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”


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 22 December 2020,




Sometimes you think it can’t get worse. But then you find out, it can. This is how I felt when I came across the so-called ZeroCOVID“ campaign which has been launched by some “left-wing” organizations in Britain.


This supposedly progressive campaign criticizes the Johnson government for inconsistently imposing draconic Lockdowns. Naturally, this government is indeed a reactionary and incompetent bunch of fools. However, the organizers of this campaign do not focus their criticism on the anti-democratic Lockdown policy and the never-ending austerity policy in the public health sector. Instead they demand more and longer lockdowns! “A full UK-wide lockdown until new cases in the community have been reduced close to zero”.




Lock the people up!




At least this campaign has the advantage that it openly states which regimes are its model. The organizers declare that their models for a Lockdown strategy are countries mostly ruled by dictatorships resp. right-wing governments or countries with a strong tradition of authoritarian regimes. “There is a simple alternative to this chaotic policy of ‘living with the virus’, with its on-off lockdowns, ineffectual testing programme and constant economic insecurity. The alternative is the strategy currently in place in Australia, China, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, who have almost entirely eliminated the virus and whose citizens enjoy life without the need for draconian lockdown restrictions. This means full lockdown and safe working conditions in essential workplaces until community transmission is near to zero, then suppression of small outbreaks via local public sector Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support, and 100% protection of livelihoods.” [1]


It is telling that this campaign is supported by various Stalinists and pseudo-Trotskyists. [2] The Morning Star – a friend of China’s Stalinist-capitalist regime – is praising the ZeroCOVID“ campaign as well as the Cliffite  SWP/IST and “Red Flag” (the British section of the L5I). [3] In fact, these forces – like many other so-called “socialists” – have supported the reactionary Lockdown policy since long.


The SWP has repeatedly called for a “full and indefinite lockdown” (of course except for the “essential workers” who should continue delivering things to the middle class at their homes!). “The Tories could have begun the necessary full lockdown of schools and non-essential workplaces over half term. But they squandered the chance. There has to be a full lockdown combined with a furlough scheme that pays 100 percent of the wages of workers who are laid off. And it must be indefinite, not just for a month.[4]


And another ex-Trotskyist group – the “League for the 5th International” – not only fully supports the Lockdown policy but even calls the capitalist police to enforce it as energetically as possible! “Cops need to enforce laws that actually do protect the population from morons who think that their “right” to infect the rest of us is sacrosanct.[5]


In other words, the SWP, L5I and others preach the reactionary police state methods – “successfully” deployed in China, Vietnam, Australia, etc. – of atomizing and isolating the popular masses. This is Lockdown “Socialism” in its purest – and worst – form, based on the principle “Lock the people up!” It is an arch-reactionary policy based on wrong presumptions and wrong methods!




The real nature of the pandemic




First, as the RCIT and others have demonstrated repeatedly, the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically and consciously exaggerated. [6] In most European countries, total mortality in the first ten months of 2020 is barely higher than it has been in past years. Sweden, a country which has not imposed any lockdown or any other enforcement measures until now, has a mortality rate per capita of +1.0% percent in January – October 2020 compared to the same period in 2018! Similar figures exist for Germany and Austria. Probably the figures will now go up a bit as the virus has spread more in the last months. [7]


But, as we explained in our works, this is hardly an unprecedented catastrophe by any reasonable standards. Bear in mind that certain ups and downs in annual total mortality are nothing untypical. And bear in mind that humanity has experienced various other pandemics and diseases which had often far worse consequences and which have never resulted in mass curfews and total surveillance for the total population – e.g. the severe influenza waves in 1957-58, in 1968, HIV/AIDS, etc., not to speak about the mortality resulting from consuming alcohol or nicotine! In addition, it should be clear to everyone that the dramatic restrictions have long-term and devastating consequences for the society – isolation and atomizing of people with devastating consequences for mental health, massive setbacks for education of future generations, destructive effects for popular culture, etc.


Yes, COVID-19 is a pandemic which must be taken seriously. But it is not such a danger which could in any way justify mass curfews for the people and Lockdowns without end! It rather necessitates the expansion of the public health sector (more personal, better wages, more ICU’s, etc.), improvement of the conditions in the care sector for old and disabled people (who suffer most from the virus) and comprehensive safety measures in the society (free masks, free tests, etc.) All these measures must be under control of workers and popular organizations so that they can not be misused by those in power.




Police state “socialism” which only serves power and profit!




In contrast, the reactionary policy of nearly all capitalist governments has very different goals. Lockdowns, restrictions of democratic rights, compulsory vaccination, compulsory tests and comprehensive surveillance of the population – this is the policy which the ruling class all over the world wants to enforce by any means necessary. Such a policy does not serve the interests of public health – it only serves power and profit!


a) It is a pretext to expand the police and surveillance state and to isolate and atomize the popular masses (so that they can not resist the social and economic attacks in times of the worst capitalist crisis since a century).


b) It serves the business interests of drug corporations to give people vaccinations which have not been properly tested (as this takes years in order to find out long-term effects). Likewise, lockdown and surveillance policy serves the business interests of online retail and high-tech corporations (Amazon, Google, Bill Gates, etc.) which have already dramatically increased their profits since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.


It is shameful as well as telling that there are police state “socialists” who see China and Australia as a model. At least, this helps to clarify that such a Lockdown Left is on the side of the capitalist class enemy – the bonapartist state and its monopolies – and not on the side of the workers and oppressed. [8] Everything bad has its good side.




[1] ZERO COVID: The campaign to beat the pandemic, Model Motion,

[2] 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,; see also by the same author the last chapters in: 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,; COVID-19 and the Lockdown Left: The Example of PODEMOS and Stalinism in Spain, 24 March 2020,; Social-Bonapartism in Argentina. The Partido Obrero (Tendencia) of Jorge Altamira supports the State of Emergency, 29 April 2020,; When Ultra-Leftism marries Social-Bonapartism and Gives Birth to “Post-Marxist” Obscurantism. A reply to the CWG/ILTT, 5 May 2020,; 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,; 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,

[3] See e.g. Morning Star (the CPB’s paper): Protesters across Britain call for zero-Covid strategy, 6.12.2020,; Zero-Covid Charter demands government protect workers from economic impact, 1.11.2020,

[4] Charlie Kimber: Panicked Tories announce lockdown - but it is too little, too late, 31 Oct 2020, Socialist Worker No. 2729,

[5] Marcus Otono: Coronavirus - The Looming Economic Emergency, Workers Power (L5I Section in the USA), See also our above-mentioned article Lockdown Left says: “Cops Need to Enforce Laws”.

[6] The RCIT has published more than 60 documents on the COVID-19 crisis – including one book and several pamphlets. They are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: 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, 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, See also by the same author: 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,; 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,; 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,

[7] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: How Severe is the Pandemic in Sweden Really? Once again, a comparison demonstrates that the mortality rate in 2020 is barely larger than in 2018, 8 December 2020,; by the same author: COVID-19: Revealing Figures from Sweden. A comparison of the mortality rates of the first 9 months in 2020 with previous years confirm that this is a serious but not unprecedented pandemic, 23 November 2020,

[8] See on this also our new pamphlet by 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,