‘Communism with a human face’ was a popular buzz phrase back in the 1960s, mostly spread in countries such as Italy, where the communist party was pushing for electoral victories.
Like everything emanating from communists, the slogan was a lie. Communism has no human face, nor can ever develop it. All it has is a lupine scowl, baring its red fangs.
If anyone had any doubts on that score, the news coming out of China ought to dispel them. Benefiting from these insights would be not only assorted lefties, but also libertarians, who see free markets as a guarantor of virtue.
If their theories were true, China would have learned to act in a civilised fashion by now. Its markets were largely freed up after all. And markets aren’t just self-regulating. They also impose public morality, a culture of equity and consent. Is that right, my libertarian friends?
It actually isn’t. For China remains as evil as it was under Mao, except that it displays that quality in different ways. Such is the way it has responded to Covid-19.
Downing Street estimates that the actual number of deaths in China is 15 to 40 times greater than what the communists claim. That is no minor matter, for other countries try to model their actions on China’s experience. Thus the US delayed its response for a month on that basis.
Yet the spirit of commerce, for which the Chinese have been known in Asia for centuries, is very much alive there, manifesting itself with nice touches that are indigenously communist.
Thus, when China was already afflicted with the virus, but hadn’t yet spread it around the world, Italy generously supplied tonnes of PPE (personal protection equipment). That irredeemably ‘capitalist’ country did so out of the goodness of its heart, which means for free.
Then Italy itself was hit – hard, harder than China ever was, if one believes its official figures. And even if one doesn’t, Italy’s relative plight is still greater because its population is 20 times smaller.
Now that Italy itself was in trouble, the Chinese communists offered a helping hand – by selling Italians the very same supplies Italy had generously given China for free.
Or at least one hopes it’s the same PPE, rather than an equivalent of Chinese manufacture. The products of that great trading nation are better known for their low price than high quality. While with most goods this may only be cause for minor irritation, with PPE it becomes a matter of life of death.
Thus Spain, having paid £382 million for China’s largesse, has had to send back 50,000 testing kits that didn’t test. And the Dutch recalled 600,000 protective masks made in China because, well, they didn’t protect.
The interesting question is how civilised countries will handle relations with China in the aftermath of the pandemic, if indeed it ever ends. Now, the signals sent by HMG may be more reliable than those sent by the communists, but only marginally so.
Referring to the Chinese disinformation campaign as “disgusting”, a Downing Street spokesman suggested that China risks becoming a pariah state. Moreover, several Western governments, including ours, are suing China for trillions.
The level of self-deception involved in such actions fully matches that of the ‘60s, when communism was supposed to be acquiring a human face. For, even if such lawsuits do materialise, and the judgement goes against China, the chances of collecting are, in broad numbers, nil.
As to turning China into a pariah state, if you believe that I can get you a good price for a bridge over the Yangtze. Western greed and unquenchable thirst for a cheap production base (even one using effectively slave labour) has turned China into a global powerhouse, both economically and militarily.
Western economies can only go cold turkey on Chinese trade at their peril. And China holds trillions in Western (mainly US) cash and securities, meaning it could crash the global economies even worse than coronavirus will.
If you believe that Western governments can stand on principle regardless of economic consequences, that aforementioned bridge has just got discounted. Let’s just wait for free markets to work their magic and turn China into a benign state, shall we?
P.S. Speaking of disgusting things, our ‘liberal’ papers can barely conceal their joy at Boris Johnson’s dire condition. Should he die, one can see those ‘liberals’ dancing in the streets. Regardless of how you feel about Mr Johnson’s political acumen, I hope you’ll join me in praying for his full recovery. Please don’t give those ghouls (including a Labour mayor) cause for celebration, Boris.