Disproportionality As Schizoaffective Disorder

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July 13, 2019

by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

Disproportionality As Schizoaffective Disorder

It appears that the information revolution is redefining cultural aspirations at a time when mass production has become a concave-convex supernova offering everybody (in theory) the right to ‘have everything’, regardless of the cost to fellow beings or to nature itself.

In the West, free enterprise had become an object lesson in short-sightedness and purblind avarice, suggesting that it’s time to revisit an age-old conundrum; the conflict between capitalist expediency and enlightened social wellbeing. Having successfully focused consumers on the many ways in which self-gratification can be experienced, the consumer-economy, committed to seducing the somnambulant among us, while turning a blind eye to the damage that comes with gauche and expedient ways of can-do-ness, suggest that collectively, we in the West have become befuddled pilgrims in a vainglorious journey to nowhere.

In the West we live in a world where militarism and the production of arms has come to represent the pulse of capitalism. The journey that began at the tribal level has moved through a succession of capitalist incarnations to become the singular purpose of investment-capital and a business model in every respect. As it was never intended to be an exercise in creating homogeneous wellbeing…socialism… this model remains as the one best suited to the elites who manage money. Not surprisingly, the rest is history as they say. The story of capitalism’s right-of-passage towards its colonial adventures and onwards into its imperial hegemonic phase is one of bloody-mindedness.

Until recently in the West, it was the growth of personal wealth and middle-classness that underpinned the reality of ‘collective-individualism’…an oxymoronic capitalist state of mind that encourages wealth accumulation. Skills effecting upward mobility were highly sought after. The desire to embrace cultural norms that defined progress as freedom to enjoy lifestyles enhanced by copious amounts of disposal income, soon became everyone’s dream.

So, when the economy lost it’s bearing in the heat of the bizarre excesses leading up to the 2008 economic crisis, ‘collective-individualism’ was left to pick up the pieces. Struggling with the legacy of a febrile narrative that served the interests of Wall Street, middle-classness lost some of its shine. The market had spoken, the individual was merely a unit in a bourse that had little time for niceties or human fallibility. Banking had become a low feeder-operation where the devil would take the hindmost.

It was the banking crisis of 2008 that revealed how ‘collective-individualism’ had become merely an adjunct of Wall Street’s insidiously covert private-banking system. Having cocooned itself in the system, the banking establishment managed to present itself as the face of liberal democracy…albeit pseudo… for the purpose of gratifying its own insatiable appetite. As a result of the 2008 debacle, fake-expertise-babble was required to disguise the signs of senescence now appearing in a banking system sliding toward obsolescence.

With the emergence of bureaucratic capitalism in China, the monumental task of moving countless tens of millions of people out of poverty was commenced and the results have been spectacular. Along with this operation came the realization that proportionality should be the linchpin for securing the principles of collective enterprise. The words Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong spoke in 1927 at the beginning of the Chinese Civil War; “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” were replaced by notions of incremental change occurring for the betterment of the entire community.

Using the resources of the state to improve the wellbeing of the many would mechanically elevate the population to a level of heightened social order. By any measure, a great awakening had occurred…an age-old trading culture had reassembled its resources in order to find common cause. Through the medium of central planning, the path toward achieving internal hegemony reappeared in a distinctly Confucian way.

With an agenda designed to eliminate poverty by utilising the collective potential of the state to solve problems, statistics suggest that a modicum of proportionality has already been achieved within China’s sovereign territories and that plans are on track to achieve what the revolution sent out to do. Namely, a way of floating all its boats…one billion and a quarter of them…on the rising tide of a renascent imagination collectively focused on technological ascendancy.

Alert to the potential within the Chinese tech garden to achieve yet another Spring and Autumn period, the core interchangeable elements of Confucianism, collectivism and hegemony militate to emphasize personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.

History shows us that the Chinese city of Guangzhou (Early Modern Guangzhou) represented the reference point that enable one to understand the changing context of Sino-foreign economic and cultural relations in the nineteenth century. A great trading city that would ultimately reconstitute itself as a commercial centre for maritime exports and debut as post-modern Guangzhou. It was always the city that identified China as a maritime trader surfing the waves of silk road opportunities. Unlike most European nations, its expansionism was benign. It never went into the business of exporting armaments or colonizing the natives along its trade routes.

From the traditional trading posts in Quanzhou and Guangzhou, to the modern treaty ports of Fuzhou, Xiamen and Shanghai, to the contemporary metropolis Hong Kong and Taiwan and special economic zones in Shenzhen and Pudong, southern coastal cities in the last five hundred years and beyond have connected China to the outside world and the global economy. Throughout this time, China never sought to colonise its neighbours or occupy continents or countries across the globe…trading remained its modus operandi…and besides, Confucius the thinker, never confused occupation or dominance with the Chinese notion of hegemony!

Conversely, the colonial West’s predilection for gunboat diplomacy and stand-over tactics produced an entirely different trading model. With the advent of the industrial revolution in Europe, sorties of the ‘dalek’ kind…robotic incursions into exotic lands for the purpose of procuring the resources and territories belonging to people of colour became the norm.

It was as though the industrial revolution had spawned a concept of superiority that ultimately resulted in the white race distilling a notion of its own exceptionality that would justify its own work-ethic as proof of its right to exploit people whose appearance did not please their albino imagination. In the succeeding centuries, the march of the ‘daleks’ would in effect enslave, slaughter and exploit non-white peoples with impunity, all the while deluding themselves that their actions were progressive…a code word for exploitation…and justifiably, the ‘white-man’s-burden’…a program adopted in support of their assumption that the non-white peoples were inferior.

In time, institutional racism would achieve the kind of value an asset might have in a bourse. The concept of democracy would be privatised in accordance with the wishes of those who were there to do the thinking for all those of a lesser stripe. Patriotism would become a mantra of majestic proportions in the West to assure white people that they were on the winning side of history. Proof of same would be diligently manufactured. Strangely, Western powers who imagined they owned ‘democracy’ felt the need to garrison the globe with 800 military bases, fearing that those ‘others’ may have sovereign economic models of their own they might wish to develop.

In fact, disproportionality had reached such levels of lethality that the doyens of liberal democracy became citizens of cloud-cuckoo-land in possession of a foreign policy committed to kneecapping…sanctioning… other nation’s economies if they didn’t do what they were told to do. China in moving to re-embrace the “maritime silk road” once again, soon became the fly in the competitive ointment. Westerners, as heirs to the traditional colonial trading-throne decided that carrying a big ballistic stick was the only way to do business. Alarmed at seeing how China could engage in trade without threatening its clients, it chose the American way of doing business. In true American style, the military budget was given a massive blow job.

In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower ended his presidential term by warning the nation about the increasing power of the military-industrial complex. Before and during the Second World War, American industries had successfully converted to defence production as the crisis demanded, but out of the war, what Eisenhower called a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions emerged. Eisenhower had no need of a crystal ball to see where the emerging disproportionality would lead his country to. His fear, rightly, was that disproportionality of this kind would ultimately obfuscate the principles of the Democratic Republic of America.

Had he lived to see the colossal damage his country wrought on the Middle East he would have understood that a permanent armaments industry must do what a permanent armaments industry must do…use and sell what they produced in order to justify their budget.

What Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to as a permanent armaments industry could equally be applied to the permanent propaganda industry that has overtaken America. Together, these two industries have created a narrative for Americans to reassure them that a system based on might, is right for them. By every measure, the fourth estate and the fourth-of-July have synthetized into a narrative that is big on self-adulation.

