Western Marxist Philosophy Course Description
Having recently completed a full semester’s teaching of my course on “Western Marxist Philosophy,” I have updated the course description. This is a core course that I teach in China. You may download the file below. A brief description:
Western Marxism is a truncated type of Marxism that has cut itself off from the Marxist-Leninist tradition. It did so by focusing on the works of Marx alone, calling this “historical materialism” and rejecting Engels and thus the importance of the subsequent developments of Marxism. It has been promoted primarily by “freelance intellectuals” with little connection to Communist Parties, and it is always hoping for the ideal revolution (or even better, a peaceful transition) that will very quickly produce a utopian socialist society organised only by the people and without a state. It also dismisses the actual experience in developing countries of successful proletarian revolutions and the construction of socialism.
Socialism in Power: On the History and Theory of Socialist Governance
Some of the more egregious tyopgraphical errors in the synopsis of my new book on socialism in power have now been corrected. You may download the synopsis here.
A Flurry of Publications
In the last week, there has been a relative flurry of publications. To begin with, the Australian Marxist Review has published my article on “Xinjiang and the Uyghur Question.” You may download the article here.
Following closely behind is a dialogue by the editors of the Australian Marxist Review on “Imperialism, Polarity, and the International System.” You may find the online version here, or download the dialogue here.
Finally, there are two pieces on the CPC’s all-important Twentieth Congress, which has recently concluded. To begin with, there is an interview with one of the most widely-read newspapers in the world, The Global Times. You may find the online version here, or download the print version here.
The final item comes from the Communist Party of Australia’s newspaper, The Workers’ Weekly Guardian, and is entitled “Marxism at the Centre of the CPC’s Twentieth Congress.” You may find the online version here.
Global Times Interview
As the all-important 20th National Congress of the CPC – the first after the Party’s centenary celebrations – drew to a close this week, I gave an interview with one of the world’s most widely-read newspapers, Global Times. Hint: ignore the the wilful misrepresentations of the congress by the outlets found in the few Western countries of the world. You can find the interview online here, or download here.
Lecture slides on Dialectical Materialism
It is a long time since a Communist Party’s National Congress has attracted world-wide attention. As we well know, the coverage from the few Western countries of the world – comprising a mere 14% of the world’s population – is wilfully misresentative of the realities of the world today. So we can conveniently ignore tose few voices. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has recently concluded an all-important 20th congress, the first after celebrating 100 years of extraordinary achievements. I recently gave an exclusive interview with Global Times, one of the most widely read newspapers in the world today. You can find the link here, or read the interview in the pdf format below.
Attached below is the full collection of slides relating to a recent Party School. The slides concern the history of the development of dialectical materialism, from Engels’s Dialectics of Nature, through Lenin and Soviet Marxist philosophy, to Mao Zedong’s studies of 1935-1937. They conclude with material on the “Hong Kong storm” of 2019-2020, emphasising how Chinese Marxist analysis of the causes of the “storm” deployed the principles of dialectical materialism. You can download the pdf version of the slides here.
New article: Listening to our CPC Comrades on the Nature of China’s Socialist Path
This brief article, entitled “Listening to Our CPC Comrades on the Nature of China’s Socialist Path,” was published earlier in 2022 in the Australian Marxist Review 72: 7-11. The full issue 72 of the AMR may be found here and you can download the article itself here.
Article published: Freiheit und Demokratie aus chinesischer Sicht
An article has recently been published in the German journal, Marxistische Blätter, issue 4 for 2022. The title of the article is “Freiheit und Demokratie aus chinesischer Sicht,” but you may download an English version here.
New article published: The Concrete Conditions of Human Rights (first 50 downloads free)
A new article has recently been published in International Critical Thought 12.2: 237-52. The title is “The Concrete Conditions of Human Rights: Western and Chinese Approaches.’ The first 50 copies are available for download (click here). On a number of occasions now I have been asked to write in this topic, but this article is the most complete statement of my argument.
New article published: From Belgrade to Beijing
On the publications page, I have listed an article that has been published recently by the World Review of Political Economy. The article is entitled ‘From Belgrade to Beijing: Comparing Socialist Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and China’, and it appears in issue 12.3 of the journal, pages 296-320. The journal provides open access here, but you can also download a copy here.
New review published, of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners
A new article-length book review has been published of my book, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners. The review is entitled “The Continuing Adventures of the Dialectic: On Roland Boer’s Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners,” and it has been published by the World Review of Political Economy 12.3. You may find an online version of the review here, or download a copy here.
