Neo-Maoist Reading Club: “America has already shown it’s fatally wounded, why not finish them off?” by Yin Guoming
Yin Guoming (尹国明) came to the attention of foreign observers around 2014 with a Weibo essay reposted on in Seeking Truth (求实 the “theory journal under the Central Committee of the CCP,” an unhinged piece that called public intellectuals apostates and heretics. Yin Guoming identifies as a Maoist and his ideas line up with ideas spouted by the neo-Maoist left since the early-2000s. Neo-Maoists, suppressed in the mid-2000s have been mobilized again by the Party.
Beginning with reforms in the late-1970s, factions within the Communist Party pushed back but were mostly sidelined until the late-1980s and 1990s, when there was a fear that Party power was slipping. Deng Xiaoping, already out of power by that point, took an unofficially unauthorized trip to southern coastal areas, which was picked up by the media and reformist factions in the Party to push for more economic opening. By the early 2000s, state-owned enterprises were being sold off, China was in the WTO, and new reforms allowed increasing freedom for business.
But the left never went away; the Party kept preaching socialism. The neo-Maoists saw a hero in Bo Xilai: he ran a tight ship in Chongqing and revived values that neo-Maoists had kept a candle burning for. He had grassroots support from neo-Maoists and others on the left, who campaigned for his promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee. There are various accounts of what actually went down but it would seem that Bo Xilai ran afoul of Xi Jinping and was seen as a threat to his power. Many neo-Maoist websites were shut down in the wake of Bo Xilai’s fall. These groups have made a comeback as Xi Jinping has mobilized the radical, hard left to attack reformist factions in the Party and media, whether liberal reformers or those on the New Left, who support constitutionalism and a strengthened welfare state. Recent attention to the “white left” has shown the power of hard left, nationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic ideas in China. If the neo-Maoists can be likened to the Tea Party, perhaps parallels can also be drawn between the neo-Maoist mobilization and fringe elements of the American right being recruited to support Trump’s campaign and Whitehouse.
My translation of another neo-Maoist screed: “The Road to Spiritual Plague: The History of the Evolution of the White Left”. And a piece for Sixthtone on neo-Maoist attacks on the “white left”: “‘White Left’: The Internet Insult the West Has Gotten Wrong.”
Also, why not listen to Jude Blanchette in conversation with Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo on neo-Maoists.
Yin Guoming’s essay below is fairly par for the neo-Maoist course: grounded in a Chinese interpretation of socialist thought, and anti-capitalist — but maybe more in line with recent Xi Jinping-era nationalism, very concerned with the fate of the Chinese people (Zhōnghuá mínzú, 中华民族 — a term that goes back to the early Republican days that fell out of favor after Liberation and has recently been resurrected, and is usually used to refer to all of the ethnic groups living within the borders of the People’s Republic of China as well as ethnic Chinese living beyond the borders of the PRC… but it’s a bit more complicated than that…) and a conception of Chinese history as a glorious march from 4000 B.C. to 2017.
This piece contends that China is in the later stages of a culture war (wénhuà zhànzhēng 文化战争) with the West, who hope to bring all nations under the yoke of capitalism and white supremacy. The key weapon that China has is theory: the ideological nuclear weapon that is Mao Zedong Thought.
Again, my usual note about the translation: I think it’s a decent translation and I’ve done by best to make things as clear as possible, snipping and editing here and there, but if you’re wondering if there is text missing or what the hell he’s talking about, it’s probably not my fault. I have added some explanatory notes in bold. The original is here: http://www.cwzg.cn/politics/201708/37982.html.
America has already shown it’s fatally wounded, why not finish them off?
The so-called Spirit of America is personified by the Founding Fathers; their words and stories have become the founding myth of the United States. The mainstream media of the United States and the president from whichever party is in control in Washington propagates the legend of the slave-owners that founded their nation. Now, it would appear that there is no longer any chance of continuing to support the myth of American exceptionalism. The value system bequeathed to the American people by those long-dead slave-owners has been shown to be fatally flawed. The myths that are the foundation of the nation have crumbled. The time is ripe to speed along the collapse.
