Structural anti-communism

As my research has moved into the complexities of socialism in power, first in the Soviet Union and now in China, I have been struck by what might be called structural anti-communism in many Russian/Slavic Studies and China Studies programs. This is not a comment on individuals who often do excellent work, but on the structural formations of such places. My thoughts on this were initially triggered by Immanuel Wallsterstein’s observation that the disciplines of anthropology and ‘Orientalism’ arose as a way for Atlantic centres of power to understand and control large parts of the world over which they felt the entitlement to domination. However, after the Russian and Chinese revolutions, along with the huge anti-colonial movement supported (ideologically and materially) by socialist states, the game changed somewhat. Now government resources were channelled into Russian and Chinese studies. The reason was the need to understand the new ‘enemies’ who dared to challenge to world order. With this background, such programs and centres usually became structurally anti-communist, if not anti-Russian and anti-Chinese. Of course, it helped that fugitives from the Russian and Chinese revolutions (in the latter case from Hong Kong and Taiwan) often gained positions in such centres. But the key is in the structures of such places. Today we once again find that such centres have a new lease of life. Putin has become the number one enemy of the ‘West’ (often likened to Stalin, although Putin is anything but a communist). And China’s inexorable rise in economic and political power – led by the Communist Party – has led to a new batch of studies focusing on ‘authoritarianism’, ‘freedom of the press’, and the clampdown on ‘dissent’.

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5 thoughts on “Structural anti-communism

  1. Roland,
    First time commenter- still a learning Marxist- but this post resonated with me in terms of having to really unpack so many things that we are taught that turn out to actually be propaganda.

    I’ve been lurking on your site since I found it. I am a M Div Student at Chicago Theological Seminary in the US who has come to Marxism- and you are one of the few people who talks about the intersections of Marxism/ML/MLM and Theology- I’m hoping to pick up your Lenin and Theology. Just last spring I used Lenin in a theology paper and the professor told me it was the first time he’s seen anyone use Lenin theologically! I thought I’d reach out your way to connect!

    Ember Kelley

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