Putting Henry Liu in context

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Wed Oct 13 23:11:19 MDT 1999

> From:          Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
> I regard the work of people like Gerard Greenfield, who writes on Chinese
> labor, to be essential. He was subbed to the list twice, but I think the
> volume overwhelmed him. I have also crossposted articles that he sent me on
> several occasions.

I agree, after an initial meeting on Sunday. Gerard and his comrades
in the new Mandarin-language "Globalization Monitor" had an afternoon
brainstorm in Hong Kong, in the tiny office of a small-scale
organic trotskyist group (Pioneer) up in a high-rise sweatshop
tower in one of the area's last industrial districts, and I happened
to be passing through, and was extremely impressed with the rigour
and humility of their project. But contrary to any sense of radical
possibilities from China, I very much got the impression that the
CCP-leaning unions and allies in HK were often the fastest sell-outs
in various concrete struggles (e.g. at present around housing

> Henry Liu is a completely different story that I'd like to elaborate on
> now. As some people are aware, Henry is an extremely successful investor in
> his 60s who still adheres to the original Maoist vision of the 1950s. He
> tends to defend post-Maoist Chinese government policies of today on a too
> reflexive basis, but it is clear from discussions that I've had with him
> and his posts on various email lists, including this one, that it is the
> Chinese revolution that inspires him and not foreign enterprises on the
> seacoast. His uncle was a member of the Chinese Communist Party's central
> committee for decades and a major influence on him growing up.
> Put yourself in his shoes. You and Steve are young scholars with socialist
> sympathies, which in this day and age is to be applauded. It would be easy
> to throw all this away and get degrees in finance and jobs paying $60,000 a
> year. So your sacrifice is admirable.
> But try to imagine that you got a degree in finance this year or next and
> took a job with some Wall Street investment bank. You start at $60,000 and
> then get promoted on a regular basis until you make partner. You are
> surrounded by people who believe in capitalism and who are rewarded
> handsomely. By the time you reach your mid-40s, you are probably making $5
> million per year. You own a summer home in the Hamptons, drive a BMW, eat
> at pricey French restaurants and have ZERO contact with socialists. What
> chance is there that you still retain the socialist convictions of your
> youth? Think about that next time when you question Henry's core beliefs.
> Henry has helped to publicize Blackfoot Indian issues in a Chinese language
> daily. He has made clear to me on numerous occasions that he sees his role
> in life as being a benefactor to the revolutionary movement. What shape
> that takes nobody can say at the present moment, but he is excited to have
> made the acquaintance of American radicals through these various email
> lists, including me.
> Henry is in China right now having meetings with members of the CP whose
> agenda revolves around pushing foreign policy to the left and opposing
> privatization. He also meets regularly in NYC with Embassy officials who
> are hostile to the right turn. Those are his politics, not turning China
> into a clone of South Korea. If he believed that South Korea was a proper
> model for Chinese society, he wouldn't have had brutal fights with people
> like Brad DeLong on PEN-L, an open defender of neoliberalism.
> Louis Proyect
> (The Marxism mailing list: http://www.panix.com/~lnp3/marxism.html)

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