THE WARSAW INSTITUTE REVIEW
Date: 4 December 2019 Author: Przemysław Glinka
In 1991, Poland saw its first fully free elections – since the end of World War II – to the Sejm and the Senate, the lower and upper houses of the Polish parliament. It is no exaggeration to say that for Poland, the first country to oppose the joint aggression by Germany and Soviet Russia that began that war, this was a pivotal moment.
For Poles, the war erupted on September 1, 1939, yet starting from May 8, 1945, when nations across Western Europe celebrated the fall of Hitler’s Germany and the triumph over his state’s total, leftist and national-socialist ideology, they, along with other Central and Eastern European nations: Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Czechs, Slovakians, Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians, were falling into the ever-tightening grip of the Iron Curtain. In these countries, power was seized by communists, chiefly through violence, rigged elections, and the violation of all democratic standards and principles, both under control of the Soviet repressive apparatus and, unfortunately, with the idleness of Western States. New authorities could thus impose a new order under the dictation of the Soviet Union, the world’s first-ever country with communism as its official state ideology. In consequence, when moving into the era of the Cold War, Central and Eastern European countries found themselves both in Moscow’s sphere of influence and in the clutches of the Soviet-imposed communist dictatorship – the state of affairs that endured till the fall of communism in Europe and the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Of all countries within the post-Soviet zone of influence, Poland was amongst the last to hold a free election, albeit that during both World War II and afterward, Polish society appeared most determined in its unceasing fight for regaining independence. It would seem that Western democracies and Poles, both having in mind their experiences of communism, would unequivocally denounce the movement, labeling it as fundamentally bad, wrong, unruly, and anti-liberty. Just as it will be impossible to welcome any circles, institutions, or organizations, or –– last but not least –– statehoods that ostentatiously flaunt their attachment to the communist ideology. Unfortunately, following the occurrences of the Cold War era, Soviet Gulags (which cost at least three million lives), Ukraine’s Holodomor (Great Famine; caused by the collectivization policy that contributed greatly to the artificially created famine that killed at least 3.5 million people), all these culminated by the institutional collapse of the Soviet Union, not everyone in the West has drawn adequate conclusions from the consequences of communism.
Despite a significant dose of resistance, chiefly from the present-day United States –– a country that served a preponderant role in World War I and II as well as in the dismantling of Soviet Russia –– and some sober-minded observers of political life in Europe, also in its Central and Eastern regions, there is still a great deal of fascination with the People’s Republic of China, a country that has assumed primacy in lighting “the flame of the world revolution” of Marxism. It is evident that the perspectives and insights on its geopolitical, economic, and cultural phenomena are dumbfoundingly wide-ranging, and making sense of them is an uphill task, which attests to the lack of understanding of the role aspired by present-day communist China. All the alleged benefits and advantages, both stemming from tight cooperation with its country, also economic one that Chinese communists often tend to come down to tightening reliance of said country on China.
Whilst tackling this profound polemic in its entirety here is impractical, it is, however, worthwhile to attempt to provide a brief indication of what communist China, the Communist Party of China, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army are, and what they have to offer to the world. Furthermore, it is worth answering the questions who we are, as Western people, what values guide our lives, and how we imagine the further existence of Western civilization. In doing so, it is inadvisable to have recourse to certain simplifications or arguments showing that both prior to World War II and afterward, Western democracies maintained relations –– both economic and diplomatic –– with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. This should corroborate that, any attempts to coexist with the People’s Republic of China, arrive at some consensus, or maintain and nurture ties, can be considered as being natural and understandable. Even so, what remains unjustified is the fascination with “Chinese success” –– which is a far-fetched statement –– while completely glossing over that Mao Zedong established the most criminal system ever seen by the civilized world; the system that claimed more lives (at least 70 million) that Soviet Bolshevism and Nazi national socialism put together. Bearing in mind attempts to retain an academic point of view and remaining attached to values such as freedom, justice or the elementary decency, one could neither accept or at least make an effort to understand that today’s communist China has switched its methods and means of accomplishing goals, the latter of which yet remained intact in various official speeches, as was repeatedly pointed out by the subsequent leaders of the state.
Promulgating Marxist and Maoist ideologies, socio-political and economic, utopian, highly centralized doctrine characterized by a mono-party system along with strong economic nationalization and narrowing down civil liberties and freedoms. A Marxist philosophical system that relies on the synthesis of materialism and dialectics. Each subsequent plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China confirms Beijing’s urge to follow “the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics” under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and to unite closer behind President Xi Jinping while nurturing “the People’s Liberation Army absolute loyalty to the party.” Also, communist party members repeatedly insist on consolidating ideological control and measures to build “socialist values.”
