For a chronological reflection, starting from the present and working backwards, of aspects of the Covid1984 permanent crisis see this
Scroll down to “ADDED 30/12/20” for my response to various crap on libcom distorting most of what I’ve said .
A response to this.
A pathetic crap article, yet another Covidiocy, typical of leftism, even in its “libertarian” forms, which has totally failed to get to grips with the misery of state and capitalist impositions of social control with the pretext of the virus. It’s a reactive article almost as reactionary as the rubbish spewed out by the racist and nationalist millionaire rock stars it condemns.
For example, recent scientific research has shown that masks worn outside are utterly ineffective (see this: https://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/le-masque-en-exterieur-est-il-un-moyen-de-lutte-efficace-contre-l-epidemie-20201211), but because these 2 arseholes, Clapton and Van Morrison, oppose masks this text feels the need to support them, even though they’re not only unnecessary outdoors but intensify dominant separation and the alienation of the streets, and are even unhealthy because you breathe in your own bacteria.
It counterposes “expertise, experience and data from healthcare professionals, epidemiologists, etc.” to conspiracy theories and reactionary talking points, as if the “expertise, experience and data from healthcare professionals, epidemiologists, etc. “ wasn’t itself contradictory and in any case open to questioning regardless of their differences. In Science We Trust. Nowhere is there a critique of dominant science, as if to suggest, let alone embark on, such a thing would put you in the same camp as Trump and religious anti-Darwinism. The perspective of the realisation and suppression of science is beyond this Leftist ideologue. The notion of using aspects of evidence-based science against a blanket submissive respect for “Science” with a capital S is a no-go area for people lacking in all curiosity, research and adventure outside of habitually trodden paths. Denunciation of “conspiracy theories” has now become a knee-jerk reaction to anything that dares to question the connection between scientific “experts”, state and capital, the interaction of capitalist interests.
Comrade Motopu’s criticism (one could hardly call it critique) succumbs to the false choice of pro-lockdown against the anti-lockdown positions and of anti-mask v. pro-mask. It even ends up with an uncritical pro-vaccination position. As if the constant vaccinations that will be necessary at least every 6 months because the mutations and variations of the virus will necessitate constant changes in the vaccine (a vaccination available after just 6 or 7 months’ research, when 10 years is the more usual time necessary for a safe vaccine) is the cavalry come to save us all from this shit and not something that will greatly contribute to weakening the body politic, helping to reduce resistance, both internal and external. Nowhere does this leftism point out that it will only be an informed social movement which could begin to confront the ever-tightening interaction between the state, the pharmaceutical companies, the manipulative scientists and other “experts” and the totality of pro and anti ideologies that colonise people like Comrade Motopu and the totalitarianism of present and future developments. No – until the magic wand of a vaccine, it’s “paying people to stay home” (as if various states haven’t done this, admittedly at reduced wages, though some leftists have described these as “socialist” measures) . Why has the state done this? Because going out and socialising doesn’t only mean going out to pay absorbitant wads of cash to listen to rock star millionaires in a claustrophobic atmosphere repeating the same old tunes we long ago got bored with. It also means being able to do things the state does not want us to do – discuss, organise , demonstrate, strike and occupy together. But Comrade Motopu wants us to rely on “the federal institutions … best placed to protect people and mobilize effective measures to fight the spread of the plague”.
When you take the opposite point of view of the Right you end up utterly defined by them and can’t assert a single independent point of view that recognises that “in a world that is upside down the true is a moment of the false” and the false is a moment of the true. In the current climate, the Right are the prime recuperators of anger, with the Left demanding things some states are imposing with a vengeance. At the beginning of this crisis one could maybe forgive that but 9 months later it’s just an expression of acute laziness, of a total absence of critical vigilance, of submission to classic either/or Manichean choices.
Amongst those who define themselves as class struggle libertarians it’s become de rigeur to proclaim the need for a total one-size-fits-all lockdown regardless of specific situations. Daring to question the contradictions and miseries that such a “solution” imposes runs head on into a circle-the-wagons-mentality of everyone self-righteously denouncing you simplistically as an inconsiderate individualist right-wing arsehole that most people in this milieu can’t even begin to unravel, let alone express, their doubts, fearful of becoming a target of strawman arguments that will be too wearing to confront. And yet remaining silent about such doubts just reinforces the whole sense of impotence in the face of this relentless tangled onslaught of false choices.