Updated page on DPRK
I have updated the page concerning the DPRK. It now includes a link to an ever richer resource, Naenara, which provides books that can be downloaded, magazines, links to newspapers, and much more. The page also now includes a link to videos hosted by the Paektusan Revolutionary Army (here).
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Concise Guide
In light of a series of educational events concerning socialism with Chinese characteristics, I have uploaded a corrected and updated version of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Concise Guide.” This is a 25,000 word summary of the book on socialism with Chinese characteristics, but it also includes the results more recent research. It is available on both the “Chinese Marxism” and “Publications” page, and you can also download here.
Interview with Ardejderen (The Worker) – in Danish
An interview with the Danish Communist newspaper, Arbejderen (The Worker), was published online on 1 January, 2022 (available here). It was originally published in the print version of the paper, which appears every three months with more in-depth theoretical material and analysis. Details: ‘Marxistisk professor: nej, Kina er ikke kapitalistisk’. Interviewed by Anders Fenger. Arbejderen 5, 1 January 2022, pp. 1-10.
Article on the Prehistory of the Theory of Socialist Governance
On the publications page, I have added an article published earlier in 2021. It has been published only in Chinese, but I have also attached an unformatted English version. Details: 马克思主义关于社会主义治理理论的前史——马克思、恩格斯与苏联 (The Prehistory of the Marxist Theory of Socialist Governance: Marx, Engels, and the Soviet Union) 《当代中国价值观研究》 (Chinese Journal of Contemporary Values) 2021.1: 41-49. Translated by Zhang Chao and Song Liang. Download published Chinese version here, and unformatted English version here.
Pre-publication article: What Is Comparative Marxist Philosophy? Some Methodological Considerations
Based on a recent lecture delivered at Remnin University of China, an article will be published in a journal called 《哲学家》- The Philosopher – in 2022. The topic concerns the nature and practice of comparative Marxist philosophy, which to my knowledge has not been proposed or analysed before now. Although the article will be published in Chinese, a copy of the English pre-publication version may be downloaded here.
Is This the Speech of the Century? Xi Jinping at the 100th Anniversary of the CPC
This may well turn out to be the speech that defines the 21st century. Many people by now have read or listened to Xi Jinping’s speech celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. Pause for a moment and let that sink in: now most of the world reads and studies the speeches of a General Secretary of a Communist Party. It is a long time indeed that happened. Even more, it is a Party that is not only the most successful Communist Party in history, but the most successful political party of all in human history. That success was by no means easy: it was achieved through sacrifice, revolutionary struggle, immense opposition, and the long road of socialist construction. Five years ago relatively few people outside of China were interested in such matters, scarcely bothering to address seriously what Xi Jinping and the CPC had to say or what they were doing. While the few Western countries of the world fragment and decline, all that has changed. China – as the world’s largest economy and most populous country – has truly stepped onto the centre of the world stage. And they are doing it in Chinese style, using Chinese Marxist discourse. This is only the beginning. Copies of the speech in Chinese (here) and English (here) are on the Chinese Marxism page, along with copies of the CPC Central Committee’s resolution concerning 100 years of the CPC (Chinese here and English here).
Xi Jinping’s Most Important Speech on Democracy
Although Xi Jinping has been speaking about socialist democracy almost from the time he became General Secretary of the CPC and president of China (as I elaborate in Socialist with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners), he has recently delivered what is arguably the most important speech on democracy to date. The speech took place at a working conference for the National People’s Congress, on 13-14 October 2021. Thus far the speech itself has not been published, but there is a comprehensive report on the speech at the CPC news site (here). If you are unable to read Chinese characters, I suggest you use fanyi.youdao.com or fanyi.baidu.com (do not use google translate, since it is of poor quality).
Xi Jinping stresses the complete and interlocked nature of China’s socialist democracy, with the people as masters of the country, the leadership of the CPC, and a rule-of-law approach to socialist democracy. Let me quote the following:
Full process people’s democracy in China has not only an integrated system and procedures, but also integrated participatory practices. This democracy in China has realized the unity of the processes of democracy and results-based democracy, procedural democracy and substantive democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, and people’s democracy and the will of the state. It is a full-chain, all-dimensional, all-encompassing democracy, and the most extensive, authentic, and effective socialist democracy.
What about Western capitalist democracy? This quotation has been doing the rounds in various forms:
If the people are only awakened for voting but enter a dormant period soon after, if they only listen to the song and dance (天花乱坠 – flowers cascading from the sky, and thus wildly extravagant claims) during an election but have no right to speak at all afterwards, if they are only favoured during the canvassing of votes but left out in the cold afterwards, such a democracy is not a genuine democracy.
