If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

March 30, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Germany and their moral poses… a century of Europe cries, “Enough!”

It’s hard for those living outside of Europe to understand the resentment towards Germany; Germans themselves often seem totally oblivious – the “German professor” only ever sees bad, unruly students, after all.

When I first moved to Paris in 2009 I remarked how all the Germans I met were so very nice. I was told, “They have to be, after what they’ve done.”

Low blow?

Hardly. Ignoring history is not politeness or PC progress or evidence of forward-thinking: it’s denial, hysteria and illusory thinking.

To paraphrase Henny Youngman: Take my Mutti – please. Angela Merkel is my generation’s Margaret Thatcher. When Thatcher died there were street parties in the UK, which were brutally repressed by cops, but the billionaire-directed Western Mainstream Media ordered paeans to be penned instead.

For Merkel there has similarly never been anything but fawning coverage, as evidenced – aggravatingly – by this recent story from the Associated Press: Merkel shines in handling of Germany’s coronavirus crisis.

Why such love for an abusive mother? Because she certainly hasn’t abused the German 1%: under Merkel German corporations have re-colonised much of Central Europe, they have extracted as much wealth as possible from weaker Eurozone nations like Greece, and downward pressure on wages was maintained on the German post-Hartz Re(De)forms workforce via the importation of hundreds of thousands of skilled Syrians and detested “minijobs”.

On a pan-European level ever since 2008, and even in the heat of the 2012 European Sovereign Debt Crisis, we have Germany’s constant refusal for “more Europe”, which is the only possible way to save this (atrocious, anti-democratic, unaccountable, corrupt, American-penned, socialism-detesting) version of the pan-European project. Germany refuses to collateralise Eurozone debt, even though it is Germany who would collect as they are the debtors, because Germany doesn’t want mere dead gold but living debt slaves.

The Eurozone is simply so riddled with contradictions and stupidities it just defies journalistic explanation:

Germany just doesn’t get it – for every country with an export surplus, there simply has to be a country with a corresponding deficit. It was German (and French) banks who signed off on the bad loans to the “immoral” Greeks which precipitated the biggest Eurozone problems, and yet it is German banks who got bailed out, despite their errors; and yet it is German banks who got QE to loan; and yet it is German banks which didn’t loan a dime of QE, and certainly not to Greeks. Germany is the biggest recipient of the ECB bond-buying, even though they don’t need it, whereas Greece was excluded even though they need it?

Crazy, but let’s look at Germany’s explanation for all these selfish actions action: moral hazard. They simply cannot perpetuate immorality, and deficits (even if to pay for the elderly, the poor, health care, education, etc.) are immoral. Haven’t you read your Kant, and his OCD-morality? German absolutism is absolute; their personal conscience must be clean no matter how many murderers must be let in the door to commit murder.

So… explain your €822 billion bailout, Germany?

Wait – what? A bailout worth 22% of annual German GDP?

What happened to budget rigour and the moral imperative of balanced budgets? What happened to the total, facile nonsense that a national economy is simply a household writ large? What happened to Yanis Varoufakis recycling absurd stereotypes like “Teutonic discipline” (has he never seen an Oktoberfest?)?

Oh, I get it… Germany is in a crisis – EU deficit rules need to be relaxed.

However: Greece and others were in a crisis for years – why didn’t their crises matter?

(Millions starving in Yemen, millions dying of bad water globally, deaths from natural disasters – indeed, why does the Corona crisis matter so very, VERY much more than those crises? I just can’t comprehend the West’s crisis criterion.)

But it gets worse with Germany: Bailouts for Greece and other crisis-hit nations were contingent on forcing open their economies. German and Dutch companies gleefully bought up assets and market share, and forced in their products but now Germany Will Block Foreign Takeovers to Avoid Economy Sell-Out?

It’s disgusting, German hypocrisy.

But Europeans have been dealing with this for quite some time. In January I wrote this article to explain Europe’s perpetual stagnation and unrest: 1941, 1981, 2017 or today – it’s still Germany’s fault.

Need more? In 2017, foolishly assuming that QE would actually end, I wrote France’s historic effort for an anti-austerity Eurozone, which detailed the self-harming, wooing efforts from De Gaulle to Mitterrand to Hollande aimed at ending this historical trend: “France wanted to not be conquered by the US-German alliance, so they kept proposing a Franco-German (capitalist) alliance.”

Ramin, you seem rather anti-German. Are you a tribalist-racist?

No. What I am is a daily hard news journalist in the heart of Europe and I am fed up with reading lecture after lecture from Germany; hypocrisy after hypocrisy; duplicity upon duplicity.

Just tell me this: where is the “moral hazard” in the Corona crisis, Germany?

Shine a light on that for me, Mutti Merkel.

She cannot. There is none.

There are healthy companies – who have as much Teutonic economic discipline, intelligence and good DNA as a pure and spotless German – in places like Italy which are going to go under without something like Corona-bonds to provide financing wrought by the Marxist logic-defying Western shutdown.

Forget it – shot down already by Germany and their Dutch toadies. Same old story….

The corona overreaction defies Marxist logic and is economic suicide (socialist-inspired nations like China and Iran control their economies, so they can do things which the corporate-dominated West cannot) but yet another German refusal to help, to pool debt and risk, to show solidarity means Germany must leave the Eurozone.

Hell, we KNOW they have the money – while they have had their boots on the throats of people like the Greeks the Germans have also been assiduously picking their pockets. Germany can afford such a staggeringly huge bailout because of these incredibly immoral profits! Oh no Ramin, you’re wrong – they got those profits simply because German capitalists are so very moral. Sure, sure….

German bankers entrapped poorer Eurozone countries into debt slavery, and now that their slaves are sick Germany wants a quarantine?

You’ll never read such analyses in the West, that’s for sure, but what is absolutely, absolutely certain is that the average Eurozone citizen knows what I am talking about already. Anti-German sentiment is going to absolutely explode if Germany’s historical pattern – pro-US imperialism, anti-European project, self-interest above solidarity – continues.

Everybody in Europe (and the whole world) has seen how China, and not Germany, is the one sending supplies to corona-hit Italy. Yes, the Eurozone’s terrible structure means it is always fiddling while Rome burns, but I truly believe that German (capitalist-imperialist) leadership simply doesn’t care.

Of course there are good Germans who want Corona bonds, but the simplest solution to the Eurozone’s crisis has always been to expel Germany.

If Germany is unwilling to take the basic steps needed to improve the currency union, it should do the next best thing: Leave the eurozone.” That’s an assessment from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. Yes, I did write ‘The Euro’ by Stiglitz: Even fake leftists say ‘exit’, but the point is that only far-right neoliberals don’t see that a “Deutsch-parture” can painlessly end the Eurozone’s near-constant stagnation and dissension. The Netherlands can similarly be invited to leave as well.

Unless naked, would-be German emperors can finally get off their high horses and on board with morality and unity – via something like Corona bonds – a huge explosion of jingoism and neo-fascism in the Eurozone is around the corner.

Fine by me I guess – history shows that this is the last step before socialism because: how can fascism ever possibly succeed for the lower classes? It seems some Western nations need to go through this step (yet again) before accepting that the needs of workers, not bankers, and the poor must always be predominant in political policy.


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

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for The Saker log

So when did you become an epidemiologist? You seem quite willing to shame anyone not sterilising every square inch of every square inch.

And when did you become an economist? “The economy is not important now” must have been a pretty unusual PhD thesis.

We have likely all heard of “internet tough guys” – people who make bold claims or threats online, yet would flee at the sight of conflict – but who knew social media had so many people qualified to tell entire nations what to do regarding Corona?

How much of the Corona crisis has been caused by social media virtue-signallers, hypochondriacs, communications degree-holding intellectuals, helicopter Dads, bossy cows, and sheep who generally follow whatever the herd, management or pop stars tell them to do? That’s an interesting question: would we all be in lockdown prior to the internet and Facebook?

A practical follow-up question is: which nations have leadership which are perhaps even steered by social media, and which nations have leaders who can steer the national boat through choppy waters?

As socialists know and accept, a vanguard party is essential precisely because there are so many choppy waters in life. Choppy waters are doubled for socialist-inspired countries due to imposed wars, sanctions, blockades and endless cold war.

Capitalists and libertarians once again use Orwell against us – the same old, facile “some pigs are more equal than others” of Animal Farm – conflating totalitarianism with socialism, even though the two have entirely different ends and means.

Despite their absurd claims, the vanguard party concept is not anti-democratic. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had truly universal support from every Cuban (in Cuba) I asked because he rose level by level by repeatedly showing his competence as a civil servant. The same goes for Xi of China (as I will soon remind). Nobody expected a low-ranking cleric like Khamenei to take over for Khomeini, but he has repeatedly showed his competence and abilities; go tell the tens of millions shouting “Khamenei rahbar” (Khamenei the leader) that socialist-inspired democracy, with both direct and indirect, hasn’t worked out well. In post-1917 countries one rises to the 1% via actual competence, and not just by buying elections, as in the West.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton married the governor of Arkansas, who became president, and then America was stuck with her. Emmanuel Macron did… I don’t even know how he got so far so fast, and I really don’t want to know what went on behind closed doors with him.

Regardless, are some pigs more equal than others, to pose their question?

Certainly, what you won’t hear from such socialist detractors is that China’s President Xi spent years doing hard rural work during the days of the Cultural Revolution, and then teaching illiterate farmers how to read during his Cultural Revolution nights. Now, I suppose it is technically a possibility: none of that was earnestly heartfelt on Xi’s part, and he is secretly amassing a personal fortune because the recesses of his heart are nothing but pure bitterness and hate for the socialist ideal of equality which he was forced to display and teach; he has also spent decades duping everyone in China that he is a competent public servant; Xi has zero warm sentiment for those rural citizens he worked with, and wants only revenge; any moment now Xi will launch a surprise attack of totalitarianism designed solely for his personal benefit and revenge.

These are the very real – yet ALWAYS unsaid – logical extensions of Western arguments made against vanguard parties in general, as well as against Xi. Westerners insist that socialist vanguard parties are corrupt not just at the core but all the way to the periphery.

Another unsaid logical extension is that no vanguard parties informally exist in the West. If, however, there are, it is because such people have risen to the 1% solely on merit. Xi’s supposed “merit”, is not merit at all… unlike theirs. Don’t push Westerners to explain these points – they have no answers.

Much of this applies to Iran as well – their system is based on the idea of the “guardianship of the Islamic jurist”. “Down with those opposed to the guardianship of the Islamic jurist” is always included in the “down withs”, and even before “down with the MKO, England, the US and Israel”. The vanguard party in Iran is obviously the clergy; I have written extensively and objectively about how I believe this is being bureaucratically formalised into the “Basij”, and I have discussed how the structure of the Basij has been clearly modelled on the Chinese Communist Party.

How can that be, Ramin, when Communists are atheists? Firstly, they are not. Maybe Marx was, but to hell with him on this point. Cuba is full of Catholics, but even more prevalent are those who practice Santeria; Vietnam has always constitutionally protected religion; Confucianism and Taoism, it is rarely recognised, are two sides of the same East Asian cosmological coin, and China’s intolerance on this point is being remedied. The USSR never reconciled religion and socialism, and this is a huge reason explaining why they are no more; a reason as big as Krushchevian corruption and capitalist-roading.

However, the structural and political similarities between the Basij and the CCP arise not from cosmological agreement but from the natural similarities of two countries who have had post-1917, socialist-inspired revolutions. The similarities are not “coincidental” at all, though those who misunderstand and reject socialism would surely explain away my comparisons with such sweeping, facile, pseudo-explanations. I’m not sure that you can have a vanguard party without the structures, policies and protections – as well as many of the aims and demands – which are greatly dissimilar from the CCP and the Basij? Few examples exist, sadly, for me to study and compare. Never say never, I suppose.

The idea of a formalised vanguard party – as in Iranian Islamic Socialism and other forms of socialism – does not mean totalitarianism. I suppose it could, but why can it not also mean elite governance performance? Why must we look only at the negative aspects, and not the positive? What are we – capitalist-imperialists?

The Corona crisis is not going to validate the support of formal, socialist-inspired vanguard parties in China, Iran, Cuba and elsewhere – they need no validation among their people; their bones are made.

What it will certainly do is discredit the Western model of “non-vanguardism”, “hidden-vanguardism”, “technocratic vanguardism”, “1%er-vanguardism” or whatever else you want to term their bankocratic, aristocratic, bourgeois oligarchies which govern.

The incredible spanner Western politicians have suicidally thrown into their economies will prove this: they have none of the unity, foresight, determination and especially the political modernity of countries like China and Iran, yet they are adopting similar Corona responses. It simply can’t be done without causing Great Depressions in the Lost Decade II-embarking Eurozone for certain, and also for the US economy, which disastrously combines a finance & service & consumer-based economy with non-Trumpian evangelism for self-harming globalisation.

It will take great pain, but this is what humans often require to make serious change, sadly. It will split apart families, but that is what civil war does.

I don’t know which nation will be the first to see their lower class starting to attack their neoliberal/neoliberal-client systems – and attacking as well the reactionary selfishness of the “first responders” whom they are repeatedly told to adulate – but they will all reach the same place as China and Iran: who is in charge? Who is the vanguard party to lead and staff the bureaucracy, which organises and decides on the logistics, and who needs to spread the night soil so we all can eat?

All workers are valid and equal, of course, but a vanguard party is needed to run a government. The alleged path goes capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism – the idea that no vanguard parties are needed is anarchism, and Cubans will also correct you when you call them communist: they know they are not that far. The amount of self-empowerment espoused in anarchism may not even be possible on a billions-level? These are questions for a later date….

Allow me to disqualify myself from the vanguard party: I have been passed up for management over and over (of course everyone claims this), so maybe they are right? I am used to being a powerless cog in a machine, and I quite like it now!

