China: The panda in the left's living room

China 1

This article is a slightly revised version of a presentation made by Rutgers historian and Political Affairs editorial board nember Norman Markowitz at the Annual Left Forum Conference on June 9th in New York.  The presentation was part of a Panel "China, the Panda in the Left's Living Room," organized and chaired by U.S. China Friendship Association member and Political Affairs editorial Board member Gary Hicks.

Chair, Speakers: Gary Hicks -- Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library Oakland CA, Norman Markowitz -- Rutgers University, Wei Xiaoping -- Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,  Martin Rivlin -- independent scholar, Columbia University

 China and the U.S. in the 21st Century:  A Marxist historian's perspective

 The serious study of History is always about understanding the past as it relates to the present and on that basis trying to grasp what are the likely developments in the near future

Marxist analysis of history is about understanding the larger political economic system, the social classes in conflict within that system, and the dialectical relationships, that is dynamic interactions between changing conditions and social movements.  Ideologies serve as bridges between social movements and changing conditions. In that sense, Marxism enables us to understand in a holistic way the relationship of the general to the specific, to understand the relationship of dominant ideologies to economic political systems, and the relationship of cultures to changing political economy. Finally, Marxism connects theory with practice. It is a science of society, with social class partisanship, providing a holistic analysis that can become a force in itself to advance positive change, the interests of the working class and show the path to socialism. Let me try to brief and apply that analysis in broad outline to Chinese- U.S. relations today and in the near future.

First a look at global political economy and the capitalist world system

The capitalist world system has developed for centuries, but for the questions we are asking concerning U.S. China relations, its most important developments have taken place with the rise of industrial capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Industrial capitalism produced modern imperialism, the imperialism of export capital and with it the world or global market, leading to globalized militarization, global wars, global depressions.  This modern imperialism has produced its  dialectical antithesis, attempts at socialist revolutions and  anti-imperialist national revolutions, including the Chinese peoples Revolution, of the 20th century. This  Revolution, combining anti-imperialist national liberation with a commitment  advanced by the Chinese Communist Party to construct a socialist society,  is by far the most important, both in its time and today.

Let us look very briefly at the United States and how it got to where it is today. The United States had the first major anti-colonial revolution in modern history, a revolution that established an independent bourgeois republic. It became in the 19th century the first large capitalist republic in modern history, expanding across North America.  After 1890 it surpassed Britain to become the leading industrial capitalist nation. After WW I, it replaced Britain as the leading finance capitalist nation.  Today in the early 21st century its ruling class and the political economy that they control are in a very contradictory position. 

The U.S. state was after WW II the founder and leader of the NAT0 bloc, against the Soviet Union and its allies and the world communist movement until the fall of the Soviet Union. This served  as a 20th century  industrial capitalist  version of the old 19th century "Holy Alliance" which, with Britain in the background, fought against the expansion of the French Bourgeois  revolution, against the revolutionary Jacobin state and the later Bonapartist empire.  Britain used the forces that made up the Holy Alliance against the French Revolution and Napoleon, but the British state kept a distance from the Alliance's more reactionary expressions even as Britain advanced its initially hegemonic economic power to develop its global empire in the name of "civilization, "progress, and "free trade." Unlike the British, the U.S. state was always both the creator and  leader of the NAT0 bloc and the advocate of its most aggressive and reactionary policies.

 Also, the British economy emerged richer and more powerful from its "victory" in the  wars of the  French revolution.  The  U.S. economy, on the other hand,  emerged from the U.S. NATO bloc's Cold War "victory" in a much weaker position in terms of industry and finance than it was immediately after WWII.  Of course, this did not prevent U.S. leaders, George HW Bush and others, from foolishly proclaiming a "new world order" and genuflecting to the concept of "globalization." Although they would never admit it, in all likelihood even to themselves, the capitalist leaders of the U.S. fear that China will in the 21st century follow their path of the 19th and 20th

After winning independence, U.S. leaders, in practice, moved away from the stated principles of  their anti-colonial revolution,  first  under Jefferson's  slogan of an "empire for liberty" then under the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny. Then the commercial and later industrial/financial bourgeoisie led the U.S. to  become an imperialist power  fashioning a non-colonial imperialism, first in the Caribbean, Central America, and indirectly the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Then, under the banner of the Cold War, they undertook a global imperialism which "united ", and  aimed to gain hegemony over all of the other imperialist powers. 

