Karl Marx and the ideology of social distancing

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Communist
Karl Marx and the ideology of social distancing
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I recently saw an interesting excerpt online - (https://www.reddit.com/r/LockdownCriticalLeft/comments/mj7e2c/marx_on_fr...) from Marx's 'On Freedom of the Press' (1842), which might offer an interesting insight into how he might have seen the current times:

The human body is mortal by nature. Hence illnesses are inevitable. Why does a man only go to the doctor when he is ill, and not when he is well? Because not only the illness, but even the doctor is an evil. Under constant medical tutelage, life would be regarded as an evil and the human body as an object for treatment by medical institutions. Is not death more desirable than life that is a mere preventive measure against death? Does not life involve also free movement? What is any illness except life that is hampered in its freedom? A perpetual physician would be an illness in which one would not even have the prospect of dying, but only of living. Let life die; death must not live. Has not the spirit more right than the body? Of course, this right has often been interpreted to mean that for minds capable of free motion physical freedom of movement is even harmful and therefore they are to be deprived of it. The starting point of the censorship is that illness is the normal state, or that the normal state, freedom, is to be regarded as an illness. The censorship continually assures the press that it, the press, is ill; and even if the latter furnishes the best proofs of its bodily health, it has to allow itself to be treated. But the censorship is not even a learned physician who applies different internal remedies according to the illness. It is a country surgeon who knows only a single mechanical panacea for everything, the scissors. It is not even a surgeon who aims at restoring my health, it is a surgical aesthete who considers superfluous everything about my body that displeases him, and removes whatever he finds repugnant; it is a quack who drives back a rash so that it is not seen, without caring in the least whether it then affects more sensitive internal parts.

You think it wrong to put birds in cages. Is not the cage a preventive measure against birds of prey, bullets and storms? You think it barbaric to blind nightingales, but it does not seem to you meaningless at all barbaric to put out the eyes of the press with the sharp pens of the censorship. You regard it as despotic to cut a free person's hair against his will, but the censorship daily cuts into the flesh of thinking people and allows only bodies without hearts, submissive bodies which show no reaction, to pass as healthy!

Tagore2
This quote is timely.

This quote is timely.

It irrefutably proves that Karl Marx would have been on OUR side, and not that of the ICC or the wsws. Karl Marx would never have supported the lockdown or the health dictatorship. Those who support the lockdown are cowards and anti-Marxists.

Censor me, and you will prove that you are cowards, censors and opponents of Marx!

To read the in-text quote:

Karl Marx
On Freedom of the Press (Table of Content)

Chapter 4 [As a privilege of particular individuals or a privilege of the human mind?]

Communist
Bread and Circuses

Tagore2 wrote:

This quote is timely.

It irrefutably proves that Karl Marx would have been on OUR side, and not that of the ICC or the wsws. Karl Marx would never have supported the lockdown or the health dictatorship. Those who support the lockdown are cowards and anti-Marxists.

Censor me, and you will prove that you are cowards, censors and opponents of Marx!

To read the in-text quote:

Karl Marx
On Freedom of the Press (Table of Content)

Chapter 4 [As a privilege of particular individuals or a privilege of the human mind?]

Not even just Marx - The entire revolutionary and even reformist left would have been anti-lockdown 30 years ago. What's changed? Well, the average european citizen has a lot more access to pointless home amusements - internet, food delivery apps, endless streams of TV Channels, smart phones. 

Now we don't even need to leave the house for bread and circuses - unless of course you're working as a courier for said bread and circuses...

Few have us had a chat about alcohol - at least that one gets people out of the house. Marx spoke of religion. Adorno spoke of 'The Culture Industry'. Debord spoke of 'the society of the spectacle'. And yet the 'opiates' available to today's masses are far more pernicious.

 

d-man
Tagore2 wrote: It

Tagore2 wrote:
It irrefutably proves that Karl Marx would have been on OUR side, and not that of the ICC or the wsws. Karl Marx would never have supported the lockdown or the health dictatorship. Those who support the lockdown are cowards and anti-Marxists.

WSWS opposed the Emergency Coronavirus Bill (and Coronavirus Act), eg:

UK: Johnson government uses coronavirus crisis to seize dictatorial powers (20 March 2020)

On the other hand, I doubt that Marx's comment can be taken as opposition to basic (common sense) health and safety provisions (like eg ventilated rooms, clean air).

 

Communist
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

 

Tagore2 wrote:

It irrefutably proves that Karl Marx would have been on OUR side, and not that of the ICC or the wsws. Karl Marx would never have supported the lockdown or the health dictatorship. Those who support the lockdown are cowards and anti-Marxists.

