How to understand China: study Marxism

Note: A revised version of this entry has now appeared on The Conversation, so I have removed it from here.


6 thoughts on “How to understand China: study Marxism

  1. Are there any English language books that you would recommend to get an understanding of contemporary Chinese Marxist discourse?

    1. Good question, for which I don’t have an immediate answer. Arif Dirlik is OK, but misleading. Adrian Chan’s ‘Chinese Marxism’ is an answer to Dirlik and is better on the history than on today. The best on the Cultural Revolution is Mobo Gao. I am feeling my way, with long stays in China and discussions with many people. I’ll have more to do with the Academy of Marxism ( part of the Academy of Social Sciences) when I am back, since my sense is that here some of the best insights can be found, given its engagement with both grass roots debates and government.

    1. Interesting article, although patchy. Mao and the early communists favoured the Legalist tradition when they were seeking to undo the heavy Confucian influence inherited from the Ming and Qing dynasties. So Xi is drawing this emphasis from Mao, whose work he knows well and whom he often quotes. At the same time, Mao moves between condemning Confucius and drawing from him, but ultimately coming to a more dialectical position on Confucius (I explore this in an article to be published by Crisis and Critique). It is summed up by his observation from 1938: ‘Another of our tasks is to study our historical heritage and use the Marxist method to sum it up critically. The history of this great nation of ours goes back several thousand years. It has its own laws of development, its own national characteristics, and many precious treasures … From Confucius to Sun Yatsen, we must sum it up critically, and we must constitute ourselves the heirs to this precious legacy. Conversely, the assimilation of this legacy itself becomes a method that aids considerably in guiding the present great movement’.

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