Not all is lost for communism, since China has taken up the baton

Monday, July 29th, 2019

François Bougon’s Inside the Mind of Xi Jinping is T. Greer’s new go-to recommendation for those who want to understand the priorities of the Communist Party of China:

Bougan understands what too many China analysts downplay (or even worse, outright ignore). The concerns Xi Jinping and his clique have about the ideological integrity of the Chinese socialist system and the threat Western values and institutions pose to them are not comic curiosities. They are the foundation for China’s relationship with the United States. We cannot get China policy right if we do not take the fears of these men seriously.

He cites two passages. The first deals with the film In Memory of the Collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union:

The film crew had travelled to Russia to interview witnesses, who happened mostly to be former Soviet Communist Party members. Oddly enough, they were all desperately nostalgic for the USSR’s lost greatness. In the film, a voice-over recites a ponderous political analysis tinged with a hint of paranoia, characteristic of authoritarian regimes. The original sin, it explains, can be traced back to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956, during which Khrushchev gave his ‘secret speech’ before 1,430 delegates. This was when the seeds of disaster had been sown. The Soviets had started to burn down their idols: Stalin, but also Lenin, which opened the floodgates to a questioning of Marxist faith. Gorbachev, father of the 1980s reforms, and his ‘accomplices’— Alexander Yakovlev, Edward Shevardnadze, and Boris Yeltsin— were all ‘children of the Twentieth Congress’. In a nutshell, they were traitors. When they came to power, their objective had been to bring down socialism and communism. Under the influence of Western powers, who were counting on them, they had implemented their destructive policies: the introduction of a multi-party system, the authorisation of NGOs, the liberalisation of the media, the abandonment of control over means of production, the privatisation of public industries, and severing the link between the Party and the army.

The documentary specifically demonises Gorbachev and accuses him of selling himself to the Americans. Weak in his decision-making, ideologically hesitant, he had driven his country to ruin through a wave of privatisations. The wealth of a huge majority of the people had been collected by a handful of oligarchs from the old Party bureaucracy. It was the beginning of the reign of violence and of the mafia. The final blow came with the former USSR falling victim to separatist movements. Twenty years after the fall of the motherland of socialism, the outcome of glasnost and perestroika was not just negative— it was downright criminal.

The film ends with the usual elements of propaganda: not all is lost for communism, since China has taken up the baton. Gennady Zyuganov, leader since 1993 of what’s left of the Russian Communist Party, drives this point home in his interview with the Beijing film crew: In the space of thirty years, China has achieved formidable results. I hope you will not forget the reasons for the collapse of the USSR and the lessons of the fall of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: only by [learning these lessons] can the Chinese people build their own country. The documentary ends with images of the Kremlin set to The Internationale. The voiceover gives some closing recommendations to Party members: never renounce socialism and Marxism; never give in to the influence of ‘hostile forces’ who wish to ‘Westernise’ the country and ‘sow the seeds of separatism’. Beware above all of ‘the manoeuvres of Western powers’, of their ‘financial and ideological manipulations’, of their use of NGOs, of ‘their will to incite chaos by promoting governance from the streets’.

With this film, the tone was set from the first year of Xi’s mandate: the West was the enemy and Gorbachev had been its puppet. Xi, on the other hand, would be a herald of Chinese Marxism-Leninism.


  1. Kirk says:

    In the end, it will all founder on the rocks and shoals of reality. Socialism and Communism both rely on the idea that economies can be planned and run by directive from the top. There is no scope for chaos, because the systems are designed things, not organic. Because of that, they can’t cope with dynamic change, and are entirely inefficient at dealing with reality.

    Traditional economic activity, on the other hand, embraces chaos, lives with it, adapts to it, and can handle the rate of change. The Chinese are doomed, because of this control impulse they’ve always had; you go back and look at the history of the Chinese nation, and that’s been true of every dynastic collapse. They preferred control to dynamism; look at the fate of Zheng Ho for a perfect example. The Chinese could have been the ones sailing into the Mediterranean rather than the Portuguese going to them first. But, what happened? The eunuchs chose to exert control, and Zheng Ho’s fleets were scuttled, and they even destroyed the capability to build such ships, which were exponentially more advanced than European ships at the time were.

    China is going to collapse again, and I will wager it will be for the same reasons: The control freaks running the whole show. You can’t control or manage an economy; it’s a fractal nightmare of factors which are utterly beyond anyone’s real ability to even conceptualize, let alone make work.

    Good grief… If Walmart can’t tell exactly how many men’s briefs they’re going to need to have on hand for sale in Minot, North Dakota over the next year, what hope have the Chinese bureaucrats for determining how much steel they will need?

