The Relevance of the Western Left

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Tue Feb 13 10:57:14 MST 2001

GB Shaw had Professor Higgins exclaim in exasperation: Why can't women
be more like men?
The same attitude runs strong among the Western Left about their Asian
counterparts.  This notion of the universality of leftism appears to be
the main obstacle to universal leftist solidarity.   The Western Left
came out of a tradition of the Enlightenment, from the rise
individualism, personal freedom and representative democracy.  In Asia,
the modern Left rose from a background of violent struggle against
Western imperialism, sucking on the open sores of decrepit feudalism and
bureaucratic capitalism.  Western imperialism arrived in Asian under the
guise of individualism,  personal freedom, and representative democracy,
terms that carry specific coded meaning for Asian revolutionaries.  To
combat Western imperialism, the Asian Left has long recognized that the
goals of nationalism, rather than individualism, class liberation,
rather than personal freedom, and dictatorship of the proletariat,
rather than respresentative democracy, are the guiding lights of
revolution.  Neo-imperialism is now hiding behind the same slogans
through neo-liberalism.  The Western Left, particularly the bourgeois
Left, find this anti-liberalism in the Third World distaseful, if not
repulsive.  It then adopts a self-righteous opposition to the Third
World Left that is more vehement than its opposition to neo-liberal
finance capitalism.  The reason behind the Western Left's critical view
of the Third World Left is that the former no long considers that a
state of war still exists between capitalism and socialism, and that
extreme measures necessary during war time are no longer justifiable,
that peaceful evolution toward civil society is the preferred path,
instead of violent revolution.  The Western Left esentially views the
capitalist system as an increasingly benigh opponent rather than a
lethal enemy.  As opponents, the Western Left and Right struggle against
each other within well defined, civilized rules, with the winner taking
care to allow the loser room to enjoy the benefit of the capitalist
system.  This mutual accomodation the West toutes as the "rule of law"
and "human rights".  The Western Left has unwittingly assumed the role
of ideological compradore for neo-liberalism, in the name of law, human
rights, freedom and demcracy.  One merely has to look it the dismal fate
of Soviet dissidents since the fall the the USSR to see the hypocracy
and collapsed market value of these ideological slogans.

China, the sole remaining major socialist nation, is now the favorite
target of the Western Left, often from opposition directions, both for
being a stubborn protector and an unprincipled betrayor of true
socialism. The Western Left appears to be taking out its frustration
with its insignificance on what it mistakenly branded as a betrayed
China.  Personally, I am not a neutral observer, but a committed
partisan engaged in building socialism in China. My views on these
matters are not academic.  I have never written a book and have no
intention of ever writting a book.  My views have been formed from
actual particpatory experience and they tend to upset a lot of Western
Leftists  I have been banned from a two self-professed "left" lists (not
yet from any bourgeois economists lists).  On this list, several people
have openly called for my expulsion last year because my views on
unionism are not welcome on this "moderate" list. (The evidence is in
the archives.)  Some, like Henwood, have repeatedly tried to disqualify
me for "working on Wall Street."  While I am a self-taught specialist in
bourgeois economics and capitalist finance, I do not work on Wall
Street. (I was academically trained as an architect.)  But this post is
not about me, it is about my attempt to understand the hostility of the
Western Left towards Chinese socialism.

Within China, a fierce struggle is continuing to seek a correct
socialist path in rapidly changing post Cold War conditions.  The
struggle will go on for decades, perhaps even centuries.
Below is a December 26, 2000 editorial from the People's Daily which
layout the basis for a national wide debate that will come to a policy
declaration at the 16th CPC Party Congress in 2002.  The translation is
not official and not perfect.  The views are not dictum.  They are
currently widely debated in China.  I do not agree with parts of it, as
large number of others also do not, but for reasons very different than
those vocalized in Western Left circles.