The speech has occasioned a plethora of commentary and fostered a full-scale engagement with the question of socialist democracy. Clearly, this is a sign of cultural confidence, and indeed a manifestation of what I have noticed for some time: the awareness that the latent superiority of China’s socialist democracy is becoming apparent. For an overview, see my “We Need to Talk More About China’s Socialist Democracy” (2021) – download here. Of course, the full elaboration can be found in chapters 8 and 9 of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners (more here).
What Is the “International System Based on International Law”?
This is the text of a paper I will give soon at an international conference, with the theme of ‘New Forms of Human Civilisation from a World Perspective’. Download here.
Out now: Friedrich Engels and the Foundations of Socialist Governance
My book on Engels and the foundations of socialist governance has now been published by Springer (information and download here). The book deals with all of the texts – many of them often ignored – to identify how Engels moves from hitherto existing forms of the state to the basic principles of socialist governance. On these matters, it is clearly Engels (rather than Marx) who made the most decisive contributions. A synopsis of the book can be downloaded here.
Some basic information about the book:
- Offers a unique insight into the structures of socialist governance in the world today
- Does so by examining oft-ignored texts by Friedrich Engels at the roots of the Marxist tradition
- Identifies the basic principles of socialist governance that are well worth reconsidering
This book states that the political systems of China, Vietnam, Cuba and other socialist countries are showing distinct maturity and ability to deal effectively with challenges – the most recent being the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to understand how they have developed their structures, it is time to return to the roots of the Marxist tradition and re-examine the question of socialist governance. It was Friedrich Engels (and less so Marx) who laid out some of the theoretical foundations for socialist governance. On the basis of extensive research in 1870s and 1880s, Engels developed his analysis of the nature of hitherto existing states as a ‘separated public power’; the role of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its exercise of power; the actual meaning of the ‘withering away of the state’, which would be one of the very last outcomes of socialist construction; and the nature of socialist governance itself. On this matter, he proposed a de-politicised public power that would stand in the midst of society and focus on managing the processes of production for the sake of the true interests of society.
New article published: The Leadership of the Communist Party of China
The Australian Marxist Review, the journal of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) has a new issue out, number 71. One of the articles is a brief exposition, based on Chinese sources, of the leadership of the CPC in the context of China’s socialist democratic system. You may find an online version of the article here. Of course, I recommend you read the whole issue (here), since the journal is always insightful and thought-provoking.
Naenara – DPRK Resource page
The page with recommended links now has a link to Naenara, the central resource in the DPRK for a number of news outlets (including KCNA and Pyongyang Times) and a significant amount of research resources for download.
Book Review: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics – A Guide for Foreigners
Friends of socialist China have published the first review of my book, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics – A Guide for Foreigners (2021). You can find the review here.
The Flemish translation of the book review is now available at chinasquare.be (here).
What About the Chinese Workers? Part Two: How Workers Control China’s Socialist Path
New text on the Chinese Marxism page, entitled ‘What About the Chinese Workers? Part Two: How Workers Control China’s Socialist Path’ – download here.
In an earlier piece on the Chinese workers (here), I tackled a number of questions: the expansion of the category of workers to include rural workers (formerly known as peasants); the relation between ownership and liberation of productive forces so as to understand the ‘wild 90s’; and the extraordinary improvements in the lives of workers due to the resolute poverty alleviation program that has lifted about 800 million people out of poverty.
In the second part of this study, I address a further question: how do Chinese workers control the direction of China’s path? The answer has three main parts: 1) the right and duty to work; 2) the mass line; 3) China’s socialist democratic system. To anticipate my overall answer to the question, Chinese workers control China’s productive forces and direction through the mass line that is manifested today in the many integrated components of China’s socialist democratic system.
New text: Was the ‘Abolition of the State’ a Common Slogan in Socialist Circles in 1840s Germany?
In relation to my new book on Engels and socialist governance, I have attached a text to the ‘Publications’ page, with the title ‘Was the ‘Abolition of the State’ a Common Slogan in Socialist Circles in 1840s Germany?’ (download here). To set the context, let me quote the first paragraph of this study:
This study began as an appendix for my book, Friedrich Engels and the Foundations of Socialist Governance (soon to be published). In my research for the book, I had come across one or two assertions that the ‘abolition of the state’ was a common slogan in socialist circles – including Marx and Engels – in Germany of the 1840s. So I decided to find out by examining all of the texts written by Marx and Engels in that decade. The key terms for my search were provided by the liberal proto-anarchist, Max Stirner, who asserted that the state can only ‘be sublated [aufheben], annihilated [vernichten], abolished [abschaffen], not reformed’. You may, of course, wonder: if Stirner used these terms, did not others also? The short answer is no. Like other socialists, Marx and Engels did not use these terms in the same way as Stirner. To get to this point required quite an amount of work, of the sort that is necessary to establish a major point, but it does not make for the most scintillating reading – unless you are given to this type of endeavour.
