Carnival of Socialism

carnival_of_socialism1.jpgWe have split the carnival into two parts, with a selection from Louise, and a selection from Andy 

Louise looks at the issues on left feminist blogs:

Feministing  has written on McCain and equal pay

The ongoing attacks on choice is shown by Feministe who reports that in Oklahoma, anti-abortionists are pushing for intrusive and invasive ultra-sounds for women who want a termination.

Race, feminism and class

Angry Black Woman has written about feminism and race. And the face of feminism reflects white, privileged women.

Feminism is made for and by white women. And I really feel like this is one of those areas where the white women need to get enlightened before things can change. But, of course, many of them won’t be because they don’t see racism, which is directed against women of color, as a feminist issue. They’re hard pressed to acknowledge that racism is as great a problem as sexism at all.

I agree with her. Hierarchy of oppression argument is wrong. Feminism is about challenging all forms of oppression, including racism, and showing solidarity with black feminists.

This leads onto the sad fact that the feminist blogosphere is missing an excellent blog. brownfemipower  has written a very powerful post about how she felt she had no other choice than to stop blogging. I hope she re-thinks. Here, here and here explains why.

And now Blackamazon has quit the blogosphere as well.

I would like, therefore, to extend my support and solidarity to brownfemipower and Blackamazon and to add my own disgust at the way women of color have been sidelined, ignored and now silenced by defensive white feminists.

There are glaring comparisons and parallels to be made as women experience being sidelined, dismissed, silenced and ignored within the patriarchal capitalist society so why white feminists replicate those power relationships by treating Black women in a similar way such as subordinating their experiences and denying them a voice is beyond comprehension.

As feminists we have a duty to recognise this behaviour and consciously challenge it rather than to capitulate and reinforce it.

I also largely agree with what Zenobia has to say and it is not the kind of feminism I signed up for:

So let’s work on fostering the ideas of community, solidarity, and the value of people’s hard work. I won’t say ‘within feminism’, because feminism is partly, supposedly, about fostering those ideas in the community at large, not about creating an exclusive club of perfect (white, middle-class, ivy-league educated, successful) women”.

Andy Newman’s selection on China:
Aaronvitch Watch notes that Tibet is the latest decent cause du jour. The Decents are those who try to dress up slavish support for US foreign policy with tortuous arguments about why this is the furthest left position that is decent: “I note that they are busy recycling the claim that the Chinese have killed 1.2 million Tibetans. A few moments googling tells me that this claim is hardly uncontroversial, to say the least. More to the point, how come the Decents recycle such factoids uncritically when it suits their agenda, but express pop-eyed incredulity when standard techniques produce answers they don’t like for Iraqi excess deaths?”

As the blog shock-troops of the Decents, Harry’s Place mischievously highlighted the e-mail sent out by the Stop the War Coalition office that erroneously suggested that everyone in the Coalition supported the call for Tibetan independence. In a letter to the Morning Star, STW Chair Andrew Murray explained that this was an innocent error, and STW had no policy on Tibet, and no real harm was done.

Jim of Daily Maybe eleoquently supports Tibetan independence, and  sums up his position: “The simple truth is that if you’re with those who roll their tanks over the heads of the poor then you’ve chosen the well trodden path of complicity with dictatorship. It’s time to rethink.”. Jim explains his position:

“An independent government, whether or not the Dalai Lama led it, would be moving forwards towards the modern world and greater democracy. A victory in Tibet could and should open up a space in the rest of China and give inspiration to others whether they be in Burma, Iraq, Nepal or Luton. China is an imperialist state. It acts like imperialism, it walks like imperialism, it leaves dead bodies and helps itself to stolen territory just like imperialism. When people protest for the ability of the individual to live their own life, it is the very the definition of tyranny to send in a trigger happy occupying army to crush those desires.”

