Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

 

Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

November 20, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV)

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.)

For many years to come France will be divided into two periods – before the Yellow Vests, and after the Yellow Vests. It’s widely believed in France that things can never go back to the way they were.

I’m not sure there can be a better yardstick of domestic success – a better gauge of sociocultural impact – than that?

Outside of France the Yellow Vests have given the world a precious gift, and at a huge sacrifice: nobody will ever view “French-style democracy” with the respect their government arrogantly demands as the alleged “birthplace of human rights”. For a generation or longer, “What about the Yellow Vests?”, will be a conversation-ending question to anyone who claims the moral superiority of the “Western-style” political system.

Systematic repression of the poorest classes are indeed “universal values”, but only within neoliberal and neo-imperial systems. Make no mistake: It has been one year of open Yellow Vest revolt against the economic dictates of that “neoliberal empire”, the European Union, and it’s neo-colonial puppet temporarily occupying Élysée Palace in Paris.

What the last year has testified to is the redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit. Not every country has that, after all.

England, for example, will foolishly “keep calm and carry on” – a perfect summation of change-hating conservatism – until the bitter end, always. This is why reading English-language media coverage of the Yellow Vests was so very similar – “English conservative opposes egalitarian movement in France”. They have been running the same story for 200+ years, going back to Edmund Burke, who founded modern Western conservatism with his (reactionary) Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790.

France is not England, but 53 weeks ago I don’t think anyone imagined that the French could possibly muster the stamina, dedication and self-sacrifice to protest amid massive state-sponsored repression every weekend for one year.

It’s an amazing achievement, and only those full of spite and hate could deny them a modest present of honest recognition on their birthday.

But Western mainstream media coverage in English and French was just that – they claimed the Yellow Vests achieved nothing.

One thing the French don’t like to be reminded of is: the French Revolution failed, and quickly. It’s as if they forget Emperor Napoleon?

The French Revolution is not like the Iranian, Chinese or Cuban Revolutions, all of which have endured. The American Revolution has also endured – too bad that it was even more aristocratic (bourgeois) and sectarian than the French Revolution.

But the French Revolution occurred in an era of constant regional imperialism, war, slavery, repression of women, religious and ethnic sectarianism, etc. – we would be wrong to say it did not still have positive worldwide ramifications in the most important realms of politics, economics, culture, etc. The USSR – the only empire based on affirmative action – also failed, but we would be wrong to say it didn’t also produce positive changes for their people and also worldwide.

Quickly, here are a few tangible victories of the Yellow Vests: they prevented Emmanuel Macron from presenting a 10th consecutive annual austerity budget, they prevented Macron from de-nationalising the three airports of Paris, and the 10 billion euros in so-called “concessions” was credited with keeping French economic growth in the positive in the last quarter.

However, even if the Yellow Vests have obviously not yet toppled the 5th Republic and set up a new order, their cultural is inestimable. Just as the Occupy Movement of the US in 2011 gave us the slogan and mentality of “We are the 99%”, so will the Yellow Vests stand for something equally conscience-raising.

The Yellow Vests want a French Cultural Revolution, and should lead it

However, a big difference between the two movements is that Occupy was led by many college-educated “do-gooders” – and God bless them – whereas the Yellow Vests are undoubtedly a movement of the most marginalised classes.

Seemingly the most comprehensive survey thus far showed that few Vesters are unemployed, two-thirds of Vesters make less than the average national wage, and an even greater percentage regret a lack of cultural resources and social links. In other words: hard-working, (yet still) poor, isolated citizens who yearn for more cultural enrichment.

This is why I have repeatedly drawn a different parallel: the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution. Only China and Iran have ever had one, and both were state-sponsored.

Cultural Revolutions put the values of the formerly-oppressed classes into power – everything is brought to a halt for perhaps years in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating a nation’s democratic institutions and general culture in order to accord with modern political ideals. This is precisely what the Yellow Vests want: a long, comprehensive, democratic rethink and public debate over France’s inclusion in the European Union, the eurozone, NATO, and the Americanisation/neoliberalisation of their domestic policies.

Chinese peasants, Iran’s “revolution of the barefooted” and the rural-based Yellow Vests – it’s impossible not to admit the parallels. The West, of course, only insists that both Cultural Revolutions were huge mistakes.

Not true: China’s Cultural Revolution created the rural economic and human capital which laid the groundwork for their 1980s-onwards boom, although the West would have you believe its rebirth sprung only from Deng’s reforms; Iran’s Cultural Revolution swept away the elite’s oppressive aping of the West and created the first modern Muslim democracy.

The Yellow Vests insist that they are the “real” France, and after a year of talking with them I agree – they know as much or more about politics than I do. Politics is not rocket science, after all, but mainly applying common morality to public policy and daily events.

Iran and China already had a government inspired by socialist democracy (and not by aristocratic liberal democracy) when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not – thus the repression.

What did the Occupy Movement “achieve”, after all? They prevented no bailouts, they folded after infinitely less state repression and there is no direct movement linked with them today. However, only a Burkean conservative would insist that the Occupy Movement didn’t wake many people up to the struggles of class warfare, and of egalitarian right and greedy wrong. It’s never mentioned in the Western media – which only adores far-right, nativist, anti-socialist movements like in Hong Kong – but Algerians have protested for 39 consecutive weekends as well.

The Yellow Vests have not failed – they have much to celebrate on their birthday, and this article serves as a rare reminder of that reality.

Iranian and Russian media – doing France’s job for them

What’s important to note is that since late June – when France started going on summer vacation – Russian and Iranian media in Paris (including my Farsi- and Spanish-language colleagues) have been the only television journalists openly covering the Yellow Vest demonstrations.

My French colleagues have done the most cowardly thing possible – they quit the field. For many months people in Paris couldn’t believe I had to work covering the Yellow Vests on Saturday: I repeatedly heard, “I thought they were finished?”

With exceptions I can count on one hand, for many months French media has been either totally absent or hidden. There are certainly no reporters doing live interviews (even without a logo displaying whom they work for), even though the presence of live reporters inherently reduces the willingness of police to be violent. Considering the toll of violence – 11,000 arrested, 2,000 convicted, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 hurt,1,000 critically injured and the innumerable tear-gassings – it’s no wonder French people hate the media.

In France the vast majority of media are private, with editorial lines decided by a handful of billionaires – that’s just how Western journalism works, sadly. “Free speech”, they call it. However, where are the public media – they are paid by taxpayer dollars to objectively cover their own nation?! Quite pathetic….

This is probably why the Macron administration openly disparages Russia’s RT and Sputnik (we won’t get into their problems with PressTV here): we have spent the past year properly doing our jobs, unlike France’s media.

That’s too bad for France, but the unexpected and undeniable accomplishments of the Yellow Vests speak for themselves. Who knows what they might achieve in year 2?

Upside down or right side up? Comparing Chinese vs. Western civilizational hierarchies.

Upside down or right side up? Comparing Chinese vs. Western civilizational hierarchies.

By: Jeff J. Brown for The Saker Blog

 

Crosslinked with:

https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/08/14/upside-down-or-right-side-up-comparing-chinese-vs-western-civilizational-hierarchies-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190814/

https://youtu.be/rYmvCRQBybk

https://soundcloud.com/44-days/upside-down-or-right-side-up-comparing-chinese-vs-western-civilizational-hierarchies

 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Pictured above: no wonder Chinese and Westerners don’t understand each other. They look at the world and their societies with diametrically opposed points of view. It’s like two peoples staring at each other through the opposite ends of a telescope. Everything is distorted. To paraphrase the great American poet Robert Frost, “And that my friends, makes all the difference”.

Note before starting: if you have not already done so, reading/listening to/watching my two recent posts comparing Chinese and Western governance will make this one much more meaningful (https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/07/30/why-are-western-leaders-gawd-awful-bad-and-chinas-so-darn-competent-part-i-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190730/ and https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/08/07/why-are-western-leaders-gawd-awful-bad-and-chinas-so-darn-competent%ef%bc%9fpart-ii-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190807/).

Westerners can live and work in China for years and not see the obvious. I should know, since I was one of them. We occidentals are so brainwashed from birth, at home, in school, by government, media and advertising of our moral superiority over all those “other” dark skinned kinda-sorta people, that it’s easy to not see the trees in the proverbial forest of life. This is how I was, when living here from 1990-1997. Even after living and working for 21 years outside the US, mostly in Africa, Middle East and China, I was still blinded by my racism of Western cultural and moral superiority, a liberaloid do-gooder, wrapped up in identity politics, thinking I was better than most of my less cosmopolitan countrymen – sad to say – and I wasn’t much better. It was not until we came back to China in 2010 that the scales of racism finally fell from my eyes. This painful and humbling, but ultimately liberating experience is tracked through the three books of The China Trilogy (see below).

Looking at the above comparative chart and going back to the times of the Ancient Greeks, the quintessential Marlboro Man has been the fixture of Western civilization. Me, myself and I, free and unfettered, independent and on one’s own, to decide one’s destiny. Being an adventurer and warrior/gunslinger also fits the bill. Greek tales like Jason and the Argonauts, Iliad and the Odyssey and the swashbuckling myths of the deities slaughtering monsters (today’s inferior Dreaded Others) all extol the virtues of Solo Man.

Family comes next and even that is often contested and dysfunctional in the West. Help out a family member? Maybe, maybe not. It seems like every Western family I’ve ever gotten to know well, starting with mine, is rife with communication and contact between members cut off. Individual peeves and grudges trump trying to keep the family intact.

Working our way down this civilizational hierarchy, support for the neighborhood, city, province and country can happen, but frequently on “my terms” and “not in my backyard”. How dare you encroach on my freedoms! This, while citizens can be easily brainwashed with God and the flag, to fight in endless wars for rape, resources and plunder, with the price over the long term eventually being societal collapse.

For millennia, at the bottom of the Western shit heap is the government and leaders. You can’t blame Euranglolanders for not trusting or respecting their governments, since they usually act like gangsters stealing from the 99%, while sending the latter to die likes dogs in wars of expansion, exploitation and extraction, all to enrich their elite 1% masters. Organized criminals posing as leaders and governments masking cartels is standard operating procedure. It’s happening while I write.

Yet, in spite of all the pitfalls, it’s easy to see why the Western hierarchy of Solo Man is so intoxicating and flattering. What could be more important than… ME! One’s horizon in life is simplified. Me, myself and I concentrate the need and take complexity and nuance out of the equation. Life become linear, point A to point B. I’ll do whatever the hell I want, Bubba. Get back Jojo, it’s my space. Get outta of my way, this is MY lane! A friend in need is fucked indeed. What’s in it for me? The world is my oyster. Of course, I should be able wear a gun around town to protect myself. I’ve got individual rights. Ayn Rand’s “rational self-interest”. Gordon Gekko’s greed is not just good, greed is God. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours in mine, so you’re screwed. Might and treachery make right. Finders keepers losers weepers. Laissez-faire, bay-bee. Dog eat dog, the big dominate the little, the rich steal from the poor. Being entertained and amused becomes paramount. Mass production and super-consumption are in. More, more, more. Making personal sacrifices is decidedly uncool, as is delayed gratification. It is easy to see why the Western paradigm of Marlboro Man dovetails so perfectly with capitalism, neoliberalism and colonialism.

Now, in China, flip the West’s social hierarchy upside down. Suddenly, you are no longer Mr. and Mrs. Me. Welcome to being at the very bottom of civilization’s needs. Look up and your life is no longer simple and linear, but complex and elliptical – a tapestry of interconnections and expectations. Just in the family alone, Mom’s, Dad’s and Grandparents’ needs trump yours. Older relatives too. What’s mine is also my family’s. If you slack off, then how is the family supposed to help take care of the neighborhood? We all want to live in a nice town/city, don’t we, and you’re the start. Daily life becomes very intricate, cyclical and circular, giving and taking. This is not my lane, but everyone else’s too. Since life is so interwoven and interdependent, solidarity in helping others becomes the ideal. Suddenly, social harmony and peaceful coexistence are everything. You mean I have to share? I have many responsibilities to my community and country? You mean I should help the government and our leaders to work effectively, and keep the nation intact and prosperous? You bet your stinky tofu, you do.

It’s easy to see that being a Chinese citizen is a much bigger daily responsibility and the expectations of the many over the wants of the individual are so much greater than in Western civilization. Euranglolanders often feel superior over Chinese families, when they see young children here being loud, boisterous and spoiled rotten. They are for a few years. It’s the one time in their lives when they get to enjoy some of that Solo Man Me, Myself and I, because by the time they get first grade in school, China’s civilizational hierarchy starts to kick in and the expectations of everyone around them begin to weigh on their societal shoulders. For five or six years, they get to run wild a little bit, now it’s time to knuckle down and take their place on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Since you are on the hook for family, the country’s leaders and government, attributes like frugality and delayed gratification become the ideal. No wonder the Chinese have the highest savings rate of any large economy in the world. Even though buying personal gizmos and luxuries has never been higher, and Baba Beijing is exhorting the masses to consume more, to counteract the US’s tariff trade war, China’s savings rate is still 46% (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/china/gross-savings-rate). This compares to Americans’ 17% (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/united-states/gross-savings-rate).

All in the family. Since everybody collectively is more important than you, is it any wonder that China is a communist-socialist civilization and always has been?

It goes without saying that the two above portrayed hierarchies are meant to be painted black and white, to show the overarching contrast. Of course, there are generous, giving Westerners who believe in social solidarity and economic justice. As well, there are Chinese who are selfish, greedy and heartless. Yes, there are family feuds and estranged relatives. That’s not the point. The point is the diametrically opposed societal expectations and ideals that are held up for inspiration and guidance. In the West, it’s all about individualism and personal freedom. In China, it’s all about Mom, Dad, the mayor, governor, prime minister and president who come first.

