Tuesday 14 February 2023

Against Left Covid Scepticism

One of the most frustrating and mind-bending developments during the last 18 months is the collapse of a section of the left into Covid scepticism. The class analysis went down the plug hole, and in came a laissez-faire individualism in conformity with Tory bio- and necropolitical management of the pandemic. Mask denialism, vaccine agnosticism, opposition to air filtration, there has been a straightforward take up of right wing "libertarian" talking points and arguments. Including the pretence that Covid isn't very serious, hasn't killed millions, left even more with long-term health problems, and constitutes a danger to the clinically vulnerable still. Following the publication of Toby Green and Thomas Fazi's The Covid Consensus, which attempts to put a left face on Covid scepticism while giving semi-conspiratorial arguments credence, Richard Seymour has taken them apart in his Interregnum slot on Politics Theory Other. It comes highly recommended.


Old Trot said...

An excellent analysis by the often interesting, and often spot-on, Richard Seymour. And why is Richard Seymour so often spot-on in his analysis compared to the increasingly bizarre positions taken by what represents today's 'radical Left' on so many issues ? Because Richard comes from a non Stalinist solidly Marxist socialist background - rooted in the centrality of class and materialism .

In contract most of today's supposed 'Left' are just non materialist , philosophically 'idealist' Left Liberals , not socialists. They have a wish list of 'nice things' they would like to see in our society , but no overarching model or theory counterposed to the individualist dominant neoliberal narrative. They have no understanding of the possibility of advancing beyond the market-driven class society of capitalism - and absolutely no interest in those basic socialist objectives and methodologies of comprehensive democratic state-led PLANNING, and socialisation of the means of production to replace the chaos of capitalism.

Having no overarching socialist theory to guide them too many on the self-identifying 'Left' are wide open to falling prey to that alternative 'anti-elite, paranoid bundle of ideological positions eminating from the libertarian Far Right and the fascist Far Right . The absorption by so many supposed socialists of the paranoid nonsense of the 'covid plandemic conspiracy' is just one example of this vulnerability of the theory-less 'Left' to toxic Right Wing ideas.

A look back at the past covid coverage by the likes of the BTL Skwawkbox posts is profoundly chastening, as with that 'OffGuardian' blog, which became a house mag on the deluded 'Left' for covid denial. Similarly today's 'Left' has proven willing to avidly accept the 'magical Keynsian' nonsense of Modern Monetary Theory , which requires a fundamental ignorance of both the basics of capitalist economics as well as Marxist economics ! This contemporary 'Left' also fell prey to that bleed-over from Libertarian Right ideology of the 'Citizens Income' - as an alternative to fighting for a generous universal Welfare State !

As Lenin rightly said - "without revolutionary (ie Marxist socialist theory) there can be no revolutionary practice". It is equally true that without a solid , materialist, socialist theory to guide us there cannot even be radical social democratic reformist practice.

Anonymous said...

Please don’t encourage him.