9 votes

Engineers of the soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping's China

5 comments

  1. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    A summary from the transcript of a speech given in 2017 by John Garnaut, a former journalist in China who went on to work for the Australian government:

    A summary from the transcript of a speech given in 2017 by John Garnaut, a former journalist in China who went on to work for the Australian government:

    I want to make these broad points about the historical foundations of CCP ideology, beyond the fact that it is important:

    1. Communism did not enjoy an immaculate conception in China. Rather, it was grafted onto an existing ideological system - the classical Chinese dynastic system.

    2. China had an unusual veneration for the written word and acceptance of its didactic value.

    3. Marxism-Leninism was interpreted to Mao and his fellow revolutionaries by a crucial intermediary: Joseph Stalin.

    4. Communism - as interpreted by Lenin, Stalin and Mao - is a total ideology. At the risk of being politically insensitive, it is totalitarian.

    5. Xi Jinping has reinvigorated ideology to an extent we have not seen since the Cultural Revolution.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      One of the things I found most striking when reading early modern writings from Chinese sources (Communist and Nationalist sources alike) was just how racist they seemed towards Chinese people....

      One of the things I found most striking when reading early modern writings from Chinese sources (Communist and Nationalist sources alike) was just how racist they seemed towards Chinese people. Everything is lamenting the backwards status of China, looks down on peasants and villagers as superstitious idiots, scorns natively Chinese styles of dress and foods, and on and on.

      It's striking how many of the independence movements around the world seemed to have been motivated by a deeply rooted inferiority complex among the leaders, such as Ataturk banning the fez or growing beards. This is especially jarring given how much veneration the Indian independence movement had for the peasantry and the common man. I can't help but think this might be a driver behind India ending up as a functional democracy while places like China, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, etc. did not.

      6 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        These are extreme revolutionaries who wanted to eliminate everything that came before and start over, based on foreign ideas. (Both democracy and communism were new, foreign ideologies.) Even for...

        These are extreme revolutionaries who wanted to eliminate everything that came before and start over, based on foreign ideas. (Both democracy and communism were new, foreign ideologies.) Even for more moderate reformers, I find it entirely believable that they would complain a lot about all the things they want to change in their own culture.

        Maybe part of that is that they were fighting against powerful cultures, initially from a position of weakness?

        Having some respect for ordinary people would be a good moderating influence.

        4 votes
  2. [2]
    sp00ky
    Link
    This is a fascinating interpretation of Xi Jinping's worldview and the motivations underlying his leadership actions. I highly recommend reading it as a very, very important aspect of the...

    This is a fascinating interpretation of Xi Jinping's worldview and the motivations underlying his leadership actions. I highly recommend reading it as a very, very important aspect of the challenges facing the world in the near future. Not only is the article good, but the comments under it contain some good point/counterpoints.

    For the doomsayers among us, the future is looking pretty bleak right now. On the one hand, the institutions of "Western" liberal democracy are being undercut, and plutocracy or corporatocracy are advancing. On the other hand, Stalin-esque totalitarianism is sharpening its teeth in China. Where do we go from here? And how many of us are going to sit back on our hands and ignore our part in it?

    2 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      It seems to me that there are signs that this could turn into another cold war. Distrust and defensiveness seem warranted and probably inevitable, but I hope both sides remember the advantages of...

      It seems to me that there are signs that this could turn into another cold war. Distrust and defensiveness seem warranted and probably inevitable, but I hope both sides remember the advantages of cooperation where possible. Trade is very important for the prosperity of both China and the US, and there are problems like infectious diseases and global warming where cooperation is essential.

      For ordinary people, the important thing will be to avoid getting caught in the middle.

      2 votes