The heart of Xi Jinping (and 2)

“Emilio” by Miguel Karabia

October 23, 2021

But beyond the classics, as the son of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping received training in Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. Marxism-Leninism provided him with a theory that could systematically and logically explain social and economic reality. Another attraction of Marxism-Leninism, especially in China, is its dialectics. The thesis, the anti-thesis, and the synthesis can give people an atmosphere of yin and yang, which is very attractive. Parallel to Marxism (or perhaps higher than Marxism?) is Mao Zedong’s thought, which emphasizes community and continuous revolution.

Like many Communists of his generation, Xi Jinping learned valuable lessons from the disintegration of the Soviet Union. By the end of the 1970s, the classic communist system had entered a turbulent zone; they stopped paying more. Deng Xiaoping and Gorbachev drew very different consequences from that crisis. Gorbachev’s solution is “reform” (economic reconstruction) and “open” (political openness, the main element of which is greater freedom of speech). For Deng Xiaoping, the solution was to pave the way for economic reform through administrative structural reform. The fundamental difference is that everyone believes that political reform should have weight. Zero, Deng Xiaoping, 50% Gorbachev.

In the spring of 1989, these two visions clashed. In April, Hu Yaobang, a reformist who had much in common with Gorbachev, died. His death was the fuse that students took to the streets to protest their demands for reform. On May 15th, Gorbachev brought him to Beijing, which coincided with the most untimely moment of the Chinese authorities, who feared his arrival would anger students. The Chinese authorities did their best to guide his visit, and he took care of the students in Tiananmen Square as soon as he left.

From that incident and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, Chinese leaders learned some lessons that they have not forgotten to this day. The main reason is that the leaders of the Soviet Union violated their own history, their own roots. The original sin was discovered at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, when Khrushchev exposed Stalin’s crimes and condemned his personality cult. A slippery slope began, which led to doubts about Lenin and Marxism itself.

The Chinese have learned that shaking Mao’s image is not convenient and will not happen like the Soviet Union and Stalin. The farthest you can go is what Deng Xiaoping once said, Mao was 70% right and 30% wrong. Even today, the claim that Mao’s image is recovering seems to be a heresy. The task of the CCP leadership today is not to attack Mao’s image. Just as there is nostalgia for Stalin in Russia, and more than it seems, the same situation is also happening in China, where there is a trend of neo-Maoist thinking that it has gone too far to allow private initiative in the economy. This yearns for the egalitarianism of the past. Xi Jinping blinked at this trend, and political scientist Li Weidong even affirmed that Xi Jinping is “an unconditional fan of Mao.” I prefer the view of Jude Brachet, the author of “China’s New Red Guards”. He believes that although Xi Jinping sympathizes with the New Maoists, he is not one of them.

Xi Jinping would rather be on the side of the neo-authoritarian/neo-conservative. For these, what China needs is enlightened autocracy. A strong leader who can take the necessary economic reforms. A strong country is the foundation for ensuring development and stability. The Communist Party must steer politics and economics to prevent the ship of the state from colliding with any of two threat traps: the return of extremism from the “color” revolution or the Cultural Revolution. If you look at Xi Jinping’s performance since he took office, the new authoritarian label is very suitable for him.

Another component of his thinking is nationalism. In communist countries, when belief in communism weakens, nationalism often occurs as an alternative ideology. The official statement is that China is a great and ancient civilization. It was in order to maintain this narrative that the image of Confucius was restored. In the 19th century, the West took advantage of the weakness of the Qing Dynasty—by the way, a foreign dynasty (they were of Manchu descent)—to make China suffer the humiliation of the Opium War and unequal treaties. There are more humiliations, but these two are the most documented. Beginning in 1949, with the victory of the Chinese revolution, the national rejuvenation and rejuvenation began.

