As the New Year dawns – being bullied into COVID compliance

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We are republishing another New Year post. This time it’s a reflection from Tony Taylor, a retired youth worker and lecturer now living in Greece who is still politically active. This piece was originally published on 2 January 2021 on his blog, Chatting Critically.

New Year’s Day 2022 – an azure and windless sky beckons, promises and resolutions hang not yet tested in the still air. New Year’s Days I’ve had too many to mention but this one is different. It’s surreal, sinister and disconcerting.

I’m now into my 75th year on this god-forsaken earth. For more than half a century I’ve spouted forth about the evils of capitalism, even advocated revolution but my stance has not cost me dear. A tapped phone here, a night on a police station floor there, a few bruises on the picket line. Nothing to write home about. Indeed, it might well be argued that I’ve made something of a career out of being the useful ‘token’ radical, not ‘in and against’ rather ‘in and compromised’ by the State. I’m of a post-war generation, whose lives were improved to different degrees by the struggles of our forefathers and mothers. With all its warts, and I railed against its shortcomings, the social-democratic society was a step forward. Neoliberalism has been closing down its gains for over forty years. I’ve sought to criticise this assault, arguing against the insidious influence of behaviourist psychology and worrying about the danger of us sleepwalking into an authoritarian and intolerant society. Again I have not been taken to task by the powerful for this dissension. As far as being troubled goes, it’s been wrought by my own self-doubt and anxiety. As a dear friend whispered gently, ‘being a couch revolutionary isn’t exactly uncomfortable’.

Two years ago I would have shaken my bald pate in disbelief at the predicament I face this New Year’s Day. The Greek government has determined that all the citizens and residents of the country, who are over 60 years of age will be vaccinated with the ‘booster’. Refusing to comply will lead to the following State punishments.

  • Each person resisting will be fined 100 euros each successive month until they give in. Over 25% of Greek pensioners, around 700,00 persons, receive less tha 500 Euros a month and even the average pension amounts to only 869 euros before deductions. In my case, it seems that if I resist the 100 Euros will be procured for the government by my accountant.
  • Each person resisting will not possess therefore a valid vaccine passport. This means they will only be allowed access to supermarkets, grocery stores and chemists, to food and medicine. They will be barred from all public indoor spaces – tavernas, kafeneion, the beating heart of Greek life, even, I’m not sure, the Church – and public events. If this is enforced they will be excluded from the majority of what we might call civil society.

I want you to be shocked and angry in the face of such a draconian scenario, imposed by a government without an ethical leg to stand on. I worry that the propaganda machine churning out numbers, numbers, numbers will continue to cloud the issue. Mass testing alongside the emergence of a milder but more infectious variant will inevitably mean an upsurge in infections, leaving aside the fact that the USA Centre for Disease Control has just disowned the PCR test, admitting its unreliability. A touch late, methinks.

In essence, the Mitsotakis government’s authoritarianism, whilst running deep in its historical blood, is inseparable from the influence of the corporate and pharmaceutical giants of our era. It is about power and profit. It is about politics. It is not about health. At this point, some readers may sigh. Am I in Covid denial? For now, I will only say that I believe that the COVID threat to society as a whole has been exaggerated enormously; that from a health point of view things could have been managed so very differently.

AgePeak Case Fatality Rate in winter 2020Case Fatality rate in June 2021
<204 in 100,0004 in 100,000
20-2914 in 100,00020 in 100,000
30-398 in 10,0005 in 10,000
40-492 in 10001 in 1000
50-598 in 10003 in 1000
80 or above33%15%

Table 1: Proportion of people catching covid who die with it by age in England official figures

The data presented above for June 2021 does not take into account booster vaccinations, early treatments and Omicron being less dangerous than earlier variants. These figures are calculated based on every ‘covid death’ including those where covid may well have been a bystander infection as often occurs with respiratory viruses. [Taken from ‘The Six Miracles of COVID’ Health Advice Recovery Team]

Thus, walking Glyka this morning, I felt my back was against the stone wall running down our lane, never mind that it was crumbling with the passing years. What to do? If I decline to be boosted I don’t think I am a health hazard. I don’t think I am being irresponsible. The growing evidence, given the vaccine has not lived up to the hype, is that the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are no more dangerous in terms of transmission to each other than each other. The mandatory vaccination of the over 60s here in Greece owes nothing to its democratic tradition, harking back much more to the dark days of the junta. As with all authoritarianism, it is industrial in its practice. The idea that treatment ought to be tailored to the particular history and circumstances of the individual is an anathema; that the principle of bodily autonomy, ‘our body, our choice’, is fundamental regarded as passe; that a healthy older person with no underlying comorbidities with legitimate concerns about the safety of an experimental drug has every right to demur is seen as utterly unacceptable; and as for the once cherished notion of informed consent that’s consigned to the historical bin.