And what will the 21st Century bring?  Will we see a Chinese "empire for a socialist market economy" controlling the industrial heart of Asia and controlling Asian markets, with preferential access to the raw materials of Africa and other parts of the world, with Chinese  domination of the IMF World Bank system?  I don't see that as China's likely future, and I am no more for that than the U.S. capitalists, but for of course very different reasons.

Now a look at China

China has, over the last three decades, been remarkably successful in ways that the defenders of capitalist policy fear is beating them at their own game, whatever the long-term effects of playing that game may be.   

 It has been the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party that has pursued the old axiom that nations have interests, not permanent enemies.  It is the leadership of the Chinese Communist party which has put one foot in the capitalist world, and kept one large foot out-buying shares in the public debt of the U.S. to give it leverage against possible anti-Chinese policies launched by the U.S. state, balancing the largest mixed economy in human history, while controlling (to use Lenin's term about industry of a nearly a century ago) "the commanding heights" of finance capital. China is no longer capital poor, as the Soviet Union was until its end in 1991. It is the second economy of the world, as was the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union lost capital massively in subsidizing allies, having to take foreign capital at high interest rates, and selling nothing except raw materials on world markets. China has developed a mixed economy system which has accumulated capital domestically and internationally, becoming a major exporter of finished goods, high value goods, in international trade.

The major capitalist states established in the Cold War era all of their economic, political and military institutions under U.S. leadership to encircle and destroy the Soviet Union and its bloc.  The one thing that they never had to worry about was Soviet competition for world markets. What worried them was the Soviets' support of revolutionary movements that would take more and more of the world out of the capitalist world system

Now, to use a favorite ploy of American comedians, there is for U.S. NAT0 bloc capitalists both good and bad news.  The good news is that they don't have to worry about China actively supporting revolutionary movements that would remove major parts of the world out of the world capitalist system.  The bad news is that if they seek to encircle China through a neo Cold War policy, destroy the government of the Peoples Republic and the Chinese Communist party and transform China into an enterprise zone for foreign investment and exports, not only will they fail, but they will in all likelihood create an economic catastrophe for the world capitalist system.   

China's relationship to world politics and the capitalist world system is radically different than was the case with the Soviet Union. This means that any neo Cold War strategy of "containing China" by forging military alliances with Japan, South Korea, and other states bordering China would be not only sinister but absurd.  The only beneficiary in the short-run would be the military industrial complex of the U.S. which has been a parasitic force, especially since Reagan's election to the presidency. It has absorbed trillions of dollars in public funds for projects which detracted from the development of the civilian economy, detracted from scientific and technological development which would have enabled the U.S. to sustain the great advantages that it previously possessed in terms of production technology, investment capital and a skilled labor force. U.S. military spending during the cold war alone, 1947 to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been estimated at 10 trillion dollars. This, along with the huge reduction in taxes on corporations and the wealthy and  the post cold war "war against "terrorism" (and  its spending of many trillions) has created   the spectacular increase in the national debt which has made the U.S. if not capital poor, capital vulnerable.

What policies should a responsible American left see in U.S.-Chinese Relations?

First, it is important to grasp that China is vital to the maintenance of peace certainly in East Asia and the Pacific, to the development of a peace policy on the Korean Peninsula, to peace and development in Southeast Asia directly. 

China also can play, and the responsible left should support, a role in the development of a peace process for South Asia generally. Here I think that the U.S. and China can work together fruitfully to both engage with India and disengage from Pakistan, with whom China has nothing really in common. (Pakistan is an anti-socialist, theocratic state ruled by a military junta which aids and abets reactionary Islamic terrorist groups, which have directly attacked the U.S. and potentially can be a threat to China, given its Islamic minorities).