If there are enemies, all nationalism will play the biggest role. In this case, the enemy is the democratic West, which has fallen behind the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bougon presented a secret document that was leaked in 2013, the “Communiqué on the Status Quo of the Ideological Field”. The document lists several ideological threats in the West: 1) Western constitutional democracy, whose characteristic elements are the separation of powers, multi-party system, general elections, and independent judicial power; 2) Universal values, that is, the West claims that its value should be It prevails in all mankind; 3) Civil society, which gives individuals priority over society, if adopted, will lead to a rift between the CCP and society; 4) Neoliberalism, whose market self-regulation theory will weaken the government’s economic impact Control; 5) Western journalistic concepts, contrary to preaching journalism, are written by Marxist standards and linked to party discipline; 6) Historical nihilism leads to doubts about national myths; 7) Criticism of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

If these are threats to the West, the document also proposes what China should oppose: “Our nation is a socialist country with a specific history and unique reality. What kind of system or method is suitable for our nation? It must be decided according to the national conditions of our nation. Simply copying another country’s political system or political methods is meaningless and may even have terrible consequences for our country’s future. China is a socialist country and a developing super A big country. We must take advantage of the benefits of foreign political civilization, but we must never give up the basic political system of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the price.”

In any case, as the 2008 crisis began to emerge, the Western model has run out, followed by traumatic events such as Brexit or the chaotic Trump presidency. Faced with a chaotic and unpredictable democracy, which will not bring real leaders, but populist figures in power, China can provide another model in Xi Jinping’s eyes. As a civilized country, China is deeply ingrained in the minds of the Chinese people. During the centuries of the empire, China spread its own cultural and technological progress to neighboring countries; during the Maoist period, China exported various Marxisms. Why can’t he now export his model to a world disappointed in democracy? His lack of funds guarantees the sympathy of many developing country governments who are tired of dealing with the situation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The world’s interest in Chinese culture and language is growing. Why not dream that China might replace the United States in soft and hard power?

In the last chapter, Bougon wants to know if there is something called Xi Jinping Thought, just like Mao Zedong Thought. In practice in China, every leader leaves his mark in the form of a slogan summarizing his goals. Xi Jinping’s is: “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.

From 2020 to 2035, the goal is to build a well-off society in all respects. From 2035 to 2050, China will become the world’s leading economic power, and it will be a “prosperous, powerful, and democratic society (I don’t know its “democracy” concept, but I think it is with mine), advanced culture and harmonious. beauty”. Obviously—I don’t know why I bother to watch it—the CCP will become the center of things and will continue to manage society and the economy.

All of the above is more like a program than an idea. Bourgon put it more elegantly: “There is no sign that he is the author of his own coherent theory.” The dissident Murong Xuecun described his idea as “market totalitarianism.” This is an interesting and unusual combination. The failure of the Soviet Union led us to believe that totalitarian regimes could not operate a market economy. China proves that this is possible if it actually abandons Marxism. It is important to distinguish between defense theory and applied theory.

In the last few pages, Burgen briefly talked about the long-term survival of the Chinese regime. Bourgon seems to be in line with authors such as Sinologist David Shambaugh, who believes that the regime is weaker than it looks, and points out some weaknesses: the flight of the rich and the outflow of capital, political repression, lack of a belief system, a tired economy, corruption… …Bourgen seems to agree. He said on the last pages of the book, “By seeking to make his country a leading industrial power by 2049 (…), Xi Jinping is unleashing the power they can deal with you. A wealthy creation A powerful and innovative China may not be satisfied with the existing framework, and may support calls for political reform in the future. But how big? The fate of the’new’ emperor depends in part on the answer.”

I am not a sinologist, and I lack data and knowledge to judge whether the current Chinese regime can continue. All I know is that since I started reading articles about China in the late 1990s, I have often heard about its fragility and how it is only one step away from collapse, and I have seen its international status keep growing year after year. Growth and improvement.

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“Emilio” by Miguel Karabia

October 23, 2021




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