On the occasion of the most recent fourth-of-July parade, the presence of Apache attack helicopters, ballistic missiles, M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and F-22 Raptors were assembled to reinforce the notion that corporate-capitalist-democracy existed to deliver a patriotic narrative capable of turning the key that could unlock the potential of the American psyche and find greatness by shoving its hardware and unique ideas of identity into the face of all and sundry.

As the fourth of this and that got under way, it became ever more evident that America’s unique identity possesses an internal form of hegemony seeking greatness through strictly military means. After military might was chosen as the path to dominance and greatness, America developed external hegemonic programs to curtail un-American activities such as Iranian Mullahs imagining that they can export oil to whomever they choose to, or China and Russia talking multilateralism, or Venezuela resisting imperial vassalage…or just about anything that moved, squeaked, farted or failed to avow the American way of doing business. Non-compliance would be met with sanctions or military invasion.

On the occasion of the recent fourth-of-July celebrations, Donald Trump (dealer extraordinary) stood before the statue of Abraham Lincoln to demonstrate his ability to wind up the patriotic narrative; he spoke thusly; “As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage,” said he, “ Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told…The Story of America.”

But strangest of all were the ‘daleks’ flying overhead and the steel-clad ‘daleks’ rumbling past on terra firma for the purpose of bonding the vast gathering of patriotic stalwarts in hegemonic unity. The crowd, agog with admiration for the men and women flying overhead in their wonderful flying machines were proud to witness the “The American Story” in all its first-hand glory. Most noticeably, they were indifferent to the fact that the things they found admirable in this show of strength were designed to annihilate people. They were no less enamoured of the wet pointy cone bits of the ballistic missiles…glistening like killer-candy… as they were rained upon.

All in all, “The Story of America” reverberates across the globe as the story of meaty stealth. Its true colours were made available for all to see, or for anyone with the nous to join the dots… message delivered; American style hegemony is great for boys with schizoaffective disorders and the lethal toys that find them.

As America-the-circus moves into election mode its military arrive here in Australia to set up a military base in Darwin. As few…if any…of their political clowns will broach the subject of their lethal foreign policy, why should anyone in their right mind welcome one of their bases here? As for now, better we wait until Uncle Sam creates a peace bureau and sends an emissary of a different stripe to us.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Voltaire.

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia

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China’s Economic Record Vs US

By professor Richard Wolf

“For most of the last 20 years the rate of growth in China has been 2, 3 or 4 times that of the Unitedd States”

“In the United States real wages (The average wage of the U.S. worker) has stagnated. It has gone nowhere. In 1973 the average wage of an American, was able to buy more thing than it was in 2018. The real wage in the United States is less today than it was then.” – In the last 40 to 45 years American real income wages, their real wages have not gone up. The real hourly wage in the united states is lower today than it was in 1973.

Posted July 08, 2019

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City.

Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). Wolff was also regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum in New York City.

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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

How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fueled their 1980s boom (6/8)

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fueled their 1980s boom (6/8)

There are almost too many socioeconomic gains for me to list… and yet the idea that China’s Cultural Revolution (CR) represented not gains but regression is dominant in the West.

The Chinese know better, and that’s why I’m discussing Dongping Han’s indispensable academic and investigative book: The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. Han intensely examined rural Jimo County, where he grew up, interviewing hundreds of locals about the CR and poring over local historical records. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my brand-new bookI’ll Ruin Everything you Are: Ending Western Propaganda in Red China. I hope you can buy a copy for yourself and your 300 closest friends.

When I ended Part 5 the Rebel Faction Red Guards (who wanted a People’s dictatorship) had, over the course of three years, democratically bested the Loyalist Faction Red Guards (who wanted to maintain a Party dictatorship) – a new generation of revolutionaries had been fostered and were now taking over. What did their time in power produce?

“Since the beginning of the Great Leap Forward, the Chinese Government had been talking about eliminating the three gaps: between urban and rural areas, between mental and manual labor, and between workers and farmers. … It was only during the Cultural Revolution that some students took it so seriously that they adopted it as a concrete goal of the struggle.”

What’s certain is that it’s very hard to have a revolution in power and culture in just one generation; Iran tried to speed up their revolutionary timeline by implementing the world’s second and only other Cultural Revolution just one year after ousting the Shah, whereas China waited 15 years.

The 1949 Revolution installed the collectives, which earned total Western capitalist-imperialist enmity for promising the “five guarantees (wu bao)” – food, clothes, fuel, education for children and a funeral upon death. This was a revolutionary and unprecedented social security system for rural Chinese. However, the social safety net for urbanites was much, much better, which inspired justified resentment.

However, we cannot only discuss the first pillar of socialism – redistribution of wealth; the second pillar – redistribution of power – was almost totally absent in Chinese village life 15+ years after their revolution. This is made apparent by the fact, related by Han, that it was not until spring 1967 that a mass meeting was held in Jimo to discuss the collective local planning and goals for the farm year. “This simple act turned villagers from passive followers into active participants.”

I refer back to my mathematical summary of the CR decade’s gains 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.

We can only understand these massive, unprecedented gains in rural areas when we accept that the CR was only able to create it only via local empowerment of worker/citizens. After grasping that, it becomes easier to accept Han’s primary, and revolutionary, assertion: that China’s post-1980s boom rested on this explosion of economic and human capital in the rural areas, which represented 80% of the country in 1980.

Revolutionary gains in education for rural areas

The idea that the CR persecuted intellectuals is totally false – the CR created them, via 30 times more schools and 10 times more teachers. An “intellectual” does not only mean someone with 2 PhDs – an everyday person’s standards are much lower, and they were certainly much more sensibly lower in 1960s rural China. Han’s research thus describes a stunning great leap forward in rural education which occurred across the entire continent of China, a total inversion of the usual Western propaganda.

Why was China so backwards in 1966 that children were not going to school? Was it because of 17 years of CCP rule? This is what the Mainstream Media would have you believe… as if in the pre-socialist era the same widespread lack of education didn’t exist. No, the backwardness should be attributed to their “Century of Humiliation” as colonial victims. Beyond colonialism, why did this not happen in 1600, 1700 or 1800? The answer is – the advent of socialism. The basic building materials were all available locally – the communes built all the high schools collectively – what was needed was to cut out the capitalist view of economics and to institute the local empowerment of socialist democracy. The resources for building schools did not come from heaven, nor foreign banks – villages collectively pooled their resources and worked together, i.e. socialism.

Where did they get the teachers? There were huge advertising efforts to get educated teachers to return to their hometown – i.e, socialist culture, as opposed to individualist culture. “This policy, unpopular among many government schoolteachers, turned out to be a windfall for Jimo’s joint village middle schools.” Something like this is anathema to the West. It is a denial of absolute freedom, I agree, but it is also the promotion of equality. Socialism insists that one MUST give back; the West says “give back… if you feel like it”, and then their culture encourages them to not feel like it.

The schools also ended the absurd, elitist, anti-intellectual emphasis on passing tests – this policy was only necessary when spaces were so very few. But in the CR era,“All primary school graduates from the seven villages would automatically enter the middle school without any examination.” The capitalist celebration of “academic competition” exists only to cover the fact that their state refuses to create enough schools for all the applicants.

In 1968 Mao did something which in 2019 remains incredibly radical: he proposed that workers and farmers get involved with education, i.e., he fought against technocratic elitism in education. This necessarily creates a revolution in the curriculum, and it is an undeniably democratic one.

