Keith Bennett: Understanding Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The Brighton Morning Star Readers and Supporters organised a meeting on the theme, China and the Struggle for Peace on March 24.

The invited speakers were our co-editors Carlos Martinez and Keith Bennett.

In his presentation, Carlos explained the thinking behind China’s foreign policy, showing how it is based on the principles of peace, development and win-win cooperation, and explained how this approach is rooted in China’s history and ideology, and is consistent with the country’s overall strategic goals. 

The text of Carlos’s presentation can be read here.  

Following this, Keith presented a broad overview of China’s socialist development, contextualising it in the overall history of the exercise of state power by the working class and its allies and the original road taken by the Chinese communists led by Mao Zedong, which represents a major contribution to the theory and practice of revolution. 

He prefaced his contribution by noting that the Morning Star carries the words, “For Peace and Socialism” on its masthead every day, highlighting the fact that the struggles for peace and for socialism are inextricably intertwined. 

A lively discussion and Q&A followed the presentations, which was continued informally in one of Brighton’s excellent local pubs.

We reprint below the text of Keith’s remarks.

The Communist Manifesto, the foundational text of scientific socialism, is still considerably short of 200 years old.

The working class and its allies have now held state power, and engaged in a serious project of socialist nation building, somewhere continuously for just under 107 years.

The Chinese working class, together with the peasantry and representatives of all patriotic sections of Chinese society, have held state power for just coming up to 75 years, with some two decades of running revolutionary base areas before that.

Since the October Revolution of 1917, serious attempts, with varying degrees of success, have been made to establish and build socialism in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Africa.

Therefore, on the one hand we can say that humanity has acquired a certain degree of experience and lessons, both positive and negative, regarding the struggle to establish and build socialism.

But more fundamentally, we can say that, in the long course of human history, socialism remains a very new and fledgling system.

This is not to say that there is nothing to learn and draw from. Xi Jinping’s point that socialism with Chinese characteristics offers a new reference point and option for those countries that wish to rapidly develop their economies while maintaining their independence acquires ever greater validity practically with each passing day.

And communists everywhere still draw on the historical experience of the USSR, its monumental achievements, as well as its mistakes, that contributed to its ultimate demise, as well as the experience of every historical and contemporary attempt to build socialism.

But despite the fact that we do not start from a completely blank page, the most fundamental lesson we can draw so far from the historical and ongoing attempts to build socialism, I would argue, is that there is no ready-made blueprint or master plan, no straight road, and certainly no ‘one size fits all’ formula that can be downloaded and implemented at any time and in any place.

Moreover, for most of their political lives (arguably less so towards the end) Marx and Engels envisaged socialism replacing highly developed and advanced capitalism.

So far, this has not happened anywhere.

One could of course argue, like some ultra leftists and dogmatists, that this somehow invalidates the whole experience of actually existing socialism.

Or one can appreciate that this conditions the context in which countries and peoples move towards socialism, that every country will approach socialism in its own way, and that, not least, the character and duration of the transition period may vary enormously.

What’s highly relevant to those countries in which socialism has actually triumphed, theorised by Lenin as ‘breaking the chain at its weakest link’, is the fact that attempts to build socialism have all occurred in a world that is still largely dominated by capitalism and imperialism.

Moreover, every preceding class that rose to political power did so in the wake of and in the context of their rising economic power. In the case of the proletariat, it is almost the exact opposite.

All this helps explain why Stalin, in his Foundations of Leninism, explains that, even after it has taken power, for a time, the proletariat remains weaker than the bourgeoisie.

This is some of the context in which we must start to look at the trajectory of the Chinese revolution.

Although China has the world’s longest continuous civilisation and was the world’s biggest economy for most of the last two millennia, since the British launched the first Opium War in 1839, the country was reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. Not for nothing is the ensuing period known by the Chinese as the ‘century of humiliation’, marked by unequal treaties, foreign aggression, most devastatingly that by Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, and by wars of aggression and resistance, civil wars and ultimately a victorious revolution.

Whether when the Communist Party of China was founded in 1921, or the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, China was one of the poorest and most wretched societies on earth. Illiteracy was as high as life expectancy was low.

So, how did the Chinese revolution succeed?

Continue reading Keith Bennett: Understanding Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

Delegates from Britain, Ireland and the US learn about the past, present and future of Socialist China

The first exclusive Friends of Socialist China delegation to the People’s Republic of China took place from 14 to 24 April 2024.

Invited by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), which works under the direction of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), 14 comrades (11 from Britain, two from the United States and one from Ireland) visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Jiaxing (Zhejiang province), and Changchun and Siping (Jilin province). The packed program featured visits to public service and community facilities, historic revolutionary sites and museums, political, scientific, cultural, industrial, and agricultural organisations, exhibition centres and cooperatives, and famous scenic spots among others.

Serving the people

Our first site visit, on 15 April, was to the Beijing headquarters of the ‘12345’ government service hotline, where 1,500 employees (mostly CPC members) work in shifts to provide a single point of access for any and all problems and queries – for example, rubbish being left on the street, heating not working, or older people not receiving food deliveries. The service aims to provide “a bridge connecting people, party and government”, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge. We were told that the Beijing HQ typically receives 60,000 calls a day, and 90 percent of these are resolved to the user’s satisfaction. The service in some form has been operating for 30 years, with substantial improvements over that period, including most recently support for more languages allowing visiting tourists and international residents to utilise the hotline.

Thanking our hosts at the 12345 hotline HQ, head of delegation Keith Bennett observed that the service embodies three important characteristics of the Chinese Revolution. Firstly, it represents a modern implementation of the slogan ‘serve the people’. Secondly, it is consistent with the mass line: “take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action”. Lastly, the 12345 service is an example of using modern technology in order to carry out social investigation, “investigating the conditions of each social class in real life”. The use of big data allows the local government to notice trends in residents’ enquiries and proactively solve problems and improve services.

At the Beijing headquarters of the ‘12345’ government service hotline

The spirit of serving the people was also evident at the Party-masses Service Centre of Jiaxing, Zhejiang, which we visited on 19 April. Opened in 2021, it’s a hub for training, exhibitions, volunteer services, social organisation incubation, and provision of mental health services. Delegates were amazed to learn that people can register for counselling and get an appointment booked for the next day – free of charge. Also impressive were the meeting spaces and lecture halls that could be hired free of charge for use by the local community. The therapy is framed within a context of public health, and is based on the principle that “only with peace of mind can the people and the country be safe.”

Continue reading Delegates from Britain, Ireland and the US learn about the past, present and future of Socialist China

Friends of Socialist China participates in Karl Marx commemoration

Friends of Socialist China joined hundreds of comrades at the grave of Karl Marx in north London’s Highgate Cemetery on Sunday March 17 to mark the 141st anniversary of the death of the founder of scientific socialism.

In 2018, marking the 200th anniversary of his birth, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that Marx is the “teacher of revolution for the proletariat and working people all over the world, the main founder of Marxism, creator of Marxist parties, a pathfinder for international communism and the greatest thinker of modern times.”

With noble ideals and no fear of difficulty or adversity, throughout his life, Marx devoted himself to perseveringly striving for the liberation of humanity, scaling the peak of thought in his pursuit of truth, and the unremitting fight to overturn the old world and establish a new one, Xi added.

This year’s Highgate commemoration, the largest for many years, was jointly organised by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Marx Memorial Library (MML) and chaired by Mary Davis, Secretary of the Library and Executive Committee (EC) member of the CPB.

It heard orations from Lord (John) Hendy KC, a prominent labour movement lawyer on behalf of the MML, and from Alex Gordon, Chair of the Library, President of the railworkers’ union RMT and CPB EC member.

In his address, Alex noted that: “What Marx could not foresee, because no socialist planned economy arose in his lifetime, is that the world capitalist economy in 2024 would depend for its economic growth, technological and scientific innovation, and new developments in world trade on the rise of the economies of the global South, and the leading role of socialist China.”

Alex’s full speech may be read here. And Lord Hendy’s may be read here.

Following the speeches, floral tributes were paid by the CPB and MML, the Embassy of socialist Vietnam, the communist parties of Kenya, Cyprus, Spain, Malaya, India (Marxist), Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Greece, the Communist Front (Italy), Friends of Socialist China, the Young Communist League, the UK branch of the Student Federation of India, the Morning Star, the London District of the CPB, and a delegation of Chinese students in the UK.

Representatives of the Cuban Embassy and the Irish party Sinn Féin also attended the ceremony, which closed with the singing of the Internationale. The Friends of Socialist China comrades accompanied Booker Ngesa Omole (National Vice-Chairperson and National Organising Secretary of the Communist Party of Kenya), who addressed our event Africa, China and the Rise of the Global South the previous evening.

To be a socialist one must be an anti-imperialist

In the following article, which was originally published by Fight Back! News, the US Marxist-Leninist, J. Sykes argues forcefully that to be a socialist one must be an anti-imperialist.

He develops his argument not least on the basis of comparing and contrasting the global roles played respectively by the United States and other imperialist powers on the one hand and socialist China on the other as well as by drawing on the theoretical contributions of Mao Zedong to the Marxist understanding of the anti-imperialist struggle.

According to Sykes:

“For the US, this [necessity of imperialism to resort to military force] includes a network of military bases, spanning the world, and its military alliances, like NATO, which it dominates. It will not hesitate to intervene militarily, or to arm and fund its proxies, such as Ukraine and Israel. It will stage coups and assassinate leaders. There is no price in human bloodshed and suffering that is too high to protect US hegemony and imperialist super-profits.

“China’s foreign policy in the developing world is nothing like this. It is neither exploitative nor extractive and is based on equal and mutually beneficial trade agreements. It is also fundamentally peaceful. The countries that benefit from trade and development from China are not locked into underdevelopment by China. Nor are they targeted for Chinese military intervention, or coups. On the contrary, China provides an alternative to imperialist underdevelopment that many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are glad to take.

“China doesn’t do this because the Chinese are nice and the imperialists aren’t. The imperialists are violent, exploitative and extractive because they must be. The imperialist system is governed by laws, laws inherent to capitalism. China behaves differently because these are laws from which the working class has freed itself in the socialist countries. Socialism, and China in particular, is thus a counterbalance to imperialism in the world. This counterbalance causes the contradiction between the imperialist and socialist systems to sharpen, leading to a constant barrage of anti-China propaganda and increasing aggression from the US towards China.”

Sykes further draws on Mao Zedong’s famous article On Protracted War to explain the difference between just and unjust wars, and on Mao’s The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War for its specific application of this understanding to World War II, where Chairman Mao made his famous observation that, “in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism.”

Since the writing of The Communist Manifesto and the founding of the First International, proletarian internationalism has been a cornerstone of scientific socialism, and is a pillar of Marxism-Leninism. Today, in the era of imperialism, putting genuine proletarian internationalism into practice demands that we be consistent anti-imperialists.

Beyond any moral questions, there are two obvious, material reasons for this proletarian internationalist, anti-imperialist unity. On the one hand every dollar that goes to imperialist war is a dollar that could have been spent on people’s needs at home. But even more importantly, every blow struck against imperialism weakens the monopoly capitalist class here.

What imperialism is and what it is not

First, let’s be clear on what imperialism means. Understanding the link between imperialism and monopoly capitalism is essential. Indeed, imperialism and monopoly capitalism aren’t just linked, they’re synonymous. Failing to understand this, some people think any kind of big country is an empire and that any empire is imperialist, from ancient Rome to socialist China. But this is an idealist and metaphysical view. In other words, this view fails to look at how imperialism develops historically, according to definite material processes. It should be obvious that the Roman Empire and the U.S. empire are qualitatively different.

If we look at imperialism historically, we have to understand its relationship to the dominant socio-economic system. V.I. Lenin developed the scientific analysis of imperialism in his book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, to help the working-class movement understand the demands that this new historical stage of capitalism placed on the socialist movement. In “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism,” Lenin writes, “Imperialism is a specific historical stage of capitalism. Its specific character is threefold: imperialism is monopoly capitalism; parasitic, or decaying capitalism; moribund capitalism. The supplanting of free competition by monopoly is the fundamental economic feature, the quintessence of imperialism.”

Continue reading To be a socialist one must be an anti-imperialist

Lenin, China, Palestine, and the global struggle against imperialism

Below is the text and video of a short speech given by Carlos Martinez on behalf of Friends of Socialist China at the International Assembly Against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance, held at the Malcolm X & Dr Betty Shabazz Memorial & Educational Center in New York City on January 21, 2024.

The event was organised by Workers World Party, and the date was chosen to honour the centennial of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who died that day in 1924.

Carlos asks “what ties together these seemingly disparate themes of Palestine, China and Leninism”, suggesting that the answer lies in the global struggle against imperialism. He explains the effect of Lenin’s analysis of imperialism in expanding the scope and applicability of Marxism to cover the entire world; how this informed Soviet support for socialist and national liberation projects in the Global South; and how People’s China carried forward this tradition. “China has been and remains a bulwark against imperialism, standing in solidarity with the Global South.”

The speech discusses China’s long history of solidarity with Palestine, and its current positive diplomatic role in opposition to the genocide in Gaza, and concludes:

“The brave Palestinian people, with the solidarity and support of freedom-loving people around the world, will surely win their liberation.”

Dear comrades and friends,

It’s a great honour for Friends of Socialist China to be invited to contribute to this International Assembly Against Imperialism, in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

What ties together these seemingly disparate themes of Palestine, China and Leninism?

The answer lies in the struggle against imperialism.

The original slogan of the communist movement, ‘Workers of the world unite’ – the rallying cry and final phrase from the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels in 1848 – was put forward at a time when the nascent communist movement was geographically limited to Europe and North America, and focused almost exclusively on the industrial working class.

Lenin’s study of global political economy, and particularly of the dynamics of monopoly capitalism and the emergence of modern imperialism, led him to an acute understanding of the expanded – global – applicability of Marxist thought. He understood that, as a result of imperialist domination, the capitalist class of the metropolis had become an enemy not just to the working class in the advanced capitalist countries but to the broad masses of the oppressed in all countries.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks thus proposed the development of a worldwide united front of the working class and all peoples oppressed by imperialism. Such a united front would be capable – indeed still is capable – of taking the fight to the oppressors, of defeating imperialism, of establishing national independence and sovereignty for the peoples of the Global South, and thereby opening the possibility for a global advance to socialism.

Hence at the second congress of the Comintern in 1920, ‘Workers of the world unite’ was updated to ‘Workers and oppressed peoples of all countries, unite’.

In his letter titled Better Fewer, But Better, the last document he wrote, Lenin observed that “in the last analysis, the outcome of the struggle will be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China etc account for the overwhelming majority of the population of the globe. And during the past few years it is this majority that has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this respect there cannot be the slightest doubt what the final outcome of the world struggle will be. In this sense, the complete victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured.”

