Above: Barriers have blocked streets in Shanghai under a Covid lockdown. Photo credit: http://www.gzeromedia.com
15-04-2022: The world has been shocked by some reports and video footage which has emerged from Shanghai, the largest city in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with a population of some 26 million. On March 28, the Communist Party of China (CPC) led government ordered the city into a strict Covid lockdown, with no indication of how long it would last. Shanghai residents under lockdown cannot leave their homes or apartments for any reason, even to buy food to feed themselves. Grocery stores have been closed to prevent people from gathering. Harrowing photos have made it to the internet, of empty streets and people clad in hazmat suits distributing food parcels from trucks, open air (!) makeshift Covid quarantine centres, and police officers in protective suits operating drones carrying loudspeakers. Incredibly, some of the drones are reported to be blaring the following announcement: “Please comply with Covid restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.” To label this situation an authoritarian dystopia is a significant understatement.
Logic defying repression
Whether Covid is an illness in itself, or is a renamed cold or flu, many of the measures the CPC led government have imposed defy logic. Reportedly notices have been delivered to Shanghai residents “advising” them that they are required to self-test for Covid daily, wear facemasks inside the home, and avoid contact with family members. The pursuit of an impossible “Zero-Covid” strategy by the government has led to absurd and cruel measures against pets. Under the gravely suspect notion that cats and dogs can spread Covid, video footage has emerged of dogs being beaten to death, and cats being trapped and forced inside mesh bags which are tied up and left on the footpaths. Some owners have their pets with them inside their homes, but they cannot take them outside to exercise them, or even to allow them to defecate! Inflicting suffering and even death on pets – for some people their only companions – indicates an unprecedented and vulgar display of power.
The suffering, disruption and chaos is imposing its own problems, quite apart from whatever Covid might be. Under the government’s rules, ALL those who registered a positive Covid test – even if they are asymptomatic – are forced into quarantine. Initially, children who tested positive to Covid were separated from their parents to be shunted into a facility. Thankfully, this measure was dropped by the government after a public outcry. The quarantine centres themselves, which are often large and open buildings, have quickly become overcrowded and unsanitary. There are no showers, and with people being forced to stay there for weeks, people can only “wash” themselves if they can get access to a basin with a tap. If indeed Covid is transmitted by airborne particles, these packed quarantine centres can do little but create the conditions for its proliferation. Even though the government is distributing some food, there is the real danger of starvation for those confined to their homes. Appalling videos have surfaced with some Shanghai residents screaming from their apartments.
The debris of Stalinism
Whether or not the SARS-CoV-2 virus exists (not to speak of the so-called Omicron variant), there is no scientific or medical justification for what are euphemistically termed “non-pharmaceutical interventions”. Forced lockdowns, facemasks, Covid “vaccines”, quarantine, isolation etc., are about politics and economics, not about healthcare. All of these measures cause more physical and psychological harm to human beings than anything that a coronavirus could muster. Covid is ultimately a civil war waged by the imperialist powers against the working people of the world, in a futile attempt to preserve the capitalist mode of production. Millions of workers have been thrown out of their jobs with the excuse of Covid, or from vaccine mandates, even after admissions that the vaccines do not prevent transmission. And this is more than two years after “two weeks to flatten the curve”.
How does this explain the current Covid repression in the PRC, where capitalism is NOT the predominant mode of production? The culprit remains Stalinism, and certainly not socialism. “Stalinism” can describe many different things, but essentially it is a system of bureaucratic rule by a caste of conservative leaders sitting atop a workers’ state who nonetheless claim the heritage of “Marxism” and “Leninism”. To be sure, the PRC was born out of a successful socialist revolution which triumphed in 1949, led by Mao Zedong and the CPC. However, this was a workers’ state which was bureaucratically deformed from its inception, for two main reasons. Firstly, the Chinese revolution was overwhelmingly a peasant backed uprising, which meant it had a qualitatively different class character to the epic October 1917 revolution in Russia, which led to the founding of the Soviet Union (USSR).
Secondly, the political leadership of the CPC clung to Stalinism as its political lodestar, as opposed to the Leninist-Trotskyism of the Bolshevik Party. This meant that its watchwords are the twin policies of “socialism in one country” and “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Thus the CPC today is prepared to do virtually anything – including enforcing Covid repression – to maintain “socialism” within the borders of the PRC. This means acting to help prop up capitalism and imperialism internationally, by any means necessary. Currently, this involves playing along with, and even taking turns to lead, the fraudulent Covid narrative. We can see that today they are even prepared to sacrifice vast economic activity in Shanghai and elsewhere and impose severe repression against “their own” working class, to curry favour with the Western powers who ironically seek to destroy the PRC.
Plainly, the CPC is betraying both the Chinese proletariat – many of whom are directly descended from those who fought and won in 1949 – and international labour. A genuine Marxist party would help organise the international fight against imperialism, not collaborate with its most pernicious schemes such as the Covid fraud. What is required in the PRC is a proletarian political revolution which sweeps away the conservative ruling caste but maintains the state which guarantees public ownership of the major means of production, nationalised land, and a planned economy. International workers’ vanguard parties must come to the aid of the Chinese working class, as part of the struggle for freedom from Covid repression, Western economic collapse and the danger of imperialist war.