Freedom Press

Social Contagion


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and other material on microbiological class war in China

by Chuang

introduction by David Ranney

“A unique and invaluable chronicle of the Wuhan outbreak.”—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz, Planet of Slums, and The Monster Enters

Social Contagion presents the untold story of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Chuang, a collective of communists living inside and outside China, chronicle the struggles of everyday people caught between a lethal virus and a repressive state. They argue that China’s rapid but fragile economic growth has created the social and biological conditions for new and deadly viruses, of which COVID-19 was merely the latest iteration. Through on-the-ground interviews, reports and analysis, Social Contagion gives us a piercing portrait of the simultaneously draconian and ineffectual response of the Chinese state, as well as the self-organizing survival strategies of ordinary Chinese workers. Chuang conclude that the pandemic has enabled a new mode of counterinsurgent governance, one rooted in decades of institutional experimentation and an emergent theory of statecraft.

Social Contagion and other material on microbiological class war in China includes an expanded and updated version of “Social Contagion,” a widely read (and perspicuous) article originally published online by Chuang on February 26, 2020, and collects interviews and translations with activists on the ground. The book concludes with a new, long-form article on the role that the pandemic played in China’s ongoing state-building project.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface by David Ranney

  2. Introduction

  3. Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China

  4. Worker Organizing Under the Pandemic (Worker Study Room)

  5. As Soon as There’s a Fire, We Run: An Interview with Friends in Wuhan

  6. Plague Illuminates the Great Unity of All Under Heaven: On the Coming State

About the Author

Chuang is an international communist collective that publishes an eponymous journal and blog that includes interviews, translations and original articles about China’s ascent through the piled wreckage of history and the struggles of those dragged beneath it.