And that, my friends, makes all the difference. The imperial West shattered China’s civilizational hierarchy for 110 years, when it flooded the country with opium, morphine and heroin, 1839-1949, and was able to rape and plunder the people with lustful abandon. Since communist liberation in 1949, China’s social hierarchy has been restored. Look at the comparative table at the beginning of this article one more time and ask yourself, Which country is going to succeed and prosper on the world stage, into the 22nd century?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Key words:

China, Racism, Culture, Ancient Greece, Marlboro Man, Individualism, Solidarity, Brainwash, Me Myself and I, 99%, 1%, Eurangloland, War, Ayn Rand, Gordon Gekko

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Bio: Jeff J. Brown is a geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and the author of The China Trilogy. It consists of 44 Days Backpacking in China – The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013); Punto Press released China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (2016); and for Badak Merah, Jeff authored China Is Communist, Dammit! – Dawn of the Red Dynasty(2017). As well, he published a textbook, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). Jeff is a Senior Editor & China Correspondent for The Greanville Post, where he keeps a column, Dispatch from Beijing and is a Global Opinion Leader at 21st Century. He also writes a column for The Saker, called the Moscow-Beijing Express. Jeff writes, interviews and podcasts on his own program, China Rising Radio Sinoland, which is also available on YouTubeSoundCloudStitcher RadioiTunes, Ivoox and RUvid. Guests have included Ramsey ClarkJames BradleyMoti NissaniGodfree RobertsHiroyuki HamadaThe Saker, and many others.

Jeff can be reached at China Risingjeff@brownlanglois.comFacebookTwitter, Wechat (Jeff_Brown-44_Days) and Whatsapp: +86-13823544196.

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Creative Commons: This article by Jeff J. Brown is available for re-publication free of charge under Creative Commons. It may be translated into any language and republished anywhere in the world. Editing is permitted of the article(s). You may edit my article(s) and bio to correct spelling, grammar, word usage and any misstatement of facts.

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If you edit and publish my article(s) the only request is that the intended meaning in my article(s) not be changed or taken out of context. You may use the suggested graphics, which to the best of my knowledge are available free under Creative Commons, but I cannot guarantee that they may be used without the permission of their creator and/or owner. You may select your own choice of graphics, pictures and /and or videos (or none) that complement the intended meaning of my article. Please share and distribute this article widely. My contact email is jeff@brownlanglois.com.

What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution (8/8)

May 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

 

ForWhat the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution (8/8) years I have talked about “White Trash Revolutions”, and the emergence of the Yellow Vests proves that my finger is perfectly on the pulse of things: the only people publicly wearing “Yellow Vests” on the streets of Paris prior to November 17, 2018, were… garbage men.

So, imagine me, with my love of Trash Revolutions of all hues (Iran’s 1979 “Revolution of the Barefooted” amounts to the same idea)… and then the French adopted the look of trash collectors as their uniform – I couldn’t be happier!!!

But this idea is not new – even in modern 24/7 politics, genuine historical processes take years or decades to culminate. In 2016, following the election of Donald Trump in the United States, Slavov Zizek expressed the same idea offhandedly: “Sorry, White Trash is our only hope. We have to win them over.”

I could not agree more. But we must go further than just “winning over Trash” – we must let them win.

That is the essence of China’s Cultural Revolution.

I penned this 8-part series because the Yellow Vests show us – urgently, courageously, necessarily, violently – just how relevant China’s Cultural Revolution (CR) should be to Westerns in 2019.

If you have not read the previous 7 parts of this series (and know only anti-CR propaganda) then you may not realize the China’s CR proved how good, productive, efficient and equal society can be – democratically, economically, educationally and culturally – when rural people are supported instead of insulted.

This entire series has not been designed to celebrate China or socialism – it has been written to show what happens when the rural-urban divide is seriously addressed in modern politics, as it was in China during the CR in an unprecedented manner. Society has many seemingly irreconcilable poles of contention – the only one this series seriously addresses is the rural-urban divide.

The CR showed that solutions to this seemingly irreconcilable divide are possible if we accept that Trash is our only hope and not – as the urban-based Mainstream Media insists – the cause of our ills.

Not everyone in a small town is a farmer, but the exclusion of village values is obviously why France’s rural traffic roundabouts have been blockaded for 5.5 months (the government started banning these rural protests on May 11).

More than anything, I think that studying and emulating the CR can end the urban West’s hatred, fear and disgust of rural citizens in power. Islamophobia – every definition includes the fear of Islam as a political force – is pretty bad, but Hillbillyophobia – fear of rural values as a political force – is truly at a modern apex. Thus this series.

The world has seen 2 Cultural Revolutions already – is the West finally ready for 1?

This series used the CR to to illustrate that France and the West are 50 years behind China because they are being wracked by a Yellow Vest movement which is essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution which the Chinese already had. However, because the neoliberal empire known as the European Union has been undemocratically forced on Europe during the interim, the French have even more work to do than 1960s China, but the first step is to realize that the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution.

That IS what this is all about every Saturday – Yellow Vests want institutions to cease their terrible functioning, every major policy to come up for review (constitutional changes, staying in the EU, Eurozone and NATO, Françafrique, austerity spending policies, taxation policies, environmental policies, banking, education, housing, industrialisation, etc.) and new local, grassroots groups to implement them – a Cultural Revolution.

Like Iran from 1980-83 (Iran had the world’s only other state-sponsored Cultural Revolution, obviously modelled on China’s), like China from 1965-74, France wants several years where everything is brought to a halt in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating French democracy and French culture in order to accord with more modern political ideals.

Capitalists cannot tolerate such a halting. Not only because it would lead to a reduction in their power, and not only because modern political ideals must be Socialist Democratic and not Liberal Democratic – it is also a cultural thing: “keep calm and carry on” is the fundamental ethos of conservatism worldwide.

The two Cultural Revolution have said: “To hell with this – halt! Now waitaminut…. what on earth have we become and should we keep being like this?” Both CRs also led to miniature civil wars, as reactionary or fascist forces, and insanely radical and democratically unwanted leftist forces (like the Mojahedin-e Khalq – MKO), were pushed out.

And, after the halt, as the trajectories of both China and Iran show amazing success. They started over (revolution), then stopped (cultural revolution), then restarted anew yet again.

A Cultural Revolution – China and Iran prove – does something the US and French Revolutions did not do: put into power the formerly-oppressed class of people, which is also the majority class. These four revolutions all eliminated monarchies, but only the former two put the oppressed in charge.

(I do not call the French or American aristocracies “oppressed”, as they previously colluded with the king and shared in the ill-gotten gains – call me a radical, I guess.)

The Yellow Vests are this oppressed class which deserves to lead, and which would certainly lead the country better than France’s current leaders. Everybody in France knows this, but they feel powerless to make it happen. The Yellow Vests are also – everyone in France knows this as well – the majority class. The conditions for Cultural Revolution – for Trash Revolution – are as clear as the yellow vests of garbagemen who wear reflective gear to avoid traffic.

Yes, the Yellow Vests are not solely the result of an untreated urban divide, but anyone following them knows that this is one of the primary causes of the movement.

Those who have been following this series will know what I mean: what should rural “Jimo County, France” be demanding in their nascent French Cultural Revolution?

It’s a genuine political question to ask: is the future only for cities?

Modernized countries need to honestly ask themselves: should humanity’s goal be to empty the rural areas of people?

Are rural areas that bad? That depressing, boring, backward and hate-filled?

The rural-urban migration of the past century is universal, but do we not need any rural inhabitants? Will robots, drones and computers allow everyone to live in supposedly-superior urban areas? Are the values which flourish in rural areas more often than in urban areas not necessary for human culture any more – are these values only hindrances to human progress?

Because if the answer is: “No – rural areas will always have some people; farming areas will never be so efficient as to not need human involvement; rural people actually do learn a useful thing or two about life which city people don’t learn,” then we have no choice but to tackle the urban-rural divide as much as other key societal divides.

So, when we realize that we must clearly affirm that, “Yes, we need rural areas,” that necessarily implies a huge overhaul of value systems in the modern capitalist West, which has become hugely urban dominated. The aspects of this dominance – the financial futures exchanges, mass media, only-urban cultural hubs, the denigration of a collective ethos inherent in rural communities, etc. – are so obvious and so numerous that I don’t need to list them here. The path of history shows that the era of Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of farmer-citizen-soldier have been totally jettisoned in the West, probably due to the industrial/electrical/digital revolutions. However, China’s CR showed how necessary it was to re-balance the scales in favor of the country life.

What is more interesting is to discuss how specific policies of the China’s CR could be translated to the West. The Iranian CR was the democratically demanded introduction of Islam into governance, which resulted in what is clearly Iranian Islamic Socialism (out in book form this summer, Inshallah), but I don’t think the West is interested in religion-based ideas anymore – they have deluded themselves into thinking that religion is always regressive, never progressive. (The West prefers secular zero-theism – which is actually the bleakest and most egotistical version of monotheism, because zero is not a plural number, after all.)

But what are being demanded are cultural changes. These precede and influence political changes.

On the level of practical politics, which I will discuss later, I will be sweeping and brief here: neoliberalism (and free-market capitalism) is incompatible with democracy, and we all know it, and thus this particular version of the pan-European project is inherently anti-democratic; the historic heavy, urban-based statism of France is an anti-democratic legacy of the Napoleonic “revolution”; the 1789 French “revolution” was bourgeois and thus not democratic… 2019 France has to stop holding on to all of these falsely progressive legacies. China’s CR – and all forms of socialism – prove that local, socialist democracy is the only guarantee of success and stability. But back to cultural changes….

Above all, a Western Cultural Revolution must begin with an urban mea culpa – the gift of apology is the only way to start in any such situation of familial division and bad blood, which is what France currently has. Even Jesus son of Mary said the same thing, according to Matthew 5:23 – Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

After reconciliation comes actual gifts – reparations – in order to even the scales in the favor of rural areas.

But reparations and admission of arrogance/imperialism is verboten in capitalist societies – what the CR proves is that the rural-urban divide can only be healed through a collective mentality, not an individualist mentality: the urban individual must renounce their alleged superiority.

That is the primary psycho-cultural message of the Yellow Vests; the proof of this is obvious in the exaggerated hatred of President Emmanuel Macron.

His aloofness and arrogance are unprecedented in modern times, I agree, but his anti-democratic methods and beliefs are not at all different from his predecessor, Francois Hollande. Perhaps his anti-democratic methods and beliefs are 10-15% worse than Hollande’s, but many Yellow Vests only want Macron to quit simply because they have been so deranged by Macron’s urban sense of entitlement that they lose their sense of scope – I hear it often from Vesters every Saturday. But, just like Trump, Macron is the symptom and not the disease.

Macron has become a symbol of what we can call the “anti-CR forces in France”, and the danger is that if the symbol falls – if Macron actually quits – that could stave off the demand for an actual French Cultural Revolution. Certainly, Macron’s puppet-masters will allow him to resign before they allow the sweeping discussions and changes of a CR.

Thus the first step towards reducing the rural-urban divide in the West begins with a revalorisation of rural areas. As long as mainstream journalists continue insisting on a “red state-blue state” divide, no nation can possibly be united, healthy and successful.

This revaluing is a cultural change – what about practical measures?

The CR sent politicians to do farm work – no wonder the Western political class hates the idea of a CR

The disease which roils the West is something which socialism is based on, and especially Maoism, and which was ably demonstrated in the Great Leap Forward – the collective mentality must triumph over the individualist mentality. Indeed, I fairly refer to the CR as the “Great Leap Forward #2” because the CR was an unquestionable restarting of collectivist projects.

But Westerners don’t wanna! To hell with the collective!

The collective line – which in Western Liberal Democracy is only limited to preserving the solidarity of the 1% among themselves – is really rather religious in its view, as it is based on the idea of something larger than just the individual and goes far beyond day-to-day concerns.

Nor is it mere nationalism, which is just a larger, modern version of tribalism. In neoliberal capitalism the loyalty is only to one’s self and family (and often not even to family, but one’s “household” within the necessarily multi-household “family”… and often not even to one’s household!), so it does not even achieve tribalism. How someone can live without a view of something larger than one’s own self is beyond me – it is truly to live without honor, and only with ego.

(In order to prove the enormous socioeconomic success of the CR, this book drew heavily from the ground-breaking investigative & scholarly work The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village, by Dongping Han, a former Chinese villager himself. Han hailed from and studied rural Jimo County, interviewing hundreds of locals about the Cultural Revolution (CR) and poring over local historical records. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my new book, Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, which is available for purchase. This 8-part series is not a part of that book.)

Accordingly, Han relates the motivation of someone who worked for free on Jimo’s irrigation project during the CR: “She said that she, like others, volunteered to work at these projects at the time because it was an honorable thing to do.”

The major problem in Western capitalism is that their people are not lacking in honor – that would be untrue, as well as insulting: the problem is they do not believe their governments should promote selflessness and honor, as morality is a strictly personal issue. In China, Cuba, Iran and other socialist democratic-based systems, maybe everybody ignores the government’s morality campaigns, LOL, but such campaigns exist, at least, and thus surely have an impact (and a positive one).

A lesson of the CR is that if the government does not promote a “collective mentality”, then there is no “free-market magic” which can reliably conjure up the same necessary feeling, action and outcome.

But promotion is not leadership – leadership is done by doing! Perhaps the Chinese had a leg up in understanding this concept, as Confucianism stresses leadership by example.

