May 2024 Forums General discussion Coronavirus

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    I was surprised by this statistic

    As of Nov. 20, the number of US Covid-19 deaths in 2021 is higher than the total for 2020, The Wall Street Journal reports.


    There’s also been rioting in the French West Indies but against not for vaccination restrictions. Apparently the trade unions there have been involved.

    This report (in French I’m afraid but you can see the pictures) says the march in Brussels was led by a Flemish nationalist MP. Today’s Times reports that:

    “Marching behind a banner stating ‘Together for Freedom’, the crowd included far right activists , LGBT+ rights campaigners and people carrying the Flemish flag.”

    There is obviously something going on which we need to have something to say about.


    Funny how people can put their differences aside in the name of preserving the life they’re used to – I guess people are inherently a bit conservative in that way.

    What would be the Socialist position on the issue of lockdowns, mandatory vaccination and the like? Personally I think these are extraordinary times, and extraordinary measures are required.

    However, it’s fair to say that a lot of governments have responded poorly, and I’m always wary of handing more authority to the state. If the War on Terror has shown anything, it’s that the state is very hesitant to stop using extraordinary powers once the apparent crisis has passed.


    Could this gene double your risk of dying from COVID-19?

    A gene more prevalent among some ethnicities worsens risk of COVID respiratory failure, but there are other factors at play. Plus, a new COVID pill, and could the common cold protect against the coronavirus?


    ‘What would be the Socialist position on the issue of lockdowns, mandatory vaccination and the like? Personally I think these are extraordinary times, and extraordinary measures are required.’

    There would be no governments to lay down the law and such issues could only be decided democratically. People not ‘obeying’ a majority decision couldn’t be fined or jailed, but might perhaps be heavily ostracised and seen as personae non gratae, which might weigh more heavily.

    It may be wishful thinking but I like to think that in a socialist society things would never get to the stage they have got to with this pandemic. With no commercial interests at stake and presumably better health precautions all round, dangerous viruses and so on would most likely be nipped in the bud, and such extraordinary times would not develop. Also there would be no (or far less) idiotic conspiracy theories and religious prejudices around, which really reflect people’s powerlessness and lack of trust in governments and being told what to do.

    Bijou Drains

    Whilst I agree with you that there would be no jails in a Socialist Society, I do think there would be processes to protect the public and the individuals. For example it might be necessary to protect society from an individual such as Typhoid Mary, if such a person presented in a Socialist Society, and whilst the prevalence of mental health issues would likely be far less in a Socialist Society, I am fairly sure that issues such as Paranoid Schizophrenia would still occur and there might be instances where some degree of protection for people and for others might need to exist.

    I also think that even within a capitalist framework it would be very difficult to vaccinate people against their will, however within a Socialist world I also think practices such as vaccine passports to gain admission to public gatherings might be necessary if a similar pandemic occurred.


    Peoples are not going to guide themselves by conspiracy theories created by opportunistic politicians, we are going to have more scientific conscience and a conscience of common ownership

    There would not be any need to force anybody because we are not going to have a state and a legal system to oppress peoples, we are going to make decision as a society instead of being made by leaders and a ruling elite

    This pandemic is a product of capitalism and without capitalism we would not have this pandemic, or probably would have been detained rapidly and the resources of the society would be invested in the needs of all human beings.

    Deforestation is also one of the causes of this pandemic because animals have been forced out of their natural habitat, and diseases and virus are transmitted from animals to human beings


    We can all agree like MS suggests that there will be fewer diseases within a socialist society, and like smallpox, many can be eradicated, such as the end of polio being on the verge of accomplishing.

    But we cannot promise that there will never be another pandemic.

    What we know of viruses is that they constantly evolve to overcome natural resistance and the use of anti-biotics creates immunity to their effect.

    The current pandemic has raised the issues that Rodshaw and BD have referred to. It reminds me of an early argument that the late comrades Pieter Lawrence and Frank Simpkins presented about the continuation of law and law enforcement.

    Is Broadstairs and Carstairs, the State’s secure hospitals for the criminally insane the best treatment, BD? Even within every “normal” psychiatric hospital they have “locked” wards for those who exist as a threat to themselves and others.