From the standpoint of traditional Chinese beliefs, allowing these less-educated farmers and workers to lead the educational reforms was outrageous. How could the less-educated lead the better educated? Fundamentally, this was a philosophical question. The criticism reflected the arrogance of the Chinese educated elite, and their narrow mindset towards knowledge. While these workers and peasants had no formal education, what they did have was practical knowledge and a different perspective on education. They braved the traditional bias and prejudice in Chinese schools and society because they felt they had a mission in education reforms. … In the face of jesting and ridicule, they did not back down. They continued to work with students and teachers.”

As Han relates, peasants won respect by working with the students. That’s revolutionary, and that’s how you decrease the cultural urban-rural divide – sustained contact (even if forced).

Gone were the textbooks made by a few educational elite in Beijing – locals created new curricula and textbooks, in proof that socialism is “central planning” but “local control and local implementation”.

How did the curriculum change? Practical math such as bookkeeping and accounting was introduced; students learned agricultural science by working with farmers; applied science was advanced by studying small-scale machines and engines like those found in rural industries and farms. Instead of physics, machines and pumps were studied; practical over analytical. Given their poverty, this practical knowledge would have huge and immediate effects in nascent rural industries and post-Great Leap Forward re-collectivised farms. This is really the socialism-isation of science – bringing science to the masses. It is the opposite of the capitalist demand for breakthroughs and growthBecause China was full of socialist revolutionaries, the popular changes in education were not as we would expect in a Western version – which would wind up being a curriculum of something akin to “Business MBAs for everyone” – but were obviously geared towards promoting thoughts and actions which were collectively useful, and not just individually profitable.

Absolutely crucially, this is how the Cultural Revolution created the human capital on which the 1980s boom was based: how could the post-1980s boom occur without literate workers? Creating this human capital – via a decided emphasis on elevating the rural citizen – is the ignored or denied central achievement of the CR. No more would “rural” equal “wasteland of human potential”, and the West – still wracked by an urban-rural divide in 2019 – has much to learn here.

“There was a tendency during the Cultural Revolution to elevate physical labor above academic learning, and as a result many students were assigned too much physical labor. The mix of academic and physical labor, however, varied greatly from place to place and from time to time. … The goals of these activities were to increase the school’s annual income and to develop a love for physical labor in the students.” Yes, Chinese schools engaged their students in money-making activities in order to help raise school funds.

If there’s one thing which separates men from boys and women from girls it is the capacity for hard work – if you cannot work hard and learn to enjoy it… be prepared for an unsatisfying life, because decadence is always ultimately unsatisfying to humans. The idea that Western schools would not teach this seems insane, but it is not taught. Furthermore, this work-instead-of-more-sitting is something which boys would love – to get out of the strict classroom confines and get moving. Anyways, Han relates that in the first half of the 1970s at high schools we are talking about just 6 hours per week of non-academic time, or about 1/7th of overall school time. Personally, I have absolutely no idea how leaders will create policies which are sympathetic and respectful to the working class unless they have spent ample time working alongside them….

Again, these well-rounded high schoolers would be the human capital that created the explosion in rural development, up to and including today, and that should be obvious to all.

Han cites a former teacher: “He cited three major achievements of the educational reforms in Jimo. First, rural schools built during the educational reforms trained large numbers of local youth in practical industrial and agricultural skills and knowledge, which has long-term impacts on the development of rural areas. Economic development in Jimo relied on this practical knowledge. Second, the educational reform began to alter the views of teachers who had previously looked down upon farmers. When they were obliged to participate in some forms of manual labor, they learned to respect villagers and other working people. Third, it empowered villagers. Farmers no longer viewed the educated elite with mystic feelings because they knew the educated teachers better after working with them.” These are all universal issues, I am sure: it was the CR’s aim to fix them, and that is incredibly revolutionary and democratic.

Han on the suspension of university in 1966, which Western urban, elitist, technocratic reporting loves to focus on: “From the perspectives of the individuals whose dreams of going to college were shattered, this reform of the college entrance examination system was deeply disappointing. But from the perspective of rural development, this reform measure, not unlike a blood transfusion for a sick patient, brought knowledge and skills that revived rural areas. … Every student had to work in rural areas or in a factory for at least two years before becoming for eligible. Academic performance was not a sole criterion in the selection of candidates for college. Students also had to prove themselves as good farmers or workers before going to college. Starting in 1976, college students from rural areas were required to go back to their original villages after graduation to serve the villagers who sent them to college.”

This is a drastically different perspective than the usual “broken dream” reporting of the West regarding the CR, no?

It is also a drastically different admission standard: good grades AND good working ability, versus the West’s good grades AND tons of money (or influential parents AND tons of money).

It is also a drastically different philosophy: public funds in their small town paid for the schooling of these fortunate Chinese graduates since their childhood, therefore they must return “to serve the villagers who sent them to college”. There is absolutely nothing like this in the capitalist-individualist West, even though “public funds in their small town paid for…”.

Han relates that an average of 85 people returned to each village in Jimo County. “These students became the new teachers, medical personnel, and skilled workers and technicians on which rural development depended. The reform of the college entrance system and the movement of encouraging education urban out to go to rural areas broke the vicious circle in Chinese education.” (emphasis mine)

Han also specifies how these educated urban youth served as a very real cultural and social bridge between the urban and rural areas, which is precisely what is lacking in modern Western countries and a key reason for their huge urban/rural divide. Again, denying someone their individual right (especially the right of a White middle/upper class person, the type most likely to attend college in their nations) is anathema in the West, but we see how very, very socially necessary and productive it was.

I think that Han’s view – which is relating the common villager’s view – should be shattering in terms of perception of these key “radical” reforms of the CR, which is why I am happy to relate them.

The benefits are so obvious and so broad, I’m sure many Westerners will wonder how they can apply it in their non-socialist systems… they likely cannot, because they will be accused of being “socialists”.

A revolution in rural economy, and thus the national economy, and thus the global economy

Let’s not forget that the CR’s open emphasis on the rural over the urban (revolutionary in itself, and unappreciated by the USSR) was also ordered by any conception of democracy: While China was 56% urban in 2015 it was only 20% urban as late as 1980. The USSR’s emphasis on the primacy of a vanguard party over a People’s democratic dictatorship certainly did not keep socialism flag’s flying after 1991.

It is no exaggeration to say that the CR brought the Industrial Revolution to rural China – it was truly that important.

“During the Cultural Revolution agricultural production more than doubled, but just as impressively rural industry went from ‘negligible’ to 36% of Jimo’s economy. The latter is due to the same developments: political culture which changed to empowerment, collective organization and rapid improvement in education which permitted the intelligence required to understand and adopt modern techniques.”

It is not a difficult formula, nor does it absurdly rely on “market magic”….

In the early 1960s Han relates there were just 10 rural industrial enterprises which employed 253 people; by 1976 there were 2,557 enterprises (2.5 per village) which employed 54,771 people. “More importantly, the educational reforms had provided the local industries with educated youth who had acquired technical know-how while in school.”It’s not just a question of technology, but the people who can run them.

I think that readers in developing countries should be amazed and inspired. Foreign investment (and unequal alliances with foreign corporations) is the West’s solution to such problems, but the real solution to building an effective industry which can fuel local development is local education and empowerment.