Jim’s jay’s approach seems very straightforward and honourable, but I think he has misunderstood the situation. However, Liam Mac Uaid also supports Tibetan independence:

“By denying the Tibetans their right to self determination the Chinese bureaucracy is creating an opportunity for the imperialists to actively engage in Chinese politics. Nancy Pelosi’s meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday was just such an intervention. The irony is that the the rioters on the streets no longer seem to be taking a political lead from a religious leader whom they see as too willing to accommodate to the bureaucracy and they certainly were not demanding a confessional state.”

Alas blog amuses itself by the intemperate tone of Jim Denham’s contribution to the debate about Tibet at Shiraz Socialist, ostensibly an open letter to the Morning Star newspaper.

“Listen, you Stalinists! You have been systematically spreading lies about the ’Free Tibet’ movement, and offering uncritical support to the vicious, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist ruling class in Beijing. “

Though the same post by Jim Denham was approvingly aggregated by Brownfemipower at the radical “blog and the bullet” site. The argument on Shiraz was not only bad tempered, but also relied upon over-stretching historical analogy.

Madam Miaow took a very different view, concerned at the knee jerk reactions to the Tibet issue.

“China needs to deal with what rampant capitalism is doing to all its people. To present this as Chinese “communism” oppressing a rebellious religious minority is to miss the point and distort the picture. Just who are the Tibetans who are rebelling by attacking the Han Chinese and Hui Muslims, anyhow? Descendents of the serfs? The clergy class? They may have legitimate grievances in that they feel they are being treated as third class citizens and fear they’ll end up the same way as native Americans and Australian aborigines. Cutting the pursestrings by granting some faked-up “independence” where they’d be dependent on UN handouts and subservient to their new western political masters is probably not the answer. Finally, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s not China which is the biggest threat to world peace. I think the US and UK are at the head of that queue. Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Palestine, Syria, China: these are all within their sights (sorry if I missed any).”

On Socialist Unity blog I have also argued that the best interests of Tibetans lie within the Peoples’ Republic of China.

“It is hard to see that there is any social or economic class in Tibet whose interests would be improved by independence, and without such an interest then there are probably no grounds for a mass struggle for independence. Cultural and political autonomy within the Peoples’ Republic is an acheivable option, whereas full political “independence” would just mean Tibet swapped China for domination by the USA or India. The disadvantages and social exclusion of Tibetans in their own land need to be addressed, but the fact that many of their economic grievances are the same as, or similar to, the problems faced by Han Chinese throughtout the whole of China must be recognised. Given the paranoia of the CCP about any threat to the unity of the Peoples’ Republic, then the least effective way to gain reforms to solve these problems is to link them with the demand for independence, and be seen to be aligned with the foreign powers who are enemies of the Chinese government. The last thing the Tibetan people need is to be used as a pawn in a propaganda war against Beijing.”

Derek Wall supported the protests against the Olympic Torch, but also highlighted the wider issues of human right abuse in China:

“Derek Wall Green Party Principal Speaker says ‘I urge you to get on the streets on sunday to protest at the Olympics being held in China. Human rights are abused in Tibet but in this matter there is little discrimination, human rights are abused irrespective of ethnicity by the Chinese government. Tibet must be free and all Chinese must be allowed human rights. The Olympics will be a scandal.’”

Other China related issues were discussed on the blogs. Dave Osler opines that “any balance sheet of China’s shift away from central [economic] planning has to be broadly positive.”, and on Socialist Unity blog, I look at China’s environmental movement. Lenin’s Tomb explores the paradox that although Mao’s Great Leap Forward led to terrible famine, the overall record of Communist rule in China has been economic and social advance:

“China did suffer one appalling famine in 1959-61, with mortality estimates ranging from 15 million (the Chinese government’s figure) to 43 million (the figure reached by the reformist Chinese economist Chen Yizi). The reasons for this, as one would expect, are as much political and economic as natural. The sudden, drastic changes in property forms and incentives associated with the catastrophic ‘Great Leap Forward’ dramatically reduced output, while at the same the government was appropriating grain for mass export to pay debts to the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, barring that atrocious failure, China did fundamentally depart from its at least century old status as the ‘land of famine’. It raised life expectancy all round as a result of social protection systems.”

boycott-china-2.jpgPolitics in the Zeros highlights the action of South African trade unionists in blocking Chinese arms exports to Robert Mugabe’s government That could be used for a crack down on the democratic opposition.