Obviously, given my analysis of the situation, I should refuse the jab. Yet I prevaricate. I’m perplexed and angry. There’s nothing unique about the corner I’m in. Insofar as it’s special it’s to do with relationships, most intimately with my family. Becoming a ‘refusenik’ would curtail all sorts of simple social acts, just having a morning coffee down in the village. It would prevent me from travelling to see my children and grandchildren. Perhaps, if I was made of sterner stuff I would hold out. As things stand, in the absence of visible collective resistance, I suspect, I will shame-facedly comply. I have until the 16th of January to decide. Rather than be true to the active intent of the slogan, ‘educate, agitate, organise’ I’ll retreat passively into being agitated. I will persuade myself that I will live to fight another day. Will that be when the fourth jab is demanded? History will be the judge.

18 thoughts on “As the New Year dawns – being bullied into COVID compliance

  1. I feel incredibly sorry about this happening to you. What a bloody awful situation – having to give in to government bullying and coercion feels demeaning and overwhelmingly wrong. I believe that despite this I would do the same in your situation, sometimes it is what it is and you will be able to maintain or even gather resources to fight against what has been done to you and others in your community to ensure that this never happens again.

  2. I live in Crete and have been banned from normal life except supermarkets and chemists for some time now as I chose not to be vaccinated. I turn 60 in July. Im sorry you are being forced to comply, I hope that you will however get out on the streets and support those fighting against vaccine apartheid. I am very disappointed in family and friends in the UK who are silent on the subject of vaccine passports. Whatever your position on Vaccines, everyone should be reacting against discrimination based on vaccine status . .

    1. Sian C – thanks for your supportive response. Whereabouts are you on Crete? I live between Xania and Rethymno. Is there the slightest chance we could meet? I’m not in touch with any collective resistance. Then again, to my shame, my Greek leaves much to be desired. Email –

  3. There are protocols online for pre-jab preparation and post-jab treatment prepared by health medical groups if you are unable to escape this global medical tyranny.

    1. Like everyone I strongly sympathise with your situation. Obviously I hope that you will feel able to resist this both on the streets and by not being in the clinic. However you will make the choice that you feel is appropriate but I hope that you will take Frances’s very good point on board. Make sure that the injection is done properly into the muscle and not in the bloodstream (from what I can tell most medics don’t aspirate, they just jab and inject and this can make a big difference), you may also want to take a magnet as vials have been found with metal in, and/or review the batch numbers with or that nurse who said some were placebos and some a poison etc, make sure you are feeling well. Sure there are other precautions.

      And please do make sure you report any adverse effects to both the pharma co and to the relevant state database.

      I am still in Britain and find it very depressing that while it is ridiculous here it seems to be worse almost everywhere else!

  4. It is devastating reading your words and the comments below. I too am in that age bracket and have always taken responsibility for my health. It is nothing less than crushing to be forced into compliance. It is enslavement, pure and simple. But what I would say is that your political fight doesn’t end with compliance. It isn’t over because you accept the jab. This is a new era and we have to continue to expose it for the authoritarianism that it is.

  5. I agree with all of the comments above. We may all be in the same position soon. I’m 60 this year and in the UK. I empathise as I’ve had the first two jabs only because I chose my family’s peace of mind over my own convictions (they live in my home) and I may take the booster in three months time for the sake of their mental health, and the subsequent happiness of their children. As Susie says, we still have our voices, jabbed or not. The political fight remains. I’m ashamed that my choice was for the short term well-being of my family when I believe that in the long term I’ve signed a warrant for their imprisonment by the state. My very best to you.

  6. Tony, you are not a health hazard, and you are not irresponsible. What is happening in Greece, and now also in Italy is incomprehensible. It is wrong. It is madness. You have your back against the wall, but so do the political classes who are determined not to lose face, but also have their paymasters to satisfy. It is a complete nightmare. I am unjabbed. I am in the UK. I am 58. I am holding on to the tiny hope that Boris will stay the distance. I find this hard to write as I genuinely think the guy is a buffoon, but the thought of any alternative would surely lead to harder lines, not softer. I have had covid. I couldn’t wait to catch it. I firmly believe in my natural immune system, and I still have detectable antibodies 12 months on from the mild cold like illness that was apparently covid. I understand your dilemma. It makes me feel sick to the stomach that you have to make this decision. But you are not alone. There are millions of us, and I feel hopeful that things will start to turn. Hold out for as long as you can. Be true to yourself. Whatever the outcome, know you have done as much as you can. Wishing you peace and sending you love.

    1. I second everything you say here. Anyone who feels they can has to hold the line as long as they can in the hope that the narrative crumbles.

  7. I’m so sorry! And angry too! If you decide to get the jab, try to bribe the jabber so they will empty it into the trash. Or if not possible, DEFINITELY take ivermectin the day before, the day of and day after. It will help enormously to protect you from the spike proteins. At least .2mg per kg but I would take .6mg pet kg. The stuff is incredibly nontoxic and they have been needing the higher dosage for Delta. Good luck and keep up the fight, jabbed or not. ✊🏼

  8. The choice between risking one’s life with the experimental jab, or losing all access to one’s income that pays for one’s food and housing is of course no “choice” at all. It is simply government totalitarian criminality posing as health policy.

