Covid, cold war and Chinese socialism debated at Marx Memorial Library

We republish below a report by Roger McKenzie for the Morning Star of the dialogue we recently co-organised on the evolving significance of the Chinese Revolution. Roger also moderated the event.

The video stream is embedded below the article.

Activists held a packed meeting at the Marx Memorial Library on Monday night to consider the “evolving significance of the Chinese revolution.”

The meeting, jointly organised by the historic library, the Friends of Socialist China and the Morning Star, heard from Ken Hammond, an activist and professor of east Asian history at New Mexico State University.

Prof Hammond said: “The Chinese revolution didn’t just flip over into some utopia of the working class. It’s a struggle. It’s going to take a long time.

“Only 6,000 people in China have died from Covid, as compared to more than a million in the US, because they have prioritised saving lives.

“The US put economic interests first and decided to let more than a million people die — because that was more profitable.”

“In China, they prioritised saving lives,” he added.

“There is no doubt that living with the lockdowns is certainly going to be frustrating for people.

“Some people will undoubtedly reach a point of frustration that they are going to take that outside in protest just at a time when the government has taken steps to ease the restrictions.”

The second speaker was writer and former Stop the War Coalition chairman Andrew Murray, who is also a Morning Star columnist.

He said: “Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have seen China’s rise in the world.

“That rise is ending two centuries of hegemony of European and North American powers.

“China is being attacked because it threatens the unipolar world order.

“Its strength and power gives other countries choices they might not otherwise have.

“It creates the possibility of a more equal world between countries.”

A key theme of the meeting was the question of whether China is socialist or capitalist.

Mr Murray said: “These are concepts that are universal and emerged in the 19th-century industrial revolution.

“It cannot be expected that these concepts would remain the same once they were globalised and once they encountered other civilisations and cultures.

“They can only be modified to some degree or another through that process.

“If China is a capitalist country, it is not like any we have seen in the past. If it is a socialist country, neither does it correspond to what we saw during the 20th century.”

He concluded: “China is not necessarily a model for the rest of the world, but it is a new perspective on socialism.”

2 thoughts on “Covid, cold war and Chinese socialism debated at Marx Memorial Library”

  1. “After Omicron emerged as a highly contagious [but less lethal] variant, the majority of the world accepted a harm reduction strategy: get vaccines in as many arms as possible, then slowly open up.
    “China’s strategy has massive downsides. The ever-stricter measures fail to keep up with more-transmissible variants.
    “China does have a highly vaccinated population—about 90% are vaccinated with the primary series. This is higher than the United States. However, quality is important. China rolled out Sinopharm and SinoVac — inactivated vaccines that are just not very effective against Omicron. Their booster rate, and specifically who is boosted, is abysmal. Only 30% of 80+ year olds have one booster, for example. We have plenty of evidence showing the importance of boosters among the most vulnerable.”
    –From Katelyn Jetelina, Your Local Epidemiologist, Nov 29, 2022,

    It is obvious by now that zero-COVID is an ineffective, anti-scientific, and inhuman policy. But here the PRC apologists dismiss the massive and daring protests by blaming the protesters for their “frustration.”

    And of course, the timeworn tactic of whataboutism: because the policy is different than the disastrous U.S. imperialists’ handling of the pandemic, it must be praiseworthy.

    1. China has done nearly all right and cares more about its citizens than the West. However, I am absolutely against apartments being converted into prisons to protect people from the virus. This is a miserable plan and should never have been implemented. The government has intervened too far here, and should understand that the Chinese population today in the 21st century needs a certain autonomy. Technological developments and progress can not come from imprisoned, and permanently guarded people, the government can not on the one hand critical thinking (only scientific?) Promote and on the other hand stifle any form of resistance with repression. The protests also bore the hallmarks of the usual suspected NGOs and media, but it was first the Chinese who protested, because imprisoned people died in fire outbreaks. It would be desirable if the Chinese government trusted its citizens more and gave them more freedom. What is the point of all the social scoring theater if there is house arrest with fatal consequences?

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