Part 3 of Revisiting the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Being part of a trilogy you’ll need to read parts 1 & 2 to see what Mao was up to in his Cultural Revolution and allied campaigns…
In Part 1 of this essay, I argued that while history does not repeat itself, some parallels may exist between a particular past event and those of another place and time, and suggested that the Counter Culture and Climate Change protest movements taking place in western democracies at the present time could share commonalities with MaoTse–tung’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s.
So here in Part 3 of ‘Revisiting the Chinese Revolution’ let’s take a look at both Mao’s Cultural Revolution and those counter culture and climate movements today to see if commonalities do exist, to make comparisons with activist groups involved, to look at the nature of their protests, and seek to discover to what degree these protest movements have been steered by other participants in the drama, whether directly or behind the scenes.
The ‘who’ and the ‘what’ of those activist groups.
When Mao Tse-tung persuaded the party leadership to undertake a Cultural Revolution to counter a future ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’ by members within the party embracing old ideas, old culture and customs and old habits, ( the ‘four olds,’) he called on the youth of China to participate in his revolution, a call to which they soon responded.
Encouraged by a decree on June 18 /1965, postponing university exams for six months and Mao’s adoption of the Peking university students’ slogan ‘It is justified to rebel,’ described in Part 2 of this essay, students wearing the red armbands of the soldiers of the red army and armed with the school book, ‘Thoughts of Mao,’ began mobilizing in universities and schools across the land. The rest, as they say, is history. That the Red Guard movement and radical factory workers in industrial cities like Shanghai, who joined in the activist movement, were soon exceeding Chairman Mao’s particular aims meant that the Cultural Revolution had to come to an end, democratic centralism only goes so far.
Mao’s supporters were radicalised youth in universities and cities. Predominantly, the protest groups of western Cancel Culture are also radicalised youth, those student LBGTQ activists on university campuses and those youthful supporters of the X Rebellion environmental protest movement with its large base of school student activists. And there’s those Antifa street rioters. Photographs of Antifa street protests show that this is primarily a youth movement, anecdotal evidence suggesting that its members are mainly male, between the ages of 20 and 24, usually unemployed and mostly still live in the parental home.
So what is the nature of this radicalism? Is it comparable to Mao’s student movement or different in kind? Well Antifa is similar, pronouncing itself as a movement to replace western democracy with communism. The movement has its origins in earlier European Marxist insurgency movements overviewed in the following link:
The Antifa logo of two flags, a black flag representing anarchism, and a red flag representing Communism, are derived from the German Antifa movement. Mark Bray, a vocal apologists for Antifa in the United States and author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” states:
‘The only long-term solution to the fascist menace is to undermine its pillars of strength in society grounded not only in white supremacy but also in ableism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, nationalism, transphobia, class rule, and many others. This long-term goal points to the tensions that exist in defining anti-fascism, because at a certain point destroying fascism is really about promoting a revolutionary socialist alternative.’
From Rose City Antifa this statement:
‘As antifascists we know that our fight is not just against organized fascism, but also against the capitalist state, and the police that protect it. Another world is possible!’
Passing themselves off as anti fascist is one of the persuasive tricks of totalitarian movements that regularly use words like ‘freedom’ or ‘fascist’ to mean what they choose them to mean, as Mao did when he talked about ‘democratic’ centralism. Labelling parliamentary democracies ‘fascist’ is a word game. In actuality, Fascist governance is more characteristic of centralist regimes where private enterprises are permitted only under strict State control, enabling managed wealth production and increased employment but with no real freedom allowed to the business managers so directed from above. Rules can be changed at any time.
As Eugen Weber describes in his book, ‘Varieties of Fascism,’ extension of State monopolies, distrust of parliamentary democracy and of individual autonomy, are integral to fascist political systems. Here’s Benito Mussolini at the Fascist Party Congress in Italy in 1929:
‘The individual exists only insofar as he is in the State and subordinate to the necessities of the State, the more complex, the forms of civilisation become, the more the freedoms of the individual are restricted.’ (Weber p 76.)
There’s another radical protest movement, ‘Black Lives Matter’ where two of its three instigators profess Marxist politics although the media regularly pass the organization off as acting within the mainstream. B.L.M was formed in the United States by three African American women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, as a response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager. The filmed death of George Floyd in 2020, arrested by Minneapolis police officers, initiated wide spread protest. As the BLM slogan proclaims, ‘Black lives matter’ and brutal behaviour against black suspects, as shown by some members within the police force, needs to be controlled.
But is BLM a mainstream movement? The leadership of BLM does declare a commitment to radical ideology as Patrisse Cullors states:
‘We do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia, in particular, are trained organizers, we are trained Marxists, We are superversed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think we really do try to build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folks.’
