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.

I keep having a gut feeling that Trump will pull it off in the circus called ‘US democracy’. Yesterday, I had a somewhat interesting argument with an evangelist for the the ‘American dream’, for ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ – US imperialist style (this person is working in China). Our disagreements ranged over the DPRK (North Korea), China and the struggle between Trump and Clinton in the United States.

At one point, he said that he wishes three things for the disgruntled, exploited and shafted people of the central and southern parts of the USA:

  1. That they be educated and moved to the vicinity of the major hubs in the northeast and western parts.
  2. That they die off.
  3. That a country would attack the United States and obliterate them.

I couldn’t help thinking that this is precisely the attitude that will ensure such denigrated people will support Trump.

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.

The journal Critical Research on Religion has recently published a symposium on my Criticism of Heaven and Earth series. The symposium originally took place as a conference a couple of years ago, although the pieces have been revised. Matt Sharpe, Geoff Boucher and Rory Jeffs offer critical perspectives and I try my hand at a respond. The symposium can also be found at the Critical Research on Religion webpage.

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’.

As everyone knows, today is Hegel’s birthday (ht cp). And having been struck down with the flu virus that is afflicting all and sundry in these parts, I was reminded of the dialectic arising from the argument from design. To wit, God did not design the intricate and wily variations of the flu virus merely to afflict human beings with misery. Rather, the careful design of the flu virus produces in response very useful narcotics, such as codeine and pseudoephedrine. I have imbibed both this afternoon and can vouch for their effectiveness. Forget the pretend efforts, such as ‘natural’ remedies or placebos (false dialectical responses). As a chemist once said to me, only narcotics will do the trick. This is the true dialectic.