China’s Battle Against Terrorism

I am currently reading Jenny Clegg’s brilliant new book “China’s Global Strategy – Towards a Multi-Polar world”, and I will write a review shortly.

One of the excellent points that Jenny makes is that the absence of substantive discussion in the West about China’s historical background, its actual level of development, and the difficulties of ruling such a vast country, then Sinophobic mythology has built up that draws more heavily on “Yellow Peril” images from the colonial era than it does on the reality of modern China. What is more, many from the Western left either do not counter this Sinophobia, or actually collude in it.

Louis Proyect’s recent article is a frankly disgraceful example, but rather than exchange a polemic with Louis, let us refute his arguments by looking at the concrete situation today in Xinjiang province.

The Sinophobic reading of the situation there seems to be that the Chinese government are Han chauvinists, suppressing national minorities, persecuting the Islamic religion, and seeking to swamp Xinjiang with Han settlers. But this analysis simply doesn’t accord with the facts.

Firstly, historically the Chinese state has not been built on ethnicity, but on a Mandarin speaking civil bureaucracy, where Mandarin provided a lingua franca for an ethnically, socially, religiously and linguistically diverse society. Secondly, since the Communist party of China coming to power in 1949, they introduced a nationalities policy that created certain rights and privileges for minorities that met the criteria – for example the right to promote their own language, and in modern China, the very significant complete exemption from the one child policy.

Islam is not in any way persecuted or repressed in modern China. Nowadays in China there are ten national minorities, including the Hui and Uyghur, with a total population of 18 million, whose faith is Islam. There are some 30,000 mosques served by 40,000 Imams and Akhunds. Islamic Association of China is an independent organisation promoting the interests of Muslims. Islamic organisations in China run their own affairs independently and can set up religious schools, publish religious texts and periodicals, and run social and welfare services.

Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China protects freedom of religious belief as a basic right enjoyed by all citizens, and religious institutions enjoy the rights to own and dispose of property, and to proselytise. Currently Buddhism is enjoying a major revival across China, without any government interference.

It is true that during the Cultural Revolution, there was repression and oppression of all religious faiths – but this has been consciously reversed for thirty years now – and most significantly, the campaign against religious institutions was much more moderate in the Autonomous Regions, like Xinjiang and Tibet than in the main urban centres.

The Hui national minority, who are Muslim, often Turkic peoples, but who speak Mandarin, are integrated into every aspect of life in the People’s republic, and have often played prominent roles, for example Hui Liangyu was Vice President. It is interesting that systematic racist attacks against Hui have characterised both the riots in Tibet last year, and the recent violence by Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has been part of China since the mid eighteenth century, when its main significance as a poorly populated mainly nomadic region was as part of the land-route between the Middle Kingdom and Europe. The urban centres were built by the Chinese, while the indigenous population were rural, ethnically diverse and often nomadic.

During the early part of the twentieth century, when China was dismembered by colonialists, and invaded by the Japanese Empire, Xinjiang fell under the sway of the warlord Sheng Shicai, (who really was a Han chauvinist, suppressing the Uyghur and Kazakh peoples).

There was a short lived Soviet republic between 1944 and 1949, also known as the Three Districts Rebellion, that reacted to the chauvinism of Sheng’s warlord regime by seeking to drive the Chinese out altogether, but this republic was concentrated in the Kazakh parts of Xinjiang, while the Uyghurs were predominatently under the rule of the Chinese nationalist KMT. The existence of this mini-state was also only possible as the USSR supported it as a buffer between themselves and the Japanese.

In 1949 the East Turkestan Republic agreed to join the People’s republic – somewhat pressurised by Stalin who is believed to have assassinated their government leaders, and the KMT ruled parts of Xinjiang surrendered to the People’s Liberation Army.

The importance of this background is to understand that there is no modern history of a Uyghur nation state, the relative autonomy of Xinjiang can only be understood as the unravelling of stable government under the colonialist onslaught of China, and the rise of warlordism. Xinjiang has always been linguistically and culturally diverse, and the modernisation and urbanisation of the region has occurred entirely within the context of Chinese rule, and Han and Hui have always formed a large part of the urban population. It is not at all uncommon in pre-industrial societies to find the urban centres and the surrounding countryside having different languages and cultures, and in the case of the Chinese Empire the two were united under a Mandarin speaking bureaucratic class.

We need to be very cautious of Uyghur nationalist organisations mythologizing a fictitious pseudo-history of themselves as an oppressed nation. Most obviously, if there was any real intention to swamp the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, then the PRC would not exempt them from the one child policy while enforcing it for the Han.

The biggest area of misunderstanding relates to the “Go West” policy, formally launched in year 2000 as part of the tenth Five Year plan. This was a victory for the left within the Communist Party, to seek to overcome the growing regional inequality, and direct US$200 billion of capital investment into the underdeveloped Western provinces, including the Autonomous Republics of Xinjiang and Tibet. So for example, the previously very poor region of Tibet has achieved economic growth of 13.4%, and the oil and gas fields of Xinyiang have been opened up by improvements of transport infrastructure, But far from being a “colonialist” asset grab, these have involved a massive transfer of wealth and technology to the poorest regions from the Eastern coastal region.

Han migration has increased in Xinjiang, but whereas the Uyghur peoples mainly live south of the mountains of the Tarim basin, the Han migration has been into the previously largely unpopulated region north of the mountains. For example the Karamay region is almost 80% Han.

A further area of ethnic tension has been experience of those involved in the inward migration of Uyghur peoples to the Eastern coastal region, along with the 150 million other rural migrants, who have been sucked into the black economy, but where linguistic and cultural obstacles, as well as their semi-illegal status, severely disadvantage them. The recent violence seems to have been preceded by rapes and murders, and ethnic tensions in Guangdong.

There has been a longstanding Uyghur nationalist movement, that partly expresses legitimate grievances in ethnic rather than economic terms, for example over rural impoverishment, and the relative disadvantage of rural people as opposed to urban dwellers; the relative disadvantage of Uyghar speakers compared to Mandarin speakers in the job market and for social advancement is also a pressing grievance. But Uyghar nationalism has also been clearly linked with Islamist terrorism, and the desire to separate Xinjiang as an Islamic republic away from the PRC, despite the fact that the Uyghur represent only half the population of Xinjiang.

There have been a series of terrorist incidents, including the racist murders of Han and Hui, attempted suicide bombings on an airliner last year, and riots during the Olympics that left 16 members of the People’s Armed Police dead. Both the Chinese and US governments accuse Uyghur separatists of links with Al Qaeda.

The security crackdown by China in Xinjiang is therefore a decisive attempt to restore order, and prevent racial tensions from further developing. It is necessary to understand the imperative drive for China to achieve economic growth in what is still a developing country, where many people still live on a $1 per day. It is also necessary to understand the great historic achievement of defeating the Japanese, throwing out the colonialists and reuniting China as one country.

The division of China is simply non-negotiable for the government in Beijing, and they are correct in seeing the unity of the republic as an important precondition for their economic and political independence, which is itself necessary for developing and improving the living standards of their 1.3 billion population. But they clearly do need to rethink how the “Go West” policy is in practice impacting on the autonomous regions, where an understandable and commendable desire to pull these Western provinces out of extreme poverty has created the unintended side effect of increasing wealth differentials, and ethnic tensions.

373 comments on “China’s Battle Against Terrorism

  1. Andy, go read Lenin on self-determination. Your beef is with him, not me. This is from my post:

    Lenin:

    What, then, can we do in relation to such peoples as the Kirghiz, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Turkmen, who to this day are under the influence of their mullahs? Here, in Russia, the population, having had a long experience of the priests, helped us to overthrow them. But you know how badly the decree on civil marriage is still being put into effect. Can we approach these peoples and tell them that we shall overthrow their exploiters? We cannot do this, because they are entirely subordinated to their mullahs. In such cases we have to wait until the given nation develops, until the differentiation of the proletariat from the bourgeois elements, which is inevitable, has taken place…

    Our programme must not speak of the self-determination of the working people, because that would be wrong. It must speak of what actually exists. Since nations are at different stages on the road from medievalism to bourgeois democracy and from bourgeois democracy to proletarian democracy, this thesis of our programme is absolutely correct. With us there have been very many zigzags on this road. Every nation must obtain the right to self-determination, and that will make the self-determination of the working people easier.

    full: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/rcp8th/03.htm

  2. Andy: Xinjiang has been part of China since the mid eighteenth century, when its main significance as a poorly populated mainly nomadic region was as part of the land-route between the Middle Kingdom and Europe.

    Me: This sounds like Joan Peters writing about the Palestinians.

  3. Anonymous on said:

    RE # 3 & 4: You show a remarkable degree of patience, Louis. This post by Andy is just reactionary, Stalinist driwel in my opinion.

  4. The other disturbing thing about it is the failure to engage with a class analysis of China. Andy seems to be an enthusiast of the government because he is for a “multi-polar” world. Its mode of production is ostensibly a matter of little concern. I can’t remember whether this is the same analysis as that of Calvin Tucker and Noah Tucker but it sounds quite like it.

  5. Stockwell Pete on said:

    Again, this is a part of the world that I know very little about. Somebody posted Louis’s article on here earlier this week and I found it very helpful – although it has been challenged in the discussion section on his site on a number of points by people who seem very knowledgeable to me. I don’t know who is right in those debates but I don’t understand at all why Andy is describing Louis’s piece as “disgraceful” though.

    I have also just had a look at SW and there is an article there which includes some comments by John Gittings, who is a regional expert apparently. He has his own website (link below) and it has an article on the Urumqui riots that concludes . . .

    “Two weeks ago Xi Jinping (the rising Communist party star who may one day succeed President Hu Jintao), paid a significant though barely reported visit to Xinjiang. He insisted that the local party should appoint officials who could do a better job of handling ethnic relations. He warned that they should solve the “real difficulties” that Uighurs suffer in housing, food, health, education and employment. It is an important admission, but it should have been made long before.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/07/uighur-china-xinjiang-urumqi

    http://www.johngittings.com/

    So that seems to put John Gittings quite close to Louis in the way they are analysing these developments and quite opposed to what Andy is saying in this article.

  6. Jim Monaghan on said:

    All of these arguments would justify the English domination of Ireland.

  7. johng on said:

    Andy seems to quote from the constitution and spends little time at all discussing what those who actually live in this area say or think. Apparently its just a bunch of Islamists causing trouble. Disagreement is one thing but the attempt to pre-empt discussion by accusing opponents of Sino-phobia is what is really disgraceful. Does he actually believe that Louis Proyect is motivated by anti-Chinese racism? Does he believe that of anyone on these threads? Why say it then?

  8. johng on said:

    And these learned arguments about the nature of the Chinese Empire pre-empting any claims of discrimination or national oppression. First of all it may have escaped Andy’s attention but these things develop over time. Secondly this kind of idealisation of the past is a lot more dangerous then the idealisation typically engaged in by national minorities. Again the phenomenan of Stalinism without Stalinism. Except this time nothing more substantive lies behind it then the vague prospect of a ‘multi-polar world’.

  9. Well I am sure that the Sinophobia reflected by much of the left is unconscious, but nevertheless, parroting anti-Chinese mythology, does uncritically adopt the themes of mainstream Western paranoia about China.

  10. It’s not just the accusations of Sino-phobia, it’s the casual use of all the 21st century witch trial charges; Islamic terrorism, separatism etc.
    A guest post on Harry’s Place is about the size of it.
    Or Liam’s suggestion.

  11. apollo on said:

    ‘Well I am sure that the Sinophobia reflected by much of the left is unconscious, but nevertheless, parroting anti-Chinese mythology, does uncritically adopt the themes of mainstream Western paranoia about China.’

    Ditto anti-Zionism is unconsciously anti-semitic?

  12. Louis quotes Lenin, but let me do the same:

    Polemicising against Luxemburg Lenin says “The question at issue is the national programme of the Marxists of a definite country—Russia, in a definite period—the beginning of the twentieth century. But does Rosa Luxemburg raise the question as to what historical period Russia is passing through, or what are the concrete features of the national question and the national movements of that particular country in that particular period?”.

    Likewise, Louis quotes lenin without looking at the exact and particular nature of China today, and the particular fetaures of the national question in Xinjiang.

    The particular political context that Lenin was writing in was when bourgeois nationalist movements had arisen in both the Ukraine and Finland, as well as the rather more complex developments in Poland, and the absolutist, dynastic and multi-national Czarist state had since around 1880 started to transform itself into a Russian national state. An important thing to grasp here is that the emergence of both Ukrainian and Finnish political nationalism predated the move to transform the Czarist state into a Russian state – for example introducing the Russian language to replace Swedish as the language of adminstration in Finland, and to replace German in the Baltic states.

    This is the importance of Lenin’s observation that “If one interprets the Marxist programme in Marxist fashion, not in a childish way, one will without difficulty grasp the fact that [the right to national self-determination] refers to bourgeois-democratic national movements … our programme refers only to cases where such a movement is actually in existence”

    Lenin did not argue for an unconditional tendency towards national separatism, as he argues: “the internal conditions of Austria’s development (i. e., from the standpoint of the development of capitalism in Austria in general, and among its various nations in particular), there are no factors that produce leaps and bounds, a concomitant of which might be the formation of nationally independent states.

    So contrary to popular belief, Lenin had a rather nuanced, and historically contingent approach to the national question.

    Jim Higgins once observed that the problem with quoting Lenin, is that unless you understand the exact historical context, and the political terms of the debate, it is hard to know what was merely the commonplace of his era, and what was insightful.

    The main terms of reference of the debate between Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Stalin, and Otto Bauer, were all between socialists in multinational dynastic empires, who were facing both a growing socialist movement, but also the development of the new phenomenon of political nationalism. Lenin is quite clear that the right to self determinatioon is historically contingent on a political seperatist movement actually existing, and it being politically advantageous from the standpoint of economic devlopment AND emancipation.

    We also have to understand the mainstream political debate that they were contextualised by, which was a shift from the dominant belief in big national states and forced assimilation of minorities, that had characterised political nationalism in the 19th century – most obviously influenced by Giuseppe Mazzini, who opposed, for example, independence for Ireland; towards a new belief in small national states – which later became associated with Woodrow Wilson.

    Lenin was very sharp on this, because he grasped that emerging political nationalism undermined the dynastic Russian state, particularly as Ukrainian nationalism and Finnish nationalism were both more developed than Russian nationalism, and this had arisen alongside the creation of Ukrainian and Finnish speaking urban professional and commercial classes. (This was a really new development, previously, for example, Swedish was spoken by the urban classes in Finland)

    Lenin supported Ukrainian and Finnish separatism, but he did not support independence for the Baltic states, where there was still no national movement capable of bringing together a modern nation-state. The cities were still German speaking, and while the working classes looked to Russia, the middle classes looked to Germany, and the miniscule vote for nationalist parties in the 1917 Constituent assembly elections was from the disgruntled rural middle class. who were then handed power by the treaty of Verseilles against the democratic will of the vast majority of the population!

    In the absence of a social class that could carry through a nation building revolution, then any Kleinstaat would become merely the client of one of the big powers – which was exactly the process that occurred in the Balkans.

    But what Lenin also grasped was that globally, the world was divided by big colonial empires ruled by the European powers, that were themselves locked into rapacious finance capitalism, and therefore the revolt of the colonial peoples was a direct challenge to the entire edifice of Imperialism.

    If we apply that to China today, it is a huge mistake to see China as an imperialist power – despite the size of its economy, it is still a developing country, with seas of poverty and deprivation. Economic development, increasing the productive forces to lift milions out of poverty is still a progressive historical mission that the CP are being quite sucessful at carrying out

    It is also necessary to be historically specific and recognise that there is no social class in Tibet or Xinjiang capable of carrying through a unifying national revolution; but there is a real danger of ethnic tensions, and genuine grievances fueling separatism that even if successful would result not in a genuinely independent Tibet or Xinjiang, but in client states of the USA, and what is more likely, could never be successful and would simply be a destructive insurgency calculated to weaken China, and being encouraged by Western powers.

    This is also the importance of understanding the real challenges and difficulties of the actual historically specific situation. China is not a Han state, it is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural state. China doesn’t oppress national minorities, it affords them legal rights and protections better than offered by most Western states; and China doesn’t repress religions. But it is also a society that has a relatively weak culture of respect for the rule of law, unaccountable government, quite a lot of corruption (especially the further West you go) and one where vested interests mediate, distort, and frustrate.

    But these problems are very deep seated ones, and are not the historical creation of the current government; indeed they are historical problems that Chinese are very well aware of.

    The Communist party of China is never going to cede independence of territory that it considers part of historical China – and it is repressive of any political movement seeking to challenge the integrity of the state (hence the frankly irrational obsession with the Republic of China on Taiwan), and deeply repressive of any secret organisation (hence the frankly paranoid repression of Falun Gong)

    The way forward is to study the historically specific nature of the current situation. Socialists should not be calling for the break up or weakening of the Chinese state, and hence our solidarity should be with those seeking to promote harmony and peacefully resolve the genuine grievances that are finding expression in indefensible ethnic violence.

    Where the Chinese state is not living up to its own commitments to national equality for example for Tibetans or Uyghar, then there is clearly cause for reform. Some aspects of the “Go West” policy are encouraging ethnic resentment, and need to be rethought.

    But cheerleading those carrying out racist attacks on Han and Hui peoples is not the way to go.

  13. #14

    Apollo: “anti-Zionism is unconsciously anti-semitic?”

    Sometimes it is, mate.

    the mistake you make over at harry’s Place is to assume that it nearly always is; or that those who make mistakes due to not being sufficiently switched on to the code words of anti-semitism are a lost cause. You could try fraternally pointing it out to them, instead of creating a witch-hunt, and libelling people as anti-Semites, who have just made an innocent mistake.

  14. Are we sure that this really is Andy Newman – or is his computer under the control of Guoanbu operatives ? I had no idea he was such an expert.

    “Xinjiang has been part of China since the mid eighteenth century …”

    “India has been part of Britain since the mid eighteenth century …”

    “Ireland has been part of England since the 12th century …”

    “America has been part of Britain since the mid seventeenth century … as has most of the Caribbean”

    “The importance of this background is to understand that there is no modern history of a Uyghur nation state ..”

    There was no modern history of an Indian nation state until 1947, still less a Bangladeshi one. Nor a Palestinian one. Nor, indeed, an Australian, Canadian or New Zealand one, until the heirs of “a state not built on ethnicity, but on a Norman-French speaking civil bureaucracy, where Norman-French provided a lingua franca for an ethnically (Normans, Saxons, Danes, Celts) socially (peasants, squires, lords) religiously and linguistically diverse society”.

    “The urban centres were built by the Chinese …” and the cities of Ireland by Danes and English.

    “It is not at all uncommon in pre-industrial societies to find the urban centres and the surrounding countryside having different languages and cultures” – medieval Ireland again.

    “Far from being a “colonialist” asset grab, these have involved a massive transfer of wealth and technology to the poorest regions from the Eastern coastal region.”

    You could argue that about the acquisition of most of the British Empire – with the possible exception of South Africa where we wanted the gold and diamonds. Australia and the American continent were doubtless economically improved by our arrival, as was Palestine by Jewish settlers. Whether the locals appreciated the favour is a moot point.

    “Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China protects freedom of religious belief as a basic right enjoyed by all citizens”

    Churchill had the phrase for it – “the acme of gullibility”

  15. #4 ” the failure to engage with a class analysis of China.”

    Well conversely, Louis fails to engage with the class relations that define the development of nations, and instead seems to treats nations as primary categories. (A mistake that lenin, Engels and Kautsky also made)

    Modern nations have developed in a particular historical context of developing industrial society, the break down of local face to face relationships of production, and instead the development of impersonal relationships mediated by complex social processes – what have required uniformity of education, national culture, and printing. As such nations have tended to also be associated with the development of high culture (not always, Yiddish was one of the most important high cultures in Europe, but never associated with a national project, according to hans Koch, who as both a Zionist and a theorist of the history of nationalism is always worth considering)

    The Uyghars certainly exist sufficiently clearly as a nation to satisfy the criteria of the Chinese state (some ethnic minorities in China don’t) , but we need to look at the social differentiation of Uyghars, and see if there is a social class with an economic interest in promoting a Uyghar nation-state, as a populist nationalist project. i am highly unconvinced of that. So what we seem to be seeing is genuine grievance, stoked by the relative disadvantage of more poorly educated Uyghar rural people compared to Han migrants who have better access to the economic possibilities for social advancement by the “Go West” policy.

    In this regard, the Uyghars have a point, and their greivances are legitimate, and they are right to protest.

    However, i do not beleive that the legitimate forms of protest can include murdering and terrorism Hui and han communities.

    you also have to understand that the fact that – unlike the Tibetans – there is an active terrorist insurgency in Xinjiang – even though low scale – does change how the government are going to respond; and the fact that this military insurgency is linked to direct calls for independence rings all the bells for the Chinese CP, who have looked at the fate of the USSR, and have no intention of traveling that road.

  16. apollo on said:

    I’m not from Harry’s Place so any ‘fraternal’ messages wouldn’t really work as they have no idea who I am, having never posted here under any name, let alone spent much time reading their tripe..

  17. #19

    Sorry Apollo, that serves me right for making lazy assumptions, and stereotyping you!

    You seem to have some of the same concerns as them, so I unfairly lumped you together.

  18. johng on said:

    China is a capitalist country. It is not an oppressed nation. It is lower down the rungs of an imperialism then the US or Britain, but has no ambition to overturn imperialism. Imperialism similarly has no ambition to overturn China. It simply occassionally has differences with the US. This attempt to dress up China in anti-imperialist fancy dress is one of the stranger phenomenan on some sections of the left. And if you can find a trace of ‘sinophobia’ in the belief that China is an emerging regional capitalist super-power, please do explain. I find incredible the diplomacy conducted on behalf of massive capitalist powers by a few left wingers with a blog in Slough. It is a bit citizen smith you’ve got to admit. Once again. The peoples daily will not be giving you a by-line no matter how many nice things you say about it. The only difference between China and India is that China is more powerful and hence more assertive.

  19. #17

    Laban, in an attempt to be a smart arse, makes a number of errors, to take one obvious one:

    ““India has been part of Britain since the mid eighteenth century …”

    Really??? India was never part of Britain. It became part of the british Empire, but was in fact originally conquered by a private company, not by the British state.

    But the creation of multi-ethnic nation states out of the former European colonies is indeed a facsinating subject, where the colonial civil service, civil institutions and army of the middle classes who had administered the colonies often played the role of the unifying national force, hence the adoption of the former colonial languages as official unifying instruments. .

    It has no bearing on our current discussion.

  20. #5

    On Joihn Gittings point (that actually seems to me to be closer to my analysis than Louis’s – but never mind that) about the language in the schools being mandarin since 2005.

    Well they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, aren’t they.

    One of the biggest economic and social disadvantages of Uyghar people has been there lack of access to the better paid jobs that require mandarin – which is the key language of trade, in the same way that English now is everywhere in Europe. So if you teach kids in a Turkic langauage you build in a discriminator factor; if you teach hem in mandarin, you improverish their language.

    There is no obvious right or wrong answer to that – except that parents shoudl probably have the choice, like they do in many parts of Wales now,

  21. Deckchair Socialist on said:

    Andy #25: “There is no obvious right or wrong answer to that – except that parents shoudl probably have the choice, like they do in many parts of Wales now”

    Andy, maybe you could arrange for a delegation from the Peoples Republic Of China to visit Wales so they can pick up a few ideas. I’m sure they only want the best for their national minorities.

  22. communist on said:

    Thanks for the above article Andy, thoughtful, informative and clearly well-researched, placing the current situation in its historical and political context, while not being entirely uncritical of the Chinese government.
    I think those on the left who crudely and often unthinkingly, conclude: “China = Stalinism = bad, therefore any opposition must be good” should take the trouble to actually read the article and try to gain some kind of understanding of China.

  23. gang of one on said:

    Andy’s post is spot on, in particular his comment at No 19. I agree with communist (27), thoughtful, informative and well-researched.

    China is authoritarian and is making mistakes but the knee-jerk baying on this thread does nothing to foster understanding of the problems it faces and how to deal with them. The possibility that it might end up like Russia is a very real one and explains why the government will go to extremes to avoid that.

    Or it could just say, sure, take a quarter of our landmass. Don’t worry about us, we’ll just muddle along and go back to the 1930s.

  24. John Wight on said:

    Andy should be commended for providing an analysis which doesn’t fall into line with the ‘yellow peril’ hysteria that dominates the subject of China among liberal commentators in the West.

    As for China being capitalist, it’s certainly regressed in terms of its mode of production. However, I find interesting the reason for reforms promulgated by Deng Xiaoping, when he said that the material conditions for socialism did not exist in China and therefore it had to develop its economy through a bourgeois stage of capitalist development, whilst retaining communist control of the government and state apparatus.

    By focusing on the development of light industry over heavy industry, China learned from the mistakes of the Soviet Union. And whilst it may not be anti-imperialist in terms of directly confronting imperialism, it’s certainly considered the most important threat to US economic hegemony today. However, the fact is the current nature of the global economy dictates that China and the US need one another – i.e., China needs the US market for its exports; the US needs China to finance its burgeoning deficit – and any conflict or confrontation between the two is conducted indirectly.

    The US projection of power in the MEast has been effected with the threat posed by the growth of the Chinese economy in mind. As of now, China’s economic threat hasn’t developed into a strategic threat, but with China forging closer ties with Russia and Iran in recent years, this looks set to change.

  25. Andy: Well conversely, Louis fails to engage with the class relations that define the development of nations, and instead seems to treats nations as primary categories.

    I don’t think you get what I was alluding to when I used the word “class”. I was referring to the class nature of China. Is it a capitalist state or postcapitalist like Cuba? A fairly simple question, no? Noah Tucker groups Cuba and China while I would group China with Thailand or the Philippines in economic terms, even if the government in China is run by self-described Communists.

  26. “it is a huge mistake to see China as an imperialist power – despite the size of its economy, it is still a developing country, with seas of poverty and deprivation”

    So what ? So was Britain from 1500-1900. Didn’t stop us, did it ?

    Andy, I think you altogether underestimate the gravity of the situation. It won’t happen yet, but if I was Australian (all those resources) or Russian (all that empty land) I’d be even more worried than I already am.

    Nature abhors an imperialist vacuum – you can call it a power vacuum if you like, just as she abhors a spiritual one. The Americans are taking off the purple robe and I can only see one candidate putting it on.

    At this moment, the mining conglomerate RTZ are preparing to close Anglesey Aluminium, the island’s largest employer. HMG (whose fault it is, closing the existing nuclear power station and failing to build another in time) are being told by RTZ that their offer of £48m to keep open is insufficient. “More, or the factory gets it”.

    China are also negotiating with RTZ at present – vital raw materials contracts. They’re not too pleased with the company after a merger with the Chinese state aluminium firm Chinalco was turned down.

    So they’re giving the negotiations a little nudge along by arresting the head of RTZ in China, along with four colleagues – who will be tried for espionage.

  27. Louis

    the issue of classification is not of particular interest to me. China has a mixed economy with substantial state direction and control.

    Call it what you will.

  28. Well, the issue of classification is very important to me since I am one of those old-fashioned unrepentant Marxists who think that it is important to be able to distinguish between capitalism and socialism (as long as this is understood as a sociological category rather than a merit badge.) I maintain that China has changed qualitatively since the market initiatives began, hence we should have a different attitude toward it if we think that it is important to identify politically with postcapitalist societies. For example, most of my writings on Yugoslavia center on the defense of Serbia as a postcapitalist society. I should add that the term “mixed economy” lacks rigor since every country in the world has a mixture of state owned enterprises and private enterprises, except perhaps for Cuba during the 60s and 70s. So if use the Big Tent approach and group together China, Sweden, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, all of which have a mixture of state and private enterprises, then the term is virtually useless.

  29. johng on said:

    “As for China being capitalist, it’s certainly regressed in terms of its mode of production. However, I find interesting the reason for reforms promulgated by Deng Xiaoping, when he said that the material conditions for socialism did not exist in China and therefore it had to develop its economy through a bourgeois stage of capitalist development, whilst retaining communist control of the government and state apparatus”

    Tremendously gripping I’m sure.

    The emergence of a multi-polar world has nothing whatsoever to do with the plans of the CCP Politbureau. It is the product of a long term tendency of the relative decline of US capitalism within the global economy going back to the Vietnam era.

    In Latin America this has issued in peoples movements and struggles which have placed populist governments in power which challenge the logic of the global capitalism. In other parts of the world, as in India and China it is powering the rise of new bourgoisie’s and chauvinisms which are strengthening and not weakening the hold of global capital.

    Not to be able to tell the difference is politically warped.

  30. johng on said:

    “Well they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, aren’t they.