Han relates how from 1966 to 1976 farmers, often with simple tools, built more reservoirs and other irrigation projects than all those built prior to and after the CR combined. Where would China be in 2019 without all of the CR’s economic development? This also shows that a key catalyst for such changes is socialist-inspired revolutionary cooperation, commitment and selflessness. In the West the only way such collective actions and fervor happens is during defensive wartime, which is proof of capitalism’s quotidian disregard for the lives of their citizens. Han relates how when a business had grown big enough the village took it over – this, too, is anathema in capitalism, of course.

Who did the CR free the most? Women and children, who were liberated from the tedious chore of grinding and mills, because in 1965 rural Jimo still processed their grain in the old –fashioned way. “Most farm work was mechanized by 1976.” The CR decade saw an 1,800% increase in tractors, 3,500% increase in diesel engines, 1,600% increase in electric motors, 700% increase in mills, 5,100% increase in grinders and a 13,200% increase in sprayers – all in just 10 years. These are video game numbers. Let’s compare this to the (still totally underreported) Eurozone “Lost Decade” of 0.6% economic growth from 2008-2017.

For readers in developing countries with significant rural populations – this must seem like an incredible revolution… well, it was. The implications for the CR on India – which is 70% rural – should be obvious, fascinating, well-studied and adopted by them.

The increase came despite the worst and longest drought in Jimo in several decades – 1967-1969 – so in many ways the CR succeeded where the Great Leap Forward failed.

In these 10 years, Jimo suffered no less serious and no fewer natural disasters than in previous decades. There were altogether four serious droughts, four serious floods, four wind disasters, nine hailstorms and three serious insect disasters. Nevertheless, agricultural production steadily and rapidly increased.

The CR also marked a return to grand, collective economic projects – this had not been tried since the Great Leap Forward. The big difference this time was: production decisions were not handed down by high-level authorities. This success was the direct result of the increased socialist democratic empowerment of the CR:

After the baptism of the Cultural Revolution, farmers refused to follow policies from above blindly, unless they were convinced that these policies would advance their living standards.” Han relates how, when it came to Party experts: “But farmers did not have to listen to them. In fact, there were cases of farmers driving away outside cadres.” Such a thing prior to the CR appears to have been impossible.

It should be clear: the CR was the Great Leap Forward 2.0 – China had learned from the mistakes, and improved. We can fairly say that their Belt and Road Initiative is a Great Leap Forward 3.0, and one which is so great it is incorporating most of Eurasia.

We can see the transition from a China where the vanguard party was everything – like industrial workers in 1917 Petrograd – to a better socialism, because it democratically empowered worker/citizens. It should be no surprise that it worked so well – socialism is something which simply must evolve and grow because it is so very new – treating 19th century Marx as though he was a divine apostle is false, absurd and a guarantee of failure. Conversely, capitalism-imperialism has had 300 or 3000 years (depending on your definition) to grow, and it is not surprising that it has culminated into its most heartless, most inequality-producing format – neoliberal capitalism.

Whereas the Great Leap Forward was a hysterical-with-happiness effort to wipe away more than a century of imperial and/or fascist retardation, locals in Jimo calmly and collectively decided what they needed – the fruits are China’s impressive status in 2019.

A revolution in rural medical care, which appeared for the first time

Again, this is the human capital built up during the CR which produced the 1980s boom. Sickness and infirmity – both your own and that of your children, family and friends – is not just personally debilitating but damaging to the economy.

The CR led to the denunciation of the urban-only medical care program, which was an improvement from the pre-1948 days, but clearly not the finished goal of socialist revolution. “Mao denounced the people’s hospitals aschengshi laoye yiyuan (hospitals for urban lords only).”

Thanks to the CR’s refreshing of the collective mentality: “Each villager paid fifty cents annually to the village clinic, which would then provide villagers with rudimentary free medical care for a whole year. By 1970, 910 villages – 93 percent of all villages – had set up their own village clinics and all had rudimentary medical insurance policies for villagers. The rural ‘barefoot doctors’ who staffed village clinics were mostly returned educated rural youth, who had received rudimentary medical training while in high schools.” It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than the previous witch doctors – who were often publicly shamed for the tragedies caused by the false claims of voodoo – and Han notes the “barefoot doctors” worked under the supervision of real doctors.

“If a villager fell ill and needed to be hospitalized, the village would try to pay for his or her medical bills. If the village could not pay, the commune would help. If the medical bills became too big for both village and commune, the hospital would waive the charges. … To be sure, the rural cooperative medical system was of low quality. … But it was the best system of medical care villagers in Jimo had ever had and it provided villagers with important services and peace of mind.”

Again, human capital was created and preserved, allowing Chinese humans to flourish in the 21st century.

A revolution in cultural respect, not a revolution of cultural violence

In an anecdote which shows how gender equality is far more advanced under socialism than capitalism (of course, as is ethnic equality), Han relates an anecdote of twin brothers who abused their wives getting shamefully paraded, but also their mother because she was believed to be the instigator of the abuse.

Han also discusses something the West’s art mavens love to decry with far greater fervor than the continued existence of human poverty: how cultural treasures were lost at the start of the CR, which attacked the “four olds”: old thoughts, old culture, old traditions and old habits.

Han relates how it was the superstitious funeral and wedding ceremony shops which were the main victims in Jimo – in many ways the CCP was trying to replace the old polytheism with communism.

But what Han explains is that as the CR progressed, and rural students were given more funds, time and consideration, rural students began to enjoy subsidized travel outside of their village. For many this was the first time poor rural students had ever had an opportunity to widen their vision of the world, and they immediately realised the error of naively destroying genuine cultural artefacts.

“In Jimo County, the Cultural Revolution took a dramatic turn after young people returned from trips to Beijing where they gained new perspectives. The independent mass associations emerged (Rebel Red Guard Faction), and destruction of the si jiu (four olds) stopped after students returned from their travels.”

It seems the lesson was very quickly learned – the “four olds” should be regarded as quaint relics, and even worth protecting as part of China’s cultural heritage, but they should no longer be feared and thus destroyed, because idols have no power (which was the message of Abraham and monotheism). That point of view seems difficult to grasp when the “four olds” are lorded over you your whole life, and you think that they are all-dominating instead of being paper tigers.

This is very reminiscent of the trips sponsored by the Iranian Basij: poor young people are given their first chance to travel outside of their village or town, and the result amazingly broadens their perspective.

Such trips also accentuates class consciousness by revealing disparities between town and country: “They were humbled to some extent, but they also felt indignation over the gap in the living standards between the rural and urban areas.”

Not only were new relationships formed, but genuine political intelligence about China’s current situation was increased among rural minds.

It was during these trips that Lan Chengwu and his comrades learned about the widespread corruption among rural cadres. The outrages of village tuhuangdi (local emperors) who stole collective grain, slept with other people’s wives and suppressed those who dared to challenge them angered Lan and his comrades and fired their determination to sustain the Cultural Revolution. Today, official historical accounts emphasize the disruptive impact of chuanlian on the national transportation system.”

I include that last sentence because it shows how far to the socialist right China’s official line is today when compared with the CR decade, which is the subject of the 7th part in this series. Many Iranians similarly chafe at the subsidized trips for Basiji members, but they, too, miss the many revolutionary benefits for poor members.

The essential economic dialectic of the Cultural Revolution must be revived in 2019

“The Cultural Revolution educational reforms provided the rural areas with a large number of educated youth. While in school they learned what was useful for the rural areas, and when they returned to their home village upon graduation they could make good use of what they had learned. … Without the large number of educated youth arrived from the cities, agricultural experiments and mechanization in rural areas would have been unimaginable. … Unlike their illiterate predecessors, the newly educated young farmers had the conceptual tools to modernize production.”

