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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Capitalism on a Ventilator

REVIEW by Tony Murphy

Capitalism on a Ventilator: The Impact of COVID‑19 in China & the US edited by Lee Siu Hin and Sara Flounders. September 2020. Paperback: in English, 370pp; £12.57.

AS THE Delta variant rages through the USA, a major Chinese publisher has signed a contract to distribute a timely book comparing COVID‑19 responses in the countries’ two systems: capitalism and socialism. Capitalism on a Ventilator

The book Capitalism on a Ventilator: The Impact of COVID‑19 in China & the US – originally published last year and penned by dozens of alternative writers from America and around the world – will now be translated and distributed in China. It will be available for sale by late September.

The book’s secondary title, An anthology of social justice activists discussing a global choice: cooperation vs competition – describes the stark choice facing humanity.

“It’s been an honour for our book to be published in China,” said Lee Siu Hin, national co–ordinator of the China–US Solidarity Network and the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, as well as a writer and editor of the book, “and a great opportunity for US activists to meet and build solidarity with Chinese academia and activists. We hope to continue this work for peace and friendship.”

The authors detail the decisive, comprehensive steps taken by the Chinese government to break the chain of infection, as opposed to the chaotic US response that ranged from outright denial to chaotic bungling and racist blame games.

Events have borne out the message of the book, published in July 2020 when the US COVID‑19 death toll was 150,000. That number has since quadrupled, reaching well over 600,000 in a country of 350 million. By contrast, since that time the number of deaths in China, a country of 1.4 billion, has remained below 5,000.


Capitalism on a Ventilator puts into perspective the baseless campaign to use the “lab-leak theory” to blame China for the coronavirus – when it was China who, in January 2020, tried to warn the USA about the coronavirus through phone calls, public announcements and early sequencing of the coronavirus – and mounted the world’s most comprehensive and successful campaign against the COVID‑19 pandemic.

“Despite China’s many accomplishments, a dangerous war drive against China is gaining momentum in the USA,” says Sara Flounders, director of the International Action Center and co-editor of the book. “Hopefully this book will introduce voices who are resisting this pull and urging science, co-operation and solidarity as the only alternative.”

In September 2020, union-busting Amazon tried to ban the book from its all-powerful platform, claiming the book did not “comply with [Amazon’s] guidelines” and falsely listing it as “out of print”.

Although an outcry forced Amazon to carry the title on its megasite, even now it cannot be found on Kindle, the publishing giant’s e-book platform.

The chapters include articles by many authors including Ajamu Baraka, Monica Moorehead, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Margaret Kimberley, Vijay Prashad, Max Blumenthal, Lee Siu Hin, Sara Flounders, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Zeese, Deirdre Griswold and more.