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 concludes that the pandemic has enabled a new mode of counterinsurgent governance, one rooted in decades of institutional experimentation and an emergent theory of statecraft.
About the Authors
闯 Chuǎng is a collective of communists living inside and outside China. Together they publish a journal analyzing the ongoing development of capitalism in China, its historical roots, and the revolts of those crushed beneath it, and a blog chronicling these developments in shorter and more immediate form.
What People Are Saying
“A unique and invaluable chronicle of the Wuhan outbreak, richly documented with interviews and personal accounts, Social Contagion debunks the Western stereotype of an atomized population dominated by an omnipotent Big Brother state, emphasizing instead the impressive capacity of popular action to respond to governmental failure and the defaults of a weak social safety net.” Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz, Planet of Slums and The Monster Enters: COVID 19, Avian Flu, and the Plagues of Capitalism
"Chuang has unfailingly produced the most penetrating analysis on China for the international left. Their latest work on the pandemic and the social crisis it engendered clears up much of our confusion and illusion, and offers surprising insights into the nature of the state and working class responses. It is a much-needed intervention and reassessment of our present moment." Kevin Lin, China labor researcher, Made in China Journal
“Chuang has consistently been the single best English-language source for radical analysis of China, and this volume does not disappoint. The combination of razor-sharp critique paired with in-depth empirical accounts of daily life and social mobilization under the pandemic presents an urgently needed reassessment of the politics of China’s capitalist transformation.” Eli Friedman, author of Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
“This book is about China, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global crisis. At its most expansive, it draws historical lines of analysis between capitalism as a socio-economic way of governance and the biological as a zoonotic way of life; at its more molecular, it reports on situated people living in specific political, social, and physical distress and resistance." Rebecca Karl, author of China's Revolutions in the Modern World