If the Belt and Road Initiative is considered China’s opening salvo in the battle against America in the security and economic spheres, perhaps the opportunity for an ideological counterattack has also presented itself. With the election of Donald Trump, the United States is vulnerable — its ideological Achilles Heel has been revealed.
For the past several years, those that attacked China and propped up Pax Americana have attacked the foundations of our country by questioning the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system, and attempting to undermine the history of the Chinese people by attacking their sense of pride and the unity of the Chinese nation.
As yet, there have been no attempts by our enemies to launch a military assault but in the culture war, we are already under siege.
Subverting the Chinese socialist system and dragging the country down the capitalist road are simply the first objectives of this culture war; final victory for our enemies will be the complete dismemberment of the Chinese nation. Even after Soviet socialism was dismantled, the United States did not stop their assault. The Russian Federation should now occupy the same territory as the Soviet Union, but the impressive borders of USSR were always seen as threatening to the West. When the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, shouldn’t NATO have been dissolved also? This show us that the West is morally bankrupt. Agreements and treaties with Western powers are useless — unless they benefit the West. The plan of attack used against the Soviet Union has been modified and is now being used to assault China. Final victory for the West will come when China is brought to her knees.
Attacking the historical foundation of the nation is one of the most brutal and effective means of defeating it. To destroy a nation, you must destroy what its people believe in.
Therefore, China’s understanding of its history has been called into question. This skepticism is not reserved for China after Liberation but goes back to the New Democratic Revolution led by the Chinese Communist Party, to China’s first victories over foreign powers in the 19th Century. Academics like He Weifang [He Weifang is a law professor and liberal commentator, who has been vocal on the topic of China’s legal system. Despite a campaign of harassment, he was mostly allowed to continue his work, until this year, when his social media accounts were shut down in the wake of a larger crackdown on public intellectuals and academics seen as critical of the Communist Party] now describe the Opium War as simply the transmission of superior culture to China, which was trailing behind the West. The heroes of Chinese history are now being demonized.
He Weifang doesn’t even stop there — no, he goes back two thousand years: his contention is that around then is when China diverted from the correct path and never developed rule of law. There is nothing in these theories but a vicious assault on thousands of years of Chinese achievement and the foundation of the Chinese nation.
If a nation is completely demoralized, is there any need for guns and artillery? These attempts to undermine the history of the nation have one purpose: destroying our sense of pride in our nation.
In the culture war, the attack on our pride and our history is equivalent to dropping a nuclear bomb. Even worse, these attacks are often presented as merely academic and completely apolitical. But just like a nuclear weapon — maybe even more effective — they have the power to knock out the Chinese leadership and dismember the country.
By destroying our pride in Chinese culture, Chinese people are given the impression that Western culture and ideology is the only true path. There is an attempt to explain Western success as growing from its tradition of democracy. The Chinese political system, in the opinion of those that attack China, remained backwards because it never developed Western-style democracy. Western culture and history is positioned as the point around which everything revolves.
If we look a bit closer at this glorification of Western culture, it’s impossible to ignore the issue of white supremacy. The conclusion that those who worship Western thought and white supremacy must reach is: China should joyfully embrace their own colonization and fall under the control of Western states. These are ideas that the West has used for hundreds of years.
It is only by unleashing a culture war that we can hope to dispel these notions of Western supremacy.
This will be a war that must be fought systematically and with a united front. To win victory in clash of cultures, we must show the essence of Chinese culture. The power and glory of the Chinese culture must be taken back from Western manipulators and given to the common people of China. Unfortunately, many of our countrymen have already been infected with the virus of Western worship.
One of the greatest weapons of our enemies is their ability to turn “Chinese people” with a colonized mindset against Chinese people. Unfortunately, the enemy has already reached many that are firmly embedded in Chinese media, Chinese education, Chinese academia, Chinese philosophy and Chinese literary and artistic circles. Those spaces have now fallen to the enemy; the enemy has occupied the ideology and language of the Chinese people.