The above was posted to libcom by Nymphalis Antiopa who often contributes to Dialectical Delinquents. The following is my response to the responses on libcom.
Comrade Motopu gives a good example of what I said above: “When you take the opposite point of view of the Right you end up utterly defined by them and can’t assert a single independent point of view…”. S/he writes that Le Figaro is “far right”. It’s not – it’s mainstream right, though admittedly yesterday’s far right is now mainstream. But it’s always been standard mainstream right, but hardly worse than mainstream liberal/left-wing media. For example, France’s “Liberation” and “Le Monde” supported the 1991 Gulf war, the UK’s Guardian and the US’s New York Times mostly supported it also, along with supporting the Kosovo war of 1999. Does that automatically negate everything else they say? Does the fact that the link I put to the site about Pfizer is to a Corbynite site negate the value of what the ex-soldier says about Pfizer? Likewise, even if Le Figaro were nazis that wouldn’t in itself negate what it says. Hitler’s scientists did research showing the link between smoking cigarettes and cancer, some 10 years or more before the American Cancer Society and thousands of US doctors and scientists reversed their previous notion that smoking was fine. If CM’s stupid reactive logic were consistent, s/he’d be recommending smoking along with all those pre-1953 American scientists and doctors. Even our worst enemies sometimes get it right. For example, the other day Marine Le Pen said the sky was blue.
Re. R.Totale’s post, whilst some of it’s pertinent, the notion that masks protect you from CCTV cameras is not necessarily correct. Apparently even those wearing surgical masks can be identified by the latest in Facial Recognition Cameras ( https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-facial-recognition/even-mask-wearers-can-be-idd-china-facial-recognition-firm-says-idUSKBN20W0WL )
“A Chinese company says it has developed the country’s first facial recognition technology that can identify people when they are wearing a mask, as most are these days because of the coronavirus, and help in the fight against the disease.” The head of the company that has developed this has said, “When wearing a mask, the recognition rate can reach about 95%, which can ensure that most people can be identified”. Sure, the state wants to present itself as all-seeing and all-powerful in order to reinforce our sense of impotence and the phrase “can reach about 95%” already implies that there’s likely to be an element of hype in all this, but that remains to be seen (or, hopefully, not seen). But there’s no reason to be complacent. Iris recognition is the new future. But maybe sunglasses are a protection.
Moreover when he refers to those for whom “mask-wearing frees them of social expectations from the nose down at least” that at least is a choice, but masks have been made compulsory – even in areas where before they were compulsory there were no severe cases of Covid. Making them legally compulsory, with often a heavy fine for those who don’t conform to this irrationality, is as bad as forbidding foulards (Muslim scarves) for women
However, when I wrote that masks “intensify dominant separation and the alienation of the streets” I meant that you can’t even see people’s smiles or frowns, that you can’t make funny faces at kids, that it reinforces people being trapped in their heads. This doesn’t matter to those who are already constantly stuck in their heads listening to something on their headphones or glued to the screen on their smartphone but for those who find some consolation in even the most superficial of non-virtual human contact, it just adds to the weariness of daily life. In addition, you constantly have to raise your voice to a strained level that doesn’t come naturally or repeat yourself because you haven’t been heard from behind the mask. This in addition to all those people who have no power finding that their masters have suddenly given them a crumb of hierarchical power because now even the lowest of the low can tick someone off for not having covered their nose in the supermarket or library or wherever. All of which gives daily alienation an extra dose of wear-and-tear, intensifying irritability, adding to a sense of despair with humanity.
