Engels’ Anti-Duhring and the COVID-19 Calamity

There are many scourges that bedevil humanity that could be, but aren’t, ended. They persist as inevitable consequences of capitalism. The Covid-19 pandemic is one of them.

Stephen Gowans

October 26, 2022

In Anti-Duhring, Friedrich Engels’ attempt to produce an encyclopaedic survey of Marxism, the main tasks of scientific socialism are presented as follows: To show that:

  • Many of the current conditions in society that make no sense or are unjust are the necessary consequences of capitalism;
  • The existence of conditions that make no sense and are unjust reveals that capitalism is no longer a useful mode of production—no longer one which comports with the interests of the majority (though it did in an earlier era);
  • A better future exists in embryo in the present, and it is the role of Marxists to make the proletariat aware of its historical mission to bring a new socialist society to birth. [1]

What conditions of society make no sense? What conditions are unjust?

Let me mention just two, of many.

First, wars of aggression. In the Marxist view, or at least in the view of many Marxists, capitalism inevitably creates conditions that makes violent conflict between states more likely.

One of the goals of the Bolsheviks was to show that the first world war was a necessary consequence of capitalism, and to argue, accordingly, that capitalism no longer comported with the interests of the proletariat. The working class, along with the peasantry, no matter which side they were on, bore all the burdens of the war.

After that war, Bertolt Brecht—the playwright, poet, and writer—pointed out that common people always suffer and never benefit from war between capitalist rivals. He wrote:

When the last war came to an end

There were conquerors and conquered

Among the conquered the common people starved

Among the conquerors the common people starved too [2]

That common people are victims of wars between capitalist rivals remains true today in the war between the United States and Russia over Ukraine. While no one is starving—not yet, though this may come to pass—common people throughout the world bear the burden of the war in a cost-of-living crisis and impending recession, while starvation is a very real possibility in low-income countries as a result of disruptions caused by the war.

Still another current condition of society that is an ineluctable consequence of capitalism is the absence of meaningful democracy for the common people. Lenin’s indictment of capitalist democracy was twofold:

First, the formal equalities of capitalist democracy have no meaning if one in every 10 people exploits the remaining nine. Class society necessarily means exploitation of one class by another. There can be no de facto equality in class society, and therefore there can be no de facto democracy.

Think of a slave society. If every adult in a slave society was made formally equal by giving each, both slave and slave-owner, the right to vote, would a society of democratic equality be thereby created? Obviously not. How can a society be democratic if one part of the society exploits another part?

Lenin’s second indictment of capitalist democracy is that it denies the proletariat a meaningful political voice. Why? Because capitalism concentrates wealth in the hands of the bourgeoisie, which is able to use its immense wealth to dominate the political process: to buy and lobby politicians; to promote its point of view in the media and in the schools; to place its representatives in high-level positions in the state; to create think tanks to recommend its policy preferences to government; and to pressure governments to toe the bourgeoisie line through the implicit, and sometime explicit, threat of capital strike and capital flight. Governments tend to accommodate the demands of business. A government that encroaches on business interests too vigorously will almost invariably precipitate an economic crisis—and this will either lead to its defeat at the polls or its overthrow, outcomes most governments avoid by keeping their business communities happy (which, given their connections to business, most governments are already inclined to do anyway.) The corporate sector and the very wealthy, thus, have vastly more influence over public policy than does the proletariat. As political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page demonstrated in their study of over 1,700 US policy issues, the “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial impacts on government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” [3] This is a necessary consequence of capitalism.   

One of the tasks of Marxists, if you follow the logic of Marx and Engels, is to show that you can’t have political democracy, let alone social democracy, in a capitalist society.  

Engels argued that there are three signs that the current mode of production, the current way of organizing the economy, and the current way of organizing our politics, is no longer useful and no longer comports with the interests of the majority. [4]

  1. Existing social institutions—the democratic process, for example, or international relations, or the economy, are seen to be unreasonable and unjust.
  2. Reason appears to be unreason—that is, a lot of things make no sense.
  3. Right seems to have become wrong.

Significantly, these signs have been amply present during the pandemic.

To give you an example, in April of 2021, I wrote the following in a blog post: [5]

“For days, doctors and scientists in Ontario had offered the government the same advice: close non-essential businesses for a few weeks to avert a looming public health crisis.