Title: Renmin Ribao on Historical Development of Marxism in China During
  20th Century

 In the 20th century, Marxism saw an unprecedented evolution of its
theory and great victories in practice; this was also a century when
Marxism experienced huge, unprecedented setbacks.
In China, Marxism has been carried forward and developed in the form of
Mao Zedong Thought and  Deng Xiaoping Theory.   Even though the
'sinicization' of Marxism was not all smooth sailing, the banner of
Marxism never fell down.   At the time when humanity is about to enter
the 21st century, it is important to conduct a retrospective analysis of
the historical fate of Marxism in  20th century China.

The first form of Marxism in the 20th century China appeared as the Mao
Zedong Thought.   Mao Zedong's ideas are the product of combining the
general principles of Marxism with concrete Chinese practice.

The China that gave birth to Mao Zedong Thought was a backward Asian
country.   The old China was a semicolonial, semifeudal society.   Three
huge mountains weighed down on the people's heads: imperialism,
feudalism, and bureaucratic capital.   Without toppling the three
mountains, people could not gain their freedom, and China's backwardness
  would forever remain unchanged.   In modern times,
 China's men of insight had been seeking the nation-saving truth.   Even
though the old  democratic revolution under the leadership of Sun
Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen) overturned  the rotten Qing dynasty government,
facts proved that due to the flabbiness of its national bourgeoisie,
China's status absolutely could not be changed in reliance on this
class.   The guns of the October  revolution woke men of vision from
their hesitation and perplexity, and  they made the historic choice of
following the footsteps of the Russian  people.   That was the time when
Marxism was spreading in China, when the Chinese socialist movement
began, and the Chinese Communist Party was  founded.

Over the long course of its revolutionary struggle, the Chinese
Communist Party came up with its own leader, Mao Zedong.   Mao Zedong
applied the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism in combination with
concrete Chinese reality, to give accurate answers to a number of
problems: the nature of society and revolution in China, the
revolution's leading class and its allies, China's unique revolutionary
road, etc.   While pointing the Chinese revolution in the right
direction, he also creatively developed the theory of Marxism-Leninism.
Mao Zedong emphasized that the Chinese society is not a purely colonial
or a purely  feudal society, but a semicolonial, semifeudal society; and
the main  targets of the revolution are imperialism, feudalism and
bureaucratic capital.   Therefore by nature, it is not a socialist
revolution but a bourgeois-democratic revolution.   But this revolution
is not the old democratic revolution.   Since the old democratic
revolution led by the bourgeoisie had already declared its defeat in
China, China's national  bourgeoisie could no longer fulfill the role of
the revolution's leading class, and only the proletariat can lead
China's anti-imperialist,  anti-feudal revolution.   Therefore this is a
new kind of bourgeois-democratic revolution, that is a new democratic

As for the question of what road must China's revolution finally take,
Mao Zedong pointed out that in China, due to the weakness of the
proletariat, China's large cities are completely controlled by the
reactionary regime, and the European way of inducing a revolutionary
high  tide by uprisings in central cities will not do at all.   On the
other hand, China's rural areas are vast, the reactionary regime there
is  comparatively weak, while the revolutionary forces have sufficient
room  to maneuver, and that is where the proletariat's most reliable
allies,  the peasants, are.   Only by relying on the countryside, the
starts an armed uprising of workers and peasants, establishes red
political power, surrounds cities with countryside, and then finally
seizes the cities.   That is the unique road of China's revolution
pointed out by Mao Zedong.   China's new democratic revolution indeed
took this course, and after overcoming various difficulties and the
"left" and right opportunism within the Party, gradually advanced to
victory.   In a certain sense, one can say that the victory of the
Chinese revolution is the victory of Mao Zedong Thought.