    One of the biggest economic and social disadvantages of Uyghar people has been there lack of access to the better paid jobs that require mandarin – which is the key language of trade, in the same way that English now is everywhere in Europe. So if you teach kids in a Turkic langauage you build in a discriminator factor; if you teach hem in mandarin, you improverish their language”

    Is this the same Andy who claims to be sensitive to the national question in modern Britain? Almost beyond belief. ‘Damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ awwwwwww did-ums. poor old chinese state being oppressed by these unreasonable minorities they are only trying to help. what a shame.

    This is naked bigoty and national chauvinism Andy, which pumps bullets into people on the street. If it wasn’t for the fact that you have some strange fantasy about china being connected in some way to progressive politics (an obscene joke) you would be the first to go beserk if you read something like this. Why not go tell it to those horrible French people in Quebec? Or those whining ungrateful Welsh? What about the reactionary Basque people always causing trouble.

    Put a bit of stick about. Its the only language these people understand. To top it all they are a bunch of Muslims!! Terrorists!!

    What we need is discipline.

  31. Andy: China has a mixed economy with substantial state direction and control, and a socialist government.

    I think minimalism has its use in music (Philip Glass) and literature (Raymond Carver) but it is of limited use in political and economic analysis.

  32. John

    #38

    What i am addressing is indeed a real life practical issue in all areas where a minority language is competeing with a global international language. My nephew and niece were educated solely in Welsh, one up to the age of 11, and the other up to the age of 18.

    it has advantages and disadvantages, even in a developed country like the UK.

    If i remember, there were riots in the black townships in South Africa in the 1980s of students demanding the right to be taught in English.

    this is not a question of national oppression, it is a question of the dominance of a a standard language of technology and trade. In most of the world that language is English, in China it is mandarin.

    If you live in Germany, or Hungary, or Russia today, then if you speak fleunt English your job prospects are vastly improved. I work for an international engineering company, and all our meetings are in English (international English, rather than US or British english, if you know what I mean), even when everyone in the room speaks, for example, German.

    I worked at Norwegian office once where they were all expected to speak English at work all day, even if there were only Norwegians in the building.

    that is not to belittle the cultural value of Uyghar, or Welsh, or Catalan, but if you want to get a complex multi million dollar engineering system to actualy work, then you all need to share a common language. Because in engineering we are actually trying to make something happen in the real world, and there will be a harsh test of whether it works or not, then it matters whether there is effective communictaion.

    i appreciate that as an academic you use language to hinder rather than promote mutual understanding, and that no-one cares what you say anyway, but in real jobs, where we are actually trying to make things, communication matters. (joke)

  33. #39

    Michael

    what is a bizarre interjection.

    if you extract the perjorative connotations of “exploited”, and rephrase the question of whether or not there is a surplus created, then of course there is. That surplus is then deployed to grow the economy. If you have a population of 1.3 billion, half of whom still have a living stanadard not far off Bangladesh’s then you mighht think that economic growth to try to improve the lot of the entire nation is a good thing.

    Do you assume that just becasue a socialist government comes to power in an incredibly poor and underdeveloped country that society jumps immediately into a paradise where healthly young men and women dance with flowers in their hair in perpetual sunshine? Or perhaps there is still a need for hard work, difficult social problems to be overcome.

    And in a society where production increased, but still not enough for everyone to get a good standard of living, there will be inequality, even with a socialist government.

    And f that government realisies that it has social and economic stagnation, and it desperately needs access to new technlogy and capital investment, then perhaps it may even deliberatly tolerate growing inequality, in order to overcome the impasse.

    These are things that real world socialist governments have to consider.

  34. 中国国内有一种很受压抑的思潮是,在少数民族面前,汉族人是不平等的。
    从各个方面都可以这么说,稳定已经成了一切。
    国内的民族政策似乎真的错了,绥靖并不能摆平一切!

  35. You know what I hate about poor people? It’s when they object to their rulers who “even deliberatly tolerate growing inequality”. Why can’t poor people do deferred gratification? All the evidence points to the fact that China will create socialism after it’s done ‘growing inequality’, so all you poor people, just wait, will you?! It’ll get better later.

  36. Andy: Do you assume that just becasue a socialist government comes to power in an incredibly poor and underdeveloped country that society jumps immediately into a paradise where healthly young men and women dance with flowers in their hair in perpetual sunshine?

    Not really, but Cuba which has no industry to speak of and which has to endure an American embargo and is forced to spend much more money on armaments than is necessary is in the highest tier of countries rated by Human Development Indicators while China is mired at the bottom of the poorer group. I think that Andy is trying to be demagogic about flowers in the hair but not doing a very good job.

  37. Andy, how dare u consider what socialist governments might have to do?
    Where will it end – maybe with millions of people lifted out of poverty…

  38. redbedhead on said:

    Interesting discussion. But I am sort of surprised that anyone would defend the policies of a state that doesn’t allow independent unions and is building the economy on the basis of sweatshops and the absolute prioritization of investment/profit over consumption.

    Also – the criteria for the support of national liberation movements seems rather mechanical. After all, bourgeois democratic revolutions can be carried out by others than the indigenous bourgeois where the majority of said bourgeois are tied to colonialism or feudalism. I think we’re seeing this process take place in Nepal. We’ve seen it in Africa, et al. And if there is “terrorism” and people on the street united in some fashion around national-democratic demands, that seems to me to constitute the basis for a national liberation movement.
    Here in North America if we followed the formula that Andy has put forward the left would have no way to approach the question of indigenous peoples. There is no single “First Nation” – there are many, many tribes, clans, linguistic groups, and so forth. Many indigenous groupings were nomadic (for instance the Inuit), while others had more developed class and political structures, like the Mohawks of the Haida. But we never said, well, the Inuit lack an indigenous bourgeoisie so no support for their national aspirations, whereas the Mohawks deserve one. That would just be bizarre and wouldn’t fly, particularly as sentiment and organizations of a pan-indigenous character developed. What’s more the forced introduction of modernity also generated nationalist forms of resistance amongst “pre-modern” culture. It’s called combined and uneven development.
    Quebec and language is a whole other question…

    But this brings me back to China: China may have combined and uneven development throughout the country (as does every country – Canada’s east coast is also undeveloped, leading to regional migration). There will always be unevenness. But China clearly operates on a capitalist basis, exploiting alienated labour through the forced extraction of surplus for the purposes of accumulation. The period of progressive Chinese nationalism – when it stood in opposition to warlordism and colonialism, has past. Chinese nationalism is now an obstacle to workers struggles in China and to the unity of the different nationalities under the umbrella of the Chinese state.
    I would ask Andy – when should the workers of China struggle for the overthrow of their government? (if ever) When will China have developed sufficiently that it would be appropriate to wage a fight to alter the balance of surplus allocation to consumption? When do Chinese workers deserve independent unions? I’m not asking these questions sarcastically either – I’m truly interested because I haven’t come across this kind of defense of the Chinese state before.

  39. Fred on said:

    “The recent violence seems to have been preceded by rapes and murders, and ethnic tensions in Guangdong.”

    Very evasive Andy, let’s make it a bit clearer: The recent violence seems to have been preceded by false rumours of rapes circulated by a disgruntled Han Chinese worker, which led to the murder of innocent Uyghur workers, an event which the Xinjiang authorities remained silent on for over a week.

    “Both the Chinese and US governments accuse Uyghur separatists of links with Al Qaeda.”

    Yes, and that’s why all the Uyghurs held in Guantanamo Bay have been released without charge.

    Andy, have you signed up with the “Angry Youth”? I’m sure anti-CNN.com would welcome your guest contributions.

  40. Jock McTrousers on said:

    Very sensible piece Andy, but I think it may be hard to justify the leap of faith needed to describe China as ‘socialist’ in any sense. However, your detractors could have engaged with that rather than resort to name-calling which is all their input amounts to. Proyect manages to say nothing at great length as usual. Thanks for the book tip.

  41. chjh on said:

    According to the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8143554.stm , the Urumqi authorities have today demonstrated the truth of Andy’s assertion that Islam is not in any way persecuted or repressed in modern China by banning Friday prayers in the mosques.

    All the more astonishing when you consider that there was no discernable Islamist content to the Uighur protests, and that other Moslems who sided with the Han Chinese are discriminated against by such a move.

  42. chjh

    The extraordinary measures being currenty undertaken need to be understood in the context not of China’s general attitude too freedom of religion, but the recent violence.

    You seem to be mixing up cause and effect. The current violence is not caused by repression of Islam, rather the government has placed restrictions on freedom of mosques as a consequence of the recent violence.

    I am i no position to judge, and nor are you, to what degree such measures are sensible – whether a temoorary restriction will lessen tensions or exacerabte them.

  43. apollo on said:

    To be honest, Andy, you sound more and more like a Zionist apologist with every comment you make. Substitute China for Israel and all the same rhetorical devices are there.

  44. The classification of China is simple. It is a very rapidly growing capitalist economy on the cusp of being transformed into an imperialist power in its own right.
    Jenny Clegg is a Maoist. Don’t expect anything she writes to be in any way critical of China whatsoever.
    China’s capitalist development has been probably the most rapid of any capitalist nation in history over the last two decades and it has accelerated particularly rapidly in the underdeveloped North and West over the last 12 months, China’s reflationary lending is disproportionately oriented their, this capitalist development has created new nations including the Uyghur nation.
    We shouldn’t be surprised by that, capitalist development has always created nations. These nations don’t cease to be nations because their national myths are a load of cobblers. Every nations national myth is a load of cobblers.
    The Chinese bureaucracy has encouraged the Han Chinese to move into the West and North of the country, that’s why nearly half of the population of the region are now Han.
    The Chinese dictatorship will not allow any opposition to its rule. That’s one of the key lessons its learnt after Tiannanmen, it would fully restore capitalism in the economy, but combine it with a thorough going dictatorship and repression of dissent.
    So who should socialists support – a national minority opposing a bureaucratic tyranny – or the bureaucratic tyranny against the national minority?
    Andy Newman supports the bureaucratic tyranny.
    What more do you need to say?

  45. “China ordered mosques not to open for Friday prayers in the western city of Urumqi, which has been hit by several days of ethnic violence.

    Public notices were put on gates of mosques across the city, although at least one mosque did open for prayers at the request of worshippers.

    Thousands of troops remain in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, to try to maintain order”

    the fact Andy names his thread the battle against terrorism says it all— the donald rumsfield of the east!! Where is Ger Francis who claims any criticism of Salma is islmaphobic when u need him !!! Andy this apology for state terror and oppression will live long in the memory… the march to stalinism is complete. I am sure GG will reward u.

  46. prianikoff on said:

    Evidence for an Uyghur “terrorist movement” is very tenuous.
    Quite possibly an attempt by the Chinese government to piggy-back on the War against Terrorism.
    So the headline of this article is misleading
    What happened in Xinjiang is most likely a result of growing tensions created by social inequality, unemployment and a feeling of national opression.
    The fact that it took the form of a riot against Han Chinese in which civilians were killed is a sign of the lack of a political leadership amongst the Uyghurs.
    It has inflamed ethnic tensions in the region. But the local CP leadership seems to be taking sides in an ethnic conflict and inflaming them even further.
    The troops appear to be tolerating armed Han Chinese roaming the streets of Urumchi, while arresting thousands of Uyghurs.
    It would be interesting to find out what the ethnic composition of the local police force and troops operating in Urumchi is.

    Socialists shouldn’t be giving any support to the The “World Uyghur Congress”, led by Rebiya Kadeer.
    The Chinese government have blamed this organisation for fomenting the riots, but Rebiya Kadeer has denied any involvement .
    This is trying to assume the mantle of leadership in a similar vein to the Dalai Lama’s supporters in Tibet.
    She met with Bush while he was still in office and their Third General Assembly was recently convened in Washington D.C.(May 21-25, 2009)
    They have a “non-violent”, “human rights” approach towards forming an independent East Turkestan republic.
    In other words, they are pro-capitalist nationalists.

    This in itself, isn’t an argument against self-determination, but an argument against self-determination in the abstract.
    The Stalinist USSR had a record of opportunistic alliances with all manner of reactionaries in the region, based on its diplomatic interests there.
    This was a product of its failure to disengage from the Kuomintang and abandonment of the Leninist position on the National Question.
    I covered this period here:- http://www.davidosler.com/2009/07/xinjiang_tibet_the_case_for_se.html#comments

    But it’s also quite possible to form alliances between socialists and progressive nationalists to fight both domestic and international reaction.
    A good historical precedent being the alliance between the Bolsheviks and Faizullah Khojaev, leader of the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic.
    Check out his subsequent fate during the Moscow trials!

  47. redbedhead.

    With regard to the national question, i am not being mechanical and saying that there is a check list of conditions to meet before comething is a progressive national movement. On the contrary, I am seeking to counter the mechanical assumption that every national movement is progressive. In my view we need to judge each case individually, and look at the historical context.

    Socialists did not for example support the national movement of the Confederate States of America to secede from the USA.

    First nations in north American are not in the same position as the Uyghar in Xinjiang, although you are correct that there are some parallels to be drawn. You are also preceptive to point out that because political nationalism is the dominant paradigm, then this is adopted as an off the shelf model, accelerating the tendency towards nation formation.

    the grievences of Uyghar people are real, and need to be addressed. But i don’t think that any government should allow a race riot as a form of protest – and last weekends protests seem to have been a pogrom where individual Han and Hui people were murdered in the streets due to their ethnicity.

    But there is a real world dilema here that the ethnic tensions, like in tibet, have been exacerbated by the “Go West” strategy that has given economic advantages to Han, which are not open to Uyghar, due mainly to language and skill levels. Yet the impulse behing “Go West” is to increase the wealth of the Western regions, that will beneit everyne in the long run. A solution need to be found to this – through measures like affirmative action, and preference for local labour whre possible.

    Xinjiang could not have meaningful independence, becasue cutting it off from China would mean it no longer benefitted from capital investment from Beiing, and instead would leave it as a weak client state of the Western oil companies. the only beneficiaries would be those few Uyghar who would be the clients of US imperialism.

    With regard to China, I think you underestimate the scale of the unevenness, there are 800 million people in poverty in the countryside. It has never been possible to proritise equality in distribution and consumption, because China has never been wealthy enough to do that. China has to prioritise economic growth, and therefore has to make profitablity one of its priorities, although there is a greater emphasise towards restoring social justice under Hu than there was under the Deng era.

    It simply is necessary to prioritise the generation of a surplus, and use it for economic growth.

    With reagard to your question “when should the workers of China struggle for the overthrow of their government? ”

    First you have the problem that anyone one suggesting a socialist overtrow of the government, after the experience of the Cultural revolution, would be regarded with extreme suspicion. This was shown by the reaction to a play a few years ago in the theatres about the life of Che guevara, that provoked a lot of debate.

    But secondly, what would be the social programme of those seeking to overthrow the government? What would you do differently? I can assure you that almost any alternative policies that you came up with already have advocates within the Chinese CP. And even if there was direct working class democracy through factry councils, etc, this would exclude the vast majority of the population, and be experienced as the rule by an urban minority over the rural majority. But i submit that the need for technology and investment means that any left government in China would need to continue to pursue a collaboration with private capital.

    Your information about trade unions, etc is also a bit misleading. The official trade unions are evolving to have a role much more familiar to us as trade unionists in the West.

  48. #55

    “Imagine would you say if friday prayers were banned in Palestine ”

    If Israel closed mosques in Palestine, the obvious issue would be that this was being done by an army of occupation and the solution would be to end the occupation. palestine clearly has its own national economy, and the social infrastructure for independence.

    the analogy doesn’t work.

  49. #55

    “Andy, you sound more and more like a Zionist apologist with every comment you make. Substitute China for Israel and all the same rhetorical devices are there.”

    Well compare and contrast. the peoples republic is a multi-ethnic state that has specific constitional privilages for national miniorities.

    Isreal is a Jewish state, despite the fact that 20% of its population is non-Jewish, and the non-Jewish population is legaly discriminated against.

    Israel has been involved in a 40 year occupation of palestinian territory, including the anexation of East Jerusalem, and the settlements in the West bank are formally segragated from the Palestinians with different road system, public infrastructure, etc, etc.

    In contrast no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil; and the disadvanatge of Uyghar and Tibetans is the unintended consequence of seeking to develop their regions.

  50. imatrot on said:

    Apparently whilst the oppressed English nation needs to reassert their national identity and claim soverenignity through a national parliament those capitalist imperialist roaders the Uyghars should sacrifise themselves on the alter of Chinese chauvinism.

    Something appears wrong with this set of politics!!!

  51. #65

    the English are not oppressed.

    Nor have I said that the Uyghars should just put up with their lot. they are right to protest about the factors that disadvanatge them, and the PAP response last weekend was probably heavy handed and exacerbated the problem.

    But, you do need to understand to context. The best outcome for the Uyghars would be sympathetic reform of the “Go West” policy to allow the economic benefits to be more clearly enjoyed by the Uyghar and Kazakh peoples of Xinjiang.

  52. “In contrast no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil; and the disadvanatge of Uyghar and Tibetans is the unintended consequence of seeking to develop their regions.”
    Andy

    really now Andy proclaims to know the psychology of the Chinese leaders.. according to Andy they are trying to help but its just gone a bit wrong!!! what a load of bull. What is laughable about all this is that the chinese ruling class are clear in their support for capitalism, attacks on workers, deniel of workers rights etc etc etc only Andy and Respect seem to think the chinese ruling class are on our side!!

  53. “In contrast no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil; and the disadvanatge of Uyghar and Tibetans is the unintended consequence of seeking to develop their regions.”

    So that’s ok then.

  54. John Wight on said:

    David T – you’ve certainly perfected the ability to conceal the fruits of a fancy private education.

    Perhaps it’s the company you keep. Feel free to contact me privately for a reading list in order to get you up to speed.

    We’ll get you started with Rupert the Bear and take it from there.

  55. #63 In contrast no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil

    Not true – Korea in the 1950s, and Vietnam in 1979. You coukld make a case for China being invited in to Korea by Kim Il-Sung, but I’ve never heard a defense of China’s invasion of Vietnam.

    There’s also a part of Kashmir – the Aksai Chin – currently annexed to China, which is still claimed by India (though ceded by Pakistan).

  56. gang of one on said:

    69 “really now Andy proclaims to know the psychology of the Chinese leaders.. according to Andy they are trying to help but its just gone a bit wrong!!! what a load of bull.”

    That’s because they is evil, ll. Bwa-ha-ha!

  57. david

    It is simply a fact that Chinese history, and its current level of development means that the Chinese state are absolutley not going to allow any secession -,look at their irrational obsession with Taiwan. That is the political context that national minorities need to operate within.

    However, it is also clear, look at the examples of Macau and Hong Kong, that Beijing has a very flexible view about sovereignty, so compromise solutions could be found to the national question in Tibet and Xinjiang that would make everyone happy.

    Calling for independence, and conducting a futile terrorist campaign toeards that aim create obstacles for a negotiated, improved settlememt.

  58. Good correction chjh

    “no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil as a conqueror

    If we were being picky we coudl also point to the 1000 Peoples aremed police on Un duty currently in haiti.

    But my point is that China simply doesn’t have an expansionist agenda.

  59. “Calling for independence, and conducting a futile terrorist campaign toeards that aim create obstacles for a negotiated, improved settlememt.” try telling that to palestinians

  60. #77

    nt9n

    you are showing yourself to have very little mental flexibility, and perhaps you have an intellectual disadvantage.

    The terrorst campaign against Israel is I beleive largely futile, and its disadvantage is that it becomes a substitute for seeking a solution. But the violence is the response to an army of occupation, road blocks, illegal settlements, daily harassment of the palestinian population in the West bank and East Jerusalem.

    But Israel is in military occupation of someone else’s country, and has annexed half of a major Arab city. the only peaceful settlement would be one that involved independence for palestine, unless Israel wants to engage in perpetual warfare.

    There is no analogy with the situation in Xinjiang. Which is not under military occupation, and is an autonomus region within the Peoples republic;

    The beleif by some Zionists that an independent palestinian state would be a springboard for a war against Israel is irrational based upon the balance of forces and the concrete political situatioon.

    The belief by Beijing that an independenct Xinjiang would be a client state of the USA used as a springboad to further destabilise the republic is rational, and consistent with the actual balance of forces, and concrete historical situation.

  61. David T on said:

    “But the violence is the response to an army of occupation, road blocks, illegal settlements, daily harassment of the palestinian population in the West bank and East Jerusalem.”

    You need to read what these movements themselves say.

    The argument is, rather, that Palestine must be “cleansed” of the “filth of the Jews”, because they are Jews, and because Israel is declared to be “Islamic land”.

  62. David T on said:

    I think Jews are clannish and self-serving. Chinese, by contrast, are inscrutable and wily.

    Both play violin well, but the Chinese are better at ping pong.

  63. nt9n

    You know I am not saying that.

    But it takes a special talent to make discussion of every issue revolve around accusations of anti-Semitism.

  64. John Wight on said:

    David T #79 – But of course, what you fail to mention is the context in which such regressive pronouncements have been made. The Palestinians are in no position to do anything apart from eke out a bare eixistence and hang onto the meagre vestige of national identity they have left after 60 years of ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid.

    The paradox between the words of Hamas in their Charter, undoubtedly regressive and undoubtedly borne of desperation, and the concrete actions of the State of Israel in actually ‘cleansing’ the land of filthy Arabs is the difference between the powerlessness of an oppressed people and the brutality of their oppressor.

  65. David T on said:

    John

    What was the context within which a Han Chinese family was stoned and decapitated?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6677379.ece

    Or, to put it another way, are you an Islamophobe? Because I can tell you, both the IHRC and FOSIS are gearing up to run a “Defend Islam” campaign over the Uighurs, and that’s most certainly what they’ll call you (and Andy) if you run your “Defend Chinese Socialism” line with them.

  66. #79

    David

    If you exagerate and assume that the most extreme views of your opponents are representtative then there will never be compromise or peace. Would you want the palestinians to operate on the principle that all Israelis think like Baruch Goldstein??

  67. David T on said:

    I am not talking about “all Palestinians”. I’m talking about what you and John Wight would call “the legitimately elected government of Palestine”: i.e. Hamas. They make their position very clear, as you know, in the Hamas Covenant – a document which was explicitly endorsed at the time of the last elections, and whose rhetoric Hamas leaders repeat in their public statements.

    What is now clear, however, is that John Wight is not motivated by a desire to protect regional minorities from assault, or even to protect Muslims. Neither is he motivated by antisemitism, although his politics has clearly brought him into touch with antisemitic writing, as we know from his rhetoric and the sources he links to.

    Rather, as his abandonment of the Uighurs shows, the only issue which really matters to him is opposing the actions of democratic, western and liberal states and lining up against nominally socialist and repressive ones.

    It is an odd sort of politics to have.

  68. John Wight on said:

    David – I’m not sufficiently informed or knowledgeable on China’s internal affairs to offer an opinion one way or the other. I’m not sure if I would reference the Times as a credible source of news on the issue, however. After all, look at what’s been uncovered in the past day or so with regard to the activities of another of Mr Murdoch’s titles.

    Is the issue religion or is it, as Andy states, ethnic tension in the region as a consequence of uneven and combined development within China? Religious persecution and/or sectarianism is always a symptom and not the cause of the tensions which arise in such cases.

    For example, returning to the issue of Israel/Palestine for a moment – do you think that the emergence of Hamas is a symptom of Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians, or the cause? I say it’s a symptom.

  69. Deckchair Socialist on said:

    Andy: ‘China has….a socialist government.’

    Lewis Carroll:

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

  70. David T on said:

    No, I think that people have agency, and aren’t simply brainless woodlice, which respond to light and moisture and other simple stimuli.

    I think that Hamas is a bona fide religious fascist organisation with an openly genocidal political programme. You support them, and have segued into antisemitism on more than one occasion, because you have a deep seated hatred of Western liberal democracy, and a love for repressive and totalitarian regimes, as long as they include the word “socialist” in their titles.

    “After all, look at what’s been uncovered in the past day or so with regard to the activities of another of Mr Murdoch’s titles.”

    You numpty. Murdoch is notoriously pro-PRC.

  71. David T on said:

    “No, I think that people have agency, and aren’t simply brainless woodlice, which respond to light and moisture and other simple stimuli.”

    Sorry- I should expand that.

    The point I am making is that people can choose whether or not to support a genocidal religious fascist politics. In most conflict situations, the majority of people reject this sort of politics.

  72. John Wight on said:

    DavidT – I certainly support the right of the Palestinian people, any people for that matter, to resist invasion, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. The difference between us is that I am consistent in supporting that right for all people, while you are selective, in line with your adherence to the kind of exceptionalism which has lain at the root of every genocide in human history.

    Interesting, too, that you would use the analogy of ‘woodlice’ to describe the Palestinian people. And you accuse me of racism? What a strange kind of world it is you live in.

  73. David T on said:

    My point is that you think Palestinians are woodlice. If a fascist political movement declares its intention to cleanse Israel from the “filth of the Jews”, your response is to urge us to consider the “context”.

    You think that Hamas members – and indeed all Palestinians – have no moral sense, and therefore cannot be blamed for their actions.

    Like woodlice.

  74. David Ellis on said:

    The Chinese notion that a `multi-polar’ world is desirable is both idealist and conservative and the idea that China will be one of those poles is frankly delusional.

    History and theory shows that multi-polarity will inevitably end in generalised conflagration between the major powers but before it gets to that almost certainly the last thing that will unite the major imperialist powers from Europe to America to Japan to Russia is the scramble for China and its dismemberment.

    Three things threaten China as a workers’ state: imperialism, internal bourgeois opposition, strangulation at the hands of an increasingly parasitic and all-consuming bureaucracy. The Soviet Union fell to the latter. After the bureaucracy had alienated every single minority and brought the economy to a stand it split and the triumphant wing dismembered the state and shared out the property amongs a handful of oligarchs who they now serve. The Chinese bureaucracy’s talk of multi-polarity shows that they are content to settle into the imperialist system. But they will not be allowed not as a workers state and not as a capitalist state either. The bureaucracy are, at the moment, the biggest danger to the continued existence of China as a workers’ state although of course rebellions always bring with them the danger of external intervention that must not be used as an excuse to crush rebellions.

    It would not be the first time in history that an uprising amongs an oppressed nationality has given rise to a more generalised revolt. It is to be hoped that this turns out to be the case in China. But our tasks as socialists is go give that uprising the character of a political revolution led by the working class to clean out the bureaucrats, establish workers’ democracy and place China at the heart of a regional and indeed global struggle for socialism. It would have to reject the conservative, anti-socialist `struggle’ of the bureaucrats to be part of capitalist multi-polarity. Socialist must also counterpose their programme for political revolution to the programme for democratic counter-revolution that will almost certainly be advanced in China by imperialism and its agents within.

    In Xianjing we should support autonomy and even independence on the basis of the property relations established after the War whilst opposing restorationists who would turn the region into an imperialist base from which to launch an assault on China.

    It is to be hoped that the rebellion in Xinjiang becomes generalised and that socialist are able to put forward a programme for the working class to clear out the bureaucrats, establish minority rights for the different nationalities up to an including independence, and secures China for the world revolution.

  75. John Wight on said:

    David – I recommend that you read Trotsky’s ‘Their Morals and Ours’ to get an idea into the intellectual bankruptcy of the Kantian categorical imperative which you espouse.

    In simple terms a person thinks differently living in a mud hut than in a castle.

    ‘Where the material necessities of life are absent, moral necessity is also absent.’

    Ludwig Feurerbach

  76. David T on said:

    Might it not be said that China is state capitalist rather than a degenerate workers’ state?

  77. David T on said:

    “‘Where the material necessities of life are absent, moral necessity is also absent.’”

    Woodlice?

  78. David Ellis on said:

    #100 `Might it not be said that China is state capitalist rather than a degenerate workers’ state?’

    No. Unless of course you were planning to advance a programme for a bourgeois democratic counter-revolution which overthrew the property relations.

  79. John Wight on said:

    DavidT #101 – Sadly, I see that despite attempting to give you the benefit of the doubt and credit you with at least a modicum of intellectual capacity, you’ve proved me wrong.

    To you the Palestinian people are nothing more than woodlice.

    Most revealing, David.

  80. David T on said:

    No, you dolt.

    You cannot explain why some independence movements are characterised by a pacific call for compromise, reconciliation, and equal rights for all: while others are characterised by open calls for genocide.

    Your best explanation is:

    ‘Where the material necessities of life are absent, moral necessity is also absent.’

    Which amounts to saying that Palestinian Hamas members cannot help themselves, and – like woodlice – merely follow stimulii.

  81. David T on said:

    Oh hang on… this is a trot arguing trick, isn’t it? The one where you deliberately misunderstand your opponents argument, and then merely repeat the same statement from your own argument again, like a skipping record.

    Dur – had me going for a minute!!!

  82. John Wight on said:

    No, David, what you’re doing is projecting liberal cover for the crimes of genocidal violence and oppression committed by Israel by indulging in a classic case of blame the victim.

    Hamas, as I said earlier, are a symptom and not the cause of the oppression of the Palestinian people. Moreover, they are not indstinct from the Palestinians as you attempt to make out – they are the Palestinians, given the legitimacy and support they enjoy.