“The government acted. It prohibited virtually every activity that could fuel the upward trend in infections and hospitalizations—except the most significant. What it didn’t do is what the doctors and scientists said it should do: temporarily close non-essential businesses.

“Critical care physicians, ICU nurses, and epidemiologists were bewildered. Why had the government ignored their advice? Why was it refusing to implement the most significant measure of all to prevent suffering and save lives?

“The director of the committee the government had set up to make science-based recommendations said he was ‘at a loss’ to understand why the ‘government announced a suite of measures that didn’t account for his group’s advice.’ Another panel member said ‘he was dumbfounded by the government’s rejection of science and common sense.’ A third said ‘she and her colleagues were stunned.’

“One critical care physician, interviewed on TV, said that she had been ‘reflecting on why this happened and one thing that occurred to her is that the role of government is to protect its citizens.’ She couldn’t understand why the government was failing to do so.”

Reason had become unreason. Right had become wrong.

The science was available, the science could be followed, but it wasn’t followed. That is, a solution to a problem that plagued society was within the grasp of political authority, but political authority refused to act.

As a parallel, Engels would argue in Anti-Duhring that the means are available to offer everyone a materially secure existence and to ensure to all the full and free development of their physical and mental capabilities. [6] All the same, the potential remains just that—potential, not reality.  

At one point the critical care physician conceded tentatively and with much reluctance—as if the thought was too unsettling to contemplate—that maybe the government was more committed to the interests of business owners than to the welfare of the larger community.


In The Killer’s Henchman: Capitalism and the Covid-19 Disaster, I try to follow the approach articulated by Engels in Anti-Duhring of examining the ties between a social abuse (in this case, the pandemic) and capitalism. Specifically, I show that the tools to end the pandemic, indeed, to prevent it, were already in humanity’s toolbox, but that capitalism prevented them from being used; that the Covid-19 calamity was preventable in principle, but inevitable in capitalist reality.

An estimated 17.7 million people around the world have died [7] unnecessarily from a pandemic that could have been avoided had capitalism not prevented the solutions to this problem from being implemented. Or to use the words of the World Health Organization’s Secretary General, we have all the tools to end the pandemic. The question is, Why don’t we use them?

If we were to argue in the manner of utopian socialists, the answer would be that doctors and scientists haven’t invested enough time and effort to let political authority know that the tools to end the pandemic are available, or that people in positions of authority are too stupid to understand that the tools are at hand.

A Marxist, by contrast, might argue that the approach to the pandemic is not a failure of understanding but a failure of capitalism; that it is a necessary consequence of capitalism; that it shows capitalism is no longer a useful system; and that capitalism militates against the implementation of solutions to the pandemic that are already present.

My argument is that capitalism prevents us from using the tools that are available; that capitalism, however much it was, at one point, a progressive force, has become a barrier to human progress; that in the 17.7 million (and climbing) deaths attributable to Covid-19, it has become evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society (to borrow the words of Karl Marx.) The capitalist class is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society because in the pursuit of its own interests it has prevented humanity from using the great potential inherent in social production, in industry, and in science to solve humanity’s problems, not least of which is managing the emergence of novel pathogens like the virus that causes Covid-19.   


In May 2021, more than a year into the pandemic, the World Health Organization released a report by an independent panel on the performance of the world’s governments in responding to the Covid-19 health emergency. The panel arrived at a stunning conclusion: the pandemic could have been avoided. [8]

Even as late as January 30, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern, and two to three months after the virus likely first began to circulate, it was “still possible,” concluded the panel, “to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts and promote social distancing measures.”

But that didn’t happen.

By March 11, the virus had spread far enough that the global health organization declared a pandemic.

How had a controllable outbreak become a catastrophe on a world scale? The answer was simple: inaction. “On 30 January 2020, it should have been clear to all countries from the declaration of the” public health emergency of international concern “that COVID-19 represented a serious threat,” the panel averred. “Even so,” it continued, “only a minority of countries set in motion comprehensive and coordinated Covid-19 protection and response measures.” The result was that February 2020, a month “when steps could and should have been taken to” prevent a controllable outbreak, was lost to history. Governments tarried, and their foot-dragging plunged humanity into a dark abyss.