 After the founding of the People's Republic of China, our party,  under
the leadership of Mao Zedong started another long march, the long  march
to building new China.   The first question we faced at this  beginning
stage was this: Can an originally poor and backward country  like China
skip capitalism and make a transition to socialism?   While Marx
predicted that economically backward Oriental countries could cross  the
"Kafuding Gorge" and accomplish a direct transition from pre-capitalist
society to socialism, but by that time there had been  no precedent.
Mao Zedong gave an answer in theory.  He believed that following the
victory of the new type of democratic revolution, there  must be a
transition period, to create conditions for the entrance to socialism.
Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, we accomplished this transition in
seven years and built socialism in China while also achieving numerous
important successes in economy, politics, culture, education, science
and technology, such that China from a poor backward country gradually
evolved into a socialist country with the beginnings of prosperity.

Upon completion of the socialist transformation, Mao Zedong led the
entire party in an arduous exploration of the socialist construction and
further gained numerous victories.   However, because his understanding
of the laws of socialist construction was insufficient, because of
theoretical errors, because of incorrect response to dramatic changes in
  the international situation, he also committed subjectivist errors,
which  resulted in the failure of the "great leap forward" and the
people's communes, and, particularly, this finally led to the great
political  chaos of the "cultural revolution" that was immensely harmful
to the  cause of socialism in China.

The special conditions of the 20th century epoch and the special
historical conditions in China created the great genius of Mao Zedong.
Just like with any other outstanding historical figures who lead
brilliant glorious lives, they inevitably leave some regrets behind; the
  later years of Mao Zedong also left such regrets.   The errors of Mao
Zedong's later years are not only his personal tragedy, they are a
tragedy of our party and our state.   This tragedy came about for very
complicated reasons and we cannot blame Mao Zedong alone.   Furthermore,
  "Tragedies are admittedly painful, but their pain leaves the deepest
impression on people, and thus frequently becomes a turning point that
creates new thoughts and new things." (Bo Yibo, "Some Important
Decisions and Events in Retrospect," v. 2 p. 874).   The fate
of Marxism in China is ultimately a happy one.   Having experienced a
period of setbacks, it  finally extricated itself from its predicament
and again advanced towards victories.

Another form of Marxism in China is Deng Xiaoping Theory.   Deng
Xiaoping Theory is a continuation and development of Mao Zedong Thought,
  it is the result of combining the common principles of Marxism with
the  practice of building socialism in China; it is a new stage in the
evolution of Marxism.

After the death of Mao Zedong, a serious situation arose in the
development of Marxism in China.   Chinese Marxism was faced with an
important choice: should it continue along the erroneous path that Mao
Zedong took in his later years or, while carrying on and developing the
scientific system of Mao Zedong Thought, reject the errors of Mao
Zedong's later days.   At that time, the Party leadership in charge of
the work of the Central Committee persisted in promulgating their
erroneous views: "We will firmly uphold whatever decisions Chairman Mao
made and unwaveringly follow whatever instructions
 Chairman Mao gave."    On the other hand, Chinese Marxists represented
by Deng Xiaoping, in response to the "two whatevers" viewpoint
distinctly argued that Mao Zedong Thought must be understood in their
entirety and accurately and  initiated a huge discussion on the
criterion of truth.   This was a  struggle on the cardinal matters of
right and wrong, it was about the  direction that China would take, the
direction that Marxism in China  would take, it was about our state's
prosperity and decline, life and  death.   This discussion resulted in
the victory of the viewpoint  according to which "practice is the sole
criterion of cognitive truth."    This removed the ideological obstacles
interfering with the convening of  the Third Plenum of the 11th National
Party Congress Central Committee  that had an epoch-making significance,
while also forming the ideological  foundation of Deng Xiaoping Theory.

