Source article in Chinese: “革命”的一只鞋已经落地
An alternative version of the article first translated by and published in the Epoch Times on July 7, 2015.
History always makes fun of the wishes of rulers. The last thing rulers want, history would give them just that. Take for example Beijing, the last thing it wants is a revolution, and yet a revolution is looming.
I have long been paying attention to the issue of an impending revolution in China, and starting from two years ago I had written a series of articles on this topic, explaining my observations.
At this moment, a revolution in China is not a question of “if” but “when” because one of the shoes of a revolution has already touched the ground. I will explain what this means in the paragraphs to follow.
Factor of revolution one: astronomical number of people yearning for change
By “people yearning for change” I refer to those who are of low political, economic, and social status and, in the current social structure in China, have no hope for any improvement or a better future at all.
To understand just how “astronomical” the number of these people is, we can have a look at the following set of data.
According to data released by the World Bank a few years back, the number of people spending on average a dollar or less a day was about 300 million; and data from the Asian Development Bank showed that the number of lower middle class people—individuals spending on average two dollar a day—was 303 million. Combine these two figures and we can see that in China, people in poverty make up nearly half of the country's population.
And according to a figure from former Premier Wen Jiabao in March 2010 that put the number of people unemployed in China at 200 million, combining with another 124 million people who lost their jobs because of the withdrawal of foreign investment in recent years, the number of people without a job in China would be around 330 million.
A conservative estimate is that the people in poverty and semi-poverty in China account for more than 60 percent of the country's population.
Beijing is of course aware of this fact, and it did take some actions, such as raising the government grain purchase prices, and expanding the coverage of low-income protection fund in rural area. Yet, for the astronomical number of people in need, these measures mean almost nothing; even those who are covered by the low-income protection fund won't necessarily feel thankful toward the government.
Factor of revolution two: indoctrination with Marxism and Mao Zedong thought
As I pointed out in my earlier articles that in the last two decades, the plunder rampage of the privileged resulted in alarming wealth disparity and excessive concentration of wealth in China. According to The People's Livelihood Development Report 2014 by the Peking University, in 2012 the Gini-coefficient was 0.73; the top 1% households own more than a third of the wealth of the country, while the bottom 25% households combined have in their possession just about one percent of the country’s wealth.
Marxism has a very simple explanation for this: the origin of all crises is that the vast majority of the people is exploited and their income too low: and the minority, through plunder and exploitation, controls the bulk of wealth in society.
As a result of the official indoctrination, in China there are two types of Marxists, the rich Marxists and the poor Marxists.
The people in power, the rich and the poor, they all worship Karl Marx and Mao Zedong. The only difference is, for the privileged and those in power, the adherence of Marxism and the worship of Mao is a banner, without which the Communist Party (CPC) has no legitimacy at all; for the rich, this is the way they show their allegiance to the Party, a political insurance; for the poor, they want the substance, they want to exploit the exploiters and seek to realize egalitarianism.
Here it is necessary to differentiate poor Marxists and Mao-leftists. Mao-leftists are people who worship Mao Zedong, whitewash the Mao era, and consider capital and capitalists, both domestic and foreign, as the root of all evil, and are submissive to the authorities; poor Marxists, on the other hand, hate capitalists as well as the Communist authorities, their revolution cause is democracy and, more importantly, a redistribution of wealth.
The authorities did take notice of these developments.
On June 24, a research institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Science published the Annual Report on Development of New Media in China (2015), which came to the same conclusion as the one released in 2013: most of the users of Weibo are young people with low educational attainment, and low income.
Figures showed that 78.69% of Weibo users are aged between 10 and 39; 88.697 million people belong to the 20-29 age group; in terms of educational attainment, 70% of Weibo users hold high school qualifications or less; and as for income levels, only 9.93% of Weibo users earn more than 5000 RMB each month, all the rest earn less than 5000, and 88.987 million users, the bulk of the second income group—the building block of poor Marxists, have no income at all.
Factor of Revolution three: skepticism about the CPC banner of Marxism
Through marketization of power, the CPC became a roader of state (or crony) capitalism. Yet since the Party derives its legitimacy from Mao Zedong, it dare not abandon Marxism and Mao Zedong thought. As a result, what the CPC regime preaches increasingly becomes the opposite of what it actually practices.
Judged according to Marxist theory, the CPC regime has long degenerated into a shameless Bourgeois plunderer, a target of communist revolution, the people have every political justification to rise and exploit the exploiters.