Re. Red Marriott’s quote – “A global team of public health experts at Learnaboutcovid19 also told Reuters there was “no evidence” to suggest face masks can increase the chance of developing pneumonia, “or any other bacterial, fungal or viral infection in the lungs”. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-pneumonia/fact-check-people-… “ Well, maybe. But others have said the opposite: https://perma.cc/V2UH-DZT3?type=image
“The masks on the market do nothing to protect people from the virus. They’re not sterile, unlike the ones you find in hospitals and you shouldn’t wear one for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, otherwise they are transformed into incubators for bacteria. And even worse are the masks made out of material, which are veritable collectors of bacteria because they’re porous.” – Antoine Khoury, microbiologist
There’s also this:
“To give just two examples, the famous long-suspended Danish study has finally been published with the conclusions one might expect: wearing a mask in the general population does not prevent contamination by Covid. The authors have accepted some political contortions in their conclusion, but the fact remains: this measure, which no pandemic plan had ever considered, so absurd that it is, has no justification in terms of the cost / benefit balance and would therefore never have had to be imposed. Another study has just been published in Nature which concludes (based on research carried out in Wuhan) that asymptomatic people are largely not otherwise infectious. “Compared to symptomatic patients, asymptomatic infected individuals generally have a low amount of viral loads and a short duration of viral shedding, which decreases the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 5. In the present study, the culture virus was performed on specimens from asymptomatic positive cases, and found no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus. All close contacts of asymptomatic positive cases tested negative, indicating that asymptomatic positive cases detected in this study were unlikely to be infectious. There were no positive tests among 1,174 close contacts of asymptomatic cases.”
The only possible use of a mask is for symptomatic people only during the time they are symptomatic. It’s highly probable (since in science it’s always a question of working with hypotheses, it’s advisable to remain cautious) that everything that has been imposed on us for months – with the force of propaganda – has had no real use, with monstrous costs for individuals and for community.
Besides, Covid can enter the eyes and be conveyed by touch, so maybe everyone should be compelled to wear goggles and gloves, and then Leftists like Comrade Motopu would probably be thankful that “the federal institutions … best placed to protect people and mobilize effective measures to fight the spread of the plague” were at long last allowed to do their job.
I see 3 very general categories of responses to the various “experts” who we are somehow forced to partly rely on if only to get some vague idea about what’s what.
First category is probably the most prevalent, which is that of Greta Thunberg, who said “We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science. This of course goes for all crises.” This is a kind of “Who am I to decide if this or that is true or not?” attitude, the self-effacing avoidance of all striving for autonomy on the part of those who submit to dominant society even if they don’t necessarily seem to respect it or aspects of it.
Yet, given the enormous contradictory “facts” spewed out by scientists and other experts, a second stance is almost as common – each individual, regardless of the precise extent of their precise knowledge, is forced back onto their own opinion, in much the same way as if what you accept and don’t accept amongst all the questions thrown up by this permanent crisis is just a matter of taste. In other words, people are cherry-picking information that confirms their previously held opinions, leaving understanding down to a purely arbitrary question of subjective choice or to your own prejudices. Almost invariably people will find some “scientific fact” to provide ‘objective’ proof for these tastes and prejudices.
But there’s also a third attitude, a more honest one – acceptance of your own confusion whilst submitting to the politics behind this confusion, justified in terms of an inability to decide which ideas are valid because you can’t check all the other positions/angles/facts. But this is another expression of resignation.
Whether it be those who accept the apparent objectivity of science, those who resort to a purely subjective selection of 57 varieties of facts dependent on whom they happen to read on the internet, or those who more honestly admit to resigning themselves to the chaos and confusion imposed by dominant society, the imposed madness which seems to be an essential part of of its principle political strategy – all of them seem to have, at best, only one aim – to make themselves and others as healthy as they think they were before this crisis, health being defined narrowly as being protected against the virus. This conservative aim, which is anyway an impossible dream and a nostalgic falsification of the misery of pre-Covid times, thus wants desperately to believe in the saviour of a vaccine (or, more rationally, but less common in Western societies, other more tried and trusted immune-boosting methods).
