“Belief in science is the worst form of superstition ever”… a medical doctor in Germany.
“Listen up Numb nuts This whole mask thing is a psyop to condition you to comply with authority. Next is mandatory injections for ‘the greater good’. Then annual injections of who knows what by the same people who are trying to depopulate the world. You can shove your compliance badge up your ass”… a white union carpenter in the US.
“They are pushing wearing masks to chip (put a computer chip in) everybody. Showing control and showing the fear. Like in prison, if you don’t take the t.b. test, they lock you up in solitary. Out here, if you don’t take the chip, they going to lock you up. It’s just like being in prison”… an ex-con black worker who spent decades in prison.
These comments must not be dismissed as comments of some outlier viewpoint of a tiny crackpot minority. Thirty-six percent of the US population support Trump’s policies on this pandemic and 25% believe there is at least some truth in the conspiracy theories regarding Covid-19.
Below are some notes and quotes from exchanges with some who believe in the conspiracy theories regarding Covid-19. I used to think that these conspiracy theories were a peculiarly American thing, but the report below from Germany (where 17,000 marched in support of these theories), shows that it is a global phenomenon:
Some comments from carpenters, all of whom are white men and also are union members:
“Can’t hid in a bubble your whole life bubble boy!”
“Keep giving into the fear, thats what the government wants you to do so you’re used to the taste of boot polish when they come and take the rest of your rights away. This used to be a free America but now its becoming a communist China thanks to all the boot licking.”
“My rights trump your government.”
“Your health is your responsibility, not mine.”
From “P”, an ex-con who spent decades behind bars and is now out and working. (He is a black man, which is significant in that he understands Trump’s racism.)
In addition to the comment at the top of this article, he said “The govt. got them by the balls…. A lot of black people like wearing the mask because they think they hiding….. I’m not out there protesting against the mask, but they should be protesting (against it). The mask makes them sicker…” (“P” based this claim on the fact that little children need to come into contact with some germs in order for their immune system to be challenged and to develop. He jumped from there to the idea that the mask stops adults from coming into contact with germs and therefore weakens the immune system.)
I should add that this individual, with whom I used to be friends, was very aggressive in talking with me. The minute I asked him the least difficult question he became openly hostile, especially so when I asked him what he thought of the fact that his were the arguments of the Trump supporters. He also talked on and on without showing the least interest in hearing any other thoughts. I had sent him some videos which refuted the conspiracy theories, including videos of Rob Wallace. He claimed he’d watched them, but when I asked him what was in them he couldn’t say. He clearly had not watched them, meaning he has no interest in really investigating the actual facts, in hearing both sides of the argument.
From “X”, a woman who’d spent years in prison and has been out and working for about ten years now:
“All those people that are way up above in the senate and all of that… The govt., rich people…” (they are lying to us).
“I think they’re making a lot of money off of it. All of them…. If this was so dangerous, why would they give loans but why are they risking their lives to go to work for these businesses….
“A lot of the news is propaganda because they have to have a lot of chaos….
“I believe they already know who the next president will be…. They let a black man be president when the economy went to shit. The minute the economy got better, they put a white man in as president….
“Trump did whatever he wanted to do and the government let him… They’re making a lot of money off of Covid 19…. I’m not saying the virus doesn’t exist. I’m saying they’re exaggerating it…. I don’t believe they’re giving you the real numbers. I believe that some people die and they’re blaming everything on Covid 19…. I have a friend in Florida who went around to the hospitals where she lives, and she said the ER’s are empty.
“Even scientists could be in on it, and make money off of it…. Why would you want that? Are you trying to reduce the population?…
“I just think that everybody’s getting all this money to come up with a cure for it, but there might already be a cure for it. (I asked her about the capitalists who are losing billions – the airlines, the hotel industry, etc. – don’t they want a cure for it?) I don’t know if they want a cure for it or not…. All these people who are making millions off the prisons and are saying these people will only leave prison in a pine box. They don’t give a fuck about the people….Just like they made money off the prison system, now they’re making money off Covid 19…. I don’t believe the statistics they’re giving.”
Report from a comrade living in eastern Germany
“It was in spring 2020 that the Corona pandemic came over us, and after it had been dominating the news for a while, the first conspiracy theories were, of course. The extreme right-wing German journalist Billy Sixx illegally entered the geriatric department of a Berlin hospital, photographed the empty corridors and then posted on his blog: “This is what the hospital’s intensive care unit looks like, everything is empty! There are no corona patients at all, because there is no corona virus!
“I commented on it to a close friend of mine who is a medical doctor.
“Yes, but it really is. That with Corona is a big tale of lies!” I was completely stunned. And the terrible number of deaths in Italy and New York? He explained to me that almost all of them were old or previouosly-ill people who would have died anyway. He subsequently sent me several videos in which popular people from the political “gray zone” express their opinions, I was almost speechless. How can the man believe such crap? When I openly confronted him with my disapproval, he wrote me an email with real nonsense. And I don’t mean an uncomfortable opinion or anything, but literally Gaga nonsense. The way I thought, just don’t let your boss read it, or you’ll get fired and go to the loony.
