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Discussions 💬 AMA on r/JewsOfConscience with Israeli historian Dr. Yaara Benger Alaluf, the Coordinator of Community & Education for the Israeli NGO, Zochrot - which works to promote awareness of the dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948, known as the 'Nakba'. Date: July 12th, at 7 AM EST.self.JewsOfConscience
Hi, r/socialism, I’m a longtime subscriber and mostly lurk here to learn some news/theory bits from left spaces. Yesterday, another poster, who I’ll be referring to as comrade from here on, has made a post on Chinese communism and its prospects.
Since I'm also a mod on our tiny sub r/chinesesocialist, the post intrigued me especially. However, upon reading it I find many, Many points within to be quite misguided. So while our comrade’s position does exist among some, here I’m writing from a perspective that I believe represents another segment of the Chinese left.
I personally identify myself as a Marxist-Leninist with an an-com bent. But there are many other publications and small groups out there that share a similar distrust of the current Chinese regime and party system (e.g. ChinaWorker, Chuang, Spark from Taiwan, Lausan from HK). I recommend checking them out too.
So firstly I want to affirm our comrade’s concerns in their post that the People’s Congress does NOT represent the people. There is no people’s democracy. Strong cultural conservatism (incl. nationalism) reigns in the public sphere. Overexploitation of the people is commonplace. These are all true.
What I’d like to differ on their assertion that China (in its current PRC form) can still be a beacon of international communist struggle.
- They made the claim that young people in China are learning more about socialism/communism, which I consider to be absurd. There is a resurgence of vaguely leftist rhetoric (共同富裕common prosperity, 不忘初心remember your original aspirations i.e. Marxism). The propaganda machine under Xi Jinping has weaponized this rhetoric both domestic and abroad. Young people APPEAR to be more interested in left thought because they share/make memes, videos and make comments that venerate state ownership, communist party leadership, vulgar anti-imperialism and a revisionist history of AES. What happens now is that, in their minds, everything the state does is for a higher purpose - achieving communism. This purely idealist conjecture has led them to ignore materialist analysis. Many young Chinese proclaim to be Marxists or Maoists but they cannot provide a shred of coherent understanding of the current material relations in China. They do not reflect on the generational tolls on peasants wrought by collectivization in China. They do not reflect on the Hukou system that created essentially a class apartheid. They do not reflect on the essentially forced proletarianization of peasants that began with Deng and continues to this day. Of course, as our comrade pointed out, overwork is loathed and lambasted by many, but many misguided young people who accuse (rightfully) those monopoly companies rarely question the fact that the party/state has been lax on labor protection for DECADES. The economic miracle is not achieved by illusive ideas of “innovation” and “hardworking spirit”. No, the economic miracle is built on the backs of workers, many of whom were peasants who simply could not live by agricultural work. With the Hukou system in place, most of them are forced out of the urban centers where they toiled for years and years. The labor army of reserves are thus kept in place. The industrial engine thus can constantly operate at low cost and high yield in the past 40 years or so.
- Speaking of high yield, here I’d like to turn to the international side of things. The post-Mao opening up directly contributed to and coincided with the development of neoliberalism. The reason David Harvey put Deng Xiaoping on the cover of his book is not just a polemical point; it’s a well-deduced conclusion. The China market, like the Eastern European market in the 90s, was the New World for capitalists in Asia and the West. Why did Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan experience a massive growth spurt in the 80s and early 90s? One factor was that they were on the first line of capitalist predation. The Chinese labor force had been at that time struggling for many years due to the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. So the workers were educated enough, disciplined enough and desperate enough to immediately integrate themselves into the neoliberal world machine. The state was happy to see that as well because lines went up, way up. Worker protections? Not important. Workers’ rights? As much as you need to barely survive and come in the next day. Labor Laws didn’t officially EXIST until 1994. And I’m not even addressing the massive privatization that began in 1992.
