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


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 24 July 2020, www.thecommunists.net




We have closely followed the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting counter-revolutionary offensive of the ruling class since its beginning in early spring. [1] We have analyzed not only the nature of this pandemic and the political calculations of the bourgeoisie but also the pathetic capitulation of large sectors of the reformist and centrist left. Most of these organizations have in practice chosen to support the Lockdown policy which is an ineffective instrument in combating the pandemic but an effective weapon to impose a state of siege against the working class and popular masses. Hence, we characterize this “left-wing” policy as social-bonapartism – socialism in words, support for bonapartism in deeds – and call these organizations the Lockdown Left.


At this point we will not repeat our comprehensive analysis which we have updated in a new pamphlet published a few days ago. [2] Here we will limit ourselves to show a new example of the consequences of social-bonapartism. The U.S. section of the “League for the 5th International” – a former revolutionary organization which has swapped Trotskyism for revisionism a decade ago – has published a new article on the COVID-19 crisis. This article expresses once more and with full clarity the social-bonapartist policy of the Lockdown Left in general and the L5I in particular. [3]


Let us first present the key paragraphs of the article: “In order to halt the spread of coronavirus, we only need to look at our recent past to see the way forward. Even in the US, the hardest hit country in the world, there was a point in time where it looked like we were getting a handle on it. But just as soon as that point was reached, we reopened Pandora’s box and let the virus loose again. So the first step would be to reinstate the lockdown where the numbers show it’s needed, allowing trips out for essential errands only. For those essential errands, masks must be mandatory, enforced under penalty of fines and imprisonment and/or enforced isolation. Instead of enforcing laws against “living while black,” 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.


Economically essential workers, no matter what their current wages, must be paid as such; they are truly essential. Whether that means “hazard pay” for the length of the crisis or, preferably, a permanent raise in income is moot at this point. One way or another, get the money out to the people who will be risking their lives to make sure that society has enough to function through the lockdowns that will be needed to get the pandemic under control.[4]


We note briefly that the L5I repeats the nonsense that the US is “the hardest hit country in the world“. Since the U.S. is the third-largest country in the world in terms of population, it does not show the whole picture to focus only on absolute numbers of COVID-19 death. This is like saying that India is richer than France because its annual output is larger in absolute numbers. The true picture of a country’s wealth is only revealed if one looks at the output in relation to the size of the population. And here we can see that France GDP per capita is more than 20 times higher than India’s (40,471$ vs. 2,010$). [5]


Likewise, when we look at the COVID-19 deaths in relation to the size of the population, we see that various countries, whose governments have imposed draconic lockdowns from early on, have a higher number of deaths per capita than the U.S. Among them are Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy and Chile. [6]


However, the more important and scandalous parts of the L5I article are, first, the demand that the Lockdown policy should not only continue but should rather move back to the draconic days in March-May. Effectively, the L5I suggests that the Lockdown policy should continue until the pandemic is over. This position is, as we stated in a recently published essay where we dealt with the Morenoite LIT-CI which supports a similar pro-Lockdown policy, “both utopian as well as reactionary. It is utopian, first, because no society can exist without labor. Second, the working class and the oppressed can not achieve any demand by sitting at home instead of organizing and fighting against the capitalist class in the workplaces and on the streets. The LIT program is also reactionary because it advocates the disarming of the working class. Staying at home and banning meetings and demonstrations make it impossible for the workers and oppressed to resist against the ongoing counter-revolutionary offensive of the ruling class! In short, the LIT leadership is objectively promoting a social-bonapartist policy of atomization of the working class, i.e. the liquidation of the class struggle. Surely, many members of this organization are not aware of this. But this is the objective meaning of their leadership’s strategy.


Let us add, at this place, that the idea of a society living under lockdown until the pandemic is over is bizarre and cynical. According to latest prognosis of the WHO, a vaccine against the Corona Virus might not be found before early 2021. And even than it remains to be seen how effective it is and if people will be able to afford it. (Let’s not forget that the pandemic is viewed as a big business for many corporations.) Should people remain effectively imprisoned in their homes for at least half a year?! What a reactionary nonsense!


Of course, the pseudo-Marxist intellectuals know that labor is essential to keep a society running. Fortunately, such labor can be provided by the so-called “essential workers”. Even more fortunately, the Lockdown Left hardly belongs to this sector as its leaders and cadres are largely based in the middle class. So, basically this “Left” demands that it can stay at home, doing some “home office”, playing video games, watching Netflix and ordering food delivered by the “essential workers”. What an intellectual ivory tower full of dystopian utopias! Is anyone surprised that the so-called left is so isolated from the lower and middle strata of the working class and the poor?!


The L5I’s support for the reactionary Lockdown policy is even more explicit when it comes to the question how to enforce it. Here, one has to thank the author that he does not shy away from openly stating the consequences of social-bonapartism. Explaining who shall enforce the de facto imprisonment of the people (“lockdown … allowing trips out for essential errands only.”), the L5I states briefly and succinctly: “cops need to enforce laws”. We admit that the L5I is absolutely consistent in its logic. Who can impose the bonapartist laws of the ruling class imprisoning the people in their houses and banning public meetings and demonstrations? There is nobody but the repression apparatus of the very same ruling class which could do so. Hence, the L5I author only expresses openly what is the true position not only of his own organization but of the whole Lockdown Left. His admission is all the more welcome as most social-bonapartists shy away from expressing such consequences so bluntly and undiplomatically!


In reality, everyone who can read the news – and even more so everyone who is able to combine reading with Marxist thinking – knows that the ruling class utilizes the lockdown measures as a pretext do suppress democratic rights. Just ask the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the workers and youth in Chile, the urban poor in Africa! They all face every day brutal repression by the police and army under the pretext of the Lockdown rules.


Hence, calling the “cops to enforce laws” – particularly in the current situation of an expanding bonapartist state apparatus all over the world with wide-spread attacks on democratic rights – is nothing but counter-revolutionary and treacherous!


No one shall be surprise that the reactionary law and order forces in Chile, France, Africa, etc., the cheerleaders of the Stalinist-capitalist dictatorship in China, the social democrats and Stalinists in Spain and others hail the Lockdown and support the police and army “dominating the streets” (Trump). It is a shame that the former revolutionary L5I has joined the company of social-bonapartism – the new leprosy of the workers movement.


[1] The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than fifty documents 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 by the same author a new pamphlet as well as an essay: 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/; 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/.

[2] Michael Pröbsting: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution

[3] For a critique of the L5I pro-Lockdown policy see chapter V of our above-mentioned book The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It.

[4] Marcus Otono: Coronavirus - The Looming Economic Emergency, Workers Power (L5I Section in the USA), https://www.workerspower.net/us-politics/coronavirus-the-looming-economic-emergency

[5] Country comparison France vs India, https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/france/india (accessed on 24 July 2020)

[6] Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths worldwide per one million population as of July 24, 2020, by country, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants/