An “official” confirmation of the Marxist analysis that the ruling class utilizes the pandemic for expanding the bonapartist state
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 18 January 2021, www.thecommunists.net
A few weeks ago, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) published a highly interesting study about the consequences of the global Lockdown policy for democratic rights. This study is a powerful confirmation of the analysis which the RCIT and other Marxists have provided since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. 
We have warned since spring 2020 that the ruling class around the globe is pursuing a counterrevolutionary offensive under the cover of the pandemic. It has imposed a series of draconic lockdowns, mass curfews, anti-democratic restrictions on meetings and social gatherings, etc. resulting in the isolation and atomization of the people. Hence, the RCIT characterizes this reactionary offensive as the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. 
The study is particularly remarkable since it has been published by a highly “respectable” bourgeois institution. The IDEA “is an intergovernmental organization that works to support and strengthen democratic institutions and processes around the world, to develop sustainable, effective and legitimate democracies. It has regional offices in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Africa and West Asia. The organization is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Kevin Casas Zamora is the secretary-general as of August 2019. Previously, Casas Zamora was Costa Rica’s second Vice President and Minister of National Planning. Yves Leterme, former deputy secretary-general at the OECD and former Prime Minister of Belgium, was the previous secretary-general from 2014 to 2019.”  Furthermore, IDEA is an official United Nations Observer. In short, IDEA is an official organization deeply embedded in the global institutions of imperialism. It can hardly be accused of any “Marxist” or “extremist” tendencies.
However, even such a thoroughly bourgeois institution like IDEA is forced to admit that many governments around the world have exploited the COVID-19 crisis to expand the police and surveillance state, or what Marxists call the chauvinist bonapartist state apparatus. Unsurprisingly, a bourgeois institution like IDEA formulates its critical remarks in a highly cautious language. But even such a diplomatic-worded document reveals the dramatic counterrevolutionary developments which have taken place in the past 10 months.
Governments Exploit the Pandemic in 61% of Countries in the World
According to the study, 99 out of 162 countries, or 61% of countries in the world, have utilized the pandemic for attacking democratic rights. “Democracy has been one of the many victims of the pandemic. Indeed, more than half the countries in the world have implemented measures to contain the pandemic that present concerns from a democracy and human rights perspective. By November 2020, more than half the countries in the world (99 out of 162 countries, or 61 per cent of countries covered in the Global Monitor had implemented measures that present concerns from a democracy and human rights perspective, because they were either disproportionate, illegal, indefinite or unnecessary. ‘Concerning’ developments or measures are defined as those that violate human rights or democratic benchmarks because they are either disproportionate, unnecessary, illegal or indefinite” (p. 10)
Unsurprisingly, such attacks on fundamental rights took place in nearly all countries with authoritarian regimes (90%). However, they occurred also in nearly half of so-called “democratic” states! “Measures or developments of concern for democracy and human rights have been more common in non-democratic regimes than in democracies. Such developments occurred in 90 per cent of non-democratic regimes, compared with 43 per cent of democracies.” (p. 10)
“Civil liberties have been severely curtailed across the globe in order to curb the pandemic, in both democratic and non-democratic regimes. The civil liberties that have been most restricted during the pandemic are the freedom of movement and of assembly. However, in nearly 60 per cent of cases, such restrictions were made in the framework of constitutionally defined State of Emergency’s and, in many other cases, backed by other legislative frameworks. All countries in the world have placed some form of restriction on freedom of movement during the pandemic, although the countries that delayed the lifting of such restrictions the longest are the authoritarian regimes of Belarus and Burundi and the hybrid regime of Nicaragua. At least 96 countries put in place a lockdown, the large majority (83 per cent) of which were national lockdowns. By end of November 2020, restrictions remained in place in 118 countries, of which 23 countries had reinstated national or regional lockdowns (a few examples include China, Colombia, the Gambia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, the Philippines, Spain and the United Kingdom). Restrictions on freedom of assembly have been placed in 91 per cent of countries since the start of the pandemic, either banning public gatherings or restricting their size. By the end of October 2020, restrictions remained in place in 112 countries.” (pp. 16-17)
