On the plans and motivations of the ruling classes behind the global mass lock down and the suppression of democratic rights
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 31 March 2020, www.thecommunists.net
The world is paralyzed by panic. According to the capitalist governments and their media infection and death is around the corner because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day you can follow the body counts of people who have died. As a result, about 1/3 of the global population is currently forced to live under lockdown. The bourgeois governments are imposing draconic state of emergency laws and suppress fundamental democratic rights.
However, they do not tell you how many people die every year because of other diseases. They will not tell you that “2.6 million people die of respiratory infections each year“.  Even in the rich imperialist countries many people die because of such epidemics. The overall all-cause influenza-attributable mortality in the 2017/18 season was estimated to be about 152,000 deaths in Europe alone! 
Capitalism is a system of extreme inequality and misery for the popular masses particularly in the Global South. As capitalism is in decline, the bourgeoisie all over the world has imposed brutal austerity packages and made severe cuts in public health care. As a result, people are becoming poorer, are forced to live under worse hygienic conditions and have less access to affordable health programs. The result is an increasing number of illnesses and death.
However, under usual conditions, the capitalist class does not care about such pandemics and its effects for the popular masses. This time it seems to be different. “Suddenly”, a global state of emergency has been called, people are forced to stay in their homes and are not allowed to meet others outside of their families or their jobs. All demonstrations and public assemblies are banned and police and military dominate the streets.
The political background of the global state of emergency
Our international organization – the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) – has emphasized since the early days of this crisis that while the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is a serious and dangerous disease, it could be contained by a program of free masse testing, quarantine for those infected and free hospitalization for those with severe symptoms. South Korea is an example for the efficacy of such a program.  We explained that mass lock downs and the suppression of fundamental democratic rights are not necessary from a medical point of view. And, as we currently see in countries like Italy and Spain with thousands of dead, mass lock down is also not an effective instrument against this pandemic.
However, as the RCIT also emphasized from the beginning, the ruling classes do not treat the COVID-19 pandemic primarily as a health issue. To understand this, it is necessary to put the timing of this pandemic into the broader context.
In the second half of 2019 two historic events took place which both shattered the ruling classes around the world. First, as we analyzed in past documents, the capitalist world economy entered its worst economic slump of since 1929.  Secondly, at the same time, a global wave of class struggles and popular uprising started to spread to numerous countries on all continents.  From Hong Kong to Iraq, from Chile to Lebanon, from Ecuador to France and from India to Spain – all over the world workers, youth and poor fought on the streets against attacks on their social and democratic rights. In short, these two fundamental developments created a pre-revolutionary world situation starting in the second half of last year.
Not a “global conspiracy” but an extraordinary opportunity for the ruling classes
It is this background which pushed the ruling classes in many countries to utilize, or let us better say, to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for their political goals. By this we do not mean that this pandemic has been the result of a “global conspiracy”. No, this was obviously not the case. But this does not mean that the ruling classes were not prepared for such events. As a recently published article of our comrade Almedina Gunić showed, the World Bank and the WHO made pretty accurate predictions of such a pandemic only a few months before the emergence of the Corona Virus in Wuhan. And they developed concepts how the ruling class should respond to such an event.  Likewise, the CIA warned about the pandemic already in January this year. 
So while the COVID-19 crisis was not created by the bourgeoisie neither was it unprepared for such an event. The more long-sighted sections of the ruling class realized soon that this pandemic is a once in a century chance to launch a counter-revolutionary offensive in a period of the worst crisis of the capitalist system. They did not do it in coordination but once it worked in China, others realized the chance and than a global chain reaction started.
The Corona Virus first emerged in China. The Stalinist-capitalist regime in China seemed to have contained the virus successfully and fully kept the people under control by deploying draconic measures, suppressing the people, building-up its surveillance, etc. This was an important victory for China’s ruling class as it became increasingly nervous given the pre-revolutionary events in Hong Kong  and the mass protests in Wuhan in summer 2019.  Of course, this success could crumble soon as the first mass riots in Hubei on 27 March showed.  However, for now the Xi regime and its dictatorial methods seem to have succeeded and hence it became a model for other capitalist governments and business leaders – including those in Western imperialist countries. Just think of the recent statements of the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz (“We should learn from Asia”) or the praise of Herbert Diess, boss of the leading carmaker Volkswagen, for the Beijing regime (“We can learn a lot in China”, “We do not have the discipline [like in China, Ed.] yet”) 
The opportunist left
In contrast to large sectors of the so-called left, the RCIT has emphasized from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis that the ruling classes exploits this pandemic as a cover for a major global counterrevolutionary offensive. It utilizes the fear and paralysis of the popular masses in order to wage drastic attacks on democratic rights like mass lockdown and suppression of demonstrations and public assemblies as well as massive austerity programs. Millions of workers have been thrown on the streets within one or two weeks and more will follow. The ILO estimates up to 25 million additional unemployed.  As we pointed out in a new RCIT Manifesto on the crisis, “what is currently taking place is the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes.” Characteristically, this creation of a new monstrous Leviathan is met with either full support or at least silent toleration by most reformist and centrist organizations. 
