“The Chinese revolution is a key factor in the world situation and its victory is heartily anticipated by the people of every country, especially by the toiling masses of the colonial countries,” said Mao Zedong in a July 1936 interview. “When the Chinese revolution comes into full power, the masses of many colonial countries will follow the example of China and win a similar victory of their own…”
According to Mao, the Communist-led Chinese revolution was part of the “world revolution” directed against “anti-imperialist and anti-feudal” forces (On New Democracy, January 1940). “Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin” had given the revolutionary avant-garde a weapon. “This weapon is not a machine-gun, but Marxism-Leninism“, he explained (On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, June 1949).
Faithful to his ideology, Mao not only accepted the help and guidance of the Soviet Union, but he also helped “Communist brothers” in other countries when they were in need. “The Chinese and Korean comrades should unite as closely as brothers, go through thick and thin together, stick together in life and death and fight to the end to defeat their common enemy,” he wrote in 1951 during the Korean War (1950-1953).
So, the revolution that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power was a world revolution. The teachers of the revolution were Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin – four foreigners.
After Deng Xiaoping‘s rise to power in the late 1970s, the PRC moved away from orthodox Marxism-Leninism towards an incoherent and contradictory mix of old Communist tenets and new economic and social ideas. The 1982 Constitution of the PRC explains:
The victory in China’s New-Democratic Revolution and the successes in its socialist cause have been achieved by the Chinese people of all nationalities, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, by upholding truth, correcting errors and surmounting numerous difficulties and hardships. China will be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come. The basic task of the nation is to concentrate its effort on socialist modernization along the road of Chinese-style socialism. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue to adhere to the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist road, persevere in reform and opening to the outside world, steadily improve socialist institutions, develop the socialist market economy, develop socialist democracy, improve the socialist legal system and work hard and self-reliantly to modernize the country’s industry, agriculture, national defence and science and technology step by step and promote the coordinated development of the material, political and spiritual civilizations, to turn China into a socialist country that is prosperous, powerful, democratic and culturally advanced.
Marxism-Leninism, dictatorship, democracy, industry – these and many other key concepts of the Chinese state have been borrowed from Western political and economic thought and have been combined without any apparent logic (well, there is a hidden logic, as I will show later). Communism is not an indigenous Chinese ideology, but one which was created by Westerners and was first implemented in Western countries. Market economy and modern industry, too, originated in the West. Even the notion of political parties was taken from Western thought.
However, after the Communists borrowed from the West the very principles of their party and state organisation and ideology, after they were aided by the Soviet Union in achieving their victory in 1949 and afterwards became a part of the “world revolution” – now they denounce the people of Hong Kong if they even “talk” with Westerners about their ideas. Any kind of contact with a Westerner can suddenly turn into a “proof” that Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movements are “fomented” by the West.
According to a recent editorial published on the People’s Daily, a Communist party mouthpiece, the United States is behind Hong Kong’s “colour revolution”. “Of course, the US will not admit it is manipulating ‘Occupy Central’,” wrote the paper, “just as they will not admit it is controlling other anti-Chinese forces. They will legitimise their moves under the values of ‘democracy, freedom and human rights’“.
But what is the proof of US meddling? People’s Daily writes – without specifying its sources – that some leaders of Occupy Central had met Louisa Greve, a vice-president of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Following this logic, because I went to church several times in my life, I could be considered a spy and a puppet of the Vatican.
Now, conspiracy theories are always a good excuse. What makes conspiracy theories good propaganda tools? Well, the fact that you need no proof. You only need to hint at some obscure connection and connection between various facts. Western legal systems are based on the idea that you need proofs in order to punish someone who has been accused of a crime. Just imagine if accusing someone of stealing or raping, without providing any proof, was a sufficient reason to imprison or kill a person! The inquisition, Communist states and the Nazis are notable examples of regimes where baseless accusations were sufficient reason for murdering people.