“81 countries have passed laws or taken actions to restrict freedom of expression during the pandemic. (…) Concerning developments to restrict freedom of expression during the pandemic were more common in nondemocratic regimes, with 52 per cent of authoritarian regimes and 43 per cent of hybrid regimes experiencing them. However, 14 per cent of democracies also experienced developments that can be considered concerning, and almost a third (32 per cent) of democracies have experienced some form of restrictions to freedom of expression since the start of the pandemic.” (p. 18)
The IDEA study also confirms that the COVID-19 Counterrevolution is not limited to this or that restriction but bears a more systematic character, i.e. the expansion of a bonapartist state apparatus. “The public health emergency posed by the pandemic has led the majority of countries in the world (59 per cent) to declare national State of Emergency’s, which by nature increase the powers of executives to respond to the pandemic. Although, in most constitutionally defined State of Emergency’s, this shift towards executive decisionmaking is temporary and must follow a series of rules, these measures also carry the risk of executive overreach in a context of lockdowns, closures of key democratic institutions, such as parliaments and courts, and restrictions on free media reporting, which combined can lead to weakened checks and balances. When State of Emergency’s are indefinite or extended for excessive periods of time, the risks of executive overreach and democratic weakening are even greater. Executive aggrandizement during the pandemic has played out in the approval, and extension, of State of Emergency’s in some countries, where these were made by presidential decree or executive orders and thereby by sidelining parliaments (Egypt, the Dominican Republic, the Gambia, Niger, the Philippines, Thailand). In some of these countries, such as Egypt and Thailand, executives were already powerful prior to the pandemic, with weak and non-democratically elected parliaments. However, the COVID-19-induced State of Emergency’s have conferred even greater power to these executives. In other countries, such as the Philippines—an already severely backsliding country prior to the pandemic—the 1.5-year COVID-19 State of Emergency’s, now the longest in the world, has conferred extraordinary powers to the executive, reinforcing a tendency seen prior to the pandemic.” (p. 24)
The Lockdown Left and the Monopoly Bourgeoisie
These facts and figures provided by a thoroughly bourgeois organization well integrated in the institutions of global capitalism reveal not only the counterrevolutionary character of the Lockdown policy. They also demonstrate the rottenness of the Lockdown Left. “Left” social democrats, populists, Bolivarians, Stalinists, and Trotsko-Revisionists – they all have supported the Lockdown policy since the beginning. They foolishly claim that the capitalist governments around the world supposedly implement the Lockdown policy against the interests of the bourgeoisie! 
As a matter of fact, the monopoly bourgeoisie has massively gained from the Lockdown policy! As we demonstrated in a recently published article, the world’s 500 richest people added $1.8 trillion to their combined net worth this year and are now worth $7.6 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index!  We also did show that such a response to the outbreak of a pandemic has been advocated and prepared long before by various circles of the monopoly bourgeoisie. 
It was well-known in circles of the ruling elite that the Lockdown policy is an instrument which can and will be used by governments for their political interests and not for public health interests. A report from the prestigious Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security which was commissioned by and prepared for the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (this is notorious institution of World Bank, World Health Organisation and Bill Gates)  admitted that so-called “Nonpharmaceutical interventions“ (NPIs) are not particularly effective from a public health point of view. “While national public health guidelines generally recommend NPIs during an outbreak to limit contact frequency between individuals and to decrease the potential risk of spread of respiratory pathogens, there is a broad lack of evidence of efficacy and a lack of understanding about secondary adverse impacts.” 
They pointed out that some of such measures are taken by governments because of political interests. “During an emergency, it should be expected that implementation of some NPIs, such as travel restrictions and quarantine, might be pursued for social or political purposes by political leaders, rather than pursued because of public health evidence.”  In other words, the COVID-19 Counterrevolution was not simply an improvised ad-hoc reaction of bourgeois governments overwhelmed by the sudden outbreak of a pandemic. The Lockdown policy and its consequences were rather known and prepared in advance and deliberately instrumentalized by the ruling class!