This is the human capital on which China’s post-1980 economic boom surely must be based on, and that is the essential achievement of the Cultural Revolution. By applying socialism’s elevation of the average person, instead of capitalism’s elevation of the exceptional, China has become a superpower.

Han demonstrates – conclusively, impressively and crucially – that, “The building of rural industry in Jimo County, however, began as a result of the Cultural revolution and was already well under way before the onset of Deng’s rural reforms.”This is why Han’s book is so crucial, and especially for developing countries with high rural populations.

China’s socialist/collective mentality increased education and Socialist Democratic changes, whereas the Western-pushed Liberal Democratic changes have never produced the same kind of spectacular results in neo-imperialised countries.

Finally, the “forced repatriation” of educated rural people and some urbanites clearly provided the most vital catalyst for China’s rural renewal, and thus national renewal; it was the indispensable “blood transfusion”, in Han’s words. This policy will never be pushed by the individualist West, but it should be of great interest to more sensible countries.

China’s Cultural Revolution era was so economically and democratically successful that the West simply must ignore it or distort it. It stands in total contrast to the Western-dominated, neo-imperialist neoliberal model, a model which has proven to only increase inequalities and discontents in their nations.

China’s rural areas did not need Western banker investment or instruction to tap into their human potential – does your nation?

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This is the 6th 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.

Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution? (5/8)

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution? (5/8)

In Part 3 of this 8-part series I answered the question raised by that part’s title: Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? To recap: China wanted something which the Eurozone has none of: participatory economic planning. China also wanted much more participatory democracy (political empowerment) at the local level and to move even further away from an all-controlling, imperious central state.

But why did this require a decade-long Cultural Revolution (CR)? The answer to that question is: all Red Guards, promoted to install the CR, weren’t all red!

This article will explain something never even hinted at in Western (faux) histories of China: the differences between the two Red Guard factions – the one on the left of the spectrum of socialist political thought, and the one on the right side of the spectrum.

This explains why the primary victims of the Red Guards were… the Red Guards! But that likely needs further explanation….

These party differences were so deep, so broad, so ingrained and so fiercely held that China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is perhaps best conceived of as “China’s Socialist Civil War”. The CR truly was China’s center and left against their right-wing… but we must remember that “right-wing” in a socialist context is still far, far to the left of the “right-wing” in a capitalist context. Of course, China also had some unrepentant “Western right-wing” citizens who refused to adopt socialism who were also involved.

But we live in a world today where many disbelieve in the concept of a hard and scientific “political spectrum”. Many refute any sort of standardization of political thought, as if a person’s political ideas could be so incredibly unique that they defy labeling of any sort, despite the obvious hindrance to understanding and solidarity this belief can’t help but create. Given this widespread error, we should not be surprised that the Western Mainstream Media has no interest at all in fully describing the Chinese spectrum of battling forces during the CR; for them the CR is divided into murderous savages (the Party, the government, students) and totally-innocent victims (usually professors, intellectuals, and those forced to shovel manure instead of constantly talking it).

I will soon explain how Red Guards were the greatest victims of the CR, but to do so I must first dispense with the Western idea that China’s CR was some sort of power-struggle and byproduct of a Mao-cult, as opposed to being a truly democratic event.

The CR’s democratic bonafides are are proven by the fact that there was massive popular involvement. Conversely, the Eurogroup – which decides the economic policies of the Eurozone – is not democratic because there is extremely limited involvement in decision-making.

This is verified in 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 in China. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my brand-new bookI’ll Ruin Everything you Are: Ending Western Propaganda in Red China. I hope you can buy a copy for yourself and your 300 closest friends.

“These mass associations (definition coming shortly) were formed largely in the spirit of free association, and enjoyed tremendous independence and freedom. They cut across clan and family lines. It was common for people from the same clan and same family to join different associations. People came together because of their political views. With few exceptions, all of the adult population belonged to one mass association or another.” (emphasis mine)

The Chinese Socialist Civil War showed the one indispensable hallmark of producing a true & successful revolution: universal political participation. In Russia in 1917 or in Iran in 1979, everybody – and I mean everybody – talked politics all the time.

It should not be surprising that the opposite is true: in hugely reactionary cultures like the US or the UK serious political discussion is verboten among friends and family. This is the reason why far-right thinking dominates in these countries – conservatism and traditionalism go unopposed. However, in China the far-right had been (quite properly) banned in 1949; therefore, the CR was a battle among “Chinese right-wing socialists”…which shows how very much more advanced and evolved Chinese political discussion and culture is compared with Anglophone countries, where right-wing elements still are allowed to confuse, distort and champion horrid ideas.

The “mass associations” which Han refers to needs his explanation:

I personally feel there is a need to distinguish between mass organizations and mass associations. The former term would be applied to the organizations like the militia, the Communist Youth League, women’s association, workers’ unions and the official Red Guards which were set up by the CCP and were official in nature. The latter term would refer to the independent Red Guard groups formed largely in the spirit of free association. … Both the rebels and the defenders of the Party leaders were called Red Guards. The rebels were called zaofan pai (rebel faction) while the defenders were known as the baohuang pai (loyalist or royalist faction)….”

This distinction is the essence of the CR: the conflict was between those who were pushed by Mao to criticize the Party in a never-before seen manner – the Rebel Faction (associations) – and those who opposed such criticism and changes – the Loyalist Faction (organizations); both were “Red Guards”, however.

Essentially, the Loyalist Faction Red Guards didn’t know what they were getting into when they started the new CR, as they soon found themselves under attack.

Why the Cultural Revolution was totally different to China, from the Chinese perspective

Han relates in detail and in real-time how the CR came to Jimo County: who were the “rebel leaders”, who were the criticized Party members, who fought back against the CR, and how it evolved from what could have been just another “anti-rightist campaign”, like in 1957, or yet another of near-yearly “anti-corruption campaigns”, into something wholly new – a CR.

Let’s start at the beginning:

“At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the CCP had total control of Chinese political and economic life. …(the CCP) held the reins of power at each level.”

But what Mao and his supporters wanted was to provoke was something which was previously banned as “anti-party thought” – independent criticism of Party authorities. (Such criticism is widespread in Iran – the critics have not succeeded in persuading Iranians to abandon their revolution, however.)

The democratic bonafides of the CR are further strengthened by the fact that those who openly criticized the government were not punished, but given power. That is a very rare phenomenon. But we are skipping ahead – the first rare phenomenon is that poor rural people were given platforms to explain where their Party-led society had failed, and where the empowerment created by socialist revolution had not yet reached.

“It (the CR) differs from all the previous political campaigns because for the first time in the CCP’s history it circumvented the local party bosses and stressed the principle of letting the masses empower themselves and educate themselves.” (Han’s emphasis)

This is the revolution within a socialist revolution provided by Maoism – only installing a vanguard party is not enough to achieve on-the-ground, democratic socialism.

The first two months of the CR (June-July 1966) saw attacks on the “Four Olds” –in essence, attacks on outdated, repressive and capitalist customs, cultures, habits, and ideas. This was led by the Loyalist Faction Red Guards, to be distinguished from the Rebel Faction Red Guards who came to power later.

“Of course, from the point of view of local party officials, campaigns to destroy the four olds and attack landlords, capitalists and political enemies were convenient ways to divert attention from themselves and protect themselves from attack.” So in this way the first couple months of the CR was a really just a “pseudo-CR”, because it was led by many of the corrupt cadres themselves.

