Two examples how the governments view the pandemic as a political and not as a health issue
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 6 December 2020, www.thecommunists.net
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in early spring 2020 our tendency has explained that the ruling classes in East and West are exploiting the pandemic in order to advance the political and economic interests of the capitalist class – in particular of the top layer, the monopoly bourgeoisie.  In more than 60 documents – including one book and several pamphlets – the RCIT demonstrated that while COVID-19 is a serious pandemic, it is by no means unprecedented nor does it justify the public hysteria which has been instigated by the governments and the bourgeois media. The Lockdown policy, the systematic attacks on democratic rights, the expansion of the police and surveillance state is not caused by considerations for public health but rather by the desire of the ruling elite to increase power and profit. 
In our most recent essay we showed that the ruling class has prepared for such a pandemic for quite a number of years. Furthermore, we demonstrated that it considered such a pandemic as a threat for “public order” which could cause “social unrest”. As a result, it developed plans to deal with such crisis, among others, by deploying the military against their own population and effectively controlling the media. 
In this article we will not repeat our extensive analysis. Instead we will limit ourselves to give two actual examples how the governments fear the political explosive potential of the COVID-19 crisis and how they view it from a class point of view.
A revealing interview with a German government adviser
The first example is a highly interesting interview with Sigrid Graumann – a professor for human genetics and philosophy – which was published in mid-November.  What is special about the interview is, first, that Miss Graumann is not only an academic (as it is known many of this species talk a lot but say very little). She also serves since 2016 as a member of the “German Ethics Council”. This council is an official advisory body of the government in Berlin. In other words, she is someone with access to the inner circles of the ruling elite and who is representative for their thinking.
The interview was published by the TAZ (“Tageszeitung”) – a kind of German equivalent to Libération in France or Il Manifesto in Italy. It started as a left-wing paper in the late 1970s and has become a mainstream left-liberal publication since then.
Furthermore, the interview was conducted by Hannes Koch, a journalist who fortunately had the courage to ask “tough questions” (as Professor Graumann lamented in the course of the interview). This has probably contributed to push her making statements which might be more blunt than the Merkel government – a coalition of the conservative party with the social democrats as junior partners – would have preferred.
What is interesting about the interview is not so much that she repeated the usual propaganda which the bourgeois governments is spreading in order to justify the reactionary Lockdown policy and the draconic restrictions of democratic rights. What is rather interesting is the following.
First, the journalist asked Professor Graumann how the government can justify the drastic restrictions of personal liberties when the Corona Virus has been much less deadly than other diseases. He said “Until now about 12,000 people have died in this country because of Corona. Usually, the total mortality is about 940,000. (…) Total mortality has only increased by 1.3%.” To this the government adviser replied: “The issue is not the absolute figures. They are indeed not high in relation to total mortality. The decisive question is: what happens in the case of exponential growth, i.e. a multiplication of infections and fatalities? Will we still be able to treat the sick people in a human way and to avoid unnecessary deaths? The situation can get quickly out of control. Medicine and politics are rightly afraid of this.“
“The issue is not the absolute figure of deaths”
These are of course the usual arguments which shall blind people. However, the journalist was not impressed by this and continued to ask: “In 2017/18 about 25,000 people died in Germany because of flu. Every year about 30,000 people die because of lung cancer. High mortality caused by such diseases does not ruffle our society. Why is this different in the case of Corona?” Professor Graumann replied again that if many more people would die because of Corona this would have dramatic consequences for the health system. And she adds: “Once again: the issue is not the absolute figure (of deaths, Ed.) but the fear that we can not treat the sick people humanely.”
Of course, this answer is total nonsense. First, why is it possible to treat people who are dying because of flu or cancer “humanely” but not those of Corona?! Secondly, if the problem is the lack of hospital capacities, the government just needs to build additional hospitals, additional ICU’s and recruit more doctors and nurses. However, as the RCIT has pointed out many times, the capitalist governments have no interest to respond to the pandemic with the expansion of the health sector. That would not be profitable and would undermine their whole strategy of utilizing the pandemic as an excuse to expand the bonapartist state apparatus and to create huge business opportunities for big corporations in drugs, IT, bio-tech, retail and other sectors.
