Desmund Shum is a red billionaire. Red Roulette is his memoir, a tell all expose of his family’s climb to the summits of wealth and the foothills of power. The book describes how he and his ex-wife maneuvered to the top—and why they subsequently crashed back to earth. Their fall was as dramatic as their rise: Shum now lives in exile; his unfortunate ex now lives in prison. With nothing to lose, Shum lets loose: his memoir promises to hang Beijing’s dirty laundry for all to see. What a sight this laundry turns out to be! Read this book. Though Shum is unreliable narrator, his memoir is the best single introduction to elite Chinese life yet written.
Category Archives: Tyranny
Xi Jinping’s War on Spontaneous Order
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published a letter I wrote to their editor in response to Kevin Rudd’s exposition on Xi Jinping’s “Common Prosperity” campaign:
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 […]
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 all—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 […]
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 […]
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 peasantry—as opposed to their close kin, the migrant workers—entirely in the abstract. I have spent no time in rural Chinese villages. I have watched documentaries about […]
China’s Vision of Victory?
Over at Foreign Policy I have a new column out reviewing Jonathan Ward’s China’s Vision of Victory. The column is not actually new; it has been on the news-stands for several weeks now in Foreign Policy‘s print edition. But it only went online two days ago. I use the review as a chance to open […]
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 […]
A Small Note on the Terror of Uncertainty
Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where that rule prescribes not: and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, arbitrary […]
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.” —”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 […]