Not all governments were content to sit tight until it was absolutely certain they were staring disaster in the face. “China, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand and Vietnam.” These countries, the panel noted, acted quickly and decisively to contain the emergency, and all with exemplary success. They pursued an aggressive containment strategy that involved mass testing, robust contact tracing, and quarantine, with “social and economic support to promote widespread uptake of public health measures.”

Most other countries, by contrast, waited far too long to act. And when they did act, they failed to do enough, never fully implementing the measures needed to bring their outbreaks under control.

Why did most countries do too little, too late? The panel pointed to cost. Most governments judged concerted public health action as too expensive.

Three costs were central to these countries’ concerns:

  1. The direct expense of testing, contact tracing, the construction of isolation facilities, coordinating quarantine, and providing financial support to the quarantined.
  2. The indirect cost of business disruptions.
  3. The impact on the stock market.

The people inside the US government who would be charged with executing various aspects of any pandemic strategy, believed that public health measures would promote nothing but economic loss, according to Michael Lewis in his study of the US response to the pandemic, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story.

Concerning the cost of business disruption, the 1918-1921 Spanish Flu offered an anticipatory model. Studies of how the United States responded to the flu pandemic found that government decision-makers were under incessant pressure from businesses to lift public health measures. And because the business community wields outsize influence over public policy—as a necessary consequence of capitalism—cities tended to capitulate. Those that bowed to business pressure—the majority—did far worse than those that did not.

Finally, Donald Trump deliberately downplayed the public health emergency, repeatedly declaring that it would magically resolve itself, because he feared that acknowledging the danger would result in untold stock market losses. According to the Washington Post, “Trump grew concerned that any action by his administration would hurt the economy, and … told advisers that he [did] not want the administration to do or say anything that would … spook the markets.” [9]

The panel criticized countries for taking “a wait and see” attitude, but didn’t inquire into the reasons why they took this attitude.

Why did they wait? Most countries waited because it was far more important for political authorities to avoid the error of acting before the danger was confirmed and thereby unnecessarily spooking the markets than it was to avoid the error of acting too slowly and unleashing a pandemic. In other words, the interests of capitalists trumped those of everyone else.


One country, among a handful of others, acted quickly:  China.

By pursuing a “zero-Covid strategy”— setting zero cases as the goal and taking very aggressive steps to attempt to suppress transmission of the virus—China has achieved great success in protecting the health of its citizens from Covid-19.

There are an estimated 1.35 million cumulative deaths attributable to Covid-19 in the United States, compared to only 22,000 in China, a country with over four times more people. Per million, fatalities due to the novel coronavirus are over 259 times greater in the United States than China—4,077 vs. 16. [10]

What has China done to set itself apart from the United States so favorably?

There is no particular genius in China’s approach to curbing Covid-19 transmission. Beijing’s strategy is based on an axiom. As Michael Lewis explained in The Premonition, “One thing that is inarguably true is that if you got everyone and locked each of them in their own room and didn’t let them out to talk to anyone, you would not have any disease.” China’s approach is based on this core truth.

The British Medical Journal explains the Chinese approach this way:

“China mobilized quickly and within two months had contained the epidemic and eliminated local infections in the country. There were no magic bullets in the tools it used: the methods were old school public health strategies, which are often called non-pharmaceutical interventions. Other countries also successfully eliminated local infections, showing that elimination of an emerging disease with pandemic potential is possible by using non-pharmaceutical interventions alone. Public health methods such as mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and restriction of public events and travel played an important part. Identifying and quarantining people with covid-19 and their close contacts was also critical” (emphasis added). [11]

China’s success, then, has been due, not to vaccines, but to old school public health strategies—strategies the World Health Organization describes as proven and known to work. [12]

In an April 2021 study [13], the medical journal, the Lancet, compared five OECD countries that pursued a zero-Covid strategy with 32 others that opted for hospital surveillance-based mitigation (that is, a strategy that does not set zero as the goal, but sets as its goal as many cases as are tolerable within the limits of hospital capacity and medical resources.) Australia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea followed China’s zero-Covid lead, imposing tight border controls, along with test, trace, and quarantine methods, to eliminate community transmission.

The study found that:

  • The mortality rate was 25 times lower among countries that set zero as their goal. 
  • Lockdown measures “were less strict and of shorter duration” in the zero Covid group.
  • “GDP growth returned to pre-pandemic levels in early 2021 in the countries that set zero as their goal, whereas growth [was] still negative for the other OECD countries.”