It would be short-sighted in the extreme for China to see Pakistan as a geopolitical military pawn against India, since Pakistan's economic backwardness and militarist adventurism against India only undermines regional economic development and harms both India and China. Their mutual interest really is in expanding regional economic relationships.  The U.S. policy of funding and arming Pakistan from the 1950s as an anti-Communist, anti-Soviet "containment state" and then allying with Pakistan to subvert  and attack  the Communist led Soviet supported government of Afghanistan in the 1980s led directly to the establishment of Al Qaeda, later to the Taliban government and all of the disasters of the recent past  and present.

What else can the American Left, whose divisions sadly have undermined its development since the post WW II political persecutions,  give in the form of constructive advice to  China? First, I would advise the Chinese Communist Party activists  to look seriously at what CPUSA leader Gus Hall called "bill of rights socialism," socialism with civil liberties, as a necessity for socialist development. Mao Tse-tung's concept of "from the people to the people" is in itself a Chinese expression as I see it  of Bill of Rights Socialism, because trust in the masses of people and in their understanding and development, is necessary if the masses of people are to trust in you .

Just as the feudal Confucian philosophy had (as I remember from my studies of Chinese history at the University of Michigan over four decades ago) a concept of a righteous scholar representing both the Confucian path and the people against corruption, Chinese Communist cadres can perhaps develop the concept of the "righteous cadre" living with and for the people, not above them, teaching and learning from them. The cadre of the CPC could then lead to limit the accumulation of personal and family wealth, educate and organize the people to root out bribery and corruption, both domestic and that resulting of Foreign Direct Investment. It was, we should remember, this commitment to the people, to live with them and like them that enabled the Chinese Communist Party to defeat the Japanese and later U.S. imperialists, warlords, landlords, and the reactionary Kuomintang regime.  It is something that should be remembered as China struggles to construct a socialist market economy.

I would also say to our Chinese comrades (broadly defined)  that planning is the  key component of all models of socialism. There are three components of planning in any system, including public sector institutions and corporations in capitalist systems.  The first is strategic planning, that is policies to achieve long range goals like Deng's Four Modernizations at the end of the 1970s. 

The second component is tactical planning, that is flexible responses to changing conditions in regard to the policies to achieve the goals of the plan.

The third component is human relations planning , that is, gaining the active participation, support, and trust of the masses of people. These are what one might call the three principles of effective planning.

Without the third component, effective human relations planning and policy, no planning process will ultimately be effective. I would say that adoption of and adaptation to national conditions of Bill of Rights socialism, socialism with civil liberties, is the most effective human relations policy for those seeking to develop socialism. 

The development of socialism   remains the stated goal of the Chinese Communist Party, which came into existence to liberate the Chinese people from domestic feudalism and foreign imperialism and to open the door to the construction of a socialist Society with Chinese characteristics.

Let me say also a word to those on the left who spend their time criticizing Chinese policy. Our struggle is here and our only real influence is and can be what we can do here to advance peoples movements in the direction of a socialist path and to unify ourselves so that we can fight monopoly capitalism and imperialism. Our primary task is not to attack countries which have had revolutions and whose stated aims are to establish socialist societies. By condemning China for its domestic and foreign policies, those on the left are "tailing"" (to use the old language of the Comintern) reactionaries and  neo cold warriors.

If the left in the U.S. is to be taken seriously about anything, it  might begin by looking at where the U.S political economy is  today in comparison to China before  blithely accusing the Chinese Communist Party and state of leading an exploitative capitalist system. Those who mock the CPC's stated commitment to develop a "socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics" should note that the political power structure  of the United States, including the most progressive Democrats, would not dream of  transforming the United States into "a socialist market economy with American characteristics".

Recently they, and here I include the Obama administration, have been so timid as to shy away from the policies associated with the American New Deal, that is, "social democratic"  policies which the New Dealers drew in limited forms from the Communist and socialist movement: public works jobs for the unemployed, laws protecting trade unions, public old age pensions and unemployment benefits, large public developmental projects,  even food stamps to assist the poor and  food store  proprietors. They have pursued instead such policies as "bailouts" to Wall Street and Banking and Industrial capital, with no concessions demanded from capital in terms of jobs, trade union rights, or serious tax reform. Such planning would, in terms of an anti-depression strategy and winning the support of the masses (similar to New Deal policies), in effect, have successfully borrowed, in a very limited form, socialist programs to both save and reform capitalism.

