By William Ging Wee Dere , The Canada Files, Nov. 13, 2021
The last federal elections exposed how the mainstream media lost its mind without any pretense of objectivity when it comes to hatred for China and its so-called international influence. The media implied in a series of articles that Chinese Canadians (CC) turned away from voting for the Conservative due to the sway of China and its Communist Party. As in Canadian society, the CC community is made up of classes and with different political affiliations. It is racist to say that all Canadians of Chinese ancestry are one amorphous mass with the same traits and the same political attachments. In one stroke, these press reports invoked the McCarthyite fear of communism and the racist implication of the “Yellow Peril.” This Canada Files article exposed this campaign.
There is a trickle effect of manufacturing hate. The anti-China, anti-Communist articles that appear in the MSM on a near daily basis have an accumulating effect on the Canadian public. The current world anti-China campaign has two features:
US hegemony is threatened by the rapid emergence of China as the new major economic, political and moral and multi-polar force on the world scale.
Opposition to Chinese socialism.
According to Angus Reid polling in October 2020, only 14% of Canadians have a favourable view of China, compared to 3 years earlier when the rating was at 48% favourable. The constant anti-China rhetoric in the media and among the politicians is producing serious results.
However, what is more insidious is the writings coming out of the Canadian liberal, casual, or establishment left. Under the cover of espousing human rights, democracy, and socialism, China has become the target of this group of anti-communist naysayers. They are bringing back the same rhetoric and name-calling of the by-gone Cold War era against the extinct Soviet Union. Some of this name-calling requires explanation for a new generation of anti-imperialist activists.
Campism or campist: It has become a derogatory term used by the casual left. Historically, the USSR headed up the “socialist camp” whereas, the USA headed up the “imperialist camp.” Now campist is used to described people who oppose imperialism and support the alternative in progressive countries and regions, and in many cases their respective governments, of the world who are standing at the vanguard in the fight against imperialism.
The anti-campist group of the casual left picks on the usual topics to use the term, such as:
The neo-colonial Western democratic protests in Hong Kong; the factually baseless genocide claim in Xinjiang; and the spiritually empty exiled supporters of the feudal Dalai Lama of Tibet. Anyone who speaks out against these pro-imperialist movements are relegated to the campist camp.
Tankies: This more whimsical term is related to campism. The counter-revolutions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were put down with the intervention of Soviet tanks, ergo, tankism. Soviet tanks did not suppress the counter revolution in Poland, so the anti-communist Solidarnosc trade union movement took power. And where are we today with the ultra-right Andrzej Duda government in Poland? Devoid of any arguments, the casual left calls progressives who defend socialist countries like China, Vietnam, Cuba, and potential socialist ones such as Venezuela “tankies,” a favourite name-calling of NDP types who have an infantile appreciation of socialism. While some of the individual MPs take a few positive but quiet under the mainstream radar international stances, historically the very raison d’être of social democracy is anti-Communism The very existence of pro-Communist forces is a daily reminder to the NDP that they are not what they pretend.
Marcyism: Now this is a more recent invention. Poor Sam Marcy, even in death, his name is used as a pejorative. Those who invoke his name show that a little knowledge of Marxism-Leninism is a dangerous thing. The early Marcyism espoused the Trotskyist concept of “world permanent revolution” without a country, as theorized by the Socialist Workers Party (USA). The later Marcyism as in the Workers World Party defended the socialist revolution in China. It is probably the latter that the liberal left is invoking, since they don’t much demarcate with the early Trotskyist Marcyism.
So much for the glossary of name calling terms, now, let’s look at the current writings of those embracing the anti-campist, anti-tankie and anti-Marcyist perspective.
Left anti-communism: A unifying factor for the establishment left media
The workerist authors obscure the principal contradiction in Canada and in other advanced capitalist countries. It is one between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, or the working class against the capitalist class in all spheres of capitalist society, including economic, social and cultural. This should be the struggle of the day for those engaged in the day-to-day fight for workers’ rights.
