Yesterday, Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer at the age of 61. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but was in prison at the time. He also died while still serving his sentence.

Such a death is bound to spur the expected demonisation of China and Chinese responses. So let’s parse a number of statements made here, here, and here.

First, he was an activist for liberal or bourgeois democracy and an end to so-called “one party rule.” These comments make light of the fact that he was convicted for trying to overthrow the government (and socialist democracy) and replace it with a very different system. But this is actually what he did: attempt to overthrow the state. In most countries, this constitutes an act of treason.

Second, he is presented as having advocated, in the words of the Nobel Prize Committee “fundamental human rights in China.” What this means is European derived human rights, which typically play up political and civil rights of individuals and neglect the Chinese Marxist approach to human rights in which the collective right to economic wellbeing is basic. This approach is, not unexpectedly, conveniently ignored. The Nobel committee betrays its agenda here, advocating a form of European neo-colonialism.

Third, the corporate press typically speaks of “global condemnation.” But if you look closely, you can see the usual suspects: USA, UK, Taiwan, Germany. Hardly “global.”

Fourth, he was denied proper medical treatment. It is assumed with this comment that he should have been able to leave China for such treatment. The implied meaning is that China’s medical system is inadequate or – with the usual dog whistle – that he was denied treatment. What is not noted here is that a whole team of Chinese, US and German doctors were focused on the best treatment.

Fifth, the comparison is made with Carl von Ossietzky, who died in 1935 under the Nazi regime in Germany. This is a move first perfected in attacking the Soviet Union: the reductio ad Hitlerum. When all else fails, simply equate communism with fascism.

What is the Chinese position? I have already noted some of these implicitly. But the main point is that he had actually betrayed China and that his long-term effect will be negligible. The reason: none of China’s heroes and heroines were identified by foreign interests. Instead, “One’s position and value in history will be decided by whether one’s endeavors and persistence have value to the country’s development and historical trends.”

NB: A much sharper piece can be found hidden away in, of all places, the Guardian. Written by Barry Soutman and Yan Hairong, it reveals that Liu Xiaobo is not only ignored in China, but that he was a militant and reactionary colonialist, supporting United States attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, and stating that China needs 300 years of more of ‘Western’ colonialism to become thoroughly ‘westernised’. Statements like this, as well as observations that the Chinese are ‘wimpy, spineless and fucked-up [weisuo, ruanruo, caodan]’ certainly hasn’t won him any friends in China.




Looks like it is the year of the state. I have written two articles, one on the nature of the socialist state, and another on the transition between bourgeois and socialist states. Currently, I am completing an article on the absolutist ‘Christian state’, which was the (Prussian) context in which Marx and Engels began their early work. I am taken with Marx’s argument that the secular, bourgeois state is the full (dialectical) realisation of the absolutist Christian state.

Meanwhile, a snippet of what life was like for an absolute monarch, with a focus on France:

The king of France was thoroughly, without residue, a “public” personage. His mother gave birth to him in public, and from that moment his existence, down to its most trivial moments, was acted out before the eyes of attendants who were holders of dignified offices. He ate in public, went to bed in public, woke up and was clothed and groomed in public, urinated and defecated in public. He did not much bathe in public; but then neither did he do so in private. I know of no evidence that he copulated in public; but he came near enough, considering the circumstances under which he was expected to deflower his august bride. When he died (in public), his body was promptly and messily chopped up in public, and its severed parts ceremoniously handed out to the more exalted among the personages who had been attending him throughout his mortal existence (Poggi, The Development of the Modern State, pp. 68-69).

I am finally working through the many photographs from the ‘red tour’ filming from last November (for the MOOC), and came across these from Ruijin, where the first soviet was established in the early 1930s. This is also where the absolutely crucial Ruijin ethos was developed: make sure that people have adequate food, clothing and shelter, give them security and they will become revolutionaries.

These photos were taken in Ruijin, Jiangxi province. Clearly, the Marxist tradition follows through:





My regular monthly piece on Culture Matters is now up, simply called ‘Jesus and Marx‘.

This is the material I really enjoy: the turning of Marx’s thought into Chinese idiom. In this case I mean the three twos: the ‘two inevitabilities’, the’two ruptures’ and the ‘two impossibilities’.

The ‘two inevitabilities’ refer to the inevitable fall of bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat and peasantry.

The ‘two ruptures’ concern the communist revolution’s radical rupture with traditional property relations and the rupture with traditional ideas.

And the ‘two impossibilities’ refer to the fact that no social order perishes before the full development of its productive forces, and that higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the midst of the old society.

Marx tattoo

(ht sb)

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