marxism


Fidel Castro is renowned for his hours-long speeches (to which I would have loved to listen). But he is by no means the only communist leader who could regale an audience for hours on end. In May of 1927, Stalin made these opening comments to the students of Sun Yat-Sen University:

Comrades, unfortunately, I can devote only two or three hours to today’s talk. Next time, perhaps, we shall arrange a longer conversation.

More reports on the People’s Daily and Xinhua News on the China-Russia joint naval exercises in the South China Sea.

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And a series of articles in the People’s Daily analyse the USA as a ‘source of turmoil in the world’. It is keen both to make a mess and to brainwash the elites in some non-Western countries. To a large degree, this is ‘a reflection of a twisted mentality of an empire moving downhill’.

Strange how I need to read Chinese newspapers to find out details about the major joint naval exercises between China and Russia in the South China Sea. As I have pointed out before, their increasing closeness is perhaps the major geopolitical development in recent years.

How about this for an image (from Xinhua News):

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While working on another project, I came across a couple of statements that embody one of the core principles of socialism with national characteristics:

Hence, in order not to err in policy, in order not to find itself in the position of idle dreamers, the party of the proletariat must not base its activities on abstract “principles of human reason,” but on the concrete conditions of the material life of society, as the determining force of social development; not on the good wishes of “great men,” but on the real needs of development of the material life of society.

The result:

Hence Socialism is converted from a dream of a better future for humanity into a science.

As Losurdo often puts it: the move from utopia to science is the move from populism to socialism.

Footnote: the quotations come from none other than an interesting and under-studied work called History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks): Short Course.

This week has seen one of the more nasty and ugly developments in Australian politics, and that is saying something. In a classic case of dog-whistle politics, a senator was accused of accepting donations from a Chinese businessman, which implied that his positive comments on China had been ‘bought’. ‘Manchurian candidate’ is the term bandied about, with both racist and anti-communist undertones. Then of course the university China research centres that offer a more positive view of China have been accused of similar tendencies. So what is going on here? Fear of geopolitical shifts? Somewhat. Lack of adequate political representation of the diversity in Australia? Again, true enough. But deeper down is the stoking of an old theme in Australian politics: the fear of the ‘yellow peril’, which was and is also a fear of communism (the weird thing about this is that most immigrants these days come from Asia). Add to this that the one who has been accused is an Australian of Iranian background and another layer is added. By comparison, the regular reporting on internal political matters, from within a political party, to the CIA is not regarded as a threat.

For what it is worth, when I am asked why I like coming to China (where I am now), I respond: I like the food, the culture, the history, the people, the chaotic excitement of the rapid changes everywhere around me, but above all the fact that the communist party is the government.

A comrade at the University of Newcastle, Roger Markwick, has written a great piece on the ‘new cold war.’ A specialist in Soviet and Russian history, he tracks the way NATO’s blatant provocations and aggressive stances are aimed at threatening Russia and how Russia’s responses should be seen in that light. In other words, invade Russia at your own risk. NATO – ‘a lethal instrument of the world’s most powerful military machine, harnessed to a predatory, highly developed capitalist system that brooks no challenges to its hegemony’ – risks following in the steps of Napoleon and Hitler. It did not end well for them.

I would add to Roger’s analysis the growing alliance and cooperation between Russia and China, which embodies the bulk of the Eurasian landmass, huge resources, economic power and military sophistication.

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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