The Long Game and Its Contradictions


By Leo He Zhao
 China has overcome colonial oppression, emerged from “100 years of humiliation”, and is now developing its power on the world stage. Together and along with other formerly colonised nations, through mutually beneficial relationships and a policy of peaceful co-existence, China is building alliances based on strength, to displace Western hegemony, and counter capitalist imperialism, clearing the path toward global communism.

This long term strategy, or at least its first phase, hinges not on orthodox Marxist class struggle, but on quasi-Confucian social harmony, toward the restructuring of global trade.

As this process unfolds, many procedural level contradictions may occur within particular methods and tactics. Some of these are par for the course of being part of a global market dominated by neoliberalism, and of using private entrepreneurship as a tool of development, such as uneven development, wealth inequality, environmental degradation, and labor issues within private business entities. There are also problems which arise from the particular developmental conditions of China: urban coastal areas have experienced faster growth than in-land rural regions, and especially at the unprecedentedly rapid pace: between 1990 and 2018 the number of Chinese people living in extreme poverty was reduced from 750m to less than 10m (Economist).

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Other contradictions include those which result from the strict non-interference in the affairs of foreign states, which has characterised Chinese foreign policy for thousands of years, and the prioritising of larger international trade relationships over ideological conflicts. One example is unscrupulous business deals with right-wing or even fascist governments, such as Saudi Arabia or Israel. The “live and let live” ethic of this modus operandi even applies to ideological enemies: China also trades with the biggest terrorist organisation in the world, the USA, without even criticising its long list of illegal wars and heinous crimes against humanity. Another is not supporting local leftist struggles in partner nations, such as guerrilla Maoist insurrections in SE Asia, if it might jeopardise trade relations with state entities. If the temporary “ethical net-losses” of these contradictions lead to larger “net-gains” and positive results in the future, they are calculated as worthwhile or unavoidable.

These myopic and short-sighted “left com” or “ultra-left” types love to denounce modern China as a betrayal of the socialism project, without considering that it is the failure of the Western left to do successful revolutions which made it necessary for existing socialist states to adapt to the global conditions of entrenched neo-liberal capitalism.
The struggle for global socialisation and eventually, communisation, via peaceful trade, rather than violent revolution (at least for now), means that it is in the interest of the CCP to improve conditions for workers, fix labor issues, fight pollution, increase equality, and address uneven development, on its own terms, and according to its plans. But at the same time, grass roots labor movements are not only allowed, but are encouraged. The vast majority of wildcat strikes against private corporations in China are not suppressed, as they are under capitalist regimes. The ones which are suppressed mostly belong to the category of trouble makers with ties to malignant imperialist entities, as part of destabilisation efforts. Social unrest at home is not only dangerous for stability, but hinders China’s ability to beat capitalists at their own game.

It is a long and treacherous game on a grand global chessboard shaped by layers of devastating historical injustice and the cascading chaos produced by exploitative and oppressive processes, and in order to win, relatively minor contradictions and problematic particularities must not obscure or impede the realisation of larger goals.

In 1950, at the birth of modern China and the Communist Party, the average life expectancy was 35. In 1980, at the end of the Maoist era, it had doubled to 70, but the average citizen still lived on less than $1 a day. In every way, the economic program devised by Zhou Enlai, under the leadership of Deng XiaoPing, continued in the direction of Maoist visionary development, while correcting some earlier mistakes. No nation, whether socialist or capitalist, can survive in isolation; and it has been merely 4 decades since the modern reforms which entered China into the international market, embarking China on its present path.

“So, to build socialism it is necessary to develop the productive forces. Poverty is not socialism. To uphold socialism, a socialism that is to be superior to capitalism, it is imperative first and foremost to eliminate poverty. True, we are building socialism, but that doesn’t mean that what we have achieved so far is up to the socialist standard. Not until the middle of the next century, when we have reached the level of the moderately developed countries, shall we be able to say that we have really built socialism and to declare convincingly that it is superior to capitalism. We are advancing towards that goal.” –– Deng XiaoPing

Thanks to OSD — Observatory of Sovereign Development

If private property, money, abstract value production, class society, and the state, are abolished prematurely, when the cruel logic and vile power of capital still controls the entire world, China would become vulnerable to both external imperialist violence and internal reactionary sabotage (no doubt under the banner of “democracy”). The Communist Party would be immediately compromised by foreign backed elements; the country might be torn apart once again by civil war, and once again subjected to imperialist domination. The Chinese revolution, what so many millions fought, worked tirelessly, and sacrificed their lives for, will have been for nothing.