    The gulf between words and acts is the difference between power and powerlessness. To put it another way, could anyone blame a Jewish person for holding racist views towards German people after what they suffered – even before the Holocaust took place? I don’t think so.

    While I accept that what happened to the Jews of Europe was of such magnitude that it has instilled the fear that it could happen again if they fail to meet any threat with extreme force, surely you can accept that by continuing to deprive a people of their land, resources, human rights, and liberty, the only future for Israel is perpetual war.

  83. David T on said:

    What about the Uighurs then?

    When Han Chinese families get stoned and decapitated, is that also an example of the dictum:

    “‘Where the material necessities of life are absent, moral necessity is also absent.’”

    Or is it different in China, because that is a socialist country, which is quite right to oppose Islamist terrorism?

  84. chjh on said:

    Going back to the topic, I’d like to challege Andy’s assertion about ‘Sinophobia’ at the start of his article. I’ve been writing and speaking about China for some time now, and I’ve never come across what he describes on the far left.

    The only time I’ve ever come across that sort of attitude on the left has been from Communist Party members, back in the days when the Sino-Soviet split meant that people who think like Andy or John Wight were among the fiercest critics of China and the CCP.

  85. johng on said:

    “What was the context within which a Han Chinese family was stoned and decapitated?”

    I would imagine the same context in which similar things were done to Han Chinese by Tibetans during the uprisings there. The Chinese State and the pattern of capitalist development in China has led to ethnic conflict around resources. This conflict then finds expression in national, sectarian and sometimes religious forms (sometimes all three). And this often leads to violence. We see the same thing all round the world. There is nothing uniquely Chinese or indeed Islamic about any of it.

    The Israel/Palestine conflict has been marked by the patterns of asymmetrical warfare since its inception. I don’t think this has anything to do with the nature of Political Islam. Political Islam gained influence in the occupied territories because the conflict was not resolved by attempts at demiliterising the conflict. Nothing to do with ‘woodlice’.

  86. John Wight on said:

    #109 – Trying to understand a situation and defending its symptoms are two different things. Speaking for myself, I’m neither in a position to defend nor condemn, as I don’t feel suitably informed to do either.

    Andy’s made it clear that he has critcisms of the Chinese government’s handling of the situation and their role in precipitating it with their ‘Go West’ policy. What he hasn’t done it replace an argument driven by logic and concrete analysis for one driven by emotion and an a priori aversion to the PRC.

  87. David T on said:

    So hang on

    Should we be boycotting and divesting from all things Chinese or not?

    Should we be holding demonstrations near any Chinese cultural event, in which we compare Tibet and Xinjiang to “The Rape of Nanking”?

    I thought you were supporting Andy – but now you seem to be against him!

  88. chjh on said:

    You could picket the Israeli embassy in protest against Israel selling riot control weapons and materials to China – just a thought.

  89. I had never encountered this blog before, but after coming here via Harry’s Place it has given me much amusement. Andy Newman is clearly mad, but I do have to ask…Andy…have you actually visited China? I mean, actually physically gone there and talked to real Chinese people?

  90. David T: Rather, as his abandonment of the Uighurs shows, the only issue which really matters to him is opposing the actions of democratic, western and liberal states and lining up against nominally socialist and repressive ones.

    It is an odd sort of politics to have.

    But it is the same politics that is on display at Harry’s Place. It is a form of the “ends justifies the means”. If (Israel, China) is a progressive state, then a lawless and anti-democratic movement (Hamas, Uighurs) have to be smashed. At least with Andy Newman, it is something like a pimple on his ass. With Harry’s Place, it is syphilis across the entire body.

  91. David T on said:

    No, we are in favour of those who espouse liberal democracy – which includes some elements within Fatah, and independents like Nusseibh – and are supportive of a Palestinian state because we are generally sympathetic to regional calls for genuine autonomy and self government.

    My hope, for all regions, is that strong independent nations come together to create regional federations, voluntarily pooling their sovereignty to the extent that they choose, lowering barriers to trade and the free movement of persons, and raising a common standard of social and civil rights. This is, more or less, what we have achieved within the European Union.

    This is what I would propose for the Middle East, including Israel and Palestine. It would be far better than either the clerical fascism of Hamas, or any sort of Communism: both systems of government guaranteed to bring misery to their populations.

  92. redbedhead on said:

    David T – you forgot to add that this is why you oppose the free and fair elections of Hamas in a US imposed election and support the strangulation of Gaza for not choosing the democratic party that the West and Israel wanted.

  93. David T on said:

    No, Gaza’s problems are a result of the decision of the party which won the Parliamentary elections staging a coup, sending suicide bombers into restaurants, and then raining missiles on civilians in Israel.

    Compare and contrast with the West Bank where roadblocks are presently being removed.

  94. Nick Fredman on said:

    One thing to muse on when earnestly discussing whether the IDF is more justified than the PLA in firing on demonstrators is that they might be using the same bullets, Israel being the second largest supplier of arms to China and all. Not quite as spectacularly inappropriate on the part of liberal democratic Israel as giving nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa, but a certain irony nonetheless.

    Hopefully though they’re exporting liberal democratic values along with the white phosphorous and nerve gas. Just like the liberal democratic Australian Defense Forces gave lessons to their Indonesian colleagues from the 1960s on civil society along with counter-insurgency and enhanced interrogation. That worked, merely took a few decades and a few million corpses.

    So morally superior to all sorts of communism.

  95. David T on said:

    Andy isn’t particularly worried by settlements:

    “Han migration has increased in Xinjiang, but whereas the Uyghur peoples mainly live south of the mountains of the Tarim basin, the Han migration has been into the previously largely unpopulated region north of the mountains. For example the Karamay region is almost 80% Han”

  96. redbedhead on said:

    Andy – thanks for the earlier answer (hard to find between all the David T frothing on Israel).

    Now, you say that Chinese troops haven’t set foot on other soil as conquerors (Haiti is a bit dodgy, of course, but we’ll leave it because it’s a multinational operation to repress the local population). However, that in itself isn’t what has to characterize an imperialist country – somebody mentioned Japan and Germany, for instance. And we live in a (largely) post-colonial set-up where imperialism operates through other mechanisms – debt, trade deals, fiddling local leadership selections (by backing military or political factions, purchasing access, interfering in electoral processes, etc.) A number of people have written about the new scramble for Africa, a continent rich in resources. China has been hip deep in this process, providing weapons to Zimbabwe for instance, which help prop up the Mugabe regime. Providing “aid” to many other countries. It seems to me that this represents an agenda of imperialist expansion – even if it is, as yet tentative given China’s newly emergent status and the pre-existing, historical arrangements with the previous colonial powers.

    As for China’s trade unions, which have been growing rapidly, and which recently organized WalMart, this is an interesting situation and it has caused debates in the US labour movement because Andy Stern, the SEIU president, collaborated with the Chinese labour central. But the brief foray into grassroots organizing was really just that. After they had forced WalMart to recognize the union, all the local and grassroots leadership were replaced by WalMart managers. The final worker-leader of the Walmart union resigned earlier this year from his position as a branch chair because the charade was too much to bear any longer. (there’s the secondary issue of US labour leaders like Stern and Hoffa leveraging their cooperation into Chinese business contacts). I’m not sure you could call the Chinese labor union an independent union in any sense.

    Lastly – you note the problem of calling for revolution in China because of the Cultural Revolution. Well, people here in the west are not exactly jumping on the revolution train. I don’t think it’s a problem specific to China but there is, at least, the memory of recent upheavals via Tianannmen Square and an (economically) restive working class. And I think it’s wrong to think that there is no room to maneuver economically in China, or that the priorities of the Chinese government are the only priorities possible. Even if growth is a key priority – sweatshops and no welfare state don’t have to be excluded, nor the lack of political freedoms. Nor does China need to ramp up its military spending. Investment could be focused on green development, on social development, etc.

    Anyway, you’ve made it clear that I’ll have to do more research on China (I’ll add it to my lengthy to do list)

  97. David T

    Are you suggesting that if Hamas resigned from the government and the missiles stopped, Israel would stop discriminating against its Arab citizens, would dismantle all settlements on the West Bank, agree the 1967 borders, Jeruselem as the capital, right to return, and Palestine having the same rights as any other sovereign state, i.e. an army, territorial integrity etc?

    You and I both know the answer to that question. Whatever one thinks of Hamas, their tactics are a response to Israeli oppression and not “cos they hate Jews”. You are not a stupid man, David, but you do a great impersonation.

  98. redbedhead on said:

    David T – “No, Gaza’s problems are a result of the decision of the party which won the Parliamentary elections staging a coup, sending suicide bombers into restaurants, and then raining missiles on civilians in Israel.
    Compare and contrast with the West Bank where roadblocks are presently being removed.”

    Huh? You must be the only person on the planet who thinks that Hamas initiated the conflict that ended up with them ousting Fatah in Gaza. Most of my info on that process came from the New York Times and The Globe and Mail – the US and Israel were arming and training Fatah paramilitaries and fomenting a civil war centred in Gaza. After months of back and forth Hamas moved against Fatah. This was seen as a clear policy failure by the Bush regime for thinking that Hamas wouldn’t act decisively and couldn’t defeat Fatah. Fatah’s popular support in Gaza had been utterly hollowed out, which is why it took about 20 minutes to get rid of them. Sheesh, how can I get a more pro-Hamas picture from the pro-Israel media than from a supposed progressive?
    As for missiles – Hamas repeatedly offered ceasefires, engaged in unilateral ceasefires, etc. In fact, prior to the most recent slaughter of Gaza, Hamas had maintained its side of a ceasefire arrangement for an extended period of time, while Israel had steadfastly refused to open Gaza’s borders, thus refusing to keep their side of the bargain.
    Suicide bombings inside Israel were a bad move and Hamas now realizes that it set back the struggle. But suicide bombing developed out of the desperation created by Israel – which increased illegal settlement activity during the period of Oslo, when the PLO was carrying out its role of policing Palestinian resistance. Israel has used every act – whether it is in negotiations, in a “truce”, in a conflict – as a means to expand Israel. All this is a matter of public record both within Israel and the rest of the world.

  99. David T on said:

    Hamas offered ceasefires at the point that they were getting hammered. Well, they would, wouldn’t they.

    Tell me about the desperation of the Zimbawean people, and their suicide bombings? Go on.

    “Are you suggesting that if Hamas resigned from the government and the missiles stopped, Israel would stop discriminating against its Arab citizens, would dismantle all settlements on the West Bank, agree the 1967 borders, Jeruselem as the capital, right to return, and Palestine having the same rights as any other sovereign state, i.e. an army, territorial integrity etc?”

    There would be an overwhelming movement for peace and reconciliation in Israel. There would be likely to be real progress of the status of Jerusalem. There would be full and unhindered right to return to the new Palestinian state. With Hamas destroyed, there would be no argument against a Palestinian army, either.

  100. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #54 ” . . . the government has placed restrictions on freedom of mosques as a consequence of the recent violence.”

    “Many Uyghurs face religious persecution and discrimination at the hands of the government authorities. Uyghurs who choose to practice their faith can only use a state-approved version of the Koran [5]; men who work in the state sector cannot wear beards and women cannot wear headscarves [6]. The Chinese state controls the management of all mosques, which many Uyghurs claim stifles religious traditions that have formed a crucial part of the Uyghur identity for centuries.[7] Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to attend church or mosque [8].”

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

  101. David T

    The response of some South African black people to their apartheid oppression was to dislike white people and say nasty things about them. Some innocent white people were killed in bombings and so on.

    Did any of the above lead you to support apartheid?

  102. Hmmm, it seems to me that the analyses of most commenters in this thread are far too driven by their assessment of whether China is capitalist or not.

    That is, I don’t buy Andy Newman’s categorization of the PRC, nor do I find some of his apologetics for the CCP’s policies appetizing, but on this issue I think he gets a lot more right than his detractors are willing to admit.

    Newman has honestly copped to the legitimacy of many Uighur grievances, and properly situated some of them in terms of the unequal spoils of the Go West development scheme. (Perhaps Newman could be more circumspect in his praise of this scheme, but that’s another issue entirely.) He also makes relevant points that the historical grounding for an independent Uighur nation is slippery at best — and that in any event, given prevailing geopolitical and geoeconomic realities, such hypothetical independence would not necessarily be in the best interest of today’s Uighur majority.

    As for linguistic and religious discrimination directed against the Uighurs, frankly I’ve seen so many claims and counter-claims on these fronts I don’t whose “facts” to believe. One indisputable fact appears to be the banning of Arabic texts in the schools. Indeed, but overall a little humility in the face of a lot of uncertain “he said, she said” knowledge is called for.

    No doubt there are a lot of unsavory Han chauvinists running amuck in the PRC — and such chauvinism really gets a booster shot when Han Chinese feel that the motivations and actions of the Chinese state are unfairly caricatured and distorted. We really don’t want to feed into such defensive Han chauvinism by making simple-minded pronouncements that PRC policy is principally about Han colonial settlement.

    Why are so few leftists clamoring for what really seems to be required, that is for the CCP’s de jure commitment to cultural autonomy to be practiced in addition to being preached?

  103. David T on said:

    “Some innocent white people were killed in bombings and so on.”

    There was one extremely famous incident in which civilians were killed by the ANC. It is very well known that the leadership was absolutely and utterly horrified by these actions, and ensured that they did not recur. The ANC perpetrators were required to “cleanse” themselves – alongside the apartheid killers – at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    You know this, of course.

    This is that point at which you start to explain how the PAC “one settler one bullet” policy was the sort of liberation politics that you really supported, and how the ANC proved to be the stooges of international capitalism.

  104. #135

    “Why are so few leftists clamoring for what really seems to be required, that is for the CCP’s de jure commitment to cultural autonomy to be practiced in addition to being preached?”

    Very good point, and one I coompletely agree with. I think that there isa really good case for Xinjiang and Tibet being granted the same status as macau and hong kong as the basis for a long term settlement.

  105. Actually the CWI share David Ellis characterisation of China as a “workers state”. Its a funny kind of workers state of course, given that it now rules over a capitalist economy, and indeed that very state oversaw the restoration of capitalism in the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s. And by capitalism I’m talking about an economy based on generalised commodity production in which the law of value operates, i.e. one subordinated to the drive for profit.
    What’s this got to do with the Uyghurs? Well capitalism creates nations, it may or may not be true that an Uyghur nation existed 50 years ago. That basically doesn’t matter. One exists now. Is that nation oppressed by the China’s totalitarian capitalist dictatorship? Without a doubt. There’s a story in today’s Guardian about the Uyghurs fleeing the capital for their lives. That story doesn’t feature so highly on the Chinese state media. Well there’s a surprise.
    Its the ABCs of socialism or indeed just decency to support oppressed peoples against totalitarian capitalist dictatorships. Some people don’t. Actions talk louder than words.

  106. “Andy…have you actually visited China? I mean, actually physically gone there and talked to real Chinese people?”

    Yes, I have worked in Hong Kong and Guangzhiou

  107. #109

    “I’d like to challege Andy’s assertion about ‘Sinophobia’ at the start of his article. I’ve been writing and speaking about China for some time now, and I’ve never come across what he describes on the far left.”

    Well, the dominant Western paradigm of understanding is that China is some sort of beehive society, that is an expansionist threat to the world.

    I see that regularly and unconsciously reflected by leftist writings on china, that don’t look as the concerte reality, but make assumptions instead.

  108. terry smith on said:

    “no Chinese soldier has ever stood on foreign soil as a conqueror ”

    That’s because they lost against Viet Nam. You forget Mongolia, not mentioning northern Myanmar during the Yuan.

    A couple of weeks ago we had the lauding of the Zionists and foreign agents who tried to steal the election in Iran, even criticism of Hizbollah and its defense of the revolution. Now this attack against resistance on Muslim land and praising an ex-socialist clique. The Islamophobia expressed here is disgraceful.

  109. #138

    “Actions talk louder than words.”

    Indeed they do Bill, what actions will you be taking in support of the Uyghar people? or are you all hot air?

  110. #136

    David T: “The ANC perpetrators were required to “cleanse” themselves – alongside the apartheid killers – at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

    But the mature approach to post-colonial coonflict resolution exemplified by the process in South Africa is a million miles from your own demonisation of Hamas, partisan apologetics for Israel, and mythologising the degree to which anti-Semitism motivates the palestinian cause.

  111. Stockwell Pete on said:

    Some interesting stuff in this Human Rights Watch paper from 2001 including this snippet . . .

    “Since 1996 Beijing has received ample assurances from fellow members of the Shanghai Five that organizations representing Uighur opposition groups will not be allowed to operate from Central Asia. The governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, under severe pressure from China, dissolved Uighur political parties, closed newspapers, and arrested militants, particularly after serious riots in Yining . . . ”

    http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/asia/china-bck1017.htm#The%20Independence

    I suppose that China was able to exert this pressure on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan because there are Kyrgyz (?) and Kazakhs (around 1.2 m) living in Xinjiang?

  112. @Stockwell Pete

    Martin Jacques may raise some vexing questions but he certainly isn’t the person to answer them. No doubt he is grasping at some real issues but reductive references to a trans-historical and unalloyed Han Chinese expansionism and assimilationism is thin gruel. Jacques is a pontificating journalist, not an expert. And I doubt it is his intent, but his piece reads like an ideological primer on how the “international community” (that is, the big capitalist powers who take issue with a rising capitalist power) should pressure China for not being a respectable multicultural democracy… and, in the end, that discourse has little to do with the actual rights and conditions of China’s ethnic minorities.

  113. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #146 Ok, I wasn’t championing his view or anything – I don’t know very much about this part of the world, to be honest – but I thought that it was an interesting, if somewhat pessimistic, contribution.

  114. #136 David T

    The weakness of your case is highlighted by your attempt to pretend that you didn’t understand the point I was making. As you have decided to continue impersonating a stupid person, I’ll explain it again, real slow.

    Suppose the PAC had garnered more support than the ANC the slogan “one settler one bullet” had become commonplace.

    Would you therefore have become an apologist for apartheid? It seems to be a question you have difficulty in answering.

    PS: Please desist from your silly little game of “if you don’t agree with me you must be an Islamist / PAC supporter / Nazi/ Devil worshipper etc. My father was an ANC member under apartheid, so I don’t take lectures from Zionist armchair warmongers who speak with forked tongue. Israel, as you know, was South Africa’s closest ally and gave apartheid their full economic and military support.

  115. Deckchair Socialist on said:

    All this twaddle about China being ‘socialist’ or a ‘workers state’ is almost enough to make me rejoin the SWP. Almost. Fortunately I still prefer Lewis Carroll to Chris Harman when it comes to unravelling the mind-set of apologists for repressive regimes which happen to drape themselves in a red flag:

    ‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.

    ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

    Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

    ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

  116. John Meredith on said:

    “But the mature approach to post-colonial coonflict resolution exemplified by the process in South Africa is a million miles from your own demonisation of Hamas”

    Andy, it is not ‘demonising’ Hamas to point out that their politcal programme is radically and explicitly antisemitic. They raeally do call, in their foundational document, for genocide of the Jews. Is it ‘demonising’ the BNP to point out that they forbid non-whites from holding Party membership?

  117. JOhn

    It is “demonising” Hamas to conclude from the stupid and ignorant statement in their constitution that they actually have a genocidal intent towards the Jews, rather than judgng them from their entire social context and history.

  118. John Meredith on said:

    “Suppose the PAC had garnered more support than the ANC the slogan “one settler one bullet” had become commonplace. Would you therefore have become an apologist for apartheid? It seems to be a question you have difficulty in answering.”

    David T can speak for himself, but I am guessing that the reason he hasn’t addressed this question is because it is a stupid one. Why should anyone who opposed the PAC therefore support apartheid? It doesn’t matter how much public support the PAC hypothetically had, no-one need choose between two racist positions.

  119. John Meredith on said:

    “It is “demonising” Hamas to conclude from the stupid and ignorant statement in their constitution that they actually have a genocidal intent towards the Jews”

    I am sorry Andy, but if we can’t judge political movements from their formally stated (and oft repeated) aims, then we are in an absurd position. And let’s not forget that Hamas has killed many Jewish civilians, so it seems that there is a confluence between their actions and their stated aims. Do you likewise ignore the manifesto of the BNP when you judge them politically? I don’t think you do.

  120. Jock McTrousers on said:

    90% of the posts on this thread seem completely uninterested in the topic in hand, coming from either Harry’s shithole or Lenin’s tomb, seeking only to use any cheap trick to discredit Andy because of his support for the Palestinians or his disagreements with the SWP, hence the cries of ‘antisemite’ or ‘Stalinist’. Infantile – the BNP and the zionists will be laughing all the way to the … whatever. And by what stretch of the imagination can David T. be tolerated on a purportedly ‘left’ site – someone who should ideally be hanged for his Goebbels-like services to enabling the genocide in Iraq?

  121. #154

    It all depends upon what you objective is.

    If you beleive that the only “solutions” are either perpetual low-level war for ever, or a zero-sum war to the finich whereby either all the Jews or all the palestinians are killed, then go ahead, your attitude is reasonable.

    But if you beleive that a peaceful and just solution may be found by compromise and negotiation, then you need to explore how some sort of truth and reconciliation process maight adress the underlying material causes of the war, and find sufficient common ground for peace.

    Every palestinian I have ever spoke to, including hamas, is desperate for peace, and is prepared to compromise.

  122. gang of one on said:

    142 “You forget Mongolia,” Terry Smith

    Er, Genghis Khan unified China and he was Mongolian — it came from the other direction.

    It’s laudable that we’re all against slaughter … unless it’s of Han Chinese.

  123. prianikoff on said:

    Trying to draw parallels between Chinese and Israeli policy isn’t particularly helpful. It just leads to mutual pot vs kettle-bashing, but elucidates nothing very much.
    In fact, a consistent supporter of the Israeli government might be arguing something closer Newman’s starting position;
    that the Uyghur nationalists are an Islamist political movement that poses a terrorist threat to the territorial integrity of China.

    There were a few Uyghur Islamists rounded up in Afghanistan and put into Guantanamo. But they are largely irrelevant to the current situation in China.
    The Uyghur nationalists have traditionally been inspired by pan-Turkic ideology, rather than pan-Islamism.
    For instance, they haven’t formed a common organisation with the Chinese Muslim Hui minority, or the Kazakhs.

    Pan-Turkism as a movement has never been friendly towards internationalism or socialism.
    It’s based on the dubious notion that all Turkic-speaking peoples (most of whom were pastoralists), might form a single nation.
    At the most right wing end of the spectrum are the Turkish-fascist “Grey Wolves”.
    There’s even a plausible argument that it was fostered by British Intelligence during the “Great Game” as a weapon against Tsarist Russia.
    , much as pan-Arab nationalism was utilised to break up the Ottoman Empire.
    The left end of the spectrum was represented by the reformist Jadidists, with whom the Bolshevik government formed an alliance against religious traditionalists and feudalists.

    Neither of these are particularly powerful international forces these days.
    So the World Uyghur Congress is seen as a more important way to influence events in China. This certainly seems to have gained a degree of support from the US government and access to the Western media.

    The current consensus amongst Western politicians is to work with the Chinese government, which protects their investments. But there are always those on the right who would like to adopt a more agressive policy towards China.
    Forced supression of local culture and religion in Xinjiang are a gift to them.

    They will have ample material to use against the Chinese government if thousands of Uyghur males remain incarcerated and mass executions take place.
    That’s the dynamic of the current situation, where Han victims of the Uyghur rioters are pressurising the local goverment and state forces for vengeance.
    Socialists should support their democratic demands, while being clearly opposed to any unorganised rioting and victimisation of innocent Han civilians.

    They also need to be arguing for greater attention to be paid to improving living standards and defending jobs amongst the population as a whole.
    That’s the best way to undercut sectarianism and ethnic discord.

  124. #149: “Israel, as you know, was South Africa’s closest ally ” ?????? where does this sort of made-up fact come from.

    Please read some basic history. Sanctions busting, nuclear bomb collaboration, weapons sales, secret police co-operation, political and diplomatic support.

    At a state banquet in 1976 for South African prime minister, John Vorster – a former Nazi sympathiser and a commander of the fascist Ossewabrandwag that sided with Hitler – Israeli premier, Yitzhak Rabin toasted “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence”. Both countries, he said, faced “foreign-inspired instability and recklessness”.

    Nelson Mandela was very forgiving:

    “To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I’ve made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities”

  125. redbedhead on said:

    John Meredith and David T are both part of the zionist hand-waver brigade. “Don’t look at the illegal settlements or the racist laws and expansionist policies of Israel. Don’t look at the the fact that it has been Israel that has broken every single ceasefire. No, scrutinize instead a thoroughly disempowered, disenfranchised and globally despised group of the oppressed. It is their mistakes or excesses that are the real story”
    Never mind that it is the Israeli state itself, and its supporters, that generates and constantly hammers home the message that zionism is judaism is Israel. Then the same individuals and organizations protest when they are mistakenly taken at their word by those who suffer under and desire to resist the fundamental fact of Israeli apartheid.

  126. Incidenty, for those doubting the existence of Sinophobia, look at the open racism above at #33

    “Andy, I think you altogether underestimate the gravity of the situation. It won’t happen yet, but if I was Australian (all those resources) or Russian (all that empty land) I’d be even more worried than I already am. “

    China becoming a world power is a cause of fear and consternation to some.

  127. #158

    Priankoff

    All of that is very sensible, and I agree with you mostly.

    But i wouldn’t accept that all extremist islamist terrorism is necessarily pan-Islamist in a political sense.

    Certainly al Qaeda hate Iran just as much as they do the USA, for example.

  128. Ed W on said:

    Just one point – there is an interesting discussion to be had about this, but Andy, you’re not going to help that discussion in any way by framing the debate as “China’s battle against terrorism” – if you had given your article a more neutral title, there might be less heat and more light on this thread

  129. The point about Australia is of course rubbish

    The big issue there is of course water.

    This is why say North Qld has taken years to develop because of te issues of getting decent water supplies

    No one is gonna invade

  130. richsw on said:

    I suspect trying to convince you that China is an empire defending its borders would be a long and pointless process, so points of detail will have to do:

    i) the original demonstration in Urumqi does appear to have been sparked by events in Guangdong (ie the murders of two Uyghurs, and the injuring of 118 others – workers in a toy factory owned by a billionaire member of China’s ruling class), but its important to note that Guangdong is thousands of miles from Xinjiang, and that the workers were probably recruited with government blessing – certainly, there’s been a government-sanctioned recruitment campaign in the province in the last year or so. It’s unlikely that any rapes or harrassment took place – the story now is that a Han worker spread rumours of these things on a website because he had been turned down for employment at the factory, where the Uyghur recruits were being employed.

    ii) at the time of the CP takeover, Han comprised 6% of the Xinjiang population; now its something like 40%.

    iii) there’s more to official ehnic policy than you say, though what you say is correct, I believe. The policy assumes that Han are indigenous to all areas of China, and that the actually indigenous people have no land rights. For instance, in Xinjiang, Uyghurs are the officially-designated minority, despite being more numerous than the Han population – accepting this is the way a ‘minority’ can draw funding under several heads to its area.

    iv) jobs are designated ethnically – for instance, this June, the construction industry in Xinjiang appears to have had 894 job vacancies, of which 744 (83%) were reserved for Han workers. A similar situation pertains in the teaching sector.

    v) in the context of schools, calling Mandarin a lingua france is a bit rich, I’m afraid. State schools in the regions use Mandarin and often ignore Uyghur culture, so Uyghur parents are driven to send their children to the schools you mention. What you don’t mention is that, to get employment, Mandarin is virtually imperative – of the 436 teaching vacancies in the Asqu district, for instance, (May 2009), 347 were reserved for Han, 89 for Uyghurs, of which 56 had to be Mandarin speakers (and none should have a faith).

    That is, China has always, and continues, to oppress Xinjiang, among other areas. Organisations like the World Uyghur Congress, and the other terrorist ones, are not socialists, and, though I might not agree with what they make of their right to resist, I do agree with their right to do so. Resistance in China is growing, if the reported number of incidents is anything to go by. Good luck to it is what I say.

  131. billj at 138 says: Actually the CWI share David Ellis characterisation of China as a “workers state”

    This is a ridiculous over-simplification and shows a level of intellectual sloppiness when characterizing the positions of other organizations.

    The least bit of investigation would have show Bill that there is an ongoing debate of over ten years on the nature of China within the CWI. This debate has played out publicly in the pages of Socialism Today and in the book “Is China Capitalist?”

    Not a single person that I know of in the CWI simply characterizes China as a “workers state.” Hybrid has been used as shorthand for many in explaining the complicated process taking place in China. Another vocal position in the CWI is that China is fully capitalist. I happen to agree with the former position rather than the latter.

    Do some research before trying to denounce the position of another organization.

  132. @RSW

    Thanks for the informative post. What are your sources? (I don’t have good reason to doubt them, but I’m curious nonetheless).

