out disinfo (as is inevitable), is very informative. It was allegedly the result of a Sandia Labs scientist daughter's high school science project. You could hardly pick a spookier origin story, and I'm sure that https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/social-distancing-coronavirus.html
part of it is indeed true and truly spooky (the Sandia part), and the almost-certain disinfo that it was a high school science is meant to instill a certain complacency in the reader. It was rubbished at the time (2006) by leading epidemiologists, one of whom is still pretty
active on Twitter ( @JenniferNuzzo). Here's the paper: http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/resources/publications/2006/2006-09-15-diseasemitigationcontrolpandemicflu.html. This is useful to note because much pre-2020 common sense in epidemiology, demography, etc. has been chucked out the window and scrubbed from the internet, but this was a mainstream reply at the time.
Although this website and its most vocal Twitter avatars are very imperfect, and on many issues simply idiotic servants of capital, this article is useful and collects lots of references: https://www.aier.org/article/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/ Anyways, I'll try to return to that at some point, but just a note.
The second key thing to note from the outset is that while in the US, lockdown policies have been considered by almost everyone, pro- and anti-, to be the exclusive intellectual property of the Democratic Party, this is a) logically not true (neither party is the monolithic
representative of capital-in-general, and if the other party truly objected to some policy, a compromise would be made) and b) belied by an important fact: in the UK, the lockdown policy is a) national and b) a Tory policy about which, very notably, the Tories purposefully put up
through, a policy congenial to monopoly capital. That doesn't necessarily mean it's 100 percent wrong--at times in the history of the capitalist mode of production, key social reforms have been passed that are consistent with certain "regimes of accumulation" or "varieties of
capitalism" -- but it's still worth establishing this point. Both the costs of this policy and the evidence that it was not merely tolerated through gritted teeth by the most-far-sighted capitalists but actively hankered after by them will bring this point further later.
Before discussing the comprehensive long-term plan, which I won't get to tonight, I wanted to just note a couple of possibilities. One is a "green crash", i.e., the possibility of a sudden policy-driven demand shock. Contrary to popular belief, capitalists are more evil than they
social democratic governments, it's interesting to note the timing here--shortly after Labour's Ardern won a significant effective-referendum for her extreme covid policy, which appears to have been the accidental beneficiary of some other key covariates (climactic and possible
significant pre-existing immunity due to geographic location), given how poorly all other lockdown countries have fared (thread on that later this month). Anyways, I don't have too much information about this policy, other than that this idea became something of a meme in that
by mentioning it as a worst-case scenario (whereas before this year this was presumably a fringe idea). Interestingly, there's an @instagram account with significant followers (15.4k) by the name of "Climate Lockdown" ( https://www.instagram.com/climatelockdown/?hl=en).
What would the point of this be? Simple, yet another attempt to bring about the total cartelization of capitalism. The rigorous analysis of fascism in Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution (1934) gives an indication of just how old this idea is. Whether or not it can work on the
basis of the capitalist mode of production or requires transition to new laws of motion of social (re)production is a matter of debate. My position is simple: no, it cannot, for the reasons laid out in Lenin's Imperialism.
specialists to be over-used ( https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ventilators-covid-overuse-1.5534097) and Swedish outcomes perhaps look so good in part because of their judicious use of them https://twitter.com/boriquagato/status/1253491004868444160. @cameronks also clearly understood this very early on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=k9GYTc53r2o It's possible that the ventilator
frenzy, and the idea that they simply COULD NOT be produced in the short run by one of the most advanced productive apparatuses in world history, was partially an experiment in mass psychological conditioning (though this explanation is a bit too neat).
Note to expand on later: vaccines as tool whose primary purpose is control of the mobility of labor-power / internal passport system (basically, what were termed "pass laws" in apartheid-South Africa).
Pass laws https://twitter.com/grantshapps/status/1334543848333332482
Hosea Jaffe on the centrality of the reserve system and internal controls on the free mobility of labor to South African capitalism (Pyramid of Nations, 1980).
