Monday, November 30, 2009

Aboriginal leaders call for big February 13 protest

Aboriginal leaders are calling for a national day of action against the NT intervention and for Aboriginal rights on Saturday February 13 2010.

This is to mark the second anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation.

They intend to state loudly and clearly that “’Sorry’ means you won’t do it again!”

This refers to the fact that the injustices of racism inherent in the creation of the Stolen Generation and revived by the Howard Government’s August 2007 NT intervention, are being repeated by the Government of the Prime Minister who apologised to the Aboriginal people two years ago.

Removing Aboriginal control over Aboriginal communities and subordinating Aboriginal interests to those of giant mining, pastoral and finance companies was at the heart of the intervention.

To justify this craven service to the giant corporations, the Howard government demonised Aboriginal communities as places where “rivers of alcohol” flowed and children were sexually abused.

Indeed, the little children were abused – by the Government – which based its intervention on a report into their circumstances and then ignored the recommendations that arose from the report, implementing only two of ninety-seven.

So what has this extraordinary military-led intervention into NT Aboriginal communities achieved?

What is has not achieved is housing. Not a single house has been built and communities are being told that they will receive no housing until they surrender traditional rights to land and sign 40-year leases.

The discriminatory welfare quarantining or income management, which required the suspension of the NT Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), has only led to greater poverty, social dislocation and community tension.

And yet the Federal Government plans to extend compulsory welfare quarantining to non-Aboriginal Territorians and then to other “areas of social disadvantage” around the country.
This is a desperate act to hide the racist bias of intervention measures and will only end up hurting other poor communities. The expansion of welfare quarantining should be opposed.
The latest Federal Government progress report on the intervention for the first time makes some pre- and post-intervention statistics available for prescribed communities.

Child health care referrals and specialist audiological and dental referrals are down, yet reports of child malnutrition are up. This is despite, or perhaps because of, the restriction of 15,000 BasicsCards holders to 85 licensed stores and $200 million of Aboriginal income being “managed”.

Alcohol, drug and substance abuse incidents are all up, and there are more domestic violence incidents, despite a far greater police presence.

Adding to the tensions is the push to get people out of “remote” (from what? from whom?) homelands and into a handful of centralised “hubs”, and the severe restrictions on the use and teaching of Aboriginal languages.

Aboriginal communities don’t deny that measures are needed to address problems in their communities. But they want to be involved in finding the solutions. They want to be empowered through genuine processes of consultation and decision-making.

“We are fed up with the federal government’s controls and measures...forced onto us from the outside,” said Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alywarr people at Ampilatwatja who have established a special protest camp. “We are outcasts, isolated from all decision-making,” he added.

But both the Howard and Rudd governments are committed to serving the interests of imperialism and the giant corporations at the heart of its operation.

Still playing “Father knows best”, Rudd has broken his promise to reinstate the NT Racial Discrimination Act by October 2009 and has indicated through Minister Jenny Macklin that even when the Act is reinstated, the provisions that allow for “special measures” to benefit Aboriginal people will be used to continue income management and other discriminatory practices of the intervention.

The planning of actions for February 13 is underway for Alice Springs, Sydney and Melbourne. No doubt actions in other cities will be announced in the near future.

A large number of representatives from NT “prescribed communities” and a wide range of community organisations are endorsing the actions of February 13 2010.

Demands for the protest are :

· Stop the NT intervention – Sorry means you won’t do it again
· Reinstate the RDA - racism is not a special measure
· Land rights, not leases
· Quarantine racism, not welfare
· Self-determination, not assimilation
· Aboriginal controlled housing and services for all communities

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book review: Was Mao really a monster?

(Above: "Mao Zedong will live forever in our hearts!")

The continued attacks by anti-Communist academics and authors on the reputation and standing of Mao Zedong continue unabated. Indeed, they will last as long as there is a bourgeois class trying to prevent socialist revolution, or having failed to prevent it, trying to undermine it in order to restore capitalism.

Mao Zedong’s standing reached its highest point in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He advocated a selfless life of service to the people, and required Party and government officials to periodically spend time working alongside the masses in order to remould outlooks that expressed bureaucratic and elitist attitudes towards the poor.

He utilised the method of proletarian cultural revolution in an effort to continue the revolution under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

His standing recognised his special efforts to avoid the ossification of the revolutionary spirit after 1949 and the personal and political degeneration that had characterised the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin.

