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Maoism

China: In who's interest does the state serve?

Striking workers at the Tianjin Mitsumi Electric Co Ltd factory in the city of Tianjin, June 29, 2010.

By Mark Vorpahl

July 2, 2010 -- Workers' Compass -- The recent wave of strikes in China, most visibly at Honda factories, are testament to a growing movement of labour unrest in the country. This development is of great importance for international working-class struggle.

For the capitalists, China holds a key position in the global system of generating profits. The demands of China's workers for better conditions and a higher standard of living are in direct conflict with the international capitalists' desire to use China as a source of cheap labour. For the world's big business elite, already shaken by an international economic crisis of their own making, the growing militancy of China's workers is a great threat.

Class and politics in Thailand

Communist Party of Thailand fighters in southern Thailand.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. This historical understanding is important in locating the dynamics of the ruling class and the changing politics of revolt from the time of the Communist Party through to the creation of the NGOs. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Memories of a participant: Kent & Jackson State, 1970 -- A firestorm they could not contain

By Mike Ely

May 4, 2010 -- Kasama Project -- May 4, 1970. Forty years have passed. It is history now in the eyes of the world. But for me, and many others, it is raw and alive. It always will be.

I won’t tell the well-known details – if you don’t know them, look them up. But I will tell you what it felt like, and looked like to a teenage boy who wanted desperately to see the liberation of the Vietnamese and Black people in America.

May Day for Bobby Seale — New Haven, 1970

On May 1 1970, I was in New Haven, Connecticut. Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panther Party was facing a murder trial in New Haven. They had first bound and gagged him in the  courtroom of the Chicago 8, then shipped him to Connecticut to lock him up for life. We were determined to free him.

Students came from all over the US east coast to turn the city upside down. On my campus, we had worked day and night to explain the attack on the Black Panther Party – and to mobilise busloads to go New Haven.

Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party.

Nepal: Ben Peterson, eyewitness to Nepal’s revolution, tours New Zealand

March 21, 2010 -- UNITYblog -- Ben Peterson is a young Australian socialist who spent four and half months in Nepal last year. Ben is crossing the Tasman for a speaking tour of New Zealand from March 21-26. Ben was kind enough to answer some questions for UNITYblog about his experiences in Nepal.

* * *

When did you go to Nepal? How long were you there for?

I was in Nepal last year from the beginning of March to July, about four and half months in total.

Why did you go to Nepal?

China, capitalist accumulation and the world crisis

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

[A version of this article appeared in the South Korean journal, Marxism 21. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg’s permission.]

February 2010 -- The consensus among economists is that China’s post-1978 market reform policies have produced one of the world’s greatest economic success stories. Some believe that China is now capable of serving as an anchor for a new (non-US dominated) global economy. A few claim that the reform experience demonstrates the workability (and desirability) of market socialism. This paper is critical of these views.

China today: socialist or capitalist?

By Chris Slee

November 13, 2009 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published a number of articles on the Chinese Revolution and the subsequent restoration of capitalism in China.[1] This article aims to give more detail on the current situation, including the Chinese government's efforts to ameliorate some of the harmful effects of capitalism. But first I will briefly recount the process of capitalist restoration.

Nepal: Interview with the UCPN (Maoist)'s Baburam Bhattarai: `We have not abandoned the revolutionary path'

October 26, 2009 -- This interview first appeared on the web site of the Britain-based World People's Resistance Movement (WPRN). It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. Baburam Bhattarai is a politburo member of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and was finance minister in the former Maoist government led by Prachanda. For background to this interview, visit HERE.

* * *

China: Youth and the Cultural Revolution

For more on the Chinese Revolution, click HERE.

