Posts Tagged ‘childhood preventable diseases’

To my embarrassment, I’ve come across an example of where the radical folks on the ultra-left go off the rails every now and then. In all political camps, you have your eccentrics (to be polite), but vaccine skeptics are on the same moral plane as climate change denialists because they both reject science and logic as a precondition for their conclusions.

In fact, there is a term for the kind of fallacy committed by the vaccine skeptics here in this particular case; post hoc ergo propter hoc: After this, therefore because of this. Arguments like these, presented in the above-mentioned article which rely solely on “event B happened after event A, therefore B is caused by A” collapse the moment you demand evidence for any connection. The people who wrote this article suggest that because India has pursued a campaign of polio eradication led by the WHO and somehow financed by the Gates foundation, “non-polio acute-flaccid paralysis” has become an epidemic. For one, the article claims that 100-180 cases crop up every year, which, considering India alone has a population of roughly 1,300,000,000, makes for a shitty campaign to paralyze, much less exterminate a whole people of the world’s second most populous nuclear-armed state. Presuming no change in the population (births, deaths, immigration/emigration, etc.) such a campaign would take roughly 7.2 to 13 million years to execute completely, several orders of magnitude longer than the entire history of human civilization. These cases are not linked to the conclusions of vaccine skeptics in any way that’s remotely intellectually defensible. Just because you call it “non-polio acute flaccid paralysis”, doesn’t mean it was caused by a polio vaccine.

These folks want to make vaccines out to be evil just because these large corporate firms might be promoting them, not because they have any evidence that these vaccines are directly linked to these maladies. I understand the temptation; I’m explicitly an anti-capitalist, but let’s at least be intellectually honest about this issue. If these firms killed people just because they wanted to cut corners, or keep quiet a fuck-up in production, that would be one thing and not the least bit surprising; but to assert with any sort of seriousness that it’s part of a corporate conspiracy to reduce the world’s population by 2/3rds (and why exactly that number?) give me a break; you’re in the same league as those who claim HIV is part of a government conspiracy to wipe out the world’s black folks.

Even from a Marxian perspective these assertions are absurd; the idea that the capitalist class would deploy biological weapons only for the purpose of reducing the population makes no sense because we understand the role of supply and demand in any economy, capitalist or socialist. In a capitalist, free-market economy especially, a larger population depresses wages. Marx even formulated a concept of this: the reserve army of labor. High unemployment is good for the capitalist because it provides the capitalist class a large pool of human beings they can use to threaten the rest of us with arbitrary firing; the boss can say “Hey asshole, I don’t care about your repetitive motion injuries, if you can’t make 600 burgers an hour for minimum wage, do it, or I’ll find someone else”.

Even if you wanted to assert that this was a racist campaign to exterminate the world’s “brown people”, it doesn’t pass the test of historical development; Especially in American history, the existence of brown and black folks has been face-palmingly useful to divide poor whites from black and brown folks and set them against each other to the benefit of their common oppressors. Understanding this, especially in the face of such assertions that this vaccine campaign is a racist campaign of genocide, we should understand the potential power the working-class has if it united across racial lines rather than divided by identity politics.

People like these do more harm to poor and working-class movements than any good. Not only do they wipe out any credibility to those attached or associated with them, they also effectively advocate for dooming people to be exposed to the ravages of diseases that have killed millions throughout history. These people deserve nothing more than derision, contempt, and above all, to be ignored once their lunacy is exposed and laid out.