“After the failure of the Great Leap Forward , many farmers in Jimo were so bitter about the food shortages that they declared they would not do any more work for the commune. Why, then, were Jimo farmers willing to work hard for the collective during the Cultural Revolution? What was behind this change of attitude? Some workers and farmers testified that the practice of cadres’ participation in production during the Cultural Revolution made an important difference. They said that when leaders worked hard, common villagers would work hard with them. … More importantly, village youth, politically emboldened through the Cultural Revolution conflicts and educated in the new schools, were ready to challenge party leaders if they did not work with ordinary people. … Common villagers would not tolerate lazy leaders. If leaders did not work, villagers refused to work as well, which would lead to a decline in production and living standards. If the leaders did not work hard, villagers would elect someone else to replace them in the year-end election, someone who was ready to work hard.” (emphasis mine)

Now Macron constantly says that he works hard, but he does not work hard with ordinary people – therein lies a world of difference.

It is impossible for an unempathetic leader (as Macron clearly is), who has never worked a regular, dreary, timeclock-punching job in his life (as Macron never has) to make policies which benefit the average worker when he has no idea what an average worker goes through.

I include that passage because it is a fascinating phenomenon, seemingly unique to Chinese socialism – it is a dagger in the heart of Western technocratism. I wonder: how it can be replicated? Did Mao or Fidel spend time working in the fields at 55 years old? LOL, an elder-worshipping Iranian would probably commit suicide before being forced to watch Khamenei, 80, do hard labor in front of them (the guy already lost use of his right arm due to a bomb from the MKO, so how much more effort should he give?).

But what if Macron spent just one week working at a farm? I think his approval rating would rise 10 points immediately!

Macron is 41 – is he just lazy? Is he so effete that he doesn’t like hard & sweaty work? Or is it that he is trying to cultivate an image of someone who is “above” or “smarter than” everybody else in France, and thus only deigns to spend his time on a “superior” type of work? It’s clearly the latter – Macron is trying to cultivate the image that his mind and soul are too valuable, too finely-tuned, to waste on lower-class work.

(But it’s really surprising that a young Western leader doesn’t do these types of propaganda ops. If anybody in the Iranian government is reading this: I will GLADLY work a pistachio farm for months, even years at a time – sheesh, that sounds like heaven, as I write this from the most-population dense city in the Western world. (Y’all would have to pay to store my stuff, though. I guess I’d lose my apartment in Paris. Not that I own it, of course, but it is SO HARD just to find a long-term apartment to rent here – I moved 10 times in my first 3.5 years in France.) Anyway, I predict that in the future, with viral videos and the omnipresence of screens, there will be some leader who takes advantage of every country’s love of hard work – and this will be denounced as “populism” by general population-hating capitalists.)

Crucially, Han writes, “They participated in manual labor more conscientiously than their predecessors had. In some localities it was stipulated that members of the county revolution committee had to participate in manual labor for about two hundred days a year, and members of the commune revolutionary committees had to work in the fields for more than two hundred days a year.”

How can these ideas be applied elsewhere? Could we possibly imagine President Macron working manual labor for 8 hours a day for 10 days, much less 200? What about Theresa May working at an elder care center? These ideas are delicious but ludicrous – certainly, their defense would be that they have “more important things to do”. They are “above” such work; such work would degrade their incredible abilities.

These unstated, but universally perceived, beliefs, is a real problem – the CR solved this problem; thus this series.

This is a huge, flaming, primary message of the CR – rural toil (but also factory toil, service sector toil, or other toiling lower and middle class jobs) is indispensable in creating good governors. There is only one clear solution – joining the masses at work – and yet it would take a CR in the West for such things to occur.

I have relayed Han’s data which show the economic, industrial educational explosion for rural areas – seeing the cultural changes the CR wrought on their local political leaders: How fortunate (and superior) is the Chinese system that they had the CR?

Such practices are inherently anti-technocratic: a politician with a PhD who has to work some manual labor may be a worse technocrat, due to less time spent wonking out, but he or she is a better human being and governor.

Han relates a great story: A respected Peoples’ Liberation Army veteran returned to Jimo after four years in the army, to much acclaim, and he was elected secretary of a village Communist Youth League. He was asked to work on the irrigation project, which involved four people pushing a wheelbarrow of mud weighing 1,000 pounds. “But his army life had never put him to the test of such hard work.” The leader could not do the work, and thus was the naozheng – the incompetent person – in the group. He was not re-elected the following year.

“It was important that leaders could talk high-sounding words, but they had to live up to what they said at the same time. Otherwise nobody would listen to them. … The CCP’s policy then was: yu chenfen, dan bu wei chenfen (class labels are important, but they are not the exclusive factor in judging a person).”

I find it very hard to believe any demonstrating Yellow Vest wouldn’t agree with these policies and beliefs of the CR; putting politicians to work would be Yellow Vest demand #26 if they only knew about it.

Macron does not appear very physically strong… but that is no matter. What is important is that he only finally said the words “Yellow Vests” in public on April 25rd – he clearly has no interest in working shoulder to shoulder with them, no matter what job we can find for him to not be the naozheng at.

Why would such a sensible policy – forcing politicians to do SOME real work – likely be opposed by supporters of Liberal Democracy? Because forcing them to do things they personally don’t want to do is an alleged violation of Western individualist rights. The irony, of course, is that the 1740-1840 heyday of Liberal Democracy rested upon the stolen wages of slaves. And when the slave-masters were forced to work in the countryside – what a horror the CR was!

I don’t see it that way at all. I think, especially when tied to promises of advancement, it is a perfect apprenticeship for future politicians. China knows that, and they are sending another 10 million urban cadres to the countryside – more well-rounded, respectful leaders in the future for China thanks to CR 2.0.

The Cultural Revolution lessons for modern schools

Culture is taught – it is not inbred. Thus a revolution in education is just as fundamental as a revolution in the “work” of politicians. The CR grasped this as well.

I would be remiss not to include a short section on education in this final part. Previous parts of this series examined Han’s data and conclusions regarding educational policy changes, because giving equal access to education – and making schooling truly egalitarian and not urban-elite based nor technocratic – was truly a primary, if not the primary, motivation and goal of the CR. I reiterate Han’s thesis and data, which I gave in Part 1, because it is so necessary: “…this study contends that that the political convulsions of the Cultural Revolution democratized village political culture and spurred the growth of rural education, leading to substantial and rapid economic development.” Education change is the middle link between political culture change and economic change.

Firstly, there is a major problem of gender imbalance in modern schools: in Iran and seemingly all other modernised areas women outperform men, including at security spots i at university. This is not a cause for celebration, but a huge problem.

If men were outperforming women, we would say that there is some sort of prejudice occurring or, as is the case now, the system is simply set up for young men to fail more often than young women, correct? You never hear this view in the West, as their societies are far more matriarchal than in Asia.

But China’s Cultural Revolution did what I think all schools should do: not simply “be schools”.

It is something like a crime against humanity how young, fun, spirit-filled boys are forced to wedge themselves behind a desk for their entire youth. The Cultural Revolution did what many boys find fun – doing stuff: they had to work on a farm, a workshop, a lab, and even money-making activities. That all beats “school” for young and teenage boys.

Crucially, these are all activities which educate kids on the serious facts of life, facts which are vital for happiness far more than yet more technocratic learning.

A teenager who cuts grass, picks up garbage or simply breaks rocks for 7 hours one day a week learns many things. Among them: if you do not study you will be doing this boring work for the rest of your life; hard work is needed to maintain society; manual labor is hard, and thus those who do it must be respected; “boring” or toiling labor requires just as much attention and effort as “office work”, or mental work, and thus must be respected; some jobs wear humans out faster than others, and thus social safety nets – with different rules – are required to avoid widespread misery.

But in a capitalist system, which is technocratic and not meritocratic, 21st century students are incredibly overburdened by testing and homework.

Of course: this is primarily a result of forcing competition via false scarcities in education and jobs – forcing competition is what free market/neoliberal societies are built upon, of course. The CR recognised this and I relayed Han’s detailing of the enormous explosion in rural school creation.

But Liberal Democratic supporters will insist that schools must remain dull and conservative with nihilistic claims such as: “School is just a way to make sheep; is really just child care, because both parents have to work in order to survive; societal masters are only interested in creating compliant cubicle drones, human robots for factory work, and subservient service industry slaves.” I agree: in capitalist countries.

But in socialist countries, where power has been devolved to workers and away from the 1%/technocratic class, other educational policies ARE possible and ARE implemented. Because the Chinese Communist Party explicitly sought to reduce the influence of schoolteachers, and to reduce China’s longstanding over-admiration for them, it is thus little wonder that schoolteachers across the West have zero interest in teaching the truth about the CR!

A Yellow Vest CR must include major educational reform:

Exclusive book learning that used mainly the rote method was opposed. During the educational reforms, the concept of education was greatly broadened to include productive labor and many other related activities. Education was no longer limited to reading books inside the classroom; learning could take place in the workshops and on the farms, and many other places. Teachers were not considered to have a monopoly on knowledge. Workers and farmers and soldiers could all impart experiential knowledge to students. In fact, even students might know something the teachers did not know.

Socialism rests on two pillars: redistribution of money and redistribution of political power. Redistributing political power in the realm of education can have enormously positive impacts on how rural societies view, and benefit from, schooling.

The Yellow Vests want a Cultural Revolution – will it succeed? Right now, I’d say ‘No”

Brexit, the election of Trump and the Yellow Vests – these are all viewed as horrifically negative historical & sociopolitical developments in the West’s fake-leftist and elite circles. The Yellow Vests are yet another “basket of deplorables” who have been rendered insane by… what exactly? Racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism….

Firstly, we should ask, in order to find parallels: did China’s deplorables have these problems of prejudice and “identity politics” when their CR started in 1966? Or what about Iran’s barefooted?

No, neither did – that cannot be disputed – and the reason why is indicative of why I feel the Yellow Vests will not achieve their revolutionary goals:

Iran and China already had governments inspired by socialism when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not. State-sponsored efforts to end prejudice is just one of many, many proofs which show how much more politically-advanced China and Iran were when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions than the Yellow Vests are.

I am not blaming the Yellow Vests: because the West has totally rejected socialism’s advances and ethos – unlike Iran and China – they have many types of reactionary problems which China and Iran did not suffer from as strongly at the time of their CRs.

There is a tremendous amount of political regression among the Yellow Vests and their leaders, who have aims which are merely incremental improvements and not truly a new French order. This was illustrated by my last articleA French cop on why French cops will never join the Yellow Vests – many Vesters not only expect but want the cops to join them… even though it cannot and should not work because they are the devoted dogs of the reactionary order! Whoever heard of a revolution were the forces of order remained unchanged? Is France still stuck in hippie, utopian 1960s thinking?! Perhaps they are… it leads to regression, individualism and nihilism.

This political-cultural backwardness and conservatism of many Yellow Vests cannot cannot be repaired by an 8-part series, nor by protests which only attracted 2% (1.3 million) of the nation on its biggest day (the first Yellow Vest demonstration, on November 17, 2018, – data according to a police union, not the French Interior Ministry).

So when I wrote that “everyone knows” the Yellow Vests are the majority, that is true – the problem is that they don’t act like it!

It is amazing how effectively the French political class is able to suppress polling about the Yellow Vests. This suppression coincided with March 23, when President Emmanuel Macron deployed the army, unveiled even harsher measures of repression and banned of urban demonstrations. The latest poll I can find, from a month ago (even though this is the most important issue in French society) still has their approval rating at 50%, and that follows months of anti-Yellow Vest propaganda.

But being a Yellow Vest and merely supporting the Yellow Vests are two different things entirely. After all, the latter can be appeased even more easily than a right-wing Yellow Vest can be bought off. The Yellow Vests are the cultural majority but not the political majority.

Therefore, what the Yellow Vests are is this: they are the nation’s political vanguard party.

However – there is no “nation” anymore. There is no more political and economic sovereignty in Europe, and that is a concrete, structural, “rule of law” reality and not hyperbole.

The prime adulthood of France, and 41-year old Macron exemplifies this 100%, is full of people who grew up being culturally inculcated into blindly and hysterically supporting not modern socialist democratic ideals, but instead the neoliberal empire known as the European Union, and also the even more undemocratic banking empire known as the Eurozone.

Therefore, there is no “France” for the Yellow Vests to be – as they should – raised upon the People’s shoulders and put into power nationwide; the Yellow Vests, thus, have to be a pan-European movement in order to succeed in their aims. We are talking about an order of magnitude, here.

The reality is that the Yellow Vest movement reflects the same schizophrenia as most Western governments and societies: this is succinctly encapsulated by a favourite phrase and policy of the West’s – “humanitarian intervention” (whatever that is – as though nations were dogs which were humanely euthanised).

Vesters are certainly clearer than most – this is why they are the vanguard party, i.e. the most enlightened local leaders – but they also partially suffer from the tremendous cognitive dissonance and intellectual fog caused by the intersection of European neo-imperialism, bourgeois-centered European Enlightenment ideals, and the undemocratic concepts and political structures of the liberal democratic European Union empire.

Yellow Vests, especially on the right-wing of their spectrum, are often so blinded by their “glorious” view of France’s (bourgeois) “revolutionary history that they have not updated their political thought in 200+ years – they don’t want to admit their revolution was not enough; that they probably need a true revolution before a 2nd revolution; that the CRs of Chain and Iran should be their model.

And yet they do admit this….

Simply review number 7 on the list of their 25 primary demands: “Rewriting a Constitution by the people and for the interest the sovereign people.” It’s the latter part which would require a revolution in French/Western culture because it is obviously rooted in socialist democratic ideals; the people were not sovereign in US and French Revolutions (the only Western nations to have revolutions), as non-Whites, women and the poor, landless masses were all most glaringly excluded, of course.

This “they do but they don’t” is exactly why French society is both “revolutionary” in self-conception but incredibly reactionary in practice.