But what stopped this “pseudo-CR” was the August 1966 Mao-faction drafted “16 Points”, which boldly and correctly proclaimed as its headline: “A New Stage in the Socialist Revolution”. The 16 points is briefly summarized here, but to recap: capitalism is essentially a negative societal habit, and if this habit is not broken wherever it is found within a socialist society then it will lead to the unwanted restoration of capitalism-imperialism. Thus, the CR requires vigorous refutation and discrediting of proven anti-socialist thought and influence.

Crucially, the 16 Points, “…made the distinction between the Communist party as an institution and party bosses as individuals in a definitive manner, and which stressed that the targets of the Cultural Revolution were the capitalist roaders inside the Party.” (Han’s emphasis)

Capitalist roader” is, I feel, a rather inelegant but common English translation of this supremely important Maoist phrase. What it refers to is: a person who wants to get off the road of socialism and return to the road of capitalism-imperialism. It is not an effective translation because it lacks the necessary implication of betraying socialism’s already-acquired advances. “Capitalist re-roader” would be better, but also inelegant. However, one of the beauties of socialist jargon is its refusal to be elegant at all!

What we can also do is to call the capitalist roaders something more accurate – “anti-empowerment roaders”. Or we could call them “king-roaders”, for Muslim countries still oppressed by monarchies, and “CEO-roaders” for the Western republics suffering from bourgeois/West European/Liberal Democracy’s promotion of neoliberal ideals.

Let’s put the 16 Points in China’s historical context:

In a very real way we can say that after 17 years the CCP had definitely established themselves as the dominant and accepted political force in the country – no more Kuomintang, no more foreign powers, far fewer rightists – and thus they could “relax” their grip… by risking a healthy, re-dedicating CR to start focusing on improving the Party’s control rather than just cementing the Party’s control.

It is simply unrealistic politics to imagine that all revolutions don’t have this “consolidation phase”. I would contend that the Iranian Revolution is nearing the end of their consolidation phase; if the US had honored the JCPOA treaty – and if European nations had the courage to honor their word – the Islamic Revolution would have become totally legitimized domestically, and Iran would have to come up with a “New Stage in the Iranian Islamic Revolution” and their own “16 points”. Instead, a totally desperate US has just gone nuclear, by banning anyone from buying Iran oil. Iran’s enemies are as close to war as they can possibly get with that move, simply because they don’t want Iranian Islamic Socialism to spread any more than they want Socialism With Chinese Characteristics to spread.

Indeed, Iran is in a situation we can compare to China in 1963. People act like China was always an equal with the West, as they have been in the 21st century – back then China was still banned from the World Trade Organisation, under US sanctions which would not be lifted until Nixon in 1971, and watching the US wage war on its neighbors & set up nearby military bases. Revolutionary fervour is often imposed rather than chosen – Mao rejected Soviet revisionism and laxity because China did not have the leeway, options and power that the USSR had. If the incredibly belligerent decision of banning Iranian oil actually takes hold, we should thus not be surprised if Iranian “hard-liners” promote a 2nd Iranian Cultural Revolution as a result – indeed, how can socialist-inspired nations relent when compromise is certain death and disgrace? How can we say that China’s CR failed when it obviously convinced the West to call off their Cold War? Regarding Iran, all I can say is: Iranian Cultural Revolution II is far, far, far more likely than the eruption of an unpatriotic civil war which aims to ally itself with the US. LOL….

At this point in China’s CR history, Han elaborates the very essence of the unheard & the unreported point of view of the Cultural Revolution:

“After the ‘16 points’ was publicized, it became very difficult for individual party leaders to use ‘party leadership’ as a shield against criticism. … The ‘chaos’ that attacks on the local party leaders would cause was the price Mao was willing to pay in order to create opportunities to empower the masses. … The ‘16 Points’ and Mao’s support liberated the suppressed rebels throughout China. It also took away the sacred veneer from local ‘dictators’ whom ordinary people called ‘tuhuangdi’ (local emperors) and subjected them to mass criticism. … Former rebel leaders in Jimo like Lan Chengwu and Wang Sibo say that Mao called his 1966 revolution ‘cultural’ because he wanted to cultivate a more democratic political culture in order to eradicate the tuhuangdi phenomenon.”

This is the crucial evolution of socialism: away from the Party dictators and jingoistic loyalists, and towards the “rebels”, who should also be considered synonymous with “true socialists” and “true revolutionaries of empowerment”.

In many ways this encapsulates why the West essentially ends modern Chinese history with 1966 – to them, China always remained a “totalitarian” system with absolutely zero local democratic empowerment. Han agrees that the previous system was – in an genuine but certainly not complete sense of the word – “totalitarian” (centralized and dictatorial), but he shows that the CR specifically fought to change this reality; it was even led by the “totalitarians” themselves.

The West has remained stuck in their false mindset by misinterpreting and not discussing the CR. They have refused to tell the truth and do not even try to understand the CR. Again empowering Chinese and Iranian-style socialism, and not empowering their domestic leftists, are their malign motivations.

Han demonstrates that the CR represents a fundamentally-positive and democratic evolution in the quality of their socialist democracy. This evolution facilitated an explosion in rural-dominated China’s rural economies, industries and schooling and lay the foundation, taught the skills and started the industries which fueled their post-1980 economic success. Modern China’s success cannot be understood without grasping this evolution created specifically by the CR because it fundamentally changed the entire country, even if revolutionary fervour inevitably waned some with the arrival of Deng Xiaoping.

The CR was so intense, so thorough and so very democratic (China being 80% rural at the time), that it cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to grasp modern China; failure to understand the CR also means that one’s politics are stuck in the ‘60s, and certainly that is a fair assessment of the West – they have totally regressed to the right politically, culturally and economically since then. This link is never discussed.

Which Red Guards fought which Red Guards and why?

Now that the background running up until 1967 is laid, we can properly understand the fighting that came after. Without this fighting, the CR would have been just another “anti-rightist campaign”. The fighting was the result of the creation and state protection of totally-grassroots groups, which Han called “mass associations”; these mass associations sat in opposition to “mass organizations”, which represented the CCP status quo.

“With the issuing of ’16 points’, the official Red Guards organized under the auspices of local party leaders dissolved very quickly. Independent rebel associations began to appear,” and these are Han’s “mass associations”. In Jimo County a dozen new, independent Rebel Red Guard associations emerged through the spontaneous democracy guarded by the Mao-faction and the army (the left and center).

Han notes how the Chinese Constitution had always protected free assembly, but that it was never really permitted; these associations were the first time rural peasants could create unified groups which served as a challenge to Party domination. Han relates the universal political participation, and how political debate between associations was constant and transparent. This not only allowed the mastery and tweaking of political ideas, but it empowered the peasant masses by allowing them to speak publicly for the first time ever. These are the kinds of things which prove the CR’s democratic bonafides, but which the West cannot accept nor popularize. Indeed, how can the CR be undemocratic when it fostered, protected and promoted new grassroots institutions? What is more democratic than spontaneous grassroots organizations? We see here the truly revolutionary nature of the CR.

Each village Han studied had roughly three to five new mass associations, and he related how widespread the democratic participation was down to the household level. “The major difference between them was whether or not to overthrow the old village party bosses.”

Therefore, the CR was essentially a massive referendum on the performance of individual civil servants.