The Chinese communists of course played a crucial role in developing this ideology and applying it in practice. The overthrow of imperialist domination and the construction of socialism in China, Korea and Vietnam represented a profound shift of the revolutionary centre of gravity in the world towards the East and the South.

The Chinese benefited enormously from the solidarity of the Soviet peoples.

Mao Zedong stated in 1949, just two months before the proclamation of the People’s Republic, that “it was through the Russians that the Chinese found Marxism. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought us Marxism-Leninism. The October Revolution helped progressives in China, as throughout the world, to adopt the proletarian world outlook as the instrument for studying a nation’s destiny and considering anew their own problems.”

In turn, China has been and remains a bulwark against imperialism, standing in solidarity with the Global South.

China’s history of support for the Palestinian national struggle in particular goes back to the 1950s. As Xi Jinping has put it, no matter how the international and regional situation changes, China always firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore the legitimate rights and interests of their nation, and always stands with the Palestinian people.

China sent its first aid to the Palestinian people in 1960, and when the PLO was founded in 1964, China became the first non-Arab country to recognise it. The first Palestinian fighters were sent for military training in China in 1965. It was also one of the first countries to recognise the State of Palestine – on 20 November 1988. Indeed Yasser Arafat – Chairman of the PLO from 1969 to 2004 – stated in 1970 that “China is the biggest influence in supporting our revolution and strengthening its perseverance.”

Premier Zhou Enlai wrote in 1967; “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance; wherever there is aggression, there is struggle against aggression. I believe that having taken up arms, the revolutionary Arab people of Palestine and the entire Arab people will not lay down their arms and, like the heroic Vietnamese people, will fight on unflinchingly, resolutely and stubbornly until final victory.”

Today, China is among the loudest voices calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and insistently calling for the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and with the right of return.

The heroic Palestinian resistance has put the issue of Palestine back at the centre of global politics. Meanwhile the shift towards a multipolar world and away from US hegemony is creating favourable conditions for finding a lasting and just solution.

Even as we witness the horrors of Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, we remember the words of the great Paul Robeson, that the people’s will for freedom is stronger than atom bombs. The brave Palestinian people, with the solidarity and support of freedom-loving people around the world, will surely win their liberation.

Lenin walks around the world

The following article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, was originally published on 20 January 2024 in the Morning Star, to coincide with the centenary of Lenin’s death.

Carlos highlights Lenin’s contribution to the understanding of imperialism; how this understanding fed into the expansion of Marxism to the Global South; and how this in turn created a material basis for a worldwide united front of the working class and all peoples oppressed by imperialism.

The article explores some of the historic achievements of this united socialist and anti-imperialist struggle, citing Mao Zedong in 1949: “It was through the Russians that the Chinese found Marxism. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought us Marxism-Leninism. The October Revolution helped progressives in China, as throughout the world, to adopt the proletarian world outlook as the instrument for studying a nation’s destiny and considering anew their own problems.”

Also mentioned is the rejection of Lenin’s anti-imperialism by the forces of social democracy in the West, where, Lenin wrote, “high monopoly profits for a handful of very rich countries” opens up “the economic possibility of corrupting the upper strata of the proletariat, and thereby fosters, gives form to, and strengthens opportunism”.

Carlos concludes:

To be Marxist-Leninists in the 21st century means to return to a strategy of a worldwide united front between the socialist countries, the oppressed nations, and the working class in the imperialist countries. It means standing up for Palestine. It means continuing the fight for a united Ireland. It means opposing the campaign of containing and encircling China. It means opposing NATO. It means supporting the emerging multipolar trend. It means standing with Cuba, with Vietnam, with the DPRK, with Laos, with Venezuela, with Nicaragua, with Syria, with all countries defiantly standing up against imperialist hegemony. It means opposing racism, sexism and all forms of exploitation and oppression, rejecting collaborationism and social chauvinism, going “lower and deeper” and fighting resolutely for a socialist future.

The original slogan of the communist movement, ‘Workers of the world unite’ – the rallying cry and final phrase from the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels in 1848 – was put forward at a time when the nascent communist movement was geographically limited to Europe and North America, and focused almost exclusively on the industrial working class.

Lenin’s study of global political economy, and particularly of the dynamics of monopoly capitalism and the emergence of modern imperialism, led him to an acute understanding of the expanded – global – applicability of Marxist thought.

Study of imperialism

Marx had already outlined the economic dynamics of an emerging international capitalism in Volume 1 of Capital, first published in 1867: “A new and international division of labour springs up, one suited to the requirements of the main industrial countries, and it converts one part of the globe into a chiefly agricultural field of production for supplying the other part, which remains a pre-eminently industrial field.”

By the end of the 19th century, the extraordinary concentration of capital and the supremacy of finance capital had brought the era of ‘free market’ capitalism to an end and ushered in an era of monopoly capitalism – in which phase capitalism remains.

Having dominated and saturated the home market, monopolies were increasingly driven abroad in pursuit of profit. Lenin wrote in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism that “the export of capital greatly affects and accelerates the development of capitalism in those countries to which it is exported.” Export of capital stimulated the incorporation of the “chiefly agricultural” economies of the Global South into the world capitalist system, introducing industrial production and creating a social class that had no option but to sell its labour power – the working class.

With the internationalisation of capital and the subjugation of the greater part of the planet by a handful of wealthy nations, capitalism became more and more militarised. Extreme force was needed to keep colonies and “spheres of influence” under control, and furthermore was a key feature of the rising competition between the imperialist countries for control of the world’s land, labour, natural resources and markets. Such competition was the basis for World War 1.

Lenin understood that, with capitalism having “grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world by a handful of ‘advanced’ countries”, the capitalist class of the metropolis had become an enemy not just to the working class in the advanced capitalist countries but to the broad masses of the oppressed in all countries. “Imperialism is leading to annexation, to increased national oppression, and, consequently, also to increasing resistance.”

This analysis provided the theoretical basis for a strategic unity of the socialist and national liberation movements, on which basis Lenin and the Bolsheviks proposed the development of a worldwide united front of the working class and all peoples oppressed by imperialism. Such a united front would be capable – indeed still is capable – of taking the fight to the oppressors, of defeating imperialism, of establishing national independence and sovereignty for the peoples of the Global South, and thereby opening the possibility for a global advance to socialism.

Hence at the second congress of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1920, ‘Workers of the world unite’ was updated to ‘Workers and oppressed peoples of all countries, unite’.

Continue reading Lenin walks around the world

Xi Jinping speech at the symposium commemorating the 130th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong

The article below is the full text of the speech given by Comrade Xi Jinping at the meeting held in Beijing on the morning of December 26, 2023, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Mao Zedong.

In his speech, Xi gives a comprehensive exposition of key revolutionary contributions of Mao Zedong and salient features of Mao Zedong Thought, as well as key tasks facing China today on the basis of the foundations laid by the preceding generations of Chinese revolutionaries, the foremost of whom was Mao Zedong, and in the new era.

Xi Jinping begins his speech by stating that:

“Today, with great reverence, we solemnly assemble here to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Mao Zedong, the main founder of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the People’s Republic of China, and the great leader of the Chinese people of all nationalities.

“Comrade Mao Zedong was a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist, and theoretician, a great pioneer of the Sinicisation of Marxism, a great founder of China’s socialist modernisation, a great patriot and national hero of China in modern times, the core of the party’s first generation of central collective leadership, a generation of great men who led the Chinese people to completely change their own destiny and the appearance of the country, and a great internationalist who made major contributions to the liberation of the oppressed nations of the world and the cause of human progress.”

Noting the ruinous state of China at the time of Mao’s birth, Xi said that: “When he was young, Comrade Mao Zedong set up a lofty ambition to save the nation from danger and threw himself into the great cause of saving the country and the people… and, in the course of repeated comparisons and explorations, resolutely chose Marxism-Leninism and the lofty ideal of striving for the realisation of communism.”

“Comrade Mao Zedong’s life was a life of unremitting struggle for the prosperity and strength of the country, the rejuvenation of the nation, and the happiness of the people. During the period of the new democratic revolution, the Chinese Communists with Comrade Mao Zedong as the main representative united and led the people to fight bloody battles and persevere, defeat Japanese imperialism, overthrow the reactionary rule of the Kuomintang, complete the new democratic revolution, establish the People’s Republic of China, and realise national independence and the people being masters of the country that the Chinese have dreamed of since modern times. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, they united and led the people to be self-reliant, work hard to make the country strong, carry out the socialist revolution, eliminate the feudal system of exploitation and oppression that had lasted for thousands of years, establish the basic socialist system, and promote socialist construction, thus bringing about the most extensive and profound social changes in the history of the Chinese nation, making great achievements in socialist construction, making China a major country with important influence in the world, and accumulating important experience in socialist construction in a country with a very backward level of social productive forces like China.

“During his difficult and brilliant fighting career of several decades, Comrade Mao Zedong made indelible historical contributions to the Chinese nation and the Chinese people and made glorious historical contributions for thousands of years.

“Comrade Mao Zedong led the people to initiate the historical process of Sinicising Marxism. Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary practice. The basic tenets of Marxism have universal applicability, and only when they are integrated with the realities of various countries can the powerful force of truth be displayed. Comrade Mao Zedong said:

“”The great strength of Marxism-Leninism lies in the fact that it is linked to the specific revolutionary practice of various countries. As far as the Communist Party of China is concerned, it is necessary to learn how to apply Marxist-Leninist theories to China’s specific environment.””

Mao Zedong Thought, Xi explained, “is the creative application and development of Marxism-Leninism in China, the correct theoretical principles and summation of experience of China’s revolution and construction that have been proven by practice, and the first historical leap in the Sinicisation of Marxism. Comrade Mao Zedong applied dialectical materialism and historical materialism to all the work of the proletarian political party, and formed a stand, viewpoint, and method with the distinctive characteristics of the Chinese communists in the protracted and arduous struggle of China’s revolution and construction, which were embodied in the three basic aspects of seeking truth from facts, the mass line, and independence and self-determination. This is the living soul of Mao Zedong Thought. Mao Zedong Thought is the precious spiritual wealth of our party and will guide our actions for a long time.”

Having outlined the development of Mao’s thinking on party building, Xi noted that: “After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Comrade Mao Zedong actively explored the laws governing the building of the ruling party, stressed the need to always maintain a modest and cautious style, guard against arrogance and rashness and work hard, be highly vigilant and make efforts to prevent corruption and degeneration of party members and cadres, and resolutely punish corruption, and so on, thus accumulating preliminary experience in party building under the conditions of being in power.”

Xi further explained how, “in 1956, China basically completed the socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production, basically realised the public ownership of the means of production and distribution according to work, and established a socialist economic system,” adding that the “socialist system established under the leadership of Comrade Mao Zedong, which is rooted in the land of China, conforms to China’s national conditions, and embodies the aspirations of the people, is incomparably superior, and has not only played an important role in promoting socialist revolution and construction, but has also laid the fundamental political premise and institutional foundation for all development and progress in contemporary China.”

He also outlined Mao’s contributions to the building of a people’s army: “Comrade Mao Zedong led the people to create a new type of people’s army that was invincible. Without a people’s army, the people have nothing. Comrade Mao Zedong was the first to propose and lead the work of armed struggle and the creation of a people’s army. In the course of the extremely arduous revolutionary war, he systematically solved the problem of how to build the revolutionary army, with the peasants as the main component, into a new type of people’s army with a proletarian nature, strict discipline, and close ties with the masses of the people. He laid down the sole purpose of the people’s army to serve the people wholeheartedly… [and] the principle that the party commands the gun… The people’s army personally created by Comrade Mao Zedong has become an armed force loyal to the party and faithfully carrying out revolutionary political tasks, an army that completely and thoroughly struggles for the Chinese people, and a strong pillar for ensuring national independence, people’s happiness, and national defence consolidation.”

In summary: “Comrade Mao Zedong dedicated his life to the party and the people, leaving behind the lofty spiritual demeanour of future generations. Comrade Mao Zedong has displayed a great revolutionary leader’s far-sighted political vision, unswerving revolutionary conviction, extraordinary courage to open up new ground, perfect art of struggle, outstanding and superb leadership ability, pure feelings for the people, open-minded and broad-minded realm, and fine style of arduous struggle, and has won the love and admiration of the whole party and the people of all nationalities throughout the country.”

However, Xi continued: “Socialism is a completely new cause in the history of humanity, and since China is carrying out socialist revolution and construction on an extremely backward basis, there is no ready-made experience to draw on, and it is difficult to completely avoid twists and turns and mistakes of one kind or another on the road ahead… It cannot be denied that Comrade Mao Zedong made detours in the exploration of the road of socialist construction, especially the serious mistake of launching and leading the ‘Cultural Revolution’. Our party has made a comprehensive appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong’s historical merits and demerits, and his achievements are the first, his mistakes are second, and his mistakes are the mistakes made by a great revolutionary and a great Marxist.”

Before going on to detail China’s present situation and tasks, Xi emphasised:

“The best way to commemorate Comrade Mao Zedong is to continue to push forward the cause he started. Comprehensively promoting the construction of a strong country and the great cause of national rejuvenation with Chinese-style modernisation is the central task of the whole party and the people of all ethnic groups in the new era and new journey. This is the unfinished business of Mao Zedong and other revolutionaries of the older generation, and it is the solemn historical responsibility of the contemporary Chinese communists. On the new journey, we must not forget our original aspiration, keep our mission firmly in mind, strengthen historical self-confidence, grasp the historical initiative, and continue to push forward the grand cause of Chinese-style modernisation.

“It is necessary to fully arouse the historical initiative of all the people. The people, and only the people, are the driving force behind the creation of world history. Chinese-style modernisation is the cause of all Chinese people, and we must closely rely on the people and gather the infinite wisdom and strength hidden in the people in order to continuously create new historical achievements. We must adhere to the basic viewpoint of historical materialism that the people are the fundamental driving force for creating history, uphold the people’s status as the main body, fully respect the people’s expressed wishes, the experiences they create, the rights they have, and the roles they play, and take the safeguarding, realisation, and development of the fundamental interests of the broadest masses of the people as the starting point and end goal of all our work, so that the fruits of modernisation can benefit all the people in a more equitable way.”

In analysing the present situation in China, Xi stressed once again the absolute necessity of continuing and not relaxing the struggle against corruption:

“Corruption is the greatest cancer that endangers the party’s vitality and combat effectiveness, and the anti-corruption struggle cannot cease for a moment. It is necessary to persist in promoting the integration of not daring to be corrupt, not being able to be corrupt, and not wanting to be corrupt, deepening the treatment of both the symptoms and the root causes, and systematically treating them, continuing to maintain a high-pressure posture of punishing corruption, resolutely investigating and dealing with corruption where political and economic problems are intertwined, resolutely preventing leading cadres from becoming spokesmen and agents of interest groups and powerful groups, deepening the rectification of corruption in areas where power is concentrated… and resolutely winning the battle against corruption by fighting a tough and protracted battle, so as to ensure that our party will never change its quality, colour, or taste.”

