The Relevance of the Western Left

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Tue Feb 13 18:54:16 MST 2001

Of course the Asian Left is not single dimensional.   Liberal democrats in Asia
may be dissidents, but they are not the left, despite the fact that they may be
viewed by the West as the left. No leftist in Asia would promote liberal
democracy or human rights, although many groups do, but they are not leftist
groups.  You may be correct that I may have universalized the Chinese Left, but
it is justifiable because at this moment in history, China is the banner holder
of institutional Leftism.  One of the reason behind US anti-China fixation is
that Washington knows that which ever direction China goes, so goes Asia.

The Indonesian left was mostly of Chinese ethnicity in 1950 until they were all
massacred. Same in Malaysia, Thailand and the Phillipines.
Not all revolutionary groups are on the left, but for most Westerners, all
national liberation fronts are leftish fronts.


Alan Bradley wrote:

> I am a little reluctant to criticise Henry's post given the information
> that has been provided about its context, but there are a couple of
> elements that I think that he has overstated.
> First, the very concept of an "Asian left" is problematic, given the sheer
> diversity of "Asian" nations.  To at least some degree I think Henry has
> universalised the Chinese case beyond the point where it makes sense.
> Secondly, and following on from that, the anti-liberalism of the "Asian"
> left is not universal.  The Indonesian left, for example, has taken an
> approach to revolution that involves being the most determined and
> consistent defenders of liberal democratic (yes, *bourgeois* democratic)
> values.  In doing so, they hope to force aside the cowardly and elitist
> liberal forces that are at the moment stronger than them while at the same
> time challenging the more traditional conservative forces.  This method has
> not been proven to work, of course....
> The Philippines left is a mixture.  There are both "anti-liberalism" and
> "pro-liberalism" currents amongst the revolutionary left.  A South Korean
> left is emerging from the now massive working class there, independently of
> the North Korean state.  (They are pro-reunification, of course, but only
> on a socialist basis.)  The East Timorese left have established themselves
> as the only consistent democrats, opposing the maneuvers of the aspiring
> bourgeois forces.
> Significant elements of the Pakistani left are waging a determined struggle
> against the military junta in order to force a return to (bourgeois)
> civilian rule.  The Indian left is a massively complex issue in its own
> right.
> And so on...
> I have only been talking about revolutionary forces.  In a range of Asian
> states, the road to revolution passes, at the moment, through the defence
> (or achievement) of "liberal" values.
> This does not, however, give "Western" leftists the right to play the fool
> with respect to China, Vietnam, Laos and so on.  In that, I agree with
> Henry.
> Alan Bradley
> alanb at

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