All of this had a world-wide influence on working class activists and youthful rebels of that time.

Jung Chang’s book Wild Swans was among the first of a plethora of anti-communist writings by disaffected Chinese authors.

After a while, the market for this sort of literature was so well established in the West that any hack writer of the Mills and Boon variety could have written a Cultural Revolution sob-story to formula.

But such writings did not entirely diminish the standing of Mao Zedong.

So two big guns have been aimed specifically in his direction.

The first was Li Zhisui’s ghost-written “insider” account The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao's Personal Physician. Li had worked for a time as one of Mao’s doctors and wrote the book after defecting to the US.

The gutter press of the capitalist class carried lurid extracts from Li’s book purporting to show that Mao was a vile, sex-obsessed tyrant responsible for the murder of untold millions of his country men and women.

Jung Chang thought that the blackening of Mao’s reputation did not go far enough.

Together with her ex-Trotskyite husband Jon Halliday she concocted a hate-filled diatribe called Mao: The Unknown Story.

The book became a best-seller and once again, the capitalist press went into a feeding frenzy on its salacious and contemptible rantings.

So lacking in any objectivity - even from a bourgeois perspective – were these rantings that academic journals and literary reviews began distancing themselves from the book and its authors.

In fact, capitalist publishing house Routledge has put together a collection of these critiques under the title Was Mao Really a Monster? The academic response toChang and Halliday’s “Mao: The Unknown Story”.

The problem with this collection (with a few honourable exceptions) is that whilst the authors undertake the comparatively easy task of demolishing The Unknown Story as a concocted and dishonest presentation, they largely do so from the point of view of restoring credibility to attacks on Mao. By and large they do not defend Mao from attack. By and large they try to convince readers that there is a convincing and credible bourgeois attack on Mao that can only be damaged by association with the endless torrent of vomit that spews forth from the pages of Chang and Halliday’s poison pens.

Consider these statements from some of the authors in the Routledge collection (and note that they are all critical of aspects of the Unknown Story:

Delia Davin writes: “no honest person… would wish to be cast as an apologist for him. ..terrible human suffering” p. 20

Andrew Nathan (and we will come back to him!) writes: “we already knew that Mao was selfish and ruthless” p. 22

Jonathon D. Spence, usually a person who writes with considerable interest and insight about China, states in relation to Li Zhisui’s “more measured” presentation of Mao: “Dr Li presented a Mao who was …erratic and dictatorial…not especially talented intellectually.. .(with) cruelties…sprung sometimes from random whims…The comparatively measured tone of Li’s book encouraged acceptance of its main claims.” P. 37

Gregor Benton and Steven Tsang write: “We do not disagree that Mao authored atrocities and suffering and that he bullied and murdered party members and others to advance his or the party’s cause.” P. 54

Timothy Cheek states that Unknown Story is “a Maoist denunciation of Mao himself..(in the ) florid style of the Cultural Revolution” p. 55. He adds “Chang and Halliday sound a clarion call to bring Mao to account for his crimes”.

Geremie R Barme observes that “anyone…can sympathise with the authors’ outrage over the atrocities of the time…” p. 75. He, like Spence, is also taken in by Li Zhisui’s falsehoods: “I would recommend rather the work of a true insider, the treat-and-tell account produced a decade ago by Mao Zedong’s physician, Dr Li Zhisui.” P. 79

Alfred Chan, in an otherwise reasonable essay, writes: “No sensible person would want to act as an apologist for Mao and his autocratic and paranoid ways…” p. 108

Chen Yungfa adopts Cheek’s viewpoint: “Like Mao himself, they explain historical facts immoderately, falsely, and with distortion….” P. 115

Finally, Arthur Waldron writes that “Mao delighted in personal cruelty…Mao was the greatest mass murderer of the twentieth century…this is the book that will wreck Mao’s reputation beyond salvage…it is long past time for such an airing…the Chinese people…serve as Mao’s slaves…an honest reconsideration of Mao Zedong and his poisonous legacy…” pp170-175

Lowell Dittmer and Bill Willmott have essays that don’t set out to attack Mao by attacking The Unknown Story for its embarrassing lack of credibility.