The government advisor attempts to justify the Lockdown policy by referring to the fear among the population. “The danger of exponential growth is real and this makes us afraid.” Of course, this is a cynical argument. People have not become afraid by themselves but because the ruling elite – the governments, business leaders and media – spread horror stories on a daily basis! The German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously said in March that “60 to 70% of the total population will get infected by the Corona Virus” and, as a result, many will die.
And Austria’s Chancellor Kurz said on 30 March 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.”  In fact, as leaked minutes of internal meetings revealed, the Chancellor was worried that the population “does not take the danger of the virus seriously enough”. He concluded, according to the leaked 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.” 
Naturally, these are only examples from Germany and Austria. The same policy was implemented in many other countries in Europe and globally. Everywhere, it was not the people who suddenly panicked but it were the governments themselves which consciously and deliberately created fear in order to justify the anti-democratic Lockdown policy. In countries like Sweden, where governments refrained from creating a public hysteria, no such widespread fear exists.
“… then society might accept higher figures of deaths”
Professor Graumann then said something which reveals an important element of the policy of the ruling elite. She says: “Politics and society fear the loss of control.” When politicians in Germany and Austria use the category “politics” as an abstract (in the context of “politics believe”, “politics thinks”, etc.) it has a specific meaning. It always means the political establishment or the elite. Similar with the category of “society” when it is used in a similar context. We note in passing that this just one example of the camouflaging language which the bourgeoisie uses in order to disguise the class character of their policy. Other examples are “peace enforcement” when the Great Powers wage a war (e.g. against Iraq in 1991) or “to make the workforce redundant” when capitalists sack workers.
So when Professor Graumann explains that “politics and society fear the loss of control”, she expresses the worries of the ruling elite that the popular dissatisfaction and social unrest could result in massive political instability. In other words, if “politics loses control”, it could result in mass protests and popular uprisings!
There is also another interesting statement in this interview. The journalist asks her: “Might it be possible that we will tolerate higher mortality caused by Corona if we get used to it and know the risk?” Professor Graumann replies. “Later, if the danger gets reduced because of vaccination, better therapies, knowledge about infection routes, and specific protection measures, society might accept higher figures (of mortality, Ed.).” When the journalist adds the smart question “In this case 20,000 or 30,000 Corona deaths would be tolerable as it is the case with flu?”, the government adviser realizes that she has entered dangerous territory and wisely limits herself to a facile remark: “I don’t want to call such absolute figures.”
Nevertheless, this remark is also revealing as it points to the future strategy of the governments. If they will provide mass vaccination (with huge profits for the drug monopolies) and still many people will die because of the virus, governments will say that this is “deplorable” but at least “we have the virus under control.”
A decadent ruling class searching for the “elixir of life”
These remarks point also to another important element in understanding the Lockdown policy of the ruling class. To a certain degree, there exists a real panic among their ranks fearing for their personal health. As it is well known, the Corona Virus is most dangerous for people older than 65 years. In addition, it is also widespread in Western imperialist countries – the self-proclaimed “cradle of civilization”. Hence, it is not surprising that the monopoly bourgeoisie in Western Europe and North America – a layer dominated by white old men – feels threatened by the virus since there exists no vaccine until now.
Naturally, this is particularly worrying for the small layer of billionaires who hope to expand their lifetime as long as possible and who invest a lot of money into bio-technology for such a purpose. So, unsurprisingly, the richest of the rich – like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Tim Disney, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, the Duke of Bedford – are making huge investments in bio-tech enterprises. This decadent elite is desperate to overcome the laws of biology and wants to live as long as possible. Hence, to put it in the words of a business publication, “they are all probably searching for the elixir of life.” 
So as soon as a vaccine is available, the ruling elite might declare that “the virus is under control.” A high number of people might still die but this is not a real problem for the rich and wealthy since they will certainly be able to afford all kind of vaccine.
“… then the system will be shattered pretty quickly”
The fear of the ruling class to “lose control” by popular outrage is also confirmed by another interview which was published one week ago. The “Wiener Zeitung” – a semi-official daily paper owned and controlled by the Austrian government – published an interesting interview with Ludwig Adamovich.  Adamovich was the long-time President of Austria’s Constitutional Court (1984-2002). Since 2004, he has worked as an advisor for the country’s Presidents.
