More on my Chinese name, and a class full of young communists

My new Chinese name has been something of a hit. As I told both of my classes here at Renmin University, they began to smile and then laugh. Why? Bo Guoqiang is not only a strong name, it is also typically Chinese. Or at least it was for people of my generation. In China, of course, they are the generation of the Cultural Revolution, when one’s parents chose names to express the desire for a strong communist country. I am told it is the typical name an uncle might have – at least Guoqiang. So the students are now calling me Bo Guoqiang, using it when speaking among themselves, even when sending me email messages. But now it becomes even more intriguing. At the first of our informal seminars, for some of the postgraduate class, we began speaking of communism. At one point, I asked whether anyone present was a member of the party. At first one, then two, then more than half of those present raised their hands. Or rather, they are members of the youth organisation, in between the Young Pioneers and the full adult membership. Others are studying the courses in preparation for the exams to enter the youth organisation.

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One even asked me whether we have pioneers and youth organisations in Australia! I began to imagine not only Schools of Marxism in all the universities, but school students keen to join the Young Pioneers, and then young adults studying in order to join the Youth Organisation. I told them I am thrilled to teaching a class like this, not least because we can delve into some of the more complex and intriguing issues around socialism, communism, and the party. Of course, at one point, I was asked whether I am a communist. In reply, I stood up and showed them my Lenin T-shirt:

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4 thoughts on “More on my Chinese name, and a class full of young communists

  1. Roland, thanks for shattering the myths about China. In the U.S. I hear people talk about how China is “more capitalist” than the U.S. Your blog has given me good talking points to counter that ignorant claim, but I wonder if you could provide a few facts or statistics regarding workers’ rights and labor conditions in China? Another claim floating around is that “Made in China” means cheap crap from hyper-exploited wage slaves in sweatshop conditions. Any input you can offer would be appreciated.

    How long is the work week? Safety standards? Minimum Wage? Quality healthcare and education is free, right?

    1. I have a long article dealing with some of those matters coming out soon. Briefly, most of the sophisticated high-tech stuff id made in China. But I am more intrigued by the use of what may be called ‘fettered capitalism’ and the contradictions that produces in China. The catch is that some in China believe the hype that China is ‘more capitalist’ that Europe or the USA. This is clearly not the case. More soon.

    1. Yes indeed, it’s great to be teaching a bunch of keen young party members. The question that fascinate me is how a communist party maintains its legitimacy when in power for a long time – especially when encircled mostly by bourgeois states.

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