And according to book publisher Penguin, Random House, Alicia Garza describes herself as ‘a queer social activist and Marxist.’ The leadership of these protest movements may profess commitment to Marxist ideology but what about the youth activists themselves? The word ‘radical’ coming from its Latin origin meaning ‘root’ or ‘fundamental’ change, does not specify what that particular change may be. Radical action covers a broad church of dissidents, religious, sexual, political environmental, you name it. Because a few leaders of movements self proclaim as Marxists does not mean that the membership all sing from the same hymn book. It ain’t necessarily so and probably not all of them do, but I’d say a lot of them are well on board with the program. BLM members’ demands, not for police reform, but the abolition of the police force altogether is a blow aimed at the heart of democratic law and order.
Not much doubt about the Antifa movement marching under the Red Flag and with many pronouncements by group members on Twitter. Here are members of PNW Youth Liberation Front, Antifa’s youth organization, tweeting: “The only way to win a world without police, prisons, borders, etc. is to destroy the oppressive systems which we are currently caught in. We must continue the fight against the state, imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and so on if we ever want to be free.”
With the other activist groups, the parallels with Mao’s Cultural Revolution are more oblique but I’m arguing that they also exist.
Variations on a theme.
According to Marxist doctrine, Capitalism is based on class war, there’s a hierarchy of monarchy, clergy, military and privileged bourgeoisie, and below them, producing all the wealth, an exploited proletariat. However, this explanation of the West’s political system hasn’t been wearing too well considering the benefits the system has been delivering to said proletariat in comparison to pre-industrial and early industrial societies (and to more authoritarian countries.) Because capitalism has a history of increasing wealth and working conditions for workers, universal suffrage, and upward mobility, the traditional discourse of Marxism, centred on class struggle, needed to be modified.
But not abandoned. Seems for a certain kind of person, intent on finding all – encompassing blame in the world for every ill, the Foucault philosophy, a convenient, post modernist power philosophy, fits the bill. Post modernism to replace classical communism. A new hierarchy of politics was required – and here it is – viewing the world solely through the prism of power, no mutual interrelationships, always viewed through the lens of power relationships.
In western universities, people with this leftist bent create academic courses about oppressed groups, from women’s studies to black studies to queer studies… Marxism expanding into new power hierarchies – same upper level focussed on white male patriarchy and below, new groups of oppressed proletariat. Western capitalism remains a class thing, but it is sexist, patriarchal and racist as well.
Marxists are adept at commandeering causes. Cited in Douglas Murray’s ‘The Madness of Crowds,’ (P55) is a popular book, ‘Hegemony and Socialist Strategy,’ (2001) written by two post-Marxists, (whatever that’s supposed to mean,) Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe who recognise that Marxism has been challenged by ‘new kinds of contradictions’ and that the notion of class struggle needs to be modified and set aside to find ‘a new kind of exploited person.’
‘A new kind of exploited person,’ hence commandeering the grievances of the student protests of May, 1968 in France, students against the school system, women against social discrimination, gay people demanding liberation and a group of anti-nuclear and environmental protesters. These May ‘68 protests, while not conforming to the Marxist class-war critique of society, presented a new way to articulate and maintain Marxism within contemporary society.
Further to commandeering causes, Red Flag, Org. Melbourne, https://redflag.org.au/node/6939, James Plested, discussing X Rebellion program of passive resistance and why socialists need to be involved:
‘Marxism was born out of a struggle against Utopian Socialist and other early 19th century political theories that bear a striking resemblance to the underlying political philosophy of the founders of XR. For Marx, there could be no rigid schema for social change. The challenge, rather, was to identify the tendencies in society that point in the direction of change – in particular the emerging power of the working class – to foster and encourage those tendencies, and ultimately to build them into a conscious movement capable of carrying out the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order… Socialists can play a role in ensuring the promise of XR today doesn’t only provide a fleeting moment of hope – like a rainbow on an otherwise typically damp and cold Melbourne morning – but that its achievements flow into a larger, more radical, and more organised movement in the months and years ahead.’
Concerning those ‘contradictions,’ mentioned above, well Marxists and post Marxists like Laclau and Mouffe don’t seem to worry too much about contradictions. There’s Mao Tse-tung manoeuvring his was through the ‘unity contradiction-unity’ interplay in his Hundred Flowers’ Bloom campaign and Cultural Revolution.
In fact Marxists actually welcome contradictions, contra Aristotle’s Law of Identity that ‘a thing is what it is and not some other thing,’ freedom is not control,’ etc. and Law of Non-Contradiction in which a contradictory statement invalidates a theory about the physical world. Unlike Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the world behind the looking glass, the physical world is not a place to be described as a zone of contradictions, just a world of challenging problems.