Marxism is anything but rigid and dogmatic, and has always been about adapting to the ever changing objective conditions of each era, using whatever is available toward revolutionary goals. The opinion of those baizuo who think that China should have chosen the disastrous course of action described above, or at least remained underdeveloped, poor, and weak, in order to satisfy their fundamentalist interpretation of Marxism, should not be indulged. These myopic and short-sighted “left com” or “ultra-left” types love to denounce modern China as a betrayal of the socialism project, without considering that it is the failure of the Western left to do successful revolutions which made it necessary for existing socialist states to adapt to the global conditions of entrenched neo-liberal capitalism.

Those who think that 1.4 billion people, who for 200 years suffered so immensely under vicious colonial rule and brutal capitalist domination, will so quickly forget what their true enemy is, don’t know much about capitalism, colonialism, or people.

The entrenched and pervasive structures of capitalism took 300 years to build, and the propertarian system of which it is an extension, 6000 years. Its dissolution requires strategies on a scale bigger and longer than is easily conceived or understood by any individual without many years of dedication, and will take more than a few decades to unfold.

Western liberals think in terms of quarterly reports and election cycles. Eastern communists think in terms of centuries, if not millennia.

About the Author
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Leo He Zhao Insurrectionary Rhythm, Radical Hedonism, Egalitarian Sexuality: Make Raves Marxist Again


As expected this enormously important and cogent essay has provoked a fair share of debate among readers. Some people on the left, especially in the West, continue to believe that China’s leadership in effect betrayed the revolution by choosing the “capitalist road,” a choice that eventually spawned a new class of billionaires, a clear degree of class segmentation and polarization, and other serious ills common and inherent in any capitalist society. Further, in their view, the betrayal ofteh Soviet Union and Chenese leaderships not only caused their collapse as socialist nations, but (especially in the wake of the USSR’s implosion) opened a Pandora’s box of calamities and crimes carried out by the American empire in various regions of the world with virtual impunity. While, in the immediate sense, some of these criticisms are true, in the broader, dialectical sense, they fail to incorporate important factors whose examination yields a different and more nuanced judgment specifically on China’s policies and trajectory. China’s policies, necessarily complex, cannot be depicted in black and white terms. Our senior contributing editor Hiroyuki Hamada has patiently studied this topic in detail, carefully weighing all the chief complaints, and produced an excellent summation of the controversy which we regard as fair and comprehensive. We endorse and recommend his statements and hope our readers will help us disseminate this post as both Leo Zhao and Hiroyuki address a subject almost certain to be used by the agents of the Western empire in their hybrid power campaigns against China.—PG

Hiroyuki Hamada

For those of us who are learning about global dynamics under the reign of the capitalist hegemony, it is well known that criticisms against China do not only come from the western establishment, which is eager to contain its economic threat, but they also come from western socialists. Their tone against China in engaging in the global market economy, in particular, economic activities with countries known to be inhumane, atrocious, unjust, undemocratic and so on–for example, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rwanda and so on–is especially harsh. Their anger and despair are so acute that they may sound as if they are more hostile to China than anyone in the US establishment. Considering what those countries do to oppressed people, the sentiment is perhaps understandable.

However, oddly, we don’t hear the sort of pointed criticism against China when it’s engaging in economic activities with the biggest offender of all those monstrosities. The country in focus is of course the United States of America. I guess for those socialists who are not only engaging in economic activities with the US, but are physically residing in the US, paying tax to the murderous empire, being a part of the war economy and benefitting from its dwindling social services, it might be hard to recognize the meaning of dealing with the evil empire.

This article eloquently discusses logic and historical contexts of the Chinese socialist trajectory. Perhaps, those socialists in the US who are most likely can’t even proudly proclaim being socialists to their superiors at their work places, might understand the predicament and necessity of China choosing the long way against imperialism in achieving the Chinese version of communism.
Descriptions of the Chinese participation in the market economy [are often] not only not factual, but lacking fundamental understanding of its basic mechanism. The link below describes the characteristics, which certainly differ from the western counterpart in many ways.

Also, the development of the Chinese economy as it stands today is [in] good part a reaction to the western encirclement of Chinese sovereignty. I would not describe it as “China sold out its socialism to capitalism just like Soviet Union did”. Whether you like it or not, the Chinese establishment regards it as a process to achieve stability, peace and economic cooperation among other countries, while dealing with the imperial encirclement. The path is based on their own interpretation of capitalism and socialism, its current necessities, and its history, namely, experiencing multiple attacks by multiple empires. Quite frankly I see the basic argument as solid, practical and constructive in seeking a path beyond the capitalist domination. Its shortcomings, issues to be tackled, and assortments of mistakes and so on can be analyzed and criticized but I don’t find it to be detrimental to their future. I mean, what the western hegemony wants is to divide up China and make it totally open to western corporate interests, as we’ve seen in Russia in 90s, the Middle East, former Yugoslavia and so on.