On the basis of their analysis, the authors concluded that governments that pursued a zero-Covid strategy not only performed better at protecting the health of their citizens and saving lives, but also better protected their economies and minimized restrictions on civil liberties—that is, they had fewer lockdowns and the lockdowns were of shorter duration. The zero-Covid strategy checked all the boxes.

Nine of 193 UN members—China, five OECD countries, and three southeast Asian non-OECD states, less than one in 20—used the tools that were available to end the pandemic. As of October 26, 2022, there were an estimated 249 deaths attributable to Covid-19 per million people in these countries, compared to 2,850 in the nearly 96 percent of countries that failed to follow the science.  In other words, the zero-Covid countries reduced deaths by over 90 percent (China by over 99 percent) compared to countries that rejected this proven method, known to work. Even among the countries that eschewed proven public health and social measures, the United States is an outlier; deaths due to Covid-19 per million are over 16 times greater than the average of the zero-Covid countries.


If Beijing set zero as its goal, Washington—the bellwether for most countries—set protecting the stock market and avoiding disruptions to business as its goals—along with one other: developing a vaccine. From day one, “all expert talk” in the United States “was about how to speed the production and distribution of vaccines,” observed Michael Lewis. No one seemed to be exploring the proven public health and social measures that were known to work; that were endorsed by the World Health Organization; that were pursued with great success by China and eight other countries.

We heard repeatedly in the months following the viral outbreak that at some point, within a year, a vaccine would be developed, after which it would be quickly distributed, allowing us to resume our lives as before. What we didn’t hear amid all the celebration of vaccines was that nine countries had already largely put the pandemic behind them, without recourse to vaccines, using old fashioned public health methods. In other words, what we didn’t hear was that the tools were already available to save us—that is, to limit hospitalizations and fatalities, minimize the number and length of lockdowns, and safely reopen economies. But those tools weren’t being used. Instead, we were told that the only tool that mattered was a vaccine. Anthony Fauci called the vaccine “the cavalry.” [14]

To be sure, safe and effective vaccines are highly desirable. Vaccines for smallpox, polio, rubella, and many other diseases, including Covid-19, save countless millions of lives, and help many more people avoid sickness. They represent a significant advance in public health. But are vaccines the sole—even the best—way to address pandemics? Are they a silver bullet? And are they the cavalry?

The World Health Organization director-general warned that “vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis” [15] and “vaccines alone cannot solve the pandemic.” [16] He added that “there is no silver bullet. Stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control; testing, isolating and treating patients and tracing and quarantining their contacts.” [17] In other words, doing what China, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and few other countries did—epidemiology 101.

Echoing the World Health Organization, numerous public health experts repeatedly cautioned that:

“We should not be thinking of the vaccine as a silver bullet.” [18]

“Vaccines alone will not be the silver bullet that will allow us to return to normal life.” [19]

Vaccines “are not magic solutions.” [20]

Vaccines are “really important, but they’re not a silver bullet.” [21]

“Anyone who says that vaccines alone can end the pandemic is wrong.” [22]

And yet that’s not what expert opinion at the White House said. The Trump White House announced that it was “fully focused on defeating the virus” through a vaccine [23]—not through public health and social measures, even though these were endorsed by the World Health Organization, even though they were shown by nine countries, including the world’s most populous, to work, even though this was epidemiology 101.

For its part, the Biden administration said that: “Vaccination is key to getting the pandemic under control.” [24] Indeed, the availability of vaccine doses for every US adult led Biden to effectively declare the pandemic over in the summer of 2021, despite the fact that the United States continued to post among the world’s worst Covid-19 morbidity and mortality figures.  Since that date, the number of estimated deaths in the United States attributable to Covid-19 has grown by 589,000—a 77 percent increase. The pandemic was over—except for the burials.

The World Health Organization’s assessment of the world’s response to the pandemic noted that “while much of the early response to COVID-19 involved missed opportunities and failure to act, there [were] some areas in which early action was taken to good effect, most notably in … vaccine product development.”

This invites a question: Why did the world succeed notably in vaccine product development but 19 of every 20 countries failed miserably in implementing proven and effective public health measures?