And Mobo Gao and Jin Xiaoding alone of the contributors actually present coherent defences of Mao Zedong in their respective contributions.

Now, to go back to Andrew Nathan and Li Zhisui. Nathan wrote the introduction to Li Zhisui’s book. He was involved in the shaping of Li’s disgusting attacks on the integrity and character of Chairman Mao. For that reason alone, it is simply amazing to find him in this collection.

Historical justice really demands that Nathan and Li be placed in the same dock of literary judgement as Chang and Halliday.

Li’s book is as equally vicious and concocted a slander of Mao Zedong as the Chang and Halliday book.

For those interested to do so, access this critique of Li’s assisted scribblings here and make your own judgement:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bo Xilai and China's Maoist Party

Bo Xilai, the current Chongqing Municipality Party Secretary, is the son of Bo Yibo, a veteran member of the Chinese Communist Party who was denounced in the Cultural Revolution, emerging again after Deng Xiaoping's rise to supreme leadership.

Bo Xilai has recently taken a hard stand against corruption and gangsterism in Chongqing. He has also promoted a "red culture", singing Cultural Revolution era songs and sending text messages to millions of Chongqing citizens quoting his favourite quotations from Chairman Mao (left).

He also had a three hour meeting recently with the leaders of last year's Chongqing taxi strike.

You can read some of the English commentary on this phenomenon here:

and here:

To add to this intriguing insight into Mao's legacy and how the current leadership - including Bo Xilai himself - respond, I have translated this piece from an original Chinese post on the Cultural Revolution Research website .

I can't verify the accuracy of its reports, and I am open to criticism for the hurried translation and any mistakes I've made with it, but you'll get the gist. It refers to the formation of a Chinese Communist Party (Maoist) and the crackdown on it by its supposed mentor, Bo Xilai.

From a distance it's hard to make any real judgement, and the Chinese internet is full of hoaxes, but I offer it for what it is worth, and if more comes to hand I'll have a go at translating that too.
The Chinese Communist Party (Maoist) on the Declaration on the October 15 Counter-revolutionary Incident in Chongqing

Leftists establish Mao Zedong Communist Party

They support the appointment of Bo Xilai as General Secretary

Recently, Bo Xilai, secretary of the Chongqing Municipality, has presided over a vigorous campaign to combat black societies (triads), attracting great attention everywhere, but also stirring up a complex power struggle within the Communist Party. The ultra-left Maoists have been waiting to go into action, wanting to push Bo into the leadership for the overthrow of the existing system and the restoration of a Maoist line, but they have met with failure.

A princeling of the Communist Party and filled with wild ambition, Chongqing Municipality Party Secretary Bo Xilai has used "promoting red culture" and "hitting the black" to create his own image and attack his political opponents whilst drumming up support for his own career and has recently won loud acclaim from the Maoists who look upon him as "Mao Zedong reborn" and having maintained a "liberated zone" in Chongqing whilst in the remainder of the country there has been a "complete restoration of capitalism". On the occasion of Mao’s birthday in December of last year, the Maoists issued a "Notice to the People of the Whole Nation" announcing that they had already established a "Chinese Maoist Communist Party" and that its members had unanimously elected Bo Xilai general secretary.

After the October 1st National Day, dozens of Maoist Party members throughout the nation considered the situation to be excellent and new Maoists found hope in the leadership. They gathered at the Chongqing "liberated zone", but contrary to their expectations, their Maoist Party general secretary unexpectedly ordered the Chongqing Public Security Bureau to arrest them, and until now only a few have been released and repatriated to their places of origin.

Bo Xilai initiated the "red culture movement" in Chongqing: singing red songs, sending SMS’s of Mao’s Little Red Book, encouraging the reading of red literature from the Mao era, and studying Mao era models such as Jiao Yulu (left) and Wang Jingxi(below, left, meeting Maozedong and Zhou Enlai).

For the past two months he has conducted a vigorous and high-profile fight against Chongqing’s triads and uncovered the protective umbrella placed over the triads by the head of the Chongqing Justice Department Wen Qiang, again drawing the attention of the whole nation.