The people who deserve to be in vanguard parties are those who evince both the capability for selflessness as well as the capability for superior political thought. After all, some have capabilities for great artistic thought, or great engineering thought, or have great social skills – political policy certainly requires input from all sectors and classes but their bureaucrats do need to have a masterful grasp of modern political ideology, as well as a grasp of what not to do: i.e., the ideologies held by the enemies of modern political ideologies. These qualifications are evinced by people like Xi, Khamenei, Diaz-Canel and France’s Yellow Vests.

The roar that the Yellow Vests will make when France’s lockdown in over… that’s another article.

I don’t think you can find a journalist writing in any Western language who has stood shoulder to shoulder with them more often, and I can promise France: put the Yellow Vests in charge and you’ll have exceptional national governance immediately. Unlike the Iranian clergy, Chinese commies and Cuban socialist-Santeriaists, the Yellow Vests’ actual support is hard to gauge: polls constantly showed over 50% support, yet the Animal Rights Party won 2.2% in the 2019 European Parliament elections, double the Yellow Vests parties combined.

Who is the vanguard party in the US? That I cannot say – I do not think one is apparent. I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and their few public comrades are interesting given the limitations of the US political context, but they are still far from what’s necessary now, and especially far from what will be necessary given the trajectory of Great Depression 2.

The times make the man, as they say.

The West’s vanguard parties seem intent on making times as difficult for the lower classes as they possibly can. Time well spent would be turning of Western MSM, as well as social media, and reflecting on who you think should really be in charge.

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

Most interesting video discussion about key historical facts

Most interesting video discussion about key historical facts

Source

October 08, 2019

Dear friends,

I am posting a video sent to me by a friend.  Sadly, I don’t know anything about the two gentlemen talking, but I can say that everything they say does fully match with my own understanding of these events.

I can’t endorse everything these two gentlemen say, and I sure disagree with their early 20th century views of Socialism (or, by implication what they apparently believe in the freedom-fostering Capitalism).  Likewise, their views about Trump are naive to the extreme at best, as is their use of categories as “Left” vs “Right” which in the USA are totally meaningless categories: there only a tiny real Right in the USA, and an even smaller real Left.  This is not about Left vs Right, but about sovereignty of the people or living under a class dictatorship.  But don’t let these frankly minor silly mistakes distract you from the interesting issues extremely well analyzed in that discussion (even if you don’t agree).  I am not posting this as an endorsement, but as a basis for a hopefully interesting discussion.

The one thing I know nothing about is the “Pilgrims” they mention on the US side.

I would be most grateful if you could share with me any knowledge you might have about these “Pilgrims”.

Kind regards

The Saker

PS: and they clearly don’t realize that Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor was not about some Leftists or Commies, but about the Papacy!

Disproportionality As Schizoaffective Disorder

Source

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? (3/8)

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? (3/8)

Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? (3/8)

In every modern revolution the winners owed their victory to the poor, and China in 1949 was no exception. Iranians call 1979 the “Revolution of the Barefooted” for this same universal reason.

(The reason is universal because any major political change not led by the poor cannot possibly be a “revolution”, but is merely a “coup”, “takeover” or “regime change”.)

I call these revolutions “Trash Revolutions”, even though the adjective is derogatory, because in the English language “trash” gets right to heart of it: the taking of political power by and for the lowest class of society.

Trash Revolutions are the best… but not all Trash make great revolutionaries.

This was the case in China, where by the mid-1960s many in the Chinese Communist Party lost their willingness to identify with the poor and to share in their hardships – thus, they had lost the most important two traits which had propelled them to victory.

The adults in the room, unlike the hardcore capitalists eager to criticize socialist societies at the first pause for breath, understand that the mere proclamation of socialist victory does not translate into an immediate paradise of equality and opportunity. This article seeks to explain why a retrenchment of revolutionary asceticism, a second so-called “cultural” revolution, was needed in already-Red China.

(Iranians agreed that a no-holds barred Cultural Revolution was so necessary in the “postmodern” era that the world’s second (and only other) state-sponsored Cultural Revolution was launched just one year after booting out the Shah: political modernity requires a massive mental shift on the individual level, and thus a massive cultural shift on the societal level. But this article does not seek to preach to the Iranian choir….)

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 unparalled objectivity and focus regarding the Cultural Revolution (CR) 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 400 closest friends.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ – The Who… and the pre-CR CCP

Of course, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was not remotely the same as the fascist Kuomintang nor the emperor – only a dimwitted political nihilist would make such a claim… but neither had they perfectly exemplified the Chinese concept of the “Heavenly Mandate”.

After 1949 the CCP apparently thought that rural residents would be easily bought off with land, farm implements, houses and furniture while they prioritized urban areas. But despite increases in quality of life, the rural-urban divide remained glaringly in evidence and stood as galling proof of inequality, creating major domestic discord. For example, urban residents got free medical care, paid holidays, paid sick days and pensions, whereas peasants had none of these things. Maybe it is true that China, only beginning to dig itself out of the muck they were wedged in thanks to their century of colonial humiliation, could not afford to give these things to the mass majority of their citizens (China was 82% rural as late as 1964), but pro-urban sectarianism is going to be resented and certainly needs a remedy soon.

Thus the CR (and the Yellow Vests).

But at the same time that Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet leader 1953-64) had thrown open the gates to Communist Party membership – drastically weakening the ideological purity of the “vanguard party”, a key component of socialism, and in order to drown out the non-revisionist Stalinists – China had closed their ranks. Those CCP members who were there in 1949 could certainly be trusted, but many were proving to be greatly without socialist merit.

“Without new blood, the old party members were able to monopolize village power. The Communist political structure in the rural areas gave the village party secretary supreme authority….Their control of the village seemed complete.”

Westerners and anti-socialists portray Mao (and Stalin) as something like the apex of all corruption on earth, which is flatly contradicted by actual Chinese historical fact. A 1951 anti-corruption campaign found (a Western Liberal Democracy-like) 64% of 625 cadres in eastern Jimo County guilty of corruption. Now we can rationalise that just two years of peace following decades of horrific war is not enough time to to terminate wartime insanities and to inculcate proper socialist habits and, but Mao is so revered in China precisely because he absolutely did not tolerate such poor governance of the People.

“After the Communists took power, Mao Zedong was a curse to corrupt officials in his government…. Before the Cultural Revolution there was an anti-corruption campaign almost every other year. Still, without a radical change of the political culture which would empower ordinary people, all of Mao’s efforts to curb official abuse fell short.”

It must be said that it was not “all of Mao’s efforts” – Mao was simply the figurehead of this broad anti-corruption party of the CCP, or in Western terms an anti-corruption “faction”.

But, again, sayin’ it (proclaiming socialist revolution) and doin’ it (implementing, practicing and protecting socialist revolution) is just a different thing, with just as much difference as “night” and “day”:

“In a sense, the Communists built a new house on the ruins of the old with the new Revolution, but the air of the old society still permeated this new house. With the old culture largely intact, the new communist leaders who replaced the old oppressors of the village, ‘slide into certain habits well-known to traditional upholders of ‘law and order’”.

The CCP had done a lot of redistribution of wealth, but the two pillars of Marxist thought simply cannot exist independently: redistribution of wealth is nothing without a concomitant redistribution of power and control over politics/workplaces. But the CCP did not really derive their power from politics and workplaces – they derived their power from the battlefield and human hearts.

“The CCP cadres who ruled rural areas after 1949 did not derive their power from villagers. They were not elected by the villagers…. Consequently, commune and village leaders were more inclined to please their patrons than respond to villagers’ needs and aspirations.”

The clear problem here was that villagers lacked control over their local village leader to make him or her implement their democratic will. This is exactly why a primary demand of Yellow Vests to Macron is to implement regular “RICs”, Citizens’ Initiative Referendums.

There is no doubt: everybody wants and needs local decision-making; but socialism is not anarchism – socialism contains the non-paradox of a central organizer and planner overseeing local independence.

It was precisely this lack of local control which led to some of the problems of the Great Leap Forward: the desire by village leaders to please the central organizer despite the advice and knowledge of the local population, as I described in my book in the most simple human terms possible. This failure to implement Marxism’s second pillar is truly the hardest part of socialism – anyone can write a check – and when socialism has collapsed it has been because of this failure.

Collectivization is good and more productive than capitalism, but only alongside Socialist Democracy, which did not fully exit pre-CR

In order to quickly prove that socialist collectivization is just as effective in promoting overall economic development as individualist capitalism, I quote myself from Part 1 – this summarizes the differences between rural China in 1966 and after the Cultural Revolution in 1976:

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.

Collective farming and control in rural areas – enormously impressive economic, industrial, agricultural and educational results during the CR: end of that discussion.

Han puts these numbers into context by honestly relating the successes and failures of collectivization from the previous era, 1949-1964:

“In essence, the collective farming was a form of mutual insurance designed to make up for the absence of other forms of social insurance.” Let’s remember that urban Chinese had many social insurance guarantees peasants did not.

In practical terms: the rural collective (which comprised all that which had been nationalized: plows, oxen, farm tools, land, etc.) was the social arbitration of limited resources, with the goal of egalitarianism amid increased efficiency.

Capitalists will say: “The exceptional Chinese farmer was shortchanged and denied his right to excel and live in a superior fashion!”

Yes. But there is no debate about how the collectives of the pre-CR era ended the very real poverty the average rural person was threatened with via every storm cloud:

Substantial social security guarantees were embedded in the collective distribution system in Jimo. No matter whether a villager could work or not, the collective undertook to provide him and his family with ‘five guarantees’, (wu bao) – food, clothes, fuel, education for his children and a funeral upon death…. The collective, thus, provided a de facto institutional retirement plan for villagers. The government had put some thought into this unique social security system in the villages.”

So even though urban peasants had it better, let’s not pretend that the 1949-1964 era did not greatly stabilise and better the life for the average Chinese farmer. Certainly Trash around the West – especially Blacks and Native Americans in Western countries – were not guaranteed any of these things in the era of 1949-1964.

Good, Mr. Mao, but not great. Major failures were still easy to spot, and Han’s book relates them.

Like in education: In Jimo County in 1950 48% of area children were enrolled in primary schools, and by 1956 that figure was just 56%. Per Han, 65% of these schools did not even have chairs or tables. From 1949 to 1966 Jimo County produced 1,616 high school graduates out of 1,011 villages; half of them left the county in a huge “brain drain”. The rural-to-urban brain drain remains a major, major plague on rural Western areas today, and that may be the biggest problem – the massive flight of human capital from rural areas to urban ones.

Medical care was not provided either. Han relates how villagers often relied on dangerous and often deadly witch doctors, and he relates how these witch doctors would soon be among those shamefully paraded during the Cultural Revolution and even beaten by the families of their still-grieving victims. The idea of witch doctors may be very hard for developed countries to imagine, but this was a very real phenomenon which only the modern CR exposed as a sham and then replaced with true doctors. (I would imagine that a worried parent could often rather have a witch doctor than no doctor….)

Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-red China? Because the record of the pre-CR era was mixed, or rather, it was unfinished. The CR needs to be seen as “re-collectivization” of an already “collective society”.

Such a retrenchment requires not only 20th century socialist ideas, but also intense patriotism and not mere “nationalism”. Iran was able to have a CR of their own largely because they wanted a re-collectivisation of what Iran “was” – and it included Kurds, Arabs, Jews, etc – thus, “Neither East nor West but the Iranian Republic”. China’s CR was not asking Soviet technicians to come and fix things (nor ones from the IMF, nor Brussels, nor Esperanto-speaking Trotskyist theoreticians) – it was asking Chinese peasants; Iran was asking the average poor, hijab-wearing Iranian woman, humble-living mullahs and the many barefooted what good governance should be.

France in 2019 lacks both modern socialist ideas (its emphasis on RICs as some sort of Godsend is one proof) and all-embracing patriotism. However, so did China and Iran at one point.

The Great Leap Forward didn’t end the desire for collectivization and empowerment, thus the CR

As we all know, capitalism is not patient – they demand mercilessly quick results from socialism or else will start shoveling massive denigration. Socialism, however, cares not: Han relates that the collectives were all about taking the long-term view, the very opposite of capitalism’s “get rich quick” ethos. Yes, young people worked harder than older people in the collective, but when they were sick or got old they moved to the easier jobs; couples with six children took more rice than childless couples, yes, but when the kids grew up their work supported the old childless couple. This is the “collective” mentality, and it enrages the Arizona rancher.

The CR cannot be understood without just a bit of fair, objective knowledge of the Great Leap Forward (GLF). It is pathetic that celebrated faux-historians like Frank Dikotter top Wikipedia pages with claims like “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward“, when the GLF was undoubtedly motivated by altruistic desires to cooperate on ambitious projects which aimed to improve the nation. Briefly, from Han:

“When discussing the Great Leap Forward in China, many people see only the food shortages and other negative consequences. They do not understand that the goal of the Great Leap Forward partly was to improve infrastructure in the countryside. The reservoirs built during the Great Leap Forward benefited the rural areas for decades to come. These infrastructure improvements are why farmers who suffered most during the Great Leap Forward have always viewed it with ambiguity other than completely condemning it.”

That is based on his years of his interviews with farmers – it is not based on the judgment of some hack journalist writing an article 10,000 kilometres away who has no idea about anything Chinese other than egg foo young, and who knows even less about socialism.

Because capitalism can never present socialism as an ideology which can adapt and evolve (much as the 1%ers in capitalist societies were able to successfully evolve capitalism into its modern form: neoliberal globalism), but which is an ideology as frozen as as Soviet gulag, they can never even bring up this fact as a mere possibility: By the mid-1960s China had learned from the failures of the Great Leap Forward, and thus regained their appetite and ambition for big collective projects.

But not so big….

