What is the Chinese version of having an argument with yourself?

The mind questions the mouth and the mouth questions the mind (Journey to the West, p. 1710).

The burden of growing up in China. A youthful Mao reflects:

The study of how to be a citizen is the study of the history, geography, political doctrine, and artistic climate of one’s country … Certainly, the study of being a person or a citizen is easy, while the study of being a Chinese is difficult. There are five thousand years of history, the land extends over seven thousand li, political doctrine is extremely complex, and human feelings and customs are broad and complex. How can we approach all this? If we were Japan, with only three islands within our borders, or Germany, with a history of only half a century and land equivalent in size to our two provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong alone, how easy things would be! (Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 1, p. 79)

More from the young Mao, even before he was a communist:

China has freedom but the Western countries have despotism. China’s politics and laws are simple and  taxes are light, but the Western countries are just the opposite (The Writings of Mao Zedong, vol. 1, p. 22)

It must be the 60th anniversary of Joe Stalin’s death today that has brought up a somewhat strange conjunction. Only a few days ago I was enjoying the company of some of those involved in the Lenin research group in Nanjing:

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Here is to be found a person holding a position to which everyone should aspire: a Professorship of Scientific Socialism.

Needless to say, I gave a lecture while in Nanjing:

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 And then, hours later, I was trudging through the snow of eastern Germany:

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Climbing a hill called Langsamer Tod (Slow Death):

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All in order to get to the evening meal of the Zinzendorf Society:

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… as one does.

Two weeks of perpetual motion thus far: Beijing, along the Chang Jiang (‘Yangtze’) for three days, Wuhan, Frankfurt and then all night (unplanned) on trains and stations in the Romanian countryside, Baia Mare in Transylvania, and then more trains to Berlin. A few preliminary images; reflections later.

Heartwarming to see Lenin posters about. There should be more, many more.

I guess you can really do this only in China.

But now it gets a little more interesting:

For this is none other than the bed of the younger Mao and his wife – when they lived in Wuhan. So this is, as I observed when we were ushered in, where it happened.

Couldn’t resist sharing the same space … until I was sternly reprimanded by the staff.

I really must get a sign like this for home.

But then, after 60 hours of travel, most of it on multiple trains, I was in Romania.

I spent some time hanging out with the locals in Transylvania, in the mountains and villages.

From the old woman’s house, we stumbled across the local distillery.

That small mug was full of Palincă, plum brandy. He handed it to me and said ‘drink up’ …

Which is probably why I agreed to wear some local winter gear.

Thankfully, I was not alone in enjoying such delights.

Soon I am off, for China and New Zealand and a few lectures and papers. In one of my regular acts of shameless self-promotion (thank God I don’t have one of those silly facebook accounts!), the titles:

Venerating Lenin – invited public lecture, Beijing Foreign Languages University, 20 August.

On the Myth of Classicism – keynote address at Renmin University Summer Institute on Christian Culture, Suzhou 27-31 August.

A Dead Spouse, A Vegetable Garden and a Cousin’s Field: On Private Property – paper at Bible and Critical Theory Seminar, Auckland, 1-2 September.

Trading Ventures and Other Tall Tales of the Hebrew Bible – seminar at Otago University, Dunedin, 7 September.

As you can see, both ‘The Matriarch’s Muff’ and ‘The Music Album Musical Bum of the Bible’ have yet to be unleashed.

I have just returned from China, where an increasingly strong feeling is that a critical reappropriation of the Cultural Revolution is around the corner – as part of retelling the story of the past to open up possibilities for the future. More of that later, especially in relation to Confucius. But it is worth noting a few other signals, over against ‘romantic’ Western Marxism that I have taken to task in earlier posts and that always imagines the perfect revolution is yet to be achieved (the flabby Žižek, among others, take note).

From Russia comes a story of the steady increase of the Pioneer Communist Youth League:

Over 5,000 boys and girls clad in red ties and side caps flooded onto Red Square in Moscow to be accepted into the ranks of the Pioneer Communist Youth League.

Almost 90 years ago to the day, the Soviet scouting movement was created at the second All-Russian Komsomol Conference. Komsomol was the youth division of the Soviet communist party.

And while the original Pioneer youth organization of the Soviet Union has been defunct since 1991, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has continued the tradition.

Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov told the youths gathered on Red Square“pioneers have always been model examples of how to love one’s motherland, how to be a good and honorable student, and how to help one’s elders and juniors alike.”

The children who were sworn in on Sunday came both from Moscow and surrounding regions.

CPFR secretary Yury Afonin says there were delegations from 30 different regions across the country, including Siberia and beyond, RIA Novosti reports.

Afonin insists “it isn’t just a tradition; they are doing real work with the children.”

He also said that around 4,000 youngsters from around the country take the oath to“warmly love and protect their homeland” annually, though the number who want to join is actuality much higher.

But while logistic and security concerns have limited the number of the movement’s slowly building ranks, next year even more youths will be wrapping themselves in the red pioneer scarf.

Despite a lack of state support, Afonsin believes the enthusiasm of today’s generation of pioneers keeps the movement alive.

For the children,“it’s a holiday that lasts a lifetime,” he concluded.

The video on the link noted earlier is worth watching.

(ht sk)