Remembering Robert Weil: Intellectual and Political Activist

Robert Emil Weil Obituary

Robert Weil, 1940-2014

by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism

Robert Weil, author of the powerful critique of Deng Xiaoping’s “reforms” entitled Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1996, republished in India by Cornerstone Publications, Kharagpur), quietly passed away in California on 12 March 2014.  Almost a year after, on 15 February 2015 a memorial meeting was held in Santa Cruz, California at the Resource Center for Nonviolence where his family, friends, teachers and long-time comrades from near and far came together to share their memories.  Robert meant a lot to them and for many others across the globe, a true friend, a dear comrade whose political integrity, a rare characteristic in the current milieu, they value immensely, a committed activist and intellectual whose life they considered worthy on all counts particularly while imagining a better world.  Starting off as a student-activist at Harvard University in the late 1950s, right till his last days Robert Weil remained involved in solidarity work with oppressed people around the world.  Even in the face of indifferent health, he did not think twice to join such efforts.  His democratic values in pursuing left politics will remain an example to many for years to come. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. — Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Mao and the new Chinese leadership

In 1976, China was the most equal society in the world while today, it is led by billionaires

by Hukum B Singh, eKantipur.com (Nepal), April 11, 2013

After the successful power transition in China,  Xi Jinping is now formally in charge of the Communist Party of China, the Government of China and its formidable military wing. However, there are big challenges ahead for Xi.

Mao, the founding father of modern China and the Chinese communist party, is still popular in China but the present leadership is fast moving away from his thought. The life and work of Mao is an inspiration to the poor, oppressed people in many parts of the world, including present China. That is why capitalists in China and their followers hate the memory of Mao and do everything they can to denigrate the great revolutionary leader. In Nepal and India, millions of workers and peasants are in favour of Maoism. Mao’s conception of a people’s war is being applied by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is leading an armed insurrection in many parts of India.

As it becomes clearer that capitalism—the oppressive system under which we live—is in decline, capitalists and those who serve them are becoming more desperate to convince us that no alternative, especially socialism, is possible. Hence, capitalist roaders in China and rest of the world have been attacking Mao’s revolution of China.

A century ago, when Mao was young, the once great civilisation of China had been reduced by internal reactionaries and external imperialists to a state of disorder and destitution. Mao was a young Chinese determined to find a way to save China and turn it into a prosperous, modern society. It was the Communist Party of China, eventually led by Mao, which found the way forward leading to the defeat of internal and external enemies and the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949. In China today, Mao is widely respected and revered for the leading role he played in this great revolutionary struggle. Continue reading

“Shocking” disclosure of extreme wealth at pinnacle of capitalist China’s power elite

[While the socialist fig-leaf of China no longer has the power to confuse all who have watched, from near and from afar, the discarding of socialist  — peasant and workers’ — power for over three decades, the Western bourgeoisie have continued to slam the emergent exploitative and oppressive Chinese capitalist system as characteristic of “socialism” — in hopes that once overthrown, socialism will not rise again.  But all this exposure in the New York Times does, is describe a common feature of capitalist systems worldwide.  Such “investigative journalism” is a good example of “the pot calling the kettle black.” “If you live in a glass house, you should not throw stones at other glass houses.”  The bourgeois Chinese state, in response, has blocked access in China to the New York Times online, in hope, no doubt, that the tattered and shredded socialist fig-leaf  may yet be a useful cover.  But, to use another analogy, “the Emperor has no clothes” that serve to disguise the reality. — Frontlines ed.]

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October 25, 2012

Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader

By

BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

Deng Xiaoping, who led the new and resurgent capitalists to seize power from the working people of China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. He popularized the slogan promoting individual greed against social and collective advance: “To get rich is glorious!”

In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities.

The holdings include a villa development project in Beijing; a tire factory in northern China; a company that helped build some of Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, including the well-known “Bird’s Nest”; and Ping An Insurance, one of the world’s biggest financial services companies.

As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen, who is best known for his simple ways and common touch, more importantly has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. Chinese companies cannot list their shares on a stock exchange without approval from agencies overseen by Mr. Wen, for example. He also has the power to influence investments in strategic sectors like energy and telecommunications. Continue reading

China: Over 30 years since capitalism seized power, the slow discard of socialist fig-leaf

[While the  use of “reform” language undoubtedly refers to the planned bourgeois “democratic” invigoration of capitalist forces — and to no hope for “democratic” relief for the peasants and workers suffering greater impoverishment (as fruit of their removal from socialist power) — the discarding of Maoist imagery by the billionaire capitalist rulers of “reform” China is unmistakeably clear. — Frontlines ed.]

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Reuters:  “China hints at reform by dropping Mao wording”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

* Removal of wording about Mao Zedong signals push for reform – analyst

* Internal debate about direction of incoming leadership

* Others say it may be too soon to write off Mao’s deep legacy

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The subtle dropping of references to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong from two policy statements over the last few weeks serves as one of the most intriguing hints yet that the ruling Communist Party is planning to move in the direction of reform.

Mao has always been held up as an ideological great in party communiques, his name mentioned almost by default in homage to his role in founding modern China and leading the Communist Party, whose rule from the 1949 revolution remains unbroken.

Which is why the dropping of the words “Mao Zedong thought” from two recent statements by the party’s elite Politburo ahead of a landmark congress, at which a new generation of leaders will take the top party posts, has attracted so much attention.

