The Labour Lieutenants of Lockdown Terror
25-08-2020: Throughout history, fascism has only been able to come to power in the absence of the firm pro-working class leadership of labour Unions, which is bound up with the question of the state of the organised left parties who claim to stand for socialism. Benito Mussolini and the Italian fascists were able to assume power in 1922 on the back of the inability of the Italian socialist and Communist parties to offer the workers a viable alternative in the aftermath of the First World War. Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis in 1933 were installed in power without even a scuffle in the streets after the by then thoroughly conservative Comintern virtually ordered the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) to do nothing other than run in elections against the fascists. In Spain in the 1930s, the left was unable to form a viable workers’ party which could have led insurgents to form their own state out of the Civil War, which led to the victory of Franco’s fascists who remained in power for decades.
Covid-19 bait and switch
Lockdown fascism in 2020 unfortunately forms no exception to the rule. The given rationale for lockdowns – that they are necessary to “stop the spread” of Covid-19 – is farcically absurd. Ditto for the millions of job cuts for workers, the forcible economic shutdown of businesses and vital parts of the economy, the suspension of parliament, the abolition of elementary civil and democratic rights, and the use of the armed forces to add to an even more draconian police state. To say these measures constitutes a “cure” which is worse than the disease barely begins to describe the crimes committed by the politicians of the West. Even some United Nations (UN) agencies, who are politically liberal at best, warned that there could be 300 000 people dying per day in the underdeveloped countries due to the Corona shutdown of food production and supply lines. Even if food production and distribution within the advanced countries had not been interrupted, the commercial airline industry has more or less closed down, nobbling the delivery of personnel and food aid.
This is not to mention the skyrocketing anxiety, depression and resulting suicides related to Covid-19 lockdowns. One study from Sydney University earlier this year estimated that suicides triggered by tyrannical lockdowns in Australia would exceed the number of deaths (allegedly) “from” Covid-19 by a factor of 10. This should not be any wonder, given the indescribable repression the people of Melbourne are currently experiencing under “Stage 4” lockdowns. It can be reasonably argued that the extreme despotism imposed in Melbourne, ludicrously justified as part of a “fight” against a virus, exceeds the conditions experienced by German workers under the Nazis in the 1930s. The government has ordered the shutdown of some industries, throwing hundreds of thousands out of work. There is a curfew from 8pm to 5am every night, people are only allowed to exercise for one hour per day, they cannot travel more than 5 kilometres from their home, and only one person from each household is allowed out to obtain food. Police can enter any home without a warrant or permission, the Australian Army is used to ensure people are “isolating”. Protesting is illegal, weddings and funerals and basically any public gathering is illegal. People who live alone arguably face isolation that amounts to torture, and children and students cannot attend school or University, and are reduced to being transfixed to a computer screen at home.
It is difficult to deny the claim that this mind-bending oppression constitutes a form of fascism. Granted, it differs from the fascism of Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain – but the essential elements remain. The main difference is that there has been no fascist or ultra-nationalist party which has taken power from the mainstream capitalist parties of Labor and Liberal. Lockdown fascism is imposed through the major parties, and through all the existing institutions of the capitalist state – including the “health” system. Indeed, the “health” moniker is used endlessly as a classic bait and switch. While the enormous power of the corporate media in league with the government points all accusing fingers towards a supposedly deadly virus, the political and economic attack on the working class sails through virtually unimpeded. The job cuts, the unemployment and the resulting downward pressure on wages and working conditions are the key to understanding the real motivation of the “pandemic”. Capitalism in crisis can only turn against the working class in order to save itself, and Covid-19 has given them the excuse to exert unyielding downward pressure on the cost of labour power, i.e., wages workers need to survive.
Lockdown left merges with the state
The ruling class resorts to fascism when the thin façade of liberal democracy is insufficient to deliver the political repression required for the rapid erosion of working-class wages and conditions. Under any other scenario, the sacking of up to a million workers would provoke a fightback from labour Unions and left parties. Yet from the very start of the Corona crisis, not only have the Union officials and the so-called left parties allowed mass sackings and the virtual elimination of almost all bourgeois democratic rights, they have effectively merged with the capitalist state against their own members and workers generally – even as this state descends into its own form of fascism. The scale of this class treachery is difficult to quantify.
What has become the “lockdown left” comprises three parts. The first is the ultra-conservative Union bureaucracy, the second is the liberal intelligentsia (a topic best broached elsewhere), and the third is the nominal left parties which make some claim to be “socialist”. Amongst these, the Union officialdom sets the tone for the other two quisling elements to bring up the rear. Betrayal of Union members by the top echelons of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is apparent from day to day, but becomes particularly acute when working class leadership is desperately required. Not only has the ACTU abandoned Union members from the get-go of Corona, it crossed the Rubicon to join directly with the “captains of industry” over and against the direct interests of working people. On August 3, the ACTU co-signed an open letter with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) imploring the Federal Government to implement a Paid Pandemic Leave Scheme. With cap in hand, the ACTU pleaded for this scheme to be paid for by the Federal and State governments. No wonder the BCA, the largest and most influential employer “Union” in the country, eagerly endorsed this – employers would not pay a cent!!