And he concluded:

“Today, the great cause pioneered by Mao Zedong and other revolutionaries of the older generation is thriving, the great ideals they pursued are becoming reality, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is showing unprecedented bright prospects. Let us unite more closely, seize the day, fight tenaciously, follow the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and forge ahead bravely for the great cause of building a strong country and national rejuvenation in an all-round way with Chinese-style modernisation!”

The below version of Comrade Xi’s speech was released by Xinhua News Agency and published in Chinese by People’s Daily. It has been machine translated and lightly edited by us. It is anticipated that an authorised English-language translation of the speech will be published in due course.

Comrades and friends

Today, with great reverence, we solemnly assemble here to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Mao Zedong, the main founder of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the People’s Republic of China, and the great leader of the Chinese people of all nationalities.

Continue reading Xi Jinping speech at the symposium commemorating the 130th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong

China marks the 130th birthday of Chairman Mao Zedong

The Chinese people commemorated the 130th birthday of Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of New China, which fell on December 26, in numerous ways, from solemn gatherings at the highest level to countless informal and spontaneous gatherings throughout the country.

On the morning of December 26, Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee presided over a symposium in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. 

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese President, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech. Xi emphasised that:

  • Mao was a great Marxist, and a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist, and theorist.
  • He was a great trailblazer in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, and laid the groundwork of China’s socialist modernisation.
  • He was a great patriot and national hero in modern Chinese history and the core of the Party’s first generation of central leadership.
  • He was a great man who led the Chinese people to change their destiny and the nation as a whole, and
  • A great internationalist who made significant contributions to the liberation of oppressed nations and the cause of human progress worldwide.

Mao Zedong Thought, the Chinese leader added, is the precious spiritual asset of our Party and will continue to guide what we do for a long time to come. The best way to commemorate Mao is to continuously advance the cause he initiated.

Xi pointed out that Mao devoted his life to achieving national prosperity, rejuvenating the Chinese nation, and promoting people’s well-being. He led the people in starting the historical process of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, forging the great, glorious, and correct Communist Party of China, founding the New China with the people enjoying the status as masters of the country, creating an advanced socialist system, and building a new model of people’s army that is invincible. He made indelible historical contributions to the Chinese nation and the Chinese people and made shining contributions that will go down in history.

Xi further emphasised that Comrade Mao Zedong dedicated his entire life to the Party and the people, leaving behind a lofty and inspirational spirit for future generations. Comrade Mao, as a great revolutionary leader, demonstrated far-sighted political vision, firm revolutionary conviction, extraordinary courage to blaze a new trail, perfect art of waging struggle, outstanding leadership, deep concern for the people, an open and broad-minded demeanour, and an exemplary work ethic of hard endeavour. As a result, he earned the love and respect of the entire Party and people of all ethnic groups. Comrade Mao’s noble spirit will forever be a motivating force inspiring us to forge ahead.

On the new journey, he continued, we must never forget our original aspiration and founding mission, be confident in our history, and take historical initiative to continuously advance the great cause of Chinese modernisation.

Chinese modernisation, Xi noted, is the cause of the Chinese people, and we must closely rely on the people, pool the inexhaustible wisdom and strength inherent in the people, and fully motivate the historical initiative of the people. It is crucial to adhere to the fundamental viewpoint of historical materialism that the people are the fundamental driving force in creating history, uphold the people’s principal position, take it as the fundamental purpose of our work to defend, realise and develop the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the people, so as to ensure that all the Chinese people share the achievements of modernisation in a more equitable manner. Efforts should be made to establish systems that ensure the people’s status as masters of the country, improve the mechanisms that uphold social fairness and justice, focus on ensuring and improving people’s well-being, follow the mass line in the new era, always maintain a close connection with the people, accept criticism and supervision from the people, always breathe the same air as the people, share the same future, and stay truly connected to them, in order to provide the most reliable, profound, and sustainable source of strength for advancing Chinese modernisation.

Xi emphasised that reform and opening up is a major reason why China is able to catch up with the times, and it is the key move that determines whether Chinese modernisation will succeed and went on to stress the need to continuously liberate and develop the social productive forces and unleash and enhance social vitality. It is imperative to adapt to the new trends of the times, meet the new requirements of development, and fulfil the new expectations of the people, he said.

Xi pointed out that Chinese modernisation is the socialist modernisation led by the CPC. Only by always staying alert and determined to tackle the unique challenges that a large party like ours faces, and by strengthening the Party more vigorously, can we ensure that Chinese modernisation advances through waves and storms, and steadily moves forward.

It is important to continue to take coordinated steps to see that officials do not have the audacity, opportunity, or desire to become corrupt, so that the Party can remain true to its original aspiration and mission, and at the forefront of the times, and always stay vibrant and vigorous. By doing so, we can ensure that the Party will never change its nature, its conviction, or its character.

Cai Qi, chairing the meeting, noted how affectionately General Secretary Xi, in his important speech, had looked back upon the great practices of Comrade Mao Zedong in leading China’s revolution and construction, and how he has recognised the monumental achievements Comrade Mao Zedong made for the Chinese nation and Chinese people. He went on to note that Xi had proposed explicit requirements for commemorating Comrade Mao Zedong with concrete actions and with efforts to push ahead with the magnificent cause of Chinese modernisation.

Before the symposium, Xi Jinping and other leaders visited the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall where, in accordance with the Chinese custom denoting the highest respect, they bowed three times to the seated statue of Comrade Mao Zedong, and then proceeded to pay respects to his remains.

A further symposium marking the 130th anniversary of the birth of Mao was held in Beijing from December 26-28. At the opening ceremony, Cai Qi stressed the importance of honouring the monumental achievements made by Comrade Mao Zedong, passing on his thought and lofty spirit, advocating the great founding spirit of the Party, and making greater progress in theoretical studies. Cai called on social scientists and theoretical researchers to produce more high-quality research findings in the study of Mao Zedong Thought.

Probably the largest gathering held around the country was that in Mao’s birthplace, Shaoshan, where more than 110,000 people from around the country gathered, with spontaneous mass celebrations and commemorative activities beginning on the afternoon of December 25.

The Chinese newspaper Global Times quoted a middle aged woman from Yunnan province in south-west China as saying that she was surprised and excited to join tens of thousands of people singing, dancing, reciting poems, and waving flags on Mao Zedong Square at midnight. 

Another impressive point for her was the large number of young people present. “I used to think that only middle-aged people and the older generation felt strongly about Chairman Mao. It wasn’t until I arrived here that I realised there are so many young people who respect and remember the stories about Chairman Mao,” she said. “Our younger generation is full of vitality and hope.” 

The paper further reported a 21-year-old college student as having animated discussions with the older generation on the square. He defined his feelings for Mao Zedong as “sublime faith.” 

“As young people of the new generation, we have never forgotten Chairman Mao’s contributions to the Chinese people,” he told the Global Times. “It is our responsibility as young people to inherit the Chairman’s revolutionary spirit and become the backbone of China.”  

He added that some Western media and politicians have interpreted young people’s worshipping Mao Zedong as representing a narrow nationalism, but he rejected this saying:

“Our feelings for Chairman Mao are not narrow worship, but a hope to inherit his idea that ‘the world belongs to the people.’ The ultimate ideal is world harmony. How could this be a form of narrow nationalism?” 

On the morning of December 26, visitors from across China, gathered in Shaoshan, were served a free breakfast of birthday noodles, recalling that the Chairman had never celebrated his birthday in his lifetime, simply eating a bowl of noodles. They then gathered again at Mao Zedong Square, where a flower laying ceremony was held, and everyone present bowed to Mao Zedong’s statue, followed by the many thousands of people singing together the revolutionary song “The East is Red,” written in praise of Mao Zedong.

The following articles were originally published by the Xinhua News Agency and Global Times.

Symposium held to commemorate 130th anniversary of Comrade Mao Zedong’s birth, Xi delivers important speech

BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — On the morning of Dec. 26, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held a symposium at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Comrade Mao Zedong’s birth. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech. He emphasized that Mao was a great Marxist, and a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist, and theorist. He was a great trailblazer in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, and laid the groundwork of China’s socialist modernization. He was a great patriot and national hero in modern Chinese history, and the core of the Party’s first generation of central leadership. He was a great man who led the Chinese people to change their destiny and the nation as a whole, and a great internationalist who made significant contributions to the liberation of oppressed nations and the cause of human progress worldwide. Mao Zedong Thought is the precious spiritual asset of our Party and will continue to guide what we do for a long time to come. The best way to commemorate Mao is to continuously advance the cause he initiated.

Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Ding Xuexiang, and Li Xi, all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, attended the event. Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the symposium.

In his speech, Xi pointed out that Mao devoted his life to achieving national prosperity, rejuvenating the Chinese nation, and promoting people’s well-being. He led the people in starting the historical process of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, forging the great, glorious, and correct Communist Party of China, founding the New China with the people enjoying the status as masters of the country, creating an advanced socialist system, and building a new model of people’s army that is invincible. He made indelible historical contributions to the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, and made shining contributions that will go down in history.

Xi emphasized that Comrade Mao Zedong dedicated his entire life to the Party and the people, leaving behind a lofty and inspirational spirit for future generations. Comrade Mao, as a great revolutionary leader, demonstrated far-sighted political vision, firm revolutionary conviction, extraordinary courage to blaze a new trail, perfect art of waging struggle, outstanding leadership, deep concern for the people, an open and broad-minded demeanor, and an exemplary work ethic of hard endeavor. As a result, he earned the love and respect of the entire Party and people of all ethnic groups. Comrade Mao’s noble spirit will forever be a motivating force inspiring us to forge ahead.

Xi stated that advancing the building of China into a strong country and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a path to Chinese modernization is the central task for the entire Party and people of all ethnic groups on the new journey in the new era. This is an unrealized cause of the older generation of revolutionaries such as Mao Zedong, and is the solemn historical responsibility of contemporary Chinese communists. On the new journey, we must never forget our original aspiration and founding mission, be confident in our history, and take historical initiative to continuously advance the great cause of Chinese modernization.

Xi emphasized that Chinese modernization is the cause of the Chinese people, and we must closely rely on the people, pool the inexhaustible wisdom and strength inherent in the people, and fully motivate the historical initiative of the people. It is crucial to adhere to the fundamental viewpoint of historical materialism that the people are the fundamental driving force in creating history, uphold the people’s principal position, take it as the fundamental purpose of our work to defend, realize and develop the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the people, so as to ensure that all the Chinese people share the achievements of modernization in a more equitable manner. Efforts should be made to establish systems that ensure the people’s status as masters of the country, improve the mechanisms that uphold social fairness and justice, focus on ensuring and improving people’s well-being, follow the mass line in the new era, always maintain a close connection with the people, accept criticism and supervision from the people, always breathe the same air as the people, share the same future, and stay truly connected to them, in order to provide the most reliable, profound, and sustainable source of strength for advancing Chinese modernization.

Continue reading China marks the 130th birthday of Chairman Mao Zedong

Xi Jinping: Integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the best of its traditional culture

The following is the text of a speech given by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, at a meeting on cultural inheritance and development in June 2023, at which he comprehensively set out his views on the integration of Marxism with China’s specific realities and especially the best of its traditional culture, which is now being known as the “two integrations”.

Xi notes that:

“The traditional Chinese culture encompasses a multitude of significant concepts, including social ideals of pursuing the common good for all and achieving universal peace; governance principles of regarding the people as the foundation of the state and governing by virtue; traditions of striving for great unity in the country and ensuring unity amid diversity; values of dedicating oneself to self-cultivation, family management, state governance, and peace for all and shouldering one’s duties to secure the future of the nation; aspirations of embracing the world with virtue and cultivating integrity; economic principles of enriching the people and improving their lives and pursuing the greater good and shared interests; ecological ideas of promoting harmony between humanity and nature and the coexistence of all living things; philosophical thoughts of seeking truth from facts and combining knowledge with action.”

Explaining that Chinese civilisation is distinguished by its continuity, he adds that Chinese people’s deep-rooted sentiments for the motherland and profound sense of history constitute an ideal for upholding great unity and provide spiritual support for guiding the Chinese nation through countless hardships on the path to national rejuvenation.

He also refers to the creativity of Chinese civilisation, saying that it “places stress on discarding the outdated in favour of the new and making progress on a daily basis… The creativity of Chinese civilisation determines that it upholds tradition without clinging to the past and respects ancient wisdom without reverting to archaic thinking. It also determines that the Chinese nation is fearless in facing new challenges and embracing new things.”

It is also inclusive:

“Rather than replacing diverse cultures with a single monoculture, Chinese civilisation endeavours to integrate various cultures into a shared tapestry.”

Next, Xi Jinping turns his attention to the significance of the two integrations with Marxism, explaining that:

“Given the profound foundations of our venerable 5,000-year-old civilisation, the only path for pioneering and developing Chinese socialism is to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the best of its traditional culture (‘two integrations’). This systematic conclusion has been derived from our extensive explorations of Chinese socialism. We have always emphasised integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and have now officially brought forward the integration of the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s fine traditional culture. As I once stated, without the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilisation, where would the Chinese characteristics come from?”

Mutual compatibility, he insists, is the fundamental prerequisite:

“The ‘two integrations’ is not a far-fetched proposition. Despite their distinct origins, Marxism and traditional Chinese culture exhibit remarkable congruence. For instance, the social principles of pursuing the common good for all and acting in good faith and being friendly to others resonate harmoniously with the ideals and convictions of communism and socialism; the governing concepts of regarding the people as the foundation of the state and governing by virtue align seamlessly with the political principle of putting the people first; and the practices of discarding the outdated in favour of the new and ceaselessly pursuing self-improvement correspond faithfully to the revolutionary spirit of Communists. Marxism sees the essence of man from the angle of social relations, while in Chinese culture, people are defined by their relationships with their family, their country, and the world. Both reject the notion of viewing humans as isolated entities.”

“Integration,” he further explains, “extends beyond mere juxtaposition; instead, it creates a new, organically unified cultural entity. On one hand, Marxism entered China with its advanced theories, giving a new lease of life to Chinese civilisation with its truthfulness. It ushered China into the modern era, revitalising and modernising Chinese culture. Traditional concepts such as regarding the people as the foundation of the state, all regions sharing common customs and practices, all things living side by side, and enriching the people have transformed to modern ideas of pursuing democracy, forging a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, maintaining harmony between humanity and nature, and striving for common prosperity.”