The liberal/establishment left may be at odds with their own ruling governments when it comes to fighting for reforms on behalf of working people and the poor. There is no argument there, although making the rich pay preserves the capitalist system. For example, social democrats and even liberals in Canada are allowed to engage in convenient debates of “fair share of the pie”, as long as they do not challenge the principal problem of imperialism as the outgrowth of monopoly capitalism. When it comes to most international issues, especially the Cold War against China, this group of leftists will inevitably line up with their government of the day and their ruling class.
John Clarke’s arguments in this Canadian Dimension article “The class struggle and geopolitics” cover all the bases, and they are critiqued here because they are representative of the liberal left. Clarke ventures out of his comfort zone with his article. Right off the bat, Clarke makes a false break between the international workers movement and the proven progressive countries and state(s), à la early “Marcyism.” Clarke juxtaposes and confuses the connection between the international working class and progressive governments with this statement, “As socialists, our solidarity should be with the international working class, not with governments or states”. It is assumed that the state that he is implying is the Palestinian state, recognized internationally, except by Israel, Canada and other Western countries, as a sovereign state. Many would ask the international working class to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian state.
Internationalists and socialists should stand in solidarity with the international working class and all oppressed peoples of the world. This is done through uniting with the progressive forces, including governments, such as in Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia among others that stand in opposition to the reactionary imperialist forces. However, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has been a constant target of the Democratic Socialist of America, with whom, Clarke seems to have an affinity, as he refers to them in his article. The DSA has previously labeled the Venezuelan government as “politically degenerate,” authoritarian and anti-democratic. The job of the left in the imperialist homeland is to fight against the sanctions-crazed policies of their own government and not to tell the Venezuelan working class and people how to combat US imperialism.
Note: Interestingly enough, this year the DSA International Committee had a delegation go to Venezuela, so things may be changing in the DSA. The International Committee has also come out to denounce the US-led Cold War against China but the main body of the DSA seems to remain static on these issues.
“Campism” is the term that Clarke, DSA and their ilk like to bandy about. The imperialist camp (can’t describe it any other way) has alliances to dominate the world, AUKUS, QUAD, NATO, Five-Eyes, EU. It is the duty of the international working class and progressive peoples to unite and stand up to these military and economic alliances to safe-guard world peace, justice and equality in economic, social and cultural fields.
Clarke justifies his anti-campism by using the bogeyman of China, just as the early Marcyists used the Soviet Union. This article won’t enter into a debate on whether China is capitalist or socialist; it is an academic debate only important in the minds of the fundamentalist Euro-Marxists. The only thing said on this issue is that China alleviated poverty for 800 million Chinese people in the last 40 years, a great contribution to humanity. This feat can only be done in a socialist country, but the liberal left insists that China is capitalist, as if capitalism can save you from poverty. By using the capitalist label, the liberal left tolerates and even contributes to Sinophobia, as we saw with Québec solidaire’s racist smear of Sino-Québécois farmers. Amir Khadir said, "when Émilise (QS MNA) denounces Chinese capitalism, why should we see racism against Chinese nationals." But these were Sino-Québécois farmers that were called "predators."
It is getting tiresome, but Clarke also trots (pun intended) out the human rights and Western democracy issues to denounce China. Even without looking at the big picture of geopolitics, socialists should “seek truth from facts” before repeating US State Department-inspired allegations. The issue of Uyghur genocide has been debunked as factless propaganda, but Clarke brings it back up as proof of a Chinese authoritarian and coercive state in dealing with its minority population. It could be that the only experience that Clarke has in the abuse of Indigenous people is Canada’s genocide against the First Nations population and he projects this thinking to China. Tibet is on the back burner, but some Western politicians are starting to heat it up in calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics. We can only hope that Clarke does not fall into the Annamie Paul camp on the boycott.
Now, Hong Kong is another matter. There is a class struggle occurring in Hong Kong today. Whether that is the principal contradiction or not is obscured by Western neo-colonial and imperialist meddling, which includes the left-washing pundits. The Hong Kong working class and people are struggling for better wages, working and living conditions, housing and healthcare, same as the international working class elsewhere. The HK administration, since the 1997 transfer back to China has been dominated by the Tycoons, Taipans and Compradors in the “one country, two systems” arrangement with the motherland.