And why was the false silver bullet of vaccines chosen over the proven and effective methods of public health, especially when there were, in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, plenty of reasons to think that vaccine development would end in failure?

To be sure, we have safe and effective vaccines today, but did success seem certain in the spring of 2020?

Throughout the first half of 2020 and into the summer of that year, there were serious doubts about whether humans could develop a durable immunity to the novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization reminded governments that the question of whether humans could acquire immunity to the virus had yet to be answered. In October 2020, the Lancet would report that “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection.” [25] Even Anthony Fauci, champion of the vaccine strategy, expressed concern. Fauci pointed out that there’s “never a guarantee, ever, that you’re going to get an effective vaccine.”  [26] That was an understatement.

Historically, only six percent of vaccine efforts had succeeded. And the very few that did succeed took a long time to come to fruition. The average development time for successful vaccines was almost 11 years. [27]

Robert van Exan, a veteran of the US vaccine industry, assessed the probability of a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as “relatively low.” [28] The consensus among scientists was that a vaccine, if it arrived, wouldn’t arrive soon. So, anyone reviewing the state of the art in 2020 would have reasonably concluded that the chance of a vaccine being rapidly developed was poor (about 6 percent).

Which raises the question: If vaccine success appeared to be unlikely, and non-pharmaceutical public health measures had already been shown to be effective, why were billions of dollars invested in a project that looked likely to fail, while at the same time, a demonstrably effective solution in public health measures was rejected? 

At the time, The New York Times raised doubts about whether a vaccine was possible, while at the same time pointing to another concern: safety. The “whole enterprise,” noted the newspaper, “remains dogged by uncertainty about whether any coronavirus vaccine will prove effective … and whether … compressing a process that can take 10 years into 10 months — will sacrifice safety.” [29]

The answer, it turned out, was that US officials did take risks with public safety. In fact, it was only by risking public safety that vaccines were produced quickly. This doesn’t mean that the vaccines are unsafe, but that the protocols normally in place to assess vaccine safety were side-stepped in an effort to fast track the vaccines. (Playing Russian Roulette is unsafe, but not everyone who plays ends up dead. Likewise, US officials took a chance the vaccines were safe, and so far, the gamble appears to have paid off. The question is, with safe and effective public health measures available, was the gamble necessary?)

Here’s how The New York Times explained it. Because “of the pandemic’s urgency, any promising Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be fast-tracked through the testing and approval process. It may not go through years of clinical trials and careful studies of possible long-term side-effects, the way other drugs do.” And, just as the newspaper predicted, the vaccines were rushed into people’s arms. This happened under a regime called “emergency use authorization”, before clinical trials were completed and before sufficient time had elapsed to evaluate possible long-term side effects. Emergency use authorization allows unapproved, i.e., experimental drugs and procedures to be used in the face of an emergency where no other alternative exists. The trouble is, there was an alternative—the public health and social measures that China, five OECD countries, and three southeast Asian non-OECD states showed significantly check fatalities, limit the number and duration of lockdowns, and hasten the return to economic growth; measures, moreover, that were recognized and endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Scientists who predicted in 2020 that a vaccine could not possibly be produced in 12 months assumed that like other vaccines, a Covid-19 vaccine would require a period of testing over many years. For example, one vaccine expert told the Wall Street Journal that he was “skeptical a safe and effective vaccine could be available soon, given all the testing required.” [30] What he didn’t know was that all the testing required wouldn’t be done. Had normal testing protocols been followed, it would have taken two years or more to approve a vaccine.

Political authority, then, took risks with public safety that didn’t have to be taken because other tools were available that were known to work. These tools weren’t used. Instead, the dice were rolled on public safety.


A puzzle. In 2020, the Rockefeller Foundation presented a proposal to the Trump administration to tackle the pandemic. Invest $100 billion in a health corps of 300,000 public servants to conduct a country-wide test, trace, and quarantine program. [31] This would emulate the strategy that allowed China to bring its outbreak under control and safely reopen its economy. The White House declined. Instead, Washington decided to spend tens of billions of dollars on a vaccine, supported by the logistical expertise of the US military and the scientific expertise of government labs and publicly supported universities. The same military logistical capability and the same multi-billion-dollar funding could have been used to create and operate a test, trace, and isolate program. This didn’t happen.