Adam Curry shares this cartoon with us.

Finally, two interesting posts from Splintered Sunrise refer to the KMT election victory in Taiwan, and the influence of Mao Zedong thought among the American New Communist Movement in the 1970s, and the comments discuss the Red Guards in New York.

While we are at it, perhaps worth looking at this recent summary of English speaking Maoist blogs.

42 comments on “Carnival of Socialism

  1. Point of correction. It was I who posted the Shiraz Socialist blog post on Tibet. Not BrownFemiPower, I only wish BFP was a contributer to The Blog and the Bullet. Also, all Blog and the Bullet posts are automatically cross posted on Alas, a blog.

  2. Charles Dexter Ward on said:

    That very sensible cartoon argues that, seeing as everything is made in China, it is absurd to protest against the actions of the Chinese government. Exactly the same as those who argue that it is absurd to use mobile phones (i.e. the products of capitalism) to organise an anti-capitalist rally.

    It is funny how the “left” is so ready to employ right-wing arguments to defend China – which is of course a country where workers are exploited by capitalists and which invades other, smaller countries to strip them of their natural resources (a CPB member recently tried the classical colonial / imperialist / racist argument with me that it was acceptable for China to invade China because it was “backward” and the Chinese had civilised it.

    When I asked why then it was that Han Chinese hold all the best jobs, she said it is because the Tibetans are “uneducated”. When I asked why this was, given that they had been “civilised” by the Chinese, and was she saying they were congenitally inferior, she started to flounder and said that “we” in any case are in no position to criticise as “we” invaded Iraq. When I pointed out that I had not invaded Iraq, and had actually (as she knew) made quite an effort to stop the British government from doing so, she became very agitated indeed.

    Strange days indeed.

  3. “brownfemipower has written a very powerful post about felt she had no other choice then to stop blogging . . . And now Blackamazon has quit the blogosphere as well . . . now silenced by defensive white feminists . . . “

    It’s a minor point, but shouldn’t it be acknowledged that both bloggers have decided themselves to stop blogging.

    “. . . silenced by defensive white feminists” could inadvertently give off the wrong impression.

    I’m just mentioning it because if you were to ask me who were the three best known feminists in the States, I’d hazard a guess at Gloria Steinem, bell hooks and Angela Y. Davis. The last two both being black.

    But I’ll clarify that I’m not claiming a particularly deep knowledge of feminism. Just looking at the books on my wife’s bookshelves.

  4. Louise on said:

    Darren: “It’s a minor point, but shouldn’t it be acknowledged that both bloggers have decided themselves to stop blogging.”

    Yes, it is a minor point, but ask yourself why did they stop blogging…

  5. Louise on said:

    Darren: “. . . silenced by defensive white feminists” could inadvertently give off the wrong impression.”

    Really?

    When I wrote this post I assumed that people understand the social processes involved in excluding oppressed people from areas of social life eg blogging.

  6. Louise on said:

    Thanks Kadense.

    As a socialist feminist I am kinda shocked. To me it is basic, you challenge and fight all forms of oppression. There’s isn’t a hierarchy of oppression.

  7. “When I wrote this post I assumed that people understand the social processes involved in excluding oppressed people from areas of social life eg blogging.”

    You mean you assumed that everyone would agree with the point that you were making? It doesn’t really contradict my observation that they themselves stopped blogging. I’m just making the point – minor or otherwise – that from where I’m sitting both bloggers have a platform and a readership – going by the comments – that looks comparable in size, impact and influence to blogs like this one, Lenny’s and HP Sauce (when it’s online).

    In blogging terms – amd this is about blogging – that doesn’t strike me as being excluded.

