Posts Tagged ‘communism’
We begin today with a short journey in Chinese literature and history. In 1922, a book was published by Lǔ Xùn (鲁迅) entitled 呐喊 (Nahan), or A Call To Arms. In the preface, Xun discusses a story of an event that happened to him while studying medicine in Japan. He was presented with a ‘slide’ of an image taken during the Russo-Japanese War. In the image was a Chinese man about to be beheaded for spying on the Japanese. Xun was shocked at the expressions of Chinese in the picture. He surmised that, although they seemed to be in adequate physical health, they were “broken” spiritually. Lu Xun would go on to become one of the most internationally renowned Chinese authors, as well as one of the few participants in the 五四运动 (May Fourth Movement) not to join the Communist Party. (Chinese tend to utilize military terms as social commentary… or at least, for a double entendré. So, I am pointing out that I am not utilizing this term to ask people to commit violence, “A Call To Arms” was not meant to be a physical call to mobilize firearms, per se.)
I find the story of Lu Xun and the May Fourth Movement are highly relevant today. So, first we take a short trip to revisit a quick overview of the May 4th Movement. The root cause of the May Fourth Movement was the Treaty of Versailles. During WWI, China had joined forces with the Allies, on the ground that Germany would relinquish Shandong (山东) back to China. Shandong was the birthplace of Confucius and, therefore, a special place in China. Despite this, in the Treaty of Versailles, Shandong was conceded to Japan, instead of China. (Eventually, Shandong was conceded to China, with special privileges to the Japanese.)
The problem with the handling of Shandong did not go over well with the population of China. It caused the government to be viewed as ‘weak.’ This is especially problematic in China, with the concept of the Dynastic Cycle ( 朝代循环) and the Mandate of Heaven (天命) – (which is too much to detail here). The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1911 by the XinHai Revolution (辛亥革命) over anger of corruption and abuses by the Imperial Dynasty . . . the May Fourth Movement, or the New Culture Movement, quickly followed the XinHai Revolution. This was a massive student uprising that eventually led to the birth of “Chinese Communism.” It was also a pivotal point where China turned its back on Western Liberalism . . . because of feeling slighted by the Shandong problem and lack of proper enforcement of Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” More or less: Chinese culture felt as though Western Imperialism would never accept Chinese culture.
What is really interesting in the May Fourth Movement, is that Chiang Kai-shek (or Jiǎng Jièshí) – a close ally of Sun Yat-sen, had decried Marxism as “Western interventionism” and “counter to Chinese ideals.” Chiang and Sun Yat-sen would go on to be an important figures in the formation of the KMT (KuoMingTan) in Taiwan. I find this interesting because we tend to look at Chinese Communism as the “foreign” or “oriental” philosophy, instead of the Imperialism of the KMT. It really is a matter of perspective. (Thank you, Nietzsche.)
I have been seeing a lot of talk about political systems. Today, mentioned in the news was a statement the Tea Party group made in Arizona about a new policy on trash collection. They claim that the city voting for one trash company and curbside recycling is a step towards socialism.
A decision by the Fountain Hills Town Council to hire a single trash hauler and begin a curbside recycling program has been met with angry protests from residents who accuse town leaders of overstepping their bounds and taking a leap toward socialism.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/2010/11/07/20101107tea-party-trash-fountain-hills.html#ixzz14j4ZHOzF
Really? This is how we are now defining “socialism“? A private monopoly of services? Bids for city contracts? One could really go on all day about how misguided this is but I really feel like many people do not even understand how these terms are meant to be used. Someone told me on YouTube, about a week ago, that Anarchy is “Left” in Europe, but not in America. Somehow, they believe that “Left” and “Right” politics are different depending on your longitude and latitude. This is not the case. These terms are pretty well defined.
“Who are the oppressors? The few: the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.”
~ Mark Twain
Labor day was made a federal holiday after the Pullman Strike. It was a national strike of railway workers. The Pullman Strike ended in a bit of tragedy. The President sent the National Guard and US Marshals to end the strike. Death and injury resulted, as well as large amounts of property damage. Eugene V. Debs led the strike. He was eventually incarcerated on a minor charge. It was while in jail that Debs read the works of Karl Marx. Debs became a socialist and ran for President in 1900.
Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.
~ Eugene V. Debs
We owe a lot to these organizers, of unions and protests, in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was these brave people who stood up to corporate thuggery and government force. They paved the way for workplace safety standards, fair wages, fair conditions, and many other labor laws that save thousands of lives every year.
While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
~ Eugene V. Debs
Today is Labor Day. Let us not forget what “Labor” means in Labor Day. It means the worker. Labor day is not “Production Day.” It was a national holiday created in support of the labor that keeps society going.
I decided to go back to a basic question today.
What is the role of government?
There are several models of government and all of them are valid in one way or another. What is the central role of government? And does this hinge on the type of government?
If we look at all governments through time, there are a few central themes to the role of government. Primarily there is the protection of borders and the interest/security of the state. This requires organization and defense capabilities. Even in ancient times, the government had a duty to protect itself from outside forces. Farther, governments need to maintain infrastructure and maintain order. This has been one of the main tenants of government in China (and all early civilizations) for five thousand years. Governments are also expected to maintain its citizenry.
“Communism” has special significance in American parlance. In reality, the ideology of Communism entails a variety of ideals. There are “Communist” states, that are self-proclaimed Communists, such as the former Soviet Union, The People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and North Korea. But Communism is rooted in the writings of Karl Marx, although many can contend that he did not specifically originate the concept itself. For the intent of this entry, “Communism” means “Marxism” and not the Soviet style of governance. For this reason, I will refer to the ideology as Marxism, rather than Communism.
If there is any polity in the world that should be ideal for Marxist ideology, it is the United States. Is it because of the proposed socialized health care, like many on the New Right claim? No. Is it because of extended government control of the private sector? No. Is it because of entitlement programs controlled by the government? No. It is precisely the opposite.
Any true Marxist has to acknowledge that Marx did not claim to be a leader, nor did he claim to actually have a solution. Rather, Marx foresaw a solution. He claimed to want better treatment for laborers during the Industrial Revolution. What Marx had foreseen was a society in which there was no more class separation. No more need for “have’s” and “have not’s.”