A few Thoughts on Anti-Vaxxers
My father is against the various COVID-19 vaccines put out by the United States Government. He would never call them vaccines, but rather, to quote him, “experimental gene therapy” and he is referencing the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines when he says this. As for what Viral Vector COVID-19 vaccines are for him then, I do not know. But the question we should ask is why are people against vaccines? Do they have a “valid” reason behind their beliefs? And we must also ask what is the “Bataillean” opinion on vaccines.
In regards to what I’ve overheard from my father’s interactions with anti-vax media, anti-vaxxers believe what they do out of a multi-sided impulse: this impulse has within it humanism, theology, nationalism, security politics, typical American anti-“communism,” and more. What we begin to realize is that the pro-vax/anti-vax divide is not only inanely ideological, but also massively ignorant of the other side. As someone who has heard both sides and still has yet to take a position, I think it is appropriate that I map out what I believe here in this essay.
Anti-vaxxers are hardly different from pro-vaxxers in terms of values. Both advocate for the positions they do because they believe what they advocate for helps humanity more than the other position.
Some anti-vaxxers think that the COVID-19 vaccine is the proto-mark of the beast, that this is just the first step before the government further restricts our freedom by doing this and then that. Obviously, the anti-vax position is illogical here as it is predicated on a typical slippery slope fallacy as well as more than questionable theological premises. But, what we must recognize is that this “opposition” to the United States government is not at all an opposition, because there is a nationalism inside the movement. From what I’ve overheard, Alex Jones (as well as others), owner of InfoWars, holds that the government’s urging of the populace to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a nothing other than a demonstration of how the United States of America is beginning to fall, that is, how our classic American freedom is being taken away. Anti-vaxxers view themselves as patriots, as those who are defending the last of America. For example, my father genuinely believes that what is commonly known as “the Deep South” is the last bastion of freedom in the world, or at least, will soon be the last bastion. The security politics are so clearly visible here. They genuinely believe that “communist democrat liberals,” as they would say, are out to destroy America. Obviously, the democratic party is there only to preserve the United States of America as it is nothing other than a mechanism for the perpetuation of American ideology. Now, some anti-vaxxers think that the vaccines are made to destroy the fertility of the populace, and the reason they are made this way is that the “elites,” as they would call them, want to reduce the population so they can not only have more resources to themselves in the face of the impending climate crisis (which is already here), but also in order to attain control of the diminished population easier. This is one of the various forms of humanism found within the anti-vax movement.
Now, the aforementioned forms of nationalism and theology are not found in the pro-vax position, but there is nonetheless a largely theological and humanist impulse in the position.
Pro-vaxxers see that COVID-19 is something that should be “erased” by way of vaccination. They see that the price of life is not one they are willing to pay. They will say, “Oh, you’re not getting vaccinated? So, you’re just okay with letting people die?”. Now, this is where the issue begins. The anti-vaxxer will respond by saying, “No! It is you who is okay with letting people die”. Both positions are positions of servility, because they are positions of security.
The pro-vaxxer must securitize against the virus. The anti-vaxxer must securitize against the elites, the corrupted US government, as well as pro-vaxxers. Both of their positions are attacks against sovereignty. The anti-vaxxer is not defending freedom as they do not know what freedom is (one cannot know freedom because freedom is found in sovereignty which is of non-knowledge). They believe that the capitalist United States of America is free… they are deluded fools. The pro-vaxxer believes that they are helping people by promoting a cultural attitude of (the) fear (of death).
Jean Baudrillard has spoken about the security politics involved in endorsements of vaccines, but I am not to invoke his arguments here. Rather, what would Bataille think?
Obviously, Bataille is on the side of sovereignty. He is thus not going to fall to the liberal security politics of the pro-vax position, nor the nationalist security politics of the anti-vax position. He would not be a pro- or anti-vaxxer. But if one were to extricate the anti-vax position from its nationalism, theology, and humanism would Bataille then be an anti-vaxxer? I would say no. I say no because Bataille does not fall into the trap of ressentiment. There are no positions present in chance…