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 reocmmend you read the whole issue (here), since the journal is always insightful and thought-provoking.
Highly recommended: Nameless Heroes (North Korean war-time spy series)
For something completely different, well directed, filmed and acted, see the series “Nameless Heroes” from the DPRK – also known as “Unsung Heroes.” Filmed over 1978-1981, it was a big hit in the DPRK and then China. The series was dubbed in Chinese and later colorised. Set during the Korean War, it follows the story of spies providing vital information about US plans to invade the north.
Both are posters from the Chinese language version: 无名英雄. If you wish to watch the first episodes with English subtitles, begin watching below. The remainder of the series is the Chinese version.
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.
New article: We Need to Talk More About China’s Socialist Democracy
Friends of Socialist China have posted a new article of mine, entitled ‘We Need to Talk More About China’s Socialist Democracy’. You can find the article at their website (here), on the Chinese Marxism page, or download a copy here.
Socialism in Power: On the History and Theory of Socialist Governance
On the publications page, I have added a temporary file regarding a monograph on which I am currently working. It is a synopsis of a book entitled Socialism in Power: On the History and Theory of Socialist Governance. You may also download a copy of the synopsis here. As the research progresses, I will update the synopsis from time to time.
Early Marxist Philosophy in China: Ai Siqi and Li Da
This is in response to an inquiry concerning Li Da and early Marxist philosophy in China, with which I deal in the chapter on contradiction analysis in Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners. Ai Siqi (1910-1966) and Li Da (1890-1966) were the two most responsible for systematic presentations of Marxist philosophy and the Marxist method in the early years of the twentieth century. They did so by providing translations of Russian works and by writing their own systematic accounts. In the 1930s in Yan’an, it was these works that Mao Zedong studied, along with others in the study circle, that led to the formation of Mao Zedong Thought. Indeed, Mao discussed Marxist philosophy with them.
Both Ai Siqi and Li Da are very well known and reverred in China, and their works are still available today. If you do not read Chinese, by far the best studies are by Nick Knight:
Knight, Nick. Li Da and Marxist Philosophy in China (Westview 1996)
Knight, Nick. Marxist Philosophy in China: From Qu Qiubai to Mao Zedong, 1923–1945 (Springer 2005)
New file added: Slide presentation for World Congress on Marxism
A new file have been added to the Dalian University of Technology page. It is the slide presentation prepared for this year’s World Congress on Marxism, hosted by Peking University’s School of Marxism. It is entitled ‘The Global Significance of China’s Path to Socialist Modernisation: Philosophy, Marxism, and Relations with Fraternal Communist Parties’ The slide presentation may also be downloaded here. See earlier for the text.
Two new files added: On Poverty Alleviation and China’s Socialist Modernisation
On the DUT School of Marxism page, I have added two files:
2021: ‘The Global Significance of China’s Path to Socialist Modernisation’. The text of a paper I will deliver at the 2021 World Congress on Marxism, organised by Peking University’s School of Marxism in July. You can download the text here.
2021: ‘Poverty Alleviation as a Manifestation of (Chinese) Marxist Human Rights’. A brief set of slides used in the webinar, ‘China’s Path to Zero Poverty’, organised by Friends of Socialist China (here), and the Geopolitical Economy Research Group. You can download the slides here.
There is a now a video snippet with my presentation:
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.
From Belgrade to Beijing: Text and Slides from the International Manifesto webinar on China
Added to the Dalian University of Technology page: 2021: ‘From Belgrade to Beijing: Comparative Observations on Socialist Systems with Market Economic Components’. This is the full text that provides the background for my presentation in a webinar organised by the International Manifesto Group based at the University of Manitoba. The text may be downloaded here, and the slides I used in the actual lecture are here.
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.
The difference between a rules-based international order and Western liberal hegemony
2021-03-25. This is the tile of a new piece I have added to the Chinese Marxism page, in a section called ‘Community of Common Destiny for Humankind’. As should be clear by the title, Western liberalism is unable to produce a rules-based international order. All it can do is try to impose its neo-colonial will on unwilling others. What is emerging today through the initiatives of China, Russia, and others, is a proper rules-based internatonal order. You may also download the piece here.
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 (2029) – 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.
Further, I recommend this report, entitled ‘Xinjiang: Understanding Complexity, Building Peace’. It is one of the most comprehensive reports on the actual situation in Xinjiang, in stark contrast to the ‘atrocity propaganda’ pumped out by the handful of former colonisers known as ‘the West’. It can be downloaded here, and is also available at CeSEM (here) and Eurispes (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.
Shattering the myth that all N. Koreans want to defect to S. Korea
NP sent me a link to an interesting and revealing article that punctures the myth of North Korean ‘defectors’. You can find the article here.
Marxist Political Economy set to guide the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan
2020-12-19. Obviously, I have rearranged some matters, with the most significant being a new page concerning the School of Marxism Studies, at Dalian University of Technology. In the beautiful and historic coastal city of Dalian in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, it has become my intellectual and spiritual (in the Chinese sense – jingshen) home. The page will gradually add features, although it now has some files relating to my inaugural lecture, a seminar series I gave in 2019 on Domenico Losurdo, and a keynote speech on ‘comparative Marxist philosophy’ from an international workshop that concluded today.
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 a collague 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.