Socialist Strategy to Lift the Lockdowns
13-09-2020: In the face of a virtual corporate media blackout, thousands across Australia took part in the September 5 Freedom Day demonstrations. Protesting “Covid-19” lockdowns, social-distancing, mandatory masking and other forms of political repression, the rallies were a success given the circumstances. The bravest faced off against police in Melbourne, the centre of perhaps the most extreme lockdown regime on the face of the planet. Solidarity with the people of Victoria was a feature of the actions in the other states. The fact that the mainstream media almost ignored the actions is a tell-tale sign that this movement runs as a direct counter to the rule of big capital. More than this, the anti-lockdown movement is a necessary groundswell against a particular form of fascism – the “New Normal”. Thus, it is vital that workers help build resistance to corona tyranny.
The main paradox with politics in 2020 is that the anti-lockdown movement confronts political forces which have betrayed them to form an arm of the capitalist state – Union officials and the lockdown left. Needless to say, merging with the state when it is in the middle of imposing a form of fascism exposes these elements as little more than the bourgeois politicians they claim to oppose. As a result, leadership of the anti-lockdown movement has fallen into the hands of those who have historically not been a part of what previously passed for the left. However, this does not mean that far right-wing forces dominate – far from it. If anything, while nationalism plays a significant role, ultra-nationalist and Nazi type elements are totally absent. The leading political forces of the anti-lockdown movement appear to include those who correctly oppose lockdowns from several different angles.
Some oppose lockdowns from a civil liberties angle, some are supporters of President Trump and the QAnon group, some reject what they see as a “New World Order”, and some are against forced vaccinations. There are peace and anti-war activists and those who support incarcerated whistleblower Julian Assange. Some laughingly embrace the label of “conspiracy theorists” – a term which has come to mean anyone who simply questions the official line of elite politicians and the corporate media. There are some who favour a strategy of lobbying politicians, and others who favour a strategy of mass action. Whatever their motivation, these people do not wish to see a world of totalitarian terror and are doing what they can to prevent a world of darkness for current and future generations.
At the same time, there are some trends within the anti-lockdown movement which constitute a barrier which Marxists need to skillfully navigate to assist the movement in achieving its goals. For while a mass anti-lockdown movement may succeed in eventually rolling back lockdowns and some logic-defying restrictions, the “New Normal” fascism and the enforced economic depression can only ultimately be defeated by the overthrow of the governments enforcing it. That is, it will require a series of workers’ revolutions in the capitalist West, combined with proletarian political revolutions against the conservative bureaucracies in the heavily distorted workers states of the East, particularly Red China. Nevertheless, to build a bridge between the anti-lockdown movement and the forging of democratic workers’ councils which can propel forward the struggle for proletarian power, socialists first have to address and contend with a series of views which nobble the anti-lockdown movement.
The first misunderstanding is the widely held – though not universal – view of anti-socialism amongst those prepared to mobilise against lockdowns. This partly reflects the general anti-socialism of many workers, yet it contains both progressive and reactionary content. It is reactionary in that it reflects the hostility of both small and large capital to public ownership of the means of production, administered by workers’ rule. However the progressive side is the rejection of the lack of political rights for workers as it existed in degenerated form in the former Soviet bloc, and as it now exists in the deformed workers’ states of China, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos and Cuba. The problem is that in correctly rejecting the lack of workers’ democracy in the five current deformed workers’ states, they then make the error of conflating this with socialism itself. To some extent, this mistake is entirely understandable. Unconsciously, they are rejecting the Stalinist or Maoist perversions of “Marxism” – which is necessary – but misidentifying this with the fast disappearing political rights and overt intrusion of the state into workers’ most personal needs under capitalist imposed “Covid-19” lockdowns.
Workers in power does not necessarily mean no or limited democratic or political rights. The fact that this occurs in China and the other deformed workers’ states in no way means that the first step towards socialism – a workers’ government based on a collectivised and planned economy – will result in deterioration of political rights. On the contrary, for the working class it should mean a vast expansion of democratic rights for working people – as did occur in the early years of the Soviet Union before Stalinist degeneration set in after 1924. Just as the expropriation of political power by Stalin, Bukharin, Rykov and others in the years after 1924 represented the revolt of the petty-bourgeoisie against the successful proletarian revolution of 1917, the limitation of political rights for working people in China, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos and Cuba reflects the petty-bourgeois rather than proletarian character of their respective political leaderships. To correct this, working people need to aim for proletarian political revolutions to oust the conservative and nationalist leaderships of these states, while retaining the working-class forms of economic and state power. This needs to be combined with genuine socialist revolutions in the West, uniting workers internationally.
To fully grasp this perspective necessarily requires the study of genuine Leninism. Perhaps understandably, many workers are put off the investigation of Marxism by the actions of the governments of the workers’ states such as China (People’s Republic of China – PRC). Due to the primarily nationalist character of the Communist Party of China (CPC), workers in the West never hear of any appeals made to it – because there are none. A genuine Marxist party would be consistently trying to reach out to workers internationally with appeals to help it build socialism internationally. The CPC leadership never does, and never will, due to its locked in position of nationalism socialism, or “socialism in one country”. This flies in the face of actual socialism, where the world’s resources will be used for the well-being of the world’s people, with workers’ rule being the initial guarantor. With the CPC leadership acting as mirrors of the governments of the West – even to the point of playing up to the coronavirus plot and imposing their own lockdowns – many in the anti-lockdown movement are not entirely incorrect to view “China” as being in on the act.