It would take a Cultural Revolution to sort out these issues, and that is what the Yellow Vests are truly asking for; it is the leftist ones which are willing to slough off the ancient husk of 1789, not the right-wing Vesters.

Any way you look at it, two things are clear: the Yellow Vests still have very far to go, and victory will look like Cultural Revolution.

Series Conclusion

This series emphatically demonstrated that China’s post-1980 economic success did not start with Deng Xiaoping’s reforms but instead was built upon on the Cultural Revolution’s hugely successful creation of human, educational, and economic capital in China’s rural areas.

By focusing on and promoting the values of the rural areas, China has soared past us all today – this is the hidden lesson of the CR and the genius of Maoism.

Han’s book, this series, and the lessons of the Cultural Revolution should have tremendous interest for developing countries – the CR is a blueprint for lifting essentially non-industrial societies into the socioeconomic stratosphere. The blueprint is not provided by the IMF – they have certainly had decades of chances.

The idea that China’s success is due to being a “Western sweatshop” is, it is rarely remembered, merely a way to credit the West for China’s success. No, it is due to Chinese innovations and adaptions of ideas already present around the globe.

A key flaw in Western capitalist allegations that the CR was simply a way for Mao to gain control: if that’s true – what could he have possibly gained by encouraging criticism of Confucius? The CCP was already in control – there was no “pro-Confucian Party” which was taking the CCP’s power. Confucianism is an inherently conservative ideal – why rock that boat? Bring up this point to those who are anti-CR and they will certainly be totally flummoxed.

But criticising Confucianism – which is such a thrillingly productive and superbly admirable philosophy which I have learned much from for years – was a way to pull down the dominant class and replace it with the oppressed classes.

However, Chinese culture remains incredibly Confucian, any Chinese person will tell you. I predict that one day the ubiquitous phrase “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” will be replaced with a regional generalisation of “Confucian Socialism”, and this phrase will describe not just China but include Vietnam, Korea and (hopefully) others. This is exactly the same as how “Iranian Islamic Socialism” is a variant of the larger “Islamic Socialism”. These truths are self-evident, if not yet fully flowered….

When discussing the anti-Confucius campaigns, Han writes: “But it had specific meaning for ordinary people. The major theme of the campaign was to criticize the elitist mentality in Chinese culture. It promoted Mao’s idea that the masses are the motive force of history and that the elite are sometimes stupid while working people are intelligent. These were not empty words. Villagers toiled all year round, supplying the elite with grain, meat and vegetables. But they were made to feel stupid in front of the elite. They did not know how to talk with the elite, and accepted the stigma of stupidity the elite gave to them.

This idea – that rural Trash are stupid, that urban leaders are right to view themselves as “elite” – is something which has to be remedied in the West, or else Western society can never be whole. The rural-urban divide is the most urgent divide in the West today, but the CR shows it can be resolved.

Unfortunately, because they adhere to capitalism-imperialism, many nation in the West are not trying to be united at all – their people subsist on contempt for “the other” as well as competition to join the 1%, as capitalism-imperialism ceaselessly instructs them.

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This was the final article in an 8-part series which examined Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Part 1 – A much-needed revolution in discussing China’s Cultural Revolution: an 8-part series

Part 2 – The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution

Part 3 – Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China?

Part 4 – How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’

Part 5 – Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?

Part 6 – How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fuelled their 1980s boom

Part 7 – Ending a Cultural Revolution can only be counter-revolutionary

Part 8 – What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution

Ending a Cultural Revolution Can Only Be Counter-Revolutionary (7/8)

May 10, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Ending a Cultural Revolution Can Only Be Counter-Revolutionary (7/8)

Well, you can end a Cultural Revolution without being a counter-revolutionary, I suppose, but not if you do what China did: reverse many of the progressive policies of the Cultural Revolution, and often without the People’s consent.

This series has examined the ground-breaking investigative & scholarly work The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village, by Dongping Han, a former Chinese villager himself. Han hailed from and studied rural Jimo County, interviewing hundreds of locals about the Cultural Revolution (CR) and poring over local historical records. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my new bookI’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China.

Even more than Mao and the Great Leap Forward, Western Propaganda on the CR truly turns black into white. Perhaps no political event – and certainly no successful political event – is so misunderstood, negated and shrouded in misinformation and ignorance… thus this 8-part series!

What Han demonstrates is that the CR was the first effort in Chinese history to empower the average peasant against Chinese officialdom, and the results were spectacular. I keep referring to this handy mathematical summary of mine from Part 1: “You just read about 2 times more food and 2 times more money for the average Chinese person, 14 times more horsepower (which equates to 140 times manpower), 50 times more industrial jobs, 30 times more schools and 10 times more teachers during the CR decade in rural areas.

A rededication to socialism brought more than just economic virtues, but moral ones as well, per Han: “The social vices like official corruption, prostitution, drug abuse, fake products and others that plague Chinese society today were completely absent at the end of the Cultural Revolution.”

But despite the introduction of the Industrial Revolution to China’s rural areas, despite the exponential increases in educational empowerment, despite the fact that the CR represented the first-ever effort to democratically empower rural Chinese against officialdom, despite a decade of generating the irreplaceable human capital upon which China’s 2019 success obviously rests… with the death of Mao China famously turned its back on the CR.

Let’s see what happened, and then discuss why it was a counter-revolution.

CR officials get ousted: meet the new boss, who truly was the old boss

After Mao’s death rebel leaders began to be rounded up. (As I explained in Part 5Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?: China had, per Han, the “Rebel Red Guard Faction”, which were spontaneous, grassroots “mass associations”, pitted against the “Loyalist Red Guard Faction”, which were status quo-defending, established, “mass organisations”.) From late 1977 to early 1979 Jimo County saw purges, with few rebel leaders keeping their posts.

Who was restored? Those whom held office before the CR.

That was no quick feat, because the CR had been supported by the center and left of the Chinese political spectrum. But by 1983, “Every government office, school, factory and village was ordered to purge former rank-and-file rebels. Officials who had lost their positions at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution brought charges against individual rebels against whom they held grudges.” Han relates this was a prelude to a larger “official gouge” in rural areas in the 1980s and 1990s.

Selfless asceticism from Party officials abiding by the codes of conduct relayed in Mao’s Little Red Book and working in the fields were no longer expected. Corruption and bribery increased, children of officials got cushy jobs instead of spreading night soil, the right to use big character posters (China’s version of a free press, in no exaggeration) was excised from the constitution, Deng’s “manger responsibility” system – which gave them the authority to determine salaries – was installed.

All of that is obviously contrary to the values of the CR and in line with many Western values: no wonder the West hates the CR!

Despite these changes, to sweepingly say that “China abandoned socialism after Mao” is still nonsense because the CCP remained the vanguard party charged with protecting the 1949 revolution; China’s political system did not revert to liberal (bourgeois) democracy; China did not engage in imperialistic wars and etc. and etc. and etc.

There is the desire by many anti-socialists to see a child’s lemonade stand in socialist countries and to run away screaming: “They’ve gone capitalist!” Such absurdity is only in the self-interest of capitalism promoters, of course, but I will deal with this later. There is also a tendency among the most ardent pro-socialists to view any minor regression as proof that socialist has been betrayed and murdered.

The CR had – Han undoubtedly proves via statistics, anecdotes and analysis – brought such incredible life, power, hope and success to China’s rural areas, and the end of collectivization was a negative societal shock. Yes, the collectives had never developed evenly – that’s to be expected – but Han relates that the collectives had indeed worked for Jimo County, and that Jimo citizens opposed disbanding them in favor of the “household responsibility” system. Jimo’s county officials, along with 17 other neighboring counties, had their officials removed for dragging their feet in implementing this change.

Thus, what happened during the Deng era was very similar to the end of the USSR in that it was unexpected, unwanted and not voted on. “There was no state-sanctioned public debate about the merits or shortcomings of either collective farming or the household responsibility system.”

It should be unsurprising that data shows how rural production fell after 1983, when land was divided among Jimo County farmers: what good are huge farming machines on small family plots? How can the use of such machines be effectively coordinated among hundreds of farmers? In some villages they decided it was better to break up the machinery and sell it for scrap. Fights broke out among farmers over who could use the irrigation system, as there was no more collective solidarity. Draft animals were slaughtered to avoid arguments, further decreasing farming productivity. This is all obviously quite sad and a regression in Jimo County and across rural China.

Tiny individual plots – instead of socialist solidarity – naturally led to the need for more manual labor, which meant more children withheld from school to work on the farm: The number of teachers and staff remained the same, but high school students in Jimo County went from 20,000 in 1977 to 5,700 in 1987. This is also due to the reforms of 1978, which re-established key/magnet schools. Many schools were closed in the name of “efficiency”: Han shows how from 1976 to 1987 Jimo’s middle schools went from 249 to 106; they had 89 high schools in 1976, but just 7 in 1993. This is what happens anywhere when the guiding value is not “equality” but “efficiency”; “efficiency”, especially in Western nations, is usually a code-word for, “Because we want to give more tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.”

Han relates how Jimo’s experience mirrors that of the rest of rural China since the education “reforms”. Textbooks again became standardized nationwide, and were urban-focused (of course). In 1977 the national college entrance exam was reintroduced, and Han relates “…it has once again systematically drained talent from China’s rural areas, in the same manner as before the Cultural Revolution. Talented rural children leave home to go to college and few return. … Instead of being oriented to serve rural development, schools became an avenue to joining the urban elite. … The divorce of school curriculum from rural life has put rural children in a disadvantaged position because it is harder to study subjects that have no connections with their lives.

Some readers will assume that such trends are inevitable – they have not read Part 6: The repatriation of young educated people back to their home villages – to serve those who had truly funded their education in the first place – was a huge factor in training up the human capital which led to the incredible exponential economic growth in rural areas during the CR decade.

The rural enterprises, which had been collectively owned, were now often rented to party officials or managers for a fixed rent or sold outright to them. The CR was designed to benefit the People and the Party – the post-CR reforms benefitted the Party and then the People. This is not terrible, because at least “the Party” is not Western 1%ers, but neither is it superb, egalitarian socialism. Make no mistake: the Chinese Communist Party is alive, well, thriving, secure and economically impregnable – it seems certain they are the most powerful economic force in the world – and much of their wealth was produced during the CR decade.

But, clearly, what the end of the CR meant was: a return to the pre-CR era and Party norms.

But the biggest way it was a “return to the pre-CR era” is not in the economic redistribution, but in a decaying of the other of socialism’s two pillars: political power redistribution.

During the Cultural Revolution decade, village party secretaries had to share decision making power with a number of production team leaders, and their power was checked by a cohesive village population bound together by common public interests….The village party secretaries have gained most from the changes in power relations resulting from the division of land. During the Cultural Revolution decade, village party secretaries had to share decision making power with a number of production team leaders, and their power was also checked by a cohesive village population bound together by common public interests. The division of land eliminated the production team leaders – the most important check on village party secretaries – and also fragmented the village population, concentrating power in the hands of the village party secretaries.”

This is the counter-revolution I am referring to. However, it is a counter-revolution within an already revolutionary society, therefore it is not so very terrible – just as a “right-winger” in a socialist system is still far to the left of a leftist in a Western capitalist system.

Forget about your complaints of the inadequacies of the global political spectrum – the fortunate difference for the Chinese was: a socialist system is fundamentally not predatory in a capitalist sense, and the CR’s gains meant the Party had even more to redistribute than prior to the CR; a regression within a socialist system is infinitely less societally-damaging than regression in a capitalist system.

Han provides proof of this easily-understandable reality and logic: even though rural per capita grain consumption decreased 8% from 1975 to 1985, income increased 700%, far more than inflation (keep in mind that is per capita, not a median). Why? Because economic planning led by a vanguard party is a hell of a lot more effective and sane than relying solely on the “magic of market forces” of the modern neoliberal West (which are really just oligarchical forces). It was only comprehended by relatively few in 1849, but it should be crystal clear to the majority in 2019: management of an industry, factory or business by a socialist party secretary is far, far qualitatively different – in terms of planning, goals, national benefit, etc. – than management by an isolated and self-interested capitalist entrepreneur (not to mention a foreign and self-interested capitalist entrepreneur).

Is there is no freedom without economic freedom: first comes the money, then the democratic empowerment at your job and home? The CR proves rather otherwise – first comes the democratic empowerment then the economic freedom? Frankly, I am not interested in re-arguing if the chicken or the egg came first, because in socialism BOTH ideals are strived for and operate in a dialectic.

On a practical level: Obviously, going from a collective ownership to individual ownership drastically changed the nature of work in terms of job security and safe working conditions. The fragmentation of the collectives has – of course – fragmented the power of farmers; they have the freedom to sell whatever they want, but they lack stability, cohesiveness and solidarity because they are more capitalist.

In 1983, with the dissolution of the collectives, free medical care naturally ceased as well. The “five guarantees” introduced after 1949 – food, clothes, fuel, education and a funeral – were gone. Farmers who gave the best years of their lives to the collective found they were without financial support in their old age.

“Villagers said: ‘xinxin kuku sanshi nian, yi yie huidao jiefang qian’ (we worked hard for thirty years to build up the collectives, but overnight we returned to the status quo before the liberation).” That is from an interview in Jimo Han did in 1990, so one hopes the situation is better for them 30 years later.

Whereas the collective used to pay the tax burden, “The new taxation system in rural China is very regressive. The tax burden is not based on farmers’ income but on the amount of land they farm. Consequently, the bigger a farmer’s income, the smaller the tax burden as a percentage of his income. Vice versa, the smaller a villager’s income, the bigger the tax burden he has to pay as a percentage of his land. … Tax policy, like other aspects of de-collectivization is promoting economic polarization in villages. This, of course, is the intended outcome. Deng Xiaoping himself expressed the view that small segment of the population should get rich first, so that this small segment of the population could lead the whole society towards progress. This was a good reflection of Deng Xiaoping’s elitist mentality.”