The leader of communist China, Xi Jinping, tends to define communism as an outcome of a long process, viewing the ideology as the party’s leading ideal that is worth both struggling for and making the highest sacrifices. What gives legitimacy to the authorities are economic successes, both at home and abroad. Besides purely economic tools, the Chinese party disseminates its doctrine through ideological campaigns and repressions, the latter embracing total surveillance techniques that target China’s society, as well as any –– often a well-thought-out –– activity on the international stage. This refers to both the economy, acting in accordance with the “through-stomach-to-heart” principle (“Pecunia non olet” – or, as the saying goes, money does not stink), and culture –– seen by the incumbent president of communist China as a critical tool for endorsing Marxism and the further build-up of communist ideals –– by creating an image of an enlightened or smiled state that voices concerns over order and peaceful prosperity of societies. “Sustainable and lasting development” of the whole world, where communism offers both legal and institutional framework, “ecological civilization,” “social justice,” the advance of globalism that employs various institutions to push forward an official ideology.
Xi Jinping has emphasized that Mao Zedong –– having founded the People’s Republic of China –– enabled the communist Chinese to “set off on a noble and wonderful journey” while present-day China “stand at the gate of the world” and “no force shall prevent the Chinese nation from moving forward.” President of the People’s Republic of China believes that by deploying a way different tactics –– based on the apparent capitalization of the economy –– socialism is bound to triumph over capitalism, arguing that “both history and reality tell us that only socialism can save China.” Moreover, “capitalism is inevitably bound to die out and socialism (dubbed full of vitality) is bound to win” because “Marx and Engels’ analysis of the basic contradictions in capitalist society is not outdated.” Addressing his fellow comrades at a gathering of China’s Communist Party in Beijing, Xi Jinping insisted that “the Marxism of 21st century China will emanate more mighty, more compelling power of truth,” promising that “the banner of socialism will always fly high over Chinese soil” under “the leadership of the Communist Party of China.” President of China has continually urged Chinese youngsters to “devote themselves to work for the Communist Party” while “exhibiting gratitude to the party, state, society and nation” by “the conscious cultivation and observance of core socialist values.” As for culture, both the proper ideology and interests of the People’s Republic of China should be sustained throughout the world by the global network of Confucius Institutes, with China’s ambition to expand it to as many as 1,000 branches around the world in an attempt to spread its ideology. Furthermore, in communist China itself, universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee “political and ideological work” with a mission of disseminating socialist ideologies amongst academic teachers and students, while the latter group is subject to “re-education” training after spending some time at Western universities.
This may be concluded from a series of Xi’s speeches at party sessions as well as media reports. To sum up, what is worth emphasizing is that the PRC’s current political system is strongly marked by the Communist Party’s primacy over society and its full control of all spheres of state life. Furthermore, contrarily to what is said, these hold interest in promulgating this way of living throughout the world. Nonetheless, Xi Jinping is more and more inclined to refer to any views that see communist ideology in terms of a merit, while his fellow party members are obliged to study the thoughts of their “spiritual father,” and they account for the extent to which they grasped what their “enlightened and beloved leader” meant to say. Undoubtedly, what deserves respect is the fact that the president of communist China openly says what goals his country hopes to set while often indicating adequate instruments used for their implementation, both now and in the future.
Nevertheless, what seems incomprehensible is that Western politicians and intellectuals seem not to understand or do not want to grasp this message, often reminding about the urge to nurture democratic values, free market economy, respect for the dignity of life, cultural values of Christian civilization, personal freedom, and preserving capitalist order. In particular, also by those who seem to stress their perceiving of history and reality through the lens of conservative, national and libertarian beliefs. Worse enough, many do not even bother to hide their fascination with the People’s Republic of China, overtly calling for tightening an alliance with communist China (in Poland, there has even emerged an outlandish idea to build Fort Xi, or to deploy China’s People’s Liberation Army as an alternative to the U.S. military build-up on Polish soil –– branded as Fort Trump. The former concept was pushed forward by a Polish politician considering himself a “conservative” and who was elected to the lower house of the Polish parliament in the country’s latest vote) or deepening economic cooperation that serves as a tool for building an eternal, socialist land of happiness.