Also absent were normally standard references to Marxism-Leninism. Continue reading

“Reform vs. Revolution” among the “post-Mao” Maoists in China

Details on this painting have been provided by a reader: “This artwork was done around 2005 by an artist who prefers to stay unidentified….Notice the portraits hanging on the wall; the center piece is Jiang Zemin who opened the floodgate to allowing super-rich big bourgeois elements to join the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the early 1990s. On the left is Deng Xiaoping who is hailed by CPC capitalist roaders as the grand architect of their great reform and opening up of China for world capitalist super exploitation. On the right is Zhao Ziyang who was the first to openly embrace Western bourgeois lifestyle by popularizing suits and ties among CPC party members and playing golf. After the Tiananmen uprising in June 1989, his flashy bourgeois walk and talk earned him the boot from Deng and older CPC capitalist roaders who prefered hiding behind “socialism with Chinese characteristics”…. The priest is GW Bush who seems to have just closed a secret deal with three persons who are popularly known in China as the corrupt “Iron Trio” — Chen Liangyu (seated far right) represents the incumbent comprador bureacrats and was also the former Shanghai party secretary who was convicted of massive fraud several years ago; Zhang Weiying (seated next to Chen) representing the intellectual elite; Ren Zhiqiang (seated nearest the door) representing the big-time capitalist enterprenuer…. Mao is portrayed in the prime of his Yenan-era revolutionary demeanor accompanied by the two leading protagonists — Li Yuhe and his daughter Li Tiemei — from one of the famous revolutionary opera, “Hongdeng Ji/The Red Lantern Saga”. The father and daughter represent the vast majority of workers and peasants in China who have suddenly decided to invite their late Chairman Mao back to the present-day era to help them settle historical accounts with US imperialism and its comprador-bureaucrat puppets who have been oppressing and super expoiting the working masses not long after he died in 1976. Regarding the URL for the source of the painting, it is http://www.wyzxsx.com; it is “wu you zi xiang” in Chinese. It’s one of the two foremost pro-Mao websites in China and is very popular among newly awakened leftist intellectuals and students.”

The Post-Mao Chinese Left: Navigating the Recent Debates

July 16, 2011

By Zhun Xu. Guest contributor, Sanhati. The author is a member of the Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This year saw an unprecedented rise in political fights among the Chinese leftists. An outside observer might surprisingly discover such big differences on the “left” when all of the major leftist online forums began publishing harsh political polemics from opposing camps. Various issues are discussed, but the practical political stake is whether the left should be a political ally of the current CCP leadership or not, i.e. political program of a united leftist camp. One group, which mostly posts on one of the largest online leftist forum in China (Utopia, or wu you zhi xiang), has been a long supporter of the government and tries to consolidate the leftists under its pro-CCP flag and advocate reforms under current regime to “restore socialism”; while other groups, mostly publishing on relatively smaller online forums, take a different stance and argue that socialism cannot be built under the current capitalist state. The pro-CCP people accused other groups as “extremists”, and their opponents also called them “reactionary and opportunist”.

Who are our friends and who are our enemies? This is the most fundamental question for any political program. There has always been huge difference in the answers to this question among the Chinese left.

Some people argue that although China became largely a capitalist society and the class conflict between the workers and the new rich people including the CCP cadres and compradors, the major contradiction is between the Chinese as a people and “imperialist power” like the US. Continue reading

China: More than 50 million farmers have lost their land since the 1980s

[When the article mentions the “reform and opening up,”  the “reform” refers to the dismantling of socialism that took place after the death of Mao in 1976 and the arrest of his closest allies in the party leadership.  Under China’s collectively-run system of agriculture  from the 1950s to the 1970s,  the vast dispossession of farmers from their land described in this article would have been unthinkable.  The “opening up” refers to the decision in the 1980s by the new government led by Deng Xiaoping to invite a host of multinational corporations looking for cheap labor into China.–Frontlines ed.]

China Daily, November 11, 2010

Rural land disputes lead unrest in China

BEIJING About 65 percent of mass incidents in rural areas are triggered by land disputes, which are affecting rural stability and development more than any other issue, land experts said.

China’s quick urbanization has provoked a new round of land seizures in rural areas to facilitate economic development, Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Rural Development Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by the Beijing News as saying on Friday.

Jiangsu Province: Some of the 20,000 farmers who came to protest against illegal takeovers of their land by local government officials. When the officials were unresponsive, the farmers took over a government building for 5 days--after which riot police beat up hundreds of farmers to drive them away.

“Since the reform and opening-up,  more than 50 million farmers have lost all their land and nearly half of them have no jobs or social insurance. This has caused social conflict,” Yu said.

Land disputes are mainly caused by forced land acquisition, low compensation and unfair appropriation of the compensation, Yu said.  Land transactions have become a substantial contributor to local governments’ revenue.  For the past two decades, the difference between the land compensation paid to farmers and the market price of the seized land is about 2 trillion yuan ($294 billion) for 14.7 million hectares, Yu said.

Zheng Fengtian, a professor of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of the Renmin University of China, said that due to the conflict between the shortage of land for construction required for quick economic development and the strict “red line” of 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land – the least amount necessary to feed the country’s 1.3 billion population – local governments turn to rural homesteads for development.

Governments should be service providers, not money-makers, in rural land management, but now many local governments want to make money through real estate development, triggering conflicts, the Beijing News quoted Li Changping, professor of the Rural Development and Construction Research Center of Hebei University, as saying, on Friday. Continue reading