Again, it is absurd to say that China is not Communist – the reality is that there is a left and right spectrum in socialist democracy, and that the reversal of the CR was a right-wing move within a socialist revolution, and which did not reverse the socialist revolution.

Negating the Cultural Revolution – China should stop doing the West’s work for them

Han’s final chapter is titled Negating the Cultural Revolution for good reason: not only is the CR totally negated by the West, but the Chinese Communist Party obviously wound back many of its leftist advances despite the obvious success. The reason they did this is probably because leftist advances always undermine those in the 1% in any system. Again, we must reject the typical Western historical nihilism: the 1% in a socialist system is far, far better than the 1% in the neoliberal, neo-imperialist capitalist system.

The final irony regarding Western assessment of the “horrors” of the CR is how incredibly useful they actually were in promoting social good. Mao’s idea that government servants should be fearful of being caught waging corruption… this is somehow a negative thing in the West, and apparently was to Deng as well.

He (Deng) also announced that there would be no more political campaigns, which was like giving the officials a guarantee that they would not be harassed by the masses even if they were corrupt. Many officials slipped into their corrupt old ways very quickly.”

No more anti-corruption campaigns – the West doesn’t have to even make such a statement because capitalism is legalized corruption, after all.

Revolutionary fervor waxing and waning, waxing and waning – c’est la vie – I think it’s clear that in openly revolutionary nations, unlike the conservative nations of the West, such alternations will be more common. The good news is that the tide has turned – anti-corruption campaigns are back during the era of Xi Jinping.

Mao’s near-yearly anti-corruption campaigns, which culminated in a no-holds barred Cultural Revolution, must be examined with this counterview, if they are to be examined with a hint of objectivity and honesty. Of course, to a capitalist anyone persecuted by a socialist is always innocent of any charge….

Given that he wrote such a heckuva book, we should be interested in Han’s final words, which I humbly relate here:

The Chinese government’s official evaluation of the Cultural Revolution serves to underline the idea, currently very much in vogue around the world, that efforts to achieve development and efforts to attain social equality are contradictory. The remarkable currency of this idea in China and internationally is due, at least in part, to the fact that such an idea is so convenient to those threatened by efforts to attain social equality. This study of the history of Jimo County has challenged this idea. During the Cultural Revolution decade and in the two decades of market reform that followed, Jimo has experienced alternative paths, both of which have led to rural development. The difference in the paths was not between development and stagnation but rather between different kinds of development. The main conclusion I hope readers will draw from the experience of Jimo County during the Cultural Revolution decade is that measures to empower and educate people at the bottom of society can also serve the goal of economic development. It is not necessary to choose between pursuing social equality and pursuing economic development. The choice is whether or not to pursue social equality.”

Superbly put. An ending worth committing to memory.

Capitalism only chooses between stagnation and development – it would rather tolerate Lost Decades, as in the current Eurozone, rather than do something that China and Iran did: effectively shut down the country to honestly discuss national problems and to democratically agree on solutions which benefit the 99%. Capitalism is the alexithymic shark which must keep moving, or it dies.

China, with their renewed emphasis on corruption and equality, did not die nor implode. Iran, despite all the hot and cold war against them, remains firmly revolutionary domestically, admiringly anti-imperialist inernationally, and far more socialist in inspiration and practice than any Western nation. Even with the current US threat of $0 in oil sales (anything to stop Muslim democracy) there is seemingly no indication of a domestically counter-revolution of 1979’s ideals.

The Eurozone and the European Union desperately need a Cultural Revolution to democratically grapple with the structures they set in place decades ago which have created such rising economic inequality. That appears unlikely – these nations are not socialist-inspired.

This is why phrases like “social equality” contain no economic component in the West; use that phrase in the West and people will assume you are talking about racism or homophobia – they will never think you are referring to Marxist economic ideas or the idea of class.

A pity for them….

The Cultural Revolution empowered China’s poorest (rural peasants) and that created economic growth: a correlation for the West would be for those in the US to give vast sums of money and power to their Black underclass – such an idea seems impossible; the same goes for the Muslim underclass in France. Critically, both of these neo-imperialists view the exclusion of the poor from the hallways of power as absolutely fundamental to the success of their respective nations: “Blacks/Musulmans in power? Never/Jamais! They don’t have the right values/ Ils ne partagent pas les mêmes valeurs.” You hear this openly in these societies all the time – these underclasses are just “free-riders” on the genius of the dominant racial/ethnic capitalist class and cannot (should not!) contribute significantly to society.

Such prejudice is no different than a Chinese person in 1965 who thought China could become a safe, thriving superpower by ignoring their rural underclass. Such prejudice is no different from those who are against the Yellow Vests in France.

Han’s study proves such ideas are false: Chinese empowerment of the poor generated human capital, which generated economic capital, which generated national success.

Perhaps the best Blacks and Muslims in the West can do is to wait for the Chinese to take over one day? Or, just maybe, the White rural underclass of the West will wise up and learn from socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Cuba and others? I’d start with re-examining China’s Cultural Revolution.

We don’t need to demonise Deng: He may have been on the right of the spectrum of socialist ideology, but he was still also a revolutionary socialist. On the global political spectrum, Deng was still far, far to the left of any supporter of antiquated liberal democracy.

What is a political revolution, after all? It is a cultural revolution

Political revolution is a cultural movement which becomes rooted over generations; it is not just a changing of the leaders – it goes even deeper than just changing the laws.

What needs to be understood about countries with socialist revolutions is their humanity: Revolutionary fervor waxes and wanes. During the CR the “left-socialist” line was predominant, whereas afterwards it was the “bourgeois-socialist” or “right-socialist” line.

Mao repeatedly pushed the “left socialist” line, which stressed loyalty to the collectives, local empowerment and reducing urban dominance to spread equality among the mass of the country (the rural areas). After Mao the so-called “bourgeois right socialist” line of Deng Xiaoping (which is still Maoism!) came to prominence, and my main point here is this: Deng had been around forever – he was in the Long March – so it’s not as if he was some newcomer who brought in brand new ideas in 1976.

“Every farmer and every politician in China knew where Deng Xiaoping stood regarding agricultural policies in late 1970s,” reminds Han.

Right-wing socialism was not something new – it had always been around, it simply had lost popularity… just as any political party (left or right) does in a Western society. Just as people do not wage endless war (except the US war on terror), people do not wage endless revolution – people tire, and that allows less-revolutionary elements to come to the fore.

Han clarifies this exactly: “Deng had the power to do whatever he wanted. But more important, he was supported by the persistence of traditional philosophies and the practices that had been challenged during the Cultural Revolution, and by people who stood to benefit by the restoration of the old ways, or thought they would.”

Show me the country or society where radical changes continued without end? There are none. Even the Revolution of Islam splintered into status quo and revolutionary sects: Sunni and Shia. It’s not as if all Shia have been unceasing revolutionaries since the assassination of Imam Ali in 661 AD, either. Revolutionary spirit waxes and wanes, and maybe this is even a necessary thing? I don’t know….

But it impossible to argue with Han’s conclusion: “The take-off of the rural economy in Jimo began not with market reforms, I have shown, but rather during the Cultural Revolution decade. Agricultural production more than doubled and a network of rural factories were established which fundamentally transformed the county’s rural economy in less than 10 years. Jimo’s story is not unique.”

Han’s assessment there – based on facts, dollars and data – is undoubtedly accurate, but only half the story: China is where it is today because the CR created the greatest wealth there is – human capital. That is socialism’s primary stated goal: allowing the realization of an individual’s potential.

By taking the Chinese peasant and stripping him of all the backwardness, retardation and disempowerment we all associate with the term “peasant”, China created its modern, intelligent, advanced workforce, whom nobody calls “peasant” anymore. China remains intensely committed to lifting up their lowest of the low – absolute poverty is about to become effectively totally eradicated after a 5-year plan led by Xi – but the CR did this en masse by reversing the existing priority of city over country in a nation which was 80% rural.

Indeed, how could Xi eliminate absolute poverty across the continent of China in just 5 years? He couldn’t – he is standing on the shoulders of massive efforts since 1949, and the CR is one of those strong, yet unappreciated, shoulders.

The CR has much to teach us today, but are we willing learn? That is the question of the next and final part of this series, which focuses on the flamingly obvious yet totally ignored parallels between China’s Cultural Revolution and France’s ongoing Yellow Vest movement.

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This is the 7th article in an 8-part series which examines Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Part 1 – A much-needed revolution in discussing China’s Cultural Revolution: an 8-part series

Part 2 – The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution

Part 3 – Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China?

Part 4 – How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’

Part 5 – Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?

Part 6 – How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fuelled their 1980s boom

Part 7 – Ending a Cultural Revolution can only be counter-revolutionary

Part 8 – What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’ (4/8)

April 17, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’ (4/8)

What is Mao’s Little Red Book, first published in 1964 at the start of the Cultural Revolution? In 2019, I think we have to look at it in three ways:

The Little Red Book was a work of journalism. This means it sought to impart knowledge which was specific to its exact time, and as a response to the needs of its particular moment. Were you to read a report of mine from 2009, of course it would not be considered as relevant, hip and accurate were it to be directly applied to the situation in 2019… but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hit the nail on the head the day it was published. Mao’s Little Red Book served an immediate need for immediate decision-making, much like journalism does.

Secondly, the Little Red Book was essentially of code of conduct. It was aimed at workers in the government and preached an ascetic program of socialist officialdom. I.e., it was moral instruction for civil servants, telling government workers to be good workers.

Thirdly – and this is the source of the Little Red Book’s greatest social impact during the CR and the reason it is immortal – it was able to be used as a very real weapon of democratic empowerment for China’s lowest classes against bad civil servants.

This series examines The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village by Dongping Han, who was raised and educated in rural Jimo County, China, and is now a university professor in the US. Han interviewed hundreds of rebel leaders, farmers, officials and locals, and accessed official local data to provide an exhaustive analysis of seeming unparalled objectivity and focus regarding the Cultural Revolution (CR) in China. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my brand-new book, Ill Ruin Everything you Are: Ending Western Propaganda in Red China. I hope you can buy a copy for yourself and your 300 closest friends.

Han does something which Westerners never do without total derision, total ignorance of its contents, and a general disinterest in the aims of socialism to begin with: he fairly discusses the impact of Mao’s Little Red Book. Han writes with his characteristic modesty and refusal to exaggerate:

“Fundamentally speaking, yang banxi (the model Beijing operas) and Mao’s quotations served important social functions. They promoted a democratic, modern political culture and established a highly demanding, though loosely worded, code of official conduct. They called on Communist Party members to accept hardship first and enjoyment later. They required government officials to think about the livelihood of the masses. They denounced high-handed oppressive behavior and promoted subtle persuasion in dealing with difficult persons. … They set up good examples for the officials to emulate, and, more importantly, they provided the ordinary people with a measuring stick of good official conduct.”

Providing a new measuring stick – is that not what Revolutions are all about?

“To the outside world and to the educated elite, songs based on Mao’s quotations and yang banxi constitute a personality cult carried to the extreme. But in a way this cult served to empower ordinary Chinese people. Ordinary villagers used Mao’s words to promote their own interests. What some outside observers don’t realize is that Mao’s works had become a de facto constitution for rural people. More importantly, this de facto constitution became an effective political weapon for ordinary villagers.”

There is no doubt that longtime China analysts in the West are flummoxed by such a positive, democratic analysis.

Just like journalism, we can only judge the true worth of the Little Red Book by accepting the judgment of the local masses. It’s easy to imagine that non-Chinese, especially properly educated ones, may view the Little Red Book as unnecessary instruction… but this was decidedly not the case in 1964 China for the average person. When “ability to increase the empowerment of the average person” becomes our measuring stick, then our assessment must change…but for this type of focus – which is egalitarian and communal, as opposed to individualistic – we need people like Han and not Harvard professors.

“Scholarly critics of the Cultural Revolution dismiss the study of Mao’s works as blind submission to Mao’s words as the final authority. That is very true. It is true that few people in China ever, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, subjected Mao’s work to any theoretical scrutiny, which is sad indeed. However, critics sometimes forget the social context of Chinese society in the mid-1960s, and the most urgent needs of ordinary people at that time. For the illiterate and powerless villagers, it was not the business of the day to subject Mao’s works to theoretical scrutiny, but to use Mao’s words as a weapon to empower themselves against official abuses and to overcome their traditional submissive culture.”

Again, Mao’s Little Red Book is a superb piece of urgently-needed journalism which created a code of conduct that people from the disempowered classes could immediately use as a democratic weapon.

What are we supposed to do with such an analysis of Mao’s Little Red Book? Are we to tell Professor Han – with all his research, personal background, knowledge and ability to provide context – that his point of view is less informed and intelligent than that of Western journalists and academics? This is why Han’s book is revolutionary: those who read it can either accept it and change their “measuring stick” of the CR, the Little Red Book and many other things Chinese socialist… or they can be fairly denounced as reactionaries who believe that upholding illogical but traditional thought – which only supports an obviously unequal status quo – is more important than the use of honesty, reason and moral fairness.

Han, not being a journalist as I am, is not at all prone to such indignant accusations, LOL.

Mao’s problem is that he was both a genius politician and a genius thinker. His double genius, and his incredible ineffectiveness at his chosen tasks, have inspired such awe and loyalty that the popularity of the Little Red Book is assumed in the West to be solely a product of a “cult of personality” for Mao instead of its amazing democratic utility.