    For the “typhoid marys”, it meant incarceration under unpleasant conditions.

    Even lockdowns under capitalism need not be too stressful, people did survive and some even thrived through it. It was not always a negative experience and brought some benefits. Likewise, it revealed many problems too, personal and social.

    But with socialism, being a society already built more solidly on social and communal relationships, the problems of lockdown can be even more minimised. In fact, hasn’t social distancing highlighted just how much of a social species we really are?

    What I think the real question is and it is one ALB raised.

    How do we respond to the current protests against the implementation of bureaucratic State regulations, with the introduction of vaccine passports and restrictions on movement and access to public facilities?

    It is a genuine issue of libertarianism for many protestors.

    It is also a question of economic survival for many too, as they experience their livelihoods being threatened. That would not exist in a socialist lock-down.

    But recall the experience of raves. Passing laws to make raves illegal didn’t stop those from happening. It proved an attraction.

    In my lifetime I saw smoking forbidden in pubs. Something I once thought was impossible but it took place relatively smoothly. People and pubs adapted to the new rules.

    But ALB’s question is still pertinent. What do we say to those who demonstrate against strict lockdown?

    It isn’t all anti-vaxxers.

    BD and rodshaw speculation is an interesting one, perhaps a lot wider than we think.


    I did not say that there are not going to exist any pandemic, I said that It might be detained quickly. Pathology by the Greek was defined as the study of human suffering and human suffering will continue in a new society. Vaccines passport is not new they have existed for many decades, even more, schools require proof of vaccination and in the past many travelers were required to show proof of vaccination, and in some places where prostitution was legalized proof of vaccination was also required. Many Psychiatry Hospitals in the USA have been closed down and they are only used by court order to treat a person with mental problems in a criminal case


    It’s fair to say that in a future Socialist society, there’d be a lower risk of pandemics – simply because the priority would be people’s welfare rather than corporate profit.

    As for the question of how we respond to the current protests – in my view, you can either be against vaccines or lockdown, but not both. We should recognise people’s natural desire for freedom and self-determination (which properly expressed should lead them to Socialism). However, I think we do need to emphasise that freedom comes with a responsibility to others. Even in a future Socialist world, we’ll have to be willing to do things we’d rather not, for the overall benefit of society.

    Bijou Drains

    Alan Johnson – “ It reminds me of an early argument that the late comrades Pieter Lawrence and Frank Simpkins presented about the continuation of law and law enforcement.

    Is Broadstairs and Carstairs, the State’s secure hospitals for the criminally insane the best treatment, BD? Even within every “normal” psychiatric hospital they have “locked” wards for those who exist as a threat to themselves and others.

    For the “typhoid marys”, it meant incarceration under unpleasant conditions.

    To be fair, Typhoid Mary didn’t face an incarceration in unpleasant conditions, she had a cottage to line in, helped out in the labs and was allowed to have supervised trips out away from her place of quarantine.

    It is also untrue to state that every normal psychiatric hospital have locked wards, I would guess it is much less than 20% and that lots of general hospitals with have additional psychiatric hospitals. Your view of psychiatric hospitals and current care regimes seem to be close to those of the 1970s than what occurs now.

    Saying that some degree of enforced support for people with certain types of difficulties does not mean the use of places like Broadmoor or Carstairs. My experience of working within and supporting secure and semi secure hospitals is one of care, support, empathy and consideration. I have also been involved in the process of setting orders for people to be placed in compulsory placement (sectioning) and have regularly written reports for Mental Health Tribunals, where individuals have requested that their compulsory placement be revoked. Again my experience has been of compassionate, knowledgeable and caring professionals who make considered reflections on the risks, the evidence and the individual to try and make the best possible decision.

    Although there seems to be a section of party members that deny the possibility of any form of compulsion within a Socialist society, the reality is that severe mental ill health is a day to day lived experience of many people. Whilst I accept that many of these issues may have their genesis in current society, not all issues arise from this. Trauma for instance will not be eradicated by Socialism, family relationship difficulties will not suddenly be resolved, issues of abuse and control will not disappear. Many of the people I have worked with have suffered head injuries or had learning disabilities; all of these situations will continue to occur in a socialist society. It follows that there will still need to be procedures where some degree of enforced care will be required.