    One last point to ensure that it’s understood that I’m not flaming on this matter. I’m not commenting on the rights and wrongs of what’s happened in recent weeks. However, I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that people have been “silenced”.

    Just my five cents.

  8. “You mean you assumed that everyone would agree with the point that you were making?”

    Louise,

    On second glance I realised that my words above are incredibly snotty. Apologies for that. It was uncalled for.

  9. mark anthony france on said:

    I haven’t followed these debates in the blogsphere… but I do understand how essentially affulent white academic ‘feminists’ can act to patronisingl include and then exclude black women… A woman I know who was brought up in an extended family originating in the small island of caricou [part of Grenada politically] was the 4th child of her mother and one of 17 siblings… she was subjected to horrendous racist abuse as a child and institutionally abused by the education system, sexually abused by an older male sybling. She left school funtionally illiterate and had to cope with the imprisonment of family and she her sisters enter a dangerous career in the sex industry. In her immediate community the life expectancy for males was 43 and females 45… substance misuse and criminality was the norm…This was in West Yorkshire.
    In her mid thirties already a grandmother she tried to re=enter education…to be patronised by a variety of white academics male and female…
    by 40 she had gained entry onto a Gender and Womens Studies Masters Degree at Uni by virtue of submitting an analysis of the ‘Book of Life’ by Sojourner Truth

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth

    At University she was subjected to a campaign that almost smacked of a vicarious form of revenge enacted by a middle aged feminist who had spent her comfortable life in the ivory towers of academia… This Course leader attempted to bully her and bascially blamed ‘black women in thrall to their men’ for destroying the Spare Rib collective in the mid 1980′s.

    One day I got a call and was asked [in a very angry tone] “what is epistemology” I said something like ‘i think its how we know what we know or something like that – but you could spend the rest of your life trying to explain to your course leader what you know and I suspect she would not learn anything’

    This black women resigned from the course… and thankfully shortly afterward the Gender and Womens Studies Dept at that University – which was a hotbed of ‘revolutionary feminism’ was ‘incorporated’ into another department. i say thankfully because essentially this academic institution was a mechanism for bullying women who did not blindly adopt a particular ossified theorectical approach to patriarchy which arrogantly ignored or colonised their own lived experience.

    If people choose to abandon either academic courses or ‘blogging’ this too is no bad thing if those individuals ‘anger’ at social exculsion is redirected towards some form of action in the real world to make things better for all our children male and female… However, if people retreat to ‘private’ life and nuture their ‘anger and bitterness’ then those same children risk becoming infected with anxiety and depression.

  10. anticapitalista on said:

    Talking about carnivals, anyone here going to post an article about the hugely successful LMHR carnival?

  11. mark anthony france on said:

    11# I think that would be nice… maybe someone you know could send photos and a report to the site admin types… I have such fond memories of the 1st ANL/RAR event it would be lovely to know how the LMHR carnival went.

  12. Benjamin on said:

    The mass death perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party was not just centered around the Great Leap Forward. Mao instituted numerous widespread purges quite separate from that, not least when he first secured total power in China.

    Also, during the civil war with the Nationalists (they were not shrinking violets either), the Communists perpetrated numerous atrocities (such as the blockade of Changchun, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians – the death toll was higher than the Nanking massacres by the Japanese). Also, the Red areas of China were ruled by terror and killing; millions perished or suffered through direct killings (sometimes public), starvation, destitution or suicide – all a result of Mao’s policies. There is no doubt that Mao created one of the most oppressive states in world history.

    The Tibet issue should be linked to broader human rights and democracy issues. I am all for China’s economic development and reform; but it’s a good time to apply pressure, and not least stand in solidarity with campaigners imprisoned by the CCP, such as Hu Jia and Shi Tao. They’ll watch the Olympics in a prison cell.

    Why there should be any debate about the left’s attitude towards the CCP is beyond me; in fact let it stay that way – I just think its wrong that corrupt undemocratic dictatorships throw people in jail for speaking out.