“I visited him a few days later. We got to talking about how the poison enters society. ‘Through ___ (one of the main news channels),’ he said. ‘This channel irradiates people with fear and hatred every night so they can be manipulated.’ It later turned out that a couple of our mutual friends also believe in these conspiracy theories. They are also into mysticism.
‘When you visited me last year, you absolutely wanted astrology to be recognized as a real science.’ ‘It’s something else’ they said. ‘Can you explain the difference to me?’ I asked. ‘No, you wouldn’t understand that,’ they said. ‘You cannot explain it so directly, you have to feel it.’ This is a point that I keep observing and that is completely new to me in Germany: People loathe science, they no longer want to hear recognized but perhaps uncomfortable facts; instead they want something new and crazy that is exciting and creates a simple enemy.”
This same comrade reports on the rise of a group that identifies as Reichsbürger. They believe that the entire German state is illegal and
they only recognize a mythical state that returns all the way back to Bismarck! This comrade also said that their former friend is now talking about the danger of a “dark power”, but the person would not identify what that power is.
- Men seem to tend (note: “tend”) to be more aggressive in advocating for these ideas. That would fit with the fact that a higher proportion of men than women support Trump. who makes bullying an important part of his appeal. This, in turn, is linked with the traditions of violence in US society as well as the domination of US imperialism globally – the fact that for years the US government could, in fact, throw its power around in the world almost without check.
- The decades of suppression of the class struggle also feed into this. This suppression has taken several forms, including encouraging individualism and selfishness vs. working class solidarity and simple compassion. Even the union leadership here encourages this approach. That is the meaning of the comment that “your health is not my responsibility.” What that comment really means is that since wearing a mask is uncomfortable, I’m not going to wear one and I don’t care if that makes you sick.
- The individualism is also expressed in how the world is seen. “If I or somebody I know personally doesn’t see it, then it doesn’t exist,” is the thinking. So, if somebody in, say, Dallas Texas isn’t seeing hospitals overwhelmed there, then this means that they aren’t all over Texas, including in poor, rural areas.
- There are several aspects to the overlap between far right politics – both in the US and elsewhere – and conspiracy theory views on the pandemic. The far right, including outright fascists, have many mystical views. What, after all, is religious fundamentalism but a mystical view of the world? And Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists all are deeply involved in hard right and in some cases outright fascist politics. In addition, fascism has always had a mystical and anti-science wing to it. There is also an opening to anti-Semitism in some of this. That is the meaning of the talk about a “dark power” or even the talk about what “they” want. The real failure of the mainstream capitalist media is coming back to haunt the working class. Oaklandsocialist explained in this article, that this media does not in general outright lie; it’s just that they don’t uncover underlying but inconvenient truths. This is not only true about specific issues; it’s true in how it presents the world – as a series of disconnected events. The main thing is that the media doesn’t explain the class interests involved, which means it cannot present an all-around picture. Yet most workers know that there is something deeper happening. That is the meaning of some of the comments of “X”. When the mainstream capitalist media reports on different extreme weather events, for example, it almost never make the connection between those events and global climate disruption. Never has it been more clear than in the case of Covid-19, where the underlying causes – factory farming and wild habitat destruction – go ignored. The result is that the listener comes away intuitively feeling like something else is happening, but they don’t know what it is. Instead of delving deeper, the simplest explanation is made: The media is all lying. If it were so easy to peddle a big lie like this – one in which millions of doctors, nurses and other workers are involved – then why, for example, did the US government soldiers not “find” weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after they invaded there?
- And this brings us to our final point: The disastrous failure of the union leadership (in the US) and the equivalent leadership around the world. In the US, this leadership has been repressing any sort of class consciousness for at least 50 years. Unfortunately, they have been partly successful. That is what explains the support for Trump among union members (mainly the white ones).
We see this in the statements of “X”, who vaguely recognizes the role of “the rich”, but doesn’t see it as a class question. Even more so in her comments about “the government”, which is seen as some independent force, rather than as representing a particular class, the capitalist class.
This failure also includes even the left Corbyn leadership in Britain. This leadership, too, has failed to explain the environmental basis for this pandemic. In ignoring this, it is ignoring the fact that new and even more devastating pandemics are coming; it is just a matter of time.
Significantly, though, “X” did pause when confronted with an oaklandsocialist article that explains this environmental basis and how capitalism itself is to blame. (We are referring here to factory farming and wild habitat destruction.) This is what “they” are covering up. However, oaklandsocialist has no influence. If the socialist left were to take up this explanation, it would start to have a wider influence. However, it too is stuck in pragmatism and short term thinking.
It remains, then, for the movement in the streets to find its own way. Slowly, painfully, it is learning from its own experiences. Hopefully, it will start to connect the economic issues (such as the very immediate issue of the $600/week federal unemployment subsidy) with the issues around the brutality and racism of the police. In that way, some real inroads into a wider layer of the working class can be made, and it will be through direct experiences in the class struggle that a different method of thinking can emerge – a method of thinking that is based on science (both social science and natural science) rather than mysticism.
As Marxist Felicity Dowling says, “socialism and science go hand-in-hand.”