Recently I visited New York – the first time in 15 years – and had the pleasure of sitting next to an American man travelling with me from Beijing to New York (over the north pole). We talked for a little and then he asked me what I do in China.

‘Teach’, I said.

‘But what you teach?’ He asked.

‘Marxism, philosophy and religion’, I said.

‘Marxism? What’s Marxism?’ He said.

‘Karl Marx …’ I said.

‘I’ve never heard of him’.

I sat pondering the long shadow of that alcoholic, Joseph McCarthy.