A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Andrew Barton at Acts of Minor Treason despairs on the occasion of Earth Hour. Broader recognition of the critical problems facing the environment of Earth is so badly needed.
  • Bruce Sterling quotes at length from Michel de Montaigne, pioneering essayist and critical futurist.
  • At Crasstalk, LaZiguezon describes, in pictures and words, five haunting abandoned places: a mine in California’s Death Valley, Cyprus’ abandoned international airport, and more.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog’s Janis Prince Inniss comments on the way that the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida is polarizing people into two audiences, once seeing his shooter as an inveterate racist and the other blaming the victim. Intermediate situations are possible: class might be more of a factor than race, for instance.
  • Eastern approaches notes that after having been stripped of his doctorate for plagiarism, Hungarian president Pál Schmitt has resigned.
  • Geocurrents notes South Korea’s significant presence in post-Communist Central Asia.
  • The Language Log’s Victor Mair calls for the use of more pinyin in Chinese classes to help boost education.
  • At the Naked Anthropology, Laura Agustín comments on the recent ruling on prostitution in Ontario, noting that the ban on public solicitation hits relatively disadvantaged prostitutes worse than their more advantaged peers who can better take advantage of the new liberalization.
  • Registan is unimpressed by Mitt Romney’s identification of Russia as the United States’ main enemy.
  • Yorkshire ranter Alex Harrowell notes that great efforts are being made to keep new Chinese soldiers depoliticized.

3 Responses

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  1. I don’t think “depoliticized” gets it; the western notion of an army as the apolitical servant of a national civilian power, above any particular interest group, identity, or ideological tendency is one of the things they’re explicitly trying to defeat. What they’re trying to inculcate is, in fact, politicisation – the question is what politics they’re trying to inculcate. Their loyalty is meant to be to the Party, not the nation or even necessarily the state, and the Party is just that, a political party with its own ideological project it wants to pursue.

    In a Marxist-Leninist party, it is absolutely central that the Party, not the state or anything else, controls the supply of armed force, because the fight to reshape society never ends. In a republic, civil-military relations are based on the idea that the current form of the state should be maintained and that the institutions are there to achieve this. The state is permanent, but the government, consisting of partisan representatives, changes.

    There has always been China, but that very much isn’t true of a nation-state called China (there are two even now). Its form, its extent, the degree to which it is functional, how it works, whether there is one, two, or many – it’s always been a contested state. In the Chinese context, I think this means that the effort to build the state never ends – it’s a journey, not a destination. Which may also be how the elite reconciles its commitment to revolution with its role managing a sort-of-capitalist superpower.


    April 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

  2. You could almost say that the Party is permanent but the State changes, in the mirror image of a democratic republic. In the infinite-horizon case of Marxism, of course, this all changes when we arrive at true communism – but even then, it’s the State that is meant to wither away. Does the Party remain?

    The Party is explicitly a voluntary association, not just a voluntary one but one whose membership is by invitation only (you can’t be forced to join something that you have to strive to enter), so I wonder if Marx was actually thinking that true communism would be something very like anarchy, the end of compulsion and of all relationships structured by power.


    April 4, 2012 at 9:45 am

  3. […] this post was picked up by SHWI survivor Randy McDonald‘s blog, who says that: great efforts are being made to keep new Chinese soldiers […]

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