What the GLF taught China was that the 2nd pillar of socialism (local control) really is vital for success. Bigger is not always better: combining 50 villages was just too unwieldy to create individual worker empowerment. Collectives were thus reduced to roughly one-third of the village (30-40 households). This obviously made a world of difference, given the fantastic economic, industrial, agricultural and educational success of the CR for rural China (i.e., China).

The Great Leap Forward, while having other successes, helped prove that socialism is essentially locally-based, and thus is not intended to be the totalitarian steamroller non-socialists caricaturize it as.

So it’s that second, less-publicised pillar of socialism which was the Achilles’ heel of China’s first-generation collectives:

“The main weakness of rural collective organisation was political: ordinary members were not politically empowered and were dependent on village and commune officials. The Communists had not fundamentally changed the rural political culture of submission to authority and had not significantly remedied the lack of education in the countryside. Collectivisation had made ordinary villagers more dependent on officials by placing economic decisions in the hands of the collective while failing to really empower villagers to take part in the decision-makingprocess. This was not only a political problem: without solving this problem, possibilities for real rural economic development would remain untapped.” (emphasis mine)

But it’s all development which remains untapped without socialist democracy and socialist education. Yes, socialism needs specifically-socialist education to succeed, just as capitalism needs a steady diet of gangster rap, mafia movies and sexual advertising to sway their minds – the collective mentality must be taught.

Capitalists may have local empowerment, but it is purely individual – it totally lacks the power of solidarity. This is the fundamental difference between the two: in capitalism, one seeks to dominate over all. Socialists, on an individual level, have had revolutions of the mind whereas fearful capitalists are simply working out of habit, tradition, instinct, resentment and fear.

Western liberal democracy mistakenly assumes that their often-federalist systems sufficiently grant local control, but they do not at all grant local control to the average, powerless person; they only grant control to the local factory owner, the local agricultural corporation, the local media baron, etc. This hypocrisy is never admitted; it is papered over by constant exhortations that YOU should make yourself the owner, baron, etc.

“Fukua feng (exaggeration of production) became a serious problem during the Great Leap Forward because the commune members were not politically empowered to check the wrongdoings of the commune and village leaders. In this sense, the Great Leap Forward failed not just because its overall design and rationale were flawed, but also because China’s political culture at the time was out of sync with the new production relationships introduced by the agricultural collectivization.” (emphasis mine)

You don’t have to make your analysis of the Great Leap Forward more sophisticated, but if you want to – voila.

The CR sought to re-sync these relationships in Chinese Collectivization 2.0.

What good is implementing the first pillar of Marxism without creating the second pillar? How can China introduce socialist rule of law and expect success, when workers have not been educated and trained in empowerment?

Once China got these relationships remedied, that is when China began to take off economically, and that is essentially the thesis of Han’s entire book. The proof of the correctness of his thesis is the CR’s era staggering human and economic development that he demonstrated.

By illustrating that the empowerment of the CR decade produced the rural industry, agricultural boom, and the educated workers who laid the foundation for the continued economic success of China into the 1980s and beyond, Han shows how the CR proves that socialism is not merely high taxes on the rich but an entirely new culture.

Already-Red China realized this, and thus their center and left united to support the CR.

Black-hearted Western capitalists realize this too – why do you think they will never permit any good (or even objective) talk about the CR? That would only empower the types of cultural changes Western leftists and Yellow Vests actually want and need.

When when we compare China’s meteoric success (starting from the start of the CR era!) with the Great Recession, the subsequent (but never admitted) Lost Decade in the Eurozone, and the wiping out of the 1980-2009 socio-economic gains of the Western middle class, there is no doubt: the Socialist Democratic has more efficiency, production, capability and morality than the Liberal Democratic model.

For many Western capitalist-imperialists it will take a furious Cultural Revolution right in their faces to accept this reality. But, clearly, Mao and the left wing of CCP understood this long ago.

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

This is the 3rd article in an 8-part series which examines Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Essential Saker II

US-led Genocidal War and Destruction of Socialism: 20 Years after the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia

Global Research, March 24, 2019

The NATO war on Yugoslavia which culminated in the 78-days bombing of historic cities and infrastructures – as usual under atrocity propaganda and pretexts – is on its 20th anniversary.

The grim anniversary is admirably recognized by Science for Peace members to remember and to prevent who-knows-what NATO war crime next as “humanitarian intervention”.
From Yugoslavia to Iraq to Libya, where does it stop? Observe that Trump is now seeking a NATO alliance with Bolsonaro Brazil (see image below)  -to perhaps back the bombing of Venezuela, or any other society, including the Brazilian people, not bowing to US-led global corporate colonization. Socialist genocide is the unspeakable logic of the serial war crimes under international law.

So it is important to remember the long war of economic and financial destabilization that occurred over years before and after the bombing to destroy federal Yugoslavia’s market socialism in every workers-control and social infrastructure it had evolved after 1945 to solve the endless Balkan ethnic wars of its past history.

This larger design is taboo to state – US-led genocide of any socialist society as covert state policy. Instead ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’ is the reverse-mask every time which is relentlessly dinned into people’s heads. In this way, again and again, the non-stop succession of US international crimes under law is covered up into the present day. So too, federal Yugoslavia, once the envy of the world in democratic social progress, was destroyed step by step. Its bonding social infrastructures were dismantled by unceasing, all-fronts US financial war in which NATO bombing in 1999 was only the most evident event of the socialist genocide.

Repressed Witness of the Killing of a Multi-Cultural Socialism

Below are excerpts from Ottawa University Professor of Economics (emeritus) Michel Chossudovsky’s long-leading analysis which provides a minimalist through-line of the effectively genocidal war against all not-for-profit institutions of a socialist society in which Yugoslavia is a paradigm case. The selected text excerpts below are from Michel Chossudovsky’s 1996 article  (updated in 2002) published as a chapter in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, Montreal, 2003.

“As heavily-armed US and NATO troops enforced the peace in Bosnia, the press and politicians alike portrayed Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia as a noble response to an outbreak of ethnic massacres and human rights violations. In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton peace accords, the West was eager to touch up its self-portrait as savior of the Southern Slavs and get on with “the work of rebuilding” the newly ‘sovereign states.’

“But following a pattern set early on, the plight of the Balkans was promoted as the outcome of deep-seated ethnic and religious tensions rooted in history.1 Likewise, much was made of the “Balkans power-play” and the clash of political personalities: “Tudjman and Milosevic are tearing Bosnia-Herzegovina to pieces.

“Lost in the barrage of images and self-serving analyses are the economic and social causes of the conflict. The deep-seated economic crisis which preceded the civil war had long been forgotten. The strategic interests of Germany and the US in laying the groundwork for the disintegration of Yugoslavia go unmentioned, as does the role of external creditors and international financial institutions. In the eyes of the global media, Western powers bear no responsibility for the impoverishment and destruction of a nation of 24 million people. Thus Yugoslavia’s war-ravaged successor states are left to the mercies of the international ‘financial community’.

“As the world focused on troop movements and cease-fires, the international financial institutions were busily collecting former Yugoslavia’s external debt from its remnant states, while transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise. With a Bosnian peace settlement holding under NATO guns, the West had in late 1995 unveiled a “reconstruction” program that stripped that brutalized country of sovereignty to a degree not seen in Europe since the end of World War II.

The Genocide of Market Socialism

“The new ‘Constitution’ included as an Appendix to the Dayton Accords handed the reins of economic policy over to the Bretton Woods institutions and the London based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The IMF was empowered to appoint the first governor of the Bosnian Central Bank, who, like the High Representative, ‘shall not be a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina or a neighboring State. … it may not extend credit by creating money, operating in this respect as a currency board.’

“While the Central Bank was in IMF custody, the London-based EBRD heads the Commission on Public Corporations, which supervises since 1996, operations of all public sector enterprises in Bosnia, including energy, water, postal services, telecommunications, and transportation. The EBRD president appoints the commission chair and is in charge of public sector restructuring, i.e., the sell-off of state- and socially-owned assets and the procurement of long-term investment funds. Western creditors explicitly created the EBRD ‘to give a distinctively political dimension to lending.’

“As the West proclaimed its support for democracy, actual political power rests in the hands of a parallel Bosnian ‘state’ whose executive positions are held by non-citizens. Western creditors have embedded their interests in a constitution hastily written on their behalf. The neocolonization of Bosnia was a logical step of Western efforts to undo Yugoslavia’s experiment in ‘market socialism’ and workers’ self-management and to impose the dictate of the ‘free market’.

Yugoslavia’s Success before System Destabilization by US Financial War

“Multi-ethnic, socialist Yugoslavia was once a regional industrial power and economic success. In the two decades before 1980, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 6.1 percent, medical care was free, the rate of literacy was 91 percent, and life expectancy was 72 years.11. But after a decade of Western economic ministrations and a decade of disintegration, war, boycott, and embargo, the economies of the former Yugoslavia were prostrate, their industrial sectors dismantled.

“Despite Belgrade’s non-alignment and its extensive trading relations with the European Community and the US, the Reagan administration had targeted the Yugoslav economy in a “Secret Sensitive” 1984 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 133) entitled “US Policy towards Yugoslavia.” A censored version declassified in 1990 elaborated on NSDD 64 on Eastern Europe, issued in 1982. The latter advocated “expanded efforts to promote a ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties,” while reintegrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market-oriented economy.

“The US had earlier joined Belgrade’s other international creditors in imposing a first round of macroeconomics reform in 1980, shortly before the death of Marshall Tito. That initial round of restructuring set the pattern.

“Secessionist tendencies feeding on social and ethnic divisions, gained impetus precisely during a period of brutal impoverishment of the Yugoslav population. The economic reforms “wreaked economic and political havoc… Slower growth, the accumulation of foreign debt and especially the cost of servicing it as well as devaluation led to a fall in the standard of living of the average Yugoslav… The economic crisis threatened political stability … it also threatened to aggravate simmering ethnic tensions”.

“These reforms accompanied by the signing of debt restructuring agreements with the official and commercial creditors also served to weaken the institutions of the federal State creating political divisions between Belgrade and the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces. A Reaganomics arsenal ruled. And throughout the 1980s, the IMF and World Bank periodically prescribed further doses as the Yugoslav economy slowly lapsed into a coma.

“From the outset, successive IMF sponsored programs hastened the disintegration of the Yugoslav industrial sector, lunging to zero in 1987-88 and to a negative 10 percent growth rate by 1990.15 This process was accompanied by the piecemeal dismantling of the Yugoslav welfare state, with all the predictable social consequences. Debt restructuring agreements, meanwhile, increased foreign debt, and a mandated currency devaluation also hit hard at Yugoslavs’ standard of living.

“Shock therapy” began in January 1990. Although inflation had eaten away at earnings, the IMF ordered that wages be frozen at their mid November 1989 levels. Prices continued to rise unabated, and real wages collapsed by 41 percent in the first six months of 1990 .17

“The IMF also effectively controlled the Yugoslav central bank. Its tight money policy further crippled the country’s ability to finance its economic and social programs. State revenues that should have gone as transfer payments to the republics went instead to service Belgrade’s debt with the Paris and London clubs. The republics were largely left to their own devices. The economic package was launched in January 1990 under an IMF Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) and a World Bank Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL II). The budget cuts requiring the redirection of federal revenues towards debt servicing, were conducive to the suspension of transfer payments by Belgrade to the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces.

“In one fell swoop, the reformers had engineered the final collapse of Yugoslavia’s federal fiscal structure and mortally wounded its federal political institutions. By cutting the financial arteries between Belgrade and the republics, the reforms fueled secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions, virtually ensuring the de facto secession of the republics. The IMF-induced budgetary crisis created an economic fait accompli that paved the way for Croatia’s and Slovenia’s formal secession in June 1991.

Crushed by the Invisible Hand

“The reforms demanded by Belgrade’s creditors also struck at the heart of Yugoslavia’s system of socially-owned and worker-managed enterprises. By 1990, the annual rate of growth of GDP had collapsed to -7.5 percent. In 1991, GDP declined by a further 15 percent, industrial output collapsed by 21 percent.19

“The restructuring program demanded by Belgrade’s creditors was intended to abrogate the system of socially owned enterprises. The Enterprise Law of 1989 required abolishing the “Basic Organizations of Associated Labor (BAOL)”. The latter were socially-owned productive units under self-management with the Workers’ Council constituting the main decision making body. The 1989 Enterprise Law required the transformation of the BOALs into private capitalist enterprises with the Worker’s Council replaced by a so-called “Social Board” under the control of the enterprise’s owners including its creditors.20

“The assault on the socialist economy also included a new banking law designed to trigger the liquidation of the socially-owned Associated Banks. Within two years, more than half the country’s banks had vanished, to be replaced by newly-formed “independent profit-oriented institutions.” 24 By 1990, the entire “three-tier banking system” consisting of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, the national banks of the eight Republics and autonomous provinces and the commercial banks had been dismantled under the guidance of the World Bank. A Federal Agency for Insurance and Bank Rehabilitation was established in June 1990 with a mandate to restructure and “reprivatize” restructured banks under World Bank supervision.25

“In less than two years the World Bank’s so-called “trigger mechanism” (under the Financial Operations Act) had led to the lay off of 614,000 (out of a total industrial workforce of the order of 2.7 million). The largest concentrations of bankrupt firms and lay-offs were in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

“Many socially owned enterprises attempted to avoid bankruptcy through the non payment of wages. Half a million workers representing some 20 percent of the industrial labor force were not paid during the early months of 1990, in order to meet the demands of creditors under the “settlement” procedures stipulated in the Law on Financial Organizations. Real earnings were in a free fall, social programs had collapsed, with the bankruptcies of industrial enterprises, unemployment had become rampant, creating within the population an atmosphere of social despair and hopelessness

Shock Therapy to Take Over Natural Resources

“In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton Accords, Western creditors turned their attention to Yugoslavia’s “successor states”. Yugoslavia’s foreign debt had been carefully divided and allocated to the successor republics, which were strangled in separate debt rescheduling and structural adjustment agreements.46

“The consensus among donors and international agencies was that past IMF macroeconomics reforms inflicted on federal Yugoslavia had not quite met their goal and further shock therapy was required to restore “economic health” to Yugoslavia’s successor states. – – The neocolonial administration imposed under the Dayton accords and supported by NATO’s firepower had ensured that Bosnia’s future would be determined in Washington, Bonn, and Brussels rather than in Sarajevo.