By Graham Milner

The revolution that brought the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to power in 1949 marked the second great breach, after the Russian Revolution of October 1917, in the 20th century imperialist world order, and initiated a process that was to remove from the capitalist orbit the most populous nation in the world, containing over a quarter of its population.[1] The revolution of 1949 aroused vast expectations not only among China's popular masses, but also among the peoples of the Third World as a whole, and indeed among the socialist-minded everywhere.[2] However, by the end of the 20th century, communism had been overturned in Eastern Europe and the USSR, while in China a largely discredited, authoritarian, Stalinist regime had virtually abandoned anything more than a nominal adherence to socialist ideals. So what went wrong?

People's Republic of China at 60: socialist revolution, capitalist restoration

[Click HERE for more analysis of the Chinese Revolution and its evolution.]

By Chris Slee

September 23, 2009 -- October 1 will mark 60 years since Mao Zedong proclaimed the creation of the People's Republic of China. This followed the victory of the People’s Liberation Army, led by the Communist Party of China (CCP), over the US-backed Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT). 

In 1921, when the CCP was founded, China was in chaos. Western intervention — military, economic, political and cultural — had destroyed or undermined traditional Chinese institutions. New, stable institutions had not been created. Various imperialist powers grabbed pieces of Chinese territory.

Some modern industry was established, mainly in the coastal cities. But most Chinese people were peasants, heavily exploited by big landowners.

People's Republic of China at 60: Maoism and popular power, 1949–1969


Youth demonstrate during the Cultural Revolution.

[Click HERE for more analysis of the Chinese Revolution and its evolution.]

By Pierre Rousset

With the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) found itself at the head of a country three times larger than Western Europe, with a population of some 500 million. The internal situation was favourable to the revolutionary regime. At the end of a long series of civil and foreign wars, the population sought and relied on the new leaders to achieve peace while the ongoing people’s mobilisation opened the way for a deep reform of society.

People's Republic of China at 60: 1925–1949 -- Origins of the Chinese revolution

Mao Zedong (on horse) during the Long March.

[Click HERE for more analysis of the Chinese Revolution and its evolution.]

By Pierre Rousset

Retrospectively, we know the importance of the period opened in China by the overthrow in 1911 of the Qing Dynasty: it concluded, nearly four decades later, with the victory of the Communist revolution on October 1, 1949 – an event of historical scope. However, at the time, the future of the country looked very uncertain. Power was fragmenting in China, but the European states were not in a position to seize this opportunity to impose their colonial domination on the Middle Kingdom and were soon going to be at war with each other. The new imperialist powers (the United States and Japan) were not yet ready to replace them and claim for themselves the conquest of China. But it was only a matter of time. China seemed to be condemned to be dismembered into Japamese and Western zones of influence.

The rise and fall of the Communist Party of Thailand

By Pierre Rousset

September 9, 2009 -- ESSF -- The communist movement was first established in Siam (renamed Thailand in 1939) mostly in the Chinese ethnic migrant communities, then proliferated in the seemingly disparate surrounding regions in the north, northeast and south of the country. Following a long, difficult period of transition, the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), once an urban party, retreated to the jungle and engaged in armed struggle. Its national expansion, during the 1970s, occurred while the kingdom was transformed into a US base for military intervention in the Vietnam War. The party eventually saw its decline during the Sino-Indochinese conflict of 1978–9 and disappeared from sight in the mid-1980s.

Suffering and struggle in rural China

Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of Chinese Peasants.
By Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao.
New York: Public Affairs 2006

Review by John Riddell

Is China killing the goose whose golden eggs have financed its economic upsurge? Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao pose this question in their gripping portrayal of the suffering and struggles of Chinese peasants today.

Their book’s title refers to a 1400-year-old Chinese saying, attributed to Emporer Taizong: “Water holds up the boat; water may also sink the boat.” That is, the peasantry that sustains the state may also rise up and overturn it. Chen and Wu argue that in China today, the weight of the state is suffocating the peasantry: the boat may sink the water.

A media and publishing sensation

China: Looking back on the 1989 democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre

To mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reproduces an excerpt from the analysis by an eyewitness to the 1989 democratic upsurge that preceded the brutal attack. The writer was an Australian socialist who was studying in China at the time. It first appeared in Green Left Weekly on June 26, 1996.