What the Chinese Communist party is doing or trying to do is to adopt, in a limited form, the capitalist policies of market, private investment and competition, to develop a socialist market economy and society.  Whether they will succeed or not over time cannot of course be answered, but their attempts do not deserve to be prejudged.

The Obama administration, I would suggest, has a great deal to learn from the Chinese government's control of the banking system and its ability to channel capital investment into the Chinese economy through a planning process that makes "bailouts" reciprocal rather than a one way street.

We cannot look seriously at China and U.S. Chinese relations without looking at our political economy, power structure, and the policies which they have advanced.

 Let me conclude with a few suggestions for the issues of those relations

First, the development of  a clear co-existence policy that would defuse potential military conflicts in the Asia Pacific region and prevent arms races related to that region.

  Second, working with China in and through the United Nations in campaigns against world hunger, environmental destruction in the poor countries, global environmental policies, instead of self-righteously denouncing Chinese pollution and ignoring the positive achievements of Chinese scientists in ecology.  Third, the U.S. and China working together and with other nations through the United Nations social agencies  to develop regional fair labor standards for a global economy.

Finally, I would strongly suggest as a necessary concomitant to such policies  the dissolution of the NAT0 bloc.

Note: the following four paragraphs were omitted because of time constraints.

The U.S. through NATO continues to waste hundreds of billions of dollars in its adventures through the world and in maintaining military force against nonexistent enemies in Europe.  These policies would permit the U.S. to reduce its military spending by more than half, which would still be first in the world and signicantly greater than China and also encourage China to reduce its non productive military spending

Some think that China will become a leader of a "Second World" including the BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China; that however is extremely unlikely and I would say not something to be wished for either. 

A broad policy of Sino U.S. cooperation internationally and a changed U.S. Chinese economic relationship, one that encourages increased Chinese purchasing power, joint ventures, and bilateral trade agreements from which both China and the U.S. and the Chinese and American people would benefit, offers a much better and more realistic policy for Sino-U.S. relations. The Obama administration in its second term still is in a position to advance such policies, as the other major nations of the U.S. NAT0 bloc are not. 

The U.S. is currently struggling to recover from a debilitating  more than three decades old  physical and mental illness-regressive, even infantile "neo liberal" capitalism or as I like to call it Friedmanitis.  China, whatever it's relatively recent feudal past and the devastating effects of imperialist intervention for its people, does not have that illness to worry about.  U.S. Chinese cooperation of the kind that I have suggested, through the United Nations and other global venues, can also help eradicate that illness, which still acts to undermine the economic and thus social and political health of people throughout the world.

Some postscript comments from other panelists and the chair

The discussion which followed the presentations was rich and interesting.  Professor Wei in her presentation dealt seriously and insightfully with the problem of economic inequality in China today, the dangers of over production and inadequate consumption, given the adaption of market economy from capitalism.  She also made the point that there are no models of socialism in the world today and that China, after initially adopting the Soviet model of central planning and no private business or market relations, has through trial and error and given the global necessity, moved toward the present socialist market economy.  Martin Rivlin dealt with very contemporary developments in both China and U.S. Chinese relations, was critical of Deng Shao p'ing's tactical implementation of his four modernizations, but was extremely critical of U.S. finger pointing at China in terms of both its economic policy and its "human rights policy." 

In response to criticisms of China's lack of "human rights", "labor's rights", and "democracy" all of the panelists saw this as hypocritical in the extreme.   Chair Gary Hicks stated rightly that four years ago the Chinese Communist party and government demanded that Wal-Mart in China unionize and Wal-Mart did.  Today, Wal-Mart in the U.S. is both the leading employer of non-union labor, and notorious for its violation of overtime pay and other U.S. labor laws.  On the U.S. political system, Professor Wei mentioned that China does have a one party system and the U.S. a two party system , but the U.S. two party systems is controlled by the rich.  Professor Wei contended that Chinese unions worked well for workers in the public sector but not well in the private sector where heads of firms bribed union representatives with stock issues.  She was also very frank about the problem of corruption in China.  I gave examples of corruption here and stated that the Chinese Communist Party had the power to effectively fight corruption.  Gary Hicks, in response to my comments concerning an adaption of Gus Hall's concept of "Bill of Rights Socialism" argued that China had already implemented in principle the first ten amendments to the constitution. 