Those who want to contribute to the revolutionary destruction of a society hell-bent on destroying all sense and the vast majority of human beings potentially able to destroy this senseless society, will have to pit themselves against these false choices. As part of this they will need to unravel aspects of the medical science surrounding Covid with the aim of subverting dominant discourse, past, present and future. Accepting science without filtering it through critical vigilance means acquiescence to developments that’ll be even worse than, though very different from, the Industrial Revolution was for the peasantry. Selection of facts is inevitable, but selection that achieves progress towards clarity has to look at contradictory ‘facts’ as well as strive to unravel the reasons for these contradictions rather than be based on notions of objectivity or prejudiced taste or fatalistic resignation to confusion. Questioning everything is a major aspect of the struggle to free oneself of received ideas, unconscious taste, and the fog of contradictory information. It’s a major aspect of breaking with excessive reliance on experts and science as well as the domination of the past over the present, a major aspect of developing a genuine health – the health of an attack on the totality of unhealthy conditions.
ADDED 30/12/20 (slightly modified 31/12):
This is my response to the latest distortions from libcom:
Nymphalis Antiopa on Libcom, in response to a mixture of quotes from me and things he said himself, got this reply from Red Marriot (RM):
“having co-ordinated a global conspiracy to securely falsify the scientific evidence; with all their resources they’ve used that to – MAKE US WEAR MASKS WHEN WE GO SHOPPING AND FOR MANY TO NOT WORK. If that’s all they have in their repressive arsenal we have little to worry about.”
In fact what I wrote, which NA quoted, doesn’t say anything of the sort – it says “For example, recent scientific research has shown that masks worn outside are utterly ineffective (see this: https://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/le-masque-en-exterieur-est-il-un-moyen-de-lutte-efficace-contre-l-epidemie-20201211), but because these 2 arseholes, Clapton and Van Morrison, oppose masks this text feels the need to support them, even though they’re not only unnecessary outdoors but intensify dominant separation and the alienation of the streets, and are even unhealthy because you breathe in your own bacteria.”
I emphasise OUTSIDE – therefore not a reference to wearing them in shops or for whatever he means by “AND FOR MANY TO NOT WORK“. So almost all the rest of the discussion about masks is irrelevant to what I (and NA) have said. Now I may have got it wrong and perhaps been over-reactive to dominant discourse and state-imposed restrictions, as research has been contradictory, but there’s nothing in what I’ve said that says there’s a conspiracy. Far easier to have a pseudo-riposte to a caricature, a strawman, a jokey parody of someone’s position to make readers smile and warm to you than with what someone in fact says. Crude demagogy – gets all those upped votes from the libcommers eager to be manipulated by some politico because that’s what so many of them are used to doing themselves that they’re blind to it from others except when it’s directed at them.
RM virtually never concedes anything – regarding such concessions as weakness. Accepting anything from someone he dislikes would burst his ego. So, regardless of the accuracy of his “critiques” he invariably digs his heels in, whilst indulging in head-banging arguments that falsify those with whom he argues with. A politician mentality without any desire for state power but clearly with a desire to maintain his “theoretician”-type credibility on libcom, where he gets up votes for his gross distortions of someone who’s publicly an enemy of libcom. The recognition that RM has misrepresented what I have said is ignored because almost no-one on libcom likes me, and in dominant social relations what you accept from someone is unfortunately directly related to whether you like them or not, ignoring the fact that affection or repulsion or their absence are also subject to the contradictions of this world.
The bacteria thing was a side issue mentioned because there’s anecdotal evidence from where I live (South West France) that people have had increased coughs and sneezes without it being diagnosed as Covid. Not important really and RM may even be right. But…
In France, Spain and Israel (and other countries) wearing masks outside is compulsory. In France since the end of July, though not everywhere. The amount of deaths in the 5 months since August, when it became compulsory almost everywhere, is considerably greater than the period before when it wasn’t compulsory. In my small town (pop. 6000) up until the imposition of compulsory mask-wearing, non-compliance with which can get you fined 130 euros, there was not one single severe case of Covid. Not exactly a study that conforms to “scientific protocol” but it should make people question things a bit more than RM’s convenient and opportunist reliance on “consensus” (see earlier posts by him), as if he conforms to the consensus on almost any other subject.
