A telling revelation on the political calculations of the ruling class
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 28 April 2020, www.thecommunists.net
Yesterday, Austria’s public broadcaster ORF published the minutes from an internal meeting of the so-called "Taskforce Corona". This is the key institution which currently decides on the COVID-19 policy of the government coalition of the Conservative and the Green party. This meeting, which took place on 12 March (three days before the government declared a state of emergency with a wide-ranging lockdown), was attended by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the vice-chancellor, the ministers of the interior and health plus 13 health experts and 8 high-ranking officials.
According to the minutes, Chancellor Kurz lamented that the population “does not take the danger of the virus seriously enough”. (Bear in mind that this was shortly before the beginning of the lockdown so the government had to consider ways how the population could accept such a draconic measure.) The Chancellor then said, according to the minutes: “Kurz makes clear that the people should be afraid of being infected respectively should be afraid that their parents or grandparents could die. On the other side, we should allay the fear of the population about food shortage, blackout, etc.”
One of the government health advisors, Herwig Kollaritsch, positively referred to the governmental policy in Britain during the measles epidemic in the 1990s. One can learn from this experience how the government “has played with fear” of the population. 
Based on such a political strategy of deliberately spreading fear and panic, the government launched a campaign of causing bewilderment among the population so that it accepts the lockdown and the suppression of democratic rights. On 30 March, for example, Chancellor Kurz said in a public speech: “We will have soon a situation in Austria where everyone will know somebody who has died because of the Corona Virus.” 
Meanwhile the existence of this internal minute has been confirmed by the government so there is no doubt about the substance of these quotes. Naturally, the outcry of the opposition parties is huge and the government tries to downplay the significance of these minutes.
The political calculation of the ruling classes
It would be silly to imagine that the Austrian government is an exception in elaborating plans how to spread fear among the population. All capitalist governments must find ways to justify the draconic lockdown policy and the suppression of democratic rights. Surely, there will be many more revelations in the near future about such anti-people conspiracies of the ruling classes.
These revelations do not come as a surprise for Marxists. From our first statements in early February the RCIT has pointed out that the ruling classes – from China to Europe and all other continents – consciously utilizes this pandemic in order to spread fear and panic.  Their response to the COVID-19 pandemic has not been based on health considerations but on political calculations in order to consolidate its power. As we elaborate in our new book “The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It” and many other documents, the current pandemic is utilized by the capitalist class as a cover for a pre-emptive counterrevolution against the workers and popular masses. 
Naturally, we never denied the existence of this pandemic. But an increasing number of studies demonstrate that it is much less deadly than the ruling classes and their media claim in order to justify the creation of a chauvinist state bonapartist machinery with an rapidly expanding police and surveillance state and the massive limitation of democratic rights. While the lethality rate of Influenza is about 0.1%, various studies indicate that the lethality rate of the Corona Virus is between 0.2-0.6%.
In short, this is a serious pandemic which must be combated with a program of wide-ranging mass free testing, quarantine of those infected and a massive expansion of the public health service under workers and popular control. It can not and must not be combated with bourgeois state repression and atomization of the popular masses (“stay at home”, “social distancing”, etc.). It can not and must not serve under any circumstances as justification for the creation of authoritarian regimes and the destruction of democratic rights! 
Social-Bonapartist Lockdown Left
In itself, it is not surprising that the ruling class looks for an excuse to attack democracy in the current situation. As we have explained in a number of works, the capitalist world economy entered its Third Depression in late 2019.  At the same time, the bourgeois order was shattered by a global wave of class struggles and popular uprisings from Hong Kong to Chile, from Iraq to France and from India to Sudan.  Another important feature undermining political stability has been the accelerating rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers – in particular between the U.S: and China.  In such a situation, the ruling classes desperately needed an excuse to put down the people and to consolidate its power.
It is particularly shameful that the bureaucratic leaderships of the trade unions, popular organizations and the so-called left, in their vast majority, support the global lockdown. This is equivalent to serving the global counterrevolutionary offensive. These forces have become what we call the social-bonapartist Lockdown Left – an obstacle in the liberation struggle of the workers and oppressed.
The RCIT repeats its call to all authentic revolutionaries around the world to break with such opportunist left and to join forces in advancing the construction of a World Party of Socialist Revolution! 
 All quotes are taken from ORF: Aufregung über kolportierte Angststrategie, 27 April 2020, https://orf.at/stories/3163480/; ORF: Regierungsprotokoll: Angst vor Infektion offenbar erwünscht, 27 April 2020, https://orf.at/stories/3163435/ (our translation)
 Maria Schaunitzer, Matthias Reif, David Baumgartner: Corona Österreich und Welt. Zwei Supermarkt-Angestellte in Tirol erkrankt, weniger Neuinfizierte in Italien, 30 March 2020, https://www.kleinezeitung.at/international/corona/5792633/Corona-Oesterreich-und-Welt_Zwei-SupermarktAngestellte-in-Tirol
 See e.g. RCIT: 2019 Corona Virus: Oppose the Global Wave of Chauvinist Hysteria! Workers and oppressed: Do not trust the ruling class and its media! 5 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/2019-corona-virus-oppose-the-global-wave-of-chauvinist-hysteria/; Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/wuhan-virus/
 Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/; see also the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/. The RCIT has published several dozen documents on the COVID-19 crisis which are all collected at a special sub-page in our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/
 See on this e.g. RCIT: A Revolutionary Action Program to fight COVID-19! Workers and Oppressed: Don’t trust the State of the Rich and Powerful! Trust only Yourselves! April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/health-program-covid19
 See on this e.g. the above mentioned book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution (chapter I) as well as Michael Pröbsting: No, the Corona Virus is not the Main Cause of the Global Economic Slump! Bourgeois Media Officially Recognize the Beginning of another Great Recession, 3 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/corona-virus-is-not-the-main-cause-of-global-economic-slump/; Chapter “Another Great Recession has begun“ in RCIT: World Perspectives 2020: A Pre-Revolutionary Global Situation. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 8 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2020/; Michael Pröbsting: Another Great Recession of the Capitalist World Economy Has Begun. The economic crisis is an important factor in the current dramatic shift in the world situation, 19 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/another-great-recession-of-the-capitalist-world-economy-has-begun/; see also Michael Pröbsting: The Next Looming Great Recession. Observations on the Latest Stock Market Slump and the Structural Crisis of the Capitalist World Economy, 12 October 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-next-looming-great-recession/
 For an overview and a characterization of these events see, in addition the relevant statements on the individual countries, Michael Pröbsting: Are We Nearing a New “68 Moment”? A massive upsurge of global class struggle in the midst of a dramatic shift in the world situation 22 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/are-we-nearing-a-new-68-moment/
 On the RCIT’s analysis of the Great Power rivalry and China’s and Russia’s rise as emerging imperialist powers see the literature mentioned in the special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/. In particular we refer to the book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, January 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/. See also the numerous RCIT’s documents on the Global Trade War which have been collected at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/.
 See on this e.g. our Open Letter: Act Now because History is Happening Now! A call to all revolutionary organizations and activists to join forces against the global counter-revolutionary offensive under the cover of COVID-19, 26 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/open-letter-act-now-because-history-is-happening-now/