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Left and Right Have Lost All Meaning


“I want to piss off the unvaccinated,” said French president Emmanuel Macron. And he said it as if he were one of those depraved aristocrats that populate the novels of Sade, in a jocular tone, gloating over the vulnerability of his next victim, dehumanizing that victim to justify the state’s aggression. In his world, the unvaccinated do not even have the rank of an adversary, but are presented as members of an inferior species that can and should be degraded at his pleasure.

We might see this sadism as stemming directly from neoliberal politics that Macron has always represented. But it is not quite that simple. He is also speaking to and for much of both the new and old left who have been at the forefront of the fanatical siege of the unvaccinated in most Western countries.

Spain, a country where 90% of the targeted population is vaccinated, is one of the places where this dehumanizing fanaticism can mostly clearly be seen.

A few weeks back, former Socialist cabinet member Miguel Sebastian, acknowledging that the vaccine does not stop transmission, enthusiastically declared that “the idea of the Covid passport is to make life impossible for those who do not want to be vaccinated.”

Last December 20th, Ana Pardo de Vera, editor-in-chief of one of the most important newspapers of the left, Público, stated in a column that “The Covid passport to enter restaurants, hotels, bars or gyms is, without a doubt, one way of showing that we reject these ignorant people who are the victims of hoaxes. But we need more. Perhaps we need to write on their foreheads with one of those tattoos that cannot be erased in a couple of weeks, the cost of their treatment if they go to the hospital, and slap them upside on the head when they leave, you know, something… for being the morons they are.”

In this left-wing Trumpism, the unvaccinated person is the new illegal immigrant, as he occupies the same role with respect to the rest of society as the illegal Mexican does for the extreme right. He is to blame for all the problems derived from a contradictory, inefficient and criminal management of the pandemic.

But is there any basis for the dehumanization to which this leftist elite wants to subject the unvaccinated?

The Lancet has already made it clear that it makes no sense to speak of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Furthermore, if we consult the data provided by Pardo de Vera, we see that in the 12-29 and 30-59 age groups (most unvaccinated are found in the 20-40 demographic) there is no difference in mortality between vaccinated and unvaccinated that could remotely justify her insults towards the 20-40 age group. 

Indeed, these data suggest a policy that coincides with the recommendations of experts often unfairly labeled as Covid-19 deniers; that is, that vaccination against Covid-19 need not be universal, but rather should be focused on the most vulnerable sectors of the population. As Martin Kulldorff, professor of epidemiology at Harvard, said in a famous censored tweet: “Thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should.”

The histrionics of this Trumpist left not only baselessly demean the unvaccinated, but in the style of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor vilify – or, even worse, silence – in the name of science no less, esteemed researchers who question the management of the crisis. This, regardless of whether they are Nobel Prize winners like Luc Montagnier, epidemiology professors at Harvard, Stanford or Oxford, reputed and highly published scientists like Peter McCullough, or heavily-credentialed members of the HART group in Great Britain. 

This cancellation “logic” demonstrates that the left has lost its core social instincts and has retreated into a blind faith in a highly blinkered concept of science and technological progress with its roots in the very real, but often overlooked, repressive impulse within the 18th century Enlightenment. The label “left” is now used to whitewash antisocial and post-humanistic policies that go against the ever-admirable egalitarian and liberty-seeking impulses of the same historical movement. 

An important element of this poisoned process is what Daniel Bernabé, in his excellent critique of identity politics, has called “the trap of diversity.” But more fundamental is the authoritarian drift of the liberal state advocated in recent decades by theorists such as Scheuerman, Bruff and Oberndorfer. 

The Covid-19 crisis has taken place amid this broader movement toward authoritarianism and thus should not be seen as a wholly new phenomenon, but more as a catalyst of these preexisting dynamics. That said, the eagerness of the institutional left to accelerate the transition to this new authoritarianism is shocking in its virulence. 

For example, in a recent tweet, Ramón Espinar, a former MP of the so-called New Left flatly declared, “If the authorities tell us to put on our masks outdoors, we have to put them on. No silliness allowed.”

By destroying the distinction between the fiats of medical authorities–who possess no legitimate legislative power–with those of political authorities who actually do, he naturalizes the omnipotence of a bureaucratic mega-power that, as Poulantzas and Jessop have warned, turns the governmental exception into the governmental norm. 

We see a similar line of reasoning in Manuel Garé’s defense of the World Economic Forum published in CTXT, the most important publication of the Spanish left. According to Garé, Klaus Schwab’s group is a bulwark against the “delirious anti-progressive narrative” of “world conservatism” and his Great Reset, “an opportunity to bet on a greener and more sustainable economy, one that is more inclusive and less disparate, which enhances relations between countries and avoids nationalism and wars.”

Not a word, however, about the “ontological inequality” that, according to Schwab, awaits those who do not accept the dictates of his new post-humanism, people whom he authoritatively declares will be “the losers in all senses of the word.”

This ideological dysphoria was taken to new heights in the wake of a recent speech on alternative energy sources given by the theoretical physicist Antonio Turiel in the Spanish Senate. In its response to the talk, Unidas Podemos, the main political party of the alternative left and member of the current Spanish Government, portrayed any suggestion that powerful forces might be manipulating the energy market as a childish conspiracy. However, VOX, a political party of the extreme right, agreed with Turiel’s warnings against the uselessness and corruption of many current official energy policies by quoting Chomsky.

It is clear that the labels of left and right have lost any meaning they had in the time of analog technologies when human beings actually controlled newly invented tools and used them to achieve concrete political and social ends.

If in the 16th century there was a political revolution in the name of natural law, and in the 18th century, one carried out in the name of formal political equality, today we must call for a republican-democratic revolution to defend human interests in the face of a post-humanist technocracy programmed to achieve global hegemony.

Let’s treat vaccinations rationally. Let us not, in our confusion, legitimize abusive logics that naturalize a future dystopia in which we will have to forcibly share our geolocation or biometric data under the pretext that it will allow us to avoid accidents, heart attacks, kidnappings or many of the other natural and unavoidable realities of life. 

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  • David Souto Alcalde

    *David Souto Alcalde is a writer and assistant professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College. He is specialized in the history of republicanism, early modern culture and in the relations between politics and literature.

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