New article published in New Political Economy on the East European debates concerning socialism and the market
A pre-publication eprint is now available of the following study:
2021. ‘Socialism and the Market: Returning to the East European Debates’. New Political Economy. Online pre-publication eprint. DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2021.1926958. Preliminary copies may be downloaded here.
Abstract: This study reassesses a body of research that has been somewhat neglected: Eastern European market socialism of the 1960s-1980s. It does so with the objective of recovering key issues and also identifying problems that need to be addressed. Thus, the study begins with an overview of the practices of market socialism, which was pursued to varying degrees from the 1960s. While some (USSR, East Germany and Czechoslovakia) turned back to centrally planned economies in the 1970s, others (especially Yugoslavia and Hungary) pursued further reforms. This material provides the basis for analysis of three theoretical points and their attendant problems: the market as a neutral ‘economic mechanism’, as an effort to detach a market economy from its assumed integral connection with a capitalist socio-economic system; the tensions between planning and market; and the ownership of the means of production, which risked ignoring the liberation of productive forces. The conclusion discusses potential assessments of the market socialist experiments.
New article published in International Critical Thought on Western Marxist misrepresentations of Chinese socialism
A co-authored article with Yan Ping has been published: ‘Not Some Other -ism’ – On Some Western Marxist Misrepresentations of Chinese Socialism’. International Critical Thought. The first fifty copies of the ‘pre-print’ can be downloaded via this link (here). The article is currently available in online format and will appear in June in issue 11.2 of the journal.
Abstract: This study tackles four Western Marxist misrepresentations of socialism with Chinese characteristics, particularly as it has developed with the reform and opening-up: “capitalist socialism”; “bureaucratic capitalism”: “capitalism ‘with Chinese characteristics'”; and “state capitalism.” Each of these misrepresentations sets in opposition the economy and the state, with the former being seen as “capitalist” (in some form) and the latter as variously “authoritarian,” “bureaucratic” or simply as “interventionist.” In other words, “Chinese characteristics” designates the superstructural feature that determines—incorrectly in light of Marxist analysis—the economic base, which is mistakenly seen as capitalist. While each misrepresentation has its own distinct problems, they also have common problems: a voluntarist position on political decisions, which fails to provide any reason for a “capitalist turn”; the assumption that a “market economy,” wherever and whenever it appears, is by definition capitalist; the deployment of neocolonial and “Orientalist” assumptions coupled with a Western “betrayal narrative”; and a systemic neglect of Chinese language research. The conclusion provides a summarising assessment that focuses on the empirical flaws and methodological presuppositions of these misrepresentations. We emphasise that our focus is primarily on the internal problems and inconsistencies of these misrepresentations, although we also offer—where needed—some constructive alternatives.
Keywords: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics; Western misrepresentations; neoliberalism; bureaucratic capitalism; state capitalism.
Now Published: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics – A Guide for Foreigners
My new book has been published:
2021. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners. Singapore: Springer. The full book in e-format, listed in chapter sequence, may be found here and here. A detailed synopsis of each chapter of the book may be downloaded here.
The chapter titles are as follows:
- Chapter 1. Introduction: Marxism as China’s Special Skill
- Chapter 2. Reading Deng Xiaoping
- Chapter 3. Contradiction Analysis: History, Meaning, and Application
- Chapter 4. The Marxist Basis of the Reform and Opening-Up
- Chapter 5. China’s Socialist Market Economy and Planned Economy
- Chapter 6. Seeking a Xiaokang Society, or, Socialist Modernisation
- Chapter 7. The Chinese Marxist Approach to Sovereignty and Socialist Human Rights
- Chapter 8. Socialist Democracy in Practice
- Chapter 9. Socialist Democracy in Theory
- Chapter 10. Xi Jinping on Marx and Engels
- Conclusion: Socialist System and Cultural Confidence
Article on ‘Countering Hegemony’ added to Chinese Marxism page
2021-04-01: ‘Countering Hegemony [fandui baquan]’ is a term the world will hear more and more in the coming years and months. It is a common term in the Chinese Marxist vocabulary, but it was highlighted in Yang Jiechi‘s now famous speech at the Alaska summit in March of 2021 (see below). My piece explains the term’s meaning and history in some more detail. You can also download the piece here.