Note.  The following paragraphs also  were not presented because I was running out of time.

 When we look at rising Chinese inequality over the last decades, which no one should of course support,  we should  remember  it has  developed in a context in which more people have been raised out of destitution and poverty in China then in  any society in human history over the last three decades.

 The leadership of the Chinese Communist party deserves credit for having  deterred the "jungle capitalism" of 19th century Britain and the U.S, much less the brutal semi-colonial comprador capitalism that was China's developing fate under Chiang Kai' shek before the barbaric Japanese invasion (and Chiang was trying to return to after the defeat of the Japanese imperialists) 

Higher levels of inequality in the U.S. during that time frame and in the nations of the NAT0 bloc have raised levels of real poverty everywhere and have been connected to economic stagnation, not real growth in the Keynesian sense of that, to the massive export of capital, and the creation of huge state, and in the U.S., crippling consumer debt, the latter providing super profits for finance capital and undermining what the Chinese leader Sun Yat -sen called the third principle of the people, the peoples livelihood.

 Today, a Marxist analysis of history can tell us is that there is no first world, second world, third world anymore. The continuation of U.S. NAT0 bloc's  anti-Soviet policies directed against China, that is, spreading fears of Chinese "expansion" in Asia and calls to "contain" China in military and political terms is senseless in the extreme. It is an example of the old definition of reactionary, that is, learning nothing from real conditions and forgetting nothing in terms of policy and advancing the same policies over and over again.

  The authoritarian Asian regimes that reactionaries hailed as Asian Tigers have been shown to be paper tigers in regard to  political economy.  They have nothing offer the U.S. as part of an anti-Chinese alliance if that were possible.  Japan remains a major capitalist competitor of the U.S.(and there are dangerous tendencies in Japan,  from what I have read, forces seeking to abrogate the U.S. imposed postwar constitution which greatly limited Japan's military capacity, actions that are not in China's or the U.S. interests)

  The 21st century, given the distribution of world population and the dramatic, albeit different, developments in India and China, will in all likelihood be first and foremost an Asian Century.  What kind of Asian century it will be will depend significantly on developing U.S. Chinese relations.

Photo: Chinese construction workers 2002   Creative Commons 3.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Norm, beautiful piece of creative Marxist-Leninist thinking. Enjoyed it and learned much. You are a very clear developed experienced thinker and writer. I envy your students and we are fortunate to call you our own.
    Love, comradely Carole

    Posted by Carole Marks, 08/15/2013 11:33pm (8 months ago)

  • Norman, you are too kind.

    The American defense establishment must have an enemy to justify it's behavior. Russia seems insufficient. Only China is big enough to be useful in frightening America. This is, I believe, why there is such a relentless drumbeat of negative press about China in the American MSM. And people really don't want to hear the truth (not everyone, but quite a good number). The fear of China that has been present in America almost since its inception is still there. Fortunately, there are lots of people to people contacts both ways to help offset the anti-Chinese propaganda.

    My feelings about the Confucius Institutes is that they need better outreach and publicity. I agree with your remarks (disclosure, I taught teachers going to America through the Hanban program for a couple of years).

    There is a lovely movie, Aftershock, about the PLA and its response to an earthquake. Quite well done.

    best wishes,

    Posted by PatrickInBeijing, 08/11/2013 5:42am (9 months ago)

  • A response to Patrick In Beijing's very valuable comments.
    China not only has a population so much greater than the U.S. but its developed resource base, arable land partifcularly and resources like oil, is much smaller to begin with, making comparisons just on those points pretty empty, much less of course the radically different levels of economic/technological development which existed and continue to exist, even though China is clearly moving forward and the U.S. under its capitalist political economy is clearly moving backward.
    From my study of Chinese history I know of the destructive role of cultic secret societies throughout Chinese history. The sympathy that some here have for these cults is rooted in ignorance at best, in an attempt to disrupt Chinese society at worst

    The role of the PLA is, I agree, distorted and, to me more importantly, China's miitary spending, which neo cold warriors trumpet as a threat, is currently about 1/4 of U.S. military spending and China has a population four times that of the U.S., not to mention U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan and other areas which potentially might constitute a threat to it