I assure you that China has lost its way ideologically. This is not an exaggeration — and it’s a completely unacceptable state of affairs. One place that it’s most apparent is in our textbooks. Look at the treatment of the slave-owner George Washington — even Trump has called him a slave-owner. In our textbooks, his crimes are completely erased. Lu Ye’s article “Trump has exposed the way Chinese textbooks lie about American history” proves this. In George Washington, the Father of the United States, a textbook used in an elective course taught to high school students, we can see some of these problems. The text avoids any mention of Washington owning slaves and slaughtering American Indians, and paints Washington as a hero of his people and nation, a man who always put the United States first. We are told of a man — the slave-owner Washington — who did not love his office or its powers but only sought to build democracy and fight off autocrats and despots. At the same time, in another text, Mao Zedong, Founder of the New China, there is a lengthy cataloguing of all of the Chairman’s faults. It’s not hard to see the inferences that students exposed to these textbooks will draw: Mao was a villain and Washington was a hero; the Chinese political system is inferior and the American system is superior.
It’s not only China’s leaders that are dragged through the mud. An essay entitled “Does peaceful evolution begin with your child? The dangerous Westernization of primary school texts” [a piece from the same site, by writer Baobei Anjing] makes the case that even our children are under attack. In texts for young children, the foreign child is praised, while the Chinese child is scolded and belittled. Beginning in the final texts used by first grade students, we begin to see that the youthful paragons of virtue are most often foreign students. There are numerous examples, which will not be discussed here, but search the essay on Baidu.
Our enemy in this culture war will not even leave children untouched! Their influence has seeped into the very books we use to educate our young. The future looks grim.
There are those that say the battle has already been lost on some key battlefields: journalism, culture, the arts, the legal system, education, finance and academia — there is nothing sensational about that claim: in this war, the enemy is already bombarding our capital. It’s good to talk about the military, who guard China’s sovereignty, but the true threat is one that artillery and troops cannot fight.
Look at the recent example of Wolf Warrior 2’s patriotism that Chinese critics have panned it as worthless and perverted. [Wolf Warrior 2 is a Chinese action film released this year. It’s patriotic and violent. It was mostly praised in China but there were some, like Yin Shanshan of the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, who did indeed savage it.] How many of China’s professors have the same attitude? Many in cultural and artistic circles in China have already imbibed the poison of our enemies and are unable to see the glory of the essence of Chinese culture. They would prefer cultural self-abuse to self-strengthening.
Now is the time for China to counterattack. We must wage cultural warfare. The time to simply defend ourselves has passed. When we look at foreign values being imported into China and Chinese values being exported, there is no doubt that the west wind is blowing harder than the east wind.
The myths of the slave-owners that founded the United States are — no matter what the American mainstream media says — slowly being swept into the dustbin of history. The foundation of the United States is crumbling. We must accelerate that collapse.
I once read an essay that theorizes that a people’s confidence in their national spirit can be destroyed by bulldozing the spiritual peaks — in other words, destroying the symbolic leaders of a nation. Most of a nation’s people will not have a thorough understanding of the national spirit beyond what is taught by these mostly symbolic leaders. In the United States, the spiritual peak is George Washington; for the Chinese, it is Mao Zedong. Now, the textbooks of our own country glorify Washington, while America’s so-called “freedom of speech” does not allow for Mao Zedong’s words to appear anywhere on their Ministry of Education’s website. [I am not sure what incident this is referring to.]
Trump has provided China with the perfect opportunity to launch a counterattack. The time is right to cure China of its worship of the United States. The spiritual foundation of the American Dream can now be exposed. The Chinese mainstream media must viciously attack that foundation: the Chinese public must be shown the true face of the nation’s founders and the reality of America’s anti-democratic system.
The United States is a force against democracy. The United States is not now and has never been a democracy. The United States was built on slavery and founded by slave-owners and is now still run on what Marxism shows us are wage-slaves under the capitalist system. Those interested in knowing more about the anti-democratic foundation of the United States should check Baidu for my essay, “Constitutional government is bourgeois dictatorship.” These are not claims I am making lightly.
Unfortunately, the situation in the Chinese media is not promising. We need an army but the mainstream media has already mostly surrendered. The answer is raising a guerilla force represented by bloggers and self-published writers, who can harass the flanks. Unfortunately, this is not enough to really strike a blow against our enemies, who have the full powers of state intelligence agencies at their disposal.