    What no one here has mentioned yet are the ways in which the CCP’s policies in Xinjiang — especially the infrastructure investment and Han settlement components of those policies — are being driven by the necessity to relieve some of the contradictions of its development model elsewhere. The frontier is being used as a safety valve, in essence. Surely this will only increase if the CCP continues to adjust to the global crisis with Keynesian public works measures and follows through with its crazy program to create a full-blown market in agricultural land use rights.

  133. terry smith on said:

    “Er, Genghis Khan unified China and he was Mongolian — it came from the other direction.”

    Unified as long as you believe that Urumqi is not part of China. And as long as you believe there was no Mongolian history after 1370. Historical, or just racist?

    Defend Beijing’s capitalist clique which has brought about this slaughter by all means. Shame that the mass murder of the Muslims is no longer a concern on this site.

  134. terry smith on said:

    Indeed, let’s get our facts straight. During Genghis Khan’s time not only was Urumqi and Xinjian not part of this “unified China” but nor was Taiwan or anything south of Shanghai. And “defending” the Han Chinese is achieved by…ignoring their existence?

  135. Mick on said:

    Terry Smith:

    “Defend Beijing’s capitalist clique which has brought about this slaughter by all means. Shame that the mass murder of the Muslims is no longer a concern on this site.”

    Murder has never been a concern here, really. Defending untenable ‘orthodox’ ideology is the name of the game. That takes some real moral and logical gymnastics!

  136. What you agree that China is “hybrid”? Hybrid what? I thought that was a type of car. Or maybe a flower. Vincent Kolo gets it right here;

    http://www.socialismtoday.org/114/china.html

    “The process of counter-revolution in China has been complex and sometimes extremely contradictory, but nevertheless the victory of bourgeois counter-revolution, albeit in a peculiar ‘Confucian’ form, is today brutally clear.”

    A capitalist state defends a capitalist economy. A capitalist economy is one which is run for profit. China’s economy is run for profit. Capital circulates. The law of value functions, therefore China is a capitalist economy.
    The CWI majority for some reason prefer ambiguity to the facts. Given that they reject the Vincent Kolo’s correct analysis (which is btw confirmed by all the bourgeois commentators, as well as assorted Marxists, including Robert Brenner, Burkett and Hart Landsberg etc.) then the only other option is that it remains a “workers state” albeit deformed. Check the facts before you start shouting the odds.

  137. chjh on said:

    It’s not just that the frontier (and what does that term say about China’s view of the indigenous inhabitants?) is a safety valve for the village poor. Part of the new economic strategy will also be an increased emphasis on the ‘development’ of mineral resources, which will particularly impact on Tibet and Xinjiang. That’s likely to lead to a further narrowing of the space for any sort of local autonomy, as well as further exclusion of the indigenous populations from the new economic opportunities.

    Andy’s title is accurate in one respect: that’s how China’s rulers centrally, and the local rulers in Xinjiang, see any political movement of the oppressed. Demonstrations, marches, political organisation, armed attacks – all are essentially manifestations of the same thing. Here, at least, there’s a parallel with Israel – just as every Palestinian is treated as an actual or potential terrorist, so is every Uighur.

    But China’s rulers now have a real problem. The most widespread ever protest movement in Tibet last year, the worst explosion in Xinjiang since the early 1960s now – it’s getting more and more difficult to present this as simply the work of dastardly foreigners, without whose machinations the simple natives would be grateful for the benefits of civilisation bestowed upon them. Something is seriously rotten in western China, and it’s difficult to see that the CCP leadership, in other policy areas such consumate pragmatists, have the faintest idea what to do.

  138. johng on said:

    What is driving this bizarre defence of the indefencible? Does anyone truely believe that the massacre of minorities in China liberates the oppressed in Latin America? What kind of politics is this?

  139. redbedhead on said:

    well, people thought the same thing about Russia when it was still called the Soviet Union.

  140. John Meredith on said:

    “Every palestinian I have ever spoke to, including hamas, is desperate for peace, and is prepared to compromise.”

    But not to the extent that removedemands for the buthchering of all Jews be from their Charter? Andy, they are leading you by the nose. You are a patsy for them just as you are a patsy Chinese imperialism.

  141. richsw on said:

    #168: ‘What are your sources? (I don’t have good reason to doubt them, but I’m curious nonetheless).’

    Actually, I have several doubts about sources on China, and I haven’t read hte book Andy mentions. The basic ones, including the ‘offical’ are often contested and/or revised (economic growth rates being a case in point) and The Great Firewall of China means that some useful ones are either very slow at the moment, or just plain inaccessible. The People’s Daily for instance, wasn’t working on the day I visited (Thurs of last week, from memory) – you could get a front page, but a search for ‘Xinjiang’ produced nothing); and the best source of all, China Labour Bulletin, has been blocked for days. So, these were the ones I’ve been using over the last week (in no particular order):

    Uzbekistan Online Forum
    Straits Times (Singapore)
    ‘The changing shape of struggle in China’ by David Whitehouse in US Socialist Worker
    The Hindu (India) – especially an interesting set of articles last year, ie about the time of the Olympics, which contained interviews with Uyghur workers
    Uyghur Blog
    Xinjiang ‘ China’s Muslim Borderland, ed S Frederick Starr – most chapters available on google books
    The Far Eastern Economic Review
    Various business-type info sites, eg Starmass International, Infometrics – useful for stats

    Nothing special, as you see – I’m a historian by training, but not especially a China hand. I’ve been trying to find Han workers’ take on this, but, apart from a few quick interviews at flashpoints, you mainly get the official version – interesting in itself, but not the whole deal. I haven’t searched today (Sat), but I think the breakdown of who was killed/injured in Urumqi has been released – suspiciously late, but something, at least.

  142. #174

    “What is driving this bizarre defence of the indefencible? Does anyone truely believe that the massacre of minorities in China liberates the oppressed in Latin America? What kind of politics is this?”

    JOhnG

    Why do you lie about other people’s positions? Absolutely no-one here has defended any massacres. There is a clear enough political diference to debate without you misrepresneting other people.

    I had to delete a comment from your fellow SWP memebr, ll, that lied and said I supported “british jobs for British workers”, when i obviously don’t. Why do you lie

    These cultish debating tactics convince no-one outside your cult, and just give further disconnent the SWP from mainstream labour movement debate.

    Someone pointed out to me JOhnG that trying to debate with you is like trying to debate with a barking dog.

  143. Reading this thread is like a three-minute hate, only someone lost the stopwatch.

    I learn a lot when someone like chjh argues from his honestly held position even if I don’t agree with him. But some of these other howlings seem designed to shut you up Andy, and hold a line that’s threatened when you contribute anything else.

    Personally, I’m amused by comrades in shining armour astride a very tall horse indeed who spring to the defence of one minority while having written elsewhere that I should be shot, and then resort to distorting your position.

    Any massacre is wrong, and that includes ethnic killings of Han Chinese.

  144. “had to delete a comment from your fellow SWP memebr, ll, that lied and said I supported “british jobs for British workers”, when i obviously don’t. Why do you lie”

    Andy it was a pisstake……………if u blanked all the lies about the SWP on here there would be nothing to look at lol. chill out, u support the bejing regime and deny any islamaphobia and say its a war on terror (ism) , ok fine, except I think this is wrong and thats that.

  145. China’s policy towards the North and West is to try to integrate it into China as quickly as possible and to crush any dissent with an iron fist. That doesn’t mean btw that it is ignorant of the need to increase living standards of the farmers and urban poor working class, it aims to do both, the size of new bank lending, which as already passed $1 trillion this year, is intended to do just that.
    But capitalist development creates its own contradictions, including producing national struggles and crisis. China is moving into a new phase of development away from orienting towards exports and instead aiming for even more rapid growth of its domestic market. This turn has enabled it to ride out the credit crunch, it sows the seeds for further problems down the road, but this is probably quite a way off yet.

  146. Oh, here we go, right on cue. The pleasant Skidmarx, my very own online witchfinder general – rarely can I post without you trying to batter me down and, yet again, distort my point. You think you got more fangs than the Sichuan phone book but them’s blunt gnashers.

  147. Don’t think so. European export markets are stuffed too.
    The bulk – overwhelming bulk – of China’s reflation is directed towards domestic fixed asset investment away from the export sector, mainly infrastructure, railways, roads, subsidised housing, etc. with a disproportionately large amount in the North and West.
    The idea that China as dependent on the West for its development was always overstated, most of China’s exports are processed imports, that’s why although exports have plunged over the last 12 months down over 20% in June, China has continued to grow and at an accelerating rate as the reorientation of the economy takes place. JPM Morgan estimate it grew 14% (annual rates) in the second quarter.

  148. johng on said:

    But Andy you do seem to believe that defending and rationalising state repression in China and Iran somehow aids radical movements in Latin America. Its why a section of the left (particularly in the US where what has been called socialist identity politics by Proyect is very strong) can be relied on to reproduce government handouts whenever these events occur, imagining themselves very tough-minded in the process. Its a shame to see you following the same path. Its actually a kind of politics associated with weakness and a denial of agency to any but States because those who hold it don’t believe that movements on the ground can change reality.

  149. David Ellis on said:

    On the one hand a bunch of tankies giving uncritical support to the self-serving Chinese bureaucrats and their vicious police actions against minorities and on the other the SWP and the very silly BillJ who together sound like a Dick Cheney fan club of neo-con democratic peace theorists. They even have the support of David T who has suddenly taken a shine to the silly state cap bollocks. Both sides are helping to disarm the Chinese working class politically by subordinating them to hostile social forces.

    Will the yapping dog of bourgeois democracy (you know who you are) tell us what his and his party’s programme for China is instead of just feigning moral outrage?

  150. thne issue that seems to utterly escape some people that the better comparison for Xinjaiang is not Palestine but Alaska, except that position of the Kazakhs and Uyghars in China is rather better than the First Peoples in Alaska; and Xinjiang has been part of China for a hundred years longer than America has had Alaska.

    It is also worth considering that the so called dominence and homogenity of the Han in China, gives them only roughly the same proportion of the population as there are english in the United Kingom, but whereas it is hard to get by witout Enhlish language in the Uk, there are 600 million non Mandarin speakers, and the Cantonese (who are Han, but at least as culturally different as French from Germans) inhabit the richestpart of the country.

  151. “those who hold it don’t believe that movements on the ground can change reality.”

    i can see that reality has been changed for those Han and Hui murdered by racist lynch mobs in Xinjiang.

    Perhaps you think that the Chinese state shouldn’t restore order, and just let the people kill each other in tit for tat ethnic violence, for the sake of your revolution?

  152. johng on said:

    Again Andy, is this really how you would describe all this: the restoration of ‘order’? You don’t think when ethnic conflicts occur it has something to do with state and capital having pitted people against each other? You don’t think socialists have a responsibility to unpick these things as opposed to just presenting the view of official state organs? what consequences do you think such a view has in China in terms of the future of minorities in that country?

    Even in terms of your own geo-political view of the need to defend the Chinese state (against who? the immense forces of the global left?) how does producing a narrative which brings the interests of Chinese capitalism and US imperialism togeather (viz the idea that what is going on is simply a problem with Islamist ‘terrorism’) further that goal?

  153. johng on said:

    “helping to disarm the Chinese working class politically by subordinating them to hostile social forces”

    You mean the forces of Chinese capitalism and its state which is the main hostile force the working class faces in China? No, actually we’re arguing the opposite.

  154. johng on said:

    Again, the Chinese state is not hostile to imperialism, and there is no sense in which its interests are pitted against those of US capital.

  155. Skidmarx

    in the unlikely event that you are trying to make a serious point, the isue fo Zinjiang’s being part of china historically has a bearing on how the current siutaion has developed.

    The urban centres have grown under chinese rule for the last 250 years, and the urban population has always had a large degree of non Uyghars and non-Kazakhs. This is one of these situations that were common prior to the birth of modern nationalism of different social and economic classes often being dominated by different ethnic and linguistic groups.

    Although there are many Uyghars in the CP of China, and many in local and regional government, this group do not have an interest in self rule (although they might gain one were china to disintegrate, which was the experience in the former Turkic republics of the USSR.

    Given the nature of the state directed Chinese economy, there is no capitalist class among the Uyghars who want their own state, to promote their own interests.

    The greivances of the Uyghar peoples are real, they are mianly greievances that affect all the 800 million plus rural poor in the Republic, but are mixed up with some undoubted aditional diasadvantages for Uyghar (but they also have some advantages – affirmitive action within the CPC, exemption from one child, etc)

    So what are effectively class and economic grievances gain an extra national dimension.

    but national consciousness is not the same as political nationalism. The political campign for a seperate national state is not an inevitable consequence of a political movement to promote the special interests of a national group.

    Uyghar rights within the PRC, and protests to promote their interests shoudl be supported.

    UYghar seperatism, and terrorism to support it, does not have a sufficient social base, and could only be achieved by the type of ethnic violence that charcetrised the end of Jugoslavia.

    Now I can’t see why the left shoudl be cheerleaders for that sort fo process.

  156. Dave ellis, has a point.

    i don’t agree with him that anyone here is uncritical of the chinese government, and certainly no one is a Stalinist.

    But given that this situation actullay exists, what should the Chinese state do about it. I am quite clear:

    i) Make the de jure protections of national minorites from the constitution a reality
    ii) nuance the “go West” strategy to ensure that the non-mandarin speaking populatiosn benefit more
    iii) transition the Autonomous republics of Xinjiang and Tibet to have the same autonomy as Macau and Hong Kong.

    But I do not beleive that the Chinese state can simply tolerate explosions of ethnic violence and rioting

  157. “Dave Ellis has a point.” Sure he has a point. But what point?
    The denial of a nations existence aka Andy Newman and the Uyghars isn’t exactly a new way of denying the right of nations to self determination. I’m sure Stalin would have used the same arguments against the Georgians, amongst countless other historical examples.
    Socialists support the right of nations to self determination as they are (or at least should be) the most consistent opponents of oppression. Its up the Uyghars to decide what form that self determiantion takes, autonomy within China, simply the ending of harrassment and discrimination, or complete separation.
    Andy Newman on the other hand, supports a capitalist dictatorship and one party state in oppressing the Uyghars, he comes up with various excuses but what they boil down to is, he opposes the right of the Uyghars to self determination.
    That is not a socialist policy as traditionally understood.

  158. johng on said:

    Sorry if this has already been discussed, but a friend of mine who studies China just told me that the rioting began after reports of a group of uyghaur migrant workers being beaten to death in guangdong province in a factory.

  159. prianikoff on said:

    #200 The bit about “capitalist dictatorship and one party state” is just a superflous rhetorical flourish which doesn’t add to the argument.
    Let’s suppose that China was a perfect proletarian democracy with Soviets and allowed free referenda on self-determination for national minorities.
    If the Uyghurs then voted for an independent “Uyghurstan” and this vote was opposed by the majority, it would be just as much a violation of the right to self determination. Maybe more of one, because the vote would have proved the will of the population.

    Unfortunately, there’s a complication, which has existed ever since World War One.
    That is, Wilsonian Self-Determination. i.e. the use of the self-determination slogan by democratic imperialism to undermine its rivals, or pursue counter-revolutionary wars. The latter approach being more or less what was tried by the Mensheviks in Georgia, with the support of British troops. Under those circumstances, the correct approach was to oppose them by armed force until they were completely defeated and then grant the maximum autonomy of federation possible under a Socialist government.

    The view one has of the current Chinese government may differ, but at the very least, it’s necessary to look at the Tibetan and Uyghur movements in their political context. Jumping up and down *demanding* self determination and underplaying very obviously reactionary elements in both these movement, definitely doesn’t seem like the right approach to me.
    Nor does constantly demanding evidence for the atrocities carried out against Han Civilians, which is pretty clear.

    While not condoning state repression, or ruling out self-determination, no one on the left should be prettifying these movements, which contain quite reactionary elements.

  160. Yes that’s right, they were accused of rape and lynched. Film was then posted on the internet and the rest is history.

  161. Ed W on said:

    “if you had given your article a more neutral title, there might be less heat and more light on this thread”

    It is a blog.”

    Your point being, Andy? You have posted a blog / article (whatever people want to call it) of several hundred words that you wrote yourself. You picked the title yourself, presumably, and you chose “China’s battle against terrorism” as the heading for an article about the situation of an ethnic minority that lives under the rule of an authoritarian capitalist state (albeit one that likes to wave the red flag).

    I am open-minded about what might be the best outcome for the Uighurs – an independent state of their own or cultural autonomy within a democratic Chinese state. I am interested to hear different perspectives on what’s been happening over the last week. But if you frame the question as one of a “battle against terrorism”, you’re inevitably going to get some very strong and hostile responses, and you’re going to distract from more thoughtful points you might be making.

    Would you give an article about violent clashes between Basques and Spanish government forces the title “Spain’s battle against terrorism”? If you just gave your blog / article a neutral title like (say) “The Uighurs and the Chinese state”, I’d say this thread would be a lot calmer, and those bloody fools from Harry’s Place might not have troubled us with their wisdom at all.

  162. National movements always do. It’s not a rhetorical flourish if people want to make out China is in some way Communist – Andy Newman – or a workers state – Dave Ellis. Don’t know what you think it is, you don’t say.

  163. #201

    the genius Johng catches up, with something that has been in the public domain for at least a week.

    racism exists in the working class. who knew.

  164. prianikoff on said:

    #201 Is this for real, or is someone impersonation johng?
    Evidently he can write reams of material pontificating about the situation in China without even reading the newspapers first.

  165. #204

    “Would you give an article about violent clashes between Basques and Spanish government forces the title “Spain’s battle against terrorism”? ”

    probably yes, I have absolutely no sympathy with ETA’s violent campaign and wish the spanish government every success in preventing their terrorism.

  166. “.. the rioting began after reports of a group of uyghaur migrant workers being beaten to death in guangdong province in a factory.” “Yes that’s right, they were accused of rape and lynched. Film was then posted on the internet and the rest is history.”

    Yes that’s right, they started it. Got what they deserved, didn’t they? They come over ‘ere …

    Pass the sick bag.

  167. chjh on said:

    My thanks to Madame Miaow at #179 and Andy at #180. Madame Miaow is right to say that Any massacre is wrong – but I’ve not read anyone defending the killings of individual Han or Hui Chinese, and this thread doesn’t read to me like an outpouring of Sinophobia. What the sensible leftists critics of China are saying is that you have to acknowledge and understand the structual oppression of the Uighur minority in order to explain why Uighur anger should express itself in attacks on individual Han and Hui.

    It’s substantially the same argument as in Tibet last year, or for that matter in defending African-American rioters in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s; yes, some of those who rioted attacked individual white people, and burnt down businesses owned by white people. But the left rejected any idea that this was a form of racism equivalent to that suffered by African-Americans.

    One way of understanding the structures of racism in Xinjiang is to look at the very different attitudes of the police and army to Han and Uighur communities. The ‘security operation’ has surrounded the Uighur areas, and police have been going house to house to find rioters. Over 1400 people were arrested after the original Uighur protest, but when Han and Hui mobs took to the streets to attacks Uighurs on the Monday and Tuesday, the police didn’t use the same level of violence, and there weren’t the same number of arrests (if any).

    Or consider the attempted closure of the mosques on Friday – a collective punishment imposed because of ‘safety concerns’ ie it wasn’t safe to allow numbers of Uighurs to congregate together. There were no such ‘safety concerns’ and no such restrictions on Han gatherings.

    Outside Xinjiang, it was only after the Urumqi riot that police arrested anyone in Shaoguan in connection with the race riot against Uighurs which sparked the protests. And while the Xinjian authorities have been insisting that anyone found guilty of murder will get the death penalty, there’s been no such statement in Shaoguan.

    skidmarx makes an important point in #195 when he says that there is a tendency for governments to portray any activity by oppressed groups as ethnic violence, while downplaying the brutality of the majority group. The riots are being portrayed as the worst violence in Xinjiang since the 1940s. However, the repression in the northern town of Guljia (Yining in Chinese) in the spring of 1997 may have claimed as many lives, however. It’s certainly the casae that the security forces have killed far greater numbers of people in the last twenty years. But that, of course, is ‘restoring order’.

  168. #209

    Incidently, I keep hearing how shocking it is that most towns in Xinjiang has a majority Han population.

    Sorry, can you remind me what proportion of towns in the USA and Australia have a majority population of indigenous people?

  169. #210

    What the sensible leftists critics of China are saying is that you have to acknowledge and understand the structual oppression of the Uighur minority in order to explain why Uighur anger should express itself in attacks on individual Han and Hui.

    Indeed, chjh, that is exactly waht i have been saying myself, read the above. For example #19 by myself;

    So what we seem to be seeing is genuine grievance, stoked by the relative disadvantage of more poorly educated Uyghar rural people compared to Han migrants who have better access to the economic possibilities for social advancement by the “Go West” policy.

    In this regard, the Uyghars have a point, and their greivances are legitimate, and they are right to protest.

    but it has got drowned out by the barking of your comrades.

  170. JohnG on said:

    Sorry if this has already been discussed, but a friend of mine who lives in Bolton just told me that the anti-asian rioting there began after reports of a group of Muslims grooming young white girls in keighley for sex.

  171. prianikoff on said:

    #210 Yes, I’ve already made those points back at #158. But you’re ignoring a few other things.
    I don’t seem that much similarity with the US riots in the 1960’s and 70’s. There weren’t 145 white Americans, incluing women and children, beaten to death, whereas I can accept that has happened in Urumchi.
    That strikes me as not only a grossly disproportionate response to the lynching of 2 Uyghurs in the Toy Factory riot, but evidence of a serious lack of political organisation and consciousness – not something that should simply be passed over.
    Or at worst, evidence of a deliberate provocation.
    At the very least, any socialist organisation that hoped to be working with people on the ground would need to be arguing for the need for joint self-defence organisations by workers, an invetigation into the actions of the police and troops and a means to provide justice to the relatives of those killed by the rioters. That’s one way to distance from the chauvinist implications of state policy and provide a space for socialists.
    If not, the inter-communal violence will increase and you’re starting to talk about an ethnic cleansing scenario. The papers are already talking about large numbers of Han and Uyghur leaving Urumchi for the Xinjiang countryside, or Eastern China.

  172. chjh on said:

    I posted my last comment before I’d read Madame Miaow at #209. I’m not sure quite what point is being made there, but let’s be clear about the facts. On June 26 there was a racist attack on Uighur workers at a factory in Shaoguan, by Han migrant workers. Official figures say that two people were killed. There is no dispute that this attack happened, or that it was racially motivated, or that workers were killed in it – the only dispute is about the numbers of dead, with some Uighurs and at least one Han migrant worker claiming a greater number of dead.

    The trouble in Urumqi began when a peaceful Uighur protest against these racist killings was attacked by riot police. Here at least there’s a clear parallel with Tibet last year – a peaceful demo is attacked by riot police, and this then escalates into a generalised attack on all symbols of Chinese rule, including individual Han and Hui. Which does suggest that one way of avoiding riots is for the police not to attack peaceful demos.

    But that would require admitting that there can be legitimate expressions of Uighur or Tibetan nationalism – something the Chinese government are far from doing.

  173. Bill J is a member of a sad cult, and has wasted his life in internalised group think, to “build” a miniscule group of deluded self-important “revolutionaries”, who after 30 years of effort have around 50 members, and are just waiting for a big comet to fly by so they can join the Mothership.

    but his contributions to this debate have been risible even by his own sorry standards. sometimes he regurgitates chunks of statistics about the Chinese economy.

    Sometimes he reverently quotes a fragments from the Holy books themselves. he doesn’t really understand them or the context they were written in, but he knows that they are revealed truth.

    it must all seem worth it though when we have examples of impressionable students posting here to say we shoudl all listen to bill’s guidence, because he is a “very experienced anti-fascist fighter”.

    It is a sort of a life I suppose.

    Bill, I already responded at length to this sort of misquoting Lenin at #15.

  174. #45

    I just saw this idiocy from michael Rosen at #45:

    .
    You know what I hate about poor people? It’s when they object to their rulers who “even deliberatly tolerate growing inequality”. Why can’t poor people do deferred gratification? All the evidence points to the fact that China will create socialism after it’s done ‘growing inequality’, so all you poor people, just wait, will you?! It’ll get better later.

    What do you think a socialist government should do in an incredibly poor country? Isn’t buildig the economy a priority in order to lift millions out of poverty?

    In Michael’s world, all 1.3 billion Chinese, 800 millions of which have living standards on about the same level as bangladesh, could simply all be given a fantastic living standard overnight, without worrying how that wealth would be created.

    remember this is the same guy who during the Lyndsey Oil refincery dispute back in February argued that wage diferentials within thr EU are a racist myth and he said that average wages in Poland are the same as in the Uk (the truth is that the annual average wage in poland is about £3000, and the minimum wage nearer £1500)

  175. #215

    The trouble in Urumqi began when a peaceful Uighur protest against these racist killings was attacked by riot police. Here at least there’s a clear parallel with Tibet last year – a peaceful demo is attacked by riot police, and this then escalates into a generalised attack on all symbols of Chinese rule, including individual Han and Hui. Which does suggest that one way of avoiding riots is for the police not to attack peaceful demos.

    This is absolutely correct, and going forward this needs to be addressed. But it is not easy to turn around the culture within the police, where there is a great deal of instituional inertia, and who are not as directy accountable to central government as you might think.

  176. chjh on said:

    #211 It’s not true, Andy, that most cities or towns in Xinjiang have a Han majority. Urumqi is different in this respect. And the point about the Han majority is that it’s very recent – the product of migration over the last ten years, which in turn is the product of economic growth from which Uighurs and other ethnic minorities are excluded.

    #214 I don’t see that I was making the same points as your post at #158 – that seemed to me mainly an acccount of the right-wing connotations of Uighur nationalism, which I don’t disagree with. But you are buying into the government’s lies about Urumqi when you assume that all of those who died were Han killed by Uighurs. That’s almost certainly untrue – the earliest reports spoke of a number of people killed by gunshots, which will have come from the riot police. I’m sure that the official casualty figures won’t include those killed by the police, in the same way that the official casualty figures after Tiananmen Square were sanitised.

  177. prianikoff on said:

    I’m sure that the Uyghurs are subject to national oppression and police brutality from the Chinese state. But just to reinforce the point I made about dubious analogies with race riots in the US;

    The Chinese government are saying that 145 people were killed by rioters in Urumchi. There are plenty of pictures and interviews on internet blogs, Youtube etc.

    I checked the statistics on deaths in the Watts riot and LA riots.
    Contrary to the claim made by Charlie H at #218, they show a pattern of overwhelming “BLACK” victims of police and national guard violence, while most of the rioters anger was directed at the *property* of businesses operating in the black community. There were very few revenge attacks on white people.

    LA riots in 1992 following Rodney King beating:
    Total deaths 53
    25 African-Americans, 16 Latinos, eight whites, two Asians, one Algerian, and one Indian or Middle Easterner.
    (LA News)

    Watts riots of ; 1965
    Total deaths 34
    of whom 26 were recorded by the coroners as “justifiable homicide”.
    “the jury found that death was caused in 16 instances by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department and in 7 instances by the National Guard.”

  178. What you have to understand chjh is that Andy Newman has his own rules, essentially anyone who disagrees with him is; dumb, ignorant or suffering a mental illness (or all three). As long as one understands these rules then its possible to post on here. Otherwise don’t bother.

  179. What is sad is that following demonstrations, strikes an road blockades for greater autonomy and self-determination, after which hundreds of people have been beaten and some killed by the state, that a website claiming to be ‘socialist’ should side with the state.

  180. prianikoff on said:

    Can the SWP manage to discuss the hundreds of Han civilians killed by the Uyghur rioters, without making analogies to US race riots, which I’ve just proved are false?

    Can PR stop avoiding them as if they don’t exist?

  181. priankoff I have written a one sentence observation – that is not the same as a rounded statement let alone the same as PR’s view.

    Has there been Uighur violence against ethnic Han? Yes and it should be deplored. Has the Chinese state’s oppression of ethnic Uighurs and other ethnic minorities and dleiberate attempts to stoke racial tensions played a role? Yes of course. That does not justify having an article alleging that the Chinese state’s rssponse is a ‘battle against terrorism.’

  182. Ed W on said:

    “probably yes, I have absolutely no sympathy with ETA’s violent campaign and wish the spanish government every success in preventing their terrorism.”

    Are you serious? I chose the analogy with Spain and the Basque Country after a bit of thought because I think that ETA have often been guilty of terrorism e.g deliberate attacks on civilians. So you would be happy to frame the issue in exactly the same way as the Spanish ruling class, without mentioning any of the questions of state repression, the Basque right to self-determination etc?

    So why not go one further – “Britain’s battle against terrorism” as the title of an article about the North of Ireland? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you know very well why that would be inappropriate – so why can’t you see that it’s also inappropriate in relation to Spain or China.