However, of all the recent leaders of the Party, Jiang Zemin was the only one who understood the danger of the CPC not practicing what it preaches and tried to solve it by his “three represents”. All leaders after Jiang didn’t come up with anything better. From after the 1990s, all those Marxism researchers on the government payroll—unlike their pre-1989 predecessors who did have some great thinking—have been doing nothing more than putting political makeup on the authorities. As a result, the CPC remains in an absurd state of practicing the antithesis of what it preaches.
There are of course individuals in China who noticed this. An article that is trending on the WeChat platform recently quoted remarks Karl Marx made against censorship to illustrate how much the CPC has deviated from Marxism and ended with the author’s aspiration for democracy and the freedom of speech.
There are also some China hands who view from a different angle the CPC’s deviation from its belief. In his article published on June 21 in the Financial Times that entitled “For China the end of the Communist party is nigh — but in name only”, Tsinghua University professor Daniel Bell wrote that “I share the view that the Chinese Communist party may soon be extinct — but the extinction will be in name only”, that “In fact, the CCP is neither communist nor a party. Few Chinese believe it will abolish the market economy and lead the march to higher communism.” And Bell went to point out that the CPC lacks vital Leninist features like “the idea that class conflict is the motor of history, a commitment to the idea of communism at home, and support for revolutionary overthrow of capitalist regimes abroad.”
To give up Marxism and Mao Zedong thought is something so unthinkable for the CPC and even Deng Xiaoping didn't dare try it back when he was the paramount leader; today this is even less likely to happen. Senior members of the Party would rather cling on to this mask than to see themselves become political losers.
"Revolution crowd" are in search of a leader
At this stage, the political demands of the people in China are particularly diverse. Some of them call for a democratic revolution, aspiring to freedom of speech, of assembly and of association; others, though they are also (erroneously) classified as people seeking for democracy, wish to overthrow the CPC and then redistribute the wealth of the country. There are also some others who ask the CPC to initiate reform (such as constitutionalism) to maintain social stability. These people are more or less connected to the regime.
In human history, whether it was the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the Third Wave or the Arab Spring, the common demand was to address the issues of civic rights and basically not seeking redistribution of wealth in society. It was only in Communist Revolution that the notion of "exploiting the exploiters" was trumpeted. The CPC adopted this principle and translated it into concrete ideas like "rebel against landlords and seize their land from them" and subjected business owners to socialist transformation.
As "exploit the exploiters" is a main demand of people who yearn for a revolution in China, the nature of the coming revolution would, instead of being about democracy, resemble more closely the one led by Mao Zedong in the 20th century.
Judging from the current social conditions, there is no shortage of "revolution crowd" in China; revolution theories are already in place; all that's missing is a revolution organization and a leader.
With keen memory of how it ascended to power, the CPC takes every precaution against any would-be imitators and is so hysteric toward organized forces of any kinds that it adopts the strategy of "eyeing, shutting down, and making arrest".
By "eyeing" it means that informants are sent to infiltrate all kinds of civilian organizations, reading groups and NGOs. One such example involved a Li Yuzhou, an informant who worked for the Beijing Municipal National Security Bureau and infiltrated a society established by four Peking University students.
Li disclosed later on that there are a lot of student spies like himself in universities.
Another way of "eyeing" is carried out directly by the National Security Bureau and the Public Security Bureau.
When an organization is being investigated, if it does not cooperate at all, it would face immediate proscription and thus loses the ability to function.
Because of this, many choose to cooperate, some with conditions.
As for "shutting down", it means shutting down civilian organizations or domestic NGOs with foreign financing, such as the Open Constitution Initiative and China Rural Library.
Activists who became famous are arrested. The list of the arrested is now very long. Xu Zhiyong and "super vulgar butcher" Wu Gan are just a few examples. People who are released after arrest have basically lost their room to act.
Bo Xilai once unleashed poor Marxists from the genie bottle
When Bo Xilai was the boss in Chongqing, he realized he did not have a smooth path to becoming a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. So, to stack the odds in his favor, Bo came up with the scheme of "Singing Red and Smashing Black" and a "Chongqing model", which essentially was giving handouts financed by debts. The model was hugely popular among the people of lower social stratum and Mao-Leftists saw Bo as a "little Red Sun". To this date, many people in Chongqing still miss Bo, their Party Secretary.
Speaking of Bo, it should be pointed out the fact that Mao-leftists and some of the grass-root people saw him as their spiritual leader was a sign of mental atavism in China.
And this mental atavism came in with two folds.
First, an atavistic regression to ancient China: throughout the history of China, when farmers revolted, many would honor descendants of a royal family or people of royal kinship as their leader. The reason they did so was simple: China has long been a hierarchical society that believed in the divine right of kings; by honoring individuals of royal kinship their uprising would be more likely to gain momentum.