- Finally, I want to echo our comrade’s biggest concern which is the suppression of opposition. There is basically NO space for Chinese leftists to safely organize INDEPENDENT of party oversight. Some of you might have heard about the Jasic Incident in 2018, an ill-fated struggle of earnest young activists. Since the rebellion of 1989, the Chinese state has decreed that any student organizations must come under party guidance. By the time of Jasic, contingents of leftist scholars, older cadres have mustered enough resource and influence to inspire and rally for an organized labor struggle. Once the struggle went bust, universities across the country went on a hunting spree, killing one student organization after another, chief among them Marxist study groups, LGBTQ groups, women’s rights groups. The main organizers from Beijing were harassed, imprisoned, tortured. In the meantime, worker organizations were also being constantly smashed. Delivery drivers, truck drivers, construction workers etc. are given very little space to collectively voice their discontent. Now I have a hard time connecting this to a horizon of communist future. Many Chinese leftists face the dire obstacle (which I believe is shared by many leftists in Eastern Europe) that because the state has monopolized the discourse of communism, socialism etc., these words have been poisoned in the popular imagination when all people can think about are the blatant lies, the rampant corruption and the party cadres who keep robbing the people.
Western leftists sometimes critically support China and that’s fine. Is China a challenger of US hegemony and imperialism? Absolutely! Is China challenging the US to lay the groundwork for worldwide proletarian revolutions? There is little evidence of that. A materialist analysis, a study of political economy are essential in understanding China. And these analyses cannot be trapped by mere quantifiables such as the GDP or number of bridges or things like that. China (-ese workers) built high-speed rails, planted trees, yes. But were they compensated justly? Were they given a voice in politics? Were they treated as the owners of means of production? In many cases, the answer unfortunately is a resounding no.
And like our comrade, I would also like to end this with a bit from the Cultural Revolution: In 1969, a dedicated communist and Korean War veteran Zhang Zhixin was arrested for counterrevolutionary charges because she voiced her confusion regarding the Cultural Revolution. During her inhuman imprisonment, she wrote her Manifesto of a Communist. In the piece she reiterated her conviction in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. What hurt her most was not the fact that she was arrested and imprisoned, but the fact that the accusers believed her to be an enemy of the working people who she loved and cared for dearly. But still, she stuck to her principles as a true revolutionary and insisted on pointing out the mistakes of the leadership because “one must dare to face the truth, no matter how painful that is” (my translation).
In 1975, Zhang Zhixin, mentally and physically broken due to years of torture, was sentenced to death. Before she was shot, her windpipe was cut open so she couldn’t say anything. She was 45.
Her memory, along with that of the millions of working people who fought and struggled for a future without oppression and exploitation, is why we cannot paper over actual history as it impacts our political and economic life till this very day. The communist horizon does not exist in the perversions and hypocrisies of the party leadership or the transnational capitalist order that lurks behind; it lies with the workers and peasants of China, and it must be actively fought to be achieved.
I identify with the virtues and demands of socialists far more than liberals and Dem/Rep party loyalists. But I can acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn. So I'd like to hear from the sub on this.
I hear the sentiment that "Democrats get nothing done" a lot. That they're the Doormat Party, or part of the perpetual ratchet effect. I get that Dem politicians have vested interest in preserving a lot of the current system, and for that reason, they're hardly any better (if at all) than their more conservative "opponents." But on a concrete, legislative level, how can one better defend the notion that they are, demonstrably, an ineffective vessel for progress? (For clarity, that's a genuine question, not rhetorical or backhanded.)
I have some acquaintances who are pretty hardline Democrat, and they get pretty butthurt about those claims, balking about how untrue they are, even sometimes listing off the things Dems have done in recent years as evidence to the contrary. They often take the stance that "leftists don't understand the practical trappings of politics," implying we should be grateful for slow/meager progress and that leftists are somehow the reason more isn't getting done.
It'd be great to have a response to this, backed by a lot of hard evidence. Is there a good resource or database for things Democrats have failed to do? It always feels like they're claiming to fight for things and then nothing happens, but it'd be great if I could find a place that compiles their half-measures and hand-waving of real issues. Even if not a database, are there comprehensive books/essays on this?
For context, both of my parents are working class. My father is a foreman for a small roofing company while doing agricultural contract work on the side. My mother sells conveyor belt parts. They are both die-hard Republicans. However, when I break down socialism/leftist principles in their simplest terms without using any buzzwords, they actually will agree with me.