Over the last 25 years, nothing much has changed in the superstructure as the HK system prevailed. The colonial education that many of the rioters and protesters received filled their minds and hearts with abstract western democracy as the end of history. Some people try to give a left cover to the Hong Kong riots but cannot as many of the neo-colonial organizations, including the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, financially supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, disbanded in October 2021, abandoning any working-class struggles.
The Chinese central government is calling on the Hong Kong SAR administration to alleviate the housing crisis through land reform. The head of the HKSAR Liaison Office is touring various HK regions to listen to the needs of the Hong Kong working people and to report his findings to government. One of the findings is that 200,000 people are living in tiny bed-space apartments or “cage homes.” The average wait time for public housing is 6 years. The rioters for neo-colonial democracy did not fight for better living conditions of the HK people or for any people-centric policies.
Clarke criticizes the Grayzone for showing HK rioters waving the American flag, which demonstrated American influence on the protesters. Clarke also uses the neo-colonial Lausan Collective (latter day Marcyism) as left-cover to vent his anti-China views and to promote his Western vision of democracy and human rights.
In a Twitter exchange with The Canada Files’ Editor-in-Chief, Aidan Jonah, Passage editor, David Mastracci, whose outlet published a newsletter article, which had a passage pushing the false Uyghur genocide narrative, casted doubt on the lie when he wrote, “Based from what I have read, I do not think there is sufficient evidence that whatever is taking place in Xinjiang can be categorized as genocide.” The liberal left should fiercely contest narratives demonizing “enemy countries” and not use American war propaganda to make their points to vilify China.
The Breach article, entitled, “Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?” would be more suitably titled, “a pox on both your houses,” as it creates the strawman of campism and draws on the US State Department’s geopolitical view of the free world versus the authoritarian regimes. It takes effort and courage, or an acute emotional event to break with the US history of waging Cold Wars, first against the Soviet Union and now against China.
The Breach article is in the form of an interview with one Barnaby Raine who presents a somewhat academically muddled concept of campism. What the anti-campists fail to see is that one of the duties of anti-imperialists is to fight to maintain world peace. The world is at a delicate state with climate change. It would be catastrophic for mankind if a war breaks out. There is not a word in this interview about the need to safeguard peace, or the fight for an international order of justice and equality.
The Breach gives a revisionist history on the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of 1939. The Soviet Union tried to form an anti-fascist united front with Western countries but they all refused in order to keep the USSR isolated. The non-aggression pact with Germany bought the Soviet Union two additional years to prepare for the German invasion that was inevitable, as it came in 1941. There was a de-facto anti-fascist camp to fight against the fascists and militarists of Germany, Italy and Japan. It was formed by progressive forces of the world led by the Soviet Union.
Canada, Britain, US and other Western countries had no choice but to join in order to maintain the survival of the Western system. China was the first to resist Japan after it invaded Manchuria in 1931. These anti-campist revisionist historians want to deny the pivotal role played by Russia and China in the defeat of German and Japanese Fascists.
It is becoming clear that Breach adheres to the ideology of the Trotskyist “third camp” in order to sow division and give a left cover to the US State Department disinformation campaign. Raine admits, “the term campism is certainly often used critically by those who come from the left tradition of the Trotskyist third camp.”
Those who write on Canada’s foreign policy try hard not to be labelled being in one camp or the other. The Canadian government has no qualms about being in the US camp through military alliances like NATO, Five-Eyes, and economic alliances like CUSMA (ex-NAFTA). Yves Engler rightly writes that Canada should pursue an independent foreign policy free from the apron strings of the US, however he still clings to the old Cold War terms of rejecting “great-power rivalry”, thus complying with the mainstream media narrative that China is seeking world hegemony.
