COVID-19 and the global problem of Chinese-style actionism
In 1958, Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, had a brainwave. In the post-WW2 world which had rapidly fragmented into an East vs West cold war, China found itself in the unenviable position of being the poor, agrarian cousin to the USSR, its primary ally in the capitalist vs communist world that existed then.
Mao’s big idea was to do something big and visually spectacular to hurry along with the industrialisation of China and turn it into an economic powerhouse that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the Soviets in the Brave New Communist world.
Unencumbered by things like proper maths, economics, biology, and any sort of humility or understanding of scale, Chairman Mao launched the so-called “Great Leap Forward.” This was a campaign of forced collectivization of Chinese farms and state-directed industrialisation of the Chinese economy according to Communist principles. Overnight, landholders were expected to rapidly increase their farm output and then turn everything over to the state, which would then decide who got what. A lack of steel to drive industrialisation was to be remedied by getting ordinary Chinese people to turn over all their jewelry and metal household tools to the state, which would melt them all down, ostensibly for use in the industrialisation of China.
The outcome of all of this was that in just 3 years from 1958 to 1961, anything from 30 to 45 million Chinese people died of starvation, execution, and health problems related to famine. Chairman Mao is remembered not as a successful reformer, but as the world’s most prolific peacetime mass murderer. The Great Leap Forward has the unfortunate distinction of being the biggest ever incident of non-wartime mass murder in recorded human history. Understanding the psychology behind the Great Leap Forward is key to understanding what makes the Chinese Communist Party tick even today, 60 years later.
Only when the world understands this institutional psychology will it fully understand what the CCP unleashed on the world in Q1 2020 – and why it is an act of suicide to follow the CCP’s lead on any kind of large-scale public policy issue.
The Chinese Communist Party – The Buhari before Buhari
In this column, I have repeatedly lambasted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for his abject refusal to take responsibility for the direct outcomes of his own policies and his firm belief in media manipulation and information warfare as a substitute for governance and visible results. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Buhari himself has stated that he once adhered to a Marxist-Communist ideological leaning, before allegedly being convinced otherwise. I say “no surprise” because, throughout the 20th Century, this dogged determination to substitute information warfare for solid policymaking was the common feature shared by everyone on the Communist side of the Cold War.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in China, where Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution took tens – maybe hundreds – of millions of lives, without so much as an acknowledgment that you know, maybe we just might have got this wrong. To date, official Chinese history, which is taught in schools, glosses over the deaths of at least 30 million people, describing them as “3 years of natural disasters.” There is absolutely no mention of the fact that these deaths and misfortunes were entirely the creation of the CCP and the Maoist Communist death cult at its helm. Even Mao’s reformist successor Deng Xiaoping who suffered punishment at the hands of Mao’s Red Guards posited that “Mao’s successes must be looked at more than his failures.”
This is key to how the CCP survives and reinvents itself with every generation. Rather than acknowledge the past and work to correct it, which would imply that it can be – and has been – wrong about anything, it instead rewrites official history, expunges whatever it finds embarrassing, and portrays itself as the hero or victim. The so-called Chinese economic miracle is one example of this. According to the CCP, this 30-year economic event was the ultimate success of its Maoist, centrally planned economic doctrine. They even invented a name for it – “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” In reality, it was not a vindication of Maoism – it was the exact opposite of that. A far more accurate name in fact would be “Plain old Capitalism with empty Maoist symbolism.”
The same Jedi mind trick that the CCP played on the world by convincing everyone that it created the “Chinese Economic Miracle” (as against merely got its incompetent self out of the way for ordinary Chinese people to run an economy properly), is what has been in evidence since Q1 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. In this case, rather than be acknowledged as the global hotspot for a nasty respiratory virus that was known to Chinese doctors since October 2019, China somehow reinvented itself as the vanguard of the pandemic response. Worse still, the rest of the world started copying the CCP’s characteristic display of incompetence.
Public policy per the CCP is performance art
It has been forgotten even since “COVID-19” turned into Left Wing vs Right Wing political theatre in the OECD, but the SARS COV-2 virus was actually known to Chinese doctors and the Chinese state as far back as October 2019. Rather than inform the world and use conventional protocols for dealing with viral pathogens, the CCP elected to enforce silence to the point of persecuting the doctors who dared to speak up. In Q1 2020 when COVID-19 became regarded as a pandemic, the CCP suddenly reinvented itself overnight as a battle-hardened group of virologists and epidemiologists qualified to give pandemic advice to the rest of the world.
Whereas health protocols have stated for decades that respiratory viruses cannot be eliminated or contained, but must rather be lived with, the CCP suddenly came up with a religious faith called “Zero COVID.” The tenets of this faith were that by locking down entire swathes of humanity at home to the point of physically welding people into their houses and carrying out egregious human rights violations ostensibly to enforce it, COVID-19 would be stopped in its tracks. There was, of course, zero actual evidence for this preposterous position because it was not put forward by scientists. Or at least, not by people who can properly be described as scientists, regardless of what their titles claim.
Don’t get me wrong, the people who gave the CCP the brilliant idea of turning the planet into an open-air prison to defeat a fundamentally undefeatable and overwhelmingly non-fatal virus, probably wore white coats and carried stethoscopes. They presumably went to elite institutions where they gained scientific degrees with many alphabets after their names, but all of that is academic where the CCP is concerned. The CCP is the direct legacy of Mao Tse-tung – a semi-literate no-hoper from rural China who saw communism and its attendant class warfare as his ticket to the top, from where he would then supervise book burnings and destruction of knowledge and history, effectively reducing China’s intellectual level to his own profoundly limited level.
Like Mao viewed academics and professors either with suspicion or as nothing more than tools with which to actualise his anti-intellectual crusade, the modern CCP does NOT respect science or mathematics or economics or rationality. Its sole existential purpose, like that of Mao, is to centralise power and wealth under its control and to maintain its “Face” which it does use an ever-expanding series of meaningless but visually spectacular stunts. Xi Jinping, for those who are not aware, is an avid student of Chairman Mao.
Describing Xi Jinping’s relationship with the legacy of Chairman Mao in his 2016 book “CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping,” Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College, London writes, “[Mao] the dictator who caused his own father so much suffering, and who had such an impact on his own early life, may not be a person Xi harbours fond memories of. But [Mao] the propagandist, the master of Chinese symbolic politics, the person in modern China who could be said to have most truly understood where power was located, how to use it, and how to keep it – his was an inheritance worth tapping into.”
As the OECD and the rest of the world slowly but surely emerge from its Chinese-inspired 2-year “COVID Derangement Syndrome,” the lessons from this should not be lost. The Chinese Communist Party is a profoundly dishonest, incompetent, and dysfunctional institution that has been thoroughly captured by the personality cult of a single man with an oversized ego. As long as China is led by the CCP, the world has no business following its lead on anything at all. Yesterday it emerged that several European countries are preparing to classify COVID-19 as an endemic disease, rather than a pandemic. This really should not be news because this only follows their own pre-existing guidelines for dealing with airborne viruses.
The completely unnecessary and visually spectacular destruction that resulted from choosing to ignore their own guidelines should remind everyone what happens when the CCP is allowed to lead global policy.