The Relevance of the Western Left

S Chatterjee schatterjee2001 at
Fri Feb 16 19:31:43 MST 2001

--- Charles Brown <CharlesB at>
> CB: Are you saying that the protestors  in
> Tiananamen square in 1989 were protesting against
> the experiments with the market and for socialist
> economics ? That was not what I heard them calling
> for. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the
> market.


According to Hinton, the Chinese statue was not simply
a copy of the Statue of Liberty (though it bore some
resemblance) as the western press tried to imply. It
was most likely that of a girl called Liu Hulan who
was a heroine of the anti-Japanese war. There was no
crown of spikes on her head and she held the torch
with both hands.

About the protests at Tiananmen, this is what Robert
Weil says ("Red Cat, White Cat: China and the
Contradictions of 'Market Socialism'" by Robert Weil,
Monthly Review, Press, NY, 1996):

"A massacre did take place - but not in Tiananmen
Square, and not predominantly of students. The great
majority of those who died (perhaps as many as a
thousand in all) were workers or LAOBAIXING
('common folk,' or 'old hundred names'), and they died
mainly on the approach roads in western Beijing.
Several dozen people died in the immediate environs of
the square and a few in the square itself. But
to speak of that as the real massacre distorts the
citywide nature of the carnage and diminishes the real
political drama that unfolded in Tiananmen Square."

Please remember, socialism is supposed to be a higher
form of society than capitalism. According to Henry's
suave spin and those who toe his line here, Deng was
defending socialism at Tiananmen. Well, let us listen
to William Hinton, who was an eyewitness, describe
this 'defense' of socialism:

"At five o'clock  when I got back into the city I had
a chance to go down to the Beijing Hotel, where a
close friend of mine had a room on a high floor and I
went up there to see what was still going on at the
square. The square was completely secure; there were
two rows of soldiers blocking Chang An Street, and
behind them a row of tanks, and behind those a whole
rectangle of personnel carriers. The people kept
coming from the east and getting as close as they
dared to the troops and shouting at them, most of them
trying to persuade them to cease and desist from
killing people. Whenever 200-250 people gathered there
the soldiers fired point blank and mowed them down. I
only witnessed the last time it happened, but my
friends who had been there all day and kept notes said
it happened at least six times. Just about every hour
on the hour it was time to shoot down the people, and
they counted fifty bodies carried out of there assumed
dead, not to mention the wounded. The army wouldn't
allow any ambulances to go in, so the people who
brought the bodies out were these pedicab men, some of
whom have little freight bikes. They would rush in
even while the firing was going on and pick up the
casualities. At the time I saw this happen, the firing
was absolutely intense and it lasted five minutes. How
anyone survived it, I don't know. The only warning the
victims had was that when the soldiers were about to
fire, they ran forward a few steps, then aimed and
fired. So during that second when they ran forward,
people could drop to the ground. But each time, of
course, people were killed, people were wounded, and
some who ran away were shot in the back. It was a most
gruesome sight. The killing was absolutely unnecessary
because the whole of Chang An Street was under
control. The army had cleaned out the square and there
was no reason to think that 200 people, most of whom
had come only to talk could in fact threaten armed
men. The response from the people that last time was
to set fire to the last bus that still sat unburned in
front of the Beijing Hotel. Flames and smoke billowed
out and blew down in the soldiers' faces and onscured
the people who were shot, so it was hard at that time
to tell how many were killed or wounded…….

Later, when we checked at a nearby hospital we found
that the bullets used were a type of explosive
bullets. They leave a very small entry wound but do
very large damage inside. They seemed to be hollow
bullets or spiral bullets or some kind of dumdum
bullets that made terrible wounds causing heavy
internal bleeding. Many wound that wouldn't ordinarily
be serious became very serious. People were afraid to
stay in the hospital. They thought that troops might
come and arrest them, so they got a little first aid
and went home. By Wednesday of that first week there
were close to a hundred unclaimed bodies in the PUMC
hospital and sixty-seven unclaimed bodies in the
Fuxing Hospital and similar high numbers in other
hospitals around. So just the number of unclaimed
bodies in the morgues of the hospitals outnumbered the
total number of people the government claimed had been
killed, and of course those numbers include only the
ones who died in the hospital after coming for
treatment. Many people were killed on the srteet and
other people went through the hospital and died at
home. So certainly, the casualties were as high as
2,000, while many, many thousands were wounded. It was
a major, major assault on the people."

(From "The Great Reversal - The Privatization of
China. 1978-1989" by William Hinton, Monthly Review
Press, NY, 1990).

Finally, let us hear Deng once again explain his
version of 'socialism':

"White cat, black cat, if it catches mice it is a good
cat.........To get rich is glorious" - Deng Xiaoping

And the reply to Deng:

"Such persons do not grasp class struggle, and always
fail to put forward guiding principles. If it is all
the same to them whether it is white cat or a black
cat, they will not mind if it is imperialism
or Marxism-Leninism either." - Mao Tse-Tung

There is another peculiar thing. Henry has not
(masterfully perhaps) presented any data or sources so
far, while he acknowledges my sources are reliable.
But he says that Hinton is 'misguided', which is
simply an assertion on his part - nothing more. This
form of practice (i.e., assertions about reality),
which seems to be a habit in social sciences (I have
seen other such examples), would be simply dismissed
off in the physical sciences and engineering.

Thus, Henry is adept at re-writing history, and it is
history and its falsification that we are primarily
concerned with here. Of course, a stern criticism has
been levelled in this list that this discussion will
not contribute to anything pragmatic (and pragmatism
was one of the characteristics of Liu and Deng).
Pragmatism allows one to beat two sides of the drum at
the same time (i.e., neither confirm nor deny),
maintian friendly relations, and keep options open to
switch sides rapidly if it is necessary to do so in
the future. One wonders though how this 'virtue'
relates to the quest for scientific truth. Anyway, be
that as it may, this is the last time I will say
anything more on this thread in this list.



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