I have never heard of a “cult of personality” applied to a Westerner. I’d like to discuss this with you sometime in France – we can go to the tiniest of villages and meet at Place du Charles de Gaulle, which is at the intersection of Avenue Charles de Gaulle and Rue Charles de Gaulle, and catty-corner from Allée Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle, I note, did not even produce an equivalent of the Little Red Book, and thank God for that – it would surely have been based merely around the grandeur of France, i.e. petty nationalism.

The ideas, beliefs and sayings of Mao compiled in the Little Red Book were obviously so dear and so accepted by the Chinese people that the Book’s popularity became proof of brainwashing to anti-socialists. However, to socialists the Book was obviously something much more: it was a necessary tool of empowerment.

Dismissing the Little Red Book shows that one either hasn’t read it, or is a loud-mouthed reactionary

For Han, schoolchildren using the Little Red Book to teach political empowerment to their illiterate parents is not the source of amusement, nor is it trivial, nor is it authoritarianism-cloaked-in-leftism – it is real leftism in action, and incredibly suited for its time and place. We can debate its academic/theoretical quality regarding socialist political theory, but Han relates how it was a superb tool of democracy against bad governance.

“I would argue that one reason why ordinary villagers made such an effort to study Mao’s works and why they could recite Mao’s quotations and other lengthy works at that time is because they gained power by doing so.”

That certainly seems logical: a low-level Party official might commit the Little Red Book to superficial memory, but why would an “ordinary villager” take the time out of their busy farming day to do so? This is a question which will endlessly flummox Westerners, and to the point where they resort to the most absurd fear-mongering: “Oh, they must have feared the gulag if they didn’t learn it.”

During the public forums for which the CR is known for, imagine a corrupt cadre being confronted publicly with Mao’s injunctions, such as:

However active the leading group may be, its activity will amount to fruitless effort by a handful of people unless combined with the activity of the masses. (Page 251)

This surely was used by Chinese peasants to compel Party cadres to include the democratic will when creating local policy, but to make cadres work in the fields (and that truly happened during the CR decade, and en masse).

If, in the absence of these movements, the landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and monsters were allowed to crawl out – while our cadres were to shut their eyes to this and in many cases fail to even differentiate between the enemy and ourselves… the Marxist-Leninst Party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party or a fascist party and the whole of China would change its color. (Page 79)

These are honestly the two first passages I randomly turned to in my copy of the Little Red Book. Why are they so good? Because The Little Red Book is a “Greatest Hits of Mao Zedong” – it’s the best thoughts from his speeches, writings and interviews from over decades. I truly just turned at random again, and this is something de Gaulle would have hated (I knew it’d be easy to write this article):

“But we must be modest – not only now, but 45 years hence as well. (I.e., the year 2001, as this was written in 1956.)We should always be modest. In our international relations we Chinese people should get off great-power chauvinism resolutely, thoroughly, wholly and completely.”

Fake-leftists condemn Mao as a tyrant, yet his words were beloved by the masses because they were so empowering, clear-hearted and universal. It should be clear that his works were not memorized in a rote form as a way to pass a civil service test – they were learned by heart because they were so very intelligent yet so applicable. The reality is that during the CR decade old Chinese peasants who had just learned to read were waving the Little Red Book in the faces of shamefaced, younger Party cadres.

Han provides us fascinating, accurate, local insight into the impact, need for and democratically empowering motivations behind the Little Red Book. We should be able to see why the Cultural Revolution would not have spread far and wide within China without it.

The reality is that Chinese peasants in 1965 were leap years ahead of Westerners, from a mental-political perspective – that’s what 16 years of socialism will do for somebody:

“To many Western scholars, Mao’s Cultural Revolution-era messages were extremely ambiguous. Andrew Walder, for instance, has written: ‘It takes an extraordinary amount of energy and imagination to figure out precisely what Mao really meant by such ideas as ‘the restoration of capitalism’ or ‘newly arisen bourgeoisie.’ However, to Chinese people, even to the illiterate villagers, these terms were not so hard to grasp. Due to China’s leap ahead in political modernity, and some subsequent obstacles, capitalism’s restoration meant incomplete land reform for farmers, and the new bourgeoisie were the Party leaders who acted very much like the old landlords.”

Such sentences from Walder-types are constant when reading Anglophones discuss socialism: they adore to subtly but clearly express their belief that – at its base – socialism is just a childish fantasy, without any grounding in logic or reality.

These cynical notions take one very far in the West. Walder won a Guggenheim fellowship and taught at Harvard and Stanford despite being far stupider than the average Chinese peasant (by his own admission). It’s incredible that someone who cannot understand those two simple terms would rise so far in the realm of political science academia; it is not surprising that such a person would produce obviously anti-China and anti-socialist works such as China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed. Han’s work explains why the CR was in fact a re-railing of socialist revolution…but I do not think he will get a Guggenheim Fellowship for his efforts, sadly.

The reality is that until we learn to prioritize local/native studies and views we will always have great difficulty in understanding foreign cultures. Yet when it comes to socialist-inspired countries native voices are totally excluded in the allegedly-free press/free thought-loving West.

“Today farmers still say that, ‘Chairman Mao said what ordinary villagers wanted to say (shuo chu liao nongmin de xinli hua).’”

For those many Westerners who envision Mao burning in Hell, I think he’s pretty happy where he is because that is an extremely meritorious legacy for any politician – being a conduit for the ordinary People.

Conversely, ex-French President Francois Hollande was recently asked if what the French say about current President Emmanuel Macron is true: that he is the “president of the rich”. Hollande, who was bitterly derided by the decidedly not witty Nicolas Sarkozy as “Mr. Little Jokes”, responded: “No, he’s not. He’s the president of the super-rich.” (Where was this great analysis when you were charge, Francois?)

De Gaulle could never say what ordinary villagers wanted to say…unless they were French villagers – his political ideology was based on petty, blinkered French nationalism; he could never have united scores of European ethnicities, whereas Mao did (and still does) unite 56 officially-recognised ethnicities.

Macron is capitalist, De Gaulle was imperialist – both should not write even very little books, and of any color.

The Little Red Book remains a source of amusement in the West, but it’s not as if they understand it. And it’s not as if ever-surging, ever-united China needs Western acceptance in 2019.

Han has helped prove that the legacy of the Little Red Book will be that it enabled a new worship and devotion to the tenets of socialism (with Chinese characteristics) – Mao was merely the conduit of thoughts much larger than his person.

It is unfortunate that the West continues to build and worship their ignorant cult of anti-Mao, rather than understanding how the Little Red Book increased democracy and empowerment.

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This is the 4th article in an 8-part series which examines Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Part 1 – A much-needed revolution in discussing China’s Cultural Revolution: an 8-part series

Part 2 – The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution

Part 3 – Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China?

Part 4 – How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’

Part 5 – Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?

Part 6 – How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fuelled their 1980s boom

Part 7 – Ending a Cultural Revolution can only be counter-revolutionary

Part 8 – What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution (2/8)

April 04, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution (2/8)

Actually talk to rural people in China and you can certainly learn of martyrs FOR the Cultural Revolution; talk to disgraced party elites, abusive factory bosses, tyrannical schoolteachers, smug technocrats, pagan witch doctors or parasitic monks, and you get stories of those martyred BY the Cultural Revolution.

Welcome back to the first day of journalism school! “One person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom-fighter’”. I am not spouting nonsense such as “all truth is relative”, but simply pointing out that perspective shapes opinion (it does not control fact).

The fact is that you have likely never heard a story of a Chinese person who died in order to support their Cultural Revolution (CR).

Nor have you ever heard of the CR’s beneficiaries – indeed, you likely imagine there were none, except for a power-mad Mao Zedong.

If you have heard anything on the CR – and many have not – you only heard stories from the CR’s victims. The reason for that is: if you are reading this in the West, your media has an informal ban on any pro-socialist story. Anyone who believes that unwritten censorship exists has never worked in the media. (And a pro-socialist story would, after all, empower the leftists in the West and they certainly can’t have that.)

The informal ban is separate from, but compounded by, an informal promotion of anti-socialist notions: for example, the 2015 winner for best novel at the Hugo Awards (given to the best in science fiction), was The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Liu Cixin. The book was even promoted by Barack Obama, and it should be obvious why: the first 25 pages are a rehashing of the same old “the CR was an unholy terror” perspective. Considering the book is about scientists, perhaps such a perspective is somewhat accurate… but China is not full of 1 billion scientists. Democracy means there are losers in policies – socialist democracy ensures those losers are the 1%.

(Overall, I found the book to be rather boring “video gamer” escapism, as well as effective (and totally unsubtle) anti-socialist propaganda. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is spending $1 billion on a TV adaptation. For me, the only truly interesting passage described Euler’s three body problem in physics and astronomical theory –now there was something to meditate upon, finally. My point is: if the book was 400 pages of gamer escapism and 25 pages of pro-CR historical analysis…Obama ain’t pluggin’ yer book.)

Similarly, no one is plugging Dongping Han’s truly revolutionary and eminently readable book, The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. The key word there is “village” – not too many top scientists working there, perhaps, but there are a lot of people who greatly benefitted from the CR decade (1966-76). I gave a brief overview and a few knockout punch data sets in Part 1, and this 8-part series is dedicated to popularizing Han’s book and his undeniably confirmed thesis: the CR’s educational reform, which became approved following changes to political culture, produced an explosion in rural economic development and rural human capital, and thus China’s economic boom actually came before Deng’s reforms in 1978. This series is also a roundabout way to popularize my new bookI’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, to which Han graciously contributed the forward.

Yes, if one was a Chinese science nerd who insisted that they were infinitely smarter than a villager/peasant and thus deserving to rule oppressively in a technocracy… then one likely had a tough time during the CR. This is an old, already told, and often retold story – and I am sympathetic – but it’s time for a new story, for balance and accuracy.

Revolution is bloody, but not as bloody as what leads up to a revolution

Han relates a CR story and an analysis which you have most likely never heard. I will retell it briefly:

Yu Jiushu was a villager in Jimo County (the source of Han’s scholarly investigative work, as well as the place of his youth and formative years). During the Great Leap Forward Yu was recruited as a factory worker. The factory failed, causing him to lose his job and forcing his return home. The leaders of his village, during this era of shortage, refused to give him his grain ration on the grounds that he had forgotten his grain ration papers. Yu was forced to share his ration with his mother. Yu’s mother committed suicide to avoid the starvation of both her and her son.

The average Westerner would stop right there and say, “Isn’t this terrible?” Yes, of course it is.

A Western capitalist and Liberal Democrat would likely continue: “See how socialism only causes problems and deaths?”

Han disagrees: He gives a surprising, tough, 100% necessary analysis which shows why Widow Yu was a martyr FOR, and not a martyr OF, the Cultural Revolution.

“No doubt the village party leaders’ behavior was outrageous, and should be condemned. But should not Yu Jiushu be partly responsible for what happened? He and his mother did not have to put themselves through such suffering in the first place. They could have fought for their legal rights, but their ignorance of the law and their culture of submissiveness failed them.”

Han is showing us that a lack of rural education and a culturally-fostered fear towards officialdom is what doomed Widow Yu; it was not the inherent tyrannies of “socialism” or “big government”. Instead, Han shows, and in a clear rejection of political nihilism, that there WAS an obvious solution and vaccine to such ills: rural empowerment and education.

The Cultural Revolution cannot and will never be understood, much less appreciated and learned from, without grasping that rural empowerment was its absolute priority and goal – this really cannot be stressed enough.

How can anyone effectively fight for their rights when they have no schooling, precarious work and precarious social status? One can either provide the Western capitalist answer – have the brains and nerve of the elite 1% (or their connections) – or one can revamp the system in favor of the illiterate and poor, which is the socialist solution (and the CR’s solution).

How do you improve an unequal society? You drastically change it

In Jimo County Han shows that in 1956 only 66% of Jimo children were enrolled in school. That was up from 48% a year after China’s liberation in 1950. Good, but hardly a socialist miracle. The reason it wasn’t higher was because after 1949 economic resources were prioritized for urban educational needs, and not places like historically impoverished Jimo County.

But, by prioritising rural empowerment, during the CR decade that figure soared to 99%. By the end of the CR decade (1966-76) poor and rural Jimo County had more than 30 times more schools and more than 10 times more teachers (see part 1). Yes, urban colleges were temporarily shuttered during the CR, but it was largely in order to devote resources to rural areas, finally. It can’t be repeated enough, because it is contrary to modern Western nations: China’s rural population was 82% of the overall population in 1964, therefore this new rural focus was perfectly in keeping with democratic ideals.

But education is not enough – the political system must explicitly promote and defend the involvement of the 99%.

Chinese peasants were not historically apolitical – there are too many cases of uprisings to say that, even though this is exactly what many Western academics lazily claim about China – but the CR was undoubtedly the very first time they were ever empowered politically. “The fact that Mao and other Cultural Revolution leaders saw the need to involve common villagers, most of whom were illiterate and were considered ignorant by the educated elite, was in itself revolutionary and democratic.” It is precisely this refusal to involve common villagers which betrays one as a fake-leftist in the West.

Education and political support is still not enough – cultural changes must be forced through despite guaranteed resistance from those sectors which have refused to accept the People’s revolution.

“The major theme of the campaign was to criticize the elitist mentality in Chinese culture. It promoted Mao’s idea that the masses are the motive force of history and that the elite are sometimes stupid while working people are intelligent. These were not empty words. Villagers toiled all year round, supplying the elite with grain, meat and vegetables, but they were made to feel stupid in front of the elite. They did not know how to talk with the elite, and accepted the stigma of stupidity the elite gave to them.”