  13. John W on said:

    Benjamin:

    The mass death perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party was not just centered around the Great Leap Forward. Mao instituted numerous widespread purges quite separate from that, not least when he first secured total power in China.

    Also, during the civil war with the Nationalists (they were not shrinking violets either), the Communists perpetrated numerous atrocities (such as the blockade of Changchun, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians – the death toll was higher than the Nanking massacres by the Japanese). Also, the Red areas of China were ruled by terror and killing; millions perished or suffered through direct killings (sometimes public), starvation, destitution or suicide – all a result of Mao’s policies. There is no doubt that Mao created one of the most oppressive states in world history.

    Reply:

    Where are your sources corroborating these facts? Unless you’re able to provide credible sources to back this up, it can’t be taken seriously. To be honest, these seem like wild claims and assertions to me, the type you commonly find being peddled by right wing commentators.

  14. Stuart G on said:

    #11 Benjamin – ‘I just think its wrong that corrupt undemocratic dictatorships throw people in jail for speaking out’ No doubt Benjamin is true to his word and has plenty to say about Israels’ siege of Gaza, backed up by EU starving the Palestinian authority of funds because they had the audacity to elect a Hamas leadership (democratically).
    Plenty to say about the regime in Colombia linkled to death squads who murder trade unionists.
    I’m sure he’s consistent with his belief in democracy.

  15. skidmarx on said:

    #14 “To be honest”-Never a good phrase to use.At the very least it suggests that you’re dishonest most of the time.
    “these seem like wild claims and assertions to me, the type you commonly find being peddled by right wing commentators.”-But even if he is making wild claims, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is peddling right-wing commentary. I recommend a book (to everyone) called “Straight and Crooked Thinking” which shows how to present arguments with distorting those of your opponents, though its powers can onviously be turned to the Dark Side as well.

    #15 “I’m sure he’s consistent with his belief in democracy.”
    Then we’re all happy then.

  16. Ciarán on said:

    I can’t help but wonder if we’ll hear the same uproar when it comes to the 2012 Olympics in London over British imperialism’s ongoing human rights abuses and occupations. Somehow I doubt there’ll be as strong a call for a boycott in four years time.

  17. skidmarx on said:

    #17 It would be nice though.And it will be the job of British socialists first to encourage one. I can’t particularly thing of a slogan right now other than “Athletics is just shit anyway”.

  18. I’m struck by how much the arguments against the boycott resemble the arguments of Zionists complaining about being singled out. In fact it seems the Free Tibet movement does not seem to favour a boycott although it does favour a boycott of the ceremonies which. I support that position. As to whether the calls to do similar things around the London Olympics: well I think its a rather excellent prescedent.

  19. Benjamin’s comments (#13) are lifted wholesale from Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s Mao – the unknown story, which is fast becoming the standard work on Mao’s China, unfortunately. I criticised it at length here/>

  20. (hit return too soon – sorry)

    …and Ken MacLeod supplies links to a number of other critiques

  21. Benjamin on said:

    Oh well, there does seem to be debate about whether or not to support China’s corrupt dictatorship. Very odd.

    Yes, I am consistent in my support for democracy, whether that be criticism of Israel, Columbia, the US or wherever.

    Yes, my source is Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s book on Mao, which is curiously described as a “very right wing book” by some. Anyway, that aside, do you dispute the particular facts I present: millions perished and suffered immensely in the Red areas, hundreds of thousands perished at Changchun (even the communist’s own figure is 120,000), and do you dispute there were numerous later purges and ‘campaigns’ conducted by Mao on his opponents real or imagined? As for the Great Leap Forward, I think by the communists own estimate 15 million perished in that particular fiasco – but the death toll is likely higher.

    Apparently, stating these facts is considered “right wing”. Have I entered an alternative universe here?

