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Led by Jeremy Corbyn, the British Left Opposes Vaccine Mandates as Anti-Worker and Repressive

The term "anti-vax" has expanded so widely that even vaccine advocates, such as Corbyn and trade unions, are now included by virtue of defending bodily autonomy.

The shorthand label “anti-vax” once had a clear and concise meaning: namely, those who reject the prevailing western scientific orthodoxy that vaccines are a safe and effective means of protecting humans against infectious diseases by training the immune system to combat a pathogen in advance. As vaccines become more prevalent against an increasingly wide range of diseases — measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox — a dissenting political and scientific movement has emerged which rejects the scientific premises of vaccines and attempts to persuade others not to vaccinate themselves or their children on the ground that they are ineffective, dangerous and/or motivated by corporate profit rather than legitimate concerns about public health.

But exactly as we have seen with so many other political labels — terrorist, racist, fascist, white nationalist, anti-Semite — this once-descriptive, precise and useful phrase has metamorphized far beyond its original meaning into something barely recognizable or cogent. That transformation has been deliberate, with a clear motive: to weaponize the term into a potent political insult designed to compel submission to decrees from institutions of authority and stigmatize dissenters, threatening them with reputation destruction. The rapid expansion of the term “anti-vax” into a coercive political weapon has been years in the making, but the COVID pandemic was the steroid it needed to blossom into one of the most reputation-crippling labels one can affix to a political target.

Just as is true of accusing people of being terrorists, white nationalists, fascists or anti-Semites not because one espouses views traditionally designated by those terms but as punishment for any sort of dissent, the destructive power of the COVID iteration of “anti-vax” resides precisely in its vagueness, its lack of precise contours, its emptiness and meaninglessness. A term that means nothing can, by definition and by design, encompass anyone and everyone depending solely on the needs of the moment.

The utter obliteration of any coherent definition is evidenced by the fact that one can now be labelled “anti-vax” even though one a) believes in the foundational science of vaccines, b) is themselves vaccinated for COVID and makes the decision that one’s children will be as well, and c) states publicly that they have chosen to be vaccinated.

How is it possible to pull off such a seemingly inane and internally contradictory attack: namely, malign people who have taken the vaccine and publicized their choice to do so as “anti-vax”? This is accomplished by twisting and distorting the term “anti-vax” away from its scientific meaning (“one who rejects the efficacy of vaccines”) into a term of political disobedience. Thus, the operational definition of the term has become: one who questions any of the decrees of public health authorities on any matters or who believes that adult citizens should retain the choice to decide for themselves whether to be vaccinated. In other words, the term “anti-vax” now means nothing other than: one who questions any policies adopted by state officials in the name of fighting COVID.

Unfortunately for the liberal-left which has constructed this manipulative and coercive framework, this now requires that the term “anti-vax” be applied to one of the international left’s most beloved political figures: former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. They must also now apply this term of shame to the most admired left-wing members of the British Parliament along with leading trade unions in the UK. That is because the British Left — not just Corbyn and leftist MPs but also leading labor unions — have united to emphatically oppose vaccine mandates and vaccines passports on the ground that 1) it is immoral and profoundly anti-worker to fire health care front-line workers and other workers for refusing a vaccine they have not been convinced is safe and effective, and 2) persuasion is a far more effective and ethical means of administering public health policy than coercion, dictate and punishment.

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