"Liberate Thought, Seek Truth From Facts" -- this is the ideological
path established by the Third Plenum of the 11th National Party Congress
Central Committee, which is at the same time the quintessence of Deng
Xiaoping Theory.   It is according to this ideological line that Deng
Xiaoping suggested that with regard to our past mistakes, we need to
conduct a radical theoretical overhaul and bring order out of chaos.
He emphasized that from the standpoint of theory, our past mistakes stem
from a lack of accurate understanding of what is socialism and how to
build socialism.   For a radical reform and restoration of order, we
would first need to pay special attention to this fundamental issue.
It is in the process of providing systematical answers to the
fundamental question of what is socialism and how to build socialism
that Deng  Xiaoping founded his theory of building socialism with
Chinese characteristics.   Moreover, he led the building of socialism in
China onto the main road, opening new prospects for the cause of
socialism in China.

According to Deng Xiaoping's views on socialism, given that China is at
the first stage of socialism, everything must proceed from this reality:
the basic task of socialism is that of developing productive forces, and
all rights and wrongs, successes and failures must be judged against the
criterion of "three benefits"; socialism, too, is to be reformed, and
reform is also revolution; market economy is an economic  tool, it can
be used by capitalism and socialism alike.   These and other views had
an immense guiding significance for the new comprehension by the entire
party of what socialism is and how to build socialism, while  at the
same time raising socialism to a new level.  The report at the party's
15th Congress highly praised Deng Xiaoping Theory, emphasizing
"Practice proves that Deng Xiaoping Theory which is a continuation and
development of Mao Zedong Thought is an accurate theory that guides the
Chinese people in their victorious implementation of socialist
modernization in the midst of reform and opening up policy.   In
contemporary China, only Deng Xiaoping Theory that combines Marxism with
  contemporary Chinese practice and the characteristics of our epoch,
and  no other theory, can resolve the issue of socialism's prospects and
  destiny.   The Deng Xiaoping Theory is the Marxism of contemporary
China;  it is a new stage in the development of Marxism in China."

After the death of Deng Xiaoping, the task of carrying on and developing
Deng Xiaoping Theory fell on the shoulders of the third generation of
Party leaders with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core.   The Party Central
Committee rallying around Comrade Jiang Zemin raised high the banner of
Deng Xiaoping Theory and led forward the entire party and all the
peoples of the nation along the road pointed out by Deng Xiaoping
Theory, achieving numerous new successes in the building of socialism,
while at the same time continuously pursuing theoretical development and
innovation based on new experiences and new situations.   Comrade Jiang
Zemin said, "While upholding Deng Xiaoping Theory, continuously enrich
and creatively develop this theory in practice -- this is the solemn
task of the Party's Central Committee leadership as well as all party
comrades."   Comrade Jiang Zemin set a good example and has been a model
for the entire Party.   Throughout these years, his theoretical works
have been carried on, and developing Deng Xiaoping Theory on such issues
  as establishing socialist market economic system, governing in
accordance with the law, developing the country through science and
education,  upholding cultural and ideological progress, promoting peace
and unity of  our nation, augmenting party building, etc.   Deng
Xiaoping Theory, which  is a new stage in the development of Marxism in
China, has not come to a standstill because of Deng Xiaoping's death.
This effectively guarantees that the cause of building socialism with a
Chinese flavor will be able to advance in large strides now as well as
in the 21st century.

Under the guidance of the great banner of Mao Zedong Thought and Deng
Xiaoping Theory, socialism has ultimately gained a huge victory in
China, whose population equals roughly a quarter of the world's

In an almost one hundred years' long river of history, the
"sinicization" of Marxism has had the most complicated and intricate
turns of fortune, it has posed a multitude of questions for