This integration has reinforced the foundations of China’s socialist path:

“The path of Chinese socialism is fundamentally socialist, grounded in Marxism. The essential socialist elements in Chinese culture provide an intellectual foundation for the embrace of Marxism in China. The path of Chinese socialism is continually broadening, and our determination to remain on this path is unwavering.”

In the concluding part of his speech, Xi Jinping points out that: “Under the guidance of Marxism, we must adeptly integrate the past with the present, draw on successful foreign experiences, make informed choices through dialectical reasoning, and develop the new from the old, therefore achieving a seamless fusion of traditional and contemporary cultures.”

The speech was originally published in Chinese in Qiushi Journal, theoretical organ of the Communist Party of China, issue 17 of 2023. This official English translation appeared in Qiushi’s English language edition, issue 5 of 2023.

Today, we convened a meeting on cultural inheritance and development. Preceding this event, I visited the newly built China National Archives of Publications and Culture and the Chinese Archaeological Museum at the Chinese Academy of History and found them exceptionally insightful.

To establish both the Chinese Academy of History and the China National Archives of Publications and Culture was a decision of great significance made by the CPC Central Committee. The Chinese nation boasts a legacy spanning millions of years of humanity, ten millennia of culture, and five thousand years of civilization. My visit to these two places helped deepen my appreciation for the time-honored Chinese culture and the profound depth of Chinese civilization. Only through a comprehensive and deep understanding of the history of Chinese civilization can we more effectively promote the creative transformation and development of the best of the traditional Chinese culture, vigorously push forward the progress of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, and cultivate a modern Chinese civilization.

Culture is fundamental to a nation’s foundation and future. Recently, I have consistently pondered the major issue of promoting China’s socialist culture and developing a modern Chinese civilization. This is precisely the reason that led us to convene this meeting today. Here, I would like to address three key points.

I. Developing a profound understanding of the defining characteristics of Chinese civilization

The traditional Chinese culture encompasses a multitude of significant concepts, including social ideals of pursuing the common good for all and achieving universal peace; governance principles of regarding the people as the foundation of the state and governing by virtue; traditions of striving for great unity in the country and ensuring unity amid diversity; values of dedicating oneself to self-cultivation, family management, state governance, and peace for all and shouldering one’s duties to secure the future of the nation; aspirations of embracing the world with virtue and cultivating integrity; economic principles of enriching the people and improving their lives and pursuing the greater good and shared interests; ecological ideas of promoting harmony between humanity and nature and the coexistence of all living things; philosophical thoughts of seeking truth from facts and combining knowledge with action; the mindset of understanding multiple perspectives and seeking harmony through the middle way; and communication approaches of acting in good faith and being friendly to others. These concepts collectively shape the defining characteristics of Chinese civilization.

Chinese civilization is distinguished by its continuity

Chinese civilization is the only great, uninterrupted civilization that continues to this day in a state form. This unequivocally affirms the cultural identity and robust vitality of Chinese civilization as it has responded to challenges and broken new ground through self-development. Chinese people’s deep-rooted sentiments for the motherland and profound sense of history constitute an ideal for upholding great unity and provide spiritual support for guiding the Chinese nation through countless hardships on the path to national rejuvenation. This continuity inherently dictates that the Chinese nation will follow its own path. If not through the prism of its extensive history of continuity, one would not be able to understand ancient China, contemporary China, let alone China of the future.

Chinese civilization is distinguished by its creativity

Chinese civilization places stress on discarding the outdated in favor of the new and making progress on a daily basis. It embodies both profound depth and dynamic forward surges. Continuity doesn’t mean being stagnant or inflexible; on the contrary, it represents a history marked by creativity-driven progress. The Chinese nation embraces the ethos of self-renewal, as an ancient saying goes “improve oneself in one day, do so from day to day, and there will be daily improvement.” This spirit propels the Chinese nation’s sustained material, cultural-ethical, and political advancement, allowing it to stand tall and firm as one of the most prosperous and powerful civilizations throughout a long historical period. The creativity of Chinese civilization determines that it upholds tradition without clinging to the past and respects ancient wisdom without reverting to archaic thinking. It also determines that the Chinese nation is fearless in facing new challenges and embracing new things.

Continue reading Xi Jinping: Integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the best of its traditional culture

In Xi Jinping’s China, is Chairman Mao back?

Marking the 130th anniversary of Comrade Mao Zedong’s birth, Morning Star editor Ben Chacko published this thoughtful response to the Western media scare stories about President Xi Jinping leading a “reversion to Maoism.” Ben points out that this theme “is inseparable from a wider narrative in which China is becoming more adversarial and threatening” – a narrative which is being used to justify an escalating New Cold War on China.

Ben observes that there has been significant continuity from one leadership generation to the next in terms of China’s overall political trajectory and goals, and “the idea post-Mao China decisively broke with Mao is not one which has ever been accepted by Chinese leaders.” The pursuit of an advanced socialism is core to the whole history of the CPC. “Though most Western observers assumed China’s theory of the ‘primary stage of socialism’ was merely an excuse for continued Communist Party rule over a capitalist country, Xi’s policies conform precisely to what the party said it was intending to do all along.”

Nonetheless, Ben recognises that with a renewed emphasis on common prosperity, with the crackdown on corruption and excessive wealth, and with China’s growing voice and influence on the world stage, there are certain parallels between Xi Jinping’s leadership and that of Mao Zedong. “If Xi echoes Mao, it is perhaps because the questions which absorbed the Chairman, from wealth differentials to China’s role as a leader of the decolonisation movement, are as acute today as they were 50 years ago: with the rise of the global South possibly a greater challenge to imperialism even than the Soviet Union was.”

Ben concludes:

When the histories of how the historically brief supremacy of the West came to an end are written, it seems a fair bet that both Mao and Xi will have starring roles.

BOXING Day marks 130 years since the birth of Chairman Mao — a revolutionary whose significance seems all the greater now given the rise of China.

China’s alleged reversion to Maoism under President Xi Jinping is a recurring theme in Western media. A year ago the Guardian was quoting the US-based academic Hu Ping on how Xi was “increasingly reverting to Mao” on domestic policy; outlets from the New York Times to Al Jazeera have referred to Xi as “the new Mao.”

China is certainly celebrating Mao this winter. A new film, When We Were Young, will depict his student years; a TV series, Kunpeng Strikes the Waves, will tell the story of his early activism and discovery of Marxism. The “kun” and “peng” are mythological creatures, or one creature, since the kun, a huge fish, transforms into the peng, a huge bird, whose flight, in the Taoist classic the Zhuangzi, causes storms lasting months and churns up the sea for hundreds of miles around: an indication of how great an impact Mao is deemed to have had on China’s history.

Xi himself has promoted the “back to Mao” narrative. Shortly after his election to a third term leading China’s Communist Party last year, he took the politburo on a high-profile visit to Yan’an, the communist base area after the Long March of the 1930s, from which Mao directed much of the civil war, received Western admirers such as Edgar Snow, and which became a sort of prototype Red China before victory on a national scale in 1949.

In Western depictions, this is inseparable from a wider narrative in which China is becoming more adversarial and threatening.

Where a generation ago it was portrayed as having embraced capitalism, now the leading capitalist countries see it as an enemy its communist character is hyped up.

How real is the shift? Ofcom in 2021 revoked its state broadcaster CGTN’s right to broadcast in Britain, saying it was “ultimately controlled by the Communist Party.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin noted drily that Britain “knew clearly the nature of our media from CGTN’s first day of reporting in the UK over 10 years ago” and that “China is a communist country led by the Chinese Communist Party” — it was Britain, not China, that had changed its attitude.

A lot of the mainstream narrative about China is frankly nonsense. A politically motivated growth in US sanctions, obediently copied by London and Brussels, is used to claim Xi’s China has turned in on itself and is economically isolated.

But it is under Xi that China has become the biggest trading partner of two-thirds of countries and under Xi that the Belt & Road Initiative has replaced the World Bank as the largest lender of development finance worldwide.

Continue reading In Xi Jinping’s China, is Chairman Mao back?

The contributions of Mao Zedong to Marxism-Leninism

The following article by J Sykes, originally published in Fight Back! to coincide with the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth, discusses Mao’s profound contributions to Marxism-Leninism.

The author notes in particular Mao’s writings on philosophy, which explore and develop Marx’s dialectical and historical materialism. “On Practice teaches us that theory must be grounded in practice, in our experience in production, class struggle, and scientific experiment… On Contradiction is a manual on the practical application of dialectical materialism.” Mao’s works on revolutionary strategy, and particularly the theory of protracted people’s war, are “applicable broadly to large, semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries fighting for national liberation and socialism.” Mao’s theory of the mass line remains “the key to the fusion of Marxism with the working class movement.”

Sykes observes that Mao developed his ideas together with his contemporaries, and that we still “have a lot to gain from studying the works of Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Chen Yun, and Deng Xiaoping.” Sykes also makes the crucial point that the CPC today carries forward the legacy of Mao Zedong and that “today, Xi Jinping continues to lead the Chinese people in applying Marxism-Leninism to Chinese conditions.”

Many of these themes are explored in Sykes’ valuable book, The Revolutionary Science of Marxism-Leninism.

December 26, 2023 marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of the great leader and teacher of the Chinese revolution, Mao Zedong. This is an excellent occasion to review Mao’s contributions as one of the principal theorists of the science of revolution, Marxism-Leninism.

Mao Zedong always stressed that it is the masses who make history, but like all Marxists he recognized the importance of leadership in revolutionary change. As the leader of the revolution in China, Mao made innumerable practical contributions both to the Chinese Revolution and to the international communist movement as a whole.

Mao led the Chinese Revolution to victory in establishing new democracy and socialism, thus liberating the Chinese people from feudalism and imperialism. Under Mao’s leadership, the Chinese people carried out land reform, industrialized and modernized their productive forces, and went from a backward, semi-colonial and semi-feudal country dominated by domestic warlords and plundered by foreign imperialists, to a powerful, independent country, where the working class wields state power for the betterment of the people.

After the death of Stalin in 1953 and the rise to power of Khrushchev in the Soviet Union in 1956, Mao led the struggle against modern revisionism in the international communist movement, upholding and defending the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism.

“The theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is universally applicable. We should regard it not as a dogma, but as a guide to action,” wrote Mao. “Studying it is not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases but of learning Marxism-Leninism as the science of revolution.” Indeed, Mao Zedong’s leadership united practical struggle with revolutionary theory, and Mao always emphasized the importance of the dialectical relationship between theory and practice. For Mao, Marxism was always a science, driven by the practical demands of the Chinese revolution, and a weapon of class struggle, to be used to overthrow the old society and build a new world.

The theory of Mao Zedong is likewise universally applicable, and we should study it closely. As Lenin said, Marxism has three main components: philosophy, political economy, and scientific socialism. Mao wrote important texts contributing to our understanding of each of the aspects of Marxism-Leninism, as well as important works on revolutionary strategy.

Continue reading The contributions of Mao Zedong to Marxism-Leninism

Xi Jinping Thought can justly be acclaimed as Marxism for the 21st Century

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, together with various institutions under its umbrella, including the Academy of Marxism and the World Socialism Research Centre, organised the 13th World Socialism Forum in Beijing, November 28-30.

Numerous Chinese delegates, including leading members of the Communist Party of China, scholars, researchers and students of Marxism, and others, were joined by scholars and political and social activists from around the world. They included leaders, representatives and members of communist parties and other left-wing parties and organisations from many countries, including Cuba, Vietnam and Laos; Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Turkiye, Lebanon, Syria, Japan and Australia; South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya; Peru, Argentina, Brazil and the USA; and Russia, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Britain, France, Switzerland, Finland and Cyprus.

Friends of Socialist China was represented by our co-editor Keith Bennett.

Following the main conference in Beijing, the international delegates were divided into two groups which travelled respectively to Shandong and Fujian provinces.

The following is the text of the speech given by Keith at the conference at Fuzhou University. Citing VI Lenin, JV Stalin, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping, Keith touches on the relationship between socialist countries and the struggle for socialism on a world scale and proceeds to analyse how this relates to President Xi Jinping’s concept of a shared future for humanity and especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Keith also delivered a similar paper (slightly abbreviated due to time constraints) at the forum in Beijing.

Dear Comrades

First, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Academy of Marxism of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and to Fuzhou University, along with all the organisers and co-organisers, for their kind invitation, excellent arrangements and generous hospitality.

I would also like to join our comrade from the Communist Party of the USA, who spoke a little earlier, in saying how inspiring it is to see so many young students here today and, in particular, so many young women students. Seeing you all brings to my mind what Chairman Mao said to the Chinese students in Moscow in 1957 – that the future of China and the world belongs to you and that our hopes are placed in you.

It is not by chance that we meet here in the People’s Republic of China, the world’s leading socialist country, to discuss the prospects for world socialism.

It is also very significant that we are joined here by representatives of the heroic socialist nations of Vietnam and Laos, and I take this opportunity to again warmly congratulate our Laotian comrades on yesterday’s 48th anniversary of the victory of their revolution.

In his Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Question, written for the Second Congress of the Communist International on June 5, 1920, Lenin wrote that, “proletarian internationalism demands, first, that the interests of the proletarian struggle in any one country should be subordinated to the interests of that struggle on a world-wide scale, and, second, that a nation which is achieving victory over the bourgeoisie should be able and willing to make the greatest national sacrifices for the overthrow of international capital.”

In his talk with African friends on August 8, 1963, Comrade Mao Zedong said: “The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty.”

In his talk with former President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere on November 23, 1989, Comrade Deng Xiaoping said: “So long as socialism does not collapse in China, it will always hold its ground in the world.”

Continue reading Xi Jinping Thought can justly be acclaimed as Marxism for the 21st Century

The international China and Marxism symposium in Istanbul

The Turkish journal Teori ve Politika (Theory and Politics) organised an international symposium on China and Marxism in Istanbul on November 18. Aiming to understand and discuss Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the Communist Party of China (CPC’s) approach to Marxism, the conference featured a total of 16 papers in four languages.

The opening speeches were delivered by 90-year-old Korkut Boratav, one of Turkey’s most prominent Marxist economists, and Qian Xinyi from the Chinese Embassy in Ankara.

In the first session, Marxism’s Conception of Socialism and China, speakers included Professor Tang Ming from the Central China Normal University and Carlos Martinez from Friends of Socialist China.

Carlos compared China’s reform and opening-up with perestroika and glasnost in the former Soviet Union, highlighting the significant differences between the USSR and China in economic (dramatic and continual improvement in the living standards of the Chinese people), political (not allowing the capitalists to organise as a class) and geostrategic (long period of peace and security) aspects.