“Western governments and corporations showed most interest in gaining access to strategic natural resources. With the discovery of energy reserves in the region, the partition of Bosnia between the Federation of Bosnia- Herzegovina and the Bosnian-Serb Republika Srpska under the Dayton Accords has taken on new strategic importance. Documents in the hands of Croatia and the Bosnian Serbs indicate that coal and oil deposits have been identified on the eastern slope of the Dinarides Thrust, retaken from Krajina Serbs by the US-backed Croatian army in the final offensives before the Dayton accords. Bosnian officials had reported that Chicago-based Amoco was among several foreign firms that subsequently initiated exploratory surveys in Bosnia.

“Substantial” petroleum fields also lie “in the Serb-held part of Croatia” just across the Sava River from Tuzla, the headquarters for the US military zone.55 Exploration operations went on during the war, but the World Bank and the multinationals that conducted the operations kept local governments in the dark, presumably to prevent them from acting to grab potentially valuable areas. 56

“With their attention devoted to debt repayment and potential energy bonanzas, both the US and Germany have devoted their efforts –with 70,000 NATO troops on hand to “enforce the peace – – – “.

History repeats itself in patterns not events.

The pattern of criminal US destabilization and destruction of social states to loot them of their sovereign resources is the unseen history of the last century of the world.

Yugoslavia provides the cornerstone example since the Nazis inside Europe with Ukraine taken down since in the same pattern still taboo to see.

US-led NATO is the transnational war machine of the world devouring all public wealth it can extort to terrorize all into conformity to the global-carcinomic regime. The NATO that bombed Yugoslavia 20 years ago and Iraq and Libya since is also the greatest polluter, waster, and destroyer of the global environment beneath all notice of it.

The US-NATO borderless armed-force maw invisibly leads the climate chaos upon us across continents. It is the greatest rising carbon spewer of all time, but not once mentioned even by the UN International Panel on Climate Change.

The US-led post-Nazi incubus of NATO may be the most wasteful black-hole despoliation of the earth and its future possibility ever, with oil its blood and mass-killing its method. Yet the official world remains blind to it in “we did not know” sanctimony and accusation all life resistance as the problem.

The twentieth anniversary of the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia as NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ should be a tragic self-recognition for the ages.


In this expanded and updated edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

Click to order Michel Chossudovsky’s Book directly from Global Research

 

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this new enlarged edition – which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction — the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.

The original source of this article is Global Research

Hellbent: 78 Days of Bombing Yugoslavia

March 23, 2019

.Trump Finds Re-Election Slogan – ‘Evil Socialism’

Trump Finds Re-Election Slogan – ‘Evil Socialism’

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 15.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Trump Finds Re-Election Slogan – ‘Evil Socialism’

The 2020 US presidential elections are well underway with at least six Democrat contenders so far throwing their hats into the ring. For his part, incumbent President Donald Trump has newly minted a cause for his re-election – saving America from creeping socialism.

During his State of the Union speech last week, Trump conspicuously warned “fellow Americans” of the putative evil of socialism. He lambasted the “socialist dictatorship” of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, then fatuously and falsely leveled all the economic misery of the South American country on the alleged failings of socialism. As if years of US economic sanctions against the country and recent confiscation of oil assets have nothing to do with Venezuela’s turmoil.

In the next lines of his annual nationwide address, Trump then linked US political opponents with Venezuela’s socialist President Maduro, retorting: “And some people want to bring socialism to the United States!”

The logic is revealing. First, that the president should even mention socialism in this Union address in such a pointed way shows that there is a foreboding concern among the American oligarchy – of which supposed “maverick” Trump is a consummate insider – that there is a surging interest in working class rights, propelled by a popular disdain towards capitalism and a growing affinity with socialism.

Secondly, the pejorative bracketing of political opponents in the US with the “Maduro regime” in Venezuela is a tried-and-trusted method of political smearing. Any would-be contender for the White House who speaks out about class issues and the systematic social failings of capitalism will be, it is calculated, denigrated as a “socialist stooge” in league with Venezuela’s Maduro.

For the 2016 election, Trump ran on the ticket of “Make America Great Again”. For the 2020 campaign, the emerging re-election slogan will be along the line of “Keep Socialism out of America”.

Trump’s erstwhile promises to salvage the “American carnage” and reinvent American greatness have transpired to be empty gimmicks of a sales conman. More than halfway into his presidency, the vast majority of ordinary working Americans are no better off, maybe even worse off. Trump’s bragging about overseeing the world’s “hottest economy” is all hot air, as detailed by American economics professor Richard Wolff. The boost in stock market indicators rather than a reinvigoration of the real productive economy is very much down to the massive tax giveaways to the super-rich and corporate executives that this real-estate-magnate-turned-president has bestowed.

The continuing deterioration in social conditions for most Americans has resulted in an increased popular hostility towards corporate capitalism, Wall Street and what more and more citizens correctly perceive as a plutocracy masquerading as “democracy”. The alienation from capitalism and the myth of the “American Dream” has resulted in a growing openness among ordinary citizens to socialism. The corruption and misery of capitalism is driving people to search for alternatives. Polls have shown majorities of US public expressing a positive identity with socialist politics. It is no longer a taboo concept. This is quite a shocking achievement in the US, where decades of government, news media and academic propaganda have tried to expunge any notion of socialism from the American mind.

A reflection of the trend is seen in the increasingly critical rhetoric among certain Democrat politicians about economic injustice. The Bernie Sanders wing of the party, which includes new wave Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tulsi Gabbard, have openly articulated the word “socialism” – which again is something of a dramatic development in the US after decades of McCarthyite witch-hunting and Edgar J Hoover-like demonization of socialists as “traitorous Reds”.

The latest Democrat to announce their bid for the White House is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. During her contender speech last weekend at a rally for Blue Collar communities, Warren spoke scathingly of “the failure of the American system”. She talked about the chasm between the oligarchic one per cent in American society and the massive poverty of the rest. It was an implicitly radical speech.

Trump is very much in that top one per cent of super-rich who have siphoned off America’s wealth during decades of neoliberal capitalism, overseen by both Republican and Democrat administrations belonging to the two parties of Big Business.

There is, however, an awareness among the more leftwing side of the Democrats that the party has to break from its sponsorship links to Big Business and Wall Street – as epitomized by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race – if it is to win the White House in 2020.

Trump should be an easy target for a genuine contender who can expose his empty conman talk about caring for “American workers”. Trump’s blatantly pro-rich tax banditry would also be a field day for a socialist candidate to make huge political hay. So too would his continuation of American imperialist warmongering, as most clearly manifested in the Trump administration’s outrageous interference in Venezuela’s democracy.

Donald J Trump, the big-mouth realtor, knows that he is vulnerable to a genuine political offensive from the left. There is a groundswell of opposition to “the system” among ordinary citizens – if it can harnessed by a confident socialist candidate. That would explain why Trump has lately “discovered” the threat of socialism to “our great country”.

The trouble is that it is doubtful if such a counter-candidate exists in the present US political landscape. In Elizabeth Warren’s rally at the weekend, she seemed to studiously avoid using the words “capitalism” or “socialism”. Her rival Democrat candidate, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, reportedly distanced herself in media interviews from being identified as a socialist following Trump’s Red-baiting State of the Union speech last week.

Over the next year in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, we can expect more such withering attempts by Trump and the establishment political class to find common cause in denigrating any opponent who sounds too much like a socialist, even if that opponent doesn’t actually use the word themselves.

The irony is rich, or maybe that should be super-rich. Trump has complained about opponents in Washington and the corporate media for waging a witch-hunt against him over his alleged links to Russia. Yet this oligarchic conman has no scruples or hesitation in using witch-hunt tactics to defile opponents who are labelled as “evil socialists”.

This desperate maneuver by Trump to use socialism as a bogeyman is unwittingly a signal that America’s plutocracy does actually view the resurgence in class politics and socialism as a real threat to its privileged siphoning off of wealth under capitalism.

Can American voters find a candidate who courageously takes up their cause? That is the kind of breakthrough that America and the rest of world needs.

France’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years

December 07, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogFrance’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years

The most important thing to understand about France’s Yellow Vest movement is that the Mainstream Media wants you to view it as an isolated incident which exists in a vacuum, when we are much better served to look at in a continuum.

When the Yellow Vests started I was not foolish to say: “So what?”

After all, the Yellow Vest movement is dwarfed by France’s first major anti-austerity protests in the fall of 2010. When Nicolas Sarkozy backtracked on a promise to raise the retirement age France saw 7 marches in 8 weeks with (conservatively) 1.5 million marchers each time. Over just one week there were three different marches with perhaps 3 million people! The three Yellow Vest marches – and all are on Saturdays, to make it easier for people to attend – only reached 300,000 demonstrators one time. So we’re talking 10 times smaller than in 2010 per protest, and something like 30 times smaller if we compare the two movements overall.

Unsurprisingly, I have yet to read of this “ancient history” in any of the Anglophone Mainstream Media coverage of the Yellow Vests. It’s “vacuum versus continuum” in terms of journalistic approach.

I summarise the “continuum” approach in an original saying about journalism (at least I think it’s original): “A journalist without experience is just somebody with a notepad and a pen.”

Some Mainstream journalist who doesn’t know about 2010 – do they really grasp what the Yellow Vests are about? Because the Yellow Vests were definitely there back in 2010…but they remained in the car (Reflective yellow vests in your car are required by French law: in case you get a flat tire or something, you have the vest to put on for safety from oncoming traffic.).

So, if we believe the living-in-a-vacuum Mainstream Media then the Yellow Vest protests are finished: President Emmanuel Macron just canceled the diesel tax hikes. The protests are no longer necessary, right?

Wrong.

There is no reason why AFP, AP, Reuters and everybody else spent all that time saying “diesel tax, diesel tax, diesel tax” other than: they are either purposely misleading people by viewing the diesel tax in total isolation from previous policies, or they are a bunch of inexperienced newbies, or they just want to be proven right for repeatedly making this absurd diesel tax claim. My point: it’s all bad journalism.

Second-most important thing to realize about austerity: it has accumulated

I hear and read stories about the French in 2018 similar to what I used to read about Greece in 2012 – because austerity is cumulative.

It is not just one tax / measure / policy / reform: it is all of them combined. And we are talking about 8 years’ worth.

“Ramin, you are usually awfully long-winded. Do you get paid by the word? Even in your funny columns, you could use an editor. Just explain what you mean about this in real-world terms!”

Fine – hear ya go:

French inflation, according to my calculations, has increased by 14% since 2008: therefore, people have effectively taken a 14% wage cut in 10 years. This helps explain why “decreased purchasing power” has been the number one concern of the French year after year after year.

Salaries in France are already low to start with:1,700 euros is the median net salary, which is far lower than Anglo-US-Germanic countries.

Ok, so you have a lousy salary to start with, which has lost 14% of its value in the last decade. But inflation is not caused by the policy of neoliberal / trickle-down / austerity economics, of course.

But France does have austerity, so 14% is not the only reduction: we must account for the impact on salaries of 8 years of cuts to social services, because a key plank of austerity is reducing the size of the government. This means YOU foot the bill for many services the government used to totally provide or subsidise.

So let’s say, conservatively, because it really depends on the size of your family and what their needs are, that this has effectively lowered your yearly salary 5% overall during the Age of Austerity. Your salary is now actually worth about 20% less than in 2008.

Now let’s add in the new taxes imposed by austerity, because austerity means that the French state taxes workers and not capital, and more than ever. Did you expect that high finance would pay for their failed bets? Ha ha, you are funny – you probably say things like “France is socialist”, too. For example: two years ago they increased my council tax (the annual tax I pay for renting an apartment, so that I avoid things like getting rained on and assault-while-sleeping) by 60%. I don’t know how that’s legal or morally defensible, and I was enraged, but how could I stop them? It went from to €1,285 in 2016 to €2,134 in 2017.

So let’s say, conservatively, that the increased taxes imposed by austerity have taken just 5% of your salary over the last 10 years: your salary is now down 25% from 2008.

Of course, losing 25% of your wages in 10 years is no problem IF your wages have increased 25%.

In 2008 the government claimed the median salary was €1,580 per month for a full-time worker. In 2015, which is this year’s data from the government (why are they so behind schedule, probably because austerity means firing/not replacing government workers), the median salary was €1,692. This means that the median salary has only increased 7%.

So we can conservatively estimate that the median citizen has lost 18% of their salary in real terms since 2008, all thanks to following austerity economics.

For people making €1,700 per month in 2018…losing €306 per month is a huge, huge problem. For childless, former Rothschild bankers who married elderly chocolate heiresses/statutory rapists…€306 only means skimping on the wine tonight.

But wait, it’s worse!

Not only has austerity taken this huge cut out of your already-meagre salary, they have made it significantly more likely that you will lose your poorly-paying job due to long-standing, near-record unemployment levels in France.

This pressure exists because another plank of austerity is the reduction of and/or the refusal to spend government money on job-creating infrastructure PLUS the insistence on giving tax breaks to corporations and businessmen WITH zero strings attached (such as the promise of jobs).

And, the coup de grace, austerity means reduced safety conditions, making firing easier and loosening oversight rules – as a way to encourage hiring – so your poor-paying job is even more disagreeable.

