January 31, 2020
The coronavirus currently sweeping over China has provoked a massive global mobilisation, only 17 years after the SARS virus scare. Alas, the worst virus of them all is a social virus, known to us under the name of communism.
Communism is transmitted person to person, usually during large ritualistic party meetings, it is deadly and it has already made tens of millions of human victims worldwide, from Russia to China and beyond.
One chief particularity of this highly destructive social virus is that it affects the brain of those infected. Another is that it doesn’t kill the virus’ hosts, but the people unlucky enough to be close to them. The hosts, on the other hand, are selected from the ranks of those with a background of poverty, low level of education, a history of alcoholism or criminal background (think Stalin here).
For communism to spread widely and infect entire nations, a few preconditions are necessary. The nations in which major communist eruptions become widespread have to be ravaged by war, be economically destitute or have weakened immune systems (i.e. decaying polity, weak leadership and crumbling state institutions). It is not by accident that communism succeeded in Russia in the midst of the first world war and in China, southeast Asia or eastern Europe after the second world war.
The first phase in the evolution of this social disease is the deadliest and the longest. It takes about 30 years – roughly from 1920 to 1950 in Russia, or from 1949 to 1978 in China and eastern Europe. Tens of millions of people are sacrificed on the altar of communist orthodoxy, a process in which the pre-existing social cells are being replaced by infected ones. I am referring to the eradication of the traditional family and its replacement with the “socialist family”, where children are encouraged to spy and report on their parents and where spouses’ loyalty to each other is replaced by loyalty to the communist party. The old bourgeois state is replaced with the new and supposedly more advanced communist state. The latter, however, is under the total control of the communist party. Collective property replaces private property and workers are encouraged to kill, imprison or beat up their former bosses, owners and intellectuals, considered too smart for their own good.
The second phase is less deadly, but no less dangerous . Some communist leaders like Ceausescu preferred to label it as the period of the triumph of socialism over capitalism. Some small and insignificant forms of property in agriculture and the service industries re-emerge with the blessing of the communist party. In their perpetual search for legitimacy, most communist leaders inaugurate a hybrid form of communism, known to specialists as national communism. This new orthodoxy is proposed to the hapless citizens as the ultimate guarantee of the existence and future of the societies under their leadership. Resistance to this form of communism is futile, as the communist party invests heavily in a vast and tightly controlled secret police and the repression apparatus. In this phase, people who dare to resist or contest the legitimacy of the communist regime are thrown in jail, flee their countries as refugees or face severe economic or social disadvantages.
Like the coronavirus now, communism displays a propensity to spread from its initial epicenter to various other countries and to infect much healthier societies around the world.
Its third phase, which can last between 10 and 20 years, is the decaying phase of the communist infestation of societies. During this period, the legitimacy of communist leaders is contested in the streets, the communist party implodes, to be replaced with pluralist political systems and market economy structures.
A peculiar exception to the rule seems to be up to now China. In its second phase started in 1978, the Chinese communist leaders decided to open up their country’s economy to a few large global corporations willing to exploit the cheap labour China had to offer at the time. Gradually, Chinese communists allowed the emergence of a local private enterprise sector of the economy, which since 2017 is undergoing a tightening of control. The inescapable fact about China, however, is that while it has become an economically powerful nation, it has remained politically backward. Its communist party and leadership are therefore living on borrowed time, and the sooner Chinese people realize that, the better for their country and for the world as a whole.
A freak development of China’s recent economic success is that its current leaders are convinced that Marx – the prophet of socialist victory over capitalism – was right when he postulated that communism was the end of history. To them, China’s rise means that communism will ultimately replace capitalism worldwide. This is what prompted the Chinese president to reintroduce the study of Marx in universities and force it down the throat of the country’s students. Naturally, however, the Chinese version of communism will not last either, regardless of how much money and efforts are spared to ensure the fulfillment of this misguided prophecy.
Over the years, capitalist opponents have made analogies between communism and various bacterial diseases. At the height of the cold war, Americans viewed communism as comparable to a smallpox infection (J.K.Galbraith). More recently, Romanian liberally-minded politicians have called communism and socialism the Red Plague. As for myself, I would compare communism with a venereal disease like syphillis, as it affects the brain without actually killing its host (we now know, for example, that Lenin actually suffered from syphillis himself).
To be sure, we should never consider communism more than a social viral infection of some large strata of weakened societies ravaged by war and famine. At the same time, we should strongly resist Beijing’ efforts to propagate the communist leadership’s achievements, based on the country’s economic success of the last 30 years. As I have explained elsewhere, China’s economic success is less a result of the communist party’s supposedly superior political skill in action, and more an outcome brought about by a combination of Western money, Western technology, know-how and open markets for Chinese products. The truth is that Chinese society cannot survive in its current form, a fact that will become increasingly apparent in the next few years.
Unfortunately for all concerned, the recovery phase of nations afflicted by this virus is not measured in weeks or months, but rather in decades, as the recent example of countries in eastern Europe proves. The lengthy recovery phase was made worse, in their case, by Western neglect and income inequality, as well as by the spread of an ill-conceived Western globalisation agenda which severely affected such states’ ability to protect their citizens.Spotlight on Geopolitics