Why, then, with the pandemic upon it, would Washington turn down an approach to pandemic control that had been shown to succeed in nine countries and was endorsed by the World Health Organization in favor of going all in on a vaccine program which, in the first half of 2020, appeared to any reasonable person to have little chance of success? Why pass on the sure, safe, option and bet on the long shot—moreover, a long-shot that would—owing to the need to compress 10 years of testing into 10 months—put the safety of billions of people at risk?

One driver of Washington’s predilection for vaccines was the ability of billionaires, such as Bill Gates, to set the public health agenda to favor pharmaceutical solutions and their profit-making potential over public health solutions and their considerable expense to the public purse. Owing to their great wealth, billionaires, foundations, and the pharmaceutical industry—that is, the bourgeoisie—have the resources to strongly influence public discourse on healthcare issues and have accordingly set the public policy agenda on matters related to health, including pandemic preparedness—an agenda that supports bourgeois interests at the expense of the public. (And this too is an inevitable consequence of capitalism.) The bourgeoisie has long ago used its influence to push vaccines to the top of the agenda on how to meet the challenge of pandemics. As a result, when the novel virus emerged, governments followed the path capitalist class influencers had already set, shunning the proven public health measures which, though unquestionably effective, offer no opportunities for amassing colossal profits. In a capitalist society, which approach will be favored—one that benefits the community as a whole, or one that benefits the sectional interests of the capitalist class? The answer is evident in the term “capitalist society.” A society for capitalists. A society in which capitalist interests reign supreme.


How the vaccines were developed calls to mind two points made by Engels in Anti-Duhring.

First, Engels wrote that: The official representative of capitalist society — the state — will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production. [32] In making this point he was saying that the foundations of socialism are already present in bourgeois society.

The second thing he said was that “The transformation of [large enterprises] into state property shows how unnecessary the bourgeoisie are for that purpose. All the social functions of the capitalist are now performed by salaried employees. The capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange.” [33]

The top two Covid-19 vaccines in the Western world are the Moderna vaccine, sometimes called the NIH-Moderna (or National Institutes of Health—Moderna) vaccine, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is called the NIH-Moderna vaccine because the US government, through the National Institutes of Health, shares the patent, and is largely responsible for its development. The intellectual property for both vaccines wasn’t developed by private sector scientists working in isolation of public support, funded by far-seeing private capitalists risking their own capital (as the fairy tale goes), but by government scientists working in government labs along with university colleagues supported by government grants.

Moreover, the vaccines were developed under a US government planning project called Operation Warp Speed. Yes that’s right: state planning. Here is Engels’ model of the official representative of capitalist society—the state—ultimately having to undertake the direction of production—in this case, of vaccines. The state did the planning and then provided the inputs: scientists and intellectual property; the logistical expertise of the military; and billions of dollars of direct funding.

The outcome of state planning and state investment was the development vaccines that were handed over to the shareholders of Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech, so that the shareholders could sell vaccine doses back to the state, and, as Engels put it, pocket the dividends, tear off the coupons, and gamble on the Stock Exchange.

But if the public—that is the proletariat in the main—did all of the heavy lifting, furnishing through its labor the tax dollars that funded the government labs that created the intellectual property; that allowed Moderna to expand its facilities and labor force; that purchased vaccine doses in advance of their production; that paid for the US military to plan and carry out the logistics, what did the shareholders of these companies contribute? Nothing. Their contribution was to cash in on the sale of vaccines developed by public funds, by public planning, and by publicly-supported expertise. Pharmaceutical shareholders, as Engels would have pointed out, are no longer necessary. Even worse, they’re parasites—they live on the labor of the proletariat in the form of the taxes paid by the proletariat to the official representatives of capitalist society—the state.  

So, to go back to what Marx and Engels thought scientific socialists ought to do: my book tries to follow the path they set.

It shows that a controllable outbreak that turned into a pandemic—a catastrophe on a world scale that has killed nearly 18 million people to date, and has become the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer [34]—is the direct consequence of capitalism.

It shows that capitalism prevented the political authority of most countries from using proven and effective public health tools to protect public health. This shows that capitalism no longer comports with the interests of the majority, is a barrier to human progress, and a threat to the safety of us all.