And who has arrived on the scene immune to these pressures, and thus just oozing life, but “old Mackie” Emmanuel Macron. Well, when the shark bites with his teeth, babe, and the scarlet billows start to spread – Mackie’s got them fancy gloves, so there’s never a trace of red. Never a trace of policy-sweat, either: he controls his brand-new political party, which has an absolute majority in Parliament. France is Macron’s little austerity laboratory, and he doesn’t care about public opinion and nor does he have to.

So the “real-world terms” in France are: major cuts in take home pay, combined with job insecurity, combined with a mad neoliberal scientist who doesn’t believe he was elected to reflect the popular will but to rule as he technocratically thinks best.

Can you hear the Mainstream Media shouting to drown me out: “The problem is just the diesel tax, just the diesel tax I tell ya!

Let’s be real journalists and do the math, and give the context, and recount the history

Want me to quickly debunk Macron’s rationale for the diesel tax, which is dutifully placed at the top of every Mainstream Media report?

France’s auto industry made a failed bet on diesel in the 1980s. Result: a whopping 80% of French passenger cars now run on diesel. Pretty clear why the diesel tax is so widely unpopular, no?

Diesel is dirtier than regular gas, but has always been cheaper – until old Mackie came along. But Macron’s “this tax is needed to pay for a necessary ecological transition” is pure bull: Instead of taxing stockholders, corporations and car dealership owners for this failed bet (i.e., the ones who profited) Macron is capitalistically taxing labor (workers, households). There are myriad other ways to make the necessary auto-ecological transition than taxing the average person…but not in capitalism.

People think France is “socialist” because they have a great social safety net, but it remains a capitalist country because they tax labor and not the 1% / management to pay for this safety net. That is the reason the median salary is so low compared with other Western nations. The diesel tax is not the only example of this – ALL French taxes are: It’s so bad that in 2018 all the wages of the average French worker from January 1 until July 27 went to the taxman, to give some real-world context. (In Iran, being so heavily socialist-inspired, 50% of the population pays zero taxes, including every farmer – the money comes from oil revenue (socialistically state-owned) and businesses.)

That’s some context for the latest austerity measure – the diesel tax -which is no different from a banker bailout because Macron wanted to capitalistically make the average person pay for the failures of high finance / alleged technocrats / the rich bosses once again.

But what about the many austerity measures which preceded this one? That laundry list is long and stinking, but I’ll make it brief because I think it matters:

The first austerity cuts were rushed through in 2011, with 2012 serving as France’s first official austerity budget. The reason: the confidence fairy” and France’s AAA bond rating. Did the People want them? Sarkozy became the first French president not to be re-elected in 30 years.

I remember when Francois “The Ultimate Patsy” Hollande came along in 2012. He was a formerly-fat, witty, jovial, (alleged) Everyman from rural France. Surely HE would understand the popular will and do what he promised: break with the Austerity Party line enforced by Brussels, as his campaign was built around a promise to renegotiate the Orwellian-named EU Stability and Growth Pact. I really can’t express how high optimism was in May 2012 – evil Sarkozyites were traitors, and France was truly going to lead a Latin Bloc La Résistance against the arrogant Germans, Dutch and usurious Northern bankers.

Instead, Hollande broke the Socialist Party.

He backtracked on ending austerity on November 6, 2012, by announcing another round of it, and which contained basically all the neoliberal, economically-regressive measures proposed by Sarkozy during the presidential campaign. It was Obama turning into Dubya Bush à la française. The very next day Hollande announced the approval of a draft law to legalise gay marriage and adoption. Funny how I never read about this connection in the Mainstream Media, ever, even though it was a simply atrocious act of societal and political manipulation of the media agenda. That alone was enough to turn many French off of politics for years.

Yellow Vests were thus diverted to enormous anti-gay rights marches, instead of being at anti-austerity marches, but the vests still remained in the car.

How much time do you have to discuss incredibly repressive anti-government protests during the Hollande era? How about after the State of Emergency was imposed? How about the “France has free speech except for pro-Palestinians, whose marches we ban”? What about the 2014 months of protests, led by the rail workers – I dutifully filled up my car with gas (it’s such a fancy car that I was able to buy it entirely with €1 and €2 coins, LOL) in order to help provoke fuel shortages, which have only just barely begun in the current, far-weaker iteration of fuel depot blockades. What about the 2016 Labor Code reforms, when it was all-out war on Hollande?

I never did discover a Western presidential incumbent who was so unpopular that he couldn’t even run for re-election. Feel free to finally provide me with an answer to that trivia question, because for now Hollande is that punchline to that joke.

But Hollande sure did punch – protesters, that is. I don’t know what NGOs are doing but it’s not compiling this data, so off the top of my head – and after asking other journalists – I would estimate that at least 15-20,000 citizens were arrested at anti-government protests during the Hollande era, with 20-30,000 hurt (and truly countless tear-gassed and harassed by cops). Hey, you had 4,000 protesters taken to court by the government during the 2016 protests alone – how many got arrested but were not given court cases? And how many more would have been arrested had not over 600 demonstrations been banned by “liberté-loving” France during the 2-year State of Emergency, with countless others strangled in the cradle? The anal rape of a young Black man by cops with their truncheon in 2017 isn’t necessarily economic austerity-related, but it is evidence of emboldened state repression: my headline sums up the Hollande era when it comes to “Frnce’s love for freedom of assembly”: Cop violence at Paris demo against cop violence.

And how much time do you have to discuss incredibly repressive anti-government protests during 18 months of Macron? The labor code part 2 reform, the rail reform, the education reform, hospital reform, normalization of the state of emergency reform – all have been met with majority-opposition from the People and the same state violence.

So when 400 people got arrested and over 130 anti-government protesters were hurt at the Arc de Triomphe protests last week – this is not seriously different from many other violent protests over the past 8 years!

I admit, I have never seen the Arc de Triomphe tagged with graffiti, but that’s the only real novelty – the violence is totally de rigeur in French political life and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

Or they are hypocrites, because violence against anti-government protesters is apparently ok…in Western countries. Since 2011 I have been saying on PressTV: “If this was Iran, Cuba, China or Venezuela the West would be calling for a humanitarian intervention to save the people from such anti-democratic aggression.”

I eventually stopped saying it – I just got tired of it, ya know? Rather, the West’s hypocrisy just got acceptable. Terrible journalism on my part.

I guess I also stopped being upset over people getting hurt at demonstrations for the same reason – it became mundane, normal. More bad journalism – and bad humanity, and bad citizenship – on my part.

However, I didn’t do what the Anglophone media simply loves to do: I never blamed French protesters for the violence. My God, the Anglophones and their “Keep calm and carry on” worship of law and order at all they costs…what a bunch of sheep, eh? They wouldn’t revolt under any circumstances, I’d say.

Of course, unlike those idiot commentators I have been at innumerable violent protests and choked down litres of tear gas. Fact one: if the cops fail to stop violence it is the fault of the cops, as that is their primary job. Fact two: if the government provokes violent protests, it is the fault of the government, as it is their job to promote policies which do not inspire citizen rebellion. Fact three: France’s armed-to-the-teeth riot police are inherently provoking to the increasingly-poor and increasingly-repressed Frenchmen who come to protest the government and not to get intimidated by it, so their whole plan is designed to fail…and purposely – we talk about the violence and not the reasons nor the past. More “politics in a vacuum and not a continuum”.

Future of Yellow Vests – going on vacation, I’m betting

Of course the Yellow Vesters are going on vacation shortly – it’s December 6. The past 10 years of French history ALWAYS shows that the protesters – no matter how hot, blue and righteous – prefer taking a vacation to sustaining their political momentum. Nothing must stand in the way of several weeks off in December-January and August!

This is, of course, is why they keep losing.

So here’s a real easy test for you to see if the Yellow Vests are different: If the French are seriously protesting on the couple days on either side of Christmas or New Year’s Eve – that would be a revolution in political norms.

But I’ve seen it year after year, so I predict the protests will stop after December 16, and then re-start in January but necessarily weakened. The French sure do make it easy for the politicians they truly despise.

But maybe not so weakened upon restarting….

Beyond the Arc de Triomphe graffiti, I am seeing things I’ve never seen before – like a motorcyclist in rush hour wearing a Yellow Vest with “General Strike – Let’s Stop It All”. Anybody who knows anything knows that a general strike – the only demonstration which actually hurts the pockets of the 1% – is the only way to get any true political change anywhere in the world and at any time (barring outright revolution and rebellion).

Maybe this is the year Santa Claus is not the priority?

People outside of France ask me: will there be a revolution? Here is my stock answer:

No: a huge percentage of French are just as insanely committed and prideful about their outdated, 19th-century based system as the Americans. This is the true legacy of imperialism – unmerited arrogance about your system. Iranians use “arrogance” and “imperialism” interchangeably for very logical and obvious reasons.

But, once again, maybe not so arrogant after 8 years of austerity….

The far-left (true left) and far-right are making unprecedented calls for new elections, for referendums, for things which are rather radical. Let’s not forget that in the 2017 presidential first round vote 19.5% of the electorate voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon (just 2 points less than Marine Le Pen), whose platform included abolishing the 5th Republic. So in France you have an inordinate amount of arrogant jingoists whose parents grew up in French Algeria, but there definitely is a sizeable part of the population which knows things are fundamentally wrong about France’s Liberal-and-not-Socialist Democracy-influenced structure.

And the problem is definitely structural – it is not just the price of diesel.

Any true “Yellow Vest Revolution” would have to include a drastic rewriting of the rules of the European Union and especially the Eurozone, or else a Frexit. Both of those institutions were constructed in the heyday of the fall of the USSR , and thus at a time where socialism was at its absolute nadir. Their birth chart is significant because the two are designed with 1%-safety hatches to escape anything close to true popular democracy. The structure of these two institutions are truly the triumph of “Americanism”, and their neoliberal, self-cannibalizing socio-political thought. Indeed, the US runs on a system inspired by the English, French and Europe, but Continental Europe runs on a system inspired by the US…ironic. And unfortunate.

If the Yellow Vest movement proves to be different it will be largely because of this: they have, and they allow, no leaders or spokespeople. The Prime Minister admitted that he cannot meet with any Yellow Vests, because the ones he arranges to meet with keep getting death threats from fellow Yellow Vesters.

The reason this is so important is: the government cannot co-opt or buy off the movement.

Take French unions for example – there are nine big ones. There was a span lasting from 2010 to 2018 when they didn’t march together once, even though their members all hate austerity. Obviously, they are not united at all. What I have seen year after year in France is: there are anti-austerity strikes and hopes are high…but then the government buys off one or two of the unions with targeted concessions. Those unions say, “We’ve satisfied our members, as is our duty,” and they pull out. Thus, the strikes are now less impactful on the pockets of the 1%, and they are emboldened. Those still striking feel betrayed and see the lack of solidarity, and the strike soon collapses because too many people went back to work. It’s all as easy as pie for the ruling technocrats and 1%, whereas all an increasingly-poor average worker can say each year is: “This time it will be different.” It likely won’t be – French unions have signed off on every major austerity measure, after all.

All of that should go a long way in explaining why socialist countries like Iran, Cuba and China ban independent trade unions – for them the state IS the union.

You can be sure the Yellow Vests are certainly aware of the failure of the philosophy underpinning Western unionism, and thus they are trying to prevent being similarly co-opted or sold out. The death threats and opposition to any leadership are now given context: radicalization and the demand for new methods has accumulated, due to the accumulation of austerity; it is not merely the presence of (politically over-idealistic and step-skipping) French anarchism.

The Yellow Vest Movement also doesn’t even have a program or a list of clear demands which could be satisfied…and I say “right on”.

Their list of demands should be SO long and SO varied that it would take months just to compile it…because their demands are the combined demands of 8 years of anti-austerity protests.

Who are the Yellow Vests, after all? They are all those workers, students, pensioners, teachers, hospital staff, etc. who have been protesting and gotten only tear gas and failure for their efforts. They all have ignored demands which must be addressed, no?

So they don’t need a short & clear program which creates a quite fix because France’s problem is – just like the EU and the Eurozone – structural, cultural and endemic.

Is this a Yellow Vest Cultural Revolution, or just another failed anti-austerity protest?

People will mock me, but something like a Chinese or Iranian Cultural Revolution is clearly needed: several years of shutting down institutions and having major public political discussions in order to have both a huge rethink on societal structures and to get “Rebel Red Guards/Yellow Vests” into local positions of power.

Disagree? Ok, then answer this: How long can this go on?

I don’t mean the Yellow Vest protests – I mean citizen acceptance of anti-democratic austerity. Anything is possible, after all – give me a real figure, please: The Eurozone has had a Lost Decade (which the Mainstream Media never openly admits): will Eurozone citizens tolerate a Lost Score, like the Japanese did?

I say no: Japan is an island, ethnically and culturally homogenous, and they own their debt and cannot be foreclosed on. The Eurozone has none of these advantages.

Here’s another issue I’d like an actual answer on: How long can France have a president and a government which believes public opinion only matters once every five years? One more presidential election? Maybe you believe three more? I admit, anything is possible.

Again, I say no. The Socialist Party is smashed, the mainstream conservative party was routed almost as badly, and Macron’s party – at this rate – will be just a blip in France’s political history books, because they are even less popular than Hollande was at the same point in his term. So who is the party which will be running in 2027? We have no idea in France, much less in 2022.

So when I say that new people in local positions in power are not just needed, that is an understatement: they appear absolutely inevitable.

Another question requiring an actual answer: Where is the political party or grassroots movement which can tangibly implement the Yellow Vests’ will, once that will is known? I am not being obtuse – what is the political pathway for them?

The only alternatives which are not smashed (or soon to be discredited) and still within the realm of possibility are Le Pen and the far-left (real left).