It is worthwhile to note that rumors saying that China is soon bound to become a leading actor in the global economy are exaggerated and serve as an alibi for countries that seek to forge a deeper alliance with Beijing. Back in the past, Soviet leaders put forward similar theses on the inevitable dominance of their country’s economy while the 1980s saw an erroneous belief that Japan could take the lead in the global economy. Naturally, communist China has the potential to grow, albeit it faces some grave problems, among which are the progressive increase in the economy’s debt burden (to promote China’s signature foreign policy project under the moniker of Belt and Road, the People’s Republic of China has borrowed billions of dollars on international market and has splashed out $1 trillion in the project that seeks to make European, African and Asian countries –– all where the PRC has its interests –– reliant on communist China) or the slump in the country’s working-age population, alongside other difficulties that has become apparent recent protests in Hong Kong when millions of people took to the streets. Despite intensified persecution, the laogai “re-education camps” –– de facto equivalent to German concentration camps or Soviet gulags –– and full control over the lives of citizens, the approach of Chinese communists must ultimately give way when confronted with man’s natural yearning for freedom.
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Should civilized Western people view everything through the prism of money and ideological reveries that brought so much suffering to the world, in the name of maintaining good relations, albeit on shaky foundations and future-orientated, and in fact questionable economic advantages (in 2018, trade between communist China and Poland hit $33 billion, of which exports from Poland accounted for barely $2.5 billion). Is it not the duty and responsibility of cultured people to bear witness to the truth and stand against organized evil? The solidarity of the Western world and common sense, do these two not hint to confront –– as part of a shared civilizational front –– current approaches with the actual state of affairs and firmly resist the cultural and economic offensive of Chinese communism that always boils down to the suffering of millions of people? And ultimately, Western nations –– and surely all people that cherish freedom as a value –– should unequivocally throw support to the United States as the country that –– as mentioned above –– had its decisive voice in both world wars (currently, the United States participates in the North Atlantic Alliance, a military bloc serving as a protective umbrella for the West to the greatest possible extent), which left Western countries bruised, albeit victorious in their efforts to counteract any attempts to assert supremacy of Chinese communism.
Added to that are increasingly frequent instances of courtship and cooperation between communist China and post-Soviet Russia, whose more profound alliance was backed by some Eastern dictatorships –– with Iran or communizing countries –– which may pose a growing threat to Western civilization in the not-too-distant future. Underestimating this phenomenon may run multiple risks. Although communist China and Putin’s Russia differ in many respects and have seen strains in their relations, it is in their best interest to make joint efforts to thwart –– or at least to significantly weaken –– the superpower position of the United States while running a major risk to this representative of the Western world. With the idleness of other Western nations, or even the approval, either more or less enthusiastic, such a long-lasting alliance could exert a massive influence on the further dynamics of geopolitics and the world economy. Anyone who does not understand this seems to understand little. Just as strong ties between Germany and Russia posed a grave threat –– not only historically –– to independent Poland, the United States may similarly observe negative tendencies triggered off by a close alliance between communist China and Russia under the rule of a former KGB officer Vladimir Putin. Speaking of the entire Western world, it seems most vulnerable to the communist ideology, viewed as the keynote for what the People’s Republic of China is doing, also economically. For Beijing, Western-endorsed urge to protect human rights, respect democratic values and nurture free market economy is nothing else but a trite phrase, which is the fault of people like German Chancellor Angela Merkel or France’s President Emmanuel Macron, not to even mention quite ridiculous politicians, with Franz Timmermans at the forefront.
It is the West’s duty and responsibility to defy authoritarianism, far from turning a blind eye to this form of government. President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping has incited “Chinese military to be always ready for war.” Branded as irrevocably fallen in China’s communist and Russia’s post-Soviet narrative of the information warfare, the Western world must draw adequate conclusions from a few bitter history lessons it had gone through and –– instead of rubbing their hands with glee over Chinese yuan –– adamantly stand up to contend the utopia of communism. One ought to give hope and where it is possible, also lend pacific support to countries like Taiwan (“China’s only republic”) or Hong Kong that is home to millions of honest and decent Chinese who are undergoing repression and persecution in their homeland resembling rather an Orwellian reality. It suffices to say that members of the 100-million Christian community in the People’s Republic of China cannot practice their faith freely. Not incidentally, China is the world’s only country to spend more on domestic security (1.4 trillion yuan) than on defense or external security (1.2 trillion yuan). Today, it is worth recalling that the state-controlled and strongly centralized political model of communist China is consistent with that once adopted by the Soviet Union. It is also not true that China is morphing into a capitalist state with the market economy that gives the money somewhat for charity purposes, as the key economy sectors remain in the hands of the state.
In all spheres of its activity –– from culture to economy, both traditionally and in the form of contemporary Internet media –– China is a total state that strongly and violently interferes with the lives of its citizens and those of other nations, albeit in a far more well-thought-out manner. Besides, communist China sees money merely as a tool for achieving the country’s political goals.
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