If you were a good boss, who maybe was in charge of some small town’s only mill or granary or whatever, everyone in that small town surely knew you were good…. because that’s how small towns are – they know your personal business. And such good bosses kept their jobs (and kept in line). But if you were a tuhuangdi who siphoned off the profits to buy presents to seduce married women, everyone in that small town already knew it – because that’s how small towns are – and you’d be exposed and publicly shamed. Public shaming is an Asian thing, perhaps, but I certainly see it as just punishment. I note that Han does not record that any such person died as punishment in Jimo County.

Han relates how workers and farmers joined the Rebel Faction out of dissatisfaction with local Party leaders. These Rebel Faction Red Guards (associations) were supported by the left-wingers in the Chinese Socialist Democratic System (Mao and those who thought like him), whereas the Loyalist Faction Red Guards (organizations) were the status quo-preserving establishment. All were Red Guards, though.

The Rebel Faction Red Guards were joined by idealistic students, and now the two sides began to really fight it out against the Loyalist Faction Red Guards. Many might assume that the army tipped the balance, but that’s not the case:

“The army was called upon to support the revolutionary leftists by the center. But since there was no concrete criterion for a revolutionary leftist, it was really up to the soldiers in the fields to decide who they wanted to support.”

Even though Mao, the center, and the left called for the army to support the Rebel Faction Red Guards, Han reveals yet another democratic bonafide of the CR: the army was not manipulated for political reasons, but was allowed to freely choose their own side. Therefore, if the right wing in China’s socialist spectrum was overwhelmed in the CR decade, and if the army did not intervene to prop them up, the only reason is because many in the People’s Liberation Army were genuine leftists themselves, i.e. democracy prevailed.

When the dust cleared, the Red Guards (Rebel Faction) beat the Red Guards (Loyalist Faction)

As expected, in the early years of the CR the Rebel Faction Red Guards initially faced much local official persecution for denouncing people like Police Chiefs for poor performance, capitalist-roading and abuse of authority. People talk about the CR as if there was no give-and-take of abuse, imprisonment and mistreatment, but of course the Loyalist Faction had many levers to pull and obstacles to throw up despite the opposition of Mao way over in the capital.

So when we talk about the violent excesses of the CR, we must keep in mind that the CR’s victors had to overcome much initial official repression. Revolutionary payback is usually not a bouquet of flowers with a thank-you card.

But the primary reason there was so much anger was likely because prior to the CR there simply, “…were no regular channels for ordinary villagers to air their opinions and grievances against the Party authorities.” It’s not that Chinese Socialism had failed, but that equality was not universal due to a clear urban/rural divide. The CR was essentially a rural explosion which demanded that equality. It is not for nothing the very first big character poster – the Chinese version of a free press back then, and that is no exaggeration at all – attacked the educational inequalities at China’s top university and demanded that the doors be opened wider to rural students. The Yellow Vests are doing the same… but less coherently, which should be expected – Westerners are not as intellectually politically advanced & experienced as the Chinese in 1964.

The Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution

In the end, the CR was about demanding that second pillar of Marxism – redistribution of power – for rural areas; the CR was China dealing with it’s rural/urban divide, whereas the West is only starting to come to grips with their divide with Brexit, the Yellow Vests, the “basket of deplorables”, etc.

“Some villagers say that before the Cultural Revolution villagers felt shorter before party leaders, and always nodded to them first when they met on the street. After the Cultural Revolution ordinary villagers no longer felt diminished before the village leaders and such leaders often greeted ordinary villagers first when they met on the street.”

Such “who greets whom first” etiquette is a classic small-town concern, LOL.

But it is a real concern, and public servants simply must address public concerns – that is their primary job. Public servants who expect to be feted like social superiors are clearly not “of” or “for the People”.

We can see why the Western 1% is so fearful of a CR occurring locally – capitalism is all about venerating the “Great Man”, whom we should be thanking for giving us the opportunity to work for peanuts.

The CR is supposed to be so bloody, but Han does not list any deaths in Jimo County as a result of CR violence. Han says with only a few exceptions the corrupt party leaders were rehabilitated. Heck, the CCP allowed Pu Yi, “the Last Emperor” to be rehabilitated and live his life out in peace, so why not the local emperors? It is capitalist legal systems which prioritize useless and unequal punishment over rehabilitation, not socialist systems.

The idea that 500,000 to 2 million people died in the CR is a number which seems to be invented by Western imaginations, because how many of these claimants did the in-depth study Han did… and yet Han reports zero deaths?

Considering this was both a revolution and a civil war, should such a deal toll stand as proof of the CR’s inherent immorality? Does anybody do that for the US Civil War, which cost 600,000 lives? Of course not. The big difference between the two is: nobody in the West does the work Han did and proves that the CR led to huge increases in economic, political, medical, educational, social and democratic empowerment. Time will show that the CR freed the Chinese rural slaves, in a very genuine sense. Maybe they weren’t freed enough, but neither were US Blacks, who went from slaves to Jim Crow… but these are undoubtedly two civil wars with positive overall results.

By the time local party organizations began to function again in late 1969, after almost three years of dormancy, the political culture had already changed.

Han recounts their characteristics and practices, and how they replaced the old structures, and my margin notes read “democracy” over and over and over and over.

The number of party members doubled in Jimo County from 1965-1978 (the year Deng took office), but this was not the error of Krushchev, who let in a bunch of ideologically-suspect Soviets in order to dilute the power of the Stalinist wing – China opened its doors to their true revolutionaries who made their bones during the CR decade.

In a very important sense, even if Deng’s more right-wing socialist line came to the fore in the 1980s, and even if there would be a purge of Rebel Faction leaders during the Deng era, the cadres and citizens pushed to the left during the CR (as Dongping Han seems to have been) have helped ensure that China has not at all fully switched to the capitalist road.

The CR undoubtedly brought untold wealth, progress and empowerment for rural areas (as I briefly related in Part 1). Trumpeting these achievements is verboten in the West, but is the focus of the next part in this series.

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This is the 5th 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.

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

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.

Yellow Vests get 1st game-changing win: A vote to stop denationalisation of airports

April 11, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogYellow Vests get 1st game-changing win: A vote to stop denationalisation of airports

You never read the word “denationalisation” in Western media anymore, only “privatisation”.

That makes sense… “denationalisation” is so obviously negative; it’s lack of patriotism and concern for the public welfare isn’t being covered up.

The New York Times seemed to stop using the word around the mid-1980s – which makes sense, because that’s when the propaganda of neoliberalism fully took hold. In 2019, a generation later, journalists don’t even question that “privatisation” is a bad thing: for them “nationalisation” is probably a pejorative term, smacking of “nationalism”, which has become essentially synonymous with “racism” in the Western vocabulary.

But “denationalisation” is totally accurate: the selling off businesses which were undoubtedly paid for by the People of the nation, and then operated for the good of the nation.

We cannot say that all neoliberals hate their nation – being “anti-nation” is the ideology of globalists, a subset of neoliberalism. We can say that neoliberals hate “the state”, and the distinction is important.

Listen to the talk radio in the United States and you invariably find Protestant religious radio, and they love to equate “the Beast” of the Bible with the federal government; this satisfies both neoliberal and libertarian listeners. This explains why neoliberals push “privatisation”. When they discover that the 1% to whom the denationalisation was made was to foreign 1%ers… they might get upset at that – they won’t if they are globalisation neoliberals.

Accurate political-economic terminology aside, the Yellow Vests can now tell everyone, “Ta gueule!” (shut your face)

They undoubtedly won their first real victory against Emmanuel Macron this week, as opposition parliamentarians surprisingly banded together to vote in favor of holding a referendum on the sell-off of all three airports in the Paris area. Swiss-style RICs – citizens’ initiative referendums – is the primary democratic-structural demand of the Vesters; the fact that one might now take place is undoubtedly due to their agitation.