  22. Ben
    Haven’t read the book but no doubt millions died in the race to industrialise.. read Nigel Harris.Mandate from Heaven for the state capitalist anaylasis of china.. it is clear that China is not and has never been a socialist country.. There is exploitation of the workers and the needs of the chinese ruling class are very much the same as in the west. Think of all those who perished in western capitalisms drive to compete.. including empire and wars.. no qualitative difference,

  23. Benjamin on said:

    Oh, by the way, I don’t regard Chang and Halliday’s book as the standard book on Mao or that period of Chinese history – it’s just one of many that are useful. I merely quote some information from it, apparently to the chagrin of some here.

  24. Benjamin on said:

    Well JJ, I wish I could blame, for simplicity’s sake, all the death in China on “the race to industrialise” and capitalist exploitation. That would be somewhat misleading though, since killing was also brought about by outright (and often public) terror too.

  25. johng on said:

    Chjh had already posted this review and it explains why the account is a right wing account Benjamin. Its also regarded as very misleading by many historians not otherwise known for their sympathy for Mao. It doesn’t explain why his regime was like it was and leaves us just with a sense of history made by bad men. Aside from being nonsensical it explains absolutely nothing.

    http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=185&issue=110

  26. It’s perfectly possible to think that the 1949 revolution was a good thing, and to be opposed to Mao’s dictatorship. One of the strngths of the ‘state capitalist’ view of China is that it gives you an explanation of why the regime behaved as it did, and why it held human life so cheap. But it’s also necessary to start with the basic truth that the old society held human life even cheaper.

    What’s so pernicious about the Jung Chang/Haliday view is that it reduces all of China’s 20th century ills to the crimes of the CCP. But you can’t understand why the CCP won mass support from China’s peasantry unless you understand the greater crimes of the Guomindang and the Japanese invaders.

    It’s also odd to describe Maoism as a ‘corrupt dictatorship’. The inner circle around Mao lived quite luxuriously, but the average village official didn’t steal, and those who did tended to get caught. One of the reasons that people in China now look back nostalgically to the Maoist era is that the mass of the bureaucracy is now institutionally corrupt, where it wasn’t thirty years ago. Enrich yourselves, said Deng Xiaoping, and they did. The people who profited most from the opening up of markets and the legitimisation of private business were the old CCP and local officials, and their families.

  27. Benjamin on said:

    The CCP won “mass support from China’s peasantry”? Give me a break.

    Chang and Halliday’s book is weak on context and tends to focus exclusively on the CCP and Mao (after all it is a biography of Mao). That is why it is necessary to read other works too. But that does not make it a “right wing” book, nor one that is useless or “nonsensical”. It has a wealth of interesting and illuminating information that the reader can then integrate into knowledge garnered from other reading and study.

  28. Benjamin on said:

    and terror had the purpose of?

    Inculcating fear and absolute conformity to the essentially Leninist notion of the vanguard party, leading the people. That the party followed a state capitalist model, or any other model, is an important point, but as we know, not all capitalist, or even state capitalist states, feature the waves of Maoist style terror and killing that occurred in China at that time. What damage was done to people’s lives by the obsessive fixation with a dominant vanguard party in the hands of someone like Mao? Quite considerable damage, and it has its own dynamic.

  29. Benjamin on said:

    One of the reasons that people in China now look back nostalgically to the Maoist era is that the mass of the bureaucracy is now institutionally corrupt, where it wasn’t thirty years ago. Enrich yourselves, said Deng Xiaoping, and they did. The people who profited most from the opening up of markets and the legitimisation of private business were the old CCP and local officials, and their families.

    It’s true that he enforced (very strictly) non-corrupt practice on his regime – although, of course, a very strong argument can be made that the entire regime was stealing from the people, although that’s a somewhat separate argument.

    I think it’s true that the system is more corrupt now (in the conventional sense), and the introduction of “free market” capitalism, or elements of it, has enriched a wider selection of party officials. But its also true that it has increased wealth among others too. There is greater inequality. This is what Will Hutton calls “Leninist corporatism”. Still bad, although an improvement on Mao – which says a lot about how bad the regime was like under Mao.

  30. chjh on said:

    Evidence for the CCP winning mass support from the Chinese peasantry? How about Jung Chang’s Wild swans.

