Neo-Maoist Reading Club: Left Maoist reaction to Xi Jinping’s constitutional amendments

“This is our advice to the Communist Party. Don’t say that you have not been warned.”

The first entry in the Neo-Maoist Reading Club was a translation of Yin Guoming’s fiery “America has already shown it’s fatally wounded, why not finish them off?” The second was a translation of “Firmly grasp historical tendencies and combat opportunism” by Shui Bian.

This is the third entry. It’s brief.

I’m sure you know the story: Xi Jinping is entering constitutional cheat codes to give himself infinite lives. Reactions on the Chinese internet were mostly negative, even as the censorship machine was fired up to remove any reference to — positive or negative—or discussion of the amendments.

The reaction from the more nationalistic and nostalgic Maoists (毛派), more likely to go to bat for authoritarianism, has been more muted, mostly calls to study the changes and support the Party at a time when they are facing renewed criticism (see: 短平快解读本次修宪,稳准狠回应社会关切), and also they’ve been distracted by an impending trade war, the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto and the Two Sessions.

At this point, long after censorship and self-censorship have wiped out much of what was written, it’s hard to track down more critical and specifically Left Maoist reactions. On the web portals held by the Left Maoists (毛左), reaction has been ambivalent, though, and some critical pieces have been left up.

This piece posted to Huayue Forum and collected on RedChinaCn/红色中国, 这个政权与我们百姓无关 is typical:

For the past few days, Xi Jinping “ascending to the throne” has “provoked” people. Personally, I’m numb to the whole thing. It’s been a long time coming. We got here from Sniper Deng [Deng Xiaoping] and the Old Frog [Jiang Zemin] and the Frozen Faced Emperor [Hu Jintao]. The selling out of the Soviet Union started long before Gorbachev arrived, with Khrushchev and Brezhnev.
China’s move from oligarchy to autocracy is the result of something that has been festering for the past thirty years. The only possible result of a coup d’etat like the one China experienced is dictatorship. In China today, the dividends accumulated in the economy built under Mao Zedong have been spent; the population boom of those years has also been squandered and we now having an ageing population; our military capabilities have been compromised by internal political struggles, corruption and factionalization. The betrayal of political and economic principles has radically transformed the superstructure. The interests of the new feudal lords of bureaucratic capitalism are inextricable from government policy. For this government, the people have become irrelevant.

The announcement of a new anti-corruption drive has come in for criticism, as well:

“Anti-corruption” efforts are nothing but a tool in factional struggles within the leadership. Deng Xiaoping set the stage for a “corrupt” government in late 1989 with the formation of his criminal posse, and he sealed the deal during the “Southern Tour purge.” Make no mistake: all these motherfuckers dirty — how you gonna stay clean in a mud puddle? Even Xi himself — you think during his time in Fujian and Zhejiang he never got into some shit? Don’t think for a moment that we don’t all know the real story behind Gui Minhai’s arrest. … You’ve probably heard the story about how the “good guy” [Shen Hao, celebrated cadre celebrated by Hu Jintao after he died on the job — rumors later circulated…] in Xiaogang, that heaven of reform, drank himself to death.

This piece by Wutaoku Han Yu (无套裤汉于), “Xi Jinping’s amendment of the constitution is a mistake and will lead to dissension and discord among the masses,” is fairly representative of the reaction from Left Maoists (毛左). The writer makes the point that opposition to constitutional amendment is mostly about a deeper dissatisfaction with the policies of Xi Jinping and the past forty years of reform. The piece ends with a dire warning to the Communist Party.

The original is at RedChinaCn/红色中国: 习近平修宪错误将导致人民离心离德. And here is my translation:

Xi Jinping’s amendment of the constitution is a mistake and will lead to dissension and discord among the masses

Wutaoku Han Yu, February 26th 2018

Xi Jinping’s constitutional amendment is worth discussing.

If his decision to amend the constitution is correct, timely and truly necessary, there is no doubt that there will be broad-based grass-roots support for the move. However, early reaction suggests that support is sorely lacking — the reaction to the elimination of the limit on two-year terms for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman has been near unanimous embarrassment; many see the move as an attempt by Xi Jinping to expand his personal power while betraying the interests of the masses.

The key issue is that Xi Jinping’s brand of so-called special socialism has been exposed, after forty years of practice, as a sham. It would be a grave mistake to continue down the wrong road, speeding toward a dead end. For the vast majority of people, this special — this counterrevolutionary and revisionist — socialism has proven to be a disastrous experiment. Surrendering the country and the people and the revolutionary party to foreign capital and revisionist politics has caused colossal harm.

If, on the other hand, Xi Jinping was to use his power to amendment the constitution to erase all traces of other special socialist theory, whether Deng Xiaoping Theory, Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents, and Hu Jintao’s Scientific Outlook on Development, the changes would surely meet with the approval of the people, as it is in the long-term interests of the masses, society, and the nation to abandon revisionism.

But, with that change, Xi Jinping’s so-called Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era would be unnecessary, as well. The only line that should be pursued at this time is one that upholds the people’s democratic dictatorship, takes Mao Zedong Thought as its ideological basis, wipes away the previous four decades of reform, and removes from authority all members of the leadership that took the capitalist road and usurped the power of the Party. The policies of Reform and Opening have lost the support of the masses and must become a target of mass criticism. Allow the Four Freedoms — freedom of protest, freedom of speech, freedom of debate and freedom to put up big character posters — so that the long-oppressed and exploited working class can regain their leadership and take back their social, political and economic status.

As a participant in the first Cultural Revolution, Xi Jinping must know that the correctness of the mass line is paramount. To continue to persist, remorselessly with the wrong line is incredibly dangerous, especially when opposition is rising. Xi Jinping should proceed carefully, as the outrage at his constitutional changes is widespread.

Superficially, the opposition to Xi Jinping is centered on the amendment, but, in fact, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the implementation of a revisionist, reactionary line — an incredibly mistaken line, a line that allies him with those that would sell out the nation, a line that puts him in direct conflict with the people. If Xi Jinping were carrying out the correct line, opposition to the amendment concerning term limits would be muted.

Even if Xi Jinping can turn back at the last moment and avoid racing toward a dead end, the opposition and revolutionary spirit of the people are harder to contain.

This is our advice to the Communist Party. Don’t say that you have not been warned.