These organizations which we call the Lockdown Left justify their support or their silence on the counterrevolutionary mass lockdown and suppression of democratic rights by claiming that these measures are supposedly necessary in order to combat the pandemic. Furthermore, they believe that these attacks might only be in force for a short period and, after this, the bourgeoisie would allow a return “to normal life”.
Neither the one nor the other of these assumptions is true. It is a telling fact that large sectors of the so-called left are so stupid to believe this. Since when do Marxists assume that the bourgeoisie is capable (or even willing) to effectively combat a health, a political or an economic crisis?! True, we can not say how many lives this pandemic will cost. In any case, every single life is too much! But how on earth can such a crisis – caused and worsened by the misery of capitalist system – lead “Marxists” to support or to be silent about the worst attacks on democratic rights since 1945?! How can so-called socialists support or be silent about masses of police and army swamping the streets?!
Banning of public protests is planned to be in place for a long time
This is even more absurd as a closer look at bourgeois papers and medical studies reveal the true intentions of the ruling classes. For example, the British Imperial College states in one of the currently most cited medical studies that from a medical point of view there are no strong arguments for banning of mass assemblies. “Stopping mass gatherings is predicted to have relatively little impact (results not shown) because the contact-time at such events is relatively small compared to the time spent at home, in schools or workplaces and in other community locations such as bars and restaurants.” 
This statement is all the more remarkable as it comes from an institute which currently plays a key role in the West to advise imperialist governments and to mobilize public support for mass lock downs! According to the New York Times, it was this report from which we quoted which changed the mind of Trump and Johnson: “The report, which warned that an uncontrolled spread of the disease could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain, triggered a sudden shift in the government’s comparatively relaxed response to the virus. American officials said the report, which projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the United States from such a spread, also influenced the White House to strengthen its measures to isolate members of the public.” 
Furthermore, the Imperial College makes clear that any hope of the Lockdown Left that the current suppression of democratic right would be only a matter of a short period are nothing but silly illusions. The same report from this highly authoritative source also advises the imperialist governments to impose the policy of so-called “social distancing” – a cynical phrase to ban people from meeting or to do any kind of collective activity (including public meetings and demonstrations) – for “18 months or more”: “Overall, our results suggest that population-wide social distancing applied to the population as a whole would have the largest impact; and in combination with other interventions – notably home isolation of cases and school and university closure – has the potential to suppress transmission below the threshold of R=1 required to rapidly reduce case incidence. A minimum policy for effective suppression is therefore population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure. To avoid a rebound in transmission, these policies will need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunise the population – which could be 18 months or more.” 
The bourgeoisie fears “mass social rebellion”
An article in the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post commenting on this study remarks rightly: “At its essence, the report tells us that governments are not trying to really win a war against this invisible enemy. Instead, they are trying to contain it and fight a war of attrition to triage parts of our society so that a massive social rebellion does not occur when hospitals collapse. What this means is that the public is not being told how long they will likely be locked down or how long the crisis will continue.” 
Again, this statement is highly significant. The Jerusalem Post is neither a progressive paper nor any kind of maverick right-wing publication spreading conspiracy theories. It is a mainstream bourgeois newspaper in an important imperialist country which has a global reach as it is published in English- and French-language. Hence, it is all the more telling if such a paper admits that the imperialist governments want to keep the public in dark about their goal to suppress democratic rights for a long period.
It is equally telling that the Jerusalem Post recognizes – in contrast to the naïve “left” supporting the lockdown – that the anti-democratic policy of governments is related to their fear of “massive social rebellion”. As a matter of fact, a growing number of leading bourgeois politicians publicly state such fears. 
The task of Marxists in such a period of crisis cannot be lending support to the ruling class’ policy of building-up state-bonapartist regimes and suppressing fundamental democratic rights under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is rather to reveal the truth behind their misleading public statements, to oppose this global counterrevolutionary offensive and organize international resistance. The RCIT has committed its limited forces from the very first hours of this crisis to advance such a perspective. We have condemned the capitulation of the Lockdown Left and called for the creation of an international front against the counterrevolutionary offensive. We call revolutionaries around the world to join us in this struggle!