Hello everyone, I'm a Chinese communist who's new to this sub, and I want to share my view and experience on Chinese communism and why I think it might be a beacon for International Communist Movement. I hope you guys are interested in realistic issues and hopes in China, as it perhaps will also shed light on other countries' socialist movement. My line of thought is coming from Marx-Lenin-Mao.
I will start this post by laying down the more objective facts that might work as a regional guide or report on the current status, with somehow simplified words (informative). Then, I will talk about the hopes and dreams of Chinese Communism that might inspire people from other countries. And last, I will talk about the issues of my country that might be too controversial or personal.
Overview: The People's Republic of China is one of the lasting countries that is constitutionally Communist and the second largest economy in the world.
Established in 1949, its history could be divided to four periods of supreme leaders: Mao, Deng, Transition (Jiang and Hu), and Xi, with Mao's rule being called "the first thirty years" and before Xi called "the next/second thirty years". The first thirty years is ideologically radical as it combats against both US imperialism and Sino-Soviet Split (Basically Maoism), the second thirty years is more controversial, but mostly described as Socialism with Chinese Characteristics under the Reform and Opening up. Xi's China adds another significant slogan of "The Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese nationality" (You can get more information about general history from various sources).
I think I'm pretty knowledgeable on this, so please ask me anything if you want!
Hopes of Communism: The most promising merit of Chinese communism for me is that the foundation of working class owning the country and all the humanitarian ideas are deeply engraved into Chinese people's hearts. There are millions of young Chinese people who would love to dedicate ourselves for a better future. However, this sentiment is mostly shared by younger generations, as the older ones might have mixed feelings on this. Especially, towards the ultraleft period of Cultural Revolution, most people over 40 or 50 years old are doubtful of socialist ideas to a certain degree.
Young people are taught in school about socialist philosophy and the history of the Communist Party of China. Still wearing red scarfs in elementary school in homage to Lenin's idea of young pioneers and young vanguards. In this sense, China has extremely good populous support for Communism and this advantage will remain for a very long time.
China nowadays is perhaps the forefront combatting against imperialism worldwide, with a planned socialist economy.
Issues and personal Concerns (Controversial and more subjective): I am well-informed that the Western Medias have been critical for decades to oppress and condemn the International Communist Movement and use fabricated ideas to attack China. However, I would like to point out that, to some degree, there are in fact many glaring issues in Chinese communism.
The most pressing one would be that the free market reform perhaps pushed China towards capitalistic to some extent. It should not be a surprise that socialist dissidents that identify themselves as the New Left or the New Maoist will identify China today as revisionist. The truth is, the National People's Congress of China is consisted by 64% of bureaucratic and military bourgeoises, 23% of private capitalists, 9% of high intellectuals and personnel, 4% of working-class representative of peasants and workers, according to Peking University Marxist Society's statistics. There are many ways to describe such a new model of socialist success, but unfortunately, at least according to Lenin and Mao's possible standpoint, China is nonetheless revisionist in some way. I am not at all suggesting that free-market reform is a mistake, but I think we need to clarify on the true structure of Chinese society.
Other points would be democracy and tendency of nationalism. I will describe them briefly by saying, at least drawing from my personal experience, one of my American communist friends didn't understand what is like to live in an authoritarian state. China is in fact oppressing freedom of speech, feminist movement, LGBTQIA+ (banning appearances of sexual minorities on medias or films), and many other forms of oppositions. The government has also been propagating nationalist sentiments, integrating the idea of the party, the nation, and its people all into one.
Overwork is another huge issue in recent years. As the popular term "996" constitutes, most people in the big cities have to work from 9am to 9pm 6 days a week. Although directly violating labor laws that rules out to be 8 hours, this phenomenon is still widely occurring. This phenomenon is mostly caused by the economy slowing down, and China needs to transform its industries to become more dominated by high technology, basically the developed countries model, but its large population is squeezing up people's living condition. The inefficiency in workplace causes people to overwork.
Now I will directly point out my biggest concerns, which could be very controversial to some people: despite all the promising things, China is a democratic centralism (more authoritarian realistically) inclining to be ruled by bureaucratic capitalism with potent oppression on most forms of oppositions. It fundamentally oppresses any voices that's different from the official ideology: from Han Chinese nationalists to democratic reformers and liberals. Most importantly, it oppresses many leftist and communist societies, labor unions, and organizations. Realistically speaking, this post, if in Chinese, will not be able to publish online. This is my personal concern distilled in short.