  183. chjh on said:

    #224 It’s a political analogy I’m making. In African-American rioting some of the rioters’ anger was turned on individual white people; in the riots in Lhasa and Urumqi some of the anger of Tibetans and Uighurs was turned on Han and Hui Chinese. Of course there are huge differences in the sources, trajectories and outcomes of those riots, which is why I’m simply drawing an analogy. The point of the analogy was that we argued for a political understanding of those riots, rather than a pathological one, even though the rioters did many things we would not agree with.

    And it’s simply untrue that hundreds of Han civilians [were] killed by the Uyghur rioters. The official figures are 136 Han dead, and one Hui. The reality is bad enough, without deliberately exaggerating it.

  184. johng on said:

    So now Andy thinks the problem is the Chinese police but this is an institutional problem which will take some time to address. Meanwhile all criticism of uneven distribution of resources is entirely utopian in what he dubs an ‘incredibly poor country’. I don’t know of any countries in the global south, many of whom are a lot poorer then China were the police are not indeed often a law unto themselves, or where socialists stand back and excuse the state on this basis and explain away poverty as simply a problem of development eschewing any criticism of the state.

  185. I’m sorry, Noah, but I tend to get lost in the torrent of words you periodically unleash on the world. If it is state capitalist, I defer to your judgment. As to your flakking for the Beijing “Communists”, the less said the better.

  186. “look at the open racism above at #33 ”

    Andy, can’t you try argument instead of abuse ?

    Anyone interested in what’s going on there could take a look at James Fallows :

    http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/

    “The contrast between the Chinese state’s continued ineptness in appealing to international opinion and its very effective control of opinion and knowledge within China is worth remembering at all times, and especially during crises like this.

    From the outside, these may look like challenges to the survival of the regime. From the inside, to most people in China, they’re new occasions for national fortitude and solidarity.”

  187. More Fallows – background on the US/China trade imbalance, why the (enforced) savings rate in China is at a level not seen since Stalin’s Russia, and mutually assured financial destruction.

    “Let’s take these fears about a rich, strong China to their logical extreme. The U.S. and Chinese governments are always disagreeing—about trade, foreign policy, the environment. Someday the disagreement could be severe. Taiwan, Tibet, North Korea, Iran—the possibilities are many, though Taiwan always heads the list. Perhaps a crackdown within China. Perhaps another accident, like the U.S. bombing of China’s embassy in Belgrade nine years ago, which everyone in China still believes was intentional and which no prudent American ever mentions here.

    Whatever the provocation, China would consider its levers and weapons and find one stronger than all the rest—one no other country in the world can wield. Without China’s billion dollars a day, the United States could not keep its economy stable or spare the dollar from collapse.

    Would the Chinese use that weapon? The reasonable answer is no, because they would wound themselves grievously, too. Their years of national savings are held in the same dollars that would be ruined; in a panic, they’d get only a small share out before the value fell. Besides, their factories depend on customers with dollars to spend.

    But that “reassuring” answer is actually frightening. Lawrence Summers calls today’s arrangement “the balance of financial terror,” and says that it is flawed in the same way that the “mutually assured destruction” of the Cold War era was. That doctrine held that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union would dare use its nuclear weapons against the other, since it would be destroyed in return. With allowances for hyperbole, something similar applies to the dollar standoff. China can’t afford to stop feeding dollars to Americans, because China’s own dollar holdings would be devastated if it did. As long as that logic holds, the system works. As soon as it doesn’t, we have a big problem. “

  188. terry smith on said:

    “Meanwhile all criticism of uneven distribution of resources is entirely utopian in what he dubs an ‘incredibly poor country’. I don’t know of any countries in the global south… where socialists stand back and excuse the state on this basis and explain away poverty as simply a problem of development eschewing any criticism of the state.”

    I think we must now ask what the people’s revolution was for.

  189. johng on said:

    The peoples revolution was for the same thing that other national liberation movements were for. To drive out the imperialist leeches and set up an independent nation state which would allow the development of the productive forces of the country. This succeded. Now China is an independent centre of capital accumulation which like other independent centres of capital accumulation oppresses and exploits its own population. Its really not that complicated. The only complicated question is whether or not your attitude is that of a socialist.

  190. Andy newman on said:

    #222

    “essentially anyone who disagrees with him is; dumb, ignorant or suffering a mental illness (or all three). ”

    Bill, I do not insult everyone who disagrees with me, I make a special exception for you. Nor would I ever use mental distress as a form of insult.

    Cult membership is a serious problem, but it is not a form of mental illness.

    Surely you must look back on the years you have spent on your sad delusion, and sometiems wonder what you might have made of your life, if you had not commited yourself to a pitiful treadmill of propagandism for a pointless and sad group of delusional misfits?

    How many members have you got after 35 years? 50 ??

  191. Andy newman on said:

    #229
    JohnG

    Why can’t you argue against my actual positions, instead of creating straw men.

    It is a very tedious and dishonest debating trick.

  192. Noah: BTW, Louis. You have an academic background,

    Really? I always thought that I was a computer programmer going back to 1968. Does this mean that when I was working at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, I had a medical background? That makes me a Renaissance Man, I guess.

  193. johng on said:

    As far as I can see that IS what you argued Andy. Louis you clearly ARE a renaissence man. And live in the worlds TOP imperialist country as opposed to off-brand wanna-be’s like the British.

  194. johng on said:

    I really have been amused incidently about how that stuff about socialist identity politics proved so apposite. striding through blogspheres taking on the mantle of strategists for global left advance, and down with sentimental emotionalism. The only problem being that its not (at least exclusively) the Leninists who are mainly guilty of this. The warnings about the low level of consiousness and organisation of Chinese minorities from Priankoff (which MUST be taken into consideration!) was an exceptionally entertaining version of tough minded toy bolshevism I thought. But perhaps he IS a Leninist of some sort.

  195. Fred on said:

    I see that Andy is demonstrating his familiarity with the situation in Xinjiang by insisting on his own idiosyncratic rendering of ethnonyms there. For God’s sake, it is “Uighur” or “Uyghur” (depending on how you want to render the “y” – as a vowel or consonant), but never “Uyghar”. If you think that there is some connection here with the Turkish word “uyğar”, stop it at once.

    It might be too much to ask you to respect Uyghurs’ national rights, but you could at least do them the courtesy of not butchering their name.

  196. Fred on said:

    One more thing, your capitulation to Chinese nationalism is nowhere more evident than in the conflation of the Manchu Qing dynasty with “China”. Are you aware, Andy, that when the Qing conquered Xinjiang in the 1750s they deliberately restricted Han Chinese migration there? Xinjiang was annexed by a non-Chinese people, and ruled almost exclusively by Manchus and Mongols up until the late 19th century, when the administrative system was re-organised along provincial lines.

    Han nationalists (and Andy) have conveniently forgotten the sleight of hand by which their Republican forefathers laid claim to the territories of the Manchu Qing empire, but Uyghurs and Tibetans have not.

  197. Dimitris on said:

    So China is not imperialist. What about it’s policy towards Burma? I’m sorry to inform you but the main supporter of the dictatorship there is not the USA but China (because of the raw materials etc. Or what about Chinese policy towards Sudan? (the support of the local government that does ethnic cleansing because of the oil deals). And Mugabe, never mention the invasion of Vietnam in 1979. By this logic Russia had a point to destroy Chechnya because the United States were meddling trying to destabilize and contain Russia. By the way is Russia imperialist?

  198. prianikoff on said:

    #228 “The official figures are 136 Han dead, and one Hui. The reality is bad enough, without deliberately exaggerating it.”

    I implied a figure of 145 in #214, the “hundreds” was just a loose piece of terminology, not an attempt at deliberate exaggeration.

    What’s rather more worrying to me is the way that some people are prepared to totally overlook this.
    For instance, in Turkey, the P.M. Erdogan is talking of “genocide” against the Uyghurs and rioters burned Chinese goods after Friday prayers.
    (Presumably they’ll have to burn all their TV sets, washing machines and vacuum cleaners too)

    I thought the comments of a Han migrant worker, reported in the Times were quite apposite. He was beaten up and woke up in hospital to learn that several of his work mates had been killed;

    “I do not understand. If the Uighurs feel angry with government policy they should demonstrate in front of government buildings or attack policemen, not kill and beat ordinary Han Chinese. I came here only because I could not make ends meet in my home town.”

    That sounds like a working class position to me.

  199. I think Priankoff is right that the turn to ethnic violence against Han Chinese by some Uighur is wrong, reactionary and a completely anathema to a working class or socialist solution.

    However, we should also condemn the oppression of the Uighur by the Chinese state, support their right to autonomy and self-determination and be for a multi-ethnic working class movement for better conditions for all Chinese workers. Prinakoff may well agree with this (I haven’t read all 250 or so posts on here) but the leading article in claiming that the Chinese state is opposing ‘terrorism’ is a disgrace.

  200. David Ellis on said:

    #249 `However, we should also condemn the oppression of the Uighur by the Chinese state, support their right to autonomy and self-determination and be for a multi-ethnic working class movement for better conditions for all Chinese workers.’

    Under what leadership. What is your programme for the Uighur? What kind of self-determination? Your wish list sounds like a load of liberal nonsense. Given that you think China is imperialist supposedly any old bourgeois leadership will do? You have no conception of what a disaster the collapse of the workers’ state deformed or otherwise would be for the Chinese and Uighur masses. Perhaps you hope the counter-revolutioin will be as `smooth’ as it was in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? But it is likely that a successful counter-revolution in China will put many historical human disasters in the shade. China will be dismembered by imperialism and its satraps, the state sector finally dismantled, it will be ravaged by war and hunger and civil war. There can be no Chinese capitalism. There is no room for it in a world already divided.

    You have been the first of the empiricists to put forward an uncritical programmatic demand for Uighur self-determination. You are not proposing an anti-bureaucracy, anti-chauvinism movement but an outright counter-revolution. Even the SWP have been more circumspect being the unprincipled hedge-betters that they are. Doubtless they will cheer the rebellion then bewail its outcome having made no serious intervention whatsoever. You, intemporate you, on the other hand have left yourself no room for manouevre.

  201. prianikoff on said:

    What is it with Neumann, johng and Jason’s spelling?
    It’s Prianikoff ; PRIANIKOFF, P R I A N *I* K O F F

    Here’s the recipe;

    The prianik is the oldest of the Russian sweetmeats. Traditionally it is a small cake made with honey and spices (prianosti). Prianiki can also be made with different flavors and resemble a slightly floury meringue. If hot honey or syrup is used in the making, the dough should be left for an hour or two in the refrigerator before baking.
    1 1/2 (one and one-half) c. flour
    10 Tbsp. sugar
    2 1/2 Tbsp. honey
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/4 tsp. ginger
    1/4 tsp. cloves
    1/4 tsp. cardamom
    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    Mix together oil and honey. Beat eggs and sugar until white and fluffy.
    Sift flour with baking powder and stir in the spices. Gradually mix the spiced flour into the eggs and sugar and then add the honey. The dough should be stiff but not dry. Cool for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
    Roll into small balls in the palms of your hands and place, well separated, on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated fairly hot oven for 20 mins. Spiced Prianiki are usually glazed while still hot by dipping into a syrup made with 8 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. water, into which is folded a stiffly beaten egg white. Cool on a wire grill..

  202. David Ellis on said:

    `“I do not understand. If the Uighurs feel angry with government policy they should demonstrate in front of government buildings or attack policemen, not kill and beat ordinary Han Chinese. I came here only because I could not make ends meet in my home town.”

    That sounds like a working class position to me.’

    I think a working class position would have a bit more sympathy with the cultural genocide being perpetrated by the Chinese stalinists against the Uighurs. And if he couldn’t make ends meet in his home town why didn’t he demonstrate in front of government buildings and attack his own policemen. No doubt he was paid to resettle. You made a much better point at #214.

  203. Prianikoff- apologies on the misspelling of your name.
    #250 under what leadership- working class. Your post seems very confused, the bourgeois offer no progressive leadership anywhere in the world so we would not support them. You then speak of counter-revolution- but China has been capitalist for more than a decade yet you write “There can be no Chinese capitalism. ”
    If there was a Uighur bourgeois on the verge of taking power then of course it would be necessary to oppose it not by supporting the Chinese bourgeois but by the united working class action of Han, Uighur and other ethnic working class groups fighting for socialism and workers’ democracy. Within this working class opposition would be the demand for a socialist federation of China but recognising the right of self-determination up to and including independence. But the only conceivable way to unite the different ethnic groups would be to oppose racist discrimnation and oppression supporting the right of all ethnic groups to autonomy and self-determination. However, despite David’s fantasises China is far from being on the verge of socialist revolution let alone still being some kind of workers’ state.
    Anyway, I won’t be able to post on this again today or for the next few weeks as am preparing to go away.

  204. David Ellis on said:

    #253 Quite right, sympathy with the Uighurs is what I meant. Thanks for that.

  205. terry smith on said:

    “Its really not that complicated. The only complicated question is whether or not your attitude is that of a socialist.”

    There was a time when the people’s revolution was socialist. There was a time when China was socialist. There was a time when socialists the world over supported the achievements of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party.

    But now it is capitalist – we can forget the revolution of 1911 – and we don’t talk of socialists now. Now it is described as a “centre of capital accumulation which like other independent centres of capital accumulation oppresses and exploits its own population.” A description as if socialism never happened from someone for those for whom socialism never mattered.

  206. johng on said:

    Prianikoff-we think you are sweet. Obviously.

    In terms of demands for a program etc, etc, despite Andy’s constant attempt to assert that everything anyone critical of his position says leads to a bunch of wilful western leftists wanting to re-impose the cultural revolution- most of what is written is not intended as a guide for the silly Chinese working class and minorities who have yet to attain the requisate level of consiousness to take part in social change.

    Rather my own intervention and that of others is guided by a concern that the geographically relevent bit of the left that we engage with does not say silly and stupid things, which reflects much more on them then any possible consequences for China. We should be socialists and we should not treat of capitalist powers which are occassionally rivals of our own as if they were somehow allies of ours (or indeed the working class and progressive movement globally).

    Writing missives about ‘terrorism’ as if we were ensconced in the security apparatus of the Chinese state (effectively suggesting incidently that China and the US share interests: in fact this issue has been used by China to expand contacts with the US), and effectively reproducing officially sponsered chauvinism in our discussions of any movement which occurs in those parts of the world we wrongly imagine to be somehow ‘outside’ of the imperialist system.

    Its a shame because despite the current travails of the left we are in the future increasinly going to be confronted with new forms of (hopefully better) politics emerging on a global scale. The kind of instrumentalist conceptions of geo-politics and imperialism (most of which seem to hark back to the old CP state monopoly capital model of analyses) ill-equip us, rather then anyone else, from having any kind of coherent perspectives on the struggle that the crisis of global capitalism and imperialism are likely to throw up.

    I am trying to grapple with Callinicos’ new book on Imperialism. As often it gives you a bit of a headache, but it raises all the relevent questions. Perhaps Andy would like to do one of his take downs on it. It would probably be helpful.

  207. johng on said:

    Incidently for the attack dogs of orthodoxy one interesting little nugget. Apparently Lenin’s famous pamphlet was initially subtitled ‘the latest stage of capitalism’ rather then the ‘final stage of capitalism’. The change was made after his death. I can remember being attacked for thinking that there might be room to continue developing an analyses of imperialism.

    One thing Lenin emphasised was that in the event of the overturning of the relationships of imperialism that prevailed during his day by any method other then the abolition of capitalism, it was inconcievable that capitalism would not continue to reproduce imperial relations, capitalism having no methods for organising the relations between states but that of relative power. South Korea has recently bought up the majority of agricultural land in Madagascar. China we know is active in many African states through Special Economic Zones. The US is certainly today the dominant imperialist power. But it is nonsense to suppose that these incipient attempts are fundementally different in kind: unless we naturalise those relationships between different parts of the world based on relative economic and political power. To attempt to describe these things as a shield against imperialism rather then junier parts of it is sheer folly. There is zero difference in kind between South Koreas behaviour and China’s behaviour here. Both signal the weakening of the overarching reach of US imperialism. But they do not lead to some non-imperialist utopia. We live in a global capitalist and therefore global imperialist system.

  208. chjh on said:

    Going back to Andy’s original piece, one thing I hadn’t noticed before was the implicit comparisons between Uighur and Tibetan nationalism: The urban centres were built by the Chinese unlike in Tibet; there is no modern history of a Uyghur nation state unlike in Tibet; Xinjiang has always been linguistically and culturally diverse unlike Tibet. It seems to me that the reasons given for not supporting Uighur nationalism would also be reasons for supporting Tibetan nationalism.

    Two other points to pick up on: Uyghar nationalism has also been clearly linked with Islamist terrorism. That’s true, in the same way as Iraqi nationalism, Afghan nationalism and Palestinian nationalism have all been clearly linked with ‘Islamic terrorism’ – some Uighur nationalists have carried out terrorist acts, as have iraqi, Afghan and Palestinian nationalists. The ‘long war on Islamic terror’ has a single logic, as harry’s Place demonstrates at tedious length – if the left accepts that that ‘Islamic terrorism’ excuses military crackdowns and collective punishments in Xinjiang, that rather weakens our opposition to the West’s ‘wars on terror’.

    This is one of the weakest parts of Jenny Clegg’s book – having given an excellent analysis of the contradictions and hypocrisy of Bush’s ‘war on terror’, she goes on to say that the ‘struggle against terrorism’ was one of the motivations for the founding of the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation, without seeing the slightest contradiction.

    And of course, one of the advantages of an explicitly Islamist organisation is that it could unite Uighurs, Hui, Kazakhs and the other ‘minority’ nationalities in Xinjiang.

    Th other point to pick up on is simply this: there is absolutely no evidence that the exile Uighur nationalist organisations had anything at all to do with the initial protest or the subsequent riot. The Chinese government is simply lying when they blame the whole thing on Rebiya Kadeer, and I suspect they know it. Paradoxically, both the Chinese government and the Uighurs would be better off if there was a Dalai Lama-like figure in Xinjiang, who everyone accepted as leading the national movement: the Chinese government because they would have someone to negiotiate with, and the Uighurs because a structured nationalist movement would have more tools to work with.

    And to preempt the tedious sectarians: yes, of course it would be better if there was a multi-ethnic revolutionary Marxist party which could unite Han, Hui and Uighur. There isn’t, and wishing for one won’t bring it into existence. As johng points out, our immediate choices are supporting those fighting national and religious oppression (irrespective of our disagreements with some of their actions), or supporting the state responsible for that oppression.

  209. David Ellis on said:

    #258 `As johng points out, our immediate choices are supporting those fighting national and religious oppression (irrespective of our disagreements with some of their actions), or supporting the state responsible for that oppression.’

    The SWP clearly sees China as part of the imperialist chain so presumably in a war between China and any of the `other’ imperialist powers they would take a defeatist position in regard of both. But this is also the source of their Uighur self-determination right or wrong position(i.e. `whatever our disagreements with their actions’). It is strangely different from their take on Georgia whom they couldn’t wait for Russia, a real imperialist power, to crush.

    Whilst it is correct to support Uighir self-determination up to and including cessation it would only be so on the basis of working class democracy and anti-imperialism. Should Uighir fall to imperialism and `democracy’ and be used as a base to attack China, China would have every right to take action to prevent such a thing. If the collapse of the Soviet Union at the hands of the Stalinist bureaucracy was a disaster for the international working class, the destruction of China as a workers state, deformed or otherwise, will be a catastrophe in the current circumstances. It is to be hoped that events in Uighir will trigger a general movement against the Stalinist/Maoist bureaucracy to bring about working class democracy and a return to socialist internatioinalism in the whole region. The SWP, however, are disarming the Uighir and Chinese masses with their nonsense talk about imperialist or capitalist China and are playing into the hands of the most reactionary imperialist restorationists who want to see a semi-feudal, fascistic starap regime in the region.

  210. chjh: And to preempt the tedious sectarians: yes, of course it would be better if there was a multi-ethnic revolutionary Marxist party which could unite Han, Hui and Uighur.

    I guess this is a cue for me to cite Lenin from my post that got Andy’s knickers in a bunch:

    What, then, can we do in relation to such peoples as the Kirghiz, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Turkmen, who to this day are under the influence of their mullahs? Here, in Russia, the population, having had a long experience of the priests, helped us to overthrow them. But you know how badly the decree on civil marriage is still being put into effect. Can we approach these peoples and tell them that we shall overthrow their exploiters? We cannot do this, because they are entirely subordinated to their mullahs. In such cases we have to wait until the given nation develops, until the differentiation of the proletariat from the bourgeois elements, which is inevitable, has taken place.

    Our programme must not speak of the self-determination of the working people, because that would be wrong. It must speak of what actually exists. Since nations are at different stages on the road from medievalism to bourgeois democracy and from bourgeois democracy to proletarian democracy, this thesis of our programme is absolutely correct. With us there have been very many zigzags on this road. Every nation must obtain the right to self-determination, and that will make the self-determination of the working people easier.

    full Lenin article: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/rcp8th/03.htm

  211. David Ellis on said:

    Louis: you will be arguing for a constituent assembly and the introduction of bourgeois rule in Uighur then? I think Lenin would be most disappointed to see his quote misused in this way.

  212. johng on said:

    Of course China is part of the ‘imperialist chain’. Its sits on the WTO for gods sake. It is a ridiculous Harry’s Placism to suggest that we ‘couldn’t wait’ for Russia to win with Georgia. We did not support western imperialist expansion in the region or the sabre rattling of western powers around that war. We certainly did not ‘support’ Russia. There is no evidence that western powers want any kind of confrontation with China or that the west is in any way involved with what is going on. Are you seriously trying to suggest China is some sort of ‘workers state’? Its beyond laughable.

  213. johng on said:

    which reactionary imperialistic restorations? What the hell are you talking about? Do you believe that the US wants feudalism in China?

  214. johng on said:

    One concrete question. Do you think that Special Economic Zones are a stage on the way to socialism? I can remember someone on this site trying to argue that they were a form of anti-imperialist aid to African countries when set up by China (but not if set up by anyone else). In Mexico they are reactionary. In Bengal presumably they are progressive but in Maharashtra reactionary. Exactly how can any kind of coherent politics come out of this nonsense in the era of neo-liberalism?

  215. David Ellis on said:

    #262 `Of course China is part of the ‘imperialist chain’. Its sits on the WTO for gods sake.’

    Simples.

  216. johng on said:

    re-chjh’s points about Andy’s piece. One reason I won’t get involved in all this stuff about the backward nature of minorities is that it is anachronistic bullshit. This incident was sparked by brutal racist attacks on migrant workers in China, and when those from the area where they came from took to the street they were brutally attacked on the basis of the same racism. There then took place a reaction which involved the targetting of Han Chinese. These are people integrated into Chinese capital: the shitty end of it. None of this has anything to do with feudalism or ‘capitalist restoration’. These are people in the same position as those who serve as a labour reserve for the dominant capitalist powers. As we argue in this country, unity of the working class is the key. But thats a unity which can only be forged against the state that polices exploitation. Not in alliance with it.

  217. David Ellis: you will be arguing for a constituent assembly and the introduction of bourgeois rule in Uighur then? I think Lenin would be most disappointed to see his quote misused in this way.

    Your argument is with Lenin not me. In fact you are making the same stupid ultraleft argument as Bukharin,

  218. johng on said:

    well yes. unless you believe that China is the workers representative of the global partnership of imperialist barons. But one thing you should think about David. As soon as anyone discusses actual global economic social and political relations the only response is accusations and theological diatribes. Its pretty telling really.

  219. David Ellis on said:

    Fuck off Johng, you are the yapping meerkat of Western intervention, a true Kautskyite. Everything in your world is simples, simples, simples. As for Louis, you should know better. My arguement is not with Lenin but an abuser of his words. Your point would be correct if we ignored the intervening historical events.

  220. Excellent article Andy.

    Much of the negative comments in reponse are not at all surprising. The Sinophobia of the Left in the UK (and the west) frankly reeks of yellow peril racism, but when has the British Left ever done anymore than represnt the ‘revolutionary’ wing of the Foreign Office, when it comes to either the socialist countries or former British colonial subjects – for which China qualifies on both counts.

    My partner is a Muslim Hui Chinese woman, deeply patriotic, highly educated and generally supportive of the Communist Party leadership (especially the very popular Wen Jiaboa and Hu Jintao – as you will generally find young Chinese in the UK to be) without considering herself to be at all political.

    She comes from a family of practising Muslims (although she herself doesnt practise it), so if it were true that Islam is persecuted in China, you would expect her to have some experience of it. The contrary is the case.

    Within her family, most are involved in Higer Education, several family members are professors, others are High School teachers. Two are ranking members of the Ministry for State Security. Another works for the Saudi Embassy (a devout Muslim, he studied in Saudi, his wife is a muslim convert who wears the hijab).
    Around half her extended family are members of the Communist Party (bear in mind only around 5-10% of applicants for CP membership are accepted).

    Were Muslims and ethnic miinorities discrimiated against by the state, it surely would not be likely that this extended (and not untypical) family of ethnic minority Muslim’s would either want to, or be allowed to have such positions within Higher education and the state security? Or want to or be allowed memberahip in the Communist Party?

    They go to Mosque, they eat Halal meat from a Muslim butcher, they celebrate Islamic holidays (for which they get extra time off from work), they get guidance from their Imam, hold family funerals in a Muslim a cemetary and they practise their religion without any intereference from the state whatsoever.

    In actual fact, ethnic minorites have special priviliges over the majority Han population. For example, along with the aforementioned extra holidays for religious events, they are not subject to the same rules regarding the one-child policy and get extra points in school leavers exams to help ehtnic minorities get better representation in University.

    Whether or not you agree with such ‘positive discrimination’ (which does lead to some resentment amongst some Han), it can hardly be said to be representative of some sort of ethnic oppression, or worse, ‘geneocide’ by the State now can it?

    For the Left to be, as usual, tailing after the most reactionary, pro-western elements in a developing socialist country isnt unusual. For them to be championing the lumpen, anti-social perpetuators of muderous racist pogroms is a new level of disgrace though.

    That street level racism and prejudice exists in China, as in every society, is without doubt. But to suggest against all the facts that it is encouraged by the central government is just an out and out lie.

    I would suggest that perhaps some of those people spouting CWI/SWP or whatever bullshit about China actually try and discuss it with Chinese students and workers in the UK (or whom there are several tens of thousand from many ethnic and cultural/religion backgrounds) and see what they think. I think you will substantially find more often than not, that your patronising and ill-informed attempts to ‘educate’ and ‘liberate’ them from their ‘oppression’ will be about as appreciated as a British gun-boat on the Yanstze.

  221. johng on said:

    How about discussing with minorities J? This whole riff about the special ‘privilages’ of minorities reeks of the kind of thing you get in India around Kashmir. Far from being discriminated against they have special privilages. etc, etc. And of course the CCP has roots in sections of the population amongst minorities (just as there are plenty of Kashmiri Indians who are employed by the Indian state). In neither case does that tell us anything. Indian students in the main would also be hostile to anyone raising the issue of Kashmir(although as with Chinese students not all). Again that tells us nothing. What any of this has to do with ‘yellow peril’ and anti-Chinese racism, or ‘imperialism’ I have’nt the slightest idea. Perhaps you could enlighten us.

  222. johng on said:

    David, when have I ever supported western intervention…anywhere? and what has anything I’ve said got to do with Kautskyism?

  223. johng on said:

    Again, its noticable that as soon as reality is pointed out (ie that China is a major regional capitalist power, involved in the WTO, pushing Special Economic Zones as official policy, etc, etc) you just start yapping nonsense.

  224. David Ellis on said:

    Though I’m sure many who long on to the SWP site would be expecting to find socialism.

  225. JohnG, If you read that bit again you will see I did suggest discussing it with Chinese of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

    And as for saying that the CPC having roots in ethnic minority groups and government policy enforcing rights and privilges for minorites “tell us nothing”, well I think it tells us rather alot!

    To say it “tells us nothing” is, frankly, absurd and shows that no matter what is shown to actually be the case, your response will always be “it tells us nothing”… unless it supports your argument.

    Like I said, instead of pontificating about it based on the ‘facts’ as gleaned from BBC and Socialist Worker reports, why not talk about it with people actually from the country?

  226. johng on said:

    As I said it is hardly an argument to suggest that because the Chinese State has a base in these areas it is impossible to concieve of the existence of oppression: borne out by innumerable statistics which even Andy concedes. The fact that you begin your argument with a load of baseless chauvinist nonsense about socialists being obsessed with the ‘yellow peril’ and again ‘arguments gleaned from the BBC’ etc makes it very hard to take anything you say seriously. The newly prosperous middle class who have benefitted from capitalist development in China are indeed patriotic and fiercely proud. Some of this is good. Certainly in the west it reacts against decades of racism. However its not good when it is translated into chauvinism against ‘minorities’ whose grievences are reduced to the concerns of ‘lumpens’ and ‘terrorists’. And nor is it good if its forgotten for even one second that China’s success and competativeness is built on the labour of millions beyond those who have experianced this dramatic new prosperity and success.

