eastiseverywhere: Communism-Socialism Week!Clee7903Ruins of the...


Communism-Socialism Week!

Ruins of the “Western style” Xiyanglou complex in the Old Summer Palace, burnt down by Anglo-French forces.
China (2005)

Karl Marx wrote a fair bit about China, too, especially regarding the Second Opium War (1856-1860), when the British Empire, France and the USA banded together to force China to agree to more trade in opium and coolies.

In 1857, he wrote an essay called Whose Atrocities?, decrying the nonsensicality of the British claiming that the Chinese had committed horrible crimes by arresting the captain of a UK ship which can come to illegally sell opium:

An attempt has been made to divert investigation from the main issue, and to impress the public mind with the idea that a long series of injuries, preceding the case of the lorcha Arrow, form of themselves a sufficient causus belli. But these sweeping assertions are baseless. The Chinese have at least ninety-nine injuries to complain of to one on the part of the English.

How silent is the press of England upon the outrageous violations of the treaty daily practiced by foreigners living in China under British protection! We hear nothing of the illicit opium trade, which yearly feeds the British treasury at the expense of human life and morality. We hear nothing of the constant bribery of sub-officials, by means of which the Chinese Government is defrauded of its rightful revenue on incoming and outgoing merchandise. We hear nothing of the wrongs inflicted “even unto death” upon misguided and bonded emigrants sold to worse than Slavery on the coast of Peru, and into Cuban bondage. We hear nothing of the bullying spirit often exercised against the timid nature of the Chinese, or of the vice introduced by foreigners at the ports open to their trade. We hear nothing of all this and of much more, first, because the majority of people out of China care little about the social and moral condition of that country; and secondly, because it is the part of policy and prudence not to agitate topics where no pecuniary advantage would result. Thus, the English people at home, who look no further than the grocer’s where they buy their tea, are prepared to swallow all the misrepresentations which the Ministry and the Press choose to thrust down the public throat.

However, he also saw the wars as a moment of renewal for what he called (ahem) “the rotting semicivilization of the oldest State in the world”:

One thing is certain, that the death-hour of Old China is rapidly drawing nigh. Civil war has already divided the South from the North of the Empire, and the RebelKing seems to be as secure from the Imperialists (if not from the intrigues of his own followers) at Nanking, as the Heavenly Emperor from the rebels at Peking. Canton carries on, so far, a sort of independent war with the English, and all foreigners in general; and while British and French fleets and troops flock to Hong Kong, slowly but steadily the Siberian-line Cossacks advance their stanitzas from the Daurian mountains to the banks of the Amur, and the Russian marines close in by fortifications the splendid harbours of Manchuria. The very fanaticism of the southern Chinese in their struggle against foreigners seems to mark a consciousness of the supreme danger in which Old China is placed; and before many years pass away we shall have to witness the death struggles of the oldest empire in the world, and the opening day of a new era for all Asia.

Yeah, he wasn’t very PC, was he? But I suppose you can’t be, not if you wanted to introduce revolutionary ideas.

Marx also seems to have said a bunch of things about Turkey and Iran, but it might be time to move on from this.

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