But I don’t think such a Red-Brown alliance can happen in France, however: hatred for the National Front cannot be overestimated, and Le Pen permanently lost many by clowning against Macron in their 2017 debate instead of realising she had a chance to win. Uber-intense anti-Le Pen / Rassemblement National sentiment is the only explanation that France chose a 40-year old Rothschild banker 6 years into austerity. And we can’t overestimate the anti-leftist feeling in France: France neo-imperialist, France capitalist, France Islamophobic, etc. Melenchon came so very close in 2017, but he has the entire media landscape against him, and for many his past as a Socialist Party member until as late as 2008.

Therefore, a real political option – but only by default – is that the Yellow Vests turn into Italy’s Five-Star movement, because they lack any other route to translating their political will, when declared (or if declared, given French anarchism).

But Five-Star took 8 years to coalesce and win power – the Yellow Vests are still in month #1.

However, as my headline notes, this has essentially been the same protest for 8 years, going on 9, so maybe France as a whole is “there”? Maybe the timeline is speeded up in the digital age, too? That’s a significant psychological consideration, but Italy does not give us much hope for 4G political speed in France.

Given the 90,000 cops to be deployed on December 8, it appears that the Yellow Vests are still in “smash” mode, as they should be. Austerity has accumulated after the Great Recession, so there is much to demolish: namely, received wisdoms such as France is democratic, functioning well, rather-socialist, sovereign, etc; there’s also the pan-European ideas (beloved by the French elite) that these new institutions have been beneficial, successful, are the only thing preventing European War III, etc. Lotta nonsense to bring down to earth.

They say we can never predict a revolution, but we do know what precedes successful revolutions: years (if not decades) of nationwide, constant, family-splitting political discussion and involvement combined with drastic measures of self-sacrifice. That was the case in Russia in 1917 and in Iran in 1979 – thus their Revolutions were more aptly-termed bloodless “Celebrations”.

France is a long way from celebrating anything but Christmas, but I can report that all anybody is talking about is the Gilet Jaunes. However, we are truly only on the 6th day of this nationwide ferment, though, so…some perspective.

But, as far as my 2 centimes, I predict they will take Christmas and New Year’s off. And when they come back the same problems will be there. This is a very cynical and depressing point of view – maybe after 10 years here I have become French? – but those are the facts and the historical pattern.

What is also a fact is that the Yellow Vests may or may not change things, but that things in France and the Eurozone simply must change. And they will – someday. See, I’m not that French – I’m optimistic!

And for damn sure I am a Yellow Vest. So is everyone else I’ve talked to, and that means something big…at least for now.

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

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

 

December 04, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is ultimately why MBS had Khashoggi killed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 19, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogKhashoggi Part 2: A ‘reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran/Shia warmonger?

I wouldn’t want readers to think that I egotistically view Jamal Khashoggi’s anti-Iran stance as his most important flaw….

Part two in this 4-part series only focuses on Iran because they provide a distinct counterpart to “Khashoggi Thought”: By laying out the differences between these two we can see how Khashoggi relates to the Middle Eastern world; then in Part 3 we can see how Khashoggi relates to the larger Islamic World; and in Part 4 we can analyze Khashoggi’s intellectual relation to the West, China and the entire world. Hey – since 1979 hysterical anti-Iran warmongers have been a dime a dozen! We’re just expanding outward concentrically.

One of Khashoggi’s favourite journalistic topics was Iran, which everyone will agree is the Muslim country that has mostly successfully rebelled against the Western model and the West’s dictates. Those who know some of the details of the Iranian system will agree that Iran is also the Muslim country which has burst through the furthest into political modernity.

These are the very reasons why Khashoggi called Iran “our Great Satan”. He repeatedly wrote that the JCPOA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program is a “war project” and not a peace project, in clear contradiction with the vast majority of global public opinion.

He viewed Iran as the biggest threat to his own happiness and to Saudi Arabia’s happiness, and so he fanatically wrote article after article to cobble together a war coalition. This article examines the question: What compelled Jamal Khashoggi to be such a horrific warmonger?

Khashoggi can rest in peace – he got some wars started, at least

From a 2016 column (fanatically) titled, You are either with us, or against us:

“Our neighboring friends say they do not want a sectarian conflict. It is too late; we have all been pushed against our will into this conflict by Iran, which might not be speaking in a sectarian way but is acting as such.”

The claim that Iran is “sectarian” is absolutely false and easily disproven: Palestinians are Sunni and not Shia. Need more? Fine: As far away as the leftist Polisario Front in the Western Sahara Iran is supporting Sunnis, even though monarchical Morocco cut ties for that reason (at least officially). This is an argument does not withstand the barest scrutiny.

I dispel such nonsense to show Khashoggi’s own, real view:

“Therefore, today’s confrontation is not between Sunnis and Shiites, but between Shiite fundamentalism (he is referring to Iran) and Sunni fundamentalism represented by ISIS.”

The only people making such a preposterously false equivalence between Iran and ISIS are located in Riyadh, Israel, Washington, New York and in mosques where the preachers have trained by radical Saudi Arabians. Would ISIS have a constitution, women in parliament, and high voter turnout? LOL, of course not – the two are absolutely not comparable. However, if you want to get a job with The Washington Post you had better write a ton of copy claiming that they are.

Khashoggi’s dishonest claim that he himself was not a sectarian is contradicted by the fact that – in clear contrast with Iran’s foreign policy – Khashoggi openly opposed every Shia movement in any Middle Eastern country: he supported the war in Syria 100%, hated Hezbollah as much as any Israeli, and only stopped openly supporting the war on Yemen after he moved to The Washington Post.

Lede sentence from a pre-“WaPo” 2016 article titled, Saudi constance in its Yemen policy:

Operation Decisive Storm will emerge victorious because its demands are simple, moral, and supported locally, regionally and internationally.”

Our first question is: who is this “Constance” he refers to and how did she get such influence in Saudi foreign policy on Yemen? I have heard of “constancy”, but apparently ole Saudi Connie was deluded into thinking that forcing the greatest famine in modern history on Yemen was “moral”.

Errors from Al-Arabiya’s editors aside, the reality is that Khashoggi viewed any demand by Shia for democracy as “Shiite fundamentalists”.

How many “reformers” or “dissidents” are warmongers at the same time? Check Part 1 for an explanation of what type of thinker in the Muslim world does and does not deserve those monikers.

Modern Iran, like all socialism, is a social experiment which was long-repressed

The problem with Khashoggi’s obsessive anti-Iranian warmongering (apart from all the obvious problems, of course) is that revolutions are not made by powers or individuals, but solely by ideas.

Like the results or not, I think any objective analysis will agree that the idea behind the Iranian Islamic Revolution was, most simply, “modern Muslim democracy”.

But to the average Westerner “modern Muslim democracy” is an extremist idea; to the average Western leftist or intellectual it is an impossible contradiction; to Arab monarchs it is a terrifying threat to their elite status; to the Muslim People, this is exactly what has been repressed by all of the above for two centuries (and then the Muslim People are accused of being intrinsically anti-democratic!).

But, after toppling the Shah, and unencumbered by a legacy of colonialism like in Algeria, and also not seeking to deny a Muslim electoral victory as Algeria did in the 1990s, Iran did implement Muslim democracy more than any major Muslim nation in history. What resulted from this Muslim democracy is what I often refer to as “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

But this revolutionary idea was not at all unique to Iran in the Muslim world, and that is something which Khashoggi himself recognized and feared. From a 2016 column titled Iran’s Regional Project:

“The leaders of Yemen’s Houthis, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Dawa party and Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq party seek to implement their sectarian fundamentalist project in order to spread Iran’s influence beyond its borders. Those leaders consider Iran a cosmopolitan system rather than a state with defined boundaries. They have pledged unconditional allegiance, waging war and declaring peace on Tehran’s orders without taking into account the interests of their states. They do not consider Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria or Iraq as countries.”

Therein lies Khashoggi’s fundamental error: especially given that Iranian patriotism was the single-most important spark to their revolution (and not something openly internationalist, like socialism in 1917 Russia), Iran is not really a “cosmopolitan system”. However, “Muslim democracy” definitely is; “Islamic socialism” definitely is.

Houthis, Iraqis and Bahrainis are not seeking to create some sort of new “Shia Caliphate/superstate”, nor make Farsi their new official language, nor throw out their cultures for the modern Iranian one – they would certainly resist such efforts violently. Due to his 18th-century-based political beliefs – what I define as “Salafist Liberal Democracy” in the next part of this series – Khashoggi cannot grasp this.

Yet the truth couldn’t be more obvious: What those parties – all murderously repressed – truly seek is democratic representation within policy-making. Such policy-making would inevitably be, I predict, Islamic socialist, but they would certainly not be “policies-to-benefit-Iranians”.

That is why Baathist (Arab nationalist/supremacist, secular, socialist) turned tyrant Saddam Hussein banned and massacred the Dawa Party in 1979…which only pushed back their (inevitable) democratic victory until 2005. That is why Yemen is in the midst of the latest iteration of its civil war for democracy and against monarchy, and via a Houthi movement which is republican and which also includes Sunnis (contradicting the constant Western media description of them as “sectarian”). That is why Bahrain’s poor – dominated by Shia, who live under the discriminatory and Riyadh-allied monarchy – want at least one valuable commodity: the ability to vote their conscience so that modern, democratic policy-making can finally begin.

Furthermore, against the idea of Iranian cosmopolitanism is the fact that anti-Arab feeling in Iran can be disgustingly strong – they were the invaders, after all. Iranian patriots (but especially Iranian jingoists) would love to talk to you for 2,500 years about the 2,500 years of rather distinct (but not too distinct…) Persian culture. Iranians honor and adore Imam Zayn al-Abidin – the originator of the Islamic sect of Zaidism – but he took firmest root in Yemen. Is “cosmopolitan” Iran going to uproot Yemenites’ 11-century long love for Imam Zayn and force them to publicly prefer Imams Ali & Hussain, the ubiquitous religious figures of Iran? That idea is impossibly absurd and would only lead to war.

Modern Iranians are much like modern Chinese – not inclined to imperialism following much Western humiliation and repression; maybe in a century that changes (devolves, becomes reactionary, etc.) but it’s just not true in 2018. However, both are inclined to defend their neighbors, cultural kin and distant cousins when attacked, which is not at all “imperialism”.

Iran-obsessing is only to repress intellectual & democratic debate

Despite all these core-rooted differences Iran has with other “Shia nations”, Khashoggi concludes:

The crises in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq should be linked and dealt with as one Iranian project that threatens all our cultural and political components, and our vision for the future. This project poses a serious threat to our region, and should be seriously confronted with a unified project before it is too late.

For Khashoggi “Muslim democracy” has been transformed into “one Iranian project” – very flattering to Iranians, but a false exaggeration.

Iran’s “project” was to liberate themselves from Western meddling and to democratically discuss and create a new society. What they decided was to: end monarchy, reject 18th century-based liberal democracy, not attempt a phony bourgeois Muslim liberal democracy, and to instead create what is accurately termed “Iranian Islamic socialism”.

However, all of that absolutely does threaten the monarchism, elitism and power-hoarding “vision for the future” which Khashoggi supports!

Khashoggi wanted the Saudi Arabian power structure to remain fundamentally unchanged – he merely preferred a different prince than current Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Just ask his sons: “Jamal was never a dissident.”

Let’s define another key Khashoggi’s fear, which is the unique historical choice Muslims face in 2018: between monarchy and republican theocracy. It is a unique choice because – excepting a few islands in the Caribbean – it is only Europeans who still promotes monarchy, and they certainly appear to democratically reject theocracy.

Iran was not the first nation to prove that a monarchy is totally incompatible with socialism, but they were indeed the first to prove that in the Muslim world. That’s no small potatoes in a region full of kings….

More crucially, though, is this: Iran was the first to prove was that theocracy is not totally incompatible with socialism – this is Iran’s most radical contribution to modern history.

This is why Iran is such an electrifying, polarising example in the resolutely-religious Muslim World. It is also why those opposed to the political & economic democratic dictates of socialism, and those pushing capitalism, imperialism and monarchy – like Khashoggi – are trying so hard to destroy Iran.

What is certain is that Liberal Democracy is not compatible with socialism: Socialist Democracy is fundamentally different in structure, motivation and application, and the West will continue to totally oppose Socialist Democracy wherever it is found.

Khashoggi’s ‘cry of a Saudi prince’ in 2018: “I am not king….waahh waaahh!”

The reality is that Khashoggi himself admired and envied the Iranian Revolution. What did Khashoggi want to emulate? From his columnThe Alienation of the Saudi Legacy:

“I consider it the second most important book to tackle the crisis of Saudi identity and alienation after Egyptian researcher and journalist Mohammed Jalal Kishk’s book “The Saudis and the Islamic Solution.”

This book was published more than 30 years ago, when the question of an Islamic solution emerged with the return of political Islam and the victory of its sectarian version in Iran. It is time to put this book back on school shelves, so the current generation learns and feels proud…” blah blah petty nationalism blah blah Saudis are the best blah blah.

Per Khashoggi, he wants an Islamic solution to be promoted and to be a “victory”- like in Iran – only he wants a Saudi version.

First, an aside: the problem is that a just society according to Kishk was staunchly, resolutely anti-leftist. Khashoggi, like seemingly all Westerners, completely misses the socialist aspects of the “victory of the sectarian version” in Iran. Iran’s solution was both Islamic and modern; the latter is proven by its rejection of antiquated monarchy and the implementation of democratic structures, and Islamic because many of its rules which were inspired by Islamic knowledge. (That Iran’s government is not based on “religion” but based on “religious knowledge” is literally the first piece of ignorance I sought to overturn in my recent 11-part series on modern Iran.)

Many Muslims will say today that Khashoggi’s proposed monarchist, anti-socialist, sectarian and jingoist solution is not at all Islamic, but let’s play along anyway:

One cannot be both “modern politically” and a “monarchist”. Whoever heard of a socialist king? Now that is an impossibility. The only place you would hear such fake leftism is from Europe, Canada or Australia. Khashoggi reveals this contradictory absurdity when he refers back to the second-most important book, written by Saudi Prince (shocker, eh?) Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman:

“The book comes as an outcry from a Saudi prince…” stop right there Jamal: the worker of 2018 cares not for the “outcry” of any prince!

