by Oliver Bateman
Tuesday, 27
July 2021
Debate
17:04

The only way to survive the vaccine wars

In times like these, the best course is to disengage and stay out of it
by Oliver Bateman
A protestor against masks and vaccines in Atalanta last year. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

In America, the personal is well and truly political — and one of the tools that blends the two together is “nudging“.

Covid-19 safeguards constitute the latest front in this new form of behaviour change, with federal and state governments content to hand off essential public health and police functions to an army of citizen-deputies who work for free. Boldly proclaiming one’s resistance to vaccination or masking when such measures are required, or reporting and shaming those who run afoul of those rules, puts everyday workers — who might politely suggest you put on a mask, or forget to wear one themselves — squarely in a neoliberal no-man’s-land, surrounded on all sides by potential enemies.

There are, of course, debates worth having about the long-term impact of vaccines rooted in technology both old and new, the efficacy of masking, and broader social controls such as seemingly interminable public-school closures. These debates might be expected to play out not only in the media but also in the halls of government, where some rough consensus could be reached and compromises hashed out.

But the US now struggles to operate on this sort of model. Throw incoherent, ever-changing government and private-sector messaging into that combustible mix and watch as civil society becomes a toxic stew of seething, sheltered-at-home souls — any one of whom might serve as a carrier of Covid or the various moral failings for which no vaccine exists.

Consider how this plays out in the Uber ride-share app, which allows both drivers and riders to report each other for failing to wear masks. This is, of course, a private platform, and usage subject to all agreed-upon rules — often via hasty button-clicks assenting to end-user contracts of adhesion — but the fact that both parties can inform on each other creates an atmosphere of unease, doubly so if the driver or rider’s livelihoods depend on being able to access the app. Similar logic applies to a worker at a supermarket attempting to coax an angry mask-resister into masking, or for a worker whose mask falls off while working, only to wind up shamed on social media. Perhaps justice is being served in these instances, but the punishment, such as it is, falls disproportionately on the backs of those workers who can least afford to pay.

The debate over vaccinations covers similar territory. Proposed vaccination passports and other travel restrictions expose another class divide — chiefly between those who travel by air and those who do not ― but in America they’re occurring in a country in which vaccine supply now greatly exceeds demand, meaning that the vaccine is now theoretically within the reach of nearly everyone who wants it. Meanwhile, leading television news commentators market vaccine skepticism over at Fox. The network has developed its own “secure, voluntary way for employees to self-attest their vaccination status.”

There is no easy way out of this morass, but I advise a policy of disengagement. These are trying times, not the end times ― we are not yet being urged to “own nothing, eat the bugs, and move into the pods”.  And Americans are certainly receiving far more deference on the civil-liberties front than citizens of countries like France.  

In my own case, to ensure that I could travel as my employer required it and to honour the wishes of my daughter’s grandparents, I was vaccinated in January. I wear face coverings when required but otherwise don’t. I follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines to the best of my abilities, aware that these could change at any moment. And I leave everyone else around me alone, masked or unmasked, vaccinated or unvaccinated, because we are all struggling to make a living amidst this chaos ― and so many people are having a much harder time of it than I am.

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

“Similar logic applies to a worker at a supermarket attempting to coax an angry mask-resister into masking,”

Where I live the very beginning of masking had Walmart with security blocking entry for the non-masked, and (banks and Med facilities). They soon stopped that as problems with ardent non-maskers and staff had the government decide that IT is NOT the job of business to enforce civil law, it gave them immunity for people being unmasked on their premises. So they just stopped trying to enforce it.

Banks continued as here all banks have guards, so it is easy for them, armed guards who are all trained in security – but they should have dropped it too in my opinion. Medical facilities continued, but that makes sense to me, and everyone.

So I never masked, maybe 6 times the last 16 months at banks and medical places. I would always be the sole unmasked person in public buildings, and at first the others would look at me with apprehension, but no one ever said a word of it to me. In the Construction supply retail outlets (I do construction) less than half ever masked and it was just normal – and shows the mindset of construction workers…..wile in normal retail 99% masked.

I refuse the mask because I believe the lockdown will destroy the future of the young, the costs of closing, yet continuing consumption because the Gov debt keeps paying closed business, schools, and workers – that debt is so huge it has distorted the economy that I think the young will have HORRIBLE problems coming soon, let alone destroying their education. Sacrificing the young and middle aged to reduce old people causalities is Wrong. The Western economies may face a depression like the Great One over this. And thus I would not go along with it.

You just have to take a stand on what you believe. (I think masking was 99% psy-opps to make people fear strangers and the public as part of the covid, ‘Project Fear’ agenda to control us.)

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“I think masking was 99% psy-opps to make people fear strangers and the public as part of the covid, ‘Project Fear’ agenda to control us.”
Google “Hanlon’s Razor”.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

The most important thing in all of this, in my view, is to be true to oneself. For some, this may mean reluctant disengagement so as to avoid making a bad situation worse for innocent bystanders in the hope that things will resolve themselves in the end. That’s a perfectly reasonable position to take if it reflects a genuine conviction that is the best course of action, and not a lack of courage in one’s convictions.

For others, it will mean speaking up and challenging the tyrannical forces that created the bad situation in the first place in order to try and stop it getting any worse. That might mean further upsetting some of the tyranny’s innocent victims in the short run, although it is clearly important to pick one’s battles and focus one’s challenge on those pulling the strings, not those who are attached to the strings.