Sections of the anti-lockdown movement also entertain wild misunderstandings of socialism, even to the point of seeing Labor Party Premiers Dictator Dan Andrews and Anastacia Palaszczuk as being “socialists” or heading a “socialist government”. According to this mistaken view, the Greens are also “socialist”. And in fact, one Greens member of parliament did vote with the Labor Party in Victoria to extend the lockdowns by six months. Even though the Liberal Party voted against this, workers need to understand that all of the parliamentary parties – Labor, Liberal, National, Greens etc. – are all parties of the capitalist class, and are thus galaxies away from any kind of “socialism”. There may be some very minor disagreements between them over the imposition of lockdowns and when to roll them back, but their fundamental class interest is that of either small or big capital. And the whole capitalist class is united in imposing the political repression of lockdowns – so as to enable immense downward pressure on working people’s wages and conditions. This has been done by mass sackings, the forced closure of many small and large businesses – meaning staff “stand-downs” or furloughs, and so on. The unprecedented attack on the working class is the principle aim of lockdown terror, and the predominant goal of the fake “pandemic”. Working people are thus facing an assault of capitalism, not “socialism”.
- The role of the police
An unfortunate lack of class consciousness amongst the anti-lockdown movement is apparent with the view of police “doing their job” by sometimes allowing protests or not arresting demonstrators. This view is not universal, but where it appears it even extends to some leading anti-lockdown speakers calling on police to join the movement (!!). This is more than the “good cop, bad cop” routine, which alibies the entire police force. The police will not, and cannot, be allies of working people in any political movement whatsoever. The police cannot be won (!) to a political cause because they are paid to be the key apparatus of capitalist state repression of working people. The attempt by some in the anti-lockdown movement to appeal to police to stand with the “people” or to think of their “families” is a reflection of the distinct lack of pro-working class politicisation. This major error is unfortunately fueled by the treasonous behaviour of the Union bureaucracy and the lockdown left, whose abject genuflection before Corona madness identifies them as police deputies. In swallowing Coronavirus hysteria wholesale, the lockdown left cannot then go on to oppose the vicious police repression (witness Melbourne) which their class collaboration has brought into being.
The view of police as “workers” or as part of the “working-class” needs to be sternly disabused by socialists within the anti-lockdown movement. The fact that police are employed does not therefore mean that police are “workers”. In Marxian terms, the police are the hired security forces of the capitalist state, whose essential function is to ensure that workers do not touch the levers of state power. The police will carry out whatever level of political repression against workers that is politically required by the ruling class at a particular juncture. Pre Covid-19, the “normal” amount of political repression was sufficient. The implementation of lockdown fascism obviously requires an enormous escalation of political repression, and the police are the first ones to enforce it. A graphic demonstration of this lawless outrage was the arrest of a pregnant mother in Victoria for posting a notice about a peaceful anti-lockdown protest on social-media. At the slightest sign of working people resisting the barely disguised chains of capitalist enslavement, the police are unleashed to do their worst. The only true allies are workers yet to be won to the fight against the “New Normal”.
Theories and variations of the “New World Order” have been around for a very long time, and now the Covid-19 deception has given this slogan a new lease of life. Those who use this to describe what is apparently happening also have various interpretations. However, common notions are that the New World Order is a one world government of “globalists”. These “globalists” control the United Nations, the international banking system, and are using organisations such as the World Economic Forum to reduce world population via the World Health Organisation….and so on. There is little doubt that Bill Gates is up to his neck in the fake “pandemic”, and that he funds large parts of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the “fact-checking” industry and large sections of the corporate media. Many within the anti-lockdown movement are well read on this and related material. But if it was not Bill Gates, it would be some other corporate billionaire – or billionaires.
Substitute “New World Order” for capitalism, and “globalists” for imperialists, and socialists can sign up as subscribers to this view. Yet that reveals one of the primary barriers to the political progress of the anti-lockdown movement. Currently, if it did identify capitalism as the major source of global problems, it could invite socialism in as the next logical step. Due to many misunderstandings of socialism – some of them very understandable – adherents of the New World Order/globalist mindset prefer to remain on the ground of simply exposing the undoubted crimes of the obscenely wealthy. Yet as the situation of Julian Assange readily attests to, exposure of the crimes of capitalism alone are not enough. The bravery, heroism and self-sacrifice of Julian Assange and Wikileaks cannot be questioned. Yet without the building of vanguard parties which can lead workers towards the expropriation of big capital and the collectivisation of the economy, the establishment will remain in control regardless of how many times its crimes are revealed.
Nor can nationalism be used as a counter to the “globalist” agenda. The global capitalists use nationalism to deceive “their own” workers at home, while they practice the opposite. Big capital can flick its investments around the world at the click of a button, even at the same time as demanding and receiving protection by their “home” state. Even though the United Nations and the WHO appear on the surface to be controlled by a global agenda, this is just the reflection of the confluence of interests of the major imperialist states. In short, the capitalist classes of the imperialist states are very class conscious, and they collaborate internationally with their class without batting an eyelid. Needless to say, the only effective counter working people have in response is international collaboration with their class across the borders of the 193 UN member states. The nationalism of the bourgeoisie is a false front, and so working people shoot themselves in the foot if they try to restore “national sovereignty” in opposition to “globalism”.
Socialists within the anti-lockdown movement need to be tactical about how to take up these three issues, and many others. Where possible, discussion and debate with all those opposed to lockdowns is vital. However, during rallies and other protests physical defence or evacuation obviously takes priority, if the police are moving in. While unity of the anti-lockdown movement is important for its collective strength, civil discussion of differing political views must also be accommodated.
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