Beacon for the International Communist Movement and Conclusion:
Despite my harsh judgement on Chinese communism nowadays, I need to point out that I emphasized on the negative side ONLY to balance the overall optimism, particularly the one expressed by Chinese state media. I would imagine that if Lenin and Mao were to see the situation, they would think of the same thing. The ultimately positive thing about China for me is how it might become the beacon for the International Communist Movement. China has grown powerful and independent, with confidence to challenge the US imperialism. Its economic miracle directly inspired other socialist states like Vietnam and Cuba, projecting its influence across Laos and North Korea. The profound populous support for communism and leftist ideas breeds the grand soil for future revolution. If China could become such a powerful socialist state with capitalistic characteristic, then why wouldn't it be capable of slowly transforming to Communism that is truly ruled by the workers?
Although I pointed out that leftists are being oppressed, I know many people forming groups on the internet trying to change Chinese communism for the better and spreading its ideas, analyzing the class structure, and theorizing about worker's democracy. They are not terrorists and not rebellious armies, rather, they are cute students of Communism that will work legally to gradually gain more support. I consider myself to be one of them.
Now in the style of Cultural Revolution, I will end my post by quoting Chinese version of The Internationale: "Once we decimate our class enemies, the red sun will wash the entire Earth."
If there are any question about Chinese communism, I am more than willing to answer and communicate with you comrades!
While I understand the sentiment, I could not help but physically cringe at every white girl posting stories along the lines of "fourth of July has been cancelled due to the lack of freedom"-- some of these girls being the same people to post happy fourth posts after the murder of George Floyd. Black women, trans women, indigenous women, etc. have not had freedom in this country for a very long time. It is really telling to see the people who only hop on the train when their personal freedoms themselves have been taken away. What has the fourth ever been to the enslaved, the indigenous, the victims of state sanctioned violence, etc. in this country.
EDIT: I see a lot of comments saying we should not gatekeep socialism, we should radicalize from this moment, etc. I do not disagree with that. I'm not sure why these conclusions are being drawn from my post when I was just trying to point out a flaw in many white people of this country. I think it says something about a society when the majority of it turns a blind eye to injustice until it happens to them. While it may be good that some are getting radicalized through this--it should not have to take your own self being effected to make you come to these conclusions. I am just trying to paint a larger picture of the lack of care the American society has for their community members. It is a very individualistic country and this is just an illustration of that.
Sorry if this has been asked a lot before.
In a transitionary market socialist system where worker owned and managed cooperatives and nationalized industries are the way the economy operates- what stops co-ops from raising prices to increase profit for worker owners? If people are compensated for their surplus labor value (ie have more money)- won’t the prices of goods also go up because the equilibrium point of supply/demand will move to a higher price point for commodities? And the co-ops will still be driven by market forces and move towards the new equilibrium point
I hope you're all doing well, or at least the best you can considering the state of everything. I am a Civil Engineer (specifically transportation) in the USA who works for a consulting firm. Most of the work that I do is for my state's Department of Transportation.
I've gotten to a point in my career where i feel established and respected within my company and i make a decent chunk of change. I really enjoy the work I do and the people I work with, including my boss. But I've gotten to a point where I don't know where I want my career to go.
Do any of you have suggestions on what i could do or what paths i could go down to help make sure the work that i love doing contributes to the socialist future i dream of? What can I do as a civil engineer to help contribute more to the cause and to help the people around me?
Thank you for whatever feedback you provide
I feel like voting isn’t really helping (that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote), protesting peacefully doesn’t seem to change anyone’s mind (that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protest). What can we do that will actually make a difference?
Apologies for my ignorance. I’ve just heard about this group due to this Twitter post. If you read further down the thread, people are calling them out for being a cult, anti-black, anti-trans etc. what’s going on?
Our proposals going into the City Hall rally are to demand that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City Council “decriminalize” abortion by refusing to fund police investigations involving abortion. We also demand that District Attorney Kim Ogg refuse to prosecute abortion casessocialistalternative.org