    We have a Confucius Institute here at Rutgers with many good people. Unfortunately, its outreach so far has been to Chinese Americans and those with professional or direct interest in China but hopefully its outreach will grow

    Posted by norman markowitz, 08/09/2013 10:44am (9 months ago)

  • Thanks for the response Norman, I use the nick a lot on the Internet for various reasons. I am an American, you can ask Gary Hicks who I am (hey there guy).
    Your comments about family are very important. While all Chinese are not the same, family ties here are very important. The informal social safety net, which does not reach everyone, is also important. This is both good and bad. I met a college first year student, a young man, who was having a hard time. His whole village was paying for his education, and he knew he was expected to lift them all out of poverty. Quite a burden at 18.
    Having been here a number of years, one of the things that strikes is how fast things change. Yet, from a casual study, the depth of the changes may not be visible. I strongly encourage more cross cultural studies that go beyond the reach of Hollywood. We need a stronger network of left media such as Political Affairs and People's Daily to share the stories and analysis. Thanks,

    Posted by PatrickInBeijing, 08/09/2013 7:12am (9 months ago)

  • fine points from PatrickinBeijing, who since he used to term "nick" might be a Brit(maybe an Aussie, but I don't travel that much in recent years)
    On Tianamen Square, I agree with the analysis, and would add that the massacres committed by colonialist and imperialist powers through the world, the Brits, the French, the Americans, and of course the Germans and the Japanese, don't exactly resonate in the media and official memories of those nations.
    Patrick is very right in his point about the role of family, which merged with Confucian thought in Chinese culture over millenia. While there are strong family structures in European societies, and Churches, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, calling their clergy father and mother, use family ideology, Chinese family culture, rooted in the landlord-peasant relations in what Chinese Communists see as feudal society(and I agree with that definition) was qualitively stronger. For Americans who have historically even by European standards a weak family structure(individualism/mobility/"personal responsibility" as core ideology) this is even harder.

    Of course, pre revolution China was characterized by a very tiny educated elite in a vast sea of impoverished uneducated rural people. I would think that upward mobility remains significant in China because the huge increase in Chinese productive capacity and wealth has provided for many a material basis for it.

    I agree entirely that those who see the Chinese masses overthrowing the Chinese government may be smoking something left over from the Opium Wars. Also anyone who looks toward a "liberal democratic China where George W. Bush could be leader" is not only insane about China but even more so about George W. Bush.

    Patrick in Beijing might say to people like this whom he meets what Gandhi once said about "Western civilization" It was a wonderful idea but he wished that the Western countries would start practicing it
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by norman markowitz, 08/08/2013 1:17pm (9 months ago)

  • I did not fully respond yesterday, sorry about that, let me continue.
    Right now, China is rising economically, and politically. China is becoming more active in world affairs, mostly through trade, intergovernmental relations, the UN and it's Confucius Institutes. China contributes a lot of soldiers to UN peace keeping efforts. (I met an officer who had been in Liberia building roads.)
    As China rises, and as it's economy grows, trade with it becomes more and more important to other countries. They will naturally have concerns about this, since many of the poorer countries nearby will become more and more economically dependent on China. The Chinese government has been very careful to try to promote win-win situations with it's neighbors, and to put disagreements into discussion mechanisms, rather than bullying their neighbors. (The US could learn from this).
    Remember that China is almost five times the size of the United States in terms of population, so exact comparisons (rather than per capita) never make any sense, and any comparisons must include a sense of scale.
    There were some comments about the size of the PLA. People need to learn more about the PLA, it's functions and organization. For instance, there are no "national guards" in China, that is a PLA function. I just had my dental work done at an excellent PLA hospital, which is open to the public (imagine if the Pentagon had good hospitals, open to the public!). The PLA is actually not that big given its responsibilities, and China's military spending is in no way out of line with its size. (The space program is part of the PLA, for instance.)
    Currently, as China rises (and other developing nations rise as well), there will be a rebalancing of relationships between countries. The United States will no longer be able to exercise it's imperial prerogatives and make demands of other countries (look at our disgraceful behavior over the Snowden affair). This rebalancing will lead to some tensions, people with privileges don't surrender them easily. The right will try to demonize China and turn it into an enemy, the left needs to defend it and fight for peaceful relationships based on win-win and mutual respect.
    The US military industrial complex is in full swing to promote the idea of China as an enemy. The left must resist this.
    China is full of underground missionaries of various kinds, but mostly of the most reactionary types. This must also be resisted. There are scary cults out there.
    I urge those who can to come and visit, but if you can't, try a Confucius Institute for more cultural information and insights.
    If you want to read criticisms of the Chinese government, read China Daily and the People's Daily. The government and party publish very frank very open criticisms of themselves. America could learn from this as well! Peace,