First of all, at no time can the fundamental principles of Marxism and
scientific socialism be swayed.   The socialist society is a society
that has eliminated the system of exploitation, its appearance is
different from the change of dynasties in history.   The change of
dynasties in history was the transition from one kind of exploitation
system to another kind of exploitation system, or even a supersession of
  power within the same exploitation system.   When capitalism is
replaced  by socialism, a society of exploitation is replaced by a
society without  any exploitation.   This is indeed an earth-shaking
change, it is bound  to cause violent repercussions in society and
arouse unbridled resistance  of the exploiting classes that do not want
to take their defeat lying down.   At the same time, precisely because
socialism is a society that has eliminated all exploitation, it must
accumulatea lot of experience from scratch and pursue exploration anew.
  In thisprocess, socialist countries and Marxist political parties can
hardly avoid encountering various difficulties and obstacles.   The
crucial issue is that,  regardless of the havoc wreaked by class
enemies, regardless of the  intensity with which international
anti-socialist forces induce division, regardless of the difficulties
encountered by the construction of socialism, we must staunchly adhere
to the immutability of the basic system of socialism and unwaveringly
uphold the basic principles of Marxism.   Any vacillations on this basic
point will inevitably result in  ending the prospects of socialism.
This is the reason why Deng Xiaoping  emphasized the need to uphold the
four basic principles even as he  underscored the need for China to
develop its productive forces, and the  need to pursue the policy of
reform and opening up.

Second, only through incessant innovation and development does Marxism
acquire vitality and fighting capacity.   Innovation and development are
the live soul of Marxism, losing this soul is losing Marxism itself.
>From its birth till the present Marxism, it has been  around for more
than 150 years.   The reason for its long prosperity and  eternal youth
is the innovation and development it experienced at various stages in
history.   However, in the course of this innovation and development, by
no means can we turn our backs on Marxism's basic principles or surmount
objective laws of history, or run counter to its realistic and practical
scientific spirit.   Instead, we must combine the basic principles of
Marxism with the peculiarities of the new epoch and China's national
conditions, investigate new situations, solve new problems, and open new
prospects.   By rejecting the fundamental principles of Marxism or going
against the objective laws of history  while talking glibly about
innovation, we can only reach the opposite of  Marxism.   Turning
certain Marxist theses that do not conform to current reality into dogma
to be rigidly adhered to can only deprive Marxism of its live soul and
by the same token, put an end to Marxism.   Therefore, upholding and
innovation are consistent, upholding and innovation are carrying on and
development.   The two great personalities in the process of
"sinicization" of Marxism in the 20th century,
Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, while carrying on the cause of their
predecessors, also broke with outdated conventions, which enabled them
to open new prospects to Marxism and become two personalities who
symbolized two milestones in the  development of Marxism in China.

Once again, we must adopt a correct stance towards mistakes committed in
the process of socialist exploration.   Because socialism is an
unprecedented new social system, it is inevitable that people commit
certain mistakes in the process of building socialism.   Of course if
policy decisions by the ruling party could be more democratic, more
scientific, this could reduce error or reduce the detrimental effect of
these errors.   However, once mistakes are made, there remains the sole
issue of what attitude to adopt towards these mistakes.   Here, there
are two incorrect stances: one is to exaggerate these mistakes and
excessively investigate personal responsibility and, which is more,
summarily reject even past achievements in order to criticize the
errors, to a point where the socialist system is blamed for the errors,
thus this  stance results in a fundamental rejection of socialism.   The
other attitude is to conceal faults and gloss over wrongs, do one's best
to cover up mistakes, and even uphold mistakes.   Such
attitude can only result in the ruling party going ever further along
the road of errors,  and finally to the party's self-annihilation.

Finally, socialism must represent the fundamental interests of the
broadest population masses, sharing their fate. Theoretically, socialism
is consistent with people's interests. This is because socialism
eliminates exploitation, removes polarization, and implements social
justice.   However, practically it may have never been capable of
representing the fundamental interests of the broadest population
masses: either because the ruling party adopts an incorrect line, course
or policy due to its misconceptions regarding socialism or due to a
misguided evaluation of the situation, or because the ruling party is
divorced from the broad masses, committing the error of bureaucracy.
These things may very likely happen, and indeed they actually happened
at some point in the experience of the Soviet Union and China.   If such
situations are not corrected, their consequences are extremely grave.
Comrade Jiang Zemin's important thinking on the "three represents"
pointed out that the Chinese Communist Party must become a true
representative of the needs of developing China's advanced social
production forces, of the course of progressing China's advanced
culture, and of the fundamental interests of the broad masses of people.
   Of these, representing the fundamental interests of the broad masses
of people is the foothold and the conclusion.   The bottom line is that
ultimately we uphold Marxism and practice socialism so that broad masses
of people can have happy lives.   But good aspirations are not enough by
themselves, what is needed is accurate practice, a party line, course,
and policy capable of realizing these aspirations. If our practice is
incorrect, and the party line, course, and policy run counter to
people's aspirations, if they jeopardize the people's interests, this
can naturally cause their dissatisfaction and even meet with their
opposition.   The history of socialist movement, the practice of
socialist countries is replete with too many such lessons, so that this
calls for deep thought.

