by Daniele Scalea

The expression lockdown, in the sense of "confinement", began to be used in the English language half a century ago, with reference to a jail practice: that of keeping all prisoners locked in their cells to prevent possible riots. This origin is enlightening to understand how the introduction of lockdowns, in the last two years, should be politically read in our daily life. Citizens have become worse than subjects: they have become prisoners.

It must be no coincidence that the Italian government of Giuseppe Conte, an exponent of a party - the 5 Star Movement - that has never made a mystery of its synophilia, imported this practice into Western democracies. And that still recently, through the mouth of its high priest Beppe Grillo, praised the Chinese model of the "Zero Covid", i.e. the even more massive and severe application of the confinement policies that his (perhaps former) pupil Conte copied from China. It must be no coincidence that everywhere in the world the most bitter, passionate and enthusiastic supporters of lockdowns have been left-wing leaders and parties. After all, thinking of citizens treated as prisoners, the mind instinctively goes to the USSR, the DDR or similar communist regimes.

Still not by chance, it is another communist regime, and again the Chinese one, to offer us just in these weeks an example of how far the frenzy for mass confinement and the goal of "zero covid" can go. The reference is, naturally, to the lockdown ordered in Shanghai.

Despite the fact that in this metropolis, as in the rest of the world, the latest variant of covid is infecting many but almost always with mild effects, the communist regime has imposed a very strict lockdown on Shanghai's 25 million residents. If you are positive you are deported to a sort of concentration camp (and your eventual pets killed on the spot). If in your neighborhood there has been even a single case of asymptomatic positivity, you are confined to your apartment, whatever it takes. You don't go outside for any reason. It doesn't matter if this means that frail, sick, non-self-sufficient people die from lack of care or assistance (in numbers probably higher than the few confirmed cases of covid victims in Shanghai). It doesn't matter if millions of people struggle to get food, because you can only buy it at home and no one can serve that many people. Xi Jinping has decided that there must be no covid in China, and there won't be: even if it means killing more people than would die from covid.

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The lives of citizens, in fact, are entirely secondary. You don't want to erase the covid to save lives, but you are willing to erase lives to save the regime - and especially the face of Xi Jinping, who has extolled the "superior Chinese model" too much. Fortunately, our political system has not yet slipped into a Chinese-style regime: otherwise, think what our lockdown and Green Pass fanatics could have done to save the good name of the "Italian model".

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Founder and President of Centro Studi Machiavelli. Graduated in Historical Sciences (University of Milan) and PhD in Political Studies (Sapienza University), he is professor of "History and doctrine of jihadism" and "Geopolitics of the Middle East" at Cusano University. From 2018 to 2019 he was Special Advisor on Immigration and Terrorism to the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi. His latest book (as editor) is Topicality of sovereignism. Between pandemic and war.