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One of the best ways to foster interest and enthusiasm for the revolution is to have fun with it. In this case, I mean the Cultural Revolution. This evening, I was taken to a Cultural Revolution restaurant here in Chengdu.

We were greeted by Chairman Mao, telling us that a revolution is not a dinner party …

The waiters were addressed as ‘guards’ – as in the Red Guards:

We had to wear aprons with slogans from the good Chairman:

The meal itself was yet another amazing and fiery Sichuan meal:

Cute little Red Guards watched over us to make sure were enjoying ourselves:

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the singing of a revolutionary song by all the adult Red Guards:

As the only foreigner in the place, they all turned to salute me:

Actually, the real highlight was a competition, in which I received a special prize as a foreigner:

I will not tell you what that says …

As the ‘tigers and flies’ anti-corruption campaign works its way through the system, not only is Chairman Mao being invoked regarding the frugal life of party cadres, but so also are ancient proverbs – such as:

Even if you have 10,000 hectares of fertile farmland, you can only eat so much rice in a day; if you have 1,000 mansions, you can only sleep in one bed.

As those who know me can attest, I am all for the simple life and frugality – as is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Now for the modern quotation, this one in relation to religion. It comes from none other than President Xi Jiping himself. He pointed out that

there should be a focus on helping religion adapt to a socialist society and ensuring the role of religious figures and believers in boosting economic and social development.

It’s a vain hope perhaps, but I hope nonetheless that my paper, ‘Marxism and Religion Reconsidered in a Chinese Context,’ may actually reach his ears in some form. It was taken up enthusiastically by a member of the Communist Party’s Committee of Overseas Representatives, and he promised to circulate it among government figures.

I am thoroughly enjoying my first visit to the legendary province of Sichuan, in Chengdu to be precise (and being shown around by the able and wise Wu Hua). However, this evening I was in for a real surprise. As we walked to the lecture room, I came across this:

Yes, that’s my name up on a red banner, welcoming me to Sichuan University.

It used be a joke with a serious edge to it: Stalin’s time will come, I used to say. Well, it may now be the case, with Domenico Losurdo, Grover Furr, Geoffrey Roberts, David Glantz and others leading the way. I have agreed to write a book on Stalin for Algoritm Press, an imprint of Eksmo. It will be a volume in a new series called ‘Stalin and the World,’ which draws on foreign scholars to present Stalin in ‘a positive way.’ And it will appear in Russian first. I can’t wait to get into this one – part of my project on ‘Saint Iosef.’

On 23 July, 1921, the first national congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Shanghai, at 76 Xingye Road in the former French Concession. Today, almost 100 years later, I introduced my grandson to this famous place:

It is not for nothing that Alexandra Kollontai, Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg and others were suspicious of the suffragettes – that upper middle class movement that bolstered the bourgeois project in the late nineteenth century. An eerily similar situation applies to the suffragettes of our own day – Pussy Riot. Something has to be amiss when they move from meeting with members of the US Congress to being a cause célèbre for the sinister project of the EU. And something is decidedly problematic when the likes of Judith Butler and Rosi Braidotti join the chorus. Then again, Butler has always been a champion for the liberal project.

One of a series of papers inspired by my gradual immersion into local questions: ‘Is China Communist?’ The article is available over at Philosophers for Change.

Yesterday I went to my favourite restaurant in these parts (cheap and wonderful food). However, you need to order the food by writing down the items on a piece of paper, which they collect and take to the kitchen. Previously, I have relied on others to do so, but this time I was on my own. What was to de done? I simply transferred my daily practice onto the piece of paper.

My first order was leek and egg dumplings, so I wrote 韭菜鸡蛋饺.

Next was home-made tofu: 家常豆腐

I also wanted a bowl of rice: 米饭

Mind you, my script was a little stilted and not at all like the cursive script people use here. So I waited with some trepidation. Would I receive the bowl of shiny frogs, or perhaps tofu intestines, or congealed duck’s blood? Lo and behold, my order came out as I had requested.

I’ve got to hand it to the students at Renmin, who have come up with this great poster for my public lecture here on 13 May at 19:00. The lecture series is organised by the students and I am the first one to hold forth. Shameless self-promotion, I know …


And I have the lingering pleasure of having given a paper at this very academy, which is linked with the Academy of Social Science.

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