Second, an atavistic regression to the Mao era: Bo's campaign of "Singing Red and Smashing Black" stirred up the deep-seated contradictions that are accumulating throughout the three decades since the start of Reform and Opening Up. The core issues of these—unfair social distribution and the ever widening wealth gap in society—cause people of lower social stratum to continually idealize the Mao era as an egalitarian period. Many of these people believe Bo is a leader with the capability and the willingness to work for their welfare.
These group of people, losers in the economic reform, do not have the ability to self-organize. Yet, given their sheer number, these people would become a mighty force when and if they find a leader.
Thus it could be said that the "revolution crowd" are constantly in search of a "leader", which remains unsuccessful so far because the CPC takes each and every measure to prevent any such leaders or organizations from emerging. But the undercurrent of a revolution would not go away whatever the CPC does.
The CPC can hold Bo Xilai responsible for his corruption and breaches of Party code in its purge of the former boss in Chongqing, but the genie that was once unleashed from the bottle, though currently resealed, is ready and waiting to break free.
The changes that took place between 2008 and 2015 is like a replay of what happened between the Hundred Days' Reform and the promulgation of "New Policies" in late Qing dynasty.
After Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, the CPC completely shut down the window of reform and government-public dialog. From then on, the Party became hysteric to any kinds of "revolution". On December 26, 2011, for example, the People's Daily ran a commentary that said violent revolution could not resolve social development problems. For another example, the People's Daily published in a row five articles stating the profound negative consequences of a color revolution. These articles also argued that democratic institution can't be forcibly transplanted to China, that it is necessary to be vigilant against color revolution and Western hostile forces plotting to topple the Socialist regime under the leadership of the CPC and that there is a need to de-Westernize and break free from the superstition of Western institution.
But however hard the CPC tries to prevent an outbreak of a revolution, the Party's ideology and its social-economic policy that disregards social justice have sown the seeds of one. As the economy slows down, the problem of unemployment once again becomes a serious social issue, the Chinese authorities' strategy of buying stability is getting difficult to carry on. The term "revolution" makes increasingly frequent appearance in the Chinese cyber-world.
As stated above, one of the shoes of "revolution" has already touched the ground, the other has thus far not done so is only because of the Party's powerful repression capability.
In the face of a situation like this, the authorities should, instead of preventing a revolution at all costs, think about which type of revolution would be less traumatic for China: the color revolution that the middle class and the intelligentsia hope for, or the new proletariat violent revolution that the grass-roots want to see.
Is there still a chance to reform in China? Probably no. Things in China are now changing at as fast a pace as that in the years between 1898 and 1911. In 1898, Emperor Guangxu initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, which was rejected and nullified by Empress Dowager Cixi and hardcore conservatives. Then in 1905, the Qing imperial court planned to re-initiate the reform package that was scrapped seven years earlier.
This move was too late, there was no second chance when the window of opportunity for reform was lost. Back then, one of the shoes of "revolution" had already touched the ground, the New Policies were not able to prevent the Xinhai Revolution and the downfall of Qing imperial government in 1911.
A long and painful wait for the other shoe to touch down
Now, the CPC manages thus far to keep the other shoe of "revolution" from touching down. And, as I pointed out before, for a regime to collapse, it would require a combination of four factors: a domestic governing crisis (a coup, a financial or an economic crisis), a complete breakdown of relations between the government and the people, continual violent resistant movements, and foreign invasion. However, given that China is a superpower, domestic factors would play a bigger part in bringing about the demise of the current regime, and the most significant factor would undoubtedly be an economic crisis, which is manifested chiefly as government's financial crisis in China.
The real economy in China is currently facing serious problems, and the Chinese government goes so far as to introducing all kinds of financial policies that could shore up the stock market. Yet this is only the beginning, the wait for the other shoe of "revolution" to touch down would be long and painful. And how long this wait would be would depend on how well the Party is using national resources to its own end and what kind of impact the international economy would have on China.
Who should be held responsible for this impending revolution? The CPC of course. This Party first wiped out the bourgeois through violent revolution and nationalization; and then, in the name of "reform", channeled national resources under the Party's control into private hands, turning officials into billionaires while leaving behind many of the general public in (dire) poverty; and for the purposes of obscurantism and maintaining the Party's vested interests, the CPC rejects universal values and clings onto Marxism and Mao Zedong thought, thus breeding a large number of poor Marxists who intend to do nothing but to "exploit the exploiters".
The history of CPC rule is one of enslaving and hoodwinking the people; it is also one of suppressing dissent and eliminating different voices. And the paradox of history is that, while the CPC doesn't want to be overthrown in a violent revolution, its ideology is the hotbed for one. And now, the genie is ready and waiting in the bottle; once it is able to break free, the other shoe of revolution would touch the ground.