    Bitternes against any mention of these realities are very familiar to anyone with any connections with countries which have experianced familiar phenomenan. There at least there is a powerful strand of critique as well as celebration of this new market led nationalism. But thats because there is a left in many of these countries. Unfortunately in China that does not exist to any significant degree.

  227. Stockwell Pete on said:

    Does anyone know why Uighurs and Tibetans are exempt from the “one-child policy”? Am I correct in thinking that this policy is applied primarily the urban Han population – and that it is routinely flouted in rural areas where around 75% of the Chinese population still lives?

    P.S. Please don’t tell me that it is an example of “positive discrimination” by the benign Chinese socialist state cos I won’t believe that.

  228. chjh on said:

    #279 Well, there was an element of ‘positive discrimination’ under Mao. There was a ‘voluntary’ family planning policy which most ethnic minority groups were exempt from, largely because the populations of most groups were actually declining. When the one-child policy was first introduced, it was applied to many if not all minority nationalities.

    The widespread opposition to it has forced a number of retreats, both in practice and in policy. For much of the countryside it’s now a ‘one (able-bodied) son’ policy (though this can depend on local officials), and removing the policy from some minority nationalities was one more way of cutting their losses. The exemption for minority nationalities isn’t absolute, – it does apply to national minorities in Han-majority cities outside the Autonomous Regions. And according to a government minister here http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Oct/46138.htm , some restrictions do still apply to some minority nationalities.

  229. Aaron V on said:

    Re: one-child policy, I think the recent case of Arzigul Tursun, a Uighur lady who in Dec 08 was six months pregnant when the Chinese authorities were to carry out a forced abortion on her, is worth considering. she was exempt from the one-child policy and was actually pregnant with her 3rd child at the time. Nevertheless, and while I honestly don’t know which ethnic group is subject to more forced abortions in Xinjiang, or if it is somewhat equal, the case of Arzigul Tursun is absolutely horrific. Fortunately it did not end in a tragedy; she eventually gave birth to a baby boy in Feb 09, but only after massive international campaign pressure on the Chinese authorities from various individuals and human rights groups. I know her case is most likely the tip of an enormous iceburg, and I really wonder if such cases are more common amongst Uighurs in Xinjiang, or amongst Han.

  230. johng on said:

    Well I know about the Emergency and Sanjay Gandhi’s campaign to steralise the poor in India. I don’t know how socialists can say that this is bad in India but good in China. I really, really loath western socialists who are utilitarian and ‘tough’ about things they will never have to experiance. Its just wrong. Actually its not just wrong. Its laughable. And I don’t want the left to be laughable. And right wing. If it was right wing in India why wasn’t it right wing in China? These are questions asked in the global south forget about wanna be third worldists in the north (whose opinions in my view are irrelevent anyway). If this makes sense as a policy in China it presumably would make even more sense in India. Justify this.

  231. #257

    “Andy would like to do one of his take downs on it. It would probably be helpful.”

    I asked for a review copy, but they didn’t send me one.

  232. #284

    John.

    No one has defended the one child policy here, so why are your bringing that up?

    Though your comparison with gandhi,s sterilisation plan doesn’t fit, because that plan was tagetted at the poor. In China the groups whish has the one child policy most strictly enforced are the party membership.

    I understand that as it has been running for sme time, in urban areas the main form of enforcement is peer pressure towards social conformity rather than state repression.

    I think it is a bit tragic myself, as having siblings is so beneficial for child development, but it is a question for the Chinese.

  233. prianikoff on said:

    O.K. Here’s the Party line.
    Now everyone Shut_the_f***K_Up
    “Today’s China is a multi-ethnic nation characterized by peaceful co-existence of 56 ethnic groups. Under the leadership of its Communist Party, people of all ethnicities nationwide, working with one heart and one mind to withstand all kinds of challenges and pressures from both at home and overseas, have retained economic growth, political stability, cultural prosperity and social harmony, and they are now living a happy life. So, better work in strengthening ethnic unity for common prosperity and development conforms to the fundamental interests of the people of all ethnic groups and represents their heartfelt wish as well.

    To safeguard and enhance the ethnic unity, we should hold high the banner of patriotism, combat ethnic separation and defend the national unity. The unity of the motherland, therefore, is a basic guarantee for national prosperity and progress, whereas ethnic unity poses the essential condition for social stability and national prosperity.

    If a nation is split or strife-torn, it will be subjugated, innumerous families will wreck and people, too, will suffer, as both the past history and reality has shown. Ethnic unity is based on the unity of the motherland and will in turn be an end-all of national prosperity. Hence, it is the common aspiration and glorious mission of the people of all ethnicities to resolutely oppose to all secessionist activities and activities to undermine national unity, and to safeguard the national interests, dignity and honor.

    By safeguarding and enhancing ethnic unity, we should definitely guarantee the equal rights and interests for the people of all ethnicities in accordance with law. Under the framework of China’s socialist legal system, it is imperative to viably guarantee the equal rights and interests for all ethnicities, press ahead with the mutual respect for, emulation from, cooperation with and provide mutual help among different ethnic groups. Only by doing so, can ethnic unity have a solid foundation and the concept of jointly building and sharing a harmonious society be genuinely implemented.

    We should hold high the banner of great ethnic unity and carry forward the fine tradition of all ethnic groups in sharing a “common lot” and the “weal and woe” and “heart being linked to heart”. As the majority of the population belong to the Han ethnic group in Xinjiang, both Han majority and local minorities must reach an in-depth understanding that Han people cannot go without the minority people nor can the minority peoples go without the Han people, or one minority people can go without other ethnic groups, so multi-ethnical local people and officials should be guided and encouraged to cherish an excellent situation of ethnic unity and common prosperity in the region, people of all ethnic groups should be in firmly opposition to and combat law-breaking activities of outlaws and consciously maintain ethnic unity and social stability.”

    Peoples Daily Online
    July 13, 2009

  234. #279 JOhn

    When I was writing about left Sinophobia, this is a pretty clear example:

    “there is a left in many of these countries. Unfortunately in China that does not exist to any significant degree.”

    You simply buy into myths about the beehive society. you feel that you can make assumptions about China, based upon simply believing that the Western myths are true.

    Of course there is a highly critical left in China, both within and outside the Communist party. There are prominent left intellectuals outsdie the CP like Wang Hui, Gan Yang, Wang Shaoguang; there are journals like Dushku with a circulation of some 80000, the ong Kong based journal Twenty-First Century, Xueren, Tianya; what is alo interesting is the new phenomonenon of leftists based in the West participating in the debate, like Cui Zuiyuan.

    There are trade union activists in the ACFTU pushing for a more combative attitude towards employers, there is the independent Labour Union Federation, organising migrant workers. There is a mass circulation left wing newspaper in Guangzhou, nanfang zhoumo .

    probably in no country on earth is there a greater degree of structured debate, with input from the thousands of think tanks, university depertments, experts employed by different levels of government and ministries, trade unions, etc. And the left is able to participate in thst debate, and have some influence.

    Look at the massive participatory debate over the new labour laws, that saw China bring in laws that both the US and EU opposed, saying that they gave workers to much protection, it was discussed widely not only in the National Peoples Congress – where the law was amended after debate – and where the ACFTU has considerable influence in pushing the debate to the left.

    Even if you take a naarrow view of the left, you will find it is at least as strong and influential in China as it is in Britain.

    Now, obviously there are difficulties and hurdles ot be overcome, the editors of Dushku lost their jobs last year. But losing an academic tenure due to political activity is not unkown in the West.

    What you are doing is defining “left” as only being those who share your own views about the need to overthrow the rule of the CP. that is not a view that the left in China shares, so you just deny that the actually existing Chinese left has any validity!

    simples!

  235. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #287 I’m confused now. The first paragraph talks about everyone “working with one heart” but the last paragraph advocates “heart being linked to heart”. Just how many hearts are involved here? This programmatic disarray is not very helpful, comrade.

    Actually, joking aside, there are some wonderful phrases in there. My favourite is “encouraged to cherish an excellent situation”. Marvellous! I must try and use it in conversation today.

  236. #287

    the point about the government’s position is that they are clearly seeking to explicitly undermine chauvinism, and stress the multi-ethnic nature of the republic.

    Of course following through with actions rather than words is how they must be judged.

    But words are importnat too, and I have yet to see any evidence of the governemtn seeking to create ethnic tensions to divide and rle as some have suggested in the comments here. Indeed such an approach would be outwith the government’s mindset of working towards a harminious society.

  237. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #290 Or it might just mean that they are very concerned about the problems in Xinjiang (and Tibet) and they are desperately trying to diffuse the situation. I understand that there are Uighur “communities” in many Chinese cities now and further unrest is quite possible.

    The idea that the Chinese ruling class is “working towards a harmonious society” is laughable really though. Primarily, they are intent on building a powerful economy and extending their own influence across the globe. The current social unrest at home is an obstacle to this.

  238. #291 “they are desperately trying to diffuse the situation. “

    the cunning bastards, will these Chinese stop at nothing.

    Scores of innocent people dead on both sides, and they stoop to “trying to diffuse the situation.”

    “they are intent on building a powerful economy “

    But wouldn’t a powerfull economy help to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty? and isn’t that something that socialists should agree with as a societal aim?

  239. #272

    “How about discussing with minorities J? ”

    A new low of idiocy from JOhnG.

    In response to #271, where someone talks about the expereince of their own partner, who is herself a meber of a national minority in China- a Hui Muslim; John discounts this actual experience as being from the wrong sort of minority?

  240. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #292 Well, you are being deliberately facetious now. I was just questioning this (naive)idea of yours that the Chinese ruling class were pursuing a harmonious society. They aren’t. They are pursuing a ruthless society based on capitalist exploitation and oppression that will eventually lead them to embark on military adventures (i.e. imperialism). Inter-ethnic riots are a barrier to efficient capital accumulation, of course – that was what the editorial was about, in my opinion.

  241. chjh on said:

    I’m sure that the Chinese authorities are trying to defuse the situation in Xinjang, and that official propaganda will stress the multi-ethnic nature of China and argue against all forms of chauvinism.

    I’m equally sure that the army and police in Urumqi will continue to treat Uighurs (and Hui and Kazaks) quite differently from the Han majority, and that the ‘imposition of order’ will seem oppressive to national minorities.

    It’s not that unusual, surely for a ruling class’ practice to be quite different from its rhetoric?

  242. chjh on said:

    Andy, could you give some details about the independent Labour Union Federation that you cite in #288? As far as I know, independent trade unions are completely illegal outside Hong Kong and Macao.

  243. #298

    It was discussed in an article in the Morning Star about two years ago. I cannot remember many details, but I seem to recall that it organised migrant workers, and is outside the ACFTU.

  244. richsw on said:

    Andy @ 293: ‘In response to #271, where someone talks about the expereince of their own partner, who is herself a meber of a national minority in China- a Hui Muslim; John discounts this actual experience as being from the wrong sort of minority?’

    Johng can defend himself perfectly well, so I shan’t intervene, but his original point related to the contribution #271, as you say. Apart from calling anyone who disagrees with him ‘Sinophobes’, and any ideas they have ‘bullshit’, neither of which is true, there are also things left unsaid in the contribution: the argument that Uyghurs aren’t oppressed, in Xinjiang, Guangdong, wherever, is not sustainable; the experience of one Hui person alters this not one jot; the experience of some Hui since 1949 is very different from that of most Uyghurs, and even other governmentally-determined denominations of Hui, and this might explain his partner’s experience; and there was an identification, in parts of the contribution, of patriotism with support for the CP, which, if anything, confirms the idea that the root of much of the trouble in Xinjiang is nationalism.

    I remember meeting some Protestants from Northern Ireland, and chatting to them in a boozer. They argued just the same sort of thing – Catholics can vote, they can worship in their own churches, they can apply for any job, etc, so what’s the problem? Ten years later, I heard it in Israel, about Palestinians. My smidgin of knowledge about China is from reading, not visiting, but these arguments are fairly adjacent, to quote John Arlott.

  245. #298

    What is at issue is not whether there is racism, discrimination and chauvinism. Of course there is; but whether it is encouraged by the state or not.

    To give an example, there is a very interesting article by Young-Sun Hong in the anthology “Socialist Modern” of the often horrific levels of day to day racism and cultural insensitivity in the former DDR, including institutionalised racism particularly in thre health service; but this went completely against the active policy of anti-racism and internationalism of the government. hence the often counterproductive result of the DDR government actively promoting itself as an ally of post-colonial and developing nations, and sponsoring students to come to Germany as a practical measure of solidarity. And then when the students arrived they would find that Germany had no specialist knowedlge of tropical medicine, their experience would be disregarded, and trained healthcare prorfessionals from Vietnam, Korea and Africa would be forced into menial bed making; while Muslims would be fed pork with every meal.

    This racism was not government policy, the government struggled against it; but it presisted at all levels despite government anti-racism campaigns.

  246. prianikoff on said:

    re. Hui experience

    Given that China is mostly secular, I think the most important factor is language rather than religion.

    There’s certainly a history of conflict beween the Hui and Han.
    Between 1648 and 1878, around twelve million people from both groups were killed in unsuccessful uprisings against Imperial rule

    But nowadays the Hui are much more assimilated into Chinese society and don’t speak the Turkic Uyghur language. Nor does there seem to be any interest in, or attempt to form a common Muslim organisation between the Uyghur and Hui.

    It’s noteable that the most vocal international supporters of Uyghur nationalists this past week have been the Turkish government. Support for them in the conservative Gulf States and Saudi Arabia isn’t quite so enthusiastic and in Iranian PressTV, there is sympathy balanced by counter-arguments.

    Which reinforces my view that the Pan_Turkic element is the strongest factor at work in Uyghur Nationalism.

  247. Andy, could you give some details about the independent Labour Union Federation that you cite in #288? As far as I know, independent trade unions are completely illegal outside Hong Kong and Macao.

    Comment by chjh — 13 July, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    It was discussed in an article in the Morning Star about two years ago. I cannot remember many details, but I seem to recall that it organised migrant workers, and is outside the ACFTU.

    Comment by Andy Newman — 13 July, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

    Hah, nothing like an exchange like this to start my morning with a laugh! Andy, if you think that there are independent trade unions in China, there’s this bridge in New York I can get wholesale for you.

  248. johng on said:

    I made no assumptions about ‘beehive society’ Andy. I made assumptions about the kind of market led patriotism you also see in other parts of the world. Where on earth do you get this nonsense from? Again, your argumentative method seems to consist in arguing that anyone who disagrees that the Chinese state is in some sense a socialist one, or disagrees that there is a large organised left in China, does so a) because they believe uncritically western propaganda about ‘totalitarianism’ or on the other hand because they suffer from Sinophobia. Not so. The kinds of arguments being recycled here are classic of the kind you hear from upper middle class Indians who have benefitted from market reforms, feel they have arrived on the world stage, and resent any discussion, internal or external, which draws attention to gross social disaparities or on the other hand, to questions to do with minorities. Its empty chauvinist rhetoric.

    In India though, as recent elections demonstrate, large sections of the electorate don’t buy into this kind of triumphal story. But then in India the poor have a vote and consequently a voice: however distorted by similar arrangements which exist in this country. In China they don’t. This is not a state of affairs that I think socialists should glorify.

    And your comment about the article on the GDR is quite irrelevent to discussions of internal chauvinism directed at migrant workers travelling from more undeveloped parts of China.

  249. JohnG

    Part of the problem with you is your seeming inability to debate with the ideas that other people are putting forward.

    You said that unlike other developing countries there is no left in China. There patently is a left in China, and the growth of the so-called “New Left” has been a very significant development in recent years.
    Since you are saying somthing that is patently obviously wrong, then it is reasonable to point out you have simply made an assumption, and that assumption reinforces the dominant liberal misconception, and echoes the racist stereotype, of a society toiling without individualism under a cruel dicstatorship.

    Now you say that in China people don’t have a vote. have you bothered to check this? Are you aware that in all village councils, elections sre now mandatory?

    But in any event, what you are glorifying is the formality of liberal democracy, not the substantive reality of actually having influence. I have read very little that suggests that the left in China are particularly interested in the trappings of liberal democracy, becasue the substantive issues that divides left and right are the ones about economic equaklity, and state direction of the economy. You are agains simply reflecting the Western stereotype that liberal democracy “ought” to be a vital issue for the Chinese, presumably so that they can rise to our higher moral standard.

    With regard to the issues of social disparities and the question of minorities, you are right and wrong. there is very considerable discussion in China about social inequality, especially the crisis in the countryside – and a very vibrant debate about what to do about it.

    the question of minorities is much less discussed, and part of the reason for that is that many, many Chinese people, and certainly not only the middle classes, deeply resent the hypocrital interference from foreign liberals, and other outside agencies around tibet and Xinjiang, and see this as a threat not only to national honour, but a serious threat to the integrity of the republic.

    The otehr question we were discussing is whether the gvernment is responsible for chauvinism – the DDR exaple is just to show that even where a government has firmly anti-racist policies – this can be subverted by racist traditions in the population at large. There is no evidence that i have seen that suggests the Chinese government is directly stirring up ethnic tensions; you are simply assuming it with no evidence.

    perhaps the lack of evidence is just evidence of the inscrutibility of the Chinese government.

  250. chjh on said:

    In reply to #289 – I don’t see anything at all in johng’s comments that echoes racist stereotypes. He’s simply pointing out that there are not free elections in China: there are indeed village elections (actually, there were under Mao), but that’s where it stops. People in the cities have neither the trappings of real democracy nor any real influence – among the reasons why there are so many riots, perhaps.

    Similarly, the active and vibrant left is not allowed to organise political parties, to meet publicly, to have newspapers or hand out leaflets – indeed, there are Maoist political prisoners in China, who were jailed for being active Maoists. Yes, there is an academic left (who produce some very interesting writing), but they work under pretty strict limits.

    I don’t know whether the local and national authorities are deliberately trying to stir up ethnic tensions – I suspect not, but that’s not the point. The point is that the effects of the government’s economic policy stirs up ethnic tensions, as does the heavy-handed repression meted out by the paramilitary police and army. In that sense the government is responsible.

  251. chjh

    Is there a left in China or not?

    John G argues there is no left in China. that simply does echo sinohobic stereotypes about Chinese society.

    But here we are in agreement;

    I don’t know whether the local and national authorities are deliberately trying to stir up ethnic tensions – I suspect not, but that’s not the point. The point is that the effects of the government’s economic policy stirs up ethnic tensions, as does the heavy-handed repression meted out by the paramilitary police and army. In that sense the government is responsible.

    The difference betwen us is that I see the only way forward to improve the situation being reforms through the channels of the CP and the government.

  252. johng on said:

    I don’t know why you keep mentioning the ‘west’ all the time. I have’nt mentioned it. India is not in the west. They have SEZ’s too. Indian peasents and farmers don’t like them. In West Bengal they were justified in terms of the Chinese model. Its also true that I pointed out the distortions of formal democracy. The idea that Indian democracy is less substantive then the Chinese kind is ridiculous. Perhaps the left in India ought to be campaigning for the imposition of Presidents rule and Panchayat Raj (village councils). Oddly they don’t.

  253. “don’t know why you keep mentioning the ‘west’ all the time.”

    Hah! , what a red herring John!! I am not going to chase that distraction.

    What is the problem with you? depsite clear political differences between us, you are seemingly unwilling or unable to discuss those differences, and instead misrepresent, what i say, build straw men, raise red herrings and dissemble.

  254. johng on said:

    It should also be said that that section of the left in power in India just got hammered in the elections as a result of following policies on SEZ’s and the fall-out from them, justified in terms of the Chinese model. The reason they got hammered, rather sadly, is because adopting such policies put them to the right of even Congress as the mood in the country swung against neo-liberalism and Congress mouthed a more social democratic rhetoric. Hence my agreement with those comrades that in terms of models of capitalism, China is actually on the right of many other neighbouring countries. As to the limitations of bourgoise democracy, well that also includes the right to oragnise trade unions which workers need in China just like they do anywhere else. And a left forbidden to give out leaflets, agitate or organise except through government channels is a toothless left. Despite the current travails of the Indian left it is not yet in this position. It is not possible to follow this discussion if you have knowledge of these things without finding these strange accusations of sinophobia amusing. The trouble is that you are not looking at the reality of what the Chinese model means for actually existing capitalisms in the region. Often a shift to the right in terms of social protection, the right to organise etc. With the SEZ innovation being primary in India.

  255. johng on said:

    …and of course the US is hardly unhappy about this…either the discrediting of the Indian left (with the bourgoise media red-baiting them for following policies eagerly being implemented by non-Communist States although without quite the vim) or on the other hand the spread of this SEZ model. Its hardly a threat to global capital is it?

  256. Andy newman on said:

    JOhn

    I will come back to you on this, I ahve children to feed; but I note in passing the dployment of another of your technicques for confusing the debate – the faux bewilderment.

    I not that by using your criteria that make china more right wing than India, the USA would be more left wing than Cuba!

  257. johng on said:

    No not by using those criteria Andy. And I’m not bewildered at all. Perhaps you don’t know about the recent elections in India and the issues faced in them, but you are being a bit silly. And not really engaging with the issues as they face the majority of the population of the global south confronted by neo-liberalism. China is held up as the model to emulate in those parts of the world by actual governments. The consequences matter.

  258. johng on said:

    If you want to follow the debate on the Indian left about the fall out of the elections I’d check out ‘Economic and Political Weekly’.

  259. Andy newman on said:

    John.

    The question is what would you do differently?

    In the 1980s the Peoples republic faced a crisis of economic and political stagnation, at least partly due to their inability to attract inward capital investment, and their lack of access to new techology.

    the centraly planned ecoomoies, contrary to the expectations of most socialists, proved to have deep problems of low productivity, I would argue based on lack of labour discilpine, and lack of incentives for innovation; but also due to the opening technology gap with the West.

    In a poor developig country like China, this economoc stagnation meant that tens of millions were condemned to poverty. It seesm that you think that the Chinse governments concern with increasing production is inherently wrong and exploitative. But surely any progressive government has to start by ensuring a sufficiently robust productive economy to meet the physical and social needs of the population?

    We have seen the consequences of failing to confront such problems in the catastrophe that befell the peoples of the USSR when their society fell apart.

    Any government would have faced the same dificulties; so do you have an alternative economic and social programme to put forward for how they could have solved those problems?

    As it is they sought to attract new techology and capital investment by state controlled, limited, reintroduction of capitalism. In some ways a bigger bolder version of Russia’s New Economic Policy.

    They also restructured the former State owned enterprises, and there was a huge social cost to some parts of the working class; but at the same time millions of wrking people have benefitted; and economic growth has been dazzling. And this increased social wealth is still largely controlled and contained within China.

    As a model for developing countries it really does have benefits, in providing space for national economies to maintain sovereignty, and control of their own devlopment process, without having to be subservient to the IMF and world bank. the consensus of the left in Africa is broadly warm and positive about Chinia’s role; aided by the fact that there are no Chinese soldiers under african skies, in stark contrast the the record of the wesertn countries agonising about china’s rush for Africa.

    now it is all very well you being all “what about the workers”, but how would a workers government respond to same issues. What would you do differently to increase production? how would you put rice in the 1.3 billion bowls? How would you solve the crisis of debt in the countryside? Attract new technology? gain access to capital?

    These are very pracical issues, that exist whether or not there is direct workplace democracy through workers councls in the way the SWP proposes, or centralised rule by a political party which is what the experience of actually existing socialism has been like.

  260. Andy: Any government would have faced the same dificulties; so do you have an alternative economic and social programme to put forward for how they could have solved those problems?

    Well, Cuba ranks 48th out of 177 countries in terms of UN Human Development Indicators in 2008 while China ranked 94. That would argue in favor of socialism rather than capitalism, wouldn’t it? Of course, Cuba lacks the Mercedes-Benz dealerships and Gucci boutiques found in China, but I think that they are not essential.

  261. Andy newman on said:

    Louis

    The question here is not their absolute position, but the “value added”.

    has China progressed from a much lower level of absolute poverty than cuba?

    I certainly have no intention of criticisng the government in Havana, but i am not sure that all the options open to Cuba were open to China. For example coming out of the Special Period, the Cuban economy has made big foreign earnings from Cuba – issues of climate, scale and acessibility means that tourism can only be marginal to china.

    During the Deng era there was certainly an exagerated emphasis on allowing personal enrichment, perhaps it was a price they needed to pay to gain access to foreign capital, or perhaps it was a concession to far to the Shanghai school economists. BUt economic growth that followed has benefitted millions, and there is a greater commitemtn to social justice now under President Hu Jintao

    I wouldn’t idealise too much if I were you the situation in Cuba, where perhaps no-one has the absolute wealth of the Chinese millionaries, but there are certainly some rich young Cubans, leveraging off of familly connections and access to the dollar economy

  262. Thoughts on said:

    The crimes, idiocy and hubris of the chinese bureacuracy should not be ignored and neither are they decisive. Neither rationalisers nor emmpiricists are doing the working class any favours.

  263. chjh on said:

    Some of the ways in which Chinese workers have been attempting to solve some of their practical problems are anlaysed in a new report from the China Labour Bulletin. called ‘Going it alone’, it analyses some 100 labour disputes from 2007 and 2008. It’s available to download as a PDF from
    here

  264. #305

    John

    “Andy I’m not the Chinese state or a representative of Chinese capitalism. And nor are you. Nor am I the leader of the Labour Party, and nor am I George W Bush wondering what to do about 9/11. I’m a socialist. I’m not in favour of repression of workers organisations, Special Economic Zones, or killing peasents who don’t want to sell their land to be used by capitalist corperations. ”

    Yes, but as a socialist presumably you aspire that there should be a socialist government; and people are not going to support socialists forming a government unless socialists have policies for what to do as a government to confront the actually existing situation that the country is in.

    In a country like China, then raising production, accesses capital and new technology are social imperatives that any socialist government would need to take a view on. That is reality. Socialists have to be able to do reality.

  265. #306

    “the evidence is in the fact that the Chinese government does encourage them, as dealt with earlier in the thread”

    This is absolutely untrue – no one has produced any eveidence whatsoever that this ethnic violence has been encouraged by the government.

  266. little black sister on said:

    Andy is right to defend China.

    There is a class struggle in China arising from the contradictions inherent in allowing a layer of privately-owned enterprises. That does not make China a capitalist country. It’s a workers’ state. Of course it’s a flawed one, run by a bureaucracy, and distorted by great poverty. But it is also raising millions of working people out of poverty. Huge improvements in the living standards of one quarter of humanity are objectively hugely progressive.

    The size of the Chinese economy is set to overtake the US’s in a couple of decades, and the US ruling class is scared stiff. Let’s be clear – the Number One “enemy” for the US ruling class is not Iraq, Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan, it’s China. The bourgeoisie will go for it in every way they can. And the left needs to defend it.

  267. johng on said:

    I guess thats the key difference. The belief that in some sense China is a ‘workers state’ with a ‘socialist government’. this is not the old argument between state caps and degenerated workers (or even bureacratic deformations). China has the highest rates of growth of any capitalism in the world. Its government combines these high rates of growth with state controls over finance and investment which Britain and the US gave up in the 1970s.

    I don’t believe its true incidently that the US is petrified of Chinese growth. The US economy is dependent on that growth continuing. If it did not their economy would collapse. They are of course concerned by the success of an economy whose state is not integrated into a western system of alliances. But the relationship therefore between China and global imperialism is therefore best described as contradictory.

    China is a player. Not a subordinate. Its dangerous for socialists to imagine that this makes her, slighly comically perhaps, their ally. Its also a mistake to think that China is in any sense a reliable counter to US imperialism. China uses its veto to bargain for position when it comes to questions about intervention and the like. The same as Russia does.

    This means that after they get what they want the missiles can fly. When I perhaps too caustically talked about ‘Stalinism without Stalinism’ this was one of the things I was referring to. It is not even the case that most of the states being slotted into an imaginary new stalinism are consistantly in line with their imaginary geo-political position.

    Iran for example, as Tariq Ali noted at this years Marxism, effectively decided that it wanted its enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan gone and was therefore quite happy to keep quiet about the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan (Hezbollah in Lebanon, whose foreign policy statements probably are connected to the Iranian) refused to take part in protests against the invasion of Iraq, much to the annoyence of those opposed to the US invasion in Beirut.

    Of course this didn’t mean that Iran was friends with the US. It just meant that they had their own interests and those interests are not compatible with consistant anti-imperialism. Now Iran really is a much more subordinate part of the system of states, genuinely and periodically threatened by imperialism, and imaginary stalinism doesn’t even work in that case if you want to plot and understand their foreign policy.

    It works even less with China.

    How about bandung?

    Well yes thats somewhat more accurate. An entirely fictitious bloc which existed mainly in the minds of progressives and dissolved as soon as any difficult question was raised.

    To argue against workers organisation on the basis of something so flimsy…its not worth it…

  268. “To argue against workers organisation on the basis of something so flimsy”

    Good job that no-one is arguing against workers’ organisation then isn’t it JOhn!

    The issue is not that China is an ally in some sense of the workers movement in other countries, but that the Chinese state is persuing policies that are in lifting millions out of poverty; but also that the strategc aims of the Chinese state of creating a multi-polar world are a much more favorable context for progressive politics to flourish.

