Shortly after the corona virus spread in Germany and government measures to contain the pandemic while wage labor continued, the ideological conspiracy deniers of the coronavirus formed in many cities.
But they weren’t the only ones who took to the streets. Leftists also protested, the main topics being the unequal social impact of the measures, because of the social status of different risk of contracting the virus. The inhumane conditions in refugee accommodation, which were made worse by the virus, the unreasonable demands in the care sector and the increased multiple burden on women were scandalized from the left. Journalistic and analytical texts were also disseminated by many groups and newspapers, which promoted the politicization of the Corona crisis and wanted to use the mood and the interruption of everyday life. Many leftists worked in the solidarity neighborhood networks,
We have also tried to counter the so-called Corona crisis with a politicization from the left, for example with actions in front of a DHL distribution center, a hospital and a nursing home. On May 1st and before October 3rd we criticized the nationalist cement with flyer campaigns and disseminated class struggle positions. We published several texts and interviews, held rallies and took part in the “Shutdown Pig System” campaign, which the public wanted to use around the scandals in the meat industry to build up further pressure against the system of works contracts.
Nevertheless, the media spectacle was dominated relatively quickly by the corona deniers. This is not surprising at first – like many right-wing movements before, this movement was also “written high” by large parts of the media and enjoyed a wealth of reporting that left movements and organizations can usually only dream of. Of course, there was and is also overlap with capital interests, these do not deny the virus, but have always been about dead bodies for their profits – so why not use such a foot troop? This soon led to the corona deniers holding a kind of monopoly on criticizing government measures.
Above all, however, the corona deniers also serve as a good diversionary maneuver for the state: As right as it is that the conspiracy ideologues pose a serious risk of increasing the number of infections and have done so, it is so wrong to blame them for a large part of the infection process. But this suits the state very well for three reasons. On the one hand, the criticism is then hardly directed against the continuation of wage labor, the conditions in care, the opening of schools (so that parents are still available as workers) and shops etc., on the other hand, this also means that everyone reasonable, left-wing criticism of the measures is easily dismissed as crazy and conspiracy ideological.
Without question, it is and was right and important as the left (1) to stand in the way of the corona deniers, but in our view parts of the left have made several mistakes in dealing with this reactionary movement:
1.Sections of the left have mainly focused on the corona deniers in their practical work in recent months. Since the left in Germany on the one hand is relatively marginal and on the other hand we all have limited capacities, this almost inevitably means that our own positions on the subject of the “corona crisis” can hardly be disseminated. We are not concerned with declaring the anti-fascist protest against the conspiracy ideologues to be unimportant, we ourselves participated and will continue to do so, we are more concerned with the relationship between our own positions and their dissemination through actions and agitation as well as the analysis of state measures and the dispute with the corona deniers is correct again.
2. Often only in connection with the corona deniers, for example in the context of a rally, criticism of the state measures was formulated. If this mainly happens in this context, corona deniers are almost inevitably perceived as the only critics because leftists work on them and often only come up with their criticism when the conspiracy ideologues march and the focus of the Public lies on them.
3. The criticism of the content of the corona deniers should not be reduced to the level that the conspiracy ideologues are “crazy”. Of course there are really strange characters around, but the competition “Who will find the craziest conspiracy ideologist?” Will not stop this movement and will not help to understand this phenomenon. It is also not productive to simply describe these people as selfish. Rather, it would have to be a matter of perceiving the class composition of this movement (at the top there are usually petty bourgeoisie *) and putting it in relation to their demands and their drivel about the constitution and basic rights. Often these mean nothing more than being able to do business again or to restore or improve the basis for this. The whole thing is paired with a good dose of macho behavior that the virus cannot harm “strong men and their immune systems”, which cannot be explained without the gender-specific make-up of this society.
4. If neither left-wing criticism of the state measures nor left-wing criticism of the Corona deniers is loud and taken to the streets, the tendency to dismiss all left criticism of state measures as crazy is strengthened.
5. Ultimately, one should be careful not to bump into the rhetorical or content-wise “We are all in the same boat” horn of the rulers. Leftists are unlikely to be aware of this. But the state keeps talking about “solidarity”. But we on the left cannot simply adopt that as a popular empty phrase without filling it with concrete content. Because on the part of the state, it is about the nationalist ideology, according to which all Germans must now stick together. This serves to bury the obvious contradictions, injustices and, last but not least, the possibility of showing resistance, for example by not going to work and endangering your own health and that of others. Solidarity and solidarity does not mean, however, Restricting yourself exclusively in your free time and continuing to do wage work, but it can mean, for example, showing solidarity with striking nurses. It means concrete help and politicization of the crisis.