WSWS opposed the Emergency Coronavirus Bill (and Coronavirus Act), eg:

UK: Johnson government uses coronavirus crisis to seize dictatorial powers (20 March 2020)

On the other hand, I doubt that Marx's comment can be taken as opposition to basic (common sense) health and safety provisions (like eg ventilated rooms, clean air).

 

Ventilated rooms and clean air don't neccessarily have to have anything to do with 'social distancing' though, like you say these things are common sense. What I object to, is this notion that hugging your grandmother requires permission from the state - that is social distancing. 

As for the WSWS, I don't know anything about them - I don't follow doctrinaire Trotskyists. I'd imagine since that article was written that the tenor of their positions has changed since then as it has for so many 'leftists' who are in thrall to sloganistic thinking like 'people before profit', 'even one death is a tragedy'.

So desperate, are so many to see any kind of 'disruption' to the system, that they readily embrace the lockdown and all the rest of the corona narrative. They believe that market forces have somehow been suspended. Lockdown really ought to be classed as a kind of bosses lockout - it offers the perfect opportunity for redundancies, reducing contractual pay/rights. and massively accelerating the existing tendencies towards automation and digitalisation

d-man
I don't think WSWS put

I don't think WSWS put forward social distancing (between family/in private time) as their prime demand, or even as a political demand at all, since this isn't the responsibility of the state.

 

 

Tagore2
wsws was FOR lockdown, like

wsws was FOR lockdown, like ICC:

Quote:

Workers are bitterly angry at big corporations, flush with cash from multi-billion-euro government bailouts, who demand they return to work to produce profits for investors whose bloated fortunes depend on constant handouts of public money. It is imperative for as many workers as possible to shelter at home, on full pay, to avoid spreading the disease. With more social contact at work inevitably leading to more COVID-19 deaths, the question posed to workers is: how many workers want to die for the profits of the super-rich?

Strikes mount across Europe against official response to coronavirus pandemic

It's easy to oppose dictatorship "in general", when they support the main dictatorial measures "in particular". The wsws was for the ban on demonstrations, for the ban on assembling, for the ban on freedom of movement, etc., since the lockdown implies all these bans.

Quote:

On the other hand, I doubt that Marx's comment can be taken as opposition to basic (common sense) health and safety provisions (like eg ventilated rooms, clean air).

Don't use the straw man attack: that is not what we are talking about. Philosophically, Karl Marx would never have agreed to sacrifice his life under the pretext of fighting an illness. Besides, this way of thinking is a novelty of the 21st century. Even in 1968, nobody cared about the Hong Kong flu, although proportionately it killed more people than the current pandemic. We oppose the health dictatorship, the Khmer Blancs, the lockdownists, not people washing their hands.

These are the lockdownists who opposed common sense measures such as: going to see your doctor when you fall ill! Why did the Order of Physicians attack city doctors who tried to treat their patients who presented themselves to them, on the pretext that they had violated confinement and used treatments? All treatments were prohibited in the city in 2020! The doctors were attacked by the Order, on the orders of the government!

Of course they had to protect the population from drugs as dangerous as azitromicin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, drugs distributed in billions of copies for decades without any problem! Of course they had to authorize the "new" treatments costing thousands of euros without these having proven their effectiveness or their harmlessness! Of course they had to produce false documents in the scientific literature to discredit competing products!

"Common sense" ! But the common sense of the bourgeoisie is the stupidity of the Communists!

d-man
tagore2 wrote: ...when they

tagore2 wrote:
...when they support the main dictatorial measures "in particular". The wsws was for the ban on demonstrations, for the ban on assembling, for the ban on freedom of movement, etc., since the lockdown implies all these bans.

I don't think it implied such "particular" bans, see their article against goverments powers to arrest protestors, that I posted. In this respect WSWS is consistent with its usual defense of bourgeois freedoms.

Quote:
Don't use the straw man attack: that is not what we are talking about. Philosophically, Karl Marx would never have agreed to sacrifice his life under the pretext of fighting an illness. Besides, this way of thinking is a novelty of the 21st century. Even in 1968, nobody cared about the Hong Kong flu, although proportionately it killed more people than the current pandemic. We oppose the health dictatorship, the Khmer Blancs, the lockdownists, not people washing their hands.

Well, as I said to Communist, I don't think WSWS demanded "social distancing" in personal life, as their prime demand, or even political demand. As to the "sacrifice life" (under pretext of fighting an illness) you have to be more specific. You (and Communist) agree that it is common sense, that rooms have ventilated air, but many work places (and commuting transport) don't have it.