    The question posed to you, ,is if some Chinese equivelent of the SWP (god forbid) were to form a government in China, what would you do differently? You would still have to grow the economy, access foreign capital, introduce new technilogy, deal with Tibet and Xinjiang, etc, etc. You would have to preside over social inequality, and deal with corruption, and crime.

  269. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #311 Andy, you seem to have lost all sense of what a worker’s state would be like. It wouldn’t be “an SWP government” for starters – it would most likely be a working class government containing several revolutionary currents basing their theory and practice on Leninism and it would also have representatives from the poorer peasantry/rural proletariat in it. That is to say, it would be a coalition.

    All the questions that you raise about the economy and foreign policy etc would be decided by various worker’s councils i.e. by working class democracy (both urban and rural). The priorities would be to raise the living standards of the poorest, to prevent counter-revolution, and to build links with other worker’s movements around the world. None of this is hypothetical – it is what the working class movement in Russia attempted to do after October 1917.

    All this is a million miles away from the situation in China today where there is not the remotest smidgin of worker’s power anywhere in the political system.

  270. Pete

    Let us be clear, there has never, ever been a workers state of the type you describe. In Russia in 1917 the 2nd All russia congress of Soviets elected a Bolshevik government, which included some left SRs. But it was a government, the soviets provided sovereignty for that government, but did not meet in standing session to decide questions of policy.

    Questions of state policy simply were not decided by the workers councils, they were decieed by the government. the most clear example being the decision of the Soviets to abolish the death penalty, that was overturned by the Bolshevik government, who decided to keep it. this didn’t happen years after the revolution, but within six months.

    Also, any such working class government in China would be based only on a small proportion of the population.

    Now you say that the prioruty would be “to raise the living standards of the poorest”. I agree – that is why the Chinese communist party responded to the stagnation in the economy by managng a controlled reintroduction of capitalism, to attract capital and new technology.

    How would your workers councils attract capital and new technology in order to meet your demand for raising living stanadrds? And what if some workers pusue a sectional trade union interest in seeking an unfair share of wealth, or resist atampts to incease productivity necessary to rasie living stanadrds? These are real problems that have faced actually existing socialist governments. How exactly would you rasie living stanadrds? If that requires increasing production, then how are you going to get the extra surpuls to reinvest, are you going to ask workers for longer hours? better discipline at work? What if they don’t agree?

    You say that a priority would be to prevent counter revolution, I agree, so how would you deal with the counter-revolutionary seperatists in Tibet?

    “build links with other worker’s movements around the world.” Well for sure, the governing party can do that. But can the government of the state do that without endangering its trade relations. What if your priority to build these links undermines your priority to raise living standards?

    Having a “workers government” doesn’t make any of these problems go away.

  271. Explain to us the miracle of chinese capitalism johng. How has it been able to emerge in a world already divided up amongst the great powers. How did the chinese bourgeoisie manage to stabilise itself, overturn the feudal/asiatic property relations and become a progressive force in world history? What is there remotely Marxist about your approach?

    Andy: you should study theories of multi-polarity. All global conflicts have occurred under these conditions. Multi-polarity will spell the end of china. Only by taking to the road of international socialism can China be saved. power balancing between the great powers under multi-polarity is too complex to ever last – there are far too many variables. It will lead to a unified great power assault to dismember china and temporarily prevent war amongst themselves but it will of course only delay it.

  272. johng on said:

    But Andy the creation of a multi-polar world is not the product of Chinese endeaver. Its the product of trends in global capitalism going back to the 1970s and masked for a few decades by the cold war and its immediate aftermath. One of the things highlighted in Alex’s new book on Imperialism (which, as I stressed, is not an easy book, but nevertheless raises interesting questions, and not just for those in the SWP tradition) is the way contemporary discussions of imperialism tend to seperate it as a phenomenan from capitalism and an analyses of where its going.

    Now I hate to raise India again (I sometimes feel like a charecter off of goodness gracious me) but the argument about ‘lifting millions out of poverty’ is a slogan thats been used to justify the embrace of liberalization since the early 1990s. Whilst this is disengenuous, its also true that there are large segments of the population, way beyond the elite, whose lives have been transformed by these shifts (this is particularly true in terms of access to consumer goods). Of course this goes togeather with large chunks of the population being left behind, and in many cases, sinking further back. But growth rates, whilst not comparable to China’s, have nevertheless been significant, and this is not unimportant in terms of securing social stability and political consensus at the top of the system. Arguments, as in China, are largely focused around the pace of economic reform, and at the same time areas of reform (I can remember self-congratulation in the business press during the east asian crisis that India’s pace of reform and selectivity of reforms meant it was largely unaffected by the East Asian stock market crisis for instance).

    So the dominant elite political arguments (even as extreme poverty and political violence deepen around the fringes, whilst on the other hand newly empowered previously subordinate groups organise around politics of empowerment which some liberals and leftists find hard to deal with) focus around precisely what KIND of state intervention best SERVES economic reform, and which kind of strategy makes SUCCESS at globalisation possible.

    From your arguments I’m unconvinced that there is a fundemental difference in the terrain of argument in China even if the starting point is very different. The Chinese economy is much more successful (but is it a difference in kind?) and the role of state controls much more central. But new elites have emerged in much the same way as they have in India. One suspects that the re-appearence of ethnic and minority politics reflects a combination of successes and failures in the economy: failures in the sense possibly of limits beyond which the economy cannot go, successes in the sense of the appearence of new elites who want a larger slice or feel excluded…this in contrast to older cold war type arguments about opposition reproduced by some in the west and also, I think, on this site but upside down.

    So arguments you are making in defence of the Chinese State are arguments made by ruling classes, states, and sometimes state governments (as with the CP(M) in Bengal) in defence of economic strategies which hit workers and poor people hard, and in order to argue against solidarity with workers and solidarity when they fight back. Thats my problem with all this.

    In India the argument on the left is about a need for a left which engages on more then the electoral terrain and does more then simply offering alternative prescriptions for government (a path which has led to terrible disaster for the left in the last years). There has to be a left which engages with what are called ‘peoples movements’ at both regional and national levels, and finds languages to address these struggles which have been ignored for so long, and which have developed unfamiliar dynamics as, one suspects, they have in China with the transformations of capitalism both national and local.

    If the left in China restricts themselves to writing alternative policy documents for the government I don’t think they’ll get anywhere. The left in China should be centrally involved in peoples movements, campaigns to legalise trade unions, campaigns around housing, and yes basic grass roots stuff around civil liberties and the like (these networks I know DO in fact exist much as they exist in India were their origins are the ‘left’ and not ‘the west’).

    Expanding the right to protest is the single most important thing the left could be doing given the direction which the Chinese economy is going and which will not be effected one iota by alternative policy documents. States do not make choices on the basis of intellectual arguments. They make choices on the basis of material forces. Those badly effected by changes in the economy need to transform themseves into a material force.

    At the moment the dominant force in civil society is that of the middle classes who have benefitted the most from these changes. The absence of formal democracy means that wider voices often do not register. The Indian capitalist class faces difficulties in this sense which the Chinese state only experiances when discontent boils over. Formal democracy in countries like this can yield rather interesting results, and are perhaps best described as a gap between democracy and governance (a theme which in Africa is best explored by Mamdani).

    In other words the neo-liberal agenda faces problems with democracy actually. I don’t actually think the absence of formal democracy is in this era useful for those concerned that China doesn’t go in a neo-liberal direction. Basic rights should be campaigned for and any activist doing the most basic things finds this very rapidly.

  273. #315 `you mean capital accumulation, and of course this was the precise logic of stalinism.. bugger the world revolution, undermine struggles abroad for trade deals……….Newman is no Bukharin but really he has not learnt one jot from the tragic history of Russia post 1917.’

    That is true but you go the other way and advocate a bourgeois `democratic’ counter revolution (Uighir self-determination whatever it stands for) against the stalinised state instead of a political revolution which preserves the socialised property relations but sweeps out the bureaucracy and returns China to the road of world revolution. This just proves that you’ve learned nothing either. Or are you using the term stalinist in a loose, meaningless sense.

  274. johng on said:

    The miricle of Chinese capitalism is based on pursuing stragies analogous to the ‘tigers’. Its the gap between the official ideology of neo-liberalism and the reality. Neo-liberal policies of the kind prescribed by Washington fail in practice. There is a wide literature on the way in which neo-liberalism’s success stories were built around states which for various reasons found it possible to ignore what neo-liberal advisers in Washington told them to do. Sometimes this was a product of strategic location in the cold war (South Korea), in China’s case this was due to China not being integrated into the US system of alliances.

    But China is nevertheless very much a part of global capitalism today and its strategies are about engaging with global capitalism not departing from it. Arguments about Chinese economic strategy occur on the same terrain as arguments about economic strategy in other countries as argued above. They are not discussing the construction of socialism. They are discussing the best model of capitalist development in an era of global capitalism.

  275. `In other words the neo-liberal agenda faces problems with democracy actually. I don’t actually think the absence of formal democracy is in this era useful for those concerned that China doesn’t go in a neo-liberal direction. Basic rights should be campaigned for and any activist doing the most basic things finds this very rapidly.’

    You sound like Ronald Reagan. There can be no formal democracy in China. Formal democracy would mark the end of the workers state and the introduction of capitalist property relations at the point of an imperialist gun. Your programme is one for counter-revolution. Stockwell Pete at #312 it seems is grappling with a proletarian programme for these increasingly frequent uprisings and rebellions.

  276. But JOhn

    Firtsly there are tactical issues, it seems that there is some considerable scope for organising within the official ACFTU, which have 212 millions trade union members, rather than inviting repression by setting up alternative unions.

    Secondly, I fully support working class, peasant and democratic struggles to improve China, and shift government priorities towards the interests of ordinary working people, though you underestimate the degree to which China is already moving away from the Deng and Jiang eras of wild west capitalism.

    But you have to distinguish between sectional stuggles on behalf of the working class to defend and promote their interests within the existing set up, and the rather different issue of the working class seeking to place itself at the head of society, and create socialism.

    We both agree on the necessity of the former, but I am not convinced that there is a clear alternative policy at a societal level that the working class shoudl be pursuing. And if the working class don’t have a different programme from the current government, then why change the government?

    The question i am raising, is what alterative economic and social strategy for the whole of socoiety would you propose to that currently being pursued by the Chinese state?

  277. johng on said:

    …closing off any kind of discussion but this kind of discussion is part of closing off any discussion about real alternatives to capitalism. In much of the global south this is a disservice to trade unionists, peoples movements and justice movements, all of whom need arguments about the right to resist the depredations of capital: not to cheer it on. Its where these fantasies about Chinese socialism run into hard black ice.

  278. richsw on said:

    Andy @308: ‘This is absolutely untrue – no one has produced any eveidence whatsoever that this ethnic violence has been encouraged by the government.’

    I don’t usually like to bandy repartee, as it gets us nowhere, but, as you’ve effectively called me a liar, I suppose I have to. That part of the thread was dealing with what Noah (I think) called ‘chauvanist attitudes’, and not the recent ethnic violence. Such attitudes, ie policies, were covered earlier in the thread, with plenty of evidence. I think it’s reasonable to assume that official policy towards the minorities plays a significant part in outbreaks like that in Urumqi, and, whether you think me a liar or not, I will draw my conclusions. Your conclusions are different.

  279. johng on said:

    Andy, I think programs for alternative development emerge out of peoples movements and the lefts engagement with them. I don’t think they are pulled out of thin air or through diligent studies of sacred texts. These sacred texts are themselves the product of a similar dialectic seventy years ago and the attempt to read them outside that context turns them into the political equivilant of a dead language (this is why the screeds of the dogmatic are, lets be frank, so deeply tedious).

    Where we may agree is that what is happening in China is not a re-run of other things, whether these be an incipient version of 1917 or the developments in western Europe in the 19th century. But nor can these developments and the struggles which inevitably accompany them, be seen according to a cold war logic about the ‘defence of socialism’. This is every bit as misguided.

    I do think, despite my goodness gracious me deviations, that comparisons with other fast developing regional powers is much more appropriate then either of the kinds of analogical Marxism we are currently confronted with. I’m sure that worker and left activists in China engage on a number of fronts from officially tolerated organisations to those that are not.

    The precise tactical considerations involved are ones that none of us here are qualified to comment on. But a basic orientation around peoples movements is always and everywhere correct as is scepticism about arguments which rely, just as a for instance, on quoting state constitions in response to arguments about new and developing social tensions and polarisations.

  280. johng on said:

    Yes, the notion that there is a complete disconnect between policies, propaganda and the framing of issues, and popular chauvinist attitudes is, to say the least, implausible. I think its an example of Andy being driven to implausibility by a too credulous attitude to the Chinese state itself. No state is like the kind of state Andy thinks the Chinese state is.

  281. chjh on said:

    Actually, the CCP still calls itself ‘communist’, and still speaks of ‘building socialism with Chinese characteristics’ – that’s part of the problem.

    On Andy’s argument in #319, there’s a clear parallel here with his earlier arguments about Tibet, and with arguments now about Xinjiang – it’s about blaming the victim. The Chinese state is known to be repressive, so if people ‘make’ the Chinese state act in a repressive manner, it’s their fault.

    The question, of course, is what the alternative is. If you support working class, peasant and democratic struggles to improve China, you are not only opposing the specfic parts of government policy that the protests are (mostly) aiming at, you are also opposing a more general, systemic, view that there can be no independent class organisation separate from the CCP.

  282. (replies in brackets. God, that’s why I hate having debates on blogs.)

    Louis

    The question here is not their absolute position, but the “value added”.

    has China progressed from a much lower level of absolute poverty than cuba?

    [Yes, it has. But you are evading my point which is the superiority of a planned economy to one based on private property. You don’t seem to grasp that China’s HDI statistics are a function of immiseration in the countryside, etc. The best comparison is with Victorian Great Britain, not socialist Cuba. The Maoists elected to adopt Ricardian economics and put the label “market socialism” on it. As Marxists, we should be able to penetrate through the bullshit, I hope.]

    I certainly have no intention of criticisng the government in Havana, but i am not sure that all the options open to Cuba were open to China. For example coming out of the Special Period, the Cuban economy has made big foreign earnings from Cuba – issues of climate, scale and acessibility means that tourism can only be marginal to china.

    [I would urge you to not partake in idle speculation.]

    During the Deng era there was certainly an exagerated emphasis on allowing personal enrichment, perhaps it was a price they needed to pay to gain access to foreign capital, or perhaps it was a concession to far to the Shanghai school economists. BUt economic growth that followed has benefitted millions, and there is a greater commitemtn to social justice now under President Hu Jintao

    [The commitment to social justice is trumped by the realities of capitalism.

    GUANGZHOU, China — Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are returning here earlier than usual from their home villages after the Chinese New Year holiday. Lugging their belongings in plastic sacks and cardboard boxes, they are hoping to find increasingly scarce jobs. Many will fail.

    Liu Yijiang, a 21-year-old worker from Guangxi Province, stopped his bicycle in front of a factory’s gate and explained that he had been unable to find work since he was laid off late last year by a ceiling lamp factory and went home to his village.

    full: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/business/worldbusiness/06yuan.html

    Unemployment, the lack of independent trade unions, the dismantling of the “iron rice bowl”; all these things seem to be of little interest to you. How sad.]

  283. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #313 “Let us be clear, there has never, ever been a workers state of the type you describe. In Russia in 1917 the 2nd All russia congress of Soviets elected a Bolshevik government, which included some left SRs. But it was a government, the soviets provided sovereignty for that government, but did not meet in standing session to decide questions of policy.

    Questions of state policy simply were not decided by the workers councils, they were decided by the government, the most clear example being the decision of the Soviets to abolish the death penalty, that was overturned by the Bolshevik government, who decided to keep it. this didn’t happen years after the revolution, but within six months.”

    I think our readings of what happened after October 1917 are very different, Andy. You are overlooking the “from below” bit – the self-emancipatory impulse that was at the heart of the revolutionary process. At the 2nd Congress of Soviets in October 1917 Lenin said, “We must allow complete freedom to the creative faculties of the masses.” And in Pravda in November 1917 he wrote, “Comrades, working people! Remember that now you yourselves are at the helm of the state. No one will help you if you yourselves do not unite and take into your hands all affairs of state. Get on with the job yourselves; begin right at the bottom, do not wait for anyone.”

    And so in this period (October 1917 to mid 1918) local initiatives and spontaneous actions of working people were commonplace both in the cities and towns and in the countryside. Examples include the introduction of worker’s control in factories, the nationalisation of some factories (often against the will of the government), and the emergence of popular committees relating to justice, education and housing in many parts of Russia.

    So it is just not true to say that the policy of the state was solely determined by the government. The situation was far more complex than this and it is quite clear that, for example, in relation to many of the nationalisations that took place after October 1917, the working class in the factories concerned were far more radical than their representatives in the government. Similarly, the first collectivisations in the countryside were effected by the peasants themselves, as were the setting up of the Committees of Poor Peasants in many areas. Although decrees relating to these initiatives had already been passed by the government, it just didn’t have the administrative machinery to do these things itself.

    At the Seventh Party Congress in March 1918 Lenin stated, “what our revolution is doing . . . is not the product of a Party decision but . . . a revolution the masses create by their slogans, their efforts.”

  284. #322

    rich

    I haven’t called you a liar, I am simply saying you are mistaken.

    the evidence is that the Chinese state has pursued policies that have incidently resulted in increased ethnic tensions, such as the particular way the Go West strategy has been implemented; paradoxically some of the measures that are specifically beneficial to national minorities will also have increased ethnic tansions as well.

    But no evidence has been produced that the government has deleibrerately increased ethnic tensions in a purposive way. this is an importnat distinction.

  285. #327

    All that you have established is that there was considerable popular initiative some of which went further than the government wanted, during the process of revolutionary transition.

    Certainly by the middle of 1918, whatever the rhetoric to the contrary, a stable governmental structure had been estabished.

  286. johng on said:

    “Similarly, the first collectivisations in the countryside were effected by the peasants themselves, as were the setting up of the Committees of Poor Peasants in many areas”

    I remember the phrase ‘the red cockeril’ from this period. There has been a lot of work in both labour and peasent historiography about the spontanious side of the struggle. One of the things about what I would persist in calling ‘Stalinist’ re-writing of history is that it writes out the really revolutionary dimensions of what happened in 1917: partly on the basis of bringing to the fore the inevitable limitations created by siege and economic backwardness, but in the process ‘normalising’ these events and making them compatible with the conception of top down day to day politics charecteristic of the decidedly non-revolutionary routines and regimentation of politics in capitalist countries: and indeed in contemporary China and latterly, the former Soviet Union. Its hard to defend the revolution when you’ve forgotten what it was.

    Following on from Louis’s comments on China. Yes I was a bit amazed by Andy’s idea that China is returning to a more left wing model since the Deng era. There seems to me to be a systematic tendency to favour programatic declarations over developing social relations in his analyses. If for example, in the context of a global recession state a. claimed that focusing on internal rather then external trade was a turn towards socialism, whilst state b claimed it was a move informed by pragmatic adjustment to the global recession, how exactly would he tell the difference?

    In addition there does not seem to be any room in his analyses for the sheer density and social and political weight of emerging capitalist and middle classes in China. My flatmate’s family have long time connections with the country (she herself has studied China her parents were Maoists) and everytime the family comes round they discuss the complete transformation of the country at every level..to the extent that it can be hard to find your way about in areas you once lived for years.

    Behind all this is not just changing government policies but changing social relations: not just changing urban landscapes, but new social classes.

  287. #324

    “No state is like the kind of state Andy thinks the Chinese state is.”

    ????

    What have I said it is like? Certainly i haven’t idealised it.

    The Chinese state is repressive, authoritarian, does not exist in a culture where the rule of law is respected, the decisions of the central authority are frequenctly subverted by vested interests, there is almost no supervisory audit or accountability of lower level local government, opening up huge levels of corruption, it has a criminal justice system relying much too much on capital punishment. The distinctions between what political protest will and will not be permitted are arbitrary and inconsistent.

  288. johng on said:

    sorry but if that is ‘actually existing socialsm’ why should i encourage friends and comrades I know in India to remain socialists? Particularly as some of these models resemble the models currently being imposed in areas of their country which have produced large social movements in response? Particularly as in campaigns against the liberalisation agenda there are also campaigns against identical phenomena in capitalist India? This kind of self consiously ‘hard headed realism’ is completely utopian in relationship to ‘actually existing’ trends in popular movements and struggles for justice.

    I agree with most of the rest of your post though. Indeed, with the band of ex-Maoists I now know (thinking about it Chjh at some point you should pop round!) there was an interesting conversation the other night about rumours emenating from China that the recent ethnic clashes were not the product of a ‘stitch up’, not by the ‘CIA’ or the ‘west’, but a faction of the local party apparatus aligned with a section of Han capital, who wanted an excuse to over-ride the interests of a section of the party apparatus more closely connected to non-Han interests. Nobody had any idea whether it was true or not, but thats one of the things about contemporary China: nobody ever does.

    This is why all the brave talk about ‘substantive’ democracy is a bit laughable. What you are talking about is the emergence of new kinds of corruption merging with older kinds, creating a decidedly non-orientalist hall of mirrors. The dangers of arguing that all manifestations of politics not directed through an apparatus riddled with vested interests connected to rising capitalists and new elites ought to be blindingly obvious.

  289. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #329 “All that you have established is that there was considerable popular initiative some of which went further than the government wanted, during the process of revolutionary transition.”

    No, I have just suggested that your statement “Questions of state policy simply were not decided by the workers councils, they were decided by the government” is highly problematic in terms of what happened after October 1917.

  290. Louis: “you are evading my point which is the superiority of a planned economy to one based on private property. ”

    Superiority in what way?

    It is superior in some respects, not in others. that is what we have learned from the expereince of Eastern Europe.

    Was the economy of the DDR superior to that of the BRD?

    It was superior in providing full employment, a guaranteed social safety net, a commitment to womens’ equality, and subsidised basic food and necessities.

    It was not superior in economic innovation, labour discipline, productivity, or quality of production.

    Now some of those inefficiencies were based upon economic and other forms of sabotage from the west, and the post-war technocolgy and capital transfer to the East from the DDR; whereas the BRD enjoyed both technology and capital input from the USA. that itself led to a brain drain of professionals during the 1950s.

    But the inability of the DDR economy to provide enough consumer goods for material comfort created a number of difficult social tensions. One of which is that the government continually prioritised manufacture of consumer goods over other cnsdierations, creating the long running depertmental battle between ministries of heallth and industry at politburo level.

    But it also created huge inequalaties as those with access to influence in the supply chain, or those with familly in the west were able to by-pass restrictions.

    China used to have a centrally planned economy, and they were facing economic and social stagnation. They had serious problems not being able to access new technology or capital, and having tried and failed to kick start through economic autarchy in the Great leap Forward, they were pretty much out of ideas. hence the compromise with capital.

    Are you really saying that the Deng era reforms have resulted in an economy that is less productive than it was under Mao? Are you really saying that average living standards have fallen since the market reforms?

  291. #332
    #my coment about actualy existing socialism was a it flippant.

    But it is a good question you raise. why should people remain socialists, when the actuall experience of socialism has been far more difficult than we would have hoped.

    The question is how we, through collective political action, achieve progress towards a society based upon equality and fairness, where every individual is valued as being of equal worth, and which therefore eradicates the discrimination, violence and poverty that blight our current societies.

    we remain socialists because that aspiration is still worth devoting out lives to.

    However, we also need to negotiate our way through the actually existing societies we live in, and in the developing world in particular, economic growth, access to capital and new technology, as well as defence of national, political and economic sovereignty, are still pressing issues.

    Also in the developed world we cannot disregard imporatnce of the labour movement promoting particular economic and social policies from the state that benefit working people, benefit the whole of society, and provide a better political context for the workers movement.

    Will the policies of the state in promoting economic growth always be against the interests of the people? I think sometimes the state may still be playing a progressive role

  292. #330

    “Yes I was a bit amazed by Andy’s idea that China is returning to a more left wing model since the Deng era. “

    What about the new labour law?

    what about the socially redistributive aspects of the Go West policy?

  293. johng on said:

    Andy I’m all in favour of the labour movement fighting for reforms carried out by the state, and have not suggested otherwise. I’m also fully aware of the importance of state sovereignty in developing countries, and indeed of the way different policies impact differentially even within capitalism. There are legitimate arguments to be had against people who don’t get these things.

    But that doesn’t mean that everytime struggles erupt in the global south we should reproduce regime propaganda or denounce participants for being sponsered by the CIA. In India Indira Gandhi used to do this, cunningly morphing the language of the ‘hidden hand’ to mean ‘the US’ for her left wing supporters and ‘Muslims’ for her right wing ones.

    And of course the attempt to argue that the rising industrial and political discontent in the India of the period was orchestrated either by the US or Pakistan was nonsense (despite the fact that at the same time Kissenger was threatening to nuke India if she intervened in Bangladesh). And its also true that domestic right wing forces WERE involved in the social commotions which led her to eventually call the Emergency in 1975 (oddly the melange of different kinds of protest in different sectors does remind me a bit of things I’m hearing about China).

    But what a disaster it would have been if the left had taken the kind of line then, both domestically and internationally, that you are taking today on China. One section of the left did take that line and have been marginal ever since.

    Not every argument connected to the need to defend sovereignty is what it says on the tin, and not every argument connected to the demands of development are legitimate or have the outcomes claimed. So in interpreting legislation you defend gains without neccessarily imputing to the state the same motivations as the ones you have for defending them.

    But centrally the problem I have analytically with what you say is not the logic but the starting point. If I started by claiming that the Indian State had been socialist even though its property relations were not since the Nehru area (with perhaps some recent ‘setbacks’) it would, really, be quite impossible for you to prove me wrong logically without pointing to the fallacy of the original position.

    Innumerable legislation I could point to (I believe Tony Benn is particularly enamoured with the constitution largely because its so long: one Marxist I know commented bitterly, ‘a lawyers document for lawyers, and remarked that it probably went on so long to ensure nobody ever got to the end), and I could invent a whole list of twists and turns in liberalisation reflecting the on-going struggle of my imaginary politbureau to preserve socialist relations.

    There is actually a small circle of right wing Communists (the one’s who supported the Emergency and have yet to recant: well some of them still have jobs as a result so its unneccessary I guess) who actually believe this. But their productions are so monumentally dull that it really is impossible to get to the end.

    So legislation limiting the excesses of the market, and providing safety nets for workers, would surely be supported and fought for in China. But this does not translate into arguing that therefore there should be no independent trade unions or that people who argue for them are enemies of the people, or on the other hand that relatively modest measures of this kind suggest that all opponents of the states repression are ‘CIA agents’. Nor does it mean that such legislation encroaches on capitalist property relations.

    David Harvey at Marxism confronted the paradox of a system which badly needed more controls and keynesian measures but for ideological reasons would not adopt them. Actually since its inception the capitalist system has contained states trying to ensure successful capital accumulation (lets call it ‘economic growth) and capitalists themselves being bitterly hostile to them. Capitalists typicallly don’t know whats good for them.

    None of this is an argument to suggest that Roosevelt was an anti-capitalist, or indeed that the CPC is doing anything else but to seek to promote the stable advance of capitalism in China.

  294. johng on said:

    …and importantly the other problem I have with your analyses is the over-emphasis on the intentions of actors at the expense of the developing market capitalism in China and the social relations associated with them. Incidently my Indian parrallels are not that far fetched. A section of the Indian Communist movement had since the 1950s argued that as India was anti-imperialist (leader of the non-aligned movement etc), had socialist goals (industrialisation, land reform, lofty principles in constitutions) it was therefore the duty of Communists to work with rather then against the government in promoting ‘development’, as part of the global struggle for Communism, world peace and other such worthy sentiments. A section of them actually joined Congress.

    Another section refused to on the basis that the non-aligned movement was ‘reactionary’ and the Indian state not really a ‘friend of the Soviet Union’ (this neccessitated complicated arguments as the Soviet Union disagreed: the advent of hostilities between China and India and the Sino-Soviet split solved a number of problems for everyone: you could become a Maoist…or not).

    Meanwhile in Moscow the line was that the Indian state was a ‘transitional regime’. In India sympathetic Marxist changed their mind on what kind of ‘transitional regime’ it was every time there was a new statement from the foreign ministry.

    How can anyone have nostalgia for this kind of convoluted garbage that reduced an entire generation of talented Marxists to mush?

  295. Andy: Louis: “you are evading my point which is the superiority of a planned economy to one based on private property. ”

    Superiority in what way?

    It is superior in some respects, not in others. that is what we have learned from the expereince of Eastern Europe.

    Egads! I am shocked to read this on a blog that calls itself Socialist Unity and honestly don’t feel it is worth my while to try to answer you except to say that perhaps you should change the name to something like Left Unity since you are clearly innocent of the abc’s of Marxism. Maybe your idea of socialism is like what they accuse Obama of–European welfare states, high taxation, etc. But the more I read you, the more I have to conclude that you have not spent much time reading Marx, Engels, Lenin, et al.