6. The corona deniers must not ensure that the left no longer takes its own positions and is barely noticeable. The conspiracy ideologues must not be the ticket for anyone on the left to make peace with the state’s pandemic policy.
But why are the government measures to be criticized from the left? Of course not, because we downplay the dangers of the pandemic and describe the measures as excessive.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and the looming second “lockdown”, the state has pushed forward an actually very transparent discourse which individualized health protection and largely linked the infection process to leisure activities. 50 people in factories and offices are okay, shopping too, of course, but woe betide three people sitting on a park bench or three children playing in a playground. The schools were also kept open for as long as possible, of course not to relieve parents and, above all, women, but so that they are available as workers. The message was and is largely: wage labor and thus added value creation must continue, leisure time must be massively restricted. The President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, as a representative of the capital, says it very clearly: “If more stringent measures are planned, we should above all talk about the time after work”. But the Tagesschau also clarifies with its survey what the course of the state pandemic policy is, as there is no differentiation between leisure and wage work on the question of the appropriateness of the measures. For people this means that most things that are halfway beautiful or at least compensatory are forbidden, but everything that is stressful, crappy, humiliating continues (2). But the Tagesschau also clarifies with its survey what the course of the state pandemic policy is, as there is no differentiation between leisure and wage work on the question of the appropriateness of the measures. For people this means that most things that are halfway beautiful or at least compensatory are forbidden, but everything that is stressful, shitty, humiliating continues (2). But the Tagesschau also clarifies with its survey what the course of the state pandemic policy is, as there is no differentiation between leisure and wage work on the question of the appropriateness of the measures. For people this means that most things that are halfway beautiful or at least compensatory are forbidden, but everything that is stressful, crappy, humiliating continues (2).
Even now with the very late “lockdown”, production is still excluded. Companies are only asked to consider registering home offices here and there. Of course, people also get infected at work or on the way there in too small and too few public transport. The state and capital therefore play a large part in the increasing numbers of infections and deaths.
Aber auch konkret an den einzelnen Maßnahmen sollte deutlich werden, dass Linke für diese kein Lob übrighaben sollten. So ist die Gesundheitsversorgung seit Jahren zunehmend dem Zweck der Profitmaximierung unterworfen. Wo vorher schon keine ausreichende Versorgung möglich war, ist die Situation nun katastrophal. Menschen sterben, weil es nicht genug Personal, Kapazitäten und medizinisches Gerät gibt. Genauso zählt zu den staatlichen Maßnahmen Pflegekräfte weiterhin beschissen zu bezahlen, sie nun 12 Stunden arbeiten zu lassen und die Tatsache, dass sie auch infiziert zur Arbeit gehetzt werden können. Ebenso wie die Zustände in der Fleischindustrie und auf den Spargelfeldern, in den Geflüchtetenunterkünften und an den EU-Außengrenzen zu den staatlichen Maßnahmen zählen. Zusätzlich kommt dem Staat in der Pandemie besonders zupass, dass in aller Regel Frauen Haushalt, Kindererziehung und Sorgearbeit übernehmen.
In short: The state measures mean shifting the corona crisis on the backs of the working class and on the backs of women in order to allow capital accumulation to continue as much as possible, which in any case is based on their exploitation even without a pandemic.
This state continues to be, even in the pandemic, the state of capital and acts like that.
What to do?
The dispute with the corona deniers should clearly be conducted in opposition to the state. Above all, however, we as the left should increasingly set our own topics again in the Corona crisis or in the coming economic crisis and try to organize ourselves at work, at school or at university and support others in this. We should use the points we can build on to push our anchoring forward. At least symbolic campaigns relating to the care sector, parcel services and supermarkets are easily organized and easy to implement. And of course we should be considerate, of course it also depends on individual behavior, but we should always argue against individualizing the infection process and target the sphere of production.
Health for everyone is a social issue! The state has its side and that is not ours.
In this sense: Do not become state supportive! Against corona capitalism and corona deniers. For real solidarity
(1) This includes not only organizations, but also individuals.
(2) Of course this does not mean that we are of the opinion that it is no longer important to reduce social contacts.