These two things caused Bo Xilai to leap into becoming the "spiritual leader" of the Maoists. On Maoist websites there was such nauseating praise as "national hero", "people’s politician", "the people’s beloved Party Secretary Bo", "long-tested communist fighter", and even shouts of "Long live Party Secretary Bo!"
There is a poem, "Bo Xilai, your mother the motherland and the people call you back to Beijing" saying that Chongqing under Bo’s government is the "Yan’an of the 21st century" and "China’s new Holy Land of the revolutionary spirit", and that "Bo Xilai not only belongs to Chongqing, he belongs to all China and should return to Beijing", the meaning of all of which is that Bo Xilai should aspire to Zhongnanhai and become the supreme leader of the Communist Party.

Formally established in January of this year, the entire Chinese Maoist Party supported Bo Xilai as general secretary.

After it was established, the Maoist Party not only posted the "Notice to the People of the Whole Nation" and the "Constitution of the Chinese Maoist Communist Party", but also distributed them as leaflets in Shanghai and other big cities. This "Notice to the People of the Whole Nation" refers to the three decades of China’s reform and opening to the West as thirty years of capitalist restoration, saying the "Chinese nation has already arrived at its most critical hour", and called for the overthrow of the current revisionist clique (the Chinese Communist regime), saying "It is right to rebel!", "Down with the bureaucrat-comprador traitors! Down with the running dogs at the top!" and calling out "Pursue them and wipe them out!" and wanting them to be "strangled in the cradle"....

Owing to the review of troops on October 1 this year, there was the phenomenon of the resurrection of Mao Zedong with, for example, the singing of "The East is Red" and the raising of Mao Zedong Thought for a short time etc, and moreover, with the launching of the red culture movement by Bo Xilai, the Maoists were very excited, and reached the stage at which they could come out into the open, racing off to the new revolutionary Holy Land of Chongqing to convene a congress for October 1 2010.

According to the news, more than 30 Maoists arrived in Chongqing to hold a meeting for exchanging experiences and to prepare for the October 1 congress. Although the Chinese Communist Party had already held its 17th Congress, the Maoists would only recognise the 9th and 10th Congresses held during the Cultural Revolution and believed that after the 10th Congress the Party had already become revisionist, and would not contradict this recognition (the first meeting to exchange experiences was in another revolutionary holy place, Xibaipo).

The host for this revolutionary exchange meeting was a Maoist organisation called "The Chongqing Mao Zedong Thought Study Society". They held memorial meetings for Mao’s birth and death and carried out commemorative activities for Mao on Qingming Festival.

Taking part in the preparations for the October 1 Congress was a very arrogant Professor Ma from Nanjing University who once enjoyed running the Mao Zedong Thought study class of the rural model village of Nanjie esteemed by the Maoists, and who had already run it for four terms, because he had energetically developed the organisation was finally expelled by the Nanjie Village head.

When the Maoist Party members were all gathered in the liberated area of Chongqing discussing matters of great importance, their beloved Party General Secretary Bo was feeling overwhelmingly ill at ease. On October 15, the Chongqing Public Security Bureau set out and arrested more than 30 of them, and the person in charge of the Chongqing Mao Zedong Thought Study Society, Xu Jiansheng, had his house searched that afternoon by the PSB who took several items including CDs from his computer. At the time, Xu Jiansheng was not at home, but he was grabbed the next day.

The latest news is that some of the youngsters from outside Chongqing who were arrested have been released, but Xu Jiansheng and another backbone member of the Chongqing Mao Zedong Thought Study Society, Wei Long, have been officially detained and charged by the authorities with "manufacturing terror and poisoning people’s minds".

As this matter goes online, the Maoists have had a big shock, accusing Bo Xilai of pretending to love what he really fears, and of being a two-faced person. It has also been revealed that Mao Zedong’s grandson Mao Xinyu has also condemned Bo Xilai. There were also some who spoke in defence of Bo Xilai, saying that he had been made to act against his conscience. And some insightful people said that to have Bo Xilai singing red songs was good and hitting the triads was also good, but no matter whether he’s acting under a red sign or a black sign, both are for the sake of fishing for even greater power.

(Above, some of the 166 Mazeratis, Bentleys and Mercedes seized under Bo Xilai's crackdown on triads in Chongqing).

(Above, 20 millian yuan, wrapped in waterproof oilskins and retrieved from a pool where it had been hidden by former Chongqing Justice Department Director Wen Qiang, a corrupt element exposed by Bo Xilai's crackdown).