All brutal regimes use conspiracy theories to get rid of their enemies. Mao Zedong was a master of this strategy. “Under the leadership of the government and public security organs at the basic level,” he wrote in 1951 during one of his counter-revolutionary campaigns, “[counter-revolutionary public security] committees have the responsibility of assisting the people’s government in eliminating counter-revolutionaries, guarding against traitors and spies and safeguarding our national and public security.”
“The number of counter-revolutionaries to be killed must be kept within certain proportions. The principle to follow here is that those who owe blood debts or are guilty of other extremely serious crimes and have to be executed to assuage the people’s anger and those who have caused extremely serious harm to the national interest must be unhesitatingly sentenced to death and executed without delay. As for those whose crimes deserve capital punishment but who owe no blood debts and are not bitterly hated by the people or who have done serious but not extremely serious harm to the national interest, the policy to follow is to hand down the death sentence, grant a two-year reprieve and subject them to forced labour to see how they behave.“
The terror regime of the Communists – almost forgotten and idealised by some people after 1989 – was based on conspiracy theories and the dogmas of class struggle and Leninism. The Party alone was the most progressive force of society; the Party alone decided who was guilty and who was not guilty of being a counter-revolutionary. Mao’s words prove that his principles were entirely subjective. How can ‘people’s anger’ be a sufficient reason for killing someone? In a Communist state, it can be.
After Mao’s death the Chinese Communists have abandoned the Soviet-style planned economy. But they have not abandoned Leninism, i.e. the principle that the Party is the society’s avant-garde, that the Party alone knows the truth, and that the Party alone has the right to rule.
The PRC’s ideological elements, such as nationalism, Marxism-Leninism, anti-foreignism etc., are an incoherent amalgam of principles that make no sense unless one understands the real aim of the Party: power. The Party has become shameless in taking whatever idea – be it Western or local – it needs, so long as it serves this one and only purpose.
One who understands that this is the Party’s sole purpose won’t fall into the trap of its cunning propaganda machine, a propaganda that is effective because it confuses facts and fiction, reality and imagination. Some of what the Party says is true: the US sees China as a threat, the US has been pursuing world hegemony after 1989, etc. Democracy, too, is not the same everywhere, and sometimes it fails.
But the accusation that the Hong Kong movement is fomented by foreign forces lacks any rationality. What are the proofs? Are there any documents that prove it? Can the Chinese leadership show a systematic economic and ideological connection between the leaders of the protests and foreign forces? So far it has not. It has only advanced Maoist-style conspiracy theories. The Party is not interested in asking the protesters why they’re there, and even if it did, it wouldn’t believe their motives.
During the Taiping Rebellion, Zeng Guofan (曾國藩/曾国藩; 1811 – 1872), a scholar and military commander of the Qing Dynasty, created an army (the so-called “Hunan Army”) to fight against the insurgents. Zeng knew that foreign technology would be helpful, but he disdained the Westerners, who were greedy and knew nothing about Confucian ethics. He found a solution: to learn from the foreigners in order to become self-reliant. “At first we will use foreigners to teach Chinese how to operate the ships,” he wrote on January 1863, “and then we will use the Chinese to teach Chinese” (Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, Chapter 15).
The Communist leadership’s mindset is reminiscent of Zeng Guofan’s. They take from the foreigners whatever they need – for Zeng it were the ships, for the PCC it’s dictatorship, Marxism-Leninism, market economy, industrialisation, and whatever suits them. Learning from the foreigners is just an instrument to achieve certain goals: Zeng wanted to save the absolute power of the Qing Dynasty, the CCP wants to maintain its own absolute power.
If something foreign might endanger the CCP’s regime, however, they suddenly denounce foreign things as “too Western”, or incompatible with Chinese culture. The most important thing is: only the Party has the right to tell the people that shopping malls, airplanes and Marxism-Leninism are compatible with Chinese culture, but Google and democratic elections in Hong Kong are not.