In other words, Adamovich is also deeply involved in the ruling elite. And if we add the fact that this interview was conducted by the chief editor of the official state newspaper, we are certainly not wrong in assuming that this interview is thoroughly representative for the viewpoint of the ruling class.
Unsurprisingly, one important issue of the interview is the COVID-19 pandemic. The journalist asks “We often see only little basic trust (of the people, Ed.) in politics. What went wrong?”. Adamovich replies: “This problem has not been created from one day to the other. We just see the consequences of this more dramatically now because of the Corona crisis. There is a sentiment among the population which assumes a priori that the government and public administration wants to harass and irk people. This becomes evident in different ways, partly by simple ignoring of rules and regulations, but partly also by active resistance – fortunately not that much as we saw recently in Berlin when police had to operate with water cannon vehicles against protestors who demonstrated against the Corona policy of the government. This develops into a very nasty situation because if there does not exist a minimum of trust in politics then the system will be shattered pretty quickly.”
Here, a representative of the ruling elite expresses the fear of his class even more bluntly than the German government advisor did. As it is well known, Austria is not a country with a high level of class struggle. Nevertheless, even in such a country the ruling class is fully aware that it is sitting on a bubbling cauldron. How much more must other governments fear popular mass protests?!
All these developments do not come as a surprise for Marxists. The RCIT has explained numerous times that the global response of governments since the beginning of the pandemic was not driven primarily by public health considerations but rather by political interests (plus fear for their own lives as long as no vaccine is available). Faced with the worst depression of capitalist world economy since 1929  and a global wave of popular uprisings  – events, which both started in autumn 2019 – bourgeois governments from China to France and from Chile to South Africa were desperate to consolidate their position by increasing control of the popular masses.
The quotes from these two interviews confirm that the Lockdown policy is motivated by the rulers’ fear to “lose control” which could result in a situation where “the system will be shattered pretty quickly.” It is only logical that governments all around the world are expanding the chauvinist bonapartist state apparatus and massively restrict democratic rights.
It is only the silly fools of the opportunistic Lockdown Left who fail to recognize the political nature of the ruling class’ response to the pandemic. Such social-bonapartist “left” clings to the coat-tails of the liberal bourgeoisie and praises the reactionary and anti-democratic Lockdown policy.
In contrast to these opportunists, revolutionaries must tell the truth. They should help the vanguard to understand the nature of capitalist politics in the present period and to elaborate a strategy to mobilize the masses towards a popular uprising.
 Our very first article on this issue has been written 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/
 All RCIT documents on the COVID-19 crisis are 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 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/; Michael Pröbsting: 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/.
 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/
 Ethikrätin Graumann zu Maßnahmen: „Furcht vor dem Kontrollverlust“. Warum gibt es bei 11.000 Coronatoten einen Lockdown, während 25.000 Grippe-Opfer und 30.000 Sterbefälle durch Raucherkrebs in Kauf genommen werden? Das Interview führte Hannes Koch, 15. 11. 2020, https://taz.de/Ethikraetin-Graumann-zu-Massnahmen/!5726067/ (all quotes are translated by ourselves).
 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
 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). See on this also Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19 Crisis: Internal Document Reveals Austrian Government Plan to Spread FearA telling revelation on the political calculations of the ruling class, 28 April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/covid-19-crisis-internal-document-reveals-austrian-government-plan-to-spread-fear/
 Family Capital: Why family offices love biotech…their owners want to live longer, 26th April 2018 https://www.famcap.com/2018/04/why-family-offices-love-biotech-their-owners-want-to-live-longer/; see also Sissi Cao: 6 Billionaires Whose Fear of Death Is Fueling a Boom In Biotech Startups, 04/30/2018, https://observer.com/2018/04/bill-gates-jeff-bezos-invest-biotech-startups/
 "Gewissen spielt jetzt besondere Rolle". Ludwig Adamovich über den Hass auf die Politiker, das Gewissen in Corona-Zeiten und die Zukunft des Christentums. Interview von Chefredakteur Walter Hämmerle, 28.11.2020, https://www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/politik/oesterreich/2083889-Gewissen-spielt-jetzt-besondere-Rolle.html (all quotes are translated by ourselves)
 See on this e.g. chapter I of the book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It; 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/; 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/; 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/.