* * *

By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20, 1989, China's Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

50 years after: The tragedy of China’s `Great Leap Forward'

By John Riddell

April 21, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- On October 1, the People’s Republic of China will mark the 60th anniversary of its foundation. This will be an occasion to celebrate one of the most influential victories of popular struggle in our era.

This great uprising forged a united and independent Chinese state, freed the country from foreign domination and capitalist rule, ended landlordism, provided broad access to education and health care, and set in motion popular energies that modernised and industrialised its economy. The revolutionary triumph of 1949 laid the foundation for China’s present dynamism and influence, as well as providing an enormous impetus to anti-colonial revolution worldwide.

Yet despite these gains, the socialist movement and ideology that headed the revolution, identified with Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, disappeared from China soon after his death in 1976. The revolution’s central leader is still revered, but his doctrines have been set aside. The country’s present leadership has promoted private capitalist accumulation, not socialist planning, as China’s chief engine of growth. Its policies have aroused much popular protest, but not a revived Maoist movement.

Realities of China today

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

Against the Current -- Interest in the post-1978 Chinese market reform experience remains high and for an obvious reason: China is widely considered to be one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. The Chinese economy has recorded record rates of growth over an extended time period, in concert with a massive industrial transformation. Adding to the interest is the Chinese government's claim that this success demonstrates both the workability and superiority of "market socialism."

There are those on the left who share this celebratory view of the Chinese experience, believing that it stands as an effective rebuttal to the neoliberal mantra that still dominates economic thinking. Therefore, they encourage other countries to learn from China's gradual, state controlled process of marketization, privatization, and deregulation of economic activity. A small but significant number share the Chinese government's view that China has indeed pioneered a new type of socialism.

Nepal: Prachanda in New York -- A Maoist vision for a new Nepal

`A Maoist Vision for a New Nepal' -- MP3 recordings of a talk by Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), followed by questions and answers, presented to the India China Institute of New School University, New York City, on September 26, 2008. The MP3 audio clips were first presented on the Hegemonik site, and are posted here with permission

Nepal: Prachanda -- `No illusions on the ultimate goal of socialist communism'

September 3, 2008 -- In his first interview since he became Nepal's prime minister, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal ``Prachanda'' spoke to Rabindra Mishra of BBC's Nepali Service about the strategies of his new government.

BBC: In the past Maoist leaders had vowed not to keep any private property. They handed over their private properties to the party. Now, what will you do to your salary that you will be drawing as prime minister?

That (money) will go to the country and the people. It will be deposited in the party treasury. Except some amount for the general upkeep, the salary will be deposited in the party treasury.

Then, how can one be assured of the right to private property under your government when you are yourself are not keeping private property?

China: Socialist revolution and capitalist restoration

By Chris Slee

The Chinese revolution was one of the most important events of the twentieth century. The victory of the revolution in 1949 was a major defeat for imperialism. The new Communist Party government carried out democratic measures such as land reform, and improved the conditions of workers and peasants through the spread of health care and literacy. It began expropriating industry, and within a few years had nationalised all capitalist enterprises. It proclaimed that the revolution had entered the socialist stage.

A Lego recreation of Jeff Widener's 1989 photograph of "The unknown rebel".

 

But the new state was bureaucratically distorted from its inception. The bureaucrats enjoyed substantial privileges. They repressed dissent amongst workers, peasants, students and intellectuals. And they engaged in violent power struggles amongst themselves, undermining the gains of the revolution.

Looking back on the Beijing massacre

By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20 Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

During the last seven years more eyewitness interviews, analytical articles and quite a range of books have been published concerned with what has come to be termed the 1989 Democracy Movement and Beijing Massacre. More recent works have also covered the ensuing government crackdown and the fate of those protesters captured by the government, executed or imprisoned.

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