A nice "lit crit" type of analysis here. It's notable how well this reverse psychology approach works on people. You could cast anything as a hyper-schematic class issue and some fake lefts would fall for it. "Rich mothers got thalidomide first!" etc. https://twitter.com/KenMcCarthy/status/1334663139527438338
E.g. here. I don't have any personal animus against either person, nor do I mean to "dunk" on them. But it's striking that the first tweet (correctly) recognizes that if this kind of bribery is necessary to overcome mass skepticism about the vaccine (pronounced among nurses, as
noted here: https://twitter.com/nayRheTrenoL/status/1334321984491155456), there's something fishy going on ... and yet the replies still mechanically repeat the "vaccine inequality" ( https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/11/12/vaccine-inequality-fuels-suspicion-and-division/) line, to the approval of the original poster, apparently unaware of the contradiction.
The rich don't want the vaccine, just like how they recognized that their own kids benefit from limited use of the technologies whose sale is fueling a new stratum of parvenus -- and how they all realized that their kids were at absolutely zero risk of in-school learning.
A critical text: https://twitter.com/shahnahan/status/1101937615211843586
Same reverse psychology gambit -- this is free advertising for Pfizer. If one proceeds to the article, the only thing that's certain is that a community bank lobbying group asked that its tellers be jabbed, and there's only vague speculation that because https://twitter.com/as_a_worker/status/1334999784206299143
"essential workers...are recommended to stand second in line", that perhaps executives, too, could be given the vaccine earlier than some others. It's a guess; what's certain is that lots of rich people are demanding that lots of poor people have their mobility restricted by a
willingness to take a drug made by one of the evilest firms on the planet.
The opening act of "Krusty Gets Kancelled" (Simpsons S3E22) is a hilarious satire of how this works, where forms of softball critique of a hyper-marketed product can still function as advertising, and the vendor might even deliberately stoke this "debate".
Gabbo's infuriating marketing blitz includes no information about what "Gabbo" even is, which angers most of Springfield ... but not enough to cause them to be any less fixated on finding out, or to stop them, as in Homer's case, from resignedly, pre-emptively worshipping Gabbo.
(As N. Rabin points out here, the satire is great in part b/c Gabbo is, though a smash success with Springfield, a clear flop for the real audience, a distinctly boring, archaic art-form: it's a state-of-art marketing campaign for a friggin one-man ventriloquist act in the 90s).
By the way, I don’t have a general theory of vaccines. I do think that they are overrated as public health measures; mortality burden isn’t everything (we have to consider morbidity burden), but unless this figure is based on faked data, the massive reduction in, say, measles
mortality before a vaccine totally upended my own (offhand, unscientific) belief that measles was only getting more and more lethal before a vaccine finally interceded.
That said, I wouldn't argue that vaccination is necessarily, eg, some kind of mind control device; some public health regulations in the CMP are, if not class-neutral, at least partially beneficial to workers. I think past vaccination efforts can be parsimoniously explained as an
attempt to manage public health problems, which could at some point threaten total social reproduction, in a distinctively capital-friendly manner (abstractly level, it's a "technical", not social, solution; concretely, it gives a small handful of private firms who benefit from
public research the ability to sell at monopolistic prices, which, apart from abstract considerations about capitalism qua system, creates an incentive for all actors involved to maintain this--the firms, the public health officials who get kickbacks, etc.). The actual effect on
public health might be net positive regardless, at least as compared to no vaccine and no alternative public health measures, although again, it's striking how vastly the effect of vaccines at the margin has been.
What seems new is an explicit attempt to 1) make every part of "normal life" conditional on vaccination,* and an experimental, poorly-tested one at that and 2) link vaccine status with an general digital ID that includes overall health status information. https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-britain-vaccines-idUSKBN28A24R
What's the endgame? I would argue control over the mobility of labor-power. In general, people think too statically about capitalism and migration. Capital has neither an interest in completely closed borders (billionaires who fund such campaigns are ideologues who in practice
still use and require migrant labor) nor an interest in completely open borders (again, some ideologues might say this, but no billionaire in practice wants migrants who can't work and aren't themselves capitalists). Migration does not affect the wages of domestic-born workers in
the long-run (see below), but migrants are often in a position that allows them less resistance to jobs at the bottom of a segmented labor market. But such workers may be cheaper sources of labor-power in the short-run and, more importantly, might be the main labor supply for
particularly bad lines of work. This kind of segmented, semi-liquid labor market is extremely functional for capital, and in capitalist regimes where formal-legal democracy has not taken hold (e.g. Jim Crow US, Palestine, Apartheid South Africa), such a system is usually an overt
and stated goal of migration policy (e.g. in the US, sundown towns and redlining are to some extent "bottom up" forms of racism but they also represent ways to keep a desired flow of migration under control). Anyways, overall health IDs would simply represent an augmentation of
the ability of the capitalist state to ensure such controls over labor flows.
vaccination status outside of a formal medical examination, and for all anyone in my adult life knows, I could be one of the people who received an exemption. This would be a major change.