Then, there are the British colonial “Hop Sings.” Hop Sing was Ben Cartwright’s houseboy in the old TV series “Bonanza.” Briarpatch published an article by one such Hop Sing, Vincent Wong of the neo-colonial Lausan Collective purportedly out of Hong Kong, but most of their feature writers are ensconced in North American universities. It's not known if Wong belongs to the camp that denies being Hong Kong Chinese and just calls himself a HongKonger because they disavow China and being Chinese.
Wong throws around the words “campist” and “Marcyist” and then adds “whataboutism” in his article, not much a feat since he draws in all the Trotskyist clichés to denounce China. It is difficult to critique his article because it wanders around collecting banalities to use big words like “state capitalist apologia.” His article brings in all the same points as John Clarke’s, already critiqued above, only Wong, the law student, uses the bigger words.
When Wong attacks the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and the Free Meng Wanzhou campaign, he picked a fight with the wrong people. Wong’s hostile assault on veteran anti-war activists Ken Stone and David Rennie, drew a response from Owen Ford, executive member of HCSW. Ford wrote, “Mr.Wong veers into a tirade against 'campism' and 'marcyism', accusing the authors (Stone and Rennie) of mobilizing rightwing talking points to defend the Xi government and generally grinding his own ax against Chinese state perfidy. This attack against strawmen of his own manufacture takes up the rest of his piece.”
At a time when the CC community is united to fight Anti-Asian racism, Wong’s Lausan cohorts call for disunity when they egregiously demand the community to “demarcate” and exhort that “this is not the time for unity” with those who oppose the Cold War against China. More than ever, when there is a direct link between propaganda for the Cold War and anti-Chinese racism, this is the exact time for unity. The infantile leftists try to demonstrate their ideological fundamentalism to split our community in fighting against anti-Asian racism. The BS of demarcating with potential allies will divide for ideological purity. These are the agents of the western establishment and serve the interest of white supremacists. The miniscule Lausan collective serves as the left cover for the right-wing HK protests. They lost their credibility there, and now they want to stir up division in the Chinese diaspora. Beware of the wolves in left-wing jargon!
While there are other left publications, Rabble, The Tyee, etc. that are ideologically anti-China, due to their Western democracy and human rights mindset, Canadian Dimension takes it to a different level on anti-China hate, as the debate over the resignation from their editorial board shows. Radhika Desai, Alan Freeman and Dimitri Lascaris, March 13, 2021, courageously made public their decision to resign from the board of the 58-year-old publication.
They questioned why CD decided not to print two specific articles, one on the Russian “dissident” Alexei Navalny showing him as an advocate of anti-immigrant racism. The other article was a Grayzone piece exposing the lie of the Canadian Parliament which passed a resolution that China has a genocidal regime.
Quoting from the letter:
“Our objection is not to anything CD has published, but to its suppression of important currents on the left. We have never opposed, and will not oppose, publishing articles consistent with the mainstream left narratives about the West’s official enemies; we ask only that the board gives its readers access to articles that rigorously critique those narratives.”
In conclusion, the three resigned members asked, will CD descend into a “single, sectarian viewpoint”?
In a written response, some of the remaining editorial board members showed that indeed they are doubling down on their single, sectarian viewpoint as they said, “We believed and continue to believe that any appearance of an alignment by CD with the inverted Cold War mentality characteristic of “campism” and its accompanying apologies for authoritarian regimes which, moreover, no longer have any connection to socialism as we understand it, would do irreparable harm to the reputation of our publication as a beacon of the independent radical left in Canada.” Now we know in which camp Canadian Dimension is parking itself.
The arguments espoused by the editorial board of CD and the editorial positions of other liberal leftist media are nothing new. They are basically anti-communist fear mongering and now they have an added dimension of anti-China Sinophobia. This comes full circle and brings us back to the dominant ideology of the mainstream media.
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William Ging Wee Dere is the author of the award-winning “Being Chinese in Canada, The Struggle for Identity, Redress and Belonging.” (Douglas & McIntyre, 2019). He was a political organizer and a leading activist in the 2-decade movement for redress of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.
Posted Nov. 13, 2013