At present, when humanity is about to enter the 21st century, the new
century offers an abundance of challenges and opportunities.   Whether
or not Marxism will be able to orchestrate a new historical composition
depends on whether or not the proletariat and its political party can
adopt a correct attitude to history, scientifically summarize their
experience and continue to fight and advance.   If this is genuinely
accomplished, then Marxism has not only carried on into the 20th
century, it will surely be carried in the 21st century too.  End

Laos sees China, Vietnam as 'successful' socialist model

Kyodo News Service

VIENTIANE, Feb. 10 (Kyodo) - By: Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) will continue leading Laos
toward the goal of realizing a socialist society patterned after the
''successful'' models of China and Vietnam, according to a party source

A key document drafted for the communist party's seventh congress slated
for next month indicates the party remains confident in its strategy of
combining market-economy principles with socialist theory.

The LPRP blames poor leadership and misinterpretation of theory for the
collapse of communism in Russia and East European countries.

''Socialist theory is polished by its success in China. It looks better
and perfect after reforms and openness in Vietnam,'' the source quoted a
party political report for the coming congress as saying.

''Developments in the two countries confirm that socialism is in the
right direction and that it is alive and has a very bright future,'' it

As a socialist partner, the LPRP congress will propose that Laos
continue its special relations with Vietnam and expand comprehensive
relations with China, he said.

The source said the guidelines are expected to intensify the rivalry
between pro-Vietnam and pro-China factions within the party.

The party will also urge the military and police to strengthen
inspections and security measures to root out ''bad elements'' accused
 by authorities of masterminding a string of bombings in Vientiane since
March last year.

The congress, held every five years, is the most important event for the
ruling party because policy directions are laid out during the

It is estimated that 39% of the country's population of five million is

The LPRP has admitted failing to achieve targets for economic
performance set five years ago.

Economic growth averaged 6% instead of the targeted 8-8.5%. Per capita
income during the last five years averaged $300, falling short of the
target $500.

''We can partly blame the regional financial crisis (in the middle of
1997) for the failures. But our poor internal management is a major part
of the economic slowdown,'' the source said.

Agencies such as those dealing with economic matters, the central bank
and the investment committee have been criticized for lacking unity and
efficiency to implement economic action plans.

Hyperinflation and economic difficulties resulted from poor coordination
among government agencies. However, Lao authorities managed to reduce
inflation from 141% in 1998 to 50% last year.

The coming congress targets boosting gross domestic product growth by at
least 6% annually in the next five years, according to the source.

The market mechanism would play a key role for transforming the Lao

State-run enterprises urgently need improvement to enable them to
compete in the market while inefficient debt-ridden firms would be
dissolved or merged with others.

Unlike Vietnam, which is supposed to hold its ninth congress in the same
period, the LPRP mentions corruption and abuse of power among officials
but made recommendations on how to tackle the problem.

The date of the congress is not yet fixed. The central committee ended
its 14th plenary session Feb. 3 during which several draft documents for
the congress were considered.

The party will have to hold another plenum to finalize drafts of a
political report, socioeconomic development strategy for 2010-2020 and
guidelines for 2001-2005 and socioeconomic plan prior to the congress.

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