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The RCIT has published numerous statements and articles on the COVID-19 crisis of which several have been translated into different languages. They 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/
In particular we draw the attention of readers to these two documents:
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
Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 21 March 2020
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
Open Letter of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 26 March 2020
 Yanis Roussel, Audrey Giraud-Gatineau, Marie-Therese Jimeno, Jean-Marc Rolain, Christine Zandotti, Philippe Colson, Didier Raoult : SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105947
 J. Nielsen et al: European all-cause excess and influenza-attributable mortality in the 2017/18 season: should the burden of influenza B be reconsidered? in: Clinical Microbiology and Infection Volume 25, Issue 10 (October 2019), pp. 1266–1276
 There exist a number of reports about how South Korea has successfully dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. See e.g. Andrew Salmon: South Korea reveals how to win Covid-19 war, Asia Times, 27 March 2020 https://asiatimes.com/2020/03/south-korea-reveals-how-to-win-covid-19-war/. See also Almedina Gunić: No, most likely it is not COVID-19 that is going to kill you. A manageable epidemic became public enemy number one distracting from the real killers, 16 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/no-most-likely-it-is-not-covid-19-that-is-going-to-kill-you/
 See on this e.g. 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/; 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/
 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/
 Micah Zenko: The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History. It’s more glaring than Pearl Harbor and 9/11—and it’s all the fault of Donald Trump’s leadership, Foreign Policy, 25 March 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/25/coronavirus-worst-intelligence-failure-us-history-covid-19/
 On the mass protests in Hong Kong see e.g. RCIT: China: Solidarity with the General Strike in Hong Kong! For an international solidarity movement as the Stalinist-Capitalist regime in Beijing prepares a brutal crackdown! 01 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/solidarity-with-the-general-strike-in-hong-kong/; China: Long Live the Popular Uprising in Hong Kong! After protestors storm the parliament: general strike against the extradition bill and the Lam Administration! 03 July 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/long-live-the-popular-uprising-in-hong-kong/; China: Mass Protests against Reactionary “Extradition Law” in Hong Kong. For an indefinite general strike to kill the bill and to bring down the Administration of Carrie Lam! 18 June 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-mass-protests-against-reactionary-extradition-law-in-hong-kong/.
 On the protests in Wuhan in summer 2019 see e.g. Yossi Schwartz: The Corona Pandemic is not the Problem but only a Symptom of the Decay of the Capitalist System. What can we learn from China? 27 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-covid-19-and-decay-of-capitalism/;
Kendra Brock: Environmental Protest Breaks out in China’s Wuhan City, July 04, 2019 https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/environmental-protest-breaks-out-in-chinas-wuhan-city/; Keith Bradsher: Protests Over Incinerator Rattle Officials in Chinese City, July 5, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/05/world/asia/wuhan-china-protests.html; Thousands Protest Waste Incinerator Plans in China's Wuhan, 4.7.2019, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/wuhan-protest-07042019141304.html; Robyn Dixon: First Hong Kong protested. Now it’s Wuhan, China. What makes it Beijing’s latest headache? Jul 05, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-protests-wuhan-environment-20190704-story.html
 On the latest mass protests in Hubei see RCIT: China: Solidarity with the Mass Protests in Hubei! Thousands of Chinese workers clash with the police in protest against the state repression under the cover of COVID-19, 28 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-solidarity-with-the-mass-protests-in-hubei/
 See e.g.
Menzel, Stefan: VW-Chef Diess im ZDF: China ist das große Vorbild in der Coronakrise, Handelsblatt, 2020-03-28, https://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/industrie/vw-chef-diess-im-zdf-china-ist-das-grosse-vorbild-in-der-coronakrise/25687542.html?ticket=ST-56275-fKJrrIwfLac4qlhK1Vff-ap2
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: 3.4 Trillion Reasons. An ILO study shows the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for the international working class and popular masses. How does this relate to the global rise of state repression? 25 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-crisis-3-4-trillion-reasons/
 See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: 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/
 Neil M Ferguson et al: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, 16 March 2020, p.8,
 Mark Landler and Stephen Castle: Behind the Virus Report That Jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to Action. It wasn’t so much the numbers themselves, frightening though they were, as who reported them: Imperial College London, New York Times, 17 March 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/europe/coronavirus-imperial-college-johnson.html
 Neil M Ferguson et al: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, pp. 14-15
 Seth J. Frantzman: Shocking coronavirus study says people could be locked down for 18 months, March 20, 2020 https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/Shocking-coronavirus-study-says-people-could-be-locked-down-for-18-months-621609
 See e.g. Angela Giuffrida: Italy sets aside €400m for food vouchers as social unrest mounts, 29 Mar 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/29/italy-sets-aside-400m-for-food-vouchers-as-social-unrest-mounts