Updated version of ‘What About the Chinese Workers?‘ added to Chinese Marxism page
In light of futher research, I have substantially revised my piece from 2018 on the Chinese workers. It can be found on the Chinese Marxism page (also download here). My revision was in part inspired by the desperate efforts of a fragmented and rapidly fading ‘West’ (a dozen or so former colonisers) to promote ‘atrocity propaganda’ about working conditions in Xinjiang. As should be clear to anyone, this kind of ‘Western’ material is pure lies and fabrication. To set the record straight, my piece points out that almost 800 million rural and urban workers have been lifted out of poverty in the last four decades – one the greatest human rights achievements in history.
China’s Promotion of Human Rights in Xinjiang
On the Chinese Marxism page, I have added links to a number of publications by the Chinese State Council Information Office in relation to Xinjiang:
- The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang (2019) – link here.
- Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang (2020) – link here.
- Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Human Rights Development in China (2020) – link here.
- Vocational Training and Education in Xinjiang (2019) – link here.
- Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang (2019) – link here.
- Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang (2018) – link here.
- Human Rights in Xinjiang – Development and Progress (2017) – link here.
- Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang (2016) – link here.
- Historical Witness to Ethnic Equality, Unity and Development in Xinjiang (2015) – link here.
Historical Nihilism in Relation to China
What is ‘historical nihilism [lishi xuwuzhuyi]’? It means that one denies the importance of the proletarian revolution, negates the leadership of the Communist Party, and ignores Marxism or suggests that Marxism is outdated and that China has abandoned Marxism.
A good example of the effects of historical nihilism is the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, there was intense ideological struggle, during which the achievements of the October Revolution and the Soviet Communist Party were denied, Lenin and Stalin were belittled, Party organisations at all levels lost their way, and the military was no longer under the leadership of the Party. The result: ‘the massive Communist Party of the Soviet Union scattered like birds and beasts [niaoshousan], and the vast socialist state of the Soviet Union collapsed and fell apart [fenbeng lixi]’ (Xi Jinping 2019). In short, historical nihilism is the favoured tool of those hostile to the communist project, those who seek to vilify and slander China and its path.
On the ‘Chinese Marxism’ page, I have attached a new piece that outlines some of the main genres of such historical nihilism. These include:
- Secular Apocalyse (‘China doomers’)
- Dystopian Fiction (with its attendant ‘atrocity propaganda’, such as that peddled by the BBC)
- Ghost Story (Spooks everywhere!)
- Conspiracy Theory
- Orientalist Mystery
- Sectarian Intolerance
These genres are popular in the small number of countries known as the ‘West’ (which comprise only 14 percent of the global population). Sadly, it includes a number of Western Marxists, who have lined up the international class struggle on the side of capitalist or bourgeois states.
You can also download the file here.
Mao Zedong Never Called Deng Xiaoping a ‘Capitalist Roader’
After some in-depth archival research, I have found that – contrary to the opinions of some – Mao Zedong never called Deng Xiaoping a ‘capitalist roader’. Instead, it was other Leftists, especially the Gang of Four (a negative term coined by Mao himself) who did so initially in 1966 and then again in 1976. Mao never did so. A fuller version of these findings may be found here and on the Chinese Marxism page.
New article by Xi Jinping on Marxist Political Economy and the 14th five-year plan
2020-11-24. On the Chinese Marxism page, I have added a recent article by Xi Jinping, entitled ‘Opening Up New Frontiers for Marxist Political Economy in Contemporary China’ (2020). The article concerns the central role of Marxist Political Economy in shaping the 14th five-year plan, which is being finalised as I write. It was originally published in Qiushi (Seeking Truth) journal – download Chinese here, and English translation here.
New article published: Dialogue on a Moderately Well-off Society in All Respects
2020-10-31. A new article has been published in a Chinese journal. This is the result of an ongoing dialogue on the Reform and Opening-Up with an old friend in China. Details follow. It may also be found on the ‘Selected Publications’ page.
2020. ‘全面建成小康社会的观念资源与现实探索’ (The Conceptual Resources and Realistic Exploration of Building a Moderately Well-off Society in All Respects). 当代中国价值观研究 (Chinese Journal of Contemporary Values) 2020.01: 5-14. Co-authored with Zang Fengyu. Download Chinese version here, and unformatted Chinese-English bilingual version here.