Another session featured Azad Barış from HEDEP (the People’s Equality and Democracy Party of Turkey), Yu Weihai, Director of the Central China Normal University, Ben Chacko, Editor of the Morning Star, and Maher Al-Taher from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Yu Weihai highlighted the dramatic change in the international communist and workers movement after the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to a more pluralistic, independent, diverse, and egalitarian reality. Ben Chacko stated that challenging the narrative that China poses a threat to the global order requires demolishing lies about China posing a military or security threat to the West and examining whether China’s rise is that of a new aspiring hegemon wanting to replace the US.

Comrade Maher Al-Taher, who was welcomed with strong feelings and expressions of solidarity, argued that the perception of Marxism as a dogmatic and unchangeable whole is wrong, emphasising the need to deepen Marxism in the specificity of each country and adding that the Chinese experience is a creative example of this.

The following report was originally published in the Morning Star.

On a stormy and rainy weekend in Istanbul last month, an international symposium entitled China and Marxism was organised by the Teori ve Politika (Theory and Politics) magazine. The symposium aimed to understand and discuss Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the Communist Party of China (CPC’s) approach to Marxism, featuring a total of 16 papers in four languages.

The opening speeches were delivered by 90-year-old Korkut Boratav, one of Turkey’s most prominent Marxist economists, and Qian Xinyi, the Undersecretary of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. Boratav expressed that the most prevalent form of the relations of production in Chinese society is capitalist, but questioned whether these are dominant relations due to the established forms of public ownership surrounding them.

He stated that the future cannot be guaranteed but emphasised that the bourgeoisie does not hold power in China and their attempts to seize power have been thwarted by the CPC. Qian Xinyi highlighted that Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is a natural outcome of China’s particular conditions.

In the first session, Marxism’s Conception of Socialism and China, speakers including Professor Tang Ming from the Central China Normal University, Carlos Martinez from Friends of Socialist China, Sungur Savran from Revolutionary Marxism, and Metin Kayaoğlu from the Teori ve Politika magazine presented their papers.

Tang Ming divided China’s socialist transformation into two periods: Mao, and Deng and post-Deng periods. Savran emphasised that the biggest challenge that led to the collapse of really existing socialisms in the 20th century was the corruption that developed around the swelling bureaucratic class and that the same challenge is being faced today in China.

Martinez compared China’s reform and opening-up with perestroika and glasnost, highlighting the significant differences between the USSR and China in economic (dramatic and continual improvement in the living standards of the Chinese people), political (not allowing the capitalists to organise as a class) and geostrategic (long period of peace and security) aspects.

Kayaoğlu pointed out different approaches within Marxist literature regarding the relationship between productive forces and relations of production referencing Lenin and Kautsky and made precise that despite the autonomy of political forces, the laws of the production maintain themselves.

In the second session, Economy, Politics, and Society in China, speakers including Fatih Oktay from Özyeğin University, Chen Feng from Shandong University — School of Marxism, Jülide Yazıcı from the Teori ve Politika magazine, and Hu Zongshan from Central China Normal University presented their papers.

Oktay provided a brief and clear presentation on the history of China’s reform, emphasising the need for stronger steps toward a socialist formation to ensure the country’s socialist future. Dr Chen Feng stated that the development of rural areas is one of the most important tasks for China as a modern socialist country. Yazıcı argued that CPC is leading an experiment of transition from capitalism to advanced socialism, that it is inevitable in a transition period that certain capitalistic mechanisms maintain themselves, and that what is important is the CPC’s ideological and political insistence on Marxism. Hu Zongshan diagnosed three challenges ahead of China’s modernisation: the Two Huangs Trap related to national governance, yhe Middle Income Trap, and the Thucydides Trap.

In the third session, China in the World, speakers including Çağdaş Üngör from Marmara University, historian Kamuran Kızlak, historian Vijay Prashad from TriContinental, and Mehmet Yılmazer from the Yol magazine delivered their speeches.

Üngör discussed whether the China model could be exported to the world, attributing the interest in China to the quest that emerged in the world following the 2008 crisis. Kızlak provided an informative presentation on China, the US and Soviet relations during the reform era, concluding with a focus on the CPC’s conception of Confucianism. Prashad, questioning Biden’s rhetoric of “Chinese aggression,” highlighted that Nato forces in the Asia-Pacific are more aggressive in foreign policy, and that China, unlike the United States, has adopted a no-first-use nuclear policy which means that China will not fire a nuclear weapon before anybody else.

Yılmazer emphasised that the US strategy focuses on preventing the strengthening of Russia-Europe relations, hindering the development of Russia-China relations, and limiting China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific.

In the continued session with the same title, speakers including Azad Barış from HEDEP (People’s Equality and Democracy Party), Yu Weihai, Director of the Central China Normal University, Ben Chacko from the Morning Star newspaper and Maher Al-Taher from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, presented their talks.

Azad Barış stated that in the new world order, there are no clear boundaries between ideologies, and China’s success against imperialism strengthens the struggles of oppressed peoples.

Yu Weihai highlighted the dramatic change in the internationalist movement after the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to a more pluralistic, independent, diverse, and egalitarian organisation of international movements. Chacko stated that challenging the narrative that China poses a threat to the global order requires demolishing lies about China posing a military or security threat to the West and examining whether China’s rise is that of a new aspiring hegemon wanting to replace the US.

Maher Al-Taher, welcomed with strong solidarity feelings, argued that the perception of Marxism as a dogmatic and unchangeable whole is wrong, emphasising the need to deepen Marxism in the specificity of each country and that Chinese experience is a creative example of this.

In the closing speech, Elif Nur Aybaş from the Teori ve Politika magazine reminded us that the critique of Eurocentrism in the 20th century provided an opportunity to recognise the political agency of oppressed peoples.

She expressed a preference for considering the Chinese experience as a critique of Eurocentrism from within Marxism, and emphasized that Marxists in other parts of the world have the duty of learning from this experience. Teori ve Poltika announced that the video recordings of the symposium will be made available for viewing in the near future, and the speeches will also be published as a book.

Marxian Ecology, East and West: Joseph Needham and a non-Eurocentric view of the origins of China’s ecological civilisation

We are pleased to reproduce the below article by John Bellamy Foster, editor of the prestigious socialist journal, Monthly Review, who is also professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, concerning the contributions of the late Dr. Joseph Needham (1900-1995) to the understanding of the deep roots of China’s views on an ecological civilisation in particular and the dialectical nature of much of traditional Chinese philosophy and culture more generally. The article is especially important in that, whilst the contribution of Needham, who, at the time of his death was described by Britain’s Independent newspaper as “possibly the greatest scholar since Erasmus”, to the understanding of science and civilisation in China, the title of his monumental, multi-volume, lifelong work, remains known in some relevant academic circles, for example through the work of the Needham Research Institute, and somewhat more generally through a popular biography by Simon Winchester, his lifelong Marxism, and his significant contributions to Marxist theory, have been all but forgotten.

Bellamy Foster begins by posing the question as to why the most developed version of ecological Marxism is to be found today in China and argues:

“The answer is that there is a much more complex dialectical relation between East and West with respect to materialist dialectics and critical ecology than has been generally supposed, one that stretches back over millennia.”

He further explains that:

“Materialist and dialectical conceptions of nature and history do not start with Karl Marx. The roots of ‘organic naturalism’ and ‘scientific humanism,’ according to the great British Marxist scientist and Sinologist Joseph Needham (李約瑟), author of Science and Civilisation in China, can be traced to the sixth to third centuries BCE both in ancient Greece, beginning with the pre-Socratics and extending to the Hellenistic philosophers, and in ancient China, with the emergence of Daoist and Confucian philosophers during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty.”

In ‘Within the Four Seas: The Dialogue of East and West’, a 1969 book by Needham, the author noted “the absolute alacrity with which ‘dialectical materialism’ was taken up in China during the Chinese Revolution… The Marxian materialist dialectic, with its deep-seated ecological critique rooted in ancient Epicurean materialism, was in Needham’s view, so closely akin to Chinese Daoist and Confucian philosophies as to create a strong acceptance of Marxian philosophical views in China, particularly since China’s own perennial philosophy was in this roundabout way integrated with modern science. If Daoism was a naturalist philosophy, Confucianism was associated, Needham wrote, with ‘a passion for social justice.'”

Bellamy Foster further notes that: “The Needham thesis, as presented here, can also throw light on the spurious proposition, recently put forward by cultural theorist Jeremy Lent, author of The Patterning Instinct, that the Chinese conception of ecological civilisation is derived entirely from China’s own traditional philosophy, rather than being influenced by Marxism. Lent’s argument fails to acknowledge that ecological civilisation as a critical category was first introduced by Marxist environmentalists in the Soviet Union in its closing decades, and immediately adopted by Chinese thinkers, who were to develop it more fully.”

He acknowledges that, “of course, the Needham thesis may seem obscure at first from the usual standpoint of the Western left”, one reason being a “deep Eurocentrism characteristic of contemporary Marxism in the West, associated with the systematic downplaying of colonialism and imperialism.”

But, also citing the work of the late Egyptian Marxist Samir Amin, Bellamy Foster quotes Needham as explaining that “the basic fallacy of Europocentrism is therefore the tacit assumption that because modern science and technology, which grew up indeed in post-Renaissance Europe, are universal, everything else European is universal also.” However, Bellamy Foster continues:

“Marxist thought and socialism in general have always been radically opposed to Eurocentrism, understood as the ideology of Western colonialism. This is as true of Marx and Frederick Engels, particularly in their later years, as it was of V.I. Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. In the twentieth century, moreover, the impetus for revolution shifted to the Global South and its struggle against imperialism, generating in the process new Marxist analyses in the works of figures as distinct as Mao Zedong, Amílcar Cabral, and Che Guevara, all of whom insisted on the need for a world revolution.”

Whilst it is possible to point to traces of European ethnocentrism in some of Marx’s early work, Bellamy Foster notes that, by the late 1850s, he had “become increasingly focused on the critique of colonialism, actively supporting anti-colonial rebellions, and progressively more concerned with analysing the material and cultural conditions of non-Western societies.” This was “further facilitated by the ‘revolution in ethnological time’ with the discovery of prehistory and the rise of anthropological studies, occurring in tandem with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.” In this regard, Bellamy Foster draws a line of demarcation with the recent influential work, ‘Marx in the Anthropocene‘ by the Japanese Marxist Kohei Saito.

Bellamy Foster draws out the connection between Needham’s pioneering work and Xi Jinping’s thoughts on this issue, citing Chinese scholar Huang Chengliang explaining that “the theoretical origins of Xi Jinping’s thought on Ecological Civilisation can be traced to five sources: (1) Marxist philosophy, integrating “the three fundamental theories of ‘dialectics of history, dialectical materialism and dialectics of nature’”; (2) traditional Chinese ecological wisdom on “[human]-nature unity and the law of nature”; (3) the actual historical context of ecological governance in China in response to the ecological crisis; (4) struggles to develop a progressive and ecological model of sustainable development; and (5) the articulation of ecological civilisation as the governing principle of the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

He concludes:

“In Xi’s analysis, the traditional Chinese emphasis on the harmony of humanity and nature, or the view that ‘the human and heaven are united in one,’ is wedded to Marxian ecological views with a seamlessness that can only be explained in terms of Needham’s thesis of the correlative development of organic materialism in both the East and West, with Marxism as the connecting link. From this perspective, the Chinese notion of ecological civilisation, due to its overall theoretical coherence and coupled with China’s rise in general, is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in the development of ecological Marxism worldwide. As Needham wrote: ‘China has in her time learnt much from the rest of the world; now perhaps it is time for the nations and the continents to learn again from her.’”

This article, first published in Monthly Review, is based on a talk presented online to the School of Marxism, Shandong University, in Jinan, in March 2023 and was revised and expanded from an original published version, printed in International Critical Thought, a journal of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Ecological materialism, of which ecological Marxism is the most developed version, is often seen as having its origins exclusively within Western thought. But if that is so, how do we explain the fact that ecological Marxism has been embraced as readily (or indeed, more readily) in the East as in the West, leaping over cultural, historical, and linguistic barriers and leading to the current concept of ecological civilization in China? The answer is that there is a much more complex dialectical relation between East and West with respect to materialist dialectics and critical ecology than has been generally supposed, one that stretches back over millennia.

Materialist and dialectical conceptions of nature and history do not start with Karl Marx. The roots of “organic naturalism” and “scientific humanism,” according to the great British Marxist scientist and Sinologist Joseph Needham (李約瑟), author of Science and Civilization in China, can be traced to the sixth to third centuries BCE both in ancient Greece, beginning with the pre-Socratics and extending to the Hellenistic philosophers, and in ancient China, with the emergence of Daoist and Confucian philosophers during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty.1 As Samir Amin indicated in his Eurocentrism, the “philosophy of nature [as opposed to metaphysics] is essentially materialist” and constituted a “key breakthrough” in tributary modes of production, both East and West, beginning in the fifth century BCE.2

In Within the Four Seas: The Dialogue of East and West in 1969, Needham noted the absolute alacrity with which “dialectical materialism” was taken up in China during the Chinese Revolution and how this was treated as a great mystery in the West. Nevertheless, the sense of mystery, he contended, did not extend in the same way to the East itself. He wrote: “I can almost imagine Chinese scholars,” confronted with Marxian materialist dialectics, “saying to themselves ‘How astonishing: this is very like our own philosophia perennis integrated with modern science at last come home to us.’”3 The Marxian materialist dialectic, with its deep-seated ecological critique rooted in ancient Epicurean materialism, was in Needham’s view, so closely akin to Chinese Daoist and Confucian philosophies as to create a strong acceptance of Marxian philosophical views in China, particularly since China’s own perennial philosophy was in this roundabout way integrated with modern science. If Daoism was a naturalist philosophy, Confucianism was associated, Needham wrote, with “a passion for social justice.”4

The Needham convergence thesis—or simply the Needham thesis, as I am calling it here—was thus that Marxist materialist dialectics had a special affinity with Chinese organic naturalism as represented especially by Daoism, which was similar to the ancient Epicureanism that lay at the foundations of Marx’s own materialist conception of nature. Like other Marxist scientists and cultural figures associated with what has been called the “second foundation of Marxism,” centered in Britain in the mid-twentieth century, Needham saw Epicureanism as providing many of the initial theoretical principles on which Marxism, as a critical-materialist philosophy, was based.5 It was the similar evolution of organic materialism East and West—but which, in the case of Marxism, was integrated with modern science—that explained dialectical materialism’s profound impact in China.6

Continue reading Marxian Ecology, East and West: Joseph Needham and a non-Eurocentric view of the origins of China’s ecological civilisation

The Western left and the US-China contradiction

In the following article, which was originally published in People’s Democracy, the weekly English-language newspaper of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM), Prabhat Patnaik takes up the contradictions in the view taken by parts of the western left with regard to China and its growing contradictions with US imperialism. 