Communist
Vaccine passports, private property and the nation-state

Rather interestingly it seems that the defence of 'vaccine passports' coming from certain elements of the bourgeois Left is that 'well an owner can decide who they have in the pub' or 'the nation has the right to protect itself'.

My 'favourite' one is ' YOU DON HAVE THE RIGHT TO INFECT OTHERS, ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES'

Well, isn't vaccine refusal basically the abscence of an 'action'? Nobody wants 'the right to infect others', but infections, diseases, viruses etc are just part of the biological world, we're probably all carrying all sorts of undiagnosed lurgies.

Consent as a pre-condition for medical treatment is a long established principle.

This right to have the illusion of safety and not pick up infections, no matter the cost in terms of social exclusion, well I'd never heard anything like that before 2020

 

d-man
You mentioned digital "bread

You mentioned digital "bread and circuses" and how this was already a trend before covid-19, that promotes "social exclusion".

Indeed, the usual complaints are, when in restaurant or other social gatherings, people are always distracted on their phones. How children are not playing outside, but just on their phone, etc.

If your main worry is about "social exclusion", then whatever one may think of the latest regulations, the social exclusion will remain, if the reliance on digital amusements continues as before.

What do these complainers about smartphone use propose concretely? Banning smartphone use in certain places, or limiting the time online per day?

 

Communist
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

You mentioned digital "bread and circuses" and how this was already a trend before covid-19, that promotes "social exclusion".

Indeed, the usual complaints are, when in restaurant or other social gatherings, people are always distracted on their phones. How children are not playing outside, but just on their phone, etc.

If your main worry is about "social exclusion", then whatever one may think of the latest regulations, the social exclusion will remain, if the reliance on digital amusements continues as before.

What do these complainers about smartphone use propose concretely? Banning smartphone use in certain places, or limiting the time online per day?

I have talked about vaccine passports leading to social exclusion. The 'bread and circuses' musings about 'opiates' are more of an observation rather than a call to action if you know what I mean.

To put it more concretely, I'm suggesting this plethora of soft comforts, tech, gadgetry etc, has made everyone more content to be stuck at home against their true will. In the abscence of those things, people would be much more restless about the lockdown.

As for proposing things directly, I wouldn't want to tell you how to live your life. It's just an observation, and I don't propose anything really, who am I to make such decisions. Perhaps if, much like with booze, we lived in a different type of society then these things wouldn't hold such attraction.

Tagore2
The jester who rocks everyone!

Ha! Ha! Ha! We have in France a jester, fan of Napoleon, television host, who organizes evenings with the Parisian gratin in full confinement. Recently, he told reporters that he was fed up with the restrictions, that he did what he wanted, that he lived in a free country and that he had organized a themed dinner with about 40 guests, including several ministers, with the menu at €220.

Faced with the outcry, he told the press that it was an April Fool's Day -- despite the video of the event that have leaked in the TV -- that it was a simple free snack bringing together 7 or 8 people to celebrate Napoleon, but he had to pay for the food and he hadn't touched anything; there had been no politician at his reception, in any case not during the confinement, at least no member of the government; anyway, he dined regularly in illegal restaurants where he had met several ministers, but not in his restaurant!

Impossible to stop him: he does all the TV shows and the more he defends himself, the more he sinks, and the more he compromises new people. Recently, it was the spokesperson for the government itself who was implicated, a faithless, lawless, upstart white-beak who lies and threatens the proletariat if it dares to step outside; the latter declared that he did not know the jester, but shortly afterwards a government adviser declared that the spokesperson had received a jester's invitation, but that "of course" he had declined it.

In short, while the people's restaurants are closed, the bourgeoisie is enjoying themselves with the starred chefs in private apartments: they invite business leaders, ministers, artists and journalists, all these beautiful people who send us the police if we picnic in the parks.

The confinement will end in buffoonery, after having done hundreds of billions of damage in France.

When it's a jester who has to reveal the deception to you in order for you to figure it out, that's the definitive proof that you are an accomplished fool.

The wsws is the idiots' party!

For a good laugh, if you speak French:

https://twitter.com/CNEWS/status/1379757654940254208

The buffoon compromises the government spokesperson without thinking to it. A compilation of some of his interventions:

https://twitter.com/LorentzMathias/status/1379410554222211073

d-man
Quote: The wsws is the

Quote:
The wsws is the idiots' party!

Even if we disagree with the WSWS' demands in this case (or others), it isn't meaningful to say that they're idiots (or something like that), but it's lazy (and just linking to news stories, and opening threads all about covid, is also lazy). Do you think the WSWS is following the side of capitalist class (despite that they publish reports on workers' worry)? Or just give some explanation.