    Going back to the case put forward by Pieter Lawrence and others very skillfully and thoughtfully put together, I remember Pieter putting the point very poignantly that he would much rather that the care of his mental health was discussed and decided upon by qualified, caring, knowleable professionals than to have those decisions being made by the village moot or the local tennis club.

    Taking Pieter and Frank’s points further, one of the key differences between the Socialist case as presented by the SPGB and the case presented by the anarchists and the Leninists, is that our case is that by taking control of the state we can remove the class and economic nature of the state and transform state from the agent of class oppression into the apparatus for the administration of things.

    There is a danger that we focus entirely on the class nature of law and the criminal element of property ownership. Including in the development of Law there are a miriad of guidance, regulation, statutory support, all of which can be easily adapted to the administraation of things.

    Using the example of mental health The Mental Health Act 1983 and subsequent amending acts and guidance would provide a valuable framework for a Society, if the administration of the Act was to be freed by the hidious resource based restrictions placed on current practice.

    To all those who state that all forms and edifices of Law will be erased and overthrown by a Socialist revolution, I ask would this include, electrical regulations, COSSH regulations, Display Screen regulations, current guidance and practice re surgery and medical procedures, qualification structures for airline pilots, building regulations, speed limits on roads, management of waterways and pollution controls, clean air regulations, etc. etc. etc.

    All of these areas of regulation have been built up through the practice and expertise of many areas of workers skilled labour. Freed from the market and the resource constraints of the profit system, these pieces of regulation, etc. can be democratically improved and developed, however some degree of regulation will be necessary in many areas, within the SPGB we have our existing rules and areas of administration, these operate democratically and do not automatically arrive at by consensus, it is unfeasible that this would not be the case in a Socialist Society.

    Some members imply that in the advent of socialism there will be an outbreak of complete reasonableness, in such a set of circumstances there would be no reason for any sort of compulsion or sanction. I would ask members not to examine the fact that there are somewhere between 100-200,000 scientologists or that Donald Trump gained over 74,000,000 votes, or that I heard Brentford fans sing the line “We’re by far the greatest supporters, the world has ever seen. I would ask them to think about the way that on occasions members of the party (me included) have acted and behaved unreasonably, to show that we will not reach a society where all members are always, sane, reasonable, considered and democratic, following a Socialist revolution. More reasonable, more considered, more sane, undoubtedly, but completely rational, not a chance.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Bijou Drains.

    The outcome of Pieter Lawrence’s campaign was this compromise resolution carried by Conference in 1991:

    “That this Conference recognises that rules and regulations, and democratic procedures for making and changing them and for deciding if they have been infringed, will exist in socialist society. Whereas a ruling class depends on the maintenance of laws to ensure control of class society, a classless society obtains social cohesion through its socialisation process without resorting to a coercive machinery. However, in view of the fact that in socialist theory the word “law” means a social rule made and enforced by the state, and in view of the fact that the coercive machinery that is the state will be abolished in socialist society, this Conference decides that it is inappropriate to talk about laws, law courts, a police force and prisons existing in a socialist society.”


    The debate however did continue.

    I recall when I re-joined and attended Conference it was again discussed. Memory doesn’t help me to say if there was a resolution or discussion item or what, if any, was the voting on it.

    There were also exchanges on Spopen when that was a lively forum.

    Perhaps, the pandemic post-mortem would be an appropriate occasion to re-visit the issue.


    We now have a vaccine for malaria.

    Do we witness any urgency in its manufacture and distribution? Or is it that malaria isn’t such a serious threat to the developed nations of the world?

    Are the anti-vaxxers going to campaign or protest? Or is it that they don’t care about the poor, anyway?


    “We cannot say this clearly enough: even if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and infecting someone else who could die.” Tedros, chief of the World Health Organization has warned. “Vaccines save lives, but they do not fully prevent transmission,” he added.

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