He begins by stating that, “significant segments of the non-Communist Western Left see the developing contradiction between the United States and China in terms of an inter-imperialist rivalry.” (One would just observe here that Comrade Patnaik is being either diplomatic or charitable, or quite possibly both, as a number of western communist parties, not least the Communist Party of Greece [KKE], are at least equally prone to this fundamental political error.)

Such a characterisation, Comrade Patnaik notes, “ironically makes these segments of the Left implicitly or explicitly complicit in US imperialism’s machinations against China… since the two countries are at loggerheads on most contemporary issues, it leads to a general muting of opposition to US imperialism.”

Comrade Patnaik further notes that this deviation is not new on the part of some sections of the left, citing attitudes to NATO’s bombing of the former Yugoslavia and current conflicts in both Ukraine and Gaza. 

Regarding the claims that China is a capitalist country, Patnaik writes:

“As for China being a capitalist economy, and hence engaged in imperialist activities all over the globe in rivalry with the US, those who hold this view are, at best, taking a moralist position and mixing up ‘capitalist’ with ‘bad’ and ‘socialist’ with ‘good’. Their position amounts in effect to saying: I have my notion of how a socialist society should behave (which is an idealised notion), and if China’s behaviour in some respects differs from my notion, then ipso facto China cannot be socialist and hence must be capitalist. The terms capitalist and socialist however have very specific meanings, which imply their being associated with very specific kinds of dynamics, each kind rooted in certain basic property relations. True, China has a significant capitalist sector, namely one characterised by capitalist property relations, but the bulk of the Chinese economy is still State-owned and characterised by centralised direction which prevents it from having the self- drivenness (or ‘spontaneity’) that marks capitalism. One may critique many aspects of Chinese economy and society but calling it ‘capitalist’ and hence engaged in imperialist activities on a par with western metropolitan economies, is a travesty. It is not only analytically wrong but leads to praxis that is palpably against the interests of both the working classes in the metropolis and the working people in the global south.”

Hence:

“It is not inter-imperialist rivalry, but resistance on the part of China, and other countries following its lead, to the re-assertion of hegemony by western imperialism that explains the heightening of US-China contradictions.”

Significant segments of the non-Communist Western Left see the developing contradiction between the United States and China in terms of an inter-imperialist rivalry. Such a characterisation fulfils three distinct theoretical functions from their point of view: first, it provides an explanation for the growing contradiction between the US and China; second, it does so by using a Leninist concept and within a Leninist paradigm; and third, it critiques China as an emerging imperialist power, and hence by inference, a capitalist economy, which is in conformity with an ultra-Left critique of China.

Such a characterisation ironically makes these segments of the Left implicitly or explicitly complicit in US imperialism’s machinations against China.  At best, it leads to a position which holds that they are both imperialist countries, so that there is no point in supporting one against the other; at worst, it leads to supporting the US against China as the “lesser evil” in the conflict between these two imperialist powers. In either case, it leads to the obliteration of an oppositional position with regard to the aggressive postures of US imperialism vis-à-vis China; and since the two countries are at loggerheads on most contemporary issues, it leads to a general muting of opposition to US imperialism.

For quite some time now, significant sections of the western Left, even those who otherwise profess opposition to western imperialism, have been supportive of the actions of this imperialism in specific situations. It was evident in their support for the bombing of Serbia when that country was being ruled by Slobodan Milosevich; it is evident at present in the support for NATO in the ongoing Ukraine war; and it is also evident in their shocking lack of any strong opposition to the genocide that is being perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza with the active support of western imperialism. The silence on, or the support for, the aggressive imperialist position on China by certain sections of the western Left, is, to be sure, not necessarily identical with these positions; but it is in conformity with them.

Such a position which does not frontally oppose western imperialism, is, ironically, at complete variance with the interests and the attitudes of the working class in the metropolitan countries. The working class in Europe for instance is overwhelmingly opposed to NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, as is evident in many instances of workers’ refusal to load shipment of European arms meant for Ukraine. This is not surprising, for the war has also directly impacted workers’ lives by aggravating inflation. But the absence of any forthright Left opposition to the war is making many workers turn to right-wing parties that, even though they fall in line with imperialist positions upon coming to power as Meloni has done in Italy, are at least critical of such positions when they are in opposition. The quietude of the western left vis-à-vis western imperialism is thus causing a shift of the entire political centre of gravity to the right over much of the metropolis. And looking upon the US-China contradiction as an inter-imperialist rivalry plays into this narrative.

As for China being a capitalist economy, and hence engaged in imperialist activities all over the globe in rivalry with the US, those who hold this view are, at best, taking a moralist position and mixing up “capitalist” with “bad” and “socialist” with “good”. Their position amounts in effect to saying: I have my notion of how a socialist society should behave (which is an idealised notion), and if China’s behaviour in some respects differs from my notion, then ipso facto China cannot be socialist and hence must be capitalist. The terms capitalist and socialist however have very specific meanings, which imply their being associated with very specific kinds of dynamics, each kind rooted in certain basic property relations. True, China has a significant capitalist sector, namely one characterised by capitalist property relations, but the bulk of the Chinese economy is still State-owned and characterised by centralised direction which prevents it from having the self- drivenness (or “spontaneity”) that marks capitalism. One may critique many aspects of Chinese economy and society, but calling it “capitalist” and hence engaged in imperialist activities on a par with western metropolitan economies, is a travesty. It is not only analytically wrong but leads to praxis that is palpably against the interests of both the working classes in the metropolis and the working people in the global south.

But the question immediately arises: if the US-China contradiction is not a manifestation of inter-imperialist rivalry, then how can we explain its rise to prominence in the more recent period? To understand this we have to go back to the post-second world war period. Capitalism emerged from the war greatly weakened, and facing an existential crisis: the working class in the metropolis was not willing to go back to the pre-war capitalism that had entailed mass unemployment and destitution; socialism had made great advances all over the world; and liberation struggles in the global south against colonial and semi-colonial oppression had reached a real crescendo. For its very survival therefore capitalism had to make a number of concessions: the introduction of universal adult suffrage, the adoption of welfare State measures, the institution of State intervention in demand management, and above all the acceptance of formal political decolonisation.

Political decolonisation however did not mean economic decolonisation, that is, the transfer of control over third world resources, exercised till then by metropolitan capital to the newly independent countries; indeed against such transfers imperialism fought a bitter and prolonged struggle, marked by the overthrow of governments led by Arbenz, Mossadegh, Allende, Cheddi Jagan, Lumumba and many others. Even so, however, metropolitan capital could not prevent third world resources in many instances from slipping out of its control to the dirigiste regimes that had come up in these countries following decolonisation.

The tide turned in favour of imperialism with the coming into being of a higher stage of centralisation of capital that gave rise to globalised capital, including above all globalised finance, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union that itself was not altogether unrelated to the globalisation of finance. Imperialism trapped countries in the web of globalisation and hence in the vortex of global financial flows, forcing them under the threat of financial outflows into pursuing neo-liberal policies that meant the end of dirigiste regimes and the re-acquisition of control by metropolitan capital over much of third world resources, including third world land-use.

It is against this background of re-assertion of imperialist hegemony that one can understand the heightening of US-China contradiction and many other contemporary developments like the Ukraine war. Two features of this re-assertion need to be noted: the first is that metropolitan market access for goods from countries like China, together with the willingness of metropolitan capital to locate plants in such countries to take advantage of their comparatively lower wages for meeting global demand, accelerated the growth-rate in these economies (and only these economies) of the global south; it did so in China to a point where the leading metropolitan power, the US, began to see China as a threat. The second feature is the crisis of neo-liberal capitalism that has emerged with virulence after the collapse of the housing “bubble” in the US.

For both these reasons the US would now like to protect its economy against imports from China and from other similarly-placed countries of the global south. Even though these imports may be occurring, at least in part, under the aegis of US capital, the US cannot afford to run the risk of “deindustrialising” itself. The desire on its part to cut China “down to size” so soon after it had been hailing China for its “economic reforms” is thus rooted in the contradictions of neo-liberal capitalism, and hence in the very logic inherent to the reassertion of imperialist hegemony. It is not inter-imperialist rivalry, but resistance on the part of China, and other countries following its lead, to the re-assertion of hegemony by western imperialism that explains the heightening of US-China contradictions.

As the capitalist crisis accentuates, as the oppression of third world countries because of their inability to service their external debt increases through the imposition of “austerity” by imperialist agencies like the IMF, and in turn calls forth greater resistance from them and greater assistance to them from China, the US-China contradictions will become more acute and the tirades against China in the west will grow shriller.

Rejoice: China has now outlasted the USSR

In the following thoughtful and insightful article, originally published in the Morning Star, Andrew Murray observes that, as of this month, the People Republic of China has now outlasted the Soviet Union (even when setting the latter’s start date as the victory of the October Revolution in 1917, rather than the actual formation of the USSR in 1922).

Andrew notes that this milestone represents an inevitable and ongoing eastward shift in the world’s political centre of gravity, “as the depredations wrought by 300 years of imperialism are gradually undone.” Additionally, the survival of Chinese socialism – and specifically a version of Marxism that is grounded in China’s own history and philosophical traditions – is “a dialectical step in the universalisation of Marxism”. This universalisation expands the scope and applicability of Marxism beyond the 19th century industrial heartlands of Europe and North America, to take on board the struggle of peoples the world over against colonialism, imperialism, exploitation and all forms of oppression. Andrew writes:

It should be neither surprising nor alarming that Chinese Marxism is refreshed from a variety of sources of which Marx and Engels knew little or nothing. That is the inevitable interplay of the development of a methodology which aims to encompass the totality of social experience across the world.

Given the longevity of the Chinese Revolution, along with China’s size and growing strengh, Andrew argues persuasively that the “the perspective of socialism in the world today rests heavily on Chinese shoulders” and urges readers to “acknowledge the immensity of the achievement of the CPC and the Chinese people.”

Some of the ideas in this article are explored in more detail in Andrew’s article The significance of the Chinese revolution, based on a presentation to the Friends of Socialist China dialogue held in London in November 2022 on the theme On the evolving significance of the Chinese Revolution.

A landmark in socialist history passed largely unremarked this month.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has now lasted longer than the USSR did, counting the latter’s lifespan, as one reasonably should, from the October Revolution of 1917 rather than the actual formation of the USSR in 1922.

Such milestones may mean little in and of themselves. But this one carries a freight of historical significance.

It is emblematic of the shift of the leading edge of human development from Europe and North America to Asia and the Pacific, as the depredations wrought by 300 years of imperialism are gradually undone.

But that is only one side of the issue. China’s rise, after a century of violent interruption by Western aggression, would have significance even if it were an entirely capitalist project, which its critics say it is but which the government of the PRC itself emphatically says it isn’t.

It has additional, and greater, importance in the world because the PRC places its advance within the framework of the worldwide movement for socialism as well as China’s tortured history.

The two revolutions were intimately connected. The Chinese communists are fond of saying that the salvoes of the October Revolution brought Marxism to China.

That is indeed true — before Lenin and the Communist International, there was no Marxism and no Marxist party in China, unlike in Europe where existing Marxist traditions flourished before the first world war.

It was Soviet Marxism that initially shaped the Communist Party of China (CPC). And without the CPC the struggle for China’s freedom from imperialism would have remained in the corrupted and compromised hands of the Kuomintang.

It is doubtful that this counterfactual China could have ever established a genuine unity and independence from foreign hegemony, prerequisites for the huge economic advances of the last 45 years in particular.

In that sense perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Russian revolution in world history has been the Chinese revolution. As to why and how socialist China has lasted longer than its Soviet progenitor — that is a very complicated question.

The reasons for the Soviet collapse of the 1980s have been endlessly chewed over. But there is probably a consensus that a cardinal factor was the unyielding pressure from Western imperialism on the Soviet state, ultimately beyond what its economic system could readily sustain.

That is a problem China seems to have cracked. Its accelerating economic strength has not merely guaranteed its independence — Soviet socialism established that too — but it has been able to reproduce itself at more advanced levels to the point where being broken by economic coercion, expressed through an arms race or otherwise, seems all-but impossible.

The connections between the two great revolutions of the 20th century should not blind us to the discontinuities, however. The CPC may have taken the Comintern’s Marxism-Leninism as its foundation but its work, since 1935 at any rate, has turned on trying to integrate those principles with a reality very different from the one that originally produced Marxism.

For example, Lenin told the victorious Russian communists that they stood on the shoulders of the experience of the Paris Commune and of pre-1914 German social democracy.

Such points of reference meant little in China. The CPC was however the inheritor of indigenous revolutionary traditions, like the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion, a decade-long insurrection animated by a sort of quasi-Christian utopian peasant communism which dwarfs the Paris Commune in duration and bloodshed.

The history of Chinese socialism needs to be read as much or more against this background as it does against the more familiar — in the West — narratives of the international communist movement of Lenin, Stalin and beyond.

The CPC describes its long struggle to make Marxist politics suitable to the different conditions of China as the “localisation” of Marxism. It is also, however, a dialectical step in the universalisation of Marxism, a doctrine first developed in industrialising Western Europe from sources which included Hegelian philosophy and French understandings of socialism.

That such a doctrine could remain the same as it extends its reach across the world, to countries with very different civilisational roots, philosophical traditions, and specific histories of class struggle is a massive implausibility.

It should be neither surprising nor alarming that Chinese Marxism is refreshed from a variety of sources of which Marx and Engels knew little or nothing. That is the inevitable interplay of the development of a methodology which aims to encompass the totality of social experience across the world.

And that should inform the debate as to whether or not the PRC is today authentically socialist. Socialism and capitalism are terms with universal application, but to expect them to retain the same precise definition over the passage of centuries and the sweep of the world is in a sense to deny Marxism itself.

The CPC, unlike the Communist Party of the USSR (CPSU) for most of its history, makes no claim to have developed a model for all countries to follow, nor to have spoken the last word on Marxism. Other peoples and movements will bring something to the common cause too.

So Chinese socialism is very different from Soviet socialism, in good and bad ways. On the positive side, it has endured, with astonishing benefits to the Chinese people from sustained economic growth. And as China has stood up, so too has the global South, forming a loose pole of opposition to imperialism, albeit not in its 20th-century form.

It has done that through using a plurality of economic mechanisms, some of which clearly carry risks of ultimately upsetting the class nature of the PRC. Massive income inequality and persistent unemployment must be put down on the negative side of the ledger — neither can be reconciled with any serious notion of socialism.

Chinese communists have, however, been quite consistent in arguing that the transition to a socialist society is the work of centuries, not the relatively quick sprint imagined in Soviet times. The CPC took that view even under Mao’s sometimes-leftist leadership, and under subsequent leaders too.

That is perhaps a hard concept to embrace. After all, socialists would like to see their efforts for a better society consummated within their own lifetime. Moreover, the menace of climate change and catastrophic war may make a perspective of such protracted progress an unaffordable luxury. Nevertheless, it is not unrealistic, based on the evidence.