Nevertheless, the pseudo-socialists not only support the Lockdown policy, but they even demand a longer and more draconic curfew for the popular masses. They explicitly refer to capitalist dictatorships like China and Vietnam or right-wing conservative governments like Australia as models for their policy (see e.g. the notorious “ZeroCovid” campaign in Britain).  Marxists designate such a reactionary policy as “police state socialism”, a social-bonapartist support for the ruling class. Their “socialist” phrases with which they combine they support for the mass curfews and state of emergencies can not hide the fact that they do not serve the interests of the workers and oppressed but rather those of the monopoly bourgeoisie. 
Repression Cannot Stop Mass Protests
Finally, the IDEA study is also highly interesting from another point of view. While the petty-bourgeois Lockdown Left supports chauvinist state bonapartism, even institutions like IDEA recognize the relevance of the Lockdown policy under the cover of the pandemic for the global class struggle.
As the RCIT has pointed out repeatedly, the COVID-19 Counterrevolution was a response of the ruling class to the global wave of sharp class struggles and popular uprisings which began in the second half of 2019.  While the bourgeois Lockdown policy succeeded in halting this global wave for some time, explosive mass struggle around the world started again in summer 2020 with the Black Lives Matter uprising in the U.S. 
The RCIT has emphasized since the beginning of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution that the Lockdown policy in the end will accelerate the explosive contradictions of the capitalist order – a system which is in a state of collapse. We wrote in our above-mentioned Manifesto published in March 2020 that “the accumulation of massive contradictions will sooner or later result in massive political explosions. It is not possible to predict how long this situation will last. It might be a matter of only a few months. However, what is clear is that the counter-revolutionary offensive of the ruling classes will create explosive political contradictions. Sooner or later, it will be difficult for the state-bonapartist regimes to justify their massive attacks on democratic rights. It will become soon obvious that while they give billions of dollars to the big capitalists, many workers face unemployment and wage cuts. (…) Likewise, a massive increase of global tensions between the Great Powers is inevitable. In other words, the global counter-revolutionary offensive can only temporarily cover up the accelerating political and economic contradictions between the classes and the states. Sooner or later, this will result inevitable in new and massive political explosions, probably in the form of major domestic crisis, wars as well as revolutionary uprisings – in the Global South as well as in the imperialist states of the West and the East.”
Far-sighting political observers of the ruling class are also aware of the explosive mass struggles ahead. Thus the IDEA study states: “The financial crises resulting from the pandemic will likely deepen civic dissatisfaction with democracies and non-democracies alike and heighten social mobilization. The world faced a protest wave in 2019 with citizens mobilizing in offline and online protests to demand more equitable policies (in Chile, Colombia, France and the United States), less corruption (in Iraq and Lebanon) and more democracy (in Algeria, Guinea, Sudan). These protests reflected frustration with current societal models, the perceived inability of traditional political parties to tackle them and new forms of social mobilization through more loose networks of individuals mobilizing offline and online, rather than through traditional organizations such as political parties. While restrictions on assembly during the pandemic placed temporary limits on these protests, they have erupted again in force throughout the world a few months into the pandemic, as citizens grow impatient with restrictions, and vent their discontent about pandemic handling and the economic crisis. More protests and social unrest should be expected in the months and years ahead as economic hardship deepens. Despite 96 per cent of countries in the world placing some form of restriction on freedom of assembly since the start of the pandemic, either banning public gatherings or restricting their size, more than three quarters of countries (80 per cent) have experienced protests during the pandemic, despite the restrictions.” (pp. 27-28)
Revolutionaries support such struggles and advance a program which combines democratic and economic immediate demands with transitional slogans questioning the power of the capitalist class. The task is to transform the COVID-19 Counterrevolution into popular uprisings to bring down the ruling class! The Lockdown Left will play no role in such struggles as they bear the mark of Cain of supporting anti-popular mass curfews and state of emergencies.
 International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance: Taking Stock of Global Democratic Trends Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Global State of Democracy IN FOCUS, Special Brief, December 2020. Unless otherwise speciﬁed, all quotes in the present article are from this study. We provide the page number in brackets after the quote.
