A Theory of Authoritarian Personality Cults

Mary McAuley’s Soviet Politics: 1917-1991 is one of those rare works that marries concision with intellectual heft. Though only 123 pages in length, every page sparkles with insight. Though not a tour de force in the traditional sense, it manages to say something noteworthy about nearly every aspect of Soviet political history.  Many of the […]

Continue Reading

Leninist Politics: A Reading Course

Image source This post is a reading list. It is not a list of books I recommend for I have not read them allโ€”at least, not yet. But it might form the center kernel of a top-notch reading group. The topic: Leninist politics. The importance of understanding Leninist organization, ideology, tactics, symbolism and so forth […]

Continue Reading

This is Not The American Cultural Revolution

A book to read before making a poor analogy. Earlier this week I was interviewed by Erik Torenberg, for his podcast “Venture Stories.” The podcast was wide ranging; among other things, we discussed my posts “The World Twitter Made,” “On Cultures That Build,” “China Does Not Want Your Rules Based Order,” my on-going critique of […]

Continue Reading

Fissures in the Facade

Alessandro Rizzi, “Man in Xidan Shopping District,” Getty Images (Source) There are many aspects of Chinese society that I understand poorly. For example: the peasantry. I know the Chinese peasantryโ€”as opposed to their close kin, the migrant workersโ€”entirely in the abstract. I have spent no time in rural Chinese villages. I have watched documentaries about […]

Continue Reading

Reflections on China’s Stalinist Heritage II: Just How Totalitarian is Modern China?

Rainer Hachfeld, Stalin-Mao-Xi, originally published 12 March, 2018. The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. In other words, one destroyed the dignity of human thought […]

Continue Reading

Things That Will Get You Thrown in a Chinese Political Education Camp

“People have to tell the crowd what their families did, just like during the Cultural Revolution.” โ€””Ainagul,” 52, who left Xinjiang in 2017 and whose son is in a political education camp (interviewed May 18, 2018). “A wife denounces her husband, an imam who was imprisoned for extremism, … saying something about him propagating Wahhabism; and […]

Continue Reading

Why Didn’t China Give Birth to Democracy?

“The nominal form of [China’s] government… is an irresponsible autocracy; its institutions are likewise autocratic in form, but democratic in operation.” โ€”Herbet Giles, The Civilization of China (1919) Yuhua Wang and Mark Dincecco have an interesting paper out in the Annual Review of Political Science. The paper offers and tests a new hypothesis for why […]

Continue Reading