Thursday, December 20, 2018

Chinese Communist Party Not That Into the Whole "Workers of the World Unite!" Thing

From Strategy Page, December 17, 2018:

Murphy's Law: Things To Forget In China
 In China, the government is cracking down on another threatening political movement; radical communists. While communism is still taught in universities and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is the largest (and only legal) political organization in China, early 20th century communism (as pioneered by the Russian Bolshevik’s) is no longer considered acceptable in China. Because of that students of Communism agitating for the return of labor unions is seen as a threat to the CCP. Actually, real labor unions never established much of a foothold in China but communist ideology honors the idea while insisting that any communist government incorporates the same benefits of a labor union and sees to it that worker welfare is looked after. The reality is quite the opposite but the histories of communism studied in Chinese universities do not acknowledge that fact.

The more dedicated Chinese students of communism (still a subject of unquestioning study at all levels of education) have noted that a growing number of Chinese workers have serious grievances that are not being addressed by the government and are advocating for the legalization and establishment of independent labor unions. These outspoken (and now outlawed) students often invoke the memory of Mao Zedong, the founder of the Chinese communist state and still officially honored by the government, but not because Mao Zedong had any kind thoughts about labor unions but because it regularly crushed all opposition.

This is reminiscent of what happened in the Soviet Union towards the end, where there were several jokes about members of ruling families discussing their continued high-living standards until the most elderly kinfolk, who remember why and how the original 1917 revolution broke out, ask “but what if the Reds (communists) come back?” In China, the Reds are trying to do that and they are getting the same reception that the earlier democracy advocates did....MUCH MORE tells us the phrase in the headline is more properly "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!":
The famous final phrase of the Manifesto, “Working Men of All Countries, Unite!”, in the original German is: “Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!” Thus, a more correct translation would be “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!”

“Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!” is a popularisation of the last three sentences, and is not found in any official translation. Since this English translation was approved by Engels, we have kept the original intact.