Mao, the Japanese, and the Imperialists: which bastards to back

Who was fighting in the 2nd World War? And which side was the right one, and which wrong? In this post I want to explore these questions (not entirely conclusively) with focus on China/East Asia, and in light of the reflections I reflected a couple of days ago.

The second world war is often presented as being between two sides – the Axis and the Allies (perhaps with the latter split into the Western and Soviet camps). But I think it makes more sense to see it as a three-way conflict, because in many, perhaps most, of the countries invaded by the Axis powers’ expansion, those who fought against them were just as opposed to, and opposed by, the Allies.

The most obvious and prominent example is the Chinese Communist Party, who were the main resistance to the Japanese in China but had to also fight against the Nationalists who were supported by the Allies. Similar things occurred to a lesser extent in many other countries, such as the Philippines, Greece, France and Yugoslavia. But let’s take China as an example. Mao fights the Allies and the Japanese, the Japanese fight Mao and the Allies, the Allies fight Mao and the Japanese.

If we tried to evaluate any of these three forces according to elementary standards of human decency, they would all fail. The Japanese demonstrated this best in their treatment of captive and conquered populations during the war itself; the ‘popular’ forces under the CCP demonstrated this best when they conquered China after the war and established a brutal tyranny and history’s largest famine; and the Allies demonstrated it best a couple of decades later when they flattened Vietnam and Cambodia in order to retain the imperial control that the French had been unable to hang onto. But in no case was this a surprise, if we look attentively at their methods before and after.

(Looking back I see how long this post has gotten, so those after the short summary should scroll down to the bottom, starting from where I repeat the word ‘so’ three times…)

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Environmentalism and Anarcha-Feminism – who owns ‘Green Politics’? Part 2

In yesterday’s post I asked how ‘environmentalism’ fitted into other schemes of political ideas. I distinguished three sorts of ‘environmentalism’, and promised to talk about a fourth.

Of those three, the first two (an ‘instrumental’ version that cares about ‘the environment’ only for the sake of the humans who depend on it, and an ‘animal rights’ version that extends this to care about the other sentient creatures who depend on it) were reasonable and sensible, but weren’t really ‘environmentalist’ in any strong sense. The third (valuing life of all kinds per se) was clearly ‘environmentalist’ in nature, but also, in my opinion, wrong and foolish.

The fourth, that I want to focus on today, is less about what doctrines and principles one rationally holds, and more about a different sort of emotional mindset, a different way of approaching matters – things which, I’d argue, play a large and sometimes underestimated role in making apparently ‘rational’ political decisions.

This sort of ‘environmentalism’ is opposed to a mindset that opposes two abstractions, ‘nature’ and ‘humanity’, supposes them to be locked in conflict, identifies with ‘humanity’ and therefore legitimises, encourages, and takes pleasure in all ‘triumphs over nature’ that humanity acheives.

In its place, it would recommend a mindset that holds up a single abstraction, ‘nature’, and treats ‘humanity’ as one component of that, alongside ‘moose’ and ‘fungi’. It then regards conflict within nature as regrettable, and prefers ‘harmonious co-existence’ to ‘triumph’.

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Maoism, Statism and Capitalism

If I wanted to advance capitalism in the world, there would be many worse routes than through Maoism.

(By Maoism I principally mean the Communist Party of China, though also the recently ‘elected’ Maoist government of Nepal)

The Nepalese Maoists have announced the formation of special economic zones (where foreign investors can employ local labour under optimum conditions), and that in these areas strikes will be banned.

Now let’s look at that. A ‘communist’ government banning strikes. Sometimes, the endless debates within the left seem complex and difficult. Then sometimes something shines through with breathtaking straightforwardness.

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Anniversary of China’s Reform Period

Today is the 30-year anniversary of the “Third Plenum of the National Party Congress’s 11th Central Committee”, i.e. the beginning of China’s ‘reform period‘. This shift in policy is in some ways analogous to the break-up of the soviety union, only without all the chaos and turmoil: a vast “socialist” economy shifts towards more “market-based” policies because “socialism wasn’t working”. The spectacular growth of China’s economy since then would seem to be a resounding vindication of capitalism and/or the free market.

This post is going to be me disagreeing and offering different interpretations of the success of these reforms.

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