    Posted by PatrickInBeijing, 08/07/2013 11:03pm (9 months ago)

  • From my nick, you might guess, I live in Beijing. This is my 12th year here, I speak a fair amount of Chinese.

    To respond to "Trotsky", you have got to be kidding? Why are you posting on a left website. Troll.

    To Steve Johnson. Hong Kong is hardly a model. Look at it's treatment of migrant workers from the Phillipines and from mainland China. In terms of Ti'anmen Square, that is over. There is no "spirit" of it. The vast majority of Chinese don't even remember it, have no idea what it was about. Do you? It is not a major topic today. The only people who seem to care are a few folks in HK, and white people coming to mainland China who are looking for an excuse to feel superior.

    Some general comments. It makes no sense to compare development in China with development in the West. Chinese culture with it's strong emphasis on families is different from Western culture. I would suggest that one of the tasks for leftists in America is to learn more about Chinese culture. Right now (not your fault), you don't have a clear lens to view it.

    One of the things that must be understood is that the current generation of middle aged Chinese are mostly the first really educated generation in history, they are recently away from the farms and into the cities. But they still have roots in the countryside. They take their kids to country villages to live with their grandparents. How much does this matter? I don't know, but it does count.

    Another thing to be understood is that there is still the dream of upward mobility in China. This is an important dream, and people believe it is possible. They can see it in their lives. Anyone who thinks that the masses of China are going to turn against their government is just ignorant.

    The memories of the cultural revolution are still strong, and are a reason that calls for stability resonate among the people.

    The more stupid things America does, the more people start to think that the fairy tale of a free and equal America is just that, Disney propaganda to the contrary. Katrina shocked people.

    Some members of the bourgeoisie who come here dream of a liberal democratic China where George W Bush could be leader. Are you insane?

    Each of these points does not begin to scratch the surface, but I hope they can help guide people to ask better questions. Your hard work is appreciated, regards.

    Posted by PatrickInBeijing, 08/07/2013 7:54am (9 months ago)

  • to Steve Johnson
    Sorry I did not get back to your response much earlier but I have been overwhelmed with work

    I accept your points concerning Hong Kong(itself under British colonialism a classic example of a corrupt urban capitalist system generations before the present situation) and the Tian An Men Square demonstrations. I am happy that you have claified this
    I would say in response to you that while I was defending the CCP as the basis for socialist contstruction in China in the future, I was not saying that its specific policies, to use methods taken from capitalism to develop socialism in China on a piecemeal basis, should not be criticized. They definitely should be criticized but I would say in a constructive manner.
    I don't like the term "surrender" because if you look at CCP policies they have shifted in terms of economic policy a number of times over the last three decades Seeing the CCP itself, and I hope I am not confusing your position again, is to strengthen those forces within the CCP for whom socialism with Chinese characteristics and a Socialist Market Economy are merely dodges to develop Euro American capitalism

    I don't claim to know that much about the Bo case, but I see it as a political scandal that shows the divisions within the Chinese leadership and also the negative effects of the vast increase in wealth and productive capacity in China under the mixed economy system, which produces all kinds of corruption.