This elitist idea combated by Mao and his supporters – that rural Trash are stupid – is something which simply must be remedied in the West… or else Western society can never be whole, nor peaceful, nor empowered, nor efficient. Indeed, this series is an effort to show that Deplorables – or Gilets Jaunes, in French – must be empowered in Western nations along the same lines as Chinese Trash was during the CR.

Truly, at the heart of the CR is an idea of humility: our culture has become bad, and needs major changes. Western capitalist-imperialist nations simply do not permit such a trait: try telling such a thing to a typical jingoistic Frenchman, American, Britisher, Spaniard, etc. Yet everyone knows these countries (neo-imperialists) are arrogantly telling other countries what to do. Iranians use “arrogance” and “imperialism” synonymously for this obvious reason.

Because of the West’s (self-interested, leftist-repressing) laser-focus on the tragic, emotional, sensational aspects of these types of CR stories Han related – by failing to progress to Han’s more useful analysis of what can be done to prevent the reoccurrences of these types of negative and deadly social experiences – the Western analysis of the CR will always remain ultimately reactionary because it implicitly rejects the need for social changes; it thus preserves a status quo which is so very unequal for the 99% but especially rural dwellers.

Keeping capitalism-imperialism and condemning socialism is not the answer; reforming and improving socialism is. Socialism can be improved, despite its detractors – the CR stands as proof of this.

Han’s analysis likely seems cold to many Westerners, just as the West’s paralysis by over-emotional/nihilistic analysis may seem too hot to Han.

But Han’s view appears in keeping with the Chinese worldview, which emphasizes personal responsibility far more than in the Western or the Islamic worlds. The Chinese worldview is not Abrahamic, after all – there is no God pulling the strings: YOU are responsible, and shame is your portion when YOU fail. I note that their most sacred book, the I Ching, is essentially a book of social conduct in which only YOU are responsible for failing to cope with or failing to predict the inevitable vicissitudes of life. Embracing personal shame is all over the I Ching, LOL! Quite sorry to report that to the many Western lapsed Christians who dream of some sort of shame-free society/never-ending bacchanalia….

Socialism is thus very much in concordance with this ancient Chinese world view, as it stresses that YOU are responsible for changing our world for the better. (There is no logical reason why socialism and theism cannot be combined with the exact same goal of social and personal empowerment, like in, for example, Iranian Islamic Socialism, but that is another subject.)

How many more widows would have committed suicide to feed their children without the Cultural Revolution?

“In the final analysis, officials abused their power in part because the abused let them get away with it time and time again.”

Changing this reality of official over-empowerment in China truly necessitated a Cultural Revolution, and the CR worked expressly towards this socialist democratic goal.

Over-empowerment of government officials – from kings to French President/Jupiter Emmanuel Macron to Barry Dronebama – is exactly what socialism fights against, yet capitalist-imperialist propaganda accuses socialism of that which their system is far more guilty! Just 39 delegates signed the US Constitution; Nearly 75% of Cubas entire population helped draft their new constitution. Macron is going to write major new unemployment system reforms entirely on his own, ending 30+ years of union involvement, just as he’s done in other areas since taking office. The list goes on and on.

In the 1960s the Chinese left and center, as well as their youth, united behind implementing this idea of worker/citizen cultural empowerment expressly against the prevailing official empowerment. This same combination of forces, however, failed across the West despite having similar goals: No Western systems were drastically altered during the 1960s.

“Of course, the existence of such a legal system is important. But legal codes alone cannot solve any problem if the political culture and mentality of the ordinary people remains unchanged. Here, education to empower the ordinary rural residents is key.” Han is stressing that socialism is a way of life, a mentality, a worldview – capitalism is the same; one can change the law, but what good is it when the law is not enforced or the can be bought around in the courts, as in Liberal Democracies?

And this leads us to the next part of this series: Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? Short answer: in order to change China’s culture but NOT their socialist democratic legal code & system, which were established in 1949.

To finish with the story: All remember Shahida Widow Yu.

She was not Muslim but she certainly was a martyr against injustice. Han sensibly does not foolishly ignore the reasons of her death in order to leap to emotionalism and sensationalism, as a Western capitalist-imperialist journalists and academics would, but honors and elevates her to show exactly why the Cultural Revolution was necessary – to prevent such inhuman damage, more rural Chinese martyrs, and a cultural system which kept the entire Yu family disempowered, hungry and filled with tragedy.

The idea that China’s Cultural Revolution was some sort of bloody warmongering resulting from Mao’s political power struggles is what the West wants us to believe, and that’s because such a view inherently glorifies capitalism and denies any positive attributes or outcomes to socialist ideas in any nation, including their own.

The reality of the Cultural Revolution – as demonstrated by Han’s book and seconded in this series – was actually unprecedented development and success in the rural areas. It was the creation of this human capital (that most valuable capital) as well as economic capital which set the stage for the post 1980s economic boom in China.

The story of Widow Yu is a story of rural oppression and marginalization, and it is no different from the capitalist debt-provoked suicide of a French farmer which occurs every two days.

Their demises were caused by systems which were/are insufficiently socialist, and thus incredibly disempowering and unequal for rural citizens in both feudalism and Liberal Democratic/West European systems.

***********************************

This is the 2nd article in an 8-part series which examines Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Part 1 – A much-needed revolution in discussing China’s Cultural Revolution: an 8-part series

Part 2 – The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution

Part 3 – Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China?

Part 4 – How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’

Part 5 – Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?

Part 6 – How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fuelled their 1980s boom

Part 7 – Ending a Cultural Revolution can only be counter-revolutionary

Part 8 – What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red ChinaHis work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Khashoggi Part 4: fake-leftism identical in Saudi Arabian or Western form

 

December 04, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogKhashoggi Part 4: fake-leftism identical in Saudi Arabian or Western form

File it under “things we’d like to be true…so we never examine it”: The West’s unstated belief that their politics are exponentially morally superior to those of Saudi Arabia. “We only work with them – we are not at all like them,” is what it boils down to.

This article aims to show just how similar “Oriental despotism” is to “Occidental domination” in 2018 by revealing the similarity of Jamal Khashoggi’s socio-political vision to that of Westerners.

This is the final part in a 4-part series which aims to pull the sheet off Khashoggi, who is as much as a “reformer” as Hillary Clinton was a “leftist” or Emmanuel Macron was “centrist”. I think it’s necessary because there has been so much talk about Khashoggi, but very little examination of “Khashoggi-Thought” – what he espoused and stood for.

Part 1 showed what true “dissidents” in the Muslim World look like and why the elite-defending Khashoggi does not qualify; Part 2 showed how his rabid anti-Iran warmongering and his hysterical anti-Shia sectarianism precluded any possibility of his being even merely a “reformer”; Part 3 demystified and stripped the Islamophobia from “Salafism” to show that many in the West want to “return to a golden era” – like 1776 in America – just as Khashoggi and other Salafists want to return to 676; and also reminded readers that the West and the Muslim World are the only two regions of the world where we still find supporters of monarchy, which is an inherently reactionary and inegalitarian concept in 2018.

Khashoggi, just like Western conservatives and centrists, denied any sort of modern leftist political movement – socialism, Islamic socialism, etc. – which could undermine the social powers as apportioned up until the 19th century.

Pushing technocratic & elitist bourgeois democracy, anti-socialist economics, window-dressing cultural liberality, and rationalising warmongering is what modern fake-leftism is; because this definition fits Khashoggi, the Clintons, Macron, Blair and others, we now see how similar they are. Therefore, the death, and alleged martyrdom, of Khashoggi allows us to show what Western democracy truly wants to defend: we will see it stands 100% in favor of modern despotism – either/or monarchical or bourgeois – both in the Orient and the Occident.

Non-jingoistic Westerners should not be dismayed at such a thesis: it allows us to increase global unity by showing the similarity of the 1%.

Rationalising China’s success is a must across the West, but how do they do it in Saudi Arabia?

A good test to see if someone is a fake-leftist is to get their views on China. Everybody loves Cuba – music, dancing, beaches, cigars – so supporting them is too easy; it takes a real leftist to squint hard at China and see their leftist commitment and beauty.

If someone claims to be a leftist but only talks about the only-crimes-and-never-successes of the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution, instead of their 266% GDP increase since 2008…this person is a centrist at best – i.e. a fake-leftist. (I write from the Lost Decade-denying Eurozone, which is at -12% since 2008) Such persons get seriously annoyed at being properly pegged on the global political spectrum like this…but I did not invent the spectrum.

Absolutely everybody is starting to notice China’s huge leaps amid the West’s austerity-imposed suicide. But how do they explain it?

Is it the result of their rock-solid socialist constitution, written in 1982? Or is it by accusing the Chinese of having a totalitarian system? Or is it by accusing them of being “radishes” – only red on the outside. Due to their undeniable success, we journalists simply must make some explanation – what did Khashoggi choose?

Khashoggi provided the answer in this article run by Saudi media giant Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, the Chinese model and Vision 2030.

It’s an interesting article because he basically tries to equate the Saudi monarchical governing class with the Chinese Communist Party. LOL, unexpected, no? The Long March, the Cultural Revolution, the Century of Humiliation – all that produced something…just like the blood-red commie “House of Saud Party”, if you believe Khashoggi!

“In fact, the Chinese economy has always been and continues to be a fair economy compared to similar totalitarian regimes. Moreover, the Chinese economy is suitable for all classes of the society and displays a firm determination to fight corruption to the point that leaders, who get involved in corruption, including receiving briberies or committing frauds, are executed.

I think Saudi Arabia can achieve the same because of its cultural background. It is an Islamic country….”

Seemingly no Muslim outside of Saudi Arabia would say that Saudi Arabia is an “Islamic country”; it is the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and not even the “Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. As I related in Part 3, a common line in the Muslim world is “Saudi Arabians are not Muslims, they are Wahhabis.”

Beyond the Islamic objections…it is rather hilarious that a total monarchist – a system based purely on class elitism, anti-democratic disempowerment, intimidation, and blood instead of brains – thinks that the House of Saud can all of a sudden produce something which “is suitable for all classes of the society”.

Such a misguided idea, since we must classify it in order to fully understand it, is an 18th century idea known as benevolent despotism…and it is totally reactionary. It’s unofficial motto of “Everything for the people, nothing by the people” is not remotely similar in essence or practice to the Peoples Democratic Dictatorship in China; it is, however, extremely similar to the ideal in Western Liberal Democracies in the 21st century, as they expound a (allegedly) merit-based, “benevolent technocratism”.

Benevolent technocratism – which was essentially the campaign platform of Hillary Clinton, and which provides the justification for (still-failing) economic policy domination by the Eurozone’s “best” economists – is 100% fake-leftism.

Benevolent technocratism is the same old despotism of the bourgeois, and thus fake-leftism

Khashoggi’s view of ideal governance is perfectly described for us in this same article:

“I like to simplify things for a better understanding before I try to make others understand them. That’s why I try to imagine the National Center as an operating room where in the middle is the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as the chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs surrounded by ministers, members of the Council, and other experts.

Right in front of them, I imagine personal computers linked to the room’s database and a few meters far many screens showing numbers and graphics with goals set for each ministry and government institution. I also imagine the chairman of the Council zooming in on one screen to see the reasons behind flaws and the concerned minister explaining why they occurred and suggesting solutions to tackle them. This system, as I imagine it, is able to make every minister work hard and held accountable.

From this scope, can the plan be monitored and its executors held accountable with complete transparency without an elected Council and without the basis of democracy to achieve the success of both the transformation plan and the Vision? Personally, I think this is possible but it can only happen in Saudi Arabia considering its social and cultural background, which is based on Islamic ethos and considering the fact that others have done it as well.”

Does anyone not envision Eurozone/EU leadership operating in the same “too smart to be touched by commoners” style? Khashoggi’s vision is basically to be a West European-aping technocracy where the “talented tenth” rules with assumed but unproven moral aims.

Khashoggi admits – and without shame – that this fantasy lacks democracy, but this fantasy is also robotic, technocratic, clinical and nearly inhuman. There is no way any of these so-called experts have spent a day sweating in the Saudi sun, yet they sit in total removal from Saudi society and decide policy for 33 millions. (Oh, and they’re all related, LOL; or, like in France, they all went to the same school.)

Crucially, because they have the data and computers then of course they will have the same success as China! Too bad political science is not a “science”, and that moral motivations matter. What Khashoggi fails to realize is that China’s “technocrats” get to the top by having a PhD in something not offered in any Western university: socialism (with Chinese characteristics).

The US, being not Western Europe, also aspires to ape this aristocracy, but for various reasons they only recently became even less class-mobile than Europe. This is why the loss of Hillary was so significant – it was a blow against this aristocratic technocratism which long-ago swept the West’s intellectual centre, Europe.

Contrarily, China’s President Xi spent seven years in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution (LOL, or according to The New York Times where he “fled” to), where he taught farmers how to read by firelight. In Cuba an admired and beloved small-town cobbler who just got elected to help keep Cuban parliament real – an unthinkable development in Western Liberal Democracies. In Iran there are plenty of representatives of the lower class all throughout the government, and this policy has been cemented by the totally-misunderstood Basij, which I tried to explain here.

Never uttered in the West: they believe that technocratism is more important than democracy

“The second frame of reference is China’s huge economic success, comes alongside arguments related to democracy being a precondition for progress. Therefore, we are witness to a new ‘Chinese model’ different from the commonly spread model of Western democracy.”

Khashoggi is obviously implying that China has had success despite not having democracy, therefore anti-democratic Saudi Arabia can do the same.

Too bad that Khashoggi’s frame of reference – the alleged anti-democracy of China – is not at all accurate. The Chinese frame of reference is “socialist democracy”, which is qualitatively different from “Western bourgeois / liberal democracy”. Calling socialists “anti-democratic” is as false as socialists who say the liberal democratic West is “anti-democratic”: the two are structurally different, making both sides right about each other, but only partially. Liberal Democracy, I must admit, does have certain freedoms socialist democracies do not…these freedoms are not universally-guaranteed, but are reserved for those with money, but that is technically a “freedom”.