    Chang and Halliday are appallingly bad on context, which is precisely what makes for good biography – situating your subject in their time. They blame Mao for absolutely everything (including the Guomindang murdering his first wife – Mao’s fault, not the Guomindang’s) and as a result whitewash both the Guomindang and the Japanese occupation.

    It is an extremely right-wing book, though I agree that doesn’t in itself make it useless – Jonathan Fenby’s recent biography of Chiang Kaishek is from a right-wing perspective, but it’s a very interesting read. Much of the ‘new’ stuff in Jung and Halliday isn’t actually new, and much of what is new isn’t true. Andrew Nathan’s forensic review in the London Review of Books nails a number of the porkies http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n22/nath01_.html .

    As for the terror, it had the purpose of strengthening the power of the state – the same purpose as state terror everywhere. Given the nature of Chinese land ownership structures, the destruction of the landlord class necessarily involved attacks on millions of people. Again, read Wild swans, where Jung Chang explains that in 1947 and 1948 the killing of landlords was often a spontaneous peasant reaction, which the CCP actually tried to hold back.

  31. johng on said:

    Yes, one of the less understood things by actual Maoists is the extent to which the greatest achievements of the Maoist regime with respect to land reform where bound up with patterns of class struggle which the CCP sometimes tried to hold back (I believe this produced different kinds of land tenure in China in different regions which remained important for quite a while: up to the present or did the cultural revolution iron this out?). This was within the context of a Party which vacillated not just on the question of capitalism or socialism but the extent of social transformation even within capitalism, land reforms being one example and the persistance of private capitalists another, shifts here often being contingent on wider problems rather then the unfolding of some special theory. This is why Benjamin’s belief that the violence of the state was somehow suspended in midair and abstracted from social relations is so misleading. Mao strikes me as a Communist turned pragmatist in the aftermath of the complete destruction of the Communists in the 1920′s. In terms of some of the more indecipharable episodes in post-liberation China (Great Leap Foward, Cultural Revolution etc) which its tempting to ascribe either to a monolithic totalitarian ideology or on the other hand orientalist stereotypes about Chinese culture, or indeed both, I think this was the product of a state built through processes of mass mobilisation, which linked the production of modern citizens with the authority of the CCP, neccessary in a country where social relations were very backward and actually existing state structures absent. This also accounts for the veneer of experimental democratic techniques often invoked by those who saw Maoism as an alternative to a greyer kind of Stalinism. This was wholly misleading in my view but these differences can not only be registered but explained, without these wierd and ahistorical attempts to attribute the whole of Chinese history to the unpleasent personality of a single individual, an approach which I think is not only right wing as a methodology, but comes quite close to being a kind of religious thinking.

  32. johng on said:

    “How could a man like this win power? Chang and Halliday’s answer is that he was more vicious than his rivals. Thanks to his possession of shameful secrets, his manipulation of slander, character assassination and actual murder, his withholding and falsifying of information, and his sheer skill at browbeating, he defeated the hardened revolutionaries who were his former comrades-in-arms, turning Zhou Enlai into ‘a self-abasing slave’, ‘hyper-intimidating’ Liu Shaoqi, forming a purely instrumental alliance with Lin Biao and then discarding him – and doing some matchmaking for Lo Fu, for Mao was ‘shrewd about the ways of the heart, particularly in sexually inhibited men’. Mao ran rings around Chiang Kai-shek because ‘Chiang . . . let personal feelings dictate his political and military actions.’ Mao ‘had none of his weak spots’.”

    Gosh. I did’nt realise they HAD blogging in the 1930s.

  33. Why does anything to do with socialism have to be linked to marxism? I’m a socialist, red flag man but damn I think we need to move away from the term marxism! Last time actual marxism happened russia left its people cold and hungry. No matter the western world see’s marxism as a threat rather than a solution

  34. Is China now a capitalist state: yes or no?
    Is China’s treatment of Tibet colonialist: yes or no?

    These are the only questions that need answering. All the rest is bullshit.