    The traditional economic methods didn’t come up by accident; they reflect the iron laws of reality, as worked out by generations of human beings. Some idiot 19th Century intellectuals certainly didn’t manage to come up with a concept capable of supplanting them, let alone one that is superior.

    Communism and Socialism are both hubristic as hell; both are doomed to destruction whenever some fool determines to enact them in this world, rather than leave them as intellectual exercises for the foolish teenager.

  2. Wang Wei Lin says:

    The USSR lasted 70 years give or take. Although I expected China to have collapsed by now it’s possible for it to last another 70 years. As Kirk notes China from the beginning has been ruled by tyrants. Call them want you want – kings, emperors, monarchs or president – it’s all the same. I know Chinese in Chongqing who despise Communism and love Trump. The collapse will come. Pray it’s not a bloody one.

  3. Felix says:

    Well, we all know what “state of the union” speeches are, but here is one from China, 2017:

    Scroll 40% down to section V. Those of us who think of socialism and communism as being antithetical to market economics can feel our heads explode. Exactly what the hell does the sub-section head, “Accelerating efforts to improve the socialist market economy” mean?

    But, yeah, maybe China isn’t the most likely place in the world to see license plates like New Hampshire’s, “Live free or die”.

  4. Bruce says:

    China is big enough that I don’t know. It’s a left national socialism, a secret police that’s got a country and uses the Party and the Army as a beard, sure, but China is so big that the secret police doesn’t really run things. The Party is independent of the secret police, or maybe actually in charge, or is it? Beats me. Ditto the Army: independent of the Party and the secret police, or not? Is Chinese communism state capitalism? Dunno. Does someone in China know?

  5. Slumlord says:

    The quality of a “top-down” organisation is really dependent on the quality of the “top”. China has a reasonably “good” leadership at the moment but once the current crop leave there’s a good chance that it might just implode.

    One of the consequences of a politically powerful middle class is that while it may limit the power of genius politicians it also mitigates the effects of foolish ones. China has no such buffer mechanism.

  6. Kirk says:


    That’s really the secret of why the Allies won WWII. Democracies may not have overall better leadership cadre, but it’s not at all dependent on them in the first place–The system will throw up a Truman who will find it expeditious to raise hell about the inefficiencies in the war industries, and shine the light. That sort of thing was impossible under any of the other regime structures in that war.

    Overall, it’s why I suspect China is doomed, over the long haul. And, I feel nothing good about that, at all. The day is shortly coming where every human life will be precious, and matter; the sad fact is that the Chinese are going to crash and burn because of their policies, and take most of the region they control down with them. It’s not an assessment I make gladly, either–In sorrow, I mourn what could have been. Their self-destruction is inevitable, like some kind of romantic opera.

  7. Harry Jones says:

    It seems to me that Singapore is also overly dependent on a hyper-competent man at the top. The trouble with patriarchies is that patriarchs up and die on you.

    The whole idea of a hereditary monarchy seems to assume that leadership ability is controlled by Mendelian inheritance. It isn’t. The only reason a dynasty lasts as long as it does is because the competition is also weak. Culture heroes just don’t come along all that often.

  8. Dan Kurt says:

    Red China is in for hard times:

    1) One Child Poliicy: China will get old before growing rich.

    2) Near term stress: Swine Disease rampant currently is destroying Chinese pigs possibly nearly en mass & armyworm of which there is no treatment is now in half of Chinese provinces.

    3) Synoptic Delusion is a feature of Socialism and eventually brings down the system: Malinvestments on a grand scale.

    DAn Kurt

  9. CVLR says:

    That description of what happened to the USSR is basically accurate: the economy collapsed, real and nominal; the industries were looted largely by a certain clique of temperamentally Russophobic oligarchs; Gorbachev et al. really were working for America (duh); &c. In all, it set Russia back by decades or more. Arguably, the country still hasn’t recovered — not including all of the lost territory.

    People who try to beat you over the head with ideology like “communism” this, “socialism” that, “Marxism” the other, are either missing the point themselves (sincere delusion) or are deliberately trying to delude you (insincere subversion). The relevant axes are: corruption->integrity, centralization->decentralization, authoritarianism->republicanism.

    There’s another axis, but I’m not sure what to call it… visible versus occult? The former produces Congress, the latter manifests the OSS.

    The unfortunate reality of the situation is that an intelligently managed command-control economy is much more efficient and effective than the Boomercon will ever admit, at least inasmuch as it matters to the interests of the state.

    American (“American”) corporations could not be any more obviously the tip of the crowbar in the prying open, and subsequent dissolution, of indigenous civilizations. There is simply no way to let these organizations run loose in your country and remain meaningfully distinct as an economy, culture, society, or race.

    Also, if all you do is let your people be hypnotized by movies, television, or the Internet, their minds will be colonized anyway, and no one will save them, as no one will save us,

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