Do Chinese Officials Really Know the Theories of Marxism?

The recent revolt of Chinese villagers from Wukan was that rare incident in which Chinese government agreed to make recessions.

In these circumstances there is little doubt that the ruling party will do everything to tighten its grip on the power. One of such measures is the new regulation for Sina Weibo (Chinese microblogging service). This regulation requires from internet users posting on Weibo to register under their real names. The official CCP newspaper Global Times calls it “a step on the right path”.

It argues that anonymity of posters raises the risk of spreading irresponsible rumors and endangers the social stability.

“… anonymity resulted in widespread irresponsible remarks, served as soil and air for rumors and encouraged fake online personas who manipulated Web opinions.”

Short course of Marxism for Chinese officials

In relation to this quote it’s interesting to note that these sentiments contradict the views of Karl Marx on anonymity of the press.

The forefather of socialism, Marx, once incisively pointed out that anonymity of expression in the media is a form of public opinion transmission in society. He said: ”As long as the newspaper press was anonymous, it appeared as the organ of a numberless and nameless public opinion; it was the third power in the state.”

Even more funny was the reaction to Wukan events of Shanwei Municipal Party Secretary Zheng Yanxiong. He complained that it is increasingly difficult to control people:

Right now there is only one group of people, who feel each year is harder than the last. Who are they? Those who are government cadres, including me. The Municipal Party Secretaries in the past were never this tired having to handle everything. Every day, our powers become smaller than the day before, the methods available to us less and less, our responsibilities are greater and greater, while the ordinary common people want more and more, getting smarter every day, becoming more and more difficult to manage by the day.

Besides being an easy target for mocking, this speech hints that this specific “cadre” is ignorant of Marxist-Leninist theory :-) . I have no doubt that the founders of Marxism would label Zheng Yanxiong’s words as anti-revolutionary and reactionary (that is, representing the ruling class unwilling to change the status quo).

After reading them I immediately recalled the famous “three conditions for social revolution” outlined by Lenin in 1920 (yup, as someone who grew up in the former Soviet Union I had to read Lenin’s works in school).

“What are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall <…> indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes” <…>. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses…”

Hmm… Isn’t it exactly what Zheng Yanxiong complains about? The cadres ( read “upper classes”) are in crisis and find it more difficult to maintain their rule in the old ways; suffering of Chinese villagers, migrant workers (“lower classes”) increases (?); and definitely the activity of the masses is on the rise.

Yes. Chinese officialdom has all the reasons to be worried. Especially if they recall the words of another theorist of communism, Mao Zedong:

“Marxism comprises many principles, but in the final analysis they can all be brought back to a single sentence: it is right to rebel against the reactionaries.”