The author of this long but thought provoking piece https://www.juliusruechel.com/2021/07/the-emperor-has-no-clothes-finding.html?m=1 falls into the latter group. Worth a read.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Horsman
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

I am anti-masks, anti-lockdown and for now, anti-Covid vaccines.
My husband and I debated years left to travel (and live) and other risks and rewards and decided to take the vaccines.
This does not mean that I don’t know that the vaccines are new tech and that they have no long term safety profile. It also does not mean that they were granted emergency authorisation by making sure (by very dubious and criminal means) that it appeared there was no effective ‘therapeutic’ available.
I remain staggered that people have just taken the ‘jab’ because they trust the technology, big pharma, big organisations like the WHO, ‘experts’, corporate media and the government when this pandemic has been the seminal lesson that one should not do so.
Interestingly because I am both ‘jabbed’ and vaccine hesitant, people don’t know what to do with me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lesley van Reenen
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

I am pro-vaccine precisely because I am anti-lockdown and especially anti-mask. The success of vaccination militates against the rationale for lockdowns and masking.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

You are conflating the two unnecessarily. There is a safe prophylactic and therapeutic called Ivermectin.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

Firstly, what am I conflating with what?
Secondly, the “science” underlying claims about the prophylactic/therapeutic properties of Ivermectin with regard to Covid is highly suspect not to say fraudulent.
Thirdly, and assuming for the sake of argument that the claims about Ivermectin’s efficacy are sound, I don’t see how the efficacy of treatment X mitigates against using treatment Y, where Y is also of proven efficacy as is the case with Covid vaccination.

Last edited 1 year ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Erin Daly
Erin Daly
1 year ago

Agree with every word you’ve written here, Oliver. If everybody behaved as you yourself have chosen to behave, the world would be a far better place.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Erin Daly

When studies are done showing the Lockdown vs non-Lockdown excess deaths, AND the loss of non-covid health, loss of income, jobs, business, mental health, drug/alcohol abuse, destruction of education, isolating people from others, coupled with the HUGE debt, it will be found locking down was the greatest self harm a society has ever done to its self.

Sweden + Belarus and Europe. California and Florida. New York and Texas, North Dakota and South Dakota….. The lockdowns did not save lives….

And the problem is we spent like mad people, and they are just tallying up the check…. So many poor students lost a year they will never make up, so have reduced income for life. The debt to finance it all may well mean a Great Depression…. The coming bill for this will be boggling – Do you think it will end up being worth it?

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I agree with both you and Erin Daly.
On a social policy level, I think we should all question the efficacy of lockdowns, of masking, etc, and strongly resist attempts by big tech to censor all dissenting voices. We can do this through political engagement, for example.
On a purely personal, day to day, level, I agree with the author of the article and Erin Daly that we should show some compassion to other people. We’re all dealing with this mess as best we can; there’s no need to call out or shame each other.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think afterwards we need a Nuremberg Trials, and the guilty get their punishment, and the destructive ones assigned their blame.

There is a chance the destructiveness of these covid lockdown and the money creating insanity will be as harmful as a World War.

Give it a couple years and things will be clearer.

Ever watch Bret Weinstein on Youtube? Freddy did him a couple times here, and he makes these VERY long and rambling videos with his wife as they ramble on and on about all kinds of stuff – but hidden in this is lots of Excellent covid news and thought.

He is very skeptical of the vaccines, and the politics of them, and extremely pro Ivermectin – here is a typical one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj4q1hkImIQ try beginning at minute 8 to get to see them on covid (and then it will be back on stories of their life and ……)

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I completely agree with you, Sanford. Like Bret Weinstein, I too am skeptical of the vaccines. In fact, they shouldn’t even be called ‘vaccines’ in the first place. The media messaging in the US has made a turn for the worse with columnists suggesting all kinds of nasty punishments for those who feel uncertain about having a possibly harmful chemical compound injected into their bloodstream.
I’m at a point where I have very little trust in the international, scientific, media and education-research complex. There seems to be a collective purpose among these agencies to silence dissent and bully people into taking vaccines. For what purpose I do not know, but I’m beginning to suspect that it is not for our own best will.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“we should show some compassion to other people”
Agreed. I must cure myself of the habit I have developed of laughing at lone masked car drivers. Such people are understandably suffering from anxiety and do not deserve my ridicule.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

I can’t return to my home country without paying for and enduring a 10 day hotel quarantine. Eventually my visa will run out and I’ll have no choice but to go home. My wife is a citizen here as well as at ‘home’. Also she’s fervently anti Covid vax. I’m not keen either but might have been persuaded if it hadn’t been for this huge hysterical push towards defacto compulsion. I’m happy to sit it out for now, but the clock is ticking…

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Excellent article.
My blithe acceptance of vaccines, due to decades of working in Africa etc, (had more prix than Freddie Mercury as they say) annoys the anti-vaxxers, and the anti-anti-vaxxers are angry at me for not being angry at the anti-vaxxers.
C’est la vie, I say.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
1 year ago

Without arguing one way or other about the benefits of vaccines, pointing to Africa is cherry picking. For instance, from the WHO website “Measles vaccination resulted in a 73% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2018 worldwide”. The UK, over the admitedly longer period from 1900 to 1968 (when the single measles vaccine was introduced) achieved a 99% reduction in measles deaths (source: UK government birth and deaths data) without vaccinating.
So accepting the Covid19 vaccine because of muh, Africa, does suggest your position is indeed blithe: dictionary definition “showing a casual and cheerful indifference considered to be callous or improper”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Richardson
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

I don’t know what you mean by “muh” but it sounds like something my kids would say at 14yo. I’m sorry if I annoyed you, but as per my post, I knew that happens.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

I am pro-vaccine because
(a) they work, and
(b) they militate against lockdowns and stupid effing masks.

Last edited 1 year ago by Drahcir Nevarc