And while one may regret that the CPC does not see itself at the heart of the world revolutionary movement in the way that the CPSU once did, it is unarguable that the perspective of socialism in the world today rests heavily on Chinese shoulders. It is recounted, probably apocryphally, that Lenin danced in the snow in Moscow on the day his Soviet government outlasted the first workers’ regime, the Paris Commune.

It is hard to imagine Xi Jinping skipping in celebration, but that should not stop the rest of us from acknowledging the immensity of the achievement of the CPC and the Chinese people.

Keith Bennett: The Belt and Road Initiative is a key component of Marxist internationalism in the 21st century

The following is the closing speech given by our co-editor Keith Bennett at our webinar held on November 4, marking 10 years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Keith refers to the recent Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing, where President Xi Jinping said in his opening speech: “We have learned that humankind is a community with a shared future. China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better.”

The BRI, Keith notes, is concerned with development, modernization and globalization. And there are two fundamentally different approaches to these questions in today’s world. It is not a coincidence that the approach to these questions that represents and embodies the interests of the overwhelming majority of countries, and the overwhelming majority of the people in every country, should be put forward by the world’s leading socialist country. Nor is it a coincidence that it is above all the world’s leading imperialist country that announces a supposed alternative to the BRI every few months, none of which achieve any traction or any concrete result.

Regarding globalization, in the western countries, the prevailing discourse, from much of both the left and the right, tends to assert that China has wholeheartedly embraced the model of globalization advanced by the major capitalist powers. This is so far from reality as to suggest that those who advance it are either ignorant or malicious. 

A White Paper issued by China’s State Council on October 10 makes clear that the fruits of economic globalization have until now been dominated by a small group of developed countries. Rather than contributing to common prosperity at a global level, it continues, globalization has widened the wealth gap between the rich and poor, between developed and developing countries, and within the developed countries themselves. Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalization and even lost their capacity for independent development. Certain countries, it notes, have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism. 

Keith argues that, grounded as it is in the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism, the BRI is based on and inherits not only the Silk Roads of antiquity, but also the diplomatic history of socialist China as well as the standpoint and practice of the international working-class movement more generally, particularly since the establishment of workers states. 

First, on behalf of Friends of Socialist China, I’d like to thank all those who registered for, attended, and supported our webinar today.

Special thanks go to our brilliant speakers who, from five continents, have shared their insights with us on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Thanks also to our co-organisers, the International Manifesto Group, as well as our sponsors, Connolly Books, Critical Theory Workshop, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, Geopolitical Economy Report, Hampton Institute, International Action Center, Iskra Books, Kawsachun News, Peace, Land and Bread, Pivot to Peace, and Veterans for Peace – China Working Group.

It is 10 years since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and therefore a good time to take stock and make an initial summing up. Last month, I was privileged to be seated in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to listen to President Xi open the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, his speech being followed by those of President Putin and the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Argentina, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As President Xi noted, in the course of its first decade, Belt and Road cooperation has extended from its initial focus on the Eurasian landmass to Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. Indeed, more than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents. Through this process, he explained, belt and road cooperation has progressed from ‘sketching the outline’ to ‘filling in the details’, and blueprints have been turned into real projects.

Xi Jinping said that over the past decade, “we have learned that humankind is a community with a shared future. China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better.”

President Xi, in my view, expresses things here with such simplicity and clarity, making it sound like obvious common sense, that it might seem that this is acceptable to all and that nobody could possibly disagree with it.

But this is far from the case. The BRI is concerned with development, modernization and globalization. And there are two fundamentally different approaches to these questions in today’s world. It is not a coincidence that the approach to these questions that represents and embodies the interests of the overwhelming majority of countries, and the overwhelming majority of the people in every country, should be put forward by the world’s leading socialist country. Nor is it a coincidence that it is above all the world’s leading imperialist country that announces a supposed alternative to the BRI every few months, none of which achieve any traction or any concrete result.

Comrade Liu Jianchao, the Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, spelled matters out clearly in a recent article, where he wrote:

“The vision of building a human community with a shared future and the three global initiatives are scientific. They encapsulate the stances, viewpoints, and methods of Marxism, reflecting the hallmarks of Marxism, and demonstrating salient theoretical character. Underpinned by dialectical and historical materialism, the vision and the three global initiatives reveal the laws governing the development of human society and its future direction.”

Careful study of the White Paper released by the Information Office of China’s State Council on October 10, to coincide with the tenth anniversary and the Beijing Forum, can help to understand this more concretely. And all the documents to which I refer may be read in full on our website, along with useful introductions.

The White Paper again makes clear that whilst the BRI has been launched by China, it belongs to the world and benefits the whole of humanity.

“Irrespective of size, strength and wealth, all countries participate on equal terms.”

Making very clear the distinction between the socialist and imperialist approaches to such questions, it notes that the type of development advanced by the BRI diverges from, “the exploitative colonialism of the past, avoids coercive and one-sided transactions, rejects the centre-periphery model of dependency, and refuses to displace crisis onto others or exploit neighbours for self-interest.”

The same point was made even more forcefully by President Xi Jinping in his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October last year, where he stated:

“In pursuing modernization, China will not tread the old path of war, colonization and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others caused great suffering for the people of developing countries.”

These words of President Xi surely acquire even greater relevance and poignancy today in the face of Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza and the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people, a veritable 21st century Warsaw Ghetto. On one hand, the United States, Britain, France and Germany, aid and abet the genocide and even seek to curtail and deny their own peoples’ right to protest. On the other hand, socialist China, along with the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world, principally the Global South, and as seen in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote, stand for peace, an end to the war of aggression, and for the long overdue realization of the national rights to an independent state of the Palestinian people.

And the same fundamental distinction with regard to which road to take informs socialist China’s approach to globalization. In the western countries, the prevailing discourse, from much of both the left and the right, tends to assert that China has wholeheartedly embraced the model of globalization advanced by the major capitalist powers. This is so far from reality as to suggest that those who advance it are either ignorant or malicious. Or quite possibly both.

The White Paper is clear that the fruits of economic globalization have until now been dominated by a small group of developed countries. Rather than contributing to common prosperity at a global level, it continues, globalization has widened the wealth gap between the rich and poor, between developed and developing countries, and within the developed countries themselves. Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalization and even lost their capacity for independent development. Certain countries, it notes, have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism.

But just as, in their day, Marx and Engels could not endorse, but rather repudiated and stood against, the Luddite approach which, faced with the undoubted depredations and cruelties of the industrial revolution, sought to reverse the objective course of historical progress, China, unlike some, does not reject globalization. But it stands for a different globalization. Economic globalization, the White Paper insists, remains an irreversible trend. It is unthinkable for countries to return to a state of seclusion or isolation. But economic globalization must undergo adjustments in both form and substance.

The focus of BRI, it explains, is precisely on contributing to a form of globalization that generates common prosperity and that brings benefits particularly to developing countries. Thus, while the BRI is open to all, it is neither accident nor coincidence that the majority of its participants are developing countries. The developing countries as a whole all seek to leverage their collective strength to address such challenges as inadequate infrastructure, lagging industrial development, and insufficient capital, technologies and skills, so as to promote their economic and social development.

Grounded as it is therefore in the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism, it should be clear that the BRI is based on and inherits not only the Silk Roads of antiquity, but also the diplomatic history of socialist China as well as the international standpoint and practice of the international working-class movement more generally, particularly since the establishment of workers states, the constitution of the working class as the ruling class.

It resonates, for example, with China’s building of the Tazara railway in Zambia and Tanzania in the 1970s. With the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence put forward by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1954 and the Ten Principles adopted by the Afro-Asian Conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung the following year.

As far back as 1921, even before the official formation of the USSR, Lenin’s government concluded treaties with Afghanistan, Persia and Turkiye, which provided for mutual support, aid in the financial, technical, personnel and other fields, and especially for support in their struggles to win and maintain independence from colonial and imperial powers.

This in turn built on the deliberations of the Second Congress of the Communist International, held in 1920, which established the absolute duty of the working-class movement to support the struggles of the colonial and oppressed countries and peoples for liberation and for independence against imperialism.

The Belt and Road Initiative, and the other global initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, are the 21st century inheritance and expression of this Marxist theory and practice. The difference is that today it is becoming a material force that is progressively uniting and mobilizing the majority of humanity. This is a major part of why President Xi constantly reminds us that we are presently witnessing changes unseen in a century. That is since the birth of the first workers’ state.

In Friends of Socialist China, we will continue to pay the closest attention to these developments. Thank you again for your support today and we hope to continue working with you.

Integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture

In the following article, the Theoretical Study Group under the Executive Council of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee gives a systematic explanation and historical background to General Secretary Xi Jinping’s concept of the “two integrations”, namely of the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture.

The article quotes Xi Jinping as saying:

“Given the rich foundations of our more than 5,000-year-old civilisation, the only path for pioneering and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and with its traditional culture. This systematic conclusion, drawn from our explorations of Chinese socialism, is the strongest assurance for our success.”

It notes that the history of the CPC has been a process of continuously adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times and a process of continually making theoretical innovations.

In the periods of the new-democratic revolution (1921-1949) and of socialist revolution and development (1949-1978), the CPC integrated the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete realities of the Chinese revolution. This enabled it to blaze the correct revolutionary path of encircling the cities from the countryside and seizing state power with military force, secure victory in the new-democratic revolution, complete the socialist revolution, and carry out a highly productive socialist development drive. It was during this process that the CPC established, enriched, and further developed Mao Zedong Thought, which marked the first historic step in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times.

In his explorations of a path for China’s revolution and development, Mao Zedong placed importance on interpreting and applying Marxism from a national perspective and was particularly adept at drawing nourishment from China’s cultural heritage. Indeed, he once observed that “we should sum up our history from Confucius to Sun Yat-sen and take over this valuable legacy.” Mao advocated making the past serve the present and stressed the need to “extensively and critically make use of China’s cultural heritage,” “to reject its feudal dross and assimilate its democratic essence,” and “to make the things we have inherited our own.” In this way, Mao demonstrated a practical mastery of the best of China’s traditional culture.

The CPC, the article notes, has drawn upon the Chinese concept of the people being the foundation of the state, the idea of universal participation in governance, the tradition of joint and consultative governance, and the political wisdom of being all-inclusive and seeking common ground while setting aside differences. On this basis, it established the system of people’s congresses and the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation.

Deng Xiaoping, it adds, stressed that “the socialist China we are building should have a civilisation with a high cultural and ideological level as well as a high material level; only if we do well on both fronts can we say we are building socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Deng also emphasised the need to carry forward and develop the Chinese nation’s fine cultural traditions and the Party’s fine traditions, oppose lingering feudal influences, and guard against the corrosion of decadent capitalist ideas. He also put forward a fundamental criterion for appraising all the party’s work, namely, whether it is favourable to growing the productive forces in a socialist society, to increasing the overall strength of the socialist state, and to raising the living standards of the people.

Xi Jinping, the article continues, has pointed out that:

“The basic tenets of Marxism must be closely integrated with China’s specific realities. We should adopt the right approaches to our national traditional culture and the cultures of other countries to equip ourselves with all the outstanding intellectual and cultural achievements of humanity.”

Xi Jinping’s Thought upholds the people-centred viewpoint of Marxism and draws extensively on the ancient Chinese governance principles of regarding the people as the foundation of the state and ensuring the people enjoy safety, prosperity, and contentment. It also adheres to Marxist principles regarding the relationship between humans and nature and draws on Chinese wisdom concerning the environment, including the ideas of humanity being an integral part of nature and all things living side by side. Likewise, it adheres to Marxist ideas on world history and carries forward the broad-minded vision advocated in traditional Chinese culture, which includes seeking prosperity for all and harmony between all nations. On this basis, initiatives such as a global community of shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative have been put forward.

The article explains that after Marxism was introduced into China, its propositions were enthusiastically embraced by the Chinese people amid fierce competition between different ideological trends, and they ultimately took root and bore fruit in the land of China. This was far from coincidental. Rather, it was because they were consistent with China’s millennia-old culture and the common values that Chinese people intuitively apply in their everyday lives. It is only with mutual compatibility that genuine integration can be achieved. “This integration is not a master plate from which we simplistically continue our history and culture, nor a pattern through which we mechanically apply the ideas of classic Marxist authors, nor a reprint of the practice of socialism in other countries, nor yet a duplicate of modernisation from any other country. Rather, it is the combining of the basic principles of scientific socialism with China’s specific realities, historical and cultural traditions, and the call of the times. It demands a harmonious blending of communist faith and socialist convictions with the millennia-old ideals of the Chinese nation.”

Integration, it explains, is not about piecing different components together; it is not a simple physical convergence, but instead requires complete fusion. While Marxism has profoundly changed China, China has also greatly enriched Marxism.

The article was originally published in Chinese in issue 13, 2023 of Qiushi Journal, the CPC’s main theoretical organ. This English language version was first published in issue 4, 2023 of Qiushi’s English edition.

In an address at a meeting on cultural inheritance and development, General Secretary Xi Jinping noted, “Given the rich foundations of our more than 5,000-year-old civilization, the only path for pioneering and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and with its traditional culture. This systematic conclusion, drawn from our explorations of Chinese socialism is the strongest assurance for our success.” In his speech, General Secretary Xi incisively discussed the significance of integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture (referred to as the “two integrations”) and the rich implications and practical requirements therein.

The CPC’s experience and application of the “two integrations”

The history of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been a process of continuously adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times and a process of continually making theoretical innovations. The CPC has led the people through arduous quests, setbacks, and pioneering efforts to accomplish enormous tasks that would have been inconceivable for any other political force in China. Essentially, this has been possible because the CPC has remained committed to integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the best of its traditional culture, thus continually adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times.

In the periods of the new-democratic revolution (1921-1949) and socialist revolution and development (1949-1978), the CPC integrated the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete realities of the Chinese revolution. This enabled it to blaze the right revolutionary path of encircling cities from the countryside and seizing state power with military force, secure victory in the new-democratic revolution, complete the socialist revolution, and carry out a highly productive socialist development drive. It was during this process that the CPC established, enriched, and further developed Mao Zedong Thought, which marked the first historic step in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times. By integrating Marxism’s basic tenets with China’s realities, the CPC developed many original theoretical achievements, put forward a series of important ideas regarding China’s revolution and development, and led the people in securing great successes in the new-democratic revolution and in socialist revolution and development.