    Frankly, I wonder if you spend much time reading things like the New Left Review or Monthly Review or any other key Marxist journals. I am glad that you are committed to building the left in Great Britain and are opposed to the BNP, Islamophobia and all that but I am disappointed to see how politically naive you are through these exchanges.

  296. Andy: But it is a good question you raise. why should people remain socialists, when the actuall experience of socialism has been far more difficult than we would have hoped.

    THEN CHANGE THE NAME OF YOUR BLOG. YOU ARE ONLY CONFUSING PEOPLE WHEN YOU ADVOCATE CAPITALISM IN THE NAME OF SOCIALIST UNITY.

  297. Louis

    I have read the whole bloody gamut of the great texts.

    But i also try to let the facts and evidence influence my views as well.

    Given that we have decades of experience of what actually existing centralled planned economies are like, then we know that some of the predicted superiority of planned econmoies did nt deleiver.

    Walter Ulbricht predicted that the DDR’s economy would overtake west Gemnay by 1970 – he had read a lot of Mark, Engels and Lenin you see, but he hadn’t yet appreciated the weaker labour discipline in an economy with full employment, and he hadn’t appreciated how being cut off from the most adavnced economiies in the world would lead to a technology gap.

    Now I understand that when people say that they don’t think a point is worth arguing, it sometimes means they are simply looking to slope off quietly becausue they are out of their depth. It suspect this is the case with you here.

    I also think it is a bit rich to be described as naive by someone who thinks China could have followed the same path as Cuba.

  298. prianikoff on said:

    LBS wrote at #309: “Let’s be clear – the Number One “enemy” for the US ruling class is not Iraq, Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan, it’s China.
    The bourgeoisie will go for it in every way they can. And the left needs to defend it.”

    That statement needs supporting evidence at the very least. Where is it?

    Ever since Deng appeared at the Rodeo in a cowboy hat, there’s been absolutely no evidence of the US, “going for China”. Certainly not in any military sense. Is anyone else of significance amongst the international bourgeoisie going for them?

    The only evidence I can see being the recent statements of Obama’s new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who has signalled a more confrontational diplomatic approach. He accused China of artificially manipulating its currency’s exchange rate. The low value of the Yuan makes Chinese goods very cheap in the US.
    Its massive trade balance with the United States has allowed China to become its largest foreign creditor.

    But this is evidence of growing trade rivalry betwen them, not that the US is fundamentally hostile to China’s social system or its international role.
    The US certainly can’t afford to provoke China into pulling its deposits out of the US banking system, or calling in its US debtors.

    So how exactly will it go for China?

  299. little black sister on said:

    #342 If you had the 7th Fleet on your doorstep and NMD in development, I doubt you’d need to ask that question.

    Plenty of ultra-leftists don’t accept China as a workers’ state because for them only a socialist utopia qualifies. But the Pentagon knows better.

  300. Party hack on said:

    Having bothered to get the end of many texts from the CP of India, the CPI-Marxist and other Indian leftists on economic and social development in India, the character of the Indian bourgeoisie, what strategic line revolutionaries should follow there etc. etc., over the decades, I am astonished that johng can dismiss this rich history and experience of ideological and programmatic struggle as “convoluted garbage that reduced an entire generation of talented Marxists to mush”.
    It’s on a par with other correspondents who think that the only real leftists, socialists or Marxists in China can be those who stand in one or other of the ultra-leftist traditions of the British far left. There can’t possibly be any among the millions of CPC members.
    Truly astonishing intellectual arrogance … until we remember that it arises within an utterly marginal section of the left in a country thoroughly infected with imperialist attitudes.
    I show my Indian friends articles about India from far left journals in Britain and they smile before shaking their heads in sorrow.
    The Indian Marxist movement, in all its main streams, has a record of political struggle, practical achievement and ideological rigour which stands in the sharpest contrast to the record of the Brit Left. Of course, that also means that they have and do make some sizeable mistakes.
    The Chinese CP seems to have done quite well in relation to us as well – much bigger achievements, and very big mistakes (which of course we in Britain would have avoided).
    Might a little more humility be in order on our part? [Retreats quickly before a hail of epithets including cries of “fossil”, “Stalinist” etc.]

  301. johng on said:

    Well if Walter Ubricht had really read lots of Marx and Lenin, he’d have realised that capitalism is a system based on an international division of labour and the idea that you could build socialism in perpertual isolation from the world economy was wholly utopian. This is not a utopian argument about never breaking from capitalism unless there are instantanious simultanious global revolutions. Its an argument suggesting that socialism is of neccessity a global movement if it is to be anything at all. The notion that socialism failed because of insufficiant labour discipline is perhaps an indication of where reasoning which fails to recognise this ends up.

  302. JOhn

    I think you will find that the SED was part of a global movement, in fact it was a global movement having state power in a sixth of the world, and mass parties in several other countries.

    I note your lingusitic spin though, i said that the planned economoes had weaker workplace discipline, you have changed that to insufficient.

    Weaker workplace discipline is a good thing, and was a positive benefit of socialist economies – but not having to work so hard does affect productivity.

  303. Party hack on said:

    That Walter Ulbricht – couldn’t have read much Marx or Lenin. Or if he did, he couldn’t have understood it. German, wasn’t he? Not in the much more intelligent and spectacularly successful Brit Far Left tradition, you see.
    Keep it up, johng, you’re fast becoming a national treasure. A sort of leftist Alf Garnett.

  304. little black sister on said:

    party hack gets it in a nutshell.

    The Chinese CP has achieved more to dramatically improve the living standards of many millions of workers than the British left ever has, and WE are lecturing THEM?

    Rather like the tiny minority of British leftists who, besides offering solidarity to Venezuela, which is laudable in itself, then also try to tell them how to run their revolution.

    “Ooh, thank you, British revolutionaries, who have been so successful in your own struggle! We have fought an immense class struggle, completed a socialist revolution and are building a workers’ state, but we could never manage it by ourselves!”

  305. Party hack on said:

    […], you obviously don’t understand the advanced level of Marxist understanding that we have reached here in Britain. Here are six easy steps for you to catch up:

    1. Read some Marx, Lenin and Trotsky classics (or all of them if you’ve got time).
    2. Join a spectacularly unsuccessful fringe far left organisation, learn the slogans (especially those relating to “Stalinism”, “bureaucracy” etc.).
    3. Leave said organisation if you don’t like its internal bureaucratic-centralist regime.
    4. Read the Guardian and a small number of British (and perhaps American) theoretical journals.
    5. You should now be equipped to react to almost any situation in any country in the world, obviously including all the ones which you have never visited, and without having to meet anyone deeply involved in the class struggle there (members of your own British organisation’s tiny “sister” group excepted, of course) or even read any indigenous literature.
    6. So it’s Communist governments or parties (bad!), revolutionary-democratic movements eg. Sandinistas, ANC, Chavez (vacillators!), trade union leaderships (bad!), use of foreign capital or its technology (bad!), strikes (good!), opposition to Communist governments or parties (good!), see – simple!

  306. johng on said:

    I’m sure US capitalism has done more to improve the lives of American workers then Little Black Sister, but I have no objection to her disagreeing with the President elect. Noah claims that I have ignored the way in which policies promoted by Congress of attracting foreign investment and diverting some of the proceeds to welfare programs have proved popular with voters. Where he finds me disagreeing with this I have no idea. I actually mentioned it and suggested that this does not make India Communist and nor does it make Congress the revolutionary leader of the Indian proletariat. What I did point out, sad to say, is that the main electoral Indian Communist Party pursued policies to the right of Congress, which involved denying benefits it had lobbied on an all India basis for to its own constituents were it held power, and most notoriously, using violence against peasents in order to try and implement SEZ’s using as cover, the example of the CPC. At the last election the result was that against all expectations the Congress got back to power, the BJP were beaten, and the Communist Party Marxist was soundly thrashed in its own strongholds, in Bengal for the first time in three decades. For all his talk of ‘internationalism’ Noah seems completely oblivious to an election result which has sent shockwaves through the entire sub-continental left. Ironically in a time when the Indian left should be doing well as the public mood is profoundly sceptical of the brasher end of neo-liberalism, the Communists were comprehensively defeated in their strongholds: largely because they pursued policies to the RIGHT of Congress. They polled overall better then they had last time nationally, being associated with some of those social democratic measures, but in their bases in Bengal and Kerala look set to be turfed out at the next regional elections. And part of my fascination with the debate here is that they were informed by much the same kind of ‘realism’ (combined with fake, tub-thumping ‘anti-imperialism’) that one finds ubiquitous on these threads. Andy is somewhat more nuanced then that, but I’m sure he’d get a warm fraternal greeting from his comrades in power in Bengal and Kerala. Best go quick. The freebies look set to diminish rather rapidly in the near future.

    Meanwhile the best of the left of the CPI(M) try and reorientate away from these disasterous policies, and wider afield it looks like a broader re-composition of the left is happening. More seriously and more sadly still, sections of the Maoist left have responded with campaigns against insubstantive Indian democracy by campaigns of violence and intimidation against peasents who vote (and who don’t seem to find their right to vote insubstantive).

    Meanwhile the Communist Party (Marxist) is launching military campaigns and repression at the tribals amongst whom the Maoists operates, and blaming the CIA for their defeat. As if the CIA was that bothered about the Indian lefts version of New Realism, complete with SEZ’s, and state repression of struggles against neo-liberal economic policies.

    Its kind of hard to sustain the levels of moralism entertained by some sections of the western left if you have experiance of the actually existing left outside of comments threads in Britain. Actually much of the left is in the same mess wherever you look in the world. Imagining that the struggles of the present are stand-ins for the struggles of the past is not a way out if you look too closely.

  307. Faust on said:

    There are some exceptions to the rule, but I think one secret of the “success” of the self-designated revolutionary left in Britain is that it essentially thinks like its own ruling class, especially internationally. Whereas, say, J. Edgar Hoover was anti-communist because he was anti-communist, the type of “revolutionary” I am talking about has to claim to be hostile to the USSR, the PRC for “socialist” reasons. Whatever the claimed motive, the result is much the same as if the paper-seller attended a ruling class gentlemans’ club in Whitehall and imbibed the prejudices there about “Russkies” and “oriental gentlemen”.
    The German ruling class went to war with Tsarist Russia in 1914 because of imperial competitiveness. The German SPD supported it out of an alleged desire to protect Germany from Tsarist barbarism, because it could hardly say “we’ve been converted on the road to Damascus – we became reactionary Prussians overnight”. But the practical effect was the same – the SPD backed its ruling class in wartime, and indeed gave it left cover. This pattern has been replicated many times since.
    In the final analysis, the left in Britain shouldn’t be judged by what it says. It should be judged by what it does, which is so negligible that it has been knowledgeably compared to ducks in a pond.

  308. prianikoff on said:

    I wasn’t basing my argument on defining whether China is a workers state, state capitalist or just plain capitalist.
    Nor do I dismiss the economic development China has achieved by inserting itself into the world market.

    If anything, this is a refutation of the Stalinist doctrine of “Socialism in One Country”
    But having lurched in the direction of ultra leftism under Mao, China lurched to the right under his successors.
    Economic development by itself is not evidence of socialism.
    The issue is the trajectory of the Chinese State.

    What I was taking up was LBS’s assertion that China was the “number one target” of the international bourgeoisie.
    Quite frankly this seems like the the residual delusion of a disillusioned Maoist.
    But I at least applaud the fact that the cold light of day has caused her to adopt the Marxist term “degenerated workers state”.
    This of course is nicked from Trotsky without attribution.
    Whereas Party Hack, Neumann tend to just wax lyrical about the benefits of the DDR
    (which quite frankly struck me as a dingy hole, full of agressive officials in uniforms when I visited East Berlin)
    At least the Straight Left clones show some evidence of “new thinking”, even if they are incapable of shaking off the straight jacket of their Stalinist training.
    So how many Igors is that?

    I don’t think the precise class definition of China is exactly what animates the White House or the planners in the Pentagon either.
    They’re more worried about economic competition and its nuclear missiles.
    The US military will *always* seek superiority over its nuclear rivals.
    It will *always* seek to control its nuclear allies.

    China’s reliance on a policy of ‘credible minimum deterrence’ is breaking down as a result of the proposed US missile shield and space-based weapons.
    So while it can work more closely with Russia and Iran, it might still face a destructive arms race in the future.
    But there’s absolutely no evidence that China is being seen as “enemy number one”.

    Nor should “defending” Russia, China and Iran against Imperialism entail uncritical defence of their governments.
    Quite the opposite is true.

  309. Party hack on said:

    Johng is right about the CPI-M (in particular) having suffered electoral set-backs in Kerala and West Bengal. It may lose ground in the next state elections there, although that would have to happen on an even bigger scale than the federal elections for the Left Front to lose control of West Bengal.
    But here’s the thing. The CPI-M has suffered huge reverses in the past; it has survived British imperialist persecution (on a scale our Brit super-revolutionaries could not even have nigthmares about), the Gandhi Emergency, many assassinations of its cadres at all levels – yet it persists as a party which could fit all of the Brit Far Left into a corner of one of its medium-sized city organisations. It has deep roots in Indian society, with tens of millions of workers, peasnts, women and students in its mass organisations, five daily newspapers etc. etc.
    Johng may think the party’s over and sneer about “freebies” coming to an end. But I suspect the reality is he knows nothing about the CPI-M that he hasn’t got from the Guardian, the internet or an ultra-leftist theoretical journal. Hence his premature glee at the party’s demise.
    Still, I’m sure they will struggle by without him and all the other Brit Far Left experts on the revolutionary process in India.

  310. prianikoff on said:

    Faust’s analagies between the German SPD support for the First World War and the “British Far left” is so ignorant that only a complete imbecile could be taken in by it. He just hates Trotskyists.
    If he’d been in the CPSU during the 1930’s he’d have been jumping up and down like a performing seal applauding all the drivel about Trotsky-Fascists.
    Party Hack’s contributions are getting even worse too.
    His name is well chosen.
    He’s an uncritical sycophant of existing regimes who probably could never have survived without them.
    Bloggers, of course, are wanabees putting themselves on the catwalk for offers.

  311. Party hack on said:

    Prianikoff wades in: “Whereas Party Hack, Neumann tend to just wax lyrical about the benefits of the DDR”.
    I haven’t mentioned the DDR (or GDR as I would prefer to call it) at all. And who is Neumann? If he’s German, how on earth can he know more about Germany than a Brit Far Leftist?
    Or more than Prianikoff, who’s clinching argument on the character of the GDR appears to be that he once went to East Berlin?

  312. Party hack on said:

    Oh, and as we’re working up a froth here, can Prianikoff quote any examples of me being an “uncritical sycophant of existing regimes” (I presume he means China, Cuba or – please spare me – North Korea, or somewhere else in the past).
    As he cannot, I suspect his real objection to my posts is that I am a critic of the super-revolutionary pretentions of the Brit imperialist far left.

  313. johng on said:

    Actually Party Hack I get much of my info on this from the Indian left – some of them (oh horror!) being CPI (M) members. I’d suggest you subscribe to Economic and Political Weekly (it will cost you about 40 quid, and you get all the archives back to 1967). There you will be able to read your own comrades (some of them -erst) arguing much what I’m arguing. And here is a funny thing. I have met many Communists from India, of all kinds of different types. The only people I’ve ever met who adopt your kind of attitude seem to be middle class students from Britain. Funny that.

  314. johng on said:

    Actually Party Hack I get much of my info on this from the Indian left – some of them (oh horror!) being CPI (M) members. I’d suggest you subscribe to Economic and Political Weekly (it will cost you about 40 quid, and you get all the archives back to 1967). There you will be able to read your own comrades (some of them -erst) arguing much what I’m arguing. And here is a funny thing. I have met many Communists from India, of all kinds of different types. The only people I’ve ever met who adopt your kind of attitude seem to be middle class students from Britain. Funny that.

  315. johng on said:

    […] you have simply misunderstood Indian politics. I was referring to the the social phenomenan of pro-liberalizing middle class who prefer to vote BJP these days but are also part of Congresses vote base. In the national elections before these latest, the BJP ran on ‘India is shining’ playing to this sentiment. They were kicked out. In the last election it was widely thought they would come back. They did not. However, its important to realise that left commentry emphasising that ‘this is not a mandate for the neo-liberals’ and stressing the (actually pretty modest) welfare gains of Congress, flies in the teeth of much of the elite and certainly the business press, who want to interpret the defeat of the communists as an opportunity to push foward with neo-liberalism. Given the nature of Congress, which way it goes is entirely down to the kind of external pressure that pushes them away from natural inclinations: further liberalisation.

    My remarks about presidential rule and panchayat raj were provoked by your rather absurd attempt to argue that democracy was ‘more substantive’ in China then in India. Absurd on a whole number of different levels.

  316. johng on said:

    For one thing without democracy Congress would be playing to the middle class and there would be no talk of welfare.

  317. johng on said:

    And of course India has much larger poverty then China. The key reasons for this in my view are the better land reforms carried out in China after the revolution. Its also true though that you did not see the mass mortality from famines that you saw in China during the great leap foward etc. Its been argued that this would simply have been politically impossible in India because of democracy (and that this indeed, also applies to the reason why the mass famines of the British period were never repeated). But it is no part of my argument to suggest that India is ‘better’ then China (I don’t fetishise regimes in this odd way). Its to do with the fact that democracy of the hurting kind (ie it matters what the results are) matter for the poor particularly in poor countries. Middle class constituents in such countries don’t tend to be so keen on democracy. Poor people are stupid, uneducated, and hold the nation back. So goes the common argument (unless of course the argument is about being the ‘biggest democracy in the world’). Surveys show that the middle class view democracy and politics as a dirty business and would prefer authoritarian solutions held to be less vulnerable to corruption and more ‘efficiant’. When I hear all this discussion about the middle class in China being opposed to democracy and the CPC giving up its monopoly on politics I’m not reminded of sturdy proletarians discussing ‘substantive’ democracy. I’m reminded of doing interviews in posh hotels with wanna be entrepreneurs droning on about how ‘the country is going to the dogs’.

  318. johng on said:

    Oh and Party Hack: One feature of discussions with left sympathisers of the CPI(M) I meet is that they are terrified of the right winning. But also in their heart of hearts think that, particularly in Bengal, they really don’t deserve to win. Its a common sentiment. Its at times like that that its important that the left step fowards. Lets hope they do a better job then the British left did in similar circumstances.

  319. chjh on said:

    That comment, correctly formatted:

    This article from the official China Daily website draws an explicit comparison between ‘fighting terrorism’ in Xinjiang and in Afghanistan. It’s headlined Urumqi riots part of plan to help Al-Qaida.

  320. johng on said:

    Its a shame that you miss the fact that the main part of Prabhat’s argument is a critique of seperating the social fight from the geo-political fight. Much of the stuff you seize on is the weaker part of the article where he is bowing to orthodoxy. The article as a whole though does mark a shift to the left which I’m quite happy about.

  321. chjh on said:

    Fro those who haven’t bothered to click on the link, the article reports various conspiracy theories circulating on jihadi blogs and websites, and concludes The jihadi forum members’ hypothesis of U.S. manipulation of jihadi factions to prevent China from becoming a superpower seems far fetched.

  322. Party hack on said:

    Sorry, johng, but I’ve been away so didn’t respond to you at #359. It sinks below your usually high standard of debate (which I respect even when not agreeing with you).
    My information about India comes from (1) Indian friends, comrades and family in Britain and India; (2) subscriptions to five weekly and monthly journals from Communist and non-aligned publishers in India; and (3)links with Indian trade unionists. I can honestly say that I have known onloy one middle class Indian student in Britain, and don’t know many more British ones – none of whom know anything about India. Nor am I middle class student myself.
    I think you’ll find that my “attitude” on India (i.e. of broadly supporting the CPIM in India) is shared by a large number of Indians, most of them not middle class students.

  323. Faust on said:

    355. Oh dear.
    One thing I have observed, in over 20 years on the Western “left” (often more “Western” than “left”) is that the partition between the ideology of that “left” and the ideology of its own ruling class can be a very thin partition indeed. Sometimes it disappears altogether. So we got “socialists” trying to join the capitalist jamboree when the Soviet Union was dissolved, we get “socialists” cheering on Islamophobia (often the same ones who were cheering on armed Muslims of a very basic kind indeed so long as they were killing Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan), we get socialists attempting to wave the Israeli flag when the Israelis are bombing Gaza into the ground, etc. All these are trivial compared to the vast wave of social chauvinism in 1914, but the ideological roots are the same.

    As to the Trot question, the “left” in Britain is more Trot than anywhere else I know, certainly in Europe. If it was a revolutionary creed, the left would be streets ahead here. In reality, it is shrunken, demoralised and ineffective. Over on “Lenin’s Tomb”, there have been numerous posts about workers’ militancy in France, and sometimes I note that nothing like that is happening in Britain. Could it be that the French are still drawing strength from 1789, the Commune and a mass PCF? While the British have… a few Trots.

  324. chjh on said:

    #373 Arguably, the strongest ‘Trot left’ in Europe is the French far left. Arlette Laguiller and Olivier Besancenot have received millions of votes in Presidential elections and are household names, Lutte Ouvriere and the NPA have numerous councillors, and both organisations have been heavily involved in much of the workers militancy. And in the last presidential elections Olivier Besancenot beat the PCF candidate…

    And here in Britain all the ‘Trot left’ has managed to build is the largest anti-war movement ever in Britain. Oh, and the movement against the poll tax that did for Thatcher, and the Anti-Nazi League/Rock Against Racism that stopped the NF’s rise in the 1970s and 1980s.

  325. C’mon, chjh, Trots in Britain might have established a few decent victories but it truly pales into insignificance in comparison to the the global achievements of the International Communist movement. I mean, the sheer weight of class collaboration and popular frontism, defusing of revolutionary waves, the sheer catastrophic betrayals of the working class movement in the interest of defending the ruling class of Stalinist Russia over the past 80 or so years really puts the efforts of us Trots to shame.

  326. CHJH, are you actually being serious?
    You think the Left in the UK has something to be proud of?
    As for the French trot left, they were wiped out in their last elections.

    Your anti-war movment has, by any standards, been an abject failure. Squandered the support of millions and frittered away to nothing.

    The Conservative Party “did for Thatcher”, the tories themselves remained in power for a further 7 years.

    And the ANL/RAR stopped the NF? I think it is more likely that Thatcher’s “swamped” speech undermined their support rather more than a few thousand punks at a rock concert. And having to go back over 30 years to scratch for any sense of victory shows just how pitiful the Left really is here.

    Put that alongside the CPCs acheivement of lifting 400 million people from abject poverty in that same 30 year period, then really it shows what a sad joke you and your “movement” actually is. Hundreds of millions of lives transformed for the better, but that matters for nought for you. But a 30 year old rock concert is the height of revoltutionary success? Pitiful.

    Whenever you people a sniff of success you cannot help but monumentally screw it up for yourselves (and by default, the rest of us who were ever stupid enough to beleive you). The SSP is a perfect example. They could have held the balance of power in Scotland with their handful of MSPs. But instead they committed suicide after their personality cult (supported by all factions, no matter how much they squabble now) turned them into a laughing stock and they showed without any doubt that they could never be trusted to be a serious poltiical force. And back into the political wilderness they were cast. And justly so.

    The success of the BNP is a direct result of your failiure. The current far-right political culture that dominates the whole of society is a consequence of your ineptitude. Youve had decades to get it right. You failed. And now the rest of us will pay the price.

  327. “Fro those who haven’t bothered to click on the link, the article reports various conspiracy theories circulating on jihadi blogs and websites, and concludes The jihadi forum members’ hypothesis of U.S. manipulation of jihadi factions to prevent China from becoming a superpower seems far fetched.

    Comment by chjh”

    it is rather more interesting than that. But since when could anyone expect an accurate description of anything from you, judging by your fairy stories about the glorious success of the ever forward marching UK (trot) Left?

    The conclusion from Jamestown Foundation is hardly surprising, as they do generally represent the viewpoint of the western intelligence community and are therefore not going to be admitting any such involvement.

    However, what is interesting about the article is that it shows the debate within the Jihadist movement over what position to take regarding China not just in regard to China’s internal affairs but also in relation to their relationship towards the US. That there is such a debate withing the jihadist movement is of great interest (or should be), and it is clear that there is a strong tendency that recognises that it is not in the interest of the broader anti-imperialist/anti-american perspective to attack China or to play to what is seen as a US/imperialist agenda/trap and get embroiled in a conflict with(in) China that ultimately strenghtens the US position at the expense of both China and the jihadists.
    Obviously there is strong disagreement from other Jihadi factions, but the above position does seem to be the one closest to that of the al Qaeda leadership (judging by previous statements). I wouldnt attempt to give al Qaeda any sort of progressive gloss in terms of what their objectives are, however it does show they have a better understanding of anti-imperialist strategy than most of the Western Left.

  328. prianikoff on said:

    #377 “…the CPCs acheivement of lifting 400 million people from abject poverty…”

    By Lucy Hornby in Beijing 28 July 2009

    “AS THE crowd of Chinese steel workers meeting their new boss grew angrier, someone hurled a chair. Then others began kicking and hitting him. Finally, Chen Guojun was thrown down some stairs to his death.
    His killing on Friday, as he was trying to manage a private conglomerate’s takeover of the state-owned Tonghua Steel in northeast Jilin province, underscores the risks of privatisation in China, as millions are thrown out of work”

    http://news.scotsman.com/world/Anger-at-privatisation-of-China39s.5498166.jp

  329. Prianikoff, no one would deny there are serious contradictions within Chinese society and great tensions created by the economic reforms. There are abuses and crimes, exploitation and corruption. Not a doubt. And no doubt there is great and righteous anger towards exploitative bosses and corrupt officials. Rightly so. But unlike in a capitalist society, if the corrupt capitalists and officials get caught they very often get shot. Thats the difference in a socialist state.

    But that aside, if you can point to another example of so many people’s lives being transformed from utter destitition in the 3rd world, indeed anywhere or anytime else in human history, in the space of 30 years, then please, I am all ears.

    And if you believe China is a capitalist society (which would still be historically progressive for marxists) then you have to explain how (and why) capitalism can take 400 million people from poverty. And if capitalism has acheived that, then, once again, from a Marxist perspective that is still a historically progressive (understatement!) acheivemant. But it hasnt. The Communist Party of China and a. socialist state has. That they have successfully used market forces to drive societal and economic socialist development on a historically unparralled scale is to their credit.

    Simple fact is, whatever the problems and contradictions that exist, the acheivments are real. Very real for the hundreds of millions of the worlds poorest who have seen their and their childres lives transformed for the better.
    TTheres a long way to go. But if anything else, China shows, shortcuts don’t work. Its a long haul. Sadly the western left is pushing it in the wrong direction. Fortunately they dont matter a shit.

    And in the end, that this incredible acheivement counts for nothing to you and your ilk says rather alot more about you than about China.

  330. Faust on said:

    Well, too many on the left, especially in the metropolitan imperialist countries, are not the heirs of Lenin, they are not the heirs of Stalin, they are not even the heirs of Trotsky even though they may think they are. They are the heirs of Martov. Who was marginalised from 1917 onward, didn’t like what he saw in Russia, went into exile and died. He said he believed in revolution, but could not handle it when it happened. Martov looked like one of the typically ineffectual characters in Chekhov plays, and certainly acted like one.
    If a revolution were to happen in a country like Britain (hard to believe, but economic crisis and imperialist war drives could trigger it even here) “revolutionary” groups would probably be at sixes and sevens, and even denounce the developments for not fitting their schemas. Probably as good a reason as any to have a revolution – to watch the “left” fumble the ball.

  331. johng on said:

    Then again Faust you think that the leader of the Red Army was like Martov. Duncan Hallas on Bourgoise revolutions contains an interesting discussion of China near the end. The achievement of the Chinese revolution was that it removed the (real) barriers to industrialisation and development in China created by imperialism. So its no part of the argument of the IS tradition that nothing changed as a result of the Chinese revolution.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/hallas/works/1988/01/bourgrev.htm

    Whilst I was looking at the Duncan Hallas archive I came across this article on Trotskyism and its problems which I thought was outstanding. I thought of Louis Proyect when I read it. I sometimes think my differences with Louis stem from the fact that in Britain (and to some extent France) the break with Cannon and the American SWP tradition amongst many trots occured a very long time ago. Hell we’ve got our own problems now!!

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/hallas/works/1973/xx/fidecline.htm

  332. johng on said:

    Well perhaps you should read it again. The main purpose of Prabhat’s paper was to critique the right wing social policies of the CP(M), and stress the need to ensure that in future anti-imperialism is tied to the economic front. The stuff in which he tried to justify his earlier stance of denouncing those who criticised those policies over Nandigram was in my view a weaker part of the article. But I guess you have to have some familiarity with the local arguments to get that. It was a big row at the time.