In fact, despite RM’s and others recourse to “the consensus”, there is no consensus on the efficacy of masks (moreover consensus itself is being manipulated by state repression – and not just in China.; in France, doctors are fearful of disagreeing with the consensus because of various sackings and the threat of a trial against the most well-known of the dissidents – Didier Raoult). The Danish study – https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-6817 – is usually seen as inconclusive, though it says, amongst all the mathematical calculations, that wearing them outside is useless. It emphasises the uselessness of surgical masks outside, but other studies have said surgical masks are better than cloth masks. It does not demonstrate the uselessness of the mask when it comes to a sick person who is in prolonged contact with others in a confined environment, which is obvious. Other reports say that they’re not useful:
– which is then apparently debunked by this: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343263629_A_Complete_Debunking_of_Denis_Rancourt%27s_Mask_Don%27t_Work
But these are interesting:
While the measures taken in Belgium making it compulsory to wear a mask in many public places seem to go without saying for some, many doubts remain as to their real effectiveness. At Kairos, we are in contact with doctors who have opinions contrasting with the official voice. We relay their analyzes and concerns.
The mask saga has kept us busy all spring and continues to do so. Tragicomic or shameful depending on the reading that each citizen was kind enough to give it. Useless to compulsory in all places and all circumstances, the reversal of politicians’ jackets has been well known to us since Jacques Dutronc’s song. The inconstancy of those we call experts is, on the other hand, a new phenomenon which surprises and is obviously likely to encourage politicians to vary their messages over time and to destabilize citizens who, more often than not, come down to following their judgment. own or that of his next door neighbor. Can this versatility in the scientific world be explained? To issue a scientific opinion on the risk-benefit of a medical intervention, whether it is a drug, a medical device (prostheses, pace-maker, implant, etc.) or a preventive gesture, requires a structured approach: appointment of experts, evaluation procedure and consensus opinion. Are these 3 essential elements met in the case of wearing a mask as an element in the fight against Covid-19?
Procedures and conflicts of interest? Move along, there’s nothing to see !
The Prime Minister formed her group of experts on April 6, called the GEES [the group of experts preparing Belgium’s exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown] on the basis of a deep belief in collective intelligence. Contrary to what one might think, it is not only a question of scientists since we also find Johnny Thijs, director of companies such as Electrabel and Pierre Wunsch, governor of the National Bank of Belgium and a long-time Reyndersian. A mixed composition cleverly designed to qualify the opinions of scientific experts. The Prime Minister’s website also says nothing about the procedure for appointing this group or any conflicts of interest of its members, which does not bode well in terms of transparency. One of the missions of the GEES is to “provide analyzes and recommendations”. This therefore implies a description of the evaluation procedures used as each time this type of work is carried out within, for example, scientific societies or the drug reimbursement commission. Here again, the Première’s site is silent.
Let us come to the masks and the successive recommendations. On January 28, the Soir-titre: “wearing a mask is useless and ineffective according to the Belgian health authorities”. Marc Van Ranst, future member of the GEES and Steven Van Gucht, spokesperson for the government express that “it is useless and is even potentially dangerous”. On April 5, the day before the constitution of the GEES, the Minister of Health Maggie De Block communicated that “wearing a mask scientifically does not make sense”. Other scientists will gradually argue against his positions. On April 24, the GEES issues a strategic report for the deconfinement. Wearing a mask is strongly recommended in public spaces from the age of 12, but not yet compulsory. The scientific basis for this recommendation is not disclosed. At the end of April, Erika Vlieghe, who chairs the GEES, says in the Morgen that “the mask is a layer of varnish”. Finally, on July 17, a new report recommends wearing masks even indoors when spaces bring many people together for extended periods of time and social distancing cannot be respected. This new report tells us that could last until after winter, with the arrival of a vaccine.
It does not seem that opinions are necessarily unanimous or the subject of a consensus within the GEES, which is not surprising given its composition. Is there a scientific basis for these changes in opinion? Traditionally, for decades, we have relied on making scientific recommendations on what is called evidence-based medicine. The highest level of evidence which allows a strong level of recommendation is obtained by obtaining multiple studies of high methodological quality comparing an option A to an option B and which allows the recommendation that a treatment or a procedure is beneficial, useful and efficient, this which means that it presents a favorable cost-benefit. The lowest level of evidence is obtained on the basis of expert opinion or small, non-comparative studies.
