How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy

It is hard to destroy your own cause and feel righteous while doing so, yet the American left has done it. After more than two centuries at the vanguard of the struggle for freedom, the American left, broadly defined, executed a volte face and embraced anti-working-class policies marketed as purely technical public health measures.

For two years the left has championed policies of surveillance and exclusion in the form of: punitive vaccine mandates, invasive vaccine passports, socially destructive lockdowns, and radically unaccountable censorship by large media and technology corporations. For the entire pandemic, leftists and liberals – call them the Lockdown Left – cheered on unprecedented levels of repression aimed primarily at the working class – those who could not afford private schools and could not comfortably telecommute from second homes. 

Almost the entire left intelligentsia has remained psychically stuck in March 2020. Its members have applauded the new biosecurity repression and calumniated as liars, grifters, and fascists any and all who dissented. Typically, they did so without even engaging evidence and while shirking public debate. Among the most visible in this has been Noam Chomsky, the self-described anarcho-syndicalist who called for the unvaccinated to “remove themselves from society,” and suggested that they should be allowed to go hungry if they refuse to submit. [1]

In Jacobin, a magazine claiming to support the working class in all its struggles, Branko Marcetic demanded the unvaccinated be barred from public transportation: “one obvious course of action is for Biden to make vaccines a requirement for mass transport.” [2] Journalist Doug Henwood has scolded the unvaccinated with: “Get over your own bloated sense of self-importance.” [3] But Henwood has championed shutting down all of society in the name of safety, while refusing to engage counter-arguments – a combination that suggests a bloated sense of self-importance of his own.

Other left intellectuals, like Benjamin Bratton, author of a Verso book on the pandemic called Return of the Real, are notable for hiding amidst academic blather: “the book’s argument is on behalf [of] a ‘positive biopolitics’ that may form the basis of viable social self-organization, but this is less a statement on behalf of ‘the political’ in some metaphysical sense than on behalf of a governmentality through which an inevitably planetary society can deliberately compose itself.” [4] This is, as the late Alex Cockburn once said, “what dumb people think smart people sound like.”

Even the American Civil Liberties Union – long a bastion of objective thinking and civil liberties absolutism – has supported the mandates, lockdowns, and censorship. David Cole, the group’s legal director, debased himself in the New York Times with a tortured op-ed explaining how everything the ACLU stood for over the last 100 years suddenly did not apply during the season of freakout and overreach. [5] 

When activist left influencers did stray from the official line, it was to occasionally harumph about how school closure would be ok if we just had “free childcare for all.” That argument is so flimsy one wants to respond with: “Yes, and let’s call these new socialist childcare centers: public schools!”  

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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