  9. To everyone, sincere thanks for your empathy and advice. Given my political history, I’m used to being on the margins but I’ve never felt quite so isolated. Back in around 2005, after a bit of an identity crisis, I revived my standing in youth and community work and initiated in 2008 a campaign to defend an open-ended, young-people-centred improvisatory practice in the teeth of the outcomes-led, behavioural assault, in which a script was written before a young person even came on to the scene. I was the campaign coordinator, maintained the website and was active on the UK and European front. We were always swimming against the tide but it was worth it or so I thought. I took a back seat a couple of years ago. Why am I telling you this?

    No more than to say that from the outset of the pandemic I realised I was at odds with both the youth work ‘profession’ and so many of my friends and erstwhile comrades. Put bluntly young people have been abandoned in the pandemic. As ever individuals will have done their best but there was no collective resistance to the closure of youth provision. Apart from a few souls, my puny efforts to offer an alternative reading of events have been met with deadly silence. How much of this capitulation to the mainstream narrative is common across the ‘caring and educational’ professions’?

    Of course, I must be wary of conceit. I’m feeling pressured to take a booster. Many youth workers, social workers, teachers will have been pressured to comply, all the more so as the unions drunk on possible influence embraced the draconian agenda.

    Thanks for being there,

    La Lutta Continua. Ο αγώνας συνεχίζεται. The struggle continues,

  10. Thanks, Tony, for this eloquent and moving piece of writing, and for all the thoughtful comments above (including your own). The support you have received here is heartening, and I can’t add more but to offer my own good wishes and solidarity. It would be good to hear how you get on, if you feel moved to write a follow-up piece at some point. Best wishes, Steve (Penrith, Cumbria, UK).

  11. I think you must resist.
    We didn’t beat Thatcher by paying her Poll Tax: we beat her by not paying it.
    This is about much more than a few Euros: if you need some, let me know: crowdfund it. I’ll happily pay for the first months fine.
    Never give in: thats how Hitler won.

    1. Robert – Thanks for the shot across the bows but I’m going to prevaricate and suggest resistance can take different forms. This might well be evidence of my cowardice. However, in the past, I have stood and cried with my friends and comrades in the NUM as they went back in 1985 after a year of resistance. I was involved in the Poll Tax campaign and didn’t pay but then found myself leading a campaign against a Labour Council’s savage post-Poll tax cuts to services. In these and other struggles, in retrospect, we discussed if we could have made better choices, brought to bear different tactics. In principle, I argued always that individual acts need to contribute to the flowering of collective action.

      And saying this calls my bluff and reveals my ignorance. By and large there seems to have been little in the way of organised resistance in Greece. There have been no national demos to match those in other European countries, This said I am in the midst of contacting further Greek friends and contacts to find out more. The immigrant [ex-pat] community has toed the mainstream line but there seems a chance that my latest scribblings might lead to some unexpected debate.

      And, on a very personal note, to add that I came to Crete long before I expected because of my wife’s serious illness. She is a fellow traveller but still fragile and my actions have real consequences for both our mental states.

      Robert, I hope I’m not giving in. You have made me think afresh. There are things I must do, not earth-shattering, but I don’t think Hitler would have approved,

      And the fine has nothing to do with my stance. I will pay it myself if it comes to it. I am concerned though with the pressure on Greek pensioners and will explore collections to support them.

      Best wishes.

  12. I’m so sorry you’re being put through this and faced with this dilemma- I would encourage you to consider where accepting the booster will lead – will that be an end of it? Will your life get back to “normal” then? Do bullies ever stop turning the screws? Why exactly are they so keen for everyone to get jabbed? Very best wishes ❤️

  13. Reality is that we cannot comply our way out of tyranny.
    So, if all of your age refused now, the brakes would be put on this nonsense.
    If you go along with it you prolong this state of affairs as the State will know people will accept it.

  14. I think it’s fair enough to single me out for criticism if I comply. I’m not sure if it means I am then beyond the pale. However to suggest the fate of the struggle lies in the hands of my age group is sweeping and as ever with generalised exhortations takes no account of individual circumstances. Just down the road from me lives an ‘old’ woman about the same age, bent double from her years of work in the fields. Insofar as she hears about the overall situation it is via the Greek television owned by an oligarch. She is devout and after some soul-searching the Greek Orthodox Church has come down on the side of vaccination. She has respiratory problems. Her family want her to comply. She is a feisty soul but she will comply. I don’t believe she carries an exceptional responsibility to end the nonsense. Indeed it could be argued that younger generations rushing to be boosted might be taken to task for their compliance.

    For what it’s worth, if we are to forge mass resistance I don’t think we can write off anybody at this stage – although you might see this as special pleading on my part. All the more so as the pandemic is the present vehicle for the ruling class’s attempt to radically restructure capitalist relations. There will be another crisis, within which we are all again challenged to accommodate or resist.

    Of course, speaking personally, if I accommodate now, will this mean I am more likely to accommodate in the future? And, finally, on being specific, if I lived in England I would have no problem in refusing the booster. Would this put me on the right side of history?

    PS It looks as if the Greek government is backing down on the threat to deduct the monthly fine from pensions at source.

    Struggling as ever,


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