The book also shows, in Operation Warp Speed—an exercise in public planning using public resource for public need—that the foundations of socialism are present in current society; that the bourgeoisie is no longer necessary; and that the capitalist class exists nowadays for one purpose alone: to pick the pockets of the proletariat.

All that remains for a transition to socialism is for the proletariat to be made aware of its historical mission to seize political power in order transform the socialized means of production into state property, and to organize social production on the basis of a plan comporting with the needs of the community and each individual.

Only then will humanity be able to use the tools at its disposal to solve its most pressing problems; only then will humanity progress; only then will unreason become reason, injustice become justice, and wrong become right.


The Killer’s Henchman can be ordered directly from the publisher, Baraka Books, or from Amazon, The Book Depository, Indigo, and other online book sellers.


1. Friedrich Engels, Anti-Duhring, Wellred Publications, 2017, p. 180.

2. “The War Which is Coming”, from A German War Primer.

3. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics, Fall 2014.

4. Anti-Duhring, p. 316.

5. Stephen Gowans, “The Catastrophes of the Pandemic are the Catastrophes of Capitalism,” gowans.blog, April 21, 2021

6. Anti-Duhring, p. 181.

7. https://covid19.healthdata.org/

8. “COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response,” Word Health Organization, May, 2021, COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic (theindependentpanel.org).

9. Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, “Trump’s soft touch with China’s Xi worries advisers who say more is needed to combat coronavirus outbreak,” The Washington Post, February 16, 2020.

10. https://covid19.healthdata.org/

11. “What can the world learn from China’s response to covid-19?”, The British Medical Journal, December 2, 2021.

12.  WHO Press Conference on Covid-19, August 4, 2021.

13. Miquel Oliu-Barton, “SARS-CoV-2 elimination, not mitigation, creates best outcomes for health, the economy, and civil liberties,” The Lancet, April 28, 2021.

14. KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: What Would Dr. Fauci Do?,” November 19, 2020.

15. WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on Covid-19, 14 December 2021.

16. WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the WTO – WHO High Level Dialogue: Expanding COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacture To Promote Equitable Access, 21 July 2021.

17. WHO COVID-19 Virtual Press conference 3 August 2020.

18. Sarah Bahr, “Fauci Says It Could Be a Year Before Theater Without Masks Feels Normal,” The New York Times, September 11, 2020.

19. Drew Hinshaw and Daniel Michaels, “Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine Is Cleared for Use by EU Drug Agency,” The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2020.

20. Sarah Bahr, “Fauci Says It Could Be a Year Before Theater Without Masks Feels Normal,” The New York Times, September 11, 2020.

21. Benjamin Mueller, “How a Dangerous New Coronavirus Variant Thwarted Some Countries’ Vaccine Hopes,” The New York Times, February 8, 2021.

22. Eric Reguly, “Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is proving elusive – even in highly vaccinated countries,” The Globe and Mail, May 27, 2021.

23. Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, “New Trump pandemic adviser pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy, worrying public health officials,” The Washington Post, August 31, 2020.

24. Sabrina Siddiqui, “Biden Meets With Top Executives on Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate,” The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2021.

25. “Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now,” The Lancet, October 15, 2020.

26. Jennifer Abbasi, “Anthony Fauci, MD, on COVID-19 Vaccines, Schools, and Larry Kramer,” The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 8, 2020.

27. David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Carl Zimmer, Katie Thomas and Sui-Lee Wee, “Profits and Pride at Stake, the Race for a Vaccine Intensifies,” The New York Times, May 2, 2020.

28. Stuart A. Thompson, “How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take?,” The New York Times, April 30, 2020.

29. David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Carl Zimmer, Katie Thomas and Sui-Lee Wee, “Profits and Pride at Stake, the Race for a Vaccine Intensifies,” The New York Times, May 2, 2020.

30. Jared S. Hopkins and Jonathan D. Rockoff, “Race for Coronavirus Vaccine Accelerates as Pfizer Says U.S. Testing to Begin Next Week,” The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2020.

31. Nina Burleigh, Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America’s Response to the Pandemic, Seven Stories Press. 2021. p. 26.

32. Anti-Duhring, p. 330.

33. Anti-Duhring, p. 330.

34. Jon Kamp, “Covid-19 Is Still Killing Hundreds of Americans Daily”, The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2022.

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