Moreover, I would like to emphasize that just because a certain country does not follow a certain version of socialism (endorsed by the critics), that really doesn’t mean that that country can be equated with the imperial forces that have been killing 25 to 35 million people with their colonial policies. Especially, when the very country China is facing hundreds of US military bases with their nuclear warheads aiming at it. There is just no evidence that the Chinese participation in the market economy is driven by an aim to build a global imperial hegemony shaped by its economic as well as its military power, as the US hegemony.

Speaking of such a hegemonic power—the western forces—we must be crystal clear that it destroyed the USSR with malicious, undemocratic, unjust, atrocious and inhumane intent. Many countries have perished by such forces of capitalist expansion, aggression and imperialism. People of Soviet Union didn’t wish the federation to be dissolved. Its destruction was a culmination of the aggressive US containment policy against that socialist country. So, again, I wouldn’t describe it as it “sold out its socialism to capitalism”.

And needless to say, the role of alternatives against the imperial hegemony is one of prime interest to many of us who desire a better tomorrow. How we perceive efforts of other countries must be accurate and objective. Otherwise, we can end up supporting the capitalist empire.


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Parting shot—a word from the editors

The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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2 thoughts on “The Long Game and Its Contradictions

  1. This wonderful news makes me jump for joy. I guess that some times I let the nay sayers (About Chinese socialism) get the better of me and I begin to doubt China’s resolve concerning their Socialism/Marxism but never again. I will always defend China’s socialism with Chinese characteristics. Thank you Leo Zhao.

  2. Our esteemed colleague Hiroyuki Hamada has added other important comments to this topic. They are reproduced below.

    ANSWERING A COMMENTER THAT ARGUES THAT CHINA HAS BETRAYED SOCIALISM, and become just ne more superpower in search of an empire of its own.

    I’ve posted this [essay] at a dozen or so pages and you are one of the very few [who] have shown such a strong objection to it. Many people have greatly appreciated to learn about the Chinese perspective.

    I think many people sincerely want to know what the intention of the Chinese government is, as its visibility as an economic power is rising, and knowing that what the western establishment says can not be trusted.

    I’ve lived in the Western countries all my life, and I feel the need to speak against the inhumane trajectory of the western hegemonic framework of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, where all the disasters of mankind are coming from. I feel it’s an obligation of those who live in the west to examine our path in a larger framework to build healthy democratic discourse.

    It is obvious that the US has a nefarious intent against China. It is imperative that we learn what people in China are really thinking. The establishment has been demonizing the country as soon as it was freed from the wrath of the imperial Japan.

    It would be a no brainer for many countries surrounding China to seek peace and shared future with mutual respect in dealing with China, however, the imperial propaganda doesn’t allow such a common sense path with ease. Unfortunately, for example, where I grew up—Japan, demonization of China as well as its socialism is thorough. They let numerous US bases occupy their land, while allowing over 50,000 US soldiers stationed in the country. The two nuclear attacks and total indoctrination through the occupation after WW2 have totally placed population’s minds under the rule of the empire.

    The outright hostility against China among the western population helps to foment the momentum of conflicts in countries like Japan, just as people in countries around Russia live in fear of the monstrous characterization of Russia. Such colonial dynamic feeds the US war economy, surveillance state, militarized police and draconian laws. Imperialism is not for the people. Period. It is a system that must perish if we the species want to survive ourselves.

    For those of us who are in the US, I believe, the foremost priority is to hold the empire accountable in its imperial crimes against humanity, which firmly grow out of its capitalist hierarchy.

    And we all know that it’s very difficult. And Marx certainly knew the difficulty and he expressed the mechanism as dialectical materialism. When China was fighting serious poverty as it went through a revolution, the US was infiltrating Tibet, trying to foment unrest to destabilize the socialist government. On the other side of China, the US killed 1/4 of Korean people in the devastating Korean War. Over generations, Chinese people truly learned that it needs to fight the economic war in order to survive. China sees it as a prerequisite to moving toward its version of communism under this climate of capitalist domination.

    I see a parallel with how people in Syria have been forced to take arms in defending their self-determination, their communities, their friends and their family members. Were there other ways for Syria? They’ve been swarmed by numerous violent groups funded by the western hegemony. Western media lied over and over about it. Did UN work? ICC? NGOs? No. They all sided with the empire. And we encountered the momentum of denying Syria to defend itself. Those self-claimed socialists in the west accused the Syrian government for killing its own people, starving its own people and torturing its own people, while Syria was losing 1/2 million people and 1/2 the population of Syria had to be displaced.

    Socialism must grow with the people and communities. I highly doubt that people in China would regard seriously the opinion of western socialists, who do not even have any viable social institution which can affect their society, yet, who are very loud in demonizing China as an evil capitalist empire. I sincerely think such a characterization is unwarranted, inaccurate and counterproductive in learning about socialism in bringing about a better tomorrow for all of us.

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