By Johan Galtung
The background is the two major communist parties in the world. Russia Communist Party-Bolshevik made the November 1917 revolution; from 1922 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU(b). CPC, the Communist Party of China, now celebrating its 95th anniversary, made the 1 October 1949 revolution. World-shaking events; in the world’s biggest state in area and in the world’s biggest state in population.
The revolutions cut into the modernity contradictions in the State-Capital-People triangle by conquering State-military and police. Two lasting achievements of CPSU(b): State Planning of the economy – maybe five years at the time, pjatiletka – now found in most countries; and lifting some bottom up to meet basic needs, surprisingly quickly. But CPSU(b) exercised gross structural violence in the countryside. And CPC, imitating CPSU(b), made the same mistake to start with.
Then they became different. Russia got stuck with the Party on top of the State, for some people, but not by the people. CPC, like CPSU, did not – and still does not – permit FAFE, fair and free elections at the national level. But China gave People a voice in the 70,000 People’s Communes, helping them lift themselves up when in misery.
China did not see State and Capital as either-or; like Bolshevik Russia opting for State through expropriation, and neo-liberal USA for Capital through privatization, manipulating and spying on the People. China opened for the neither-nor local level, for the compromise of some welfare state, and for the both-and of their capi-communism.
This intellectual-political flexibility, rooted in daoist holism and an unending force-counter-force dialectic, not in Western faith in a final state, Endzustand, opened for two very different “communisms”.
How are they doing these days, those two communist parties?
The Russian party is out for the time being; and in came capitalism. But over and above that discourse looms the history of a huge Russian Orthodox empire attacked by Vikings, Mongols-Tatars, Turks, Napoleon and Hitler, Catholic Christianity, and Cold Wars with extremist US evangelism, now over Ukraine too.
Yeltsin – hated by Gorbachev (INYT, 3 Jun 2016) – gave the West what they wanted.
Popular Putin tries to build autonomous Russia without Western-capitalist imperialism, probably successful in the longer run. However, in Russia the long run is very long.
Not so in China. Zhou Enlai formulated the goal as a “modern socialist state by 2000”, meaning growth and distribution, and CPC did centuries of Western history in decades, passing traditional Russia. Goal: a “moderately prosperous society” (Xi’s New Year speech 2016); killing the corruption that could “lead to the collapse of the Party and the country” (Xi Jinping, The Government of China, Beijing, 2015)
The two Bigs are encircled by a common enemy, anti-communist USA. Working on togetherness, Soviet Union collapsed. China went ahead with Russia and the border republics – Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan–the Shanghai 5 from 1996, celebrating its 20th anniversary.
In addition, expanded to SCO-Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in 2001, with Uzbekistan. Pakistan and India just joined rapidly expanding, with dialogue partners and observers, much beyond NATO.
They also have their own projects. For Russia: EU, Eurasian Union, and the global BRICS. For China: A global-Asian economy, AIIB, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Both benefit from BREXIT weakening the USA for losing its “direct link to the Continent” (INYT, 30 Jun 2016), by EU losing England, UK losing Scotland-Ulster. China’s South China Sea imperialism, mainly against US aircraft carriers, is winning without firing a shot.
Putin “could have overrun Georgia–annexed Eastern Ukraine, if not the entire country–made no move against the Baltic states” (Doug Bandow, Japan Times, 4 Jun 2016).
Russia more political, also in Syria; China more economic, with “Made in China” on the vast Silk Road infrastructure (from Yuwu to Madrid!); both more subtle, making more friends. And USA-West desperate, less subtle, bombing, making more enemies.
The West hopes for a split between the two. Any basis for that?
The Chinese see Russians as lazy drunkard, Russians see Chinese as hordes; Russian prostitutes in China, and Chinese farmers in Far East confirm.
Something more territorial, like the “stans”? Since 2009 with China as major investor? (Jack Farchy, Financial Times, 25 Oct 2015). Both-and, China developing, with Russian security? However, the Silk Road is much older than the Russian Empire. So is the Silk Lane.
How about warfare in general in the Russia-China-West triangle?
Russia conquered more than 2 million km2 from the Ching dynasty – the southeast of Russia Far East with Khabarovsk and Vladivostok – the Nerchinsk 1689 and Peking 1860 treaties. There were border skirmishes in 1652-1689 and in 1969. They more or less settled that when building the Shanghai 5 and SCO. Joint ownership?
China never attacked Russia.
West attacked Russia across the Catholic-Orthodox faultline in Europe from 395 to 1054: Napoleon, the Crimean war, WWI, WWII-Hitler; and Cold Wars I and II.
When Russians ask “Whence the threat comes?” the answer is clear: “From the West”. Russia counter-attacked, but withdrew.
West attacked China in the First and Second Opium Wars; with the Anglo-French attack in 1860 looting and burning the Old Summer Palace.
China never attacked the West.
Russia was West but is now a friend.
The EU-USA also have to change their policy. The US Center for Citizen Initiatives had this July a citizen diplomacy delegation to Russia, could have been China.
Here are som central reflections by David Hartsough:
• Stop US and NATO military exercises on the Russian border
• We need to put ourselves in the Russians’ shoes, know their angle
• Most Russians support Putin, and want a multi-polar peaceful world
• Stop the sanctions against Russia, they are counter-productive
• The Crimea people had the same right to secede as the Kosovo people
• The USA and NATO broke the 1991 promise not to move eastward
• Leave to the people of Ukraine-Georgia to decide their own future.
Originally published by Transcend Media Service, TMS, here.