So what about our human responses to that physical world, our human cultures? Those cultures can seem tricky to outside observers of each others’ strange habits, laws, rituals, interactions, but can you call what happens within them ‘contradictions?’ Mao talked about ‘city’ versus ‘country,’ as a contradiction, (Mao Unrehearsed, Text 1.) Two ‘opposites,’ you might say, lots of benefits and oppositional tensions in the relationships of city life, creative zones and also prone to problems like water pollution and overcrowding. In Mao’s vocabulary, any of those problems is viewed as a contradiction, but they are actually simply problems, ‘contradiction’ is a misapplied word to describe ‘overcrowding’ of cities.
And I’d argue, regarding Marx’ view of the dynamics of worker, employer relations, his ‘opposites’ don’t convolute with contradictions. What we call ‘opposites’ are just separate states, processes or entities, as ‘dark’ is not a contradiction of ‘light,’ and ‘man’ is not a contradiction of ‘women.’ Discussing opposing states, processes or entities does involve contradiction, however, when we use them interchangeably in our speech, a propaganda trick, i.e. ‘control’ as ‘freedom.’ Orwell identified that logic contradiction.
Lots of contradictions in the LBGTQ debate, Douglas Murray identifies a number of illogical arguments in ‘The Madness of Crowds.’ Apart from contradictory statements within the LBGTQ movement itself regarding gender hardware / software ‘facts’ there’s the designation of who is, or who is not, a member of such groups. Because Thomas Sowell, an African American, and Peter Thiel, a gay person, have made critical comments regarding these protest movements, they have been declared persona non grata, Thomas Sowell is no longer considered black, Peter Thiel is no longer considered gay. Ostracism, it’s a favoured practice of bullying groups wherever you find them.
Of Vigilantes and violence, those protest movements.
‘This is the revolution, this is our time and we will make no excuses for the terror.’ Seattle Antifa.
Actions speak louder than words. In Part 2 of this essay, descriptions of Mao marshalling students as vigilantes to maintain China’s Great Proletarian Revolution against revisionist forces within the CCP, adopting the student slogan, ’To Rebel is Justified.’ With the Cultural Revolution began a program of violence, ostracism, humiliation, physical beatings and homicides against intellectuals and Party members.
Lots of evidence that today’s cancel culture and climate protest movements are more than the ‘mainly peaceful protests’ a left-wing media claim . The ostracism and sackings for those who criticise or fail to comply with woke bans on free speech are well documented Here’s Bret Weinstein, himself a left liberal committed to social justice programs, speaking of his experiences at Evergreen State College Washington.
Looting and destruction of statues as relics of the four olds have parallels as with Mao’s student hooliganism and acts of physical violence. Not shown on mainstream television the violence of the Ferguson protests in Missouri, in Seattle and Chicago. Here is the Grant Park BLM Protest March in Chicago with its call to defund the police, a protest march that turns into a riot. Notice the organised violence, the Antifa involvement, the frozen drink cans and the sharpened banner- poles becoming weapons, the bikes and umbrellas used as shields.
Follow the leader…
The protest movements offer many parallels with Mao’s Cultural Revolution, right down to the puppet master (s) directing the revolution. Today we have a movement that’s not defending an existing revolution but is initiating one. And like Mao’s Revolution there’s top down direction. Look no further than those globalist leaders of the United Nations and George Soros of the Trilateral Commission aiming at a new global world order. Study the UN Sustainable development program initiated by the Bruntland Commission, Agenda 21, the devils in the detail, https://beththeserf.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/55th-edition-serf-under_ground-journal/ it’s a mass take over of a nation state’s autonomy by unelected autocrats. Christiana Figueres, U.N Climate Chief, herself admitted it was never about the climate, but about a new economic order.
Look at Soros’ Manifesto declared aims to bring down the United States political system, ‘ Open Society, Reforming Global Capitalism’ (2000.) and his actions funding ‘social justice’ warriors. https://beththeserf.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/50th-edition-serf-under_ground-journal/ Soros’ funds activists to shut down alternative view free speech via orchestrated protest movements that adopt violent tactics. These anti-free-speech assaults include the 2017 May Day Riots across the US, the violent protest at California University, Berkeley, to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos speaking at the University, and include the Anti-Trump Inauguration protest in Washington. in January 2017.
A leftwing organization called Rise-Up Org. that claimed responsibility for the May Day violence that erupted across the US on May 1st, 2017, is a left-wing organization financed by Alliance for Global Justice, one of Soros’ top 150, seven figure grantees. It is also funded, indirectly by Tides Foundation, number 3 on Soros’ Open Society Foundation grantee list. Tides gave Alliance for Global Justice $50, 000, according to the the 1990 tax form.
In conclusion …
So there it is…While history does not repeat, parallels sometimes exist between a particular past event and those of another place and time, I’m suggesting that the Cancel Culture and Climate Change protest movement taking place in western democracies at the present time share many commonalities with Mao’s Cultural Revolution.