Neo-imperialist Europe may disagree with that, but any empowered, educated worker knows that there can be no princes in 2018 – to maintain doing so (or to return to doing so, perish the thought!) is what is accurately called “reactionary” in 2018. For God’s sake, even a devilish, bourgeois banker in New York City or Paris has enough political modernity (republicanism: popular sovereignty, instead of the sovereignty of a monarch) to know that!

But I have not the power to stop Khashoggi, because he has all the powerful allies while Iranian Islamic Socialists and Muslim Democrats have only the lower classes. He continues:

“The book comes as an outcry from a Saudi prince calling for an awakening that revives what was inherited from our grandparents…” again I wrest control!

What I inherited from my two grandfathers appears limited to the shape of my hands and legs, the desire to respond to silly questions with silly answers, and the monetary fortune left over from a 95 year-old’s modest pension… after being divided with at least 10 other people. Contrarily, Khashoggi inherited more money than he could spend and the keys to the kingdom’s journalism! Thus, it is no wonder he espouses a reactionary, backwards-facing view…there is a reason most revolutions are started by the “barefooted”, as in Iran.

Instead of having a revolution to depose the anti-democratic, damned monarchy, Khashoggi – like all modern right-wingers from Europe to the US to Brazil and beyond – can only offer the dying light of the past as a beacon. It is mere nationalism – an ethos which was “modern” in 1848.

Contrarily, plumbing only the past for answers is the opposite of socialism, which demands that the People be empowered in their daily work to excitingly construct and maintain a new society where everyone can finally reach their full potential.

Khashoggi illustrates what Muslims have been fighting against ever since the Industrial Revolution proved to workers what their unified power could produce: Western-backed monarchists who fear the democratic judgment of their own people.

Nationalism produces racism but patriotism does not. No surprise Khashoggi pushed ‘Saudization’

Patriotism is what we are striving for, but Khashoggi reminds us that “patriotism” must necessarily be combined with something larger than just a “love for our land and our past”. Twenty-first century modernity simply must be combined with a multicultural ethos due to absolutely everyone’s recent history of immigration (which only excepts Japan, the Koreas, Tunisia (they were all trying to get into Ghadaffi’s Libya) and Yemen among major countries).

This why the West truly has no idea what patriotism truly is: they mistakenly think “patriotism” includes jingoism, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Iran is a “cosmopolitan” system only in the sense that it speaks this long-suppressed but still vibrant anti-sectarian, leftist language both within and beyond its borders. Khashoggi constantly distorted this reality and told his readers that all Shia are “tools of Iran”, and that they cannot be trusted as citizens across the Middle East. All Shia have apparently renounced their nationalities and have no heart at all for their surroundings nor those in them…but this is all untrue.

Untrue, but normal to Western ears: this is undoubtedly exactly what is said in the centre and left across the West – “Shia” must simply be replaced with “Mexicans” or “Muslims” or “Roma” as needed.

This is scapegoating and racism, and verboten in socialism; China, Iran and Cuba have NONE of these “identity” problems. “Our country is losing its identity” is only a pathetic problem for those nations not inspired by socialism; socialist nations are making a new identity, and it is patriotic (inclusive of all within its borders). This short section is, sadly, necessary for many Western readers who are not true patriots but who falsely they think they are.

It is unsurprising that Khashoggi supported the monarchy’s “Saudization” policies to the hilt – all their migrant workers were only oil money-bloodsuckers, not people who helped build modern Saudi Arabia. The recent expulsion of 700,000 Yemeni migrants, along with other deported nationalities, is something many in the West would love to achieve.

A “reformer”, despite being anti-Iran, anti-Shia, anti-migrant….

2018 choices for the Middle East: democracy & religion or monarchy

Of course the West loves Khashoggi – just like they do, he hated Iran and sough to create a Sunni-Shia divide which has no precedent in Islamic history.

A Khashoggi could never exist in Iran – that is the glory of their popular revolution. Promote anti-democratic monarchy in Iran? That’s only among the lunatic exiles. Promote aggressive and obviously-imperialist war in Iran? War is only for self-defense against invaders, which is ordered in the Koran – Muslims do not turn the other cheek.

That Khashoggi is celebrated in the West is to their great shame, and I’m sure many Westerners are ashamed of that. These honest people instinctively know that Khashoggi is no “refomer”, but hopefully this series reminds us exactly why.

The Saudi People also know Khashoggi is no reformer. I recently covered a pro-Khashoggi demonstration in front of the Saudi embassy in Paris – there were twice as many journalists there than Saudis. Saudis know this guy was no hero – he was part of the system of Saudi oppression.

But I am well-aware that Westerners do not really care about Khashoggi – it’s just an interesting tabloid story.

Those who care about Khashoggi are the leaders of the Mainstream Media, Western politicians, and Western CEOs – sadly, this is who controls things in Western liberal democracy’s “rule of law”. They care about Khashoggi because he represented the possibility of bourgeois revolution within the Muslim monarchical world, which would create the opportunity for international high finance to legally wrest control of the Saudi Arabia’s oil from the Saudis – what else would result from installing bourgeois liberal democracy in Saudi Arabia?

Khashoggi has passed, and the push to prevent democracy for Muslim people – by protecting monarchs and their intellectual toadies – will continue. However, socialism and democracy cannot be denied in the Muslim world forever.

Please note that this entire Part 2 only discussed political ideas which the West can relate to – liberal democracy, republicanism, socialism, true patriotism, etc. Part 3 discusses a political concept which most Westerners cannot discuss intelligently – Salafism. It also discusses the very-unintelligent ideology Khashoggi promoted: what I term “Liberal Democratic Salafism”.

In 2018 Salafism is a politically-reactionary concept, and it is absolutely opposed in Iran for that reason, but it is so prevalent in the Muslim world and in Muslim history that it must be properly understood. Westerners must understand it because they have it too.

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This is the 1st article in a 4-part series which examines Jamal Khashoggi’s ideology and how it relates to the Islamic World, Westernization and Socialism. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Khashoggi, Ben Barka & PressTV’s Serena Shim: A 4-part series

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

Khashoggi Part 3: ‘Liberal Democratic Salafism’ is a sham, ‘Islamic Socialism’ isn’t

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

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

Great Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogGreat Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

November 02, 2018

Ten years ago my life was all screwed up by the economic crisis I had nothing to do with.

In August 2008 AFP (Agence France Presse) said that if I learned French they’d give me a job. I moved in with my parents and studied five hours a day seven days a week for five months. By the time I arrived in France in February AFP, along with everyone else, was no longer hiring. The crisis had started in September with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

So I had wasted all that time and effort. I was in France but sans job – a big problem on multiple levels. I could translate French copy into English adequately but I immediately realised I could not understand anything the French were saying to me, nor could I say hardly anything to them. I was a jobless, isolated, unneeded immigrant with no income and questionable prospects in an overcrowded field now undergoing a second recession (the internet provided the first recession in journalism jobs).

Ten years later, I consider myself lucky: that is hardly the worst story you’ve heard caused by capitalism’s ever-guaranteed, always-exacerbated failures.

What have we learned?

Why are you asking me? Well, I better have something to say because, very fortunately (and rather undeservedly, given the many better journalists here in Paris), for most of the last decade I seem to have been one of the busiest on-the-ground English-language TV reporters in Paris.

Covering the Great Recession from Europe is, I think, far different than covering it from the United States because Europeans often insist that their democracy, economy and mindset is qualitatively different from those in America.

The Great Recession in America was just a case of bad getting worse – dilapidated infrastructure from the Depression or Eisenhower eras remaining dilapidated, widespread drug and alcohol addiction falling deeper into the rabbit hole, near-zero government assistance remaining near-zero, tons of crime devolving into tons of crime now committed by people with tattoos on their faces – i.e., no real change and no real hope for change.

But Europe – ooh la la, they have too much class for tattoos on their faces. They have long-represented the alleged “Third Way”, which gracefully sidestepped American yahoo-ism and (alleged) Soviet totalitarianism, and were recently united in the (alleged) ever-greater fraternity which was the European Union and the Euro.

So what have we learned in 10 years? Last month a former employer of mine reported on the correct price for the best bottle of wine – $558,000.

What on earth is that, besides grounds for a public near-lynching? That is asset inflation of the worst, most socially-useless type. In 2008, that same price got you 27 bottles of wine, which was then the highest price ever paid for a single lot.

This two reports perfectly describe what has been the West’s fiscal policy since the Great Recession began: using taxpayer money to inflate the assets only owned by the rich and the propertied class in order to increase only their wealth. They have spent 10 years re-creating a bubble for upper-class assets – wine is never worth $93,000 a glass any more than a bottle was worth $19,000.

In the same vein, a Leonardo da Vinci painting is not worth the $450 million Mohammad Bin Salman paid for it last year. These massive, heinous, sinful sums are not being forked over because “that is what the market will bear” – they are being paid because the ultra-rich have become ultra-richer in the last 10 years and…you gotta spend your money somewhere.

No, the rich have not let taxpayer trillions burn holes in their pocket: Our money has only re-pumped new bubbles in the primary asset classes of the 1% – luxury goods, real estate, stocks (overvalued companies) and investment funds.

I will get straight to the point: Because our trillions have gone into these wasteful investments, instead of investments which improve overall societal well-being, we are certainly WORSE OFF than ten years ago.

Not all bubbles or debt is the same, despite what German-minded minds will insist. Instead of creating bubbles or debt to do any of a million positive things – improving business efficiency through better infrastructure, inventing cheaper solutions via increased education and research & development, injecting money to circulate into the “real economy” just by giving Joe Schmoe a job to uselessly move a bag of dirt from point A to point B and back again – the lack of socialist central planning has allowed the real economy to be gutted in favor of the economy of the 1%….again.

Of course, there are other bubbles which affect more than just the 1%: Western inflation over the past 10 years has been much more impactful in sapping (my) wages than the upper class realizes, but the US housing market had no reason to have reached 11% above the July 2006 Housing Bubble peak in August 2018.

For those of us who hold no property in real estate or property in corporations (stocks), we are left out in the cold. We still are yoked to debt and can be bankrupted by bubbles, though.

But the bubbles and debt of the 99% are good and even necessary: we need houses to live in, we need our sub-prime auto loans not to lead to repossession, we need our medical bills paid for, we need our elderly care bills paid for because we simply cannot stand how loud Grandpa has the TV any longer. All of this is “good debt” which sends money into the real economy (even if you can’t hold on to it for more than one payday).

The effects of the FIRE economy – Finance, Investment & Real Estate – in the recent history of capitalism has been studied and popularized by American economist Michael Hudson, but we are about to find out AGAIN just how pernicious its influence has been.

The Lost Score: not the stash of swapped prescription medication you have misplaced

Don’t think the Eurozone is lost? The Eurozone’s GDP is 12% lower than in 2008Chinas is up 266% over the same timeframe.

Your problem must be that you believe what you read in the Western Mainstream media: China’s 6.5% growth in the 3rd quarter was “weak” to Reuters, while France’s 3rd quarter growth of just 0.4% was (per my would-be AFP colleagues) a “boost as economy rebounds”. Sure, Frenchy, sure, you’re a real star. Both those articles are from the past fortnight, but it’s the same absurd spin I’ve reported on for nearly 40 economic quarters.

Europe’s Quantitative Easing was scheduled to end September 2017, so back then I wrote a 7-part series which showed how the world’s biggest macro-economy – the Eurozone (but China is about to surpass it – remains the weak link the global economy despite the “whatever it takes” (alleged) solution of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in 2012. What I did was combine a decade of on-the-street reporting with some basic (leftist) economic sense (FYI, all economic sense is leftist) to write about what will happen when this bubble – the “bailed out by taxpayers” bubble – finally re-bursts.

That is the biggest bubble, and it is about to pop.

Because they no doubt read and agreed with my analysis, the Eurozone’s leaders postponed the end of QE for 1 year. However, come January 1st, no more 30 billion euros in free money to high finance every month – they have been given 2.5 trillion euros in total. Again, we in the Eurozone have gotten zero from all that because the center- and right-wing forms of capitalism do not allow strings to be attached (such as delivering jobs, community betterment, etc.) in return for these fiscal gifts. CEOs, not workers, rule – the Eurozone has never been a socialist republic.

The problem is us:

This policy was not at all wanted by the Eurozone’s population…but this is a liberal democracy: that means public opinion is aggregated once every four or five years, and then the sheep must shut up and take it. That’s why it made no difference when Francois Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity platform: in classic modern liberal democracy form, he simply introduced a divisive, deflecting plan to approve gay marriage on the very same day – November 7, 2012 – that he announced his backtracking acceptance of austerity.

It is only in socialist countries where pubic opinion is actually reflected in policy making – empowering the average citizen is one of the two pillars of socialism (redistribution of wealth being the other) and what do you think “empowering” means? Hint: it is not synonymous with “ignoring”.

The Chinese Communist Party, it has been accurately written, is the world’s biggest public polling firm. There is no doubt that Cuban socialists are reflecting the People’s will when they are counting up their few unblockaded pesos and prioritising education, housing, medicine and food. North Korea is not funding nuclear research because they want to, but because all North Koreans are in agreement that they were the most-attacked, most-threatened, most-surrounded nation in the 2nd-half of the 20th century. You are totally unaware if you think the Iranian Revolution has endured similar violence and menacing by wasting their oil money on policies which the Iranian People cannot immediately and tangibly see have improved their quality of life since 1979: Iran’s economy, essentially 100% state-controlled, reflects the People’s will to a great degree (it is structurally impossible for it to reflect the will of private Iranian CEOs).