More on conditioning. This account looks a little dodgy, but I checked out the WEF article ( https://archive.vn/ooPfk ), where this figure does appear. Very interestingly, the author just reproduces it with zero commentary, as if that'd be a bridge too far. https://twitter.com/5Agenda21/status/1339851811243646976
The apparent point of the graphic in context is that even a mass house arrest policy that used lockdown in a targeted way (setting aside that they likely just don't work in virtually all settings), would have failed to induce long-term behavioral shift b/c they still felt alien.
Even the most benign interpretation of what happened this year has to reckon with this fact: people intoning gravely about "the new normal" are clearly engaged in mass psychological conditioning. People can believe it was done because politicians have a rational expectation that
future pandemics will be worse and that public officials primarily act to secure the public weal to an extent that even Robert Dahl would have thought too pollyannaish. It still remains true that one purpose of this was normalizing things that most people find nearly intolerable.
Anyways, that explicit motive in itself is worth very close attention (by the way, here's a jailbroken version of that shocking story from Belgium above where the health minister himself says that closures of some firms was *purely* to scare people: https://archive.vn/NAq52 )
Speaking of Dahl, the classic critique from Bill Domhoff: "Who Really Ruled in Dahl's New Haven?:. (Dahl basically recanted later on). https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/local/new_haven.html (archive: https://archive.vn/vzHl5 ). OK, that's all for today, folks!
Many unions have historically opposed forced vaccination: Teamsters https://twitter.com/mindgomes/status/1340706593650987010 and @NationalNurses, to pick just two https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/largest-national-nurses-union-opposes-mandatory-flu-vaccination-condition-employment
COVID as means of strengthening control over migration https://twitter.com/Peasantariatism/status/1340756861436321792
This guy is a rightist, but I'm glad that a bona fide journalist also remembered the ventilator thing before the splash today in the WSJ ( https://twitter.com/WSJ/status/1340809276906991623 / https://archive.vn/T7d94 : legacy media finally admits that mad scramble for them was wrong): https://jordanschachtel.substack.com/p/first-choice-how-china-and-the-who
I don't buy his explanation of how this happened, but there's certainly something "inorganic" about how the general public was whipped up into a frenzy for a medical treatment that ultimately turned out to be disastrously harmful.
More on the conditioning angle: to some extent, this seems to be an experiment in just how much stuff they can memory hole. Every single pet example of how lockdowns/masks work outside the Pacific Rim ends in catastrophe. https://twitter.com/ianmSC/status/1341079323055251457
(Or, at least, large numbers of "confirmed" covid deaths. Maybe Slovakia has no excess total death. Unfortunately, that's a reasonable metric that bourgeois media inexplicably decided was fascist and not progressive demography 101 so they don't get to use it. Live by the sword!).
I didn’t even consider this point. But it’s a good one. If the vaccine primarily mitigates symptoms, these pass laws don’t even make sense. The vaccine is truly something in that case you ought to take ostensibly for your own benefit. https://twitter.com/TheRealTMCM/status/1343969702331072512
Some further information on pre-2020 public health guidance on pandemics (I'm not endorsing these or saying "the WHO was a paragon of uncorrupted science before this year, just pointing out the discrepancy). https://twitter.com/PhilWMagness/status/1346855864796389377
Another one ^ https://twitter.com/PhilWMagness/status/1346690847350415360
Another one ^ https://twitter.com/PhilWMagness/status/1346831769258090501
I haven't done a thread on evidence that lockdowns are intended to be permanent. It seems pretty clear from available evidence that rolling semi-lockdowns are our new normal.

"We probably have another six to nine or twelve months of this ahead of us”. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55569760
Even by their advocates' own logic, lockdowns should be of middling efficacy once a virus is endemic. Even worse, all of this is premised on the idea that the disaster countries have not already tried timely and severe lockdowns, which is total bullshit. https://twitter.com/theoryofcovid/status/1345840701842595840
Good thread https://twitter.com/korcounterprop/status/1353013740602441735
You can follow @theoryofcovid.
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