Again, Khashoggi is failing to see socialism’s motivations, concerns, demands and goals anywhere – he sees Chinese success solely as resulting from technocratism.

But in socialist democracy, where non-elite-born hold at least SOME top posts, then we will inevitably find that all technocrats do not interpret all social data the same: this is the exact point of conflict where Western Liberal Democracy totally collapses and reveals its essential, unmodern elitism.

Khashoggi, like Macron or Hillary, does not want this socialist-style of representation in their governance, nor do they want socialist-style policies, because such policies are not 100%-focused on maintaining the elitist lifestyle of the bourgeois/monarchical/1% class which they are a part of.

But any objective reading of postwar China – a country under blockade, refusing foreign investment, long-banned from top international organisations (like modern Iran), pulling itself out of swamps caused by a “century of humiliation” solely via their own policies, efforts and domestic investments – shows that China’s success is due solely to socialism. The same goes for Iranian Islamic Socialism, which has had similarly spectacular redistributive success amid similar global Cold War. Not so to Khashoggi who, like all journalists and commentators, must find an explanation for China’s astounding success in the past decade:

“The reason might be principles of Confucianism”, which is more utter nonsense.

China had Confucianism all through their Century of Humiliation…and also totally undemocratic inequality. They had it in the Ming and Ching eras and long, long before…and totally undemocratic inequality. I adore Confucianism, but as a social-moral model – as a political model it is totally outdated. Pushing pure Confucianism is “Chinese Salafism”, and this is what China’s Cultural Revolution explicitly overturned: the political disempowerment of the rural Chinese peasant caused by politically-outdated Confucianism.

But a Salafist’s only tool is an old calendar – they want to wax nostalgic and turn the pages backwards, never forwards.

Khashoggi is an anti-socialist, monarchy-loving Salafist – he will always only hunt around China’s past for its success, and never objectively examine its present.

Trump’s entire “Make America Great Again” hinges 100% on mining an allegedly-perfect late 18th century past.

Macron, in combination with EU-technocratism, is a Petainist Salafist – a few days after a far-right assassination plot was uncovered, Macron praised the Nazi collaborator Petain as an inspiration for today.

In a time when France’s president enforces detested policies by decree, when democratic votes are ignored across Europe, we should see that there is very little difference between modern Muslim un-democracy and Western un-democracy.

The only people who don’t admit this are ethnocentric Europeans, who can apparently subsist on the pride produced by flattering themselves with feelings of superiority, and also by those Christians who refuse to have fraternal feelings towards Muslims as Muslims have towards their fellow Abrahamic believers (those who are also not imperialists, of course). Such flattery is indeed the manna of their far-right, but also the Western fake-left, and this is the point of this article.

Fake-leftism means never admitting the small circle democracy is limited to

When we start calling things by their proper names, “fake-leftism” becomes more and more obvious in journalists like Khashoggi.

Fake-leftism leads to absurdly unreflective statements such as this, which have no basis in modern facts: “Western countries are adept at finding the reasons behind low voter turnout in elections or to determine why people are unhappy with the parliament’s performance.”

I suppose Western countries are adept…compared to Arab monarchies. Turnout is quite low and in 2016, when this article was written, any citizen-observer of the Eurozone (as well as the European Union) could see that disapproving performance registered no “democratic” impact on economic policy whatsoever. Both Khashoggi or a self-aggrandising Westerner could have written that sentence – both are fake-leftists.

Fake-leftism means someone who is out of touch with what Leftism means on the global scale, as they assume “left” and “right” only matter domestically; but it also means someone who pretentiously believes they are in tune with the average person despite spending their entire lives pointedly avoiding the average person. Khashoggi revealed this in an article titled The Saudi labor ‘shop’ must close, undergo reforms:

“I listened to the new Education Minister Ahmed al-Issa talk of his plan to transform education and enable it to produce competitive youth by launching “independent” public schools. He said children in private schools do not exceed 15 percent of the kingdom’s students, while 85 percent attend public schools. This surprised me as I used to think the rate of those in private schooling was higher, since that is the preference of all of my relatives and acquaintances.

I discovered then that those of us at the GCF (the annual Saudi Global Competitiveness Forum) are a small minority in a much bigger community that was totally absent, despite being the target of the forum. This community is supposed to be the working class to whom ministers keep promising hundreds of thousands of jobs year after year. Although the organizers want the whole Saudi economy to be more competitive, most citizens who graduate or fall out of public schools and universities are unable to compete.

Competition

If we want King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) to be more appealing than Dubai or the free-trade zone in Ethiopia, for example, we must make our environment more competitive for business investments.”

The first paragraph reveals what Khashoggi is: A journalist who was totally out of touch with the 99% of Saudi Arabia…or at least the 85% (“99%” is, of course, not statically accurate, but it has become a useful byword and tool of understanding). He’s also a bad journalist for not knowing such a basic fact of life about his own country – it is reminiscent of a parliamentarian from Macron’s party who recently provoked outrage from a “Yellow Vest” protester on TV because she did not know the minimum wage.

I included the 2nd and 3rd paragraph because it’s important to show how abruptly his line of thought ends: Khashoggi does have a class epiphany, and he even relates it honestly…but he blames his fellow citizens for being “unable to compete”. He then drops the idea altogether and moves on to “Competition” and free trade.

Furthermore, he clearly believes that in this article he has established a plausible link between societal-domestic-interpersonal competition between citizens and competition between businesses, corporations, trade zones and nations. That is so wrong and so false that I do not have the time to disprove it; if you have to ask, you’ll never know, as Louie Armstrong said about jazz.

“Arab citizens are losing faith in democracy even though it has been at the forefront of their demands.”

Reading Khashoggi finds that he specialises in this type of nonsense typified by Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, truly one of the world’s greatest fake-leftists. (Indeed, it is amazing that such a warmonger and elitist votes for the “left party” – only in the West…) For the average Muslim or Saudi Arabians it is just as shocking to see Khashoggi described as a “reformer”. Again, there is no difference in 2018 between the Oriental or the Occidental despot.

Anyway, the truth is that Arab citizens are losing faith in one type of democracy – Western Liberal…and so are Westerners themselves. This realisation is great because it increases global unity, so why resist it? Socialist Democracy, however, is in bull form in any country which can withstand the decades of capitalist-imperialist blows, and the failure to recognise these trends and to abandon socialism makes someone a fake-leftist, as we all know.

I could go on and on dissecting Khashoggi’s writing for “fake Muslim leftism”, but the point has been established. I doubt anyone with an income under $100,000 / not working at a major Western NGO thought for a single moment that Khashoggi was a “reformer”, but hopefully this article showed how he is truly no different from Western rightists, centrists and fake-leftists.

Conclusion: Why Kare for Khashoggi? Why anything in the Muslim world? Answer: more imperialism

Western shareholder control of Aramco would give them the most powerful economic weapon in the world today. Talk about Google and Apple and smartphones all you want, but the global economy rises and falls according to the price of oil; because of this fact, Western capitalist logic dictates that they must control oil-producing nations.

The introduction of Western Liberal Democracy & their constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia would inevitably result in the control of Arabia’s oil by the international 1%. What that nefarious group has now is merely secondary control, with primary control held by the House of Saud.

Say what you want about Saudi Arabia – their leaders control their oil, at least. Say what you want about Iran – their People control their oil (which is why the West wants to ban Iranian oil, as if it contained the contaminating ideas of Muslim democracy, Islamic socialism, etc.). Saudi Arabia is also one of the world’s relatively untapped markets for international capitalists, much like Iran. Both nations have economies which are hugely state-controlled – and this cannot be tolerated in neoliberal capitalism, and thus it inexorably moves to change them & to Westernise them. Even if the Pentagon and Tel Aviv want no changes to the status quo in the region, we must see that the forces of capitalism are stronger than the forces of nationalism (or Zionism), and we all see this painfully plainly in Europe today.

Crucially, many in the House of Saud are anti-neoliberal (but not anti-capitalist) because they correctly understand that the monarchy cannot stand in 2018 without explicitly anti-neoliberal economic measures: two-thirds of all Saudi workers are employed by the government, major welfare programs, etc. Few leftists will objectively remark on this fact, but that is leftist economics in a very significant, real-world sense: Just as all capitalism is not “neoliberal”, not all socialism is “perfect socialism”, and the House of Saud is undoubtedly using socialist-related economics to buy their People’s support.

Double-crucially, while the old guard of the House of Saud realises this reality, many of the younger princes do not. Like the younger generation of Westerners, their young princes have been inculcated in anti-socialist neoliberal capitalism, and this inherently imperils the monarchy’s ability to buy off the Arabian People.

This line of thinking was rendered excellently by the prolific Whitney Webb for MintPress (whose leftist analyses were not ruined by her study of religion in university, I note) in her article The Real Reason the Knives are Out for MBS, so I only need to make a brief summation here:

What is of primary importance to the Western ruling factions are the Aramco Initial Public Offering and the $6 trillion in potential privatisation schemes of Vision 2030. However, as Webb notes: where does Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman really stand on the economic spectrum? Foreign investment into Saudi Arabia has plummeted, the IPO for Aramco (the world’s most profitable company) still has not taken place, and maybe MBS is not such a neoliberal traitor after all? He thus incarnates this shifting conflict between the neoliberal, younger generation of princes (and their Western puppeteers) and the older generation which grasps that neoliberalism – foreign control of a nation’s economy – can only lead to the loss of the monarchy’s absolute control and thus their pampered existence.

Let’s not forget why the West needs traitors in charge: Saudi Arabia’s collusion with Washington is what allows the “exorbitant privilege” of the US (petro)dollar, which makes the US financially impregnable; Saudi oil money is truly the liquidity which fuels the many risky investments of Wall Street; the Saudis make enormous US arms purchases not just for themselves but for the entire region.

We must look at the defense of Khashoggi by the West via the economic lens (which, of course, is verboten in Western mainstream discourse): how can international high finance finally get full control over Saudi oil, especially if MBS is not so neoliberal anymore yet remains in power?

Answer: Reduce the power of the Saudi absolute monarchy to a Western Liberal Constitutional monarchy (like the UK, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, etc.), which would create bourgeois “rule of law” and thus allow Saudi assets to be sold to Western capitalists.

I have demonstrated that there are myriad capitalist pressures pushing the West to make Saudi Arabia conform and to not be independent: and, after all, conformity merely means “Western Salafism”, i.e. Western Liberal Democracy in the form of constitutional monarchy. Khashoggi was playing the leading propaganda role in this effort calling for a constitutional monarchy, which amounts to a soft coup against the absolute monarchy of the House of Saud.

And that is ultimately why MBS had Khashoggi killed.

By killing the West’s head propagandist MBS is saying: there will be no bourgeois, Western constitutional monarchy. The West is so up in arms over Khashoggi because it is a red flag that they are perhaps dealing with a Crown Prince who will not play neoliberal ball, as he had falsely promised to Western puppeteers in order to get their approval to ascend to Crown Prince.

Because the Western 1%, and the Mainstream Media they own, wants to obscure this lens – how the defense of Khashoggi fits in with the inevitable capitalist pressure from international high finance to get control over Saudi oil – they thus want us to believe that Khashoggi was a “reformer”. But the West doesn’t care at all about democratically empowering the 99% in Saudi Arabia, of course; and the mere step up from absolute to constitutional monarchy is no “reform” in the 21st century – modern political thought declares that this is a bogus reform.

Webb did not stress enough the existence of an alternative – socialist democratic control of Saudi oil. Nor did she stress that Khashoggi was actually facilitating this neoliberal takeover, not hindering it.

Khashoggi was no journalist but a pro-Western, pro-neoliberal propagandist – he had no importance to MBS otherwise.

Capitalism-imperialism always plays multiple destabilising games at once – in order to ensure their interests prevail: thus, there is no conflict between their supporting MBS but also supporting Khashoggi at WaPo as a back-up plan. However they get control of Saudi resources is fine – whether it’s via a puppet or a soft coup, they don’t care.

Khashoggi was no “dissident” against the monarchy, but I’ve reminded readers that this was no problem for the monarchy- and bourgeois-loving West; he was tapped to be the Western 1%’s “Head Saudi Propagandist” because his writings clearly show that he wanted a Western-style bourgeois technocracy & constitutional monarchy in order to rule Saudi Arabia more “efficiently”…which means becoming Westernised as much as possible, economically unequal as much as possible, and Socialist Democratic not at all.

Time well tell: Mehdi Ben Barka, PressTV’s Serena Shim and others will be remembered as true martyrs for the Muslim world and for all of humanity; Jamal Khashoggi will soon be forgotten, except for the gruesome details, and that is because he was no friend nor supporter of the People but of the elite of which he was a part and which he unquestioningly and immorally supported. I hope this series shed light on that.

But I also hope that this series showed how Khashoggi is no different from the fake-leftists in the Western world. Muslims and Saudi Arabians are not any different from those in any other global region, and emphasising, clarifying and promoting our common humanity – and the common struggles of the 99% worldwide – is the goal of leftism.

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This is the final article in a 4-part series which examines Jamal Khashoggi’s ideology and how it relates to the Islamic World, Westernization and Socialism. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Khashoggi, Ben Barka & PressTVs Serena Shim: A 4-part series

Khashoggi Part 2: A reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran/Shia warmonger?

Khashoggi Part 3: Liberal Democratic Salafism’ is a sham, Islamic Socialism’ isnt

Khashoggi Part 4: fake-leftism identical in Saudi Arabian or Western form

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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