The Relevance of the Western Left

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Wed Feb 14 17:20:34 MST 2001

S Chatterjee wrote:

> But Liu Shaochi, Deng, Peng, Zemin, etc do not have a
> socialist view of the world. Their line all along was
> the bourgeois/elitist line which, all through the long
> and tortuous course of the Chinese revolution and
> beyond, was in opposition to Mao's mass line (Mao's
> group was a minority in the party for most of the
> time). As said  before, they are not socialists in any
> sense at all, look at their concrete actions and not
> their words. They may hang Mao's portrait in Tiananmen
> and pay lip service to socialism - but it is a mirage.
> Their concrete actions have been amply documented by
> Hinton and Weil.

The correct names a:re Liu Xiaoqi, Deng (Xiaoping) Peng (Dehuai) and
Jiang (Zemin).  If you want to use Zemin, the correct form is Comrade
Zemin (Zemin Tongqi).
This is not nitpicking.  It is to show that Sid's undrstanding of China
is superficial.  It is hard to debate with him because he is not totally
wrong, but his is fundamentally wrong.  His conclusion is that China has
betrayed its socialist commitment not as a tactic but in principle.

The are two levels of argument here.
The first is that Sid concludes that the CPC is lying when it claims
that while it is experimenting with uncharting ploicies, it holds on to
its socialist aim.  It is quite obvious that if China had gone on the
path the Sid suggests, the CPC would have fallen from power by now.
Conditions in the past two decade required new approaches merely for
political survival.  Mao himself advocated two steps forward, one step
back on the revolutionary path.  Mao, notwithstanding his tenacious
ideological clarity, was highly pragmatic.  From 1921-49, Mao
collaborated with the national bourgeiosie, even organized crime, to
maintain the survival of the party.  He welcomed Nixon (US imperialism)
to opposed Breznev (Soviet imperialism).  So Sid's image of Mao is
highly romantized.  I have met Mao and had listen to him at close range
for hours.  He was not as doctrinaire as Sid made him out to seem. Mao
was a practical problem solver with long perspectives.

The second level of Sid's argument is that China's experiment with
socialist market economy is factual evidence that the revolutionary
battle has been lost.  This view is promoted by both the Western left
and right, the former as condemnation and the latter as celebration.
Hinton and Weil that Sid quotes gave accurate reports of China, but not
complete reports.  I have met Hinton once in Beijing in 1979 and am very
familiar with his views. He is a good friend of China and a
revolutionary and very reliable.   But his experience at the micro scale
limits his perspective.  He is well respected by many in China and his
criticism is appreciated by many.  I don't think that he thinks the CPC
is lost in the big picture.   He is undrstandably nostalgic for the old
days.   I too can tell you a lot about what is wrong with China and the
corruption and charlatonism that go on even in high places, or
particularly in high places.  But the CPC is wroking over time to curb
such practices.  Just last year, the CPC issued an order prohibiting all
members, particularly senior cadres, to own private property.
Cadres are are require to make periodic dislosure of the possessions
including those of their family members.
China is huge, with 5 times the population of the US.  The export
sector, where most of the capitalist experiement had benn concentrated,
represents about 15% and the foreign trade sector about 24% of the
economy.  Thus the socialist market economy experiment is relly around
the edges of the economy, but in the core. The policy remain public
ownership of the core and privatize only the dges.  Still the edges is a
huge market, and most Western observers write about this.  There are
many, myself included, both in and out of the Chinese government, who
are critical of the excesses and asscoiated ills of market econmy,
socialist or not.  These group are increasingly effective as the ills
become more visible and measuable, so that the debate is no longer based
on ideology but on actualy data. But to conclude that the CPC has sold
out, or that Deng Xiaoping Theory is a revisionist sham is a
oversimplification.  Deng Theory should have ended 5 years earlier, that
the favorite slogans such as to get rich is glorious is not long
operational in China.  It was useful in 1978 to combat a mentality that
poverty is glorious, promoted by the extreme left.  The purpose of
socialism has never been to create poverty and a system that does that
cannot be socialist.  Deng himself was very active in anti-rightist
campaigns under Mao.  So these simplistic interpretation of Mao vs
Liu/Deng is merely bad CIA analysis.   I can go on and I do, but not in
this post.  Look at the Roman Catholic Church in its 2000 year history,
you will understand that what happen in the past  two decades in the CPC
is merely an incident on the long march toward socialism.  Don't be so
fashionable and self indulgent.  Hold on to your own commitment and
realise that the historic current toward socialism cannot be stopped by
a few bad apples.  Even if it turns out to be true that the CPC is no
longer the revolutionary vangaurd it is supposed to be, all that would
happen is that it would go the way of the KMT, and China will have a new
leadership toward socialism.

At any rate Jiang Zemin will retire as President in 2002, by law, as
will Premier Zhu Rognji.  A new generation of leader will emerge.  I am
optimistic on China.


> > The basic attitude, of course, is the important
> > thing, which is mainly not to
> > wield to the mainstream view, not to allow them to
> > defeat ourselves in the
> > battlefield that is the brain of each one who reads
> > this.
> The basic attitude should be governed by what is the
> truth and not falsehood and smokescreens. And in the
> long run, it does not matter what the mainstream media
> (whether of the west or east) say. The mainstream
> media, anyway, reflects the viewpoint of the minority
> class in power. But over the long run, the truth will
> emerge however much it is tried to be suppressed now.
> The reasons for the capitalist restoration in China
> (and in Russia also) are because of internal
> contradictions in those societies, and not external
> causes. That is, it is no use blaming the western or
> any other left for non-support to China or the western
> mass media for the course of events in China from 1978
> on. The reasons for the re-emergence of the new owning
> class in these societies, and as a consequence, a
> reversal in the direction of the transition, are to be
> sought in the historical conditions of these
> societies. This is a crucial topic in itself.
> Sid
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