July 1, 2020
What a time to be alive!
On the heels of anti-authoritarian struggles in 2019 in countries like Sudan, Algeria, Haiti, and Hong Kong, 2020 was ushered in by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The world’s most visible authoritarian and white supremacist president, Donald Trump, was quick to call COVID-19 a “Chinese virus.” This is nothing but disgusting anti-Asian racism.
In reality COVID-19 is a capitalist virus.
Far from being a Chinese virus, COVID-19 is a result of the fact that the global capitalist economy has been propped up by the superexploitation of Chinese workers, especially those who have been recruited from rural areas to port cities and have become part of the hukou1Hukou is a household registration system that requires workers to carry internal passports. For a comparison of hukou in China and the apartheid dompas of South Africa, see Peter Alexander and Anita Chan, “Does China have an apartheid pass system?” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30, no. 4 (2004): pp. 609–29. caste of migrant workers who live and work in such deplorable conditions that suicide nets have been set up outside of their dormitories.
The superexploitation of these workers by the forces of international capitalism is complimented by the repression of the Chinese government against Uighurs in Xianxing and the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
What is most obscene is that the government is carrying out these abuses in the name of communism. As a Guyanese person, such experiences live in my historical memory. In the 1970s and 80s, we had a government that called itself socialist but cracked down on dissidents as well and even murdered the revolutionary Walter Rodney.
It’s been 40 years since Rodney was killed, but as working people have begun to rise up against the triple crises of police terror, the capitalist COVID-19 virus, economic crisis his words ring true:
No one but the working class can liberate the working class. Anyone who offers you freedom as a gift is either trying to fool you or are fooling themselves. Freedom is not a gift, Freedom is something you take!