[Marxism] Jim Craven report from China

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 30 14:59:33 MDT 2005

Wolverine, respected Elder/Warrior of the Sushwap (see Gustafson Lake 
Defense) and I were invited by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to a 
conference on Aboriginal Studies and Issues sponsored by CASS and the 
Canadian Embassy in Beijing May 18-21. Wolverine delivered a talk on "An 
Oral History of Native Struggle 1870 to Present" and I delivered a paper on 
"The Development of the Blackfoot Nation" see 

At this conference on "Aboriginal Studies and Issues", the only 
"Aboriginals" present were Wolverine and myself. The rest, of the 
non-Chinese, were non-Indigenous "scholars" apparently getting some nice 
grants and travel working with what many Natives regard as the 
Vichy/Quisling "Tribal Governments" structured and legitimated under the 
Indian Act of Canada. In addition, were "Christian missionaries" who have 
been working in Taiwan doing the usual BBB (first the bible, then the buck 
then the bullet) order of penetration and domination of Indigenous communities.

The conference was wide open in terms of issues to be discussed. There was 
no problem from the Chinese side discussing anything including Tibet, 
Taiwan, the status and progress of "minorities" in China and new approaches 
to the national question by the CPC. Obviously the missionaries were not 
happy at some of my presentations and those of Wolverine on the issue of 
missionaries and imperialism; some were really squirming but would not 
answer or debate. The Chinese scholars were well prepared in their subjects 
while those from Canada I thought gave quite pedestrian presentations and 
responses to questions. One of the Canadians, stated than in his research 
on Indians, he covers only "Status Indians" and didn't get the point that 
he was helping to assume/define away significant portions of Native 

I came away with the feeling that many of these "Studies" programs (e.g. 
Native, Women, Men, Gay/Lesbian, African-American etc) are often nothing 
but narrow and narcissistic/identity-politics market niches for academics 
and those who want to get a degree in something while not having to do 
anything rigorous like math and while comfortably studying what they love 
most--themselves or their own images of themselves.

After the conference, I delivered a lecture to CASS scholars from the 
Marxism-Leninism-Mao ZeDong Institute of CASS on "The Black Cat/White Cat 
Metaphor" of Deng XiaoPing suggesting that this metaphor implies an 
eqiuvalence or potential non-threatening equivalence between capitalism and 
socialism that ignores their fundamentally and mutually contradictory 
natures. Rather than being "fellow cats" of a different color, capitalism 
and socialism are fundamental enemies the existence of each 
implying/demanding the progressive destruction and elimination of the 
other. I suggested that perhaps a more appropriate metaphor might be the 
following: There are certain highly toxic and poisonous snakes whose venom 
is very lethal; modern medicine is finding, however, that in small and very 
controlled doses, these highly lethal venoms may be used to treat some 
diseases like Parkinson's disease and MS--but the doses must be very 
carefully monitored and controlled for their effects--capitalism represents 
the snake venom (capitalism historically generated and present within the 
social formation of China along with the capitalist foundations of the 
global economy into which China is increasingly integrated) and socialist 
construction/preservation in China represents the patient in the metaphor. 
I suggested a better example of Black Cat vs White Cat would be Clinton and 
Bush--no fundamental difference in nature only in superficial outward 
color. We had far-ranging discussions on international issues, the question 
of the restoration of capitalism in China (real and/or potential), oil 
prices, the WTO, globalization as neo-imperialism, etc.

At Tsinghua University I delivered a lecture on "Capitalism versus 
Socialism: Who Will Win" and on "Di guo zhu yi de tang yi pao dan" or "The 
Sugar-coated Bullets of Imperialism" which went over very well according to 
the hosts. While my talk embodied the concepts of "dian dao wei zhi" (not 
saying all but leaving some things implied or oblique through metaphors) 
the thrust and intent of the talk was clear.

Some scholars from the Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought Institute of 
CASS and I had extensive and detailed talks on the notion that capitalism 
"has been fully restored" in China--a proposition to which they took 
particular exception and are prepared to debate anyone anytime. They did 
note that they thought China was approaching a critical crossroads, and 
some felt that the concept that the US needs China more than China needs 
the U.S. needs to be more fully explored and appreciated, but they felt 
that state power was still firmly in the hands of real communists, dealing 
with and balancing many dangerous contradictions and real-world crises in 
China, who are very aware of the potential dangers being unleashed in China 
with more and more capitalist penetrations from outside and very 
sophisticated in understanding the intentions/tools of imperialism and who 
are struggling to evolve a uniquely Chinese road of socialist construction 
consistent with China's historical legacies, present realities, myriad and 
yet unmet material and other needs of the masses coupled with the various 
forms of imperialist intrigue and social systems engineering to which China 
remains subject. They were aware of some scholars in the West and elsewhere 
taking the position that capitalism has been restored fully in China, read 
and take serious some of these analysts, but felt that these analysts 
typically lacked the formal preparation (linguistic) and/or experience in 
China and/or  access to intra-Party factions/debates to adequately make and 
sustain such conclusions.

Jim Craven

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