    On the Korean crisis, I think you confused my comments. I wasn't blaming the North Koreans out of context, or absolving the South Korean government and especially the U.S., but citing the dangers involved to everyone. The Korean War never ended. South Korea has existed since 1953 as a kind of mini West Germany in Asia, a central military base for the U.S and a "model" for industrial capitalist development. The Korean people have huge legitimate grievances against Japanese and U.S. imperialism for the crimes committed against them, including the partition of their nation, one of the oldest nations in the world, thanks to the cold war.
    But that in no way really changes the huge dangers involved in the present situation, the possibility of a new Korean war under present conditions involving the U.S. possibly Japan, and possibly China, along with given the present weapons technologies, enormous devastation and loss of life for the Korean people I do not see China as a "stooge" or "running dog" of the U.S. in its Korea policy. I believe that it is defending its own interests and that these interests are also in this context the interests of international peace

    Posted by norman markowitz, 08/03/2013 12:05pm (9 months ago)

  • Thank you for your patience in trying to deal with the confusions in my post.

    To clarify, I do not think that Hong Kong is what the whole of China should be. Nor do I think that the people of China should launch Tian An Men style mass defiance of the Communist Party dictatorship in the name of a classless Liberty. I believe that any regime installed in the name of democracy instead of socialism would indeed be a counterrevolution.

    What concerns me is that you seem to say that the current leadership can only be criticized for personal corruption or individual abuses but not for failure to defend socialism but promote capitalism. And that this appears to be on the grounds that the leadership says it is merely building Chinese socialism. Yet, if your only counsel is surrender to the current government (regardless of the concrete effect of its policies,) then all opposition, socialist and otherwise, will inevitably be forced into a bloc. I believe this would ultimately lead to disaster.

    Phrased that way, unfortunately, it sounds harsh in a way I don't wish. (The confusing post got that way in an effort to avoid an accusatory tone.)

    It is true that neither of us knows the truth about Bo personally. But let us suppose for a moment that the official story is wholly true. If so, then only the murder of a foreigner, personally organized by a member of the elite, can prompt the removal of a criminal. And even that would require a foreign embassy to protect even a high-level police administrator!

    A political leadership that cannot excise such a blatant criminal as Bo was alleged to be, is a leadership in extremis, despite the advances thus far permitted by the socialized elements of the national economy. If Bo was targeted because he was using Maoist rhetoric, what would his removal signify?

    However, I must respectfully disagree that the north is the primary threat of war in Korea. US government officials as I understand it even boasted that the most recent tensions were deliberately exacerbated by a planned series of provocations by the US and the southern regime. The invocation of the Park dictatorship (which also invaded Vietnam to fight socialism!) by the selection of his daughter suggests to me that the capitalist south is losing its way in the world economic crisis.

    Posted by steven johnson, 07/19/2013 9:01am (9 months ago)

  • Let me respond to Steve Johnson's post. I was a bit too generous perhaps in calling it thoughtful. First, Johnson sees Hong Kong, a former British colony, highly developed and today something of a hybrid under Chinese control as a "model for all of China." So this would suggest that he is for a China in which capitalism is far more ensconced. Then he calls for the spirit of Tien An Men Square be upheld as a "symbol" of the rights violated by the CCP. My article called for the CCP to develop what I called "bill of rights socialism" and of course, the history of those demonstrations, as most serious analyists have long understood, were part of a manipulated power struggle between groups within the CCP.
    Johnson then calls for the "overthrow" in a leftist way of the Chinese Communist Party. How this would occur, how it would not result in something like Russia today, with gangsters, warlords, compradore capitlaists and "liberals" like himself criticizing them he does not say, because of course he doesn't know
    The revolutionary state created by the CCP is the foundation of Chinese unity and Chinese progress If Chinese history is any guide, the CCP has taken many roads in its struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in its 92 year history
    As for Johnson's final points, which are a bit off the point, I really don't agree with them. I don't know the inside story of the Bo Xilai affair and I really don't think he does either. Was Bo a power hungry politician and rich man using Mao's ideas and rhetoric to win power for himself or a genuine social revolutionary? I and Johnson really don't know. As for North Korea, one should remember that the truce ending the Korean War sixty years ago took place after hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops had entered the war following MacArthur's march to the Korean-Chinese border and h that threats of using nuclear weapons against China were used during and after that war, whose truce the North Korean government has formally abogated. The last thing anyone needs, the U.S. and especially China, is a new Korean War
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by norman markowitz, 07/13/2013 3:48pm (9 months ago)

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