This open and undisguised collaboration with the capitalist class by the ACTU has two functions. Firstly, it saturates the working class with the arrant and relentless “pandemic” lies used as a cover for the unremitting class war being waged against them. Secondly, it yet again drums in the bourgeois lie that employers and employees are “all in this together”, and that “we” need to band together to “get through this crisis”. It should not need to be explained how this prevents the working class from even defending itself against the rain of blows it suffers under the brand name of Covid-19. It builds on mass disorientation and demoralisation of workers who are desperately seeking the means to fight back.
One can understand workers who have little experience or involvement in active politics trying to find a way to explain the duality of a felt need to assist society with a claimed health issue alongside the urge to defend their class against a political and economic broadside. Yet we can scarcely offer any leniency in exposing those who have political experience, and can ironically quote Marx as if by rote, playing the role of police auxiliaries enforcing the Corona dictates of PM Scott Morrison and the arch reactionary Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. We speak of the nominally “socialist” parties who have not the ghost of an idea that the corporate media and politicians are, surprise surprise, not telling the truth about how society should deal with a supposedly dangerous pathogen.
Socialist Action casually mention that domestic violence against women has increased by 75% “due to Covid-19” – yet they offer not one word of criticism of the lockdowns which are almost entirely responsible. Socialist Alliance offer full-throated backing for lockdowns, but make a side-plea for nice ones, which include community organisations. This is not satire. Socialist Alternative accept the “pandemic” narrative wholesale, and offer only a few grumbles about how “neoliberalism” has undermined funding for health and aged care services. Continuing on the line of militantly demanding reforms, Solidarity take a stand not against scientifically groundless quarantines, but for quarantines to be run by government health workers, employed on secure conditions!
The “Stalinist” parties demonstrate a graphic example of just how pro-government “Marxism-Leninism” really is in practice. The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) makes mention of the fines of up to $20 000 for those in Victoria who refuse to “self-isolate” – but do not dare to even raise their hand in opposition. The Australian Communist Party (ACP) does recognise the betrayal of the ACTU in working hand-in-glove with the Australian (Liberal) government on Corona crisis responses. At the same time, it does not realise it is also working with the government by swallowing the “pandemic” narrative. The Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist (CPA-ML) claim that workers have been “hit hard by Covid-19”. It does not register with the CPA-ML that the ruling class is hitting the working class hard while using the excuse of Covid-19. The Communist Workers Party of Australia (CWPA) make no mention of the Corona crisis in the entirety of the first issue of their publication, despite it being released just before the peak of the manic “second wave” lockdowns. The CWPA appear to assume that politics can continue as normal if we all just follow the Prime Minister and the corporate media on the coronavirus. What a sterling example of working-class leadership!
The “Trotskyist” parties, if anything, imbibe more “pandemic” Kool-Aid than others. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP), is known for campaigning hard for even harsher and longer lockdowns than even the conservative governments are prepared to enact. The Australian section of the Spartacist League (SL) has not published anything on the Corona crisis to our knowledge. However, its US section condemns anti-lockdown protests as being full of supporters of President Trump. They do not appear phased that, in practice, this places them politically to the right of Trump supporters – something that can be said for the entire lockdown left. The Trotskyist Platform take the cake as far as true believers of the politicians when it comes to Covid-19. So deeply do they believe the “pandemic” lies, they literally call for invasive mandatory temperature testing for workplaces of more than two people (!?), for nice food for those in lockdown, and for public housing residents to be locked down by health workers rather than cops!! The Bolshevik-Leninist project, a new Trotskyist organisation, has shown some promise in their initial forays. Yet they too fall for the litany of lies justifying barbaric and logic-defying lockdowns.
Covid-19 is a class attack
By any measure, the circulation of a pathogen which is almost entirely harmless to all but a very small minority is being used by the ruling-class to launch an unprecedented attack on the working-class from whom it draws its private fortunes. It is a clear class attack, from which workers need to defend themselves, using all means up to and including a generalised uprising. Standing in the way of this dire necessity are the overpaid and ultra-conservative Union officials, who are propped up by what should be a totally discredited “left”. Workers need to burn into their collective memories the fact that, at the first serious test, the Union officials and the lockdown left abandoned them to become the labour lieutenants of big capital. And this is big capital which is resorting to lockdown fascism in a desperate attempt to save the stock markets and the private ownership of the means of production.
Despite the appearance of lockdown terror being begrudgingly accepted by working people, this is in fact an illusion. This appearance would melt into the air if it were not for the epic betrayal of workers by Union officials and their lockdown left sidekicks. The bourgeoisie takes a huge gamble with the maintenance of its own rule when it turns to fascism. The imposition of lockdown fascism demonstrates the political and ideological exhaustion of capitalist “democracy”, and the urgency of its replacement with the foundations of socialist rule, where working people democratically control the levers of state power. Key to this task is the total rejection of the lockdown “left” and the forging of a workers’ party based on genuine Leninism. For workers and the oppressed, Corona tyranny is not a reason to despair, but is instead a clarion call to rise up and create a planned and collectivised economy where the wealth of society becomes the wealth of all.
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