What about wearing the generalized mask in a Covid-19 situation and what justifies the change in position of the GEES? On March 3, the Cochrane research group, the pope of evidence-based medicine, a non-profit association of 28,000 scientists in more than 100 countries, published that “if certain gestures such as washing your hands or wearing gloves or a mask can perhaps reducing the spread of respiratory viruses the evidence is very low ”. Another systematic study published this year by Marasinghe of the University of Waterloo in Canada also concludes that there is no evidence of the benefit of compulsory mask wearing. Since then, only a German publication using a model comparing several regions where the compulsory wearing of the mask has been introduced goes in a different direction, but here again the level of evidence is insufficient.
What should we conclude from this?
1. There is no sufficiently established scientific argument today to impose the wearing of a mask on the entire population.
2. Recommendations issued to the public by a group of experts must be justified by proven and strong scientific evidence. This is not the case with the GEES.
3. These recommendations must be transparent and the evidence on which they are based must be accessible to all. In their absence, the recommendations are likely to confuse the population, inducing rebellious behavior linked to a strong loss of confidence. The risk of accelerated spread of the virus is significant. There is also a great risk of seeing scientists who are not part of the GEES express divergent opinions in the media, further accentuating the public’s unease. This is what is happening today.
4. The current strategic option goes totally against the evolution of modern medicine: the concept of “one size fits all” is completely outdated. Different recommendations must be given to subgroups of society: health professionals, frail people, asymptomatic carriers and relatives of infected patients.
5. Experts need to provide a precise risk-benefit analysis of the systematic wearing of the mask for each of these groups.
6. The opinions issued must be in consultation with neighboring countries in view of the easy access to the media of these countries by citizens. A cacophony of recommendations also has an extremely detrimental effect on compliance with them. This is what we can observe with France in particular.
7. Finally, we may be surprised that no study has been initiated at European level on the usefulness of wearing a mask in view of the lack of scientific evidence and the particularly high cost of this strategy. The virulent criticism of Professor Raoult’s essays, imperfect though they were, contrasts sharply with a strategy based on the scientific vacuum with regard to the wearing of the mask. It is far from certain that such a study would come out positive, but at least we would be fixed. As if we already considered that only a vaccine can save us all and that it is necessary to maintain the anxiety of the wider population in order to guarantee mass vaccination of the carpet bombing type, in view of the colossal investments to which the European community has largely contributed.
– Cardiologist, anonymous
and this from the same site:
“The mask: a great opportunity to argue, to divide us, and to leave the field even more open to the power of experts and States. Because while some talk about health, others think about politics. Basically, is it so incompatible?
It would be easy to begin this article with the beautiful “inversion of the genitive” which has so much more to Marx and Engels: from the philosophy of misery to the misery of philosophy, and so on, to the Situationists who have used it. to satiety. However, if the policy of the mask is indeed a way of masking politics, it is not just any policy that masks the mask, but a specific policy. Unveiling what, in our opinion, wears the mask and which is hidden behind can only have the first consequence of separating us from a few comrades who will wear, or not, the mask, and will have, on the mask again and again, a practical position. different from ours.
This is the first success of the mask policy: far from being primarily a health barrier, it is above all a subject of discussion, and even better (for the authorities): of disputes. And these disputes, in the climate of chaos and inconsistencies and fears that is that of this year 2020 – and which is likely to intensify even further in the future since it has been at least half a century since the Fear is the basis of politics – of these disputes, therefore, it is very likely that discordances will appear such that they will amplify to divisions or even schism.
Therein lies the master stroke: if some think that the health policy of social distancing is so crucial that it must transcend the divisions between us to somehow reconstitute a human species fighting all in concert for its own preservation, and this even if the price to pay is called precisely social distancing – and in reality the rupture of a number of social ties -, then we can without much risk prophesy that those who will think “on the margins” and will not believe in the virtues of the mask as a tool of reconstruction of humanity will find themselves even more on the margins: stigmatized as enemies. Not class enemies, because it has been a long time since the recomposition of the (proletarian) class was abandoned by its very singers. The stigmatized-marginalized will be referred to simply as enemies of mankind. Even life.
