Asian Communism: Continuity and Transition

Asian Communism: Continuity and Transition

Asian Communism: Continuity and Transition

Asian Communism: Continuity and Transition

Excerpt

The fascination involved in exploring Asian communist states today lies in comparing the precise mix of continuity and change that marks each society at a time when we are in the midst of a global revolution. Since this is a dynamic not a static situation, one can only describe and analyze conditions as of the present. Yet from this, one can hope to extrapolate basic trends of relevance to the future, with the conclusions subject always to later revisions due to unexpected developments (the Cultural Revolution comes immediately to mind). We are forced to deal with the human variable as well as with diverse institutional factors. Hence, we must cope with a larger margin of error than that considered acceptable by our colleagues in the "pure sciences," although the margin of error that still permits fruitful scientific results is greater than is generally acknowledged.

While Asian communism derives from a single model, the communists both in and out of power have been marked by their particular culture and that of the society of which they are a part, their historical experiences and evolution, and, in the case of communists in power, the timing and circumstances of their triumph. Having underlined these facts, one should also be fully aware of the common elements that the Leninist system has imposed on its adherents as well as the similarities involved in the process of development. The developmental process involves not only parallel changes in individual societies but, equally important, progressively integrative trends in the regional and global community. Each generation of leaders is forced to adjust to these evolving conditions and in a broadly similar manner. Moreover, while one may question whether Asian communism can be considered a separate species apart from its counterparts in Europe or elsewhere, the present Asian communist states share a common cultural heritage, having all been associated with the great Sinic-Confucian civilization of the past. It would be surprising if that legacy had lost all significance.

The foundations of communism lay in the theories of Marx as modified (many would say distorted) and applied by Lenin. Whenever any doctrine is put into practice, its purity is diluted, and, in this sense, it is corrupted. The corruption of Marxism took especially pronounced forms because the effort was made to apply it to societies bearing scant relation to the type of society Marx considered ready for socialism. In many respects, Lenin turned Marx on his head -- as Marx had done to Hegel. Leninism became a philosophic vehicle . . .

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