Monday, May 4, 2015

News and Commentaries, 2015.04.28

Wang Xiaoming is a professor of Chinese at Shanghai University’s Program in Cultural Studies

Question: What do you think are the reasons for further colonization in China?
Wang Xiaoming: In the beginning it was due to the joint crash from imperialism and capitalism, which has destroyed local language, culture and skills. It had fundamentally changed our original lifestyle. Among these changes some of them are progressive, like healthcare, etc. But the larger side effect is that they have destroyed local culture. China’s traditional culture is very strong and it was difficult to be destroyed right away. In the beginning of modernity it still played an important role and at that time people still had different ways of thinking. I feel people at that time had different brains, they had the brain for Western knowledge, for traditional Chinese culture and for Buddhism. But what about now? Our brain is very simple. We know a bit of the West, which is basically the United States, but we don’t know more than people of that era. Our understanding of Chinese tradition is much less than people of earlier generations. There are also much fewer people who know about Buddhism. Our university system is actually Western, same as the division of disciplines. Because of some internal reasons there are more flaws.


If we simply conclude “the third world” as “developing countries”, then we are ignoring the reality that developing countries and so-called Capitalist countries have different histories and life experiences. Therefore when there is revolution, we can’t copy theories formed during the historical process of Capitalist countries to have our own revolution, rather, we need to develop our own revolutionary path. This path should not only be political, but also economical, social, cultural and intellectual.


This is a very long (and I find fair and well-written) essay published by Xiuyuan (Longway Foundation) a think tank founded in 2009. Their academy committee is consisted of very well respected scholars.

Here is some of the quotes:

When socialism as a global movement had started to decline, only China completed its socialist self-transformation through reform and open up, as a large country of socialism. However, we can’t negate the fact that the socialism with Chinese characteristics is facing some serious challenges. People have doubts on what is “socialism” and the necessity and even possibility of socialism. While facing this difficulty, on one hand, as a socialist country, we can’t avoid discussions on socialism; on the other hand, we can’t get trapped in the war of concepts. We can’t focus our attention on ideological attacks, but should rather see socialism as a challenge and opportunity in the process of industrialization and full transformation of material production. It is also part of the continuous efforts people have made for the pursuit of more fair and just life.


We try to describe the socialist implementation in Mao Zedong’s era as China’s Socialism 1.0, and the exploration of socialist market economy since reform and open up as China’s Socialism 2.0. While analyzing the current new setting of political and economical transformation, we try to point out that China in the future needs to develop a Socialism 3.0 that keeps the merits of Socialism 1.0 and 2.0 and gets rid of their flaws.


Deng Xiaoping had always stressed that “Capitalism can have plans and Socialism can have markets”. The most striking characteristics in political economics of Socialism 2.0 is the issue of whether and how socialism could merge with market economy.


The “theory of the primary phase” used the historical framework of Socialism 1.0, but it didn’t reiterate or explain this framework - it also didn’t answer two key questions: whether there is the supreme phase after the primary phase? Whether it is going towards Communism? At that time they were incapable and it was impossible to answer this question. They could just postpone the problem and say “there is no discussion now”. For the public, this means the belief crisis of socialism; for the ruling party, this means the crisis of ideology.


Particularly for China, socialism can’t stay on the level of the ruling party’s proclamation. It should be a concept and resources for implementation as a way to rethink public space and reshape the political community. Under the backdrop of new world structure and new emerging ideologies, the new direction of socialism deserves serious consideration.


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