In the politics of the mask, we see above all the mask of a certain policy, that which brandishes health fear, which creates fear through inconsistency, and therefore a real politics of fear. It is of course the fear of health that justifies the measures, but it is easy to show that the health policy itself is inconsistent. We wear a mask, and we have to wear it in some closed places, but some closed places are more prone to virus exchange than others. Trains, for example, usually group together travelers who share a route or a portion of a route, but before arriving at the station of departure? and after exiting the arrival station? These travelers may be carriers of viruses from afar, or take viruses contracted on the train with them when they get off the train, far from their place of origin. However, and to limit the commercial abyss of the railways in 2020, travelers are not subjected, on the trains, to measures of social distancing as rigorous as in other places which are sometimes less closed. Everyone will be able to complete the list of inconsistencies at their leisure, and possibly be satisfied with a basic banality: even if the mask is not used very much, this is never a reason not to do everything possible where we can in the goal of avoiding spreading the epidemic. Certainly, but this is where the bottom line of the mask policy comes into play: it only aims to increase the level of fear even further, at a time when the epidemic itself seems to be stalling, at least in Europe. It is not the mask itself that increases the level of fear, since it would, conversely, calm some people; what is scary is to see, all around us, all these masked people, while our imagination, and even our simple condition of living beings, invites us from eternity not to mask ourselves. If carnival offers us this possibility, it is precisely because carnival is a reversal of the usual order of norms. Could it be that the standards of our society are being overthrown? Especially not: the power of experts remains very strong, and that of States does not waver …
But if the mask is first of all the mask of a policy, the question is necessarily: was the mask imposed for health reasons, or to increase the level of fear? The second option will necessarily be qualified as “conspiratorial”, a term whose success has not been denied since September 11, 2001. Once again, the division is shaping up between us, who are to varying degrees opponents of the politics of the fear – in the absence, precisely, of being all of them to the politics of the mask. To free ourselves from this sort of semantic and political trap, let’s offer another point of view.
Among the front-line supporters of the mask, some are driven by simple health considerations, others by the banal idea that it is better to take all precautions regardless of the cost in terms of freedoms; a few others, genuinely cynical, try to stay in power by increasing fear. Let us note first of all that, in this last square, there can be both politicians and scientists, without forgetting of course the pharmaceutical trusts which also have everything to gain from this pandemic anyway. But the most important thing is that, finally, the compulsory wearing of the mask brings together these three main categories of people, all favorable to the mask, and that it is thus, whatever we may think of its health utility, a good tool to expand the policy of profiling, population control. And it does not matter, it does not even matter at all whether those who make the final decisions do so out of health concerns, out of a desire to cover themselves up a priori or out of outright political cynicism. The result is there: the end justifies the means.
In this case, we believe that no end can justify abject means, but it is an indisputable fact that “in the face”, this kind of questioning does not exist. So we are not fighting on exactly the same ground, and not at all with the same weapons.
How, then, to counter the control policy that the mask embodies? We could “over mask” ourselves, and wear for example, over the regulatory mask, that of Anonymous, Guy Fawkes (“V for Vendetta”). The answer sounds pretty consistent, doesn’t it? But this is strictly forbidden, in France at least (it is forbidden to hide the whole face, says the law). Above all, we could decide that since wearing a mask is anti-human, we might as well develop our human activities, properly human, all those that do not imply compulsory compliance with the ban.
And finally overturn the ban like a glove: we refuse the obligation to wear a mask and we will do everything possible to do without “closed places” where it is compulsory to wear it. Thus, we will no longer go to the theater but will do theater in the street; we will no longer go to the cinema but will screen films outdoors. And since we have to go to the supermarket to feed ourselves, we might as well develop collective market gardening, collective orchards, and so on.
As for the much thornier problem of the school, why not create our own schools? Because the laws absolutely do not prohibit it, and in France for example, there are very few legal constraints to create a school.
Of course, these few avenues are still very broad, even vague or difficult to implement. But the object of this text, more practical than theoretical, was to show the coherence of the ecological project, based on the refusal to achieve, decreasing, slow in the sense that this word has acquired in recent years, marked by voluntary simplicity, the ” small is beautiful ”by Schumacher.
The state, by the inconsistency of its decisions, does not disqualify what we are fighting for. And that’s a great thing because in the final analysis it’s simple proof that we’re right. As someone who may not have bought into these words once said, “History will absolve us.” Magnificent perspective!