In his explorations of a path for China’s revolution and development, Mao Zedong placed importance on interpreting and applying Marxism from a national perspective and was particularly adept at drawing nourishment from China’s cultural heritage. Indeed, he once observed that “We should sum up our history from Confucius to Sun Yat-sen and take over this valuable legacy.” Mao advocated making the past serve the present and stressed the need to “extensively and critically make use of China’s cultural heritage,” “to reject its feudal dross and assimilate its democratic essence,” and “to make the things we have inherited our own.” He fully tapped the contemporary value of China’s traditional culture by infusing classic Chinese idioms such as “seeking truth from facts” and “shooting the arrow at the target” with new meanings. These were used to illustrate the Marxist approach to thinking and working, which grounds all actions in reality. In this way, Mao demonstrated a practical mastery of the best of China’s traditional culture.

Continue reading Integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture

China and the purity fetish of Western Marxism

In this essay, extracted from the book The Purity Fetish and the Crisis of Western Marxism, Carlos Garrido takes a detailed look at China’s socialist market economy and seeks to understand why so much of the Western left insistently misunderstands it.

Carlos discusses the assorted tropes about China’s ‘authoritarianism’ and ‘totalitarianism’, as well as the obscene slanders that are thrown at it in relation to human rights in Xinjiang. However, the central focus of this essay is the Reform and Opening Up process introduced from the late 1970s, specifically addressing the claims that the existence of markets and private capital in China make it a capitalist country.

The author explains that markets have existed in human society for long before the advent of capitalism (citing Marx that “market economies have existed throughout human history and constitute one of the significant creations by human societies”) and that the character of any given market is determined by its overall socioeconomic context. Deng Xiaoping made this point with particular clarity: “We cannot say that market economy exists only under capitalism. Market economy was in its embryonic stages as early as feudalist society. We can surely develop it under socialism… As long as learning from capitalism is regarded as no more than a means to an end, it will not change the structure of socialism or bring China back to capitalism.”

Carlos writes that the reform strategy responded to a specific set of circumstances and needs, “wherein an overly centralized economy, combined with imperialist-forced isolation from the world, stifled development and necessitated reforms which would allow China to develop its productive forces, absorb the developments taking place in science and technology from the West, and ultimately, protect its revolution.” Given that China has emerged as a science and technology powerhouse; given the extraordinary increase in living standards; and given the continued legitimacy and popularity of the CPC-led government, it seems uncontroversial to say that the strategy has been highly successful.

In the context of an escalating New Cold War against China, “all progressive forces in the West should unite against the US and NATO’s anti-China rhetoric and actions.” China “stands as the main global force countering US/NATO led imperialism. Its rise signifies much more than the end of US unipolarity – it marks the end of the Columbian era of European global dominance that began in 1492.” As such it is imperative that the Western left develop its understanding of Chinese socialism and build solidarity with People’s China, rather than “parroting state-department narratives on China with radical-sounding language.”

One debateable assertion the essay makes is in regard to Hua Guofeng, who served as top leader of the CPC for two years following Mao’s death in 1976. Carlos writes that “Hua Guofeng’s two whatevers (‘We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave’) perpetuated the sort of book worshiping which not only sucked the living spirit out of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, but proved futile in dealing with the problems China faced.”

This is at odds with recent research presented by Isabella Weber in her book How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate. Weber writes that the two whatevers slogan was essentially a means of emphasising loyalty to the Chinese Revolution and socialist construction, and that “paying tribute to Mao in the year after his passing was not unique to Hua.” Meanwhile, “Hua redefined revolution itself as ‘liberation of productive forces’ and elevated national economic development to the highest priority” and in so doing “paved the way for the Deng-era reforms.” It was under Hua that major efforts were first made to attract foreign investment. Weber considers it “remarkable that such drastic changes occurred under a leader who has frequently been described as a relatively unremarkable Mao loyalist.”

This article first appeared on Midwestern Marx.

The stakes of the imperialist West’s New Cold War against China are as great as they can get. This means that the Western left’s role as controlled counter-hegemony and left-wing delegitimizers of socialist states – a role ideologically grounded in their purity fetish outlook – is as dangerous as it can get. In our current geopolitical climate, all progressive forces in the West should unite against the US and NATO’s anti-China rhetoric and actions. Unfortunately, what we find from large portions of this Western left is parroting of state-department narratives on China with radical-sounding language. Leading ‘socialist’ outlets in the US often echo baseless ruling class propaganda such as the ‘Uyghur genocide,’ Zero Covid authoritarianism, Belt and Road imperialism, debt trapping, and other similar fabrications.[1] Far from a concrete-dialectical study of China, in many of these spaces the claims of the ruling class are just assumed to be true, and anyone who dares to question them – and henceforth, bring the real truth to light – is labeled a puppet of Xi Jinping and the ‘CCP’ (which, like the Western bourgeoisie, is continuously labeled by these ‘socialists’ as CCP and not CPC in order to play on CCCP fears from the last cold war).[2]

Most of these tactics center on age-old claims of communist ‘authoritarianism,’ ‘totalitarianism,’ and all other such words used to equate fascism with communism and judge ‘democracy’ according to Western liberal-bourgeois standards. These assumptions and purity fetish engagements with Chinese socialist governance blind the Western Marxist from seeing China’s de facto geopolitical role as a beacon in the anti-imperialist struggle, in the Covid struggle, in the struggle for environmental sustainability, and in the struggle to develop with the darker nations which have been kept poor by centuries of colonialist and imperialist looting, debt traps, and superexploitation.[3]

The unquestioned, purity fetish grounded, and Sinophobic assumption of Chinese ‘authoritarianism’ and ‘lack of democracy’ also prevents the Western Marxist from learning how the Chinese socialist civilization has been able to creatively embed its socialist democracy in “seven integrated structures or institutional forms (体制tizhi): electoral democracy; consultative democracy; grassroots democracy; minority nationalities policy; rule of law; human rights; and leadership of the Communist Party.”[4] It has withheld them from seeing how a comprehensive study of this whole-process people’s democracy would lead any unbiased researcher to the conclusion Roland Boer has arrived at: namely, that “China’s socialist democratic system is already quite mature and superior to any other democratic system.” This is a position echoed by John Ross (and many other scholars of China), who argues that the “real situation shows that China’s framework and delivery on human rights and democracy is far superior to the West’s.”[5]

​The purity fetish Marxists of the West love to think about democracy in the abstract, and hold up as the pure ideal a notion of democracy which is only quantitatively different from the bourgeois notion. Then, this ideal notion of bourgeois democracy is measured up against the atrocity propaganda riddled caricature of socialist states which their ruling classes paint – and they unquestioningly accept. When the caricature of reality fails to measure up to the ideal, reality – which they have yet to engage with – is condemned. What the Western Marxist forgets – thanks to the purity fetish and their social chauvinism – is that in societies divided by class antagonisms we can never talk about ‘pure democracy,’ or abstract democracy in general; we must always ask – as Lenin did – “democracy for which class?”[6] The ‘democracy’ and ‘democratic freedoms’ of capitalist to exploit and oppress will always be detrimental to working and oppressed peoples. Only an all-people’s democracy (a working and popular classes’ democratic-dictatorship) can be genuinely democratic, for it is the only time ‘power’ (kratos) is actually in the hands of ‘common people’ (dēmos).

To claim – as American capitalists, their puppet politicians and lapdog media, and their controlled counter-hegemonic ‘socialists’ do – that the US is a ‘beacon of democracy,’ and China an ‘authoritarian one-party system,’ is to hold on to a delusional topsy turvy view of reality.[7] If democracy is considered from the standpoint of the capitalist’s ability to arbitrarily exert their will on society at the expense of working people and the planet, then, of course, the US is a beacon of this form of so-called ‘democracy,’ and China an ‘authoritarian’ regime that stands in the way of this ‘freedom.’ If instead, democracy is considered from the standpoint of common people’s ability to exert their power successfully over everyday affairs – that is, if democracy is understood in the people-centered form it etymologically stands for – then it would be indisputable that China is far more democratic than the US (and any other liberal-bourgeois ‘democracy’).

However, the object of this text is not to address and ‘debunk’ all the assertions made about China (or any other socialist country) from the Western left – specifically the Trotskyites and the Democratic Socialists. That would, for one, require a much more expansive project, and two, is a task that has already been done many times before. Projects like Friends of Socialist China and Qiao Collective consistently engage in the practice of debunking the propaganda on China proliferated by the Western ruling class and the ‘left.’ The objective of this text is different; it seeks not only to point out falsities in the Western left’s positions, but to understand the worldview which consistently reproduces these. I have called this worldview the purity fetish. In it we can find the ideological roots for the Western Marxist positions on China.

In the Western Marxist’s purity fetish assessment of China, it is held that because China doesn’t measure up to the pure socialist Ideal in their heads, because China does not have, as Samir Amin notes, “the communism of the twenty-third century,” – it is not actually socialism.[8] The question of democracy and authoritarianism has already been assessed in previous chapters – it is a classic of the Western Marxist condemnation toolbox. My focus in this chapter will be on those who claim China is ‘capitalist’ because it developed private ownership and markets with the period of Reform and Opening Up in 1978. This form of the purity fetish centers on their inability to understand, in a dialectical manner, how markets and private property function within China’s socialism. China, according to these Western Marxists, took the ‘capitalist road’ in 1978. As Roland Boer has shown in his article “Not Some Other -ism”—On Some Western Marxist Misrepresentations of Chinese Socialism,” there are four major ‘sub-forms’ through which this first form of condemnation occurs: 1) capitalist socialism; 2) neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics; 3) bureaucratic capitalism; and 4) state capitalism. Often, variations of these can be found within the same critic, as none are the result of a rigorous, principled analysis.

As US and Western imperialist powers ramp up the New Cold War against China, Western Marxism’s erroneous purity fetish view of Chinese socialism requires closer examination.

Continue reading China and the purity fetish of Western Marxism

Andrew Murray: The significance of the Chinese revolution

In this thought-provoking, sympathetic, but not uncritical article, Andrew Murray addresses himself to the question of the significance of the Chinese revolution, which, he notes in opening, is “the most important single fact of 21st-century politics.” Andrew demonstrates this by noting that the rise of China is bringing to an end centuries of European/North American hegemony at a global level; is reversing the economic ‘great divergence’ that began with the opium wars of the mid-19th century; and is challenging the monopoly of global violence at the state level exercised by the United States and its allies. As a result, “unipolarity now faces a systemic negation,” with many countries of the Global South now having socio-economic options they did not previously, thereby creating the possibility of a more equal world.

Andrew points out that whilst the concepts of socialism and capitalism have universal application, they are not invariant. “It would be wrong to expect a civilisation as old and developed as the Chinese not to modify our understanding of these unfinishable categories.” He notes that in the 20th century, two tendencies struggled for hegemony in the global socialist movement – the Soviet model, which ultimately collapsed, and social democracy, which in reality was not socialism at all and which can be seen as a product of imperialism. Drawing on Marx’s concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the understanding of socialism as a transitional form, he notes that, despite certain claims to the contrary, “no society has developed much beyond the foundations of socialism … the relatively modest claims made by the Communist Party of China … may be much better founded than the more sweeping claims … [and] the suppression of capitalism by socialism will be the work of a very long time, with numerous zigzags and experiments on the way.”

Regarding the concept of the ‘sinification of Marxism’, Andrew asserts that certain concepts of Mao Zedong and his comrades, such as placing the peasantry as a central revolutionary subject, the idea of surrounding the cities from the countryside, and the theory of new democracy, are of enduring importance. “China takes Marxism from the European labour movement and returns it to the world enriched, developed and nearer to universalism, but not, of course, ‘finished’.”

Turning to the changes initiated in China from the late 1970s, and the differences in line between Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Andrew is of the view that “the former prioritised the transformation of social relations, while the latter prioritised the development of the forces of production. Either can be justified in Marxist terms.” In the author’s assessment, whereas Mao “fetishised” class struggle, his successors, such as Deng and Jiang Zemin, “radically diminished” its importance, “even as class differences have re-emerged quite sharply.” This, however, “did not make the People’s Republic a bourgeois society.”

Bringing the story up to the present, Andrew outlines Xi Jinping’s concept of six phases in the history of socialism, adding that what in China are referred to as the ‘four cardinal principles’, and which were originally advanced by Deng Xiaoping, “underline that there is no absolute rupture between CPC strategy today and that in Mao’s time. Mao himself was a flexible and sometimes contradictory thinker whose works can provide fertile justification for varying strategies.”

Without shying away from complexities, contradictions and caveats, moving towards his conclusion, Andrew notes that, “what is undeniable is that the future of socialism in the world depends very heavily on developments in China and on the leadership of its communist party. As Xi has said, without China socialism risked being pushed entirely to the margins of world affairs after 1991.”

In the view of the editors of this website, Andrew’s article is an important contribution to a vital debate that needs to be read and discussed seriously and widely. The author was previously the Chief of Staff at Unite, Britain’s second-largest trade union, Adviser to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Chair of the Stop the War Coalition. He worked at the Morning Star daily newspaper, 1977-1985, and currently does so again. He is the author of a number of books, including most recently, ‘Is Socialism Possible in Britain?’, published by Verso.

The main themes of this article were first outlined by Andrew in his talk to the Friends of Socialist China meeting on the evolving significance of the Chinese revolution, where he exchanged views with visiting US professor Ken Hammond, at the Marx Memorial Library on 28 November 2022. This article was published in the 2023 edition of Theory and Struggle, journal of the Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School, published by Liverpool University Press, who hold copyright. This accepted author manuscript is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License and with the kind permission of the author.

The broad significance of China’s rise is evident.1 It is the most important single fact of 21st-century politics and can be simply stated as follows.

First, it is bringing to an end two centuries of European/North American hegemony at a global level.

Second, it is reversing what has been called the ‘great divergence’ in economic power and prosperity, which began with the 19th-century opium war and opened up an enormous gap in favour of the west.

Third, it challenges the monopoly of global violence at the state level exercised by the United States and its allies.

In all these respects, China is bringing to an end the ‘unipolar moment’ that prevailed in world affairs after the end of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago. Already weakened by US military defeats and the disastrous consequences of ‘Washington consensus’ economics, unipolarity now faces a systemic negation. At the global level, this means many countries of Africa, Asia and South America now have socio-economic options that they did not have previously. They have more room to shape their own futures. All this creates the possibility of a more equal world, with a lessening of the gross disparities that have been a central feature of the imperialist era.

In purely Chinese terms, the country’s development has led to a vast increase in prosperity for the Chinese people. Yet at the same time what was, under Mao Zedong, one of the most equal countries in the world has now become marked by dizzying inequality. Once rock-solid, if very basic, social security was comprehensively undermined and has only recently been reconstructed to some extent (it should be noted, however, that life expectancy has continued to rise throughout this period).

This has long raised the question among the left: what is the China that has done all this? A socialist state, or a capitalist one? What frames its development?

These are bigger questions than can be answered in a single article, particularly one by an author who claims no great expertise on China. Here I just want to advance some considerations for further reflection.

Continue reading Andrew Murray: The significance of the Chinese revolution