A begrudging French media, which hates the Yellow Vests for daring to question the agenda leadership of the 4thestate, of course did not celebrate what is an obvious victory for everyone living on French soil or just flying through Paris. However, their skepticism is justified: France’s last referendum was in 2005 for the Maastricht Treaty, and that was immediately ignored… much like the Brexit vote appears to be .Today was supposed to the day the UK left the EU and regained their sovereignty, and now we’ll have a 24-7 media onslaught for a 2nd vote. Personally, I think the first vote should not be respected – everybody knows votes don’t really count until the 4th or 5th one….

I was quite surprised at France’s revival of economic patriotism/good sense. The day prior to the decision I did this report for PressTV – there were only perhaps 150 Yellow Vest protesters in front of the Senate, which appeared certain to vote their approval for Macron’s sell off. It’s still not sure a referendum will actually take place – it would be a first – but it could be in the headlines for months, emboldening more to join the Yellow Vests all the while.

Did Macron’s incredibly dirty tactics turn the tide?

The idea of selling off state assets to rich people is already shameful to anyone who isn’t rabidly against Socialist Democracy, but Macron’s tactics went beyond the pale.

Firstly, he pushed the totally-compliant, neophyte, business executives-turned-politicians (or, to places like The Economist – “civil society”) in the National Assembly to rewrite laws allowing the denationalisation of the airport. It’s always fun to read France’s Orwellian names for their “deforms” – this one was the Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Companies (Loi PACTE).

Then, to avoid media coverage and a possible defeat, at 6:15am on Saturday March 16, he called a vote on the sell-off. French PMs work really late hours – I have no idea why, this isn’t Spain – but I’ve never seen that. Only 45 deputies voted out of the lower house’s total 577. The mainstream media had to go into overdrive to explain why the vote was actually legal. Nobody covered that – we all missed it, including me. Hey, I’m a daily hack journalist – I can’t do a story 2 days after the fact. Ya can’t cover them all, and there’s always another one around the corner.

Then, in something no media appears to be connecting, Macron pushed back the end date of his phony PR-campaign known as the “National Debate” in order to draw attention away from this week’s planned Senate vote. Yellow Vesters did not care, they – as planned – engaged in massive civil disobedience on the Champs-Elysées the day after the National Debate was supposed to end, March 16, even burning down a bank, though I was truly the only one to properly explain why (and at the bank!). So this week Macron unveiled his “conclusions” of the 2.5-month talk-fest, which were, essentially: “It’s good to know that I’ve been right all along!” He was clearly hoping the media would focus on his technocratic rightness, instead of giving column inches and air time to the airport sell-off.

But he didn’t count on non-Macron party deputies joining together for the good of the nation. Or, for many, the good of their re-election campaign: after all, denationalisation is so unpopular its name cannot even be uttered anymore – opposing the 10 billon euro windfall from the sale is a sure winner with the voters.

Briefly: it is totally absurd to believe Macron’s claim that the state can only find 10 billion euros for an “industrial innovation fund” via selling off Paris airports (as well as the National Lottery and France’s stake in energy giant Engie). France has given scores upon scores of billions in tax cuts to corporations and businesses during the Age of Austerity, repeatedly telling us that the 1% will invest in industrial innovations funds of their own making and all without state strings attached to the cuts. Then you have tax evasion which is in the hundreds of billions in lost money for state coffers… which will be hard to find, considering that Macron wants to cut thousands of jobs in the Finance ministry, the ministry whose job it is to collect taxes (must kill the Beast… it’s what Jesus would do!).

In short, it’s a very bad week for Macron: just 6% of France said his National Watch Macron Outdo Fidel Castro In Speechifying was a success, and then it didn’t even provide cover for the privatisation his neoliberal globalist ilk loves more than absolutely anything. Why is it better to them than even oh-so-profitable wars – you axe tens of thousands of Beast/government jobs, and you get an already-made cash cow which has a customer base which is obviously guaranteed / an outright monopoly.

Iran knows what everyone in France hasn’t learned (except the Yellow Vests)

So in the mid-80s the neoliberal mindset had spent about 5 years ripening like bad French cheese; in 1991 the USSR’s leaders ignored the referendum which saw 78% of Soviets vote to remain Soviets; and by 2002 those “lefty” Frenchies had initiated denationalising the highways – the historical arc is clear, if slow-moving to some.

I was really surprised when I moved to “socialist” France that they had sold off the nation’s roads. Today, when a driver pays 60 euros in tolls to drive from Paris to Marseille – and that’s just the one-way – you feel like setting the toll booths on fire. Which is what the Yellow Vests did – it was a public service….

Denationalising the airport would have the same costly effect for the average Frenchman. It will have the same effect the UK experienced after denationalising their railways: a season ticket is now 5 times higher than on the Continent, with time-keeping, safety and comfort all worse, too. In the US you have headlines like this one last year from St. Louis: Lambert (airport) privatisation looks like Chicago’s parking meter disaster.

(Anyone recall the fringes of a scene in Godfather II of Cuban-style socialism’s victory night – they were smashing the parking meters? I can report that in 2019 the People’s land is still free for the Cuban People to park on. Many probably thought they were just looting….)

Macron should take heart that I will not be allowed to park my car – which I bought entirely with change – for free in Paris anytime soon: the West European / Liberal Democratic system is geared in his favor. Want more proof? Yellow Vests demonstrations have been totally banned in Lyon, the third-largest city, after a complaint from what is honestly (no kidding!) the real power in Western societies: the local chamber of commerce.

So we have “privatisation” and “denationalisation”… and then we have Iranian “privatisation”, which we hear about all the time. Rouhani has gone “neoliberal”, right? Ahmadinejad did, too, uh huh?

LOL, I swear, I truly am always laughing when I write about this subject! Iran is not selling off 51% of state assets to the Rothschilds, or the Swiss, or… the Turks?! LOL, the Turks running Iran? Do we want our nice things to be ruined?!

Iran’s “privatisation” aren’t “privatisations” because they “sold” the state-owned assets to state-controlled groups like the Revolutionary Guards, bonyads (religious charity co-operatives) and the Basij. So it wasn’t even “denationalisation”. It certainly wasn’t “neoliberal privatisation” – because the state nearly always retains more than just a controlling interest (20%) but a 51% share – and if you say Iran has gone “neoliberal globalization” I am truly going to be in hysterics!

So it’s not that Iranian media is obscuring what is going on by excising previously popular terms, it’s that Iran has revolutionary (unique) concepts of governance for which there simply are no words for it in foreign languages… yet.

But we can agree on this: such unique changes are the opposite of what Macron wanted for France; and such unique changes are so reviled by the capitalist-imperialist West that – as of this week – everyone in the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij is now considered a terrorist by the US.

There are 10-25 million Basiji, almost none of whom are armed, and the majority of whom are women and children, but… ok, they’re all terrorists. Whatever it takes to not pay 60 euros in tolls one-way.

That sounds like a very effective revolutionary cry for the Yellow Vests!

France should thank them – they have stopped (for now) the French People’s loss of one of the world’s busiest airports. Certainly, it’s a tangible victory which shuts up their detractors, which forcibly changes the mainstream media’s Liberal Democratic agenda, and which prods their fellow citizens to become more politically enlightened.

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 I’ll 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.

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