Whereas this: https://www.livescience.com/face-mask-new-coronavirus.html says “yes “ and “no”.
But let’s look at the logic of all this.
If you’re asymptomatic as opposed to pre-symptomatic (ie temporarily not having symptoms but developing them later on) you do not infect others. People who test positive form a minority of the population and symptomatic people form a minority of that minority, and the pre-symptomatic phase of the latter is quite short. A small portion of these symptomatic people will develop severe forms, some of which will be fatal. On the basis of a minority of a minority of a minority, is it necessary to mask the whole population, starting with children over 10, who almost only develop asymptomatic forms of the disease? Steven, on libcom says “the general projection now in the US [is] that universal mask wearing help save around 50,000 lives in the next few months.” On the one hand he doesn’t bother to say whether it’s a question of masks worn outside or not, on the other hand, it’s a projection, an abstract hypothesis . Macron said they’d already saved 400,000 lives with their Covid policies. But this is just propaganda based on fuck-all. To paraphrase a friend, we now find ourselves in a scenario like “Minority Report”: just as the power described by P.K.Dick claims to punish criminals even before they have acted, so the various states impose measures on people before they even have a problem on the basis of the minority of those who die, who are a minority of those who have symptoms, who are a minority of those who get Covid, who are a minority of the general population. This is even worse than P.K.Dick’s Minority Report since here it is the entire population which is the target and not simply a minority of potential patients.
My friend continued: “If we absolutely want to treat people who to a very small extent are sick and to apply a principle of absolute precaution, if we absolutely want to treat the problem upstream and cut off at the source any possibility of disease among human beings, the best is still to avoid being born because to be born is to take the risk of being sick and it is, inevitably, to end up dying: you might as well not live at all! As the Silenus of Greek mythology said: “It is best for man not to be born and if this misfortune happens to him the best is to die as soon as possible.””
There seems to be a massive disconnect in people’s general attitude towards the various states during this crisis (of which RedM’s is an example): almost everyone agrees that the various governments’ responses have largely been clueless in different ways, but when it comes to things like masks or vaccines or anything deemed “scientific” cluelessness is often the last thing people attribute to such policies. As if the ruling class haven’t hidden behind the pretense of objectivity of the constantly contradictory scientific “experts” ever since the start of all this madness.
The most repulsive aspect of the dominant libcom discourse is caricaturing anyone who criticises what they have deemed is the consensus as a “conspiracy theorist”. RM says “some always make profits from any crisis but that doesn’t prove that this is a preferred or chosen strategy for the ruling class instituted to aid more repression” as if I had said that they chose this situation rather than they’re using it, and using it very obviously as a pretext for various forms of repression – eg in France in some departments there’s going to be a 6pm curfew from January 2nd onwards, and almost everywhere there’s an 8pm curfew. You’d have to be a fool not to realise that there’s no health logic to this measure. Saying this is no more an assertion of “conspiracy theory” than saying imprisoning poor people for petty theft, whilst letting the big thieves thrive, is talking like a conspiracy theorist. But nowadays this so-called “libertarian” left is so utterly complicit with the dominant ideology that it conveniently jumps on all criticism of, say, suspicion towards the various vaccines, the one-size-fits-all lockdowns regardless of local conditions, or the obligation to wear masks even in virtually empty streets, as “conspiracy theory”, a sickening way of parodying and dismissing the most basic recognition of the heavy illogical measures imposed by various states as the ramblings of a lunatic. It’s basic to even the most banal of critiques that capital and the state use such events and use them in order to attack the most applicable aspect of P.K.Dick’s story – repressing in advance what for the rulers is the crime that contains all crimes – the explosion of a class opposition that surely would have happened with the economic crisis that was predicted well before the advent of Covid. And in not focusing on that, the pseudo-revolutionaries at libcom and elsewhere can do nothing to oppose it except shit on all those who try, despite making mistakes, to attack the very obvious repressive uses that capital and the state have made of this situation, to contemptuously humiliate and parody them as “conspiracy theorists”.
For something on the politics of libcom from 8 years ago, see this.