However, the West’s beloved liberal democracies do not at all care or reflect popular opinion – liberal democracies are designed to please the bourgeois/aristocratic/top 10%/technocrat/brahmin/genetically-superior/culturally-superior class. We hold these truths to be more self-evident in 2018 than 2008.

But what will happen when QE ends in the Eurozone? My prediction last year was based on capitalist logic: high finance, no longer bought off by free money (and thus less able to pay for $500k wine), will go back to doing what they did at the height of the crisis in Europe – the 2012 Sovereign Debt Crisis – and start squeezing the poorer countries of the Eurozone in the bond market. This time, Italy and Spain will be in their sights. This will soon spark the same chaos and instability as back then.

But worse: as illustrated, the Eurozone is far, far weaker than in 2012. They have spent trillions but bought $500k wine instead of productive, economy-safeguarding, preparing-for-capitalism’s-next-inevitable-rainy-day investments for the 99%. How could anybody possibly see it differently? I guess it’s the same answer to how AFP can see France’s 0.4% Q3 growth as a “boost as economy rebounds”. Keep the faith – success is right around the trickle-down corner, LOL!

You cannot tell me that the bankers have been totally bought off and will be content to roll around in their filth for the next 50 years, because they never are: there is always some young, Martin Shkreli-like, hedge fund-managing punk who wants to make his billions, and he will gladly hold Spain and Italy hostage to do so. Shkreli was not jailed for changing a pill’s price from $13.50 to $750 – that’s totally legal in capitalism – he was jailed because of his big mouth. But his usury and his rapper-like ego is simply how he was raised (in a non-socialist, non-religious Western culture). Nobody can stop him in the capitalist system – there is no central planning, there is total opposition to the idea of a “collective”, and they have even lost that longtime feeling of “positive racism” which formerly lent a sliver of unity to Western imperialist societies (“I can’t ruin my Color tribe and will do some things in their general interest because I hate your Ethnic tribe and fear that Religious tribe could be right.”).

And you can’t say that we are safer now because the criminals of 2008 have been brought to justice: look at the case of Mychal Kendricks, a 27-year old professional American football player convicted of insider trading.

Kendricks is the Black son of a crack addict, so from a socialist perspective his “class label” could not be more perfect – he succeeded despite tremendous obstacles, and he would be listened to with sympathy, targeted for public assistance and given affirmative action policies. He has admitted to insider trading and should be punished, but was the 2008 crisis orchestrated by football players, perhaps in between their concussion protocols and MRIs?

The case illustrates the priority of liberal democratic/bourgeois justice systems: Mychal Kendricks, from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, faces prison while the 1%ers who gamed the system did much more than escape justice – they were hailed as our only saviours to financial ruin, as too important (big) to fail, and subsequently entrusted with many no-strings-attached trillions.

Corruption must be punished, but Kendricks is not the problem…..

The problem is the lack of socialist central planning, the lack of democratic input (worker empowerment) on public policy, and the lack of prioritising the bottom 90% – the top 10% is prioritised, lauded and excused, instead.

The lack of all those three things created Europe’s Lost Decade of economic growth; created a situation where little-old-me was one of the few journalists to do some basic economic math and to openly say it was a Lost Decade (but which was noticed only by a small group of powerless intelligentsia on the fringe); this lack created today’s reality where things have only gotten worse since 2008, that more crisis is coming, and that the next crisis will necessarily be even worse.

The age of European austerity can be summed up quite simply: creating such a desperate labor market that the 1% was able to roll back Europe’s better-than-average social safety net, regulations, wages and working conditions.

That’s all it was – a wilful economic depression in order to turn the the EU’s work culture (and financial culture) into that of the US. The same process happened during Japan’s Lost Score – the Eurozone is now entering part two of their Lost Score.

These truths are more self-evident in 2018 than 2008. If you haven’t learned that, you obviously remain resolutely pro-capitalism and pro-liberal democracy/West European bourgeois democracy despite ten years of proof in your face.

Socialism has changed much in 10 years – a new generation of leaders in Cuba, the possible reintegration of North Korea into global affairs, a possible rapprochement between Iran and Europe (but not the US), the increasing acceptance of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as a reproducible and admirable model – but if capitalism has changed at all it is only for the worse.

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

The reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

 

October 25, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogThe reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

It seems unlikely – as it defies 73 years of ongoing aggression, warfare, the near-warfare of constant tap dancing on the border, starvation-creating sanctions, false promises, broken promises, racist caricaturing, hysterical knee-jerk anti-socialism, and more besides – but what if Washington finally allows North Korea to reintegrate into the multinational world?

North Korea has been so politically oppressed from without that they are less integrated into global affairs, regional affairs, and even local & national affairs (their country was forcibly divided, after all) than any nation. They are even less integrated than the other few nations which have sustained modern (and thus socialist-inspired) popular revolutions, such as Cuba, Iran, Eritrea, mighty China and their fighting Vietnamese comrades.

We are told that we don’t really know anything about North Korea! We are also told to believe nothing from Pyongyang, and that the “Hermit Kingdom” is the most inscrutable of all those very-inscrutable East Asians. But I reported from Seoul and the DMZ border in 2013 and learned some interesting things (5 of them are here).

If I had to give the two most important ideas, they would be: no People have lived with more meddling exterior menaces since the year 1945 -North Koreans are bordered by and/or threatened by the US, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan); and the second point would be that the reunification of an $8 trillion mineral-richwell-educated(darn those socialist countries with their not-for-profit education programs) North Korea with South Korea would almost IMMEDIATELY create the world’s 5th-largest economy, trailing only the US, China, Japan and Germany. I hold these truths to be self-evident, and move on to the point of this article….

Let’s conjecture that Korea is still not allowed to reunite but that North Korea is allowed a global reinstatement on the level of China and Vietnam, leapfrogging poor Cuba and lonely Iran (but who is lonely when they have God?): How would that affect socialism on a global-historical scale?

What do I mean by that? I mean: socialism is a historical-political movement which covers 200 years, which is nearly as faith-based as Islam or Christendom, and which is nearly as economically influential as the era of industrialisation (an era which has lasted 250 years because many colonized countries have never even finished the First Industrial Revolution) and reinstatement for North Korea means a North Korean victory…and a victory for North Korea HAS TO impact the “narrative of socialism”, no?

Right now the narrative since 1992 is that “History is over”, per Francis Fukuyama, and capitalism has defeated socialism until the end of time…except that Fukuyama himself just backtracked on that with a recent interview“At this juncture, it seems to me that certain things Karl Marx said are turning out to be true.” Ah, really Frank? By “juncture” you mean roughly 1848, right?

It’s 2018 and we’re talking North Korean reintegration, old F.F. is having doubts and Donald Trump is in the White House – what is the world coming to?!

Trump, God bless his Nobel Peace Prize-deserving soul (hey, Obama re-set the bar, right?) seems willing to do what the smartphone-loving world demands: end the Cold War on North Korea…in order to start exploiting the Jongju superdeposit, the world’s largest rare earth metals cache, and which may contain double the world’s known rare earth element resources. Money talks with capitalists, not ideology/morality/history….

So what does it mean for socialism if North Korea is allowed to allow people in?

Here’s what I’m picturing: Much like Iran, foreigners come visit and realize: this place is far more modern and put together than often ignorantly assumed. After all, North Korea seems to have the ideological cohesion of Cuba combined with a high-tech skillset & wealth volume closer to Iran (Cuba’s “wealth volume” is limited by population size, containing only sugar and nickel, and by being an island (blockade-busting is thus harder)). With reinstatement the world will slowly realize and accept that North Korea is indeed a socialist success – just like China and Vietnam. Unlike Iran, there is no Islamophobia for the Christian-Atheist West to use as a deflection.

Reinstatement means Asians run socialism like Westerners run capitalism

A North Korean victory means we are talking about the four biggest socialist success stories, certainly from an economic standpoint, being from Asia.

Concurrently, European socialism is not even close to being revived: it’s hard to shock back into life someone who has drunk hemlock (events of 1989-1991) and also asked to be shot (the Eurozone & European Union). Asia turns to its left, sees Iran, mumbles (but not disapprovingly), stands on its tiptoes and shakes its head while discussing “revisionism” and “the lack of a Cultural Revolution”.

Here is the fundamental question at the heart of this article: The West writes the history of socialism because they are the “victors” and history is written by the victors.

The West is the “victor” in every way possible, of course – one can never question that. They are the “victors” in what “socialism” is, means and should be…which is paradoxical, because they have undoubtedly always been the “victors” in capitalism-imperialism and are the current victors in neo-imperialism.

Western paradoxes are there only to be ignored, so I’ll continue: They are also the “victors” in which rights are “human” and which are not; they are the “victors” in what is “freedom” and what is not; they are the “victors” in which economics are successful and which are not. All of these are absolutely without a defensible factual foundation – especially the more-mathematical last one – but I contend that the West believes, and much of the rest of the world is also persuaded, that the West are the “victors” in achieving the greatest amount of “socialist victory”. (For the record, I do not believe nor am persuaded by any of these claims.)

Again, socialism is a movement which is so long and so enduring that it forces us to extend our viewpoint: If North Korea is added to the list of socialist victories…what does and what should the world do?

Save a few Latin American countries, only one of which is stable (Cuba); save a few African countries, only two of which are stable (Algeria, Eritrea); it must be admitted that Asian socialism is currently victorious in the “global-regional competition”.

Therefore, I insist an integration of North Korea allows me to declare the “end of history”: Asian socialism is the only acceptable model, and all must follow Asia henceforth.

LOL, but such a declaration is not “socialism” at all because socialism (like Islam) cannot be forced: it would then cease to be democratic, and socialism is the most class- and citizen-inclusive sociopolitical model ever created in human history. This type of a declaration can only be made by capitalists, who impose by force the ideas of one person (or of an oligarchical few).

Obviously, the actual ramifications of a North Korean success on the “narrative of socialism” is multi-faceted, complicated and boring to many, but the ramifications are real, impactful, undeniable and unavoidable.

What do Western socialists ‘learn’ from a North Korean success?

Is the West capable of learning from a North Korean success?

Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, so my answer is “no”: The West will make it a point to remain the “victors” (in their view) and thus learn nothing from North Korea’s success, just as they have learned nothing from the successes of China, Iran, Cuba, etc.

The West will try to co-opt North Korean success by the same lie – that North Korea is an anti-democratic mullah-ocracy…no wait, a one-family dictatorship like Cuba – that works better.

They will deny the existence of North Korea’s undeniably socialist rules, laws, history and martyrs. They will also deny the words and experiences of actual North Koreans because the Western “victors” can and should speak for everyone: The Western tongue is the “one, true” tongue.

Above all they will assert – on the Western left and the Western right – that North Korea never was socialist at all, or that it could possibly be “socialist” now. Sadly, Western socialists often do the work of the imperialist-capitalists for them; they, paradoxically are “socialists” despite espousing the exact same (nonsensical, uninformed, self-referencing, self-centered, self-interested) views on North Korea in 2018 as right-wingers.

But for the true socialists living in the Western countries – and I am talking about perhaps as many as 14 people – a North Korean success should be applauded loudly. After all – no other socialist nation has endured more to win sovereignty, freedom and their own form of socialism. Of course, this public applauding will make us even more socially-isolated in Western society to the point where we will have even greater trouble finding that elusive 15th comrade….

It’s undeniable, at least to me, that socialism can be divided into 3 distinct eras: West European dominance (Marx, Paris Commune), East European/Slavic dominance (USSR, Eastern Bloc) and Asian dominance (China, Vietnam, Iran…North Korea?). A North Korean integration means that we are STILL living in this mostly-unappreciated 3rd historical era of Asian dominance in socialist thought and practice. Reinstatement also implies that the long-awaited “Latin American dominance era”, to be led by Cuba, remains unmaterialized (due to the continued domination of the “Monroe Doctrine era”).

Of course, most Western leftists don’t want to hear any analysis which relegates the West to 2nd fiddle, as they are still the “victors”…and they are: in living in a tired, nostalgic, decidedly un-revolutionary fashion.

Trump has certainly said and done crazy things but the re-integration of North Korea follows as much capitalist logic as the re-integration of China (consumer demand, loans/bond buying, formerly low- but now mid-cost labor (providing mid-cost labor is the function Eastern Europe currently serves for the German neo-imperialism of the Eurozone)) and Vietnam (low-cost labor):

Without access to North Korea’s rare earth metals China will have perhaps as great a chokepoint on the modern global economy as any OPEC nation save Arabia (which I refuse to call “Saudi”, as only Western governments believe/want the house of Saud to be synonymous with the People of Arabia). Furthermore, due to their educational advancements, North Korea can obviously serve the same function for South Korea as East Germany did for West Germany upon their reunification: cheap but smart labor.

(Iran might have oil instead of rare earth metals, but how can they serve this capitalist labor function when they are (due to imperialist throttling) the most populous, most advanced economy in the Middle East? Even if a counter-revolution happened in Iran, who would make them their mid-cost labor hub – Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt? None of those will work. This is why toppling Iran (combined with their anti-imperialist & anti-Zionist stances) is Washington’s continued project, in contrast to this floated reinstatement of North Korea. The US, being capitalist, runs on lobbies and money – somebody is obviously greasing the policy wheels (exercising their “free speech”) in favor of Pyongyang, and to hell with Korean War veterans groups or anyone else.

But that last is a bold statement – North Korean reinstatement…seriously? Sounds great – Koreans are certainly all for that, and they deserve Korean socialism…or at least to be #5 instead of pawns in a four-way game.

What does “socialism do” if North Korea becomes a success story – acknowledge it or ignore it? It seems like the answer depends on what part of the world you live in, but that is certainly a response which is “bad socialism”.

Socialism’s recent past and its present remains centered in the East, but socialism’s future remains open to anyone with common sense, a disposition for equality, and the courage to speak out.

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

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