 The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than 60 pamphlets, essays, articles and statements plus a book which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/. In particular we refer readers to 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/. In addition, we draw attention to our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/. See also our very first article on this issue by 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 Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. On the ruling class strategy in the current conjuncture, its inner contradictions and the perspectives of the workers and popular resistance, 20 July 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-second-wave-of-the-covid-19-counterrevolution/; by the same author: The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase. A global review of the ruling class’s plans of expanding the bonapartist state machinery amidst the COVID-19 crisis, 21 May 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/police-and-surveillance-state-in-post-lockdown-phase/; COVID-19: The Great Barrington Declaration is indeed Great! Numerous medical scientists protest against the reactionary lockdown policy, 11 October 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-the-great-barrington-declaration-is-indeed-great/.
 Wikipedia: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Institute_for_Democracy_and_Electoral_Assistance
 For our criticism of the Lockdown Left see e.g. chapter V of our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/; see also by the same author the last chapters in the above mentioned essay: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution; COVID-19 and the Lockdown Left: The Example of PODEMOS and Stalinism in Spain, 24 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-lockdown-left-podemos-and-stalinism-in-spain/; Social-Bonapartism in Argentina. The Partido Obrero (Tendencia) of Jorge Altamira supports the State of Emergency, 29 April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/social-bonapartism-in-argentina/; When Ultra-Leftism marries Social-Bonapartism and Gives Birth to “Post-Marxist” Obscurantism. A reply to the CWG/ILTT, 5 May 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-when-ultra-leftism-marries-social-bonapartism/; Brazil: Social-Bonapartism of the Lockdown Left in Practice. How the leaderships of the trade unions, PT, PCdoB, the pseudo-Trotskyist PSTU and PSOL sabotage the struggle against the Bolsonaro government, 10 June 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/brazil-social-bonapartism-of-the-lockdown-left-in-practice/; Lockdown Left says: “Cops Need to Enforce Laws”. The ex-revolutionary L5I as another example for shameful social-bonapartism in the era of the COVID-19 counterrevolution, 24 July 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/lockdown-left-l5i-says-cops-need-to-enforce-laws/
 Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: That Was A Damn Good Year for the Billionaires in West and East who massively gained from the anti-democratic Lockdown policy, 5 January 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-that-was-a-damn-good-year-for-the-billionaires-in-west-and-east/
 See on this e.g. our essay by Michael Pröbsting: How the Ruling Class Prepared for COVID-19. A number of events before and after the beginning of the pandemic demonstrate the political nature of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution, 3 December 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/how-the-ruling-class-prepared-for-covid-19/
 See on this e.g. Almedina Gunić: How could WHO and World Bank exactly predict COVID-19? The shady role of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, 26 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/how-could-who-and-world-bank-exactly-predict-covid-19/
 Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Preparedness for a High-Impact Respiratory Pathogen Pandemic, Center for Health Security, September 2019, p. 58
 Ibid, p. 13
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: Zero Socialism in the “ZeroCOVID“ campaign. Following the model of China and Australia, some British Stalinists and “Trotskyists” call for a “total and indefinite lockdown”, 22 December 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-zero-socialism-in-the-zerocovid-campaign/
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: The Current and Historical Roots of Bourgeois Lockdown “Socialism”. Police State and Universal Basic Income are key elements of the new version of reformist “War Socialism” of 1914, 19 December 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/covid-19-the-current-and-historical-roots-of-bourgeois-lockdown-socialism/
 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/; See also by the same author: Confirmation by the Class Enemy. A new IMF report discusses the global class struggle and its relationship to the COVID-19 crisis, 14 October 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/confirmation-by-the-class-enemy-imf-report-on-global-class-struggle-and-covid-19-crisis/; A Powerful Confirmation. A bourgeois study on the revolutionary character of the current historic period, 12 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/confirmation-of-revolutionary-character-of-historic-period/.
 See on this e.g. RCIT: The Global Popular Uprising against Racism and Police Violence. This is a turning point ending the global counterrevolutionary situation. But workers and oppressed need to prepare for an ongoing reactionary offensive of the ruling class! 8 June 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-global-popular-uprising-against-racism-and-police-violence/. For all RCIT documents on the popular uprising in the U.S. see a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/articles-on-uprising-after-murder-of-george-floyd/