This reveals the false consciousness of the Chinese media. As soon as these media professionals entered journalism school, they were brainwashed by professors that worship the myth of the American spirit. If we are to launch a counterattack, we need the help of the media elite. If they do not cooperate, it will be difficult to move forward.
Ideology needs a responsible guardian and the media elite have shirked this responsibility. I don’t want to paint everyone in the media with the same brush but it would not be an exaggeration to say that most of this generation in the media are not ideologically sound.
In order to solve this problem, the media needs to be reorganized and rebuilt. Before that, though, we must go to the source of the problem, which is the education system. Solving problems in our education system will solve problems downstream in the media. Education is our future.
This year, a national textbook committee was established to look at ideological issues in our textbooks. This shows that the country is beginning to see the importance of the issue.
We must also look at who is in charge of our journalism schools. We cannot allow these positions to be taken over by those that oppose communism and hate China.
From my own observations, I am not particularly optimistic. I encourage anyone that believes we are moving forward to look at the firestorm that followed the appointment of Lin Zhibo as dean of the journalism school at Lanzhou University [Lin Zhibo’s appointment was seen as the Party trying to retake control over journalism departments. He is a neo-Maoist, who rose to a position with People’s Daily and was notorious for remarks he made downplaying the catastrophe of the Great Leap Forward, when an estimated 20–50 million people died]. Lin Zhibo’s appointment met with vociferous opposition from China’s liberals.
As the famous commentator in China Youth Daily said: “In China, there are three main influences on public opinion: the head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China, the media elite, and the deans of journalism schools. These three are all able to influence mass media, industry and education but in my opinion, most of the influence comes from journalism school heads.” [The quote is from Cao Lin’s China Youth Daily op-ed, “The head of a journalism school requires qualifications”]. The title of the piece reminds us that a dean needs certain qualifications, but what are those qualifications? One of the key qualifications is a consistent political viewpoint.
Unfortunately, many that talk about politics that differ from a mainstream view are often labeled as throwbacks to the Cultural Revolution.
The important point for us is to maintain Mao Zedong Thought, which is the commanding point that we should retreat to. Many people do not understand this and want to imagine we are simply using the language of the Cultural Revolution. They do not know or pretend not to know that the Maoist period in China was the time when Chinese ideology was finally able to triumph over Western ideologies. In our culture war with the United States during the Maoist period, China was able to strike back against American and European ideology. Although China had no media or soft power to attack with, they had the ideological high ground. Despite the soft power and military power disadvantage that China faced, we were able to fight back with theory and ideology.
Furthermore, Mao Zedong Thought concentrates the essence of Chinese civilization and carries the genes of traditional culture. There are many that want to use traditional Chinese beliefs such as Confucianism and Taoism to reorganize Chinese society — this is not without merit but is probably not feasible. In order to mount a resistance to Western economic power, we must reorganize our economy to strengthen public ownership and strike a blow against Western culture and ideology, which is built on private ownership. Just think, is it better to serve the people or serve the capitalists? It’s clear that Chinese ideology has theoretical and moral superiority.
We can see this in War to Resist America and Support Korea, when North Korean and Chinese troops were at a great disadvantage but fought back against American aggression through their spiritual and ideological superiority.
The time to remobilize Mao Zedong Thought is now. The time has come to move from simply holding the lines in the culture war to striking back. China must catch up with the United States in soft power. This is the time for national revival.
It’s apparent that the Belt and Road Initiative is influenced by Chairman Mao’s Three Worlds Theory. The Belt and Road is an attempt to link underdeveloped regions in what Mao termed the Third World to the Second World, represented by lesser powers in Europe. This will have the effect of marginalizing the United States and Japan. With these new linkages, China can begin to further resist American power.
Now that the time has come to establish our position in the world, how can we abandon Mao Zedong Thought? Mao Zedong Thought is our most important weapon. In this culture war, our enemy has been far more vigilant — they have demonized Mao Zedong Thought since the beginning. Our enemies fear that we will lift the banner of Mao Zedong Thought once again. Let’s give them exactly what they fear the most.