By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: Leo He Zhao pondering how to get the world’s 99% to quit fighting among themselves “horizontally” and start doing so “vertically”, against the 1%. Music may be the answer.
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Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Jeff J. Brown- Here we go. Good evening, everybody. This is Jeff J. Brown China Rising Radio Sinoland, just south of the Tropic of Cancer, and I am so honored today and happy to have on the show Leo Zhao, how are you doing today, Leo?
Leo He Zhao- I’m good, Jeff. I wonder if this is the first-ever struggle session to be conducted on the skype.
Jeff- I already have a wonderful title from Beijing to Berlin, Leo He DJ Zhao is the true cross-cultural Renaissance man and I’m really just so happy to have him on. He also is known as D.J. Zhao. He is a talented musician, performing in concert regularly in Europe as well. Leo is an excellent journalist, writer at Medium.com, and I’ve got lots of links for everybody, all the fans out there making him a true renaissance man.
And I had the pleasure of learning about Leo, thanks to the Greensville Post publishing a couple of his articles, and I was very impressed with his research and perspective and reasoning. And so we started an email friendship a while back and he kindly agreed to join me on that on the show today. So thanks for being here. Leo.
Leo- Yeah, thank you very much. I really enjoyed your blog and your work.
Jeff- Appreciate it. Leo was born in Beijing and is now based in Berlin. What’s the background in sound art and left-field techno? And I’ve listened to a couple of year-long tracks and I really enjoyed them. DJ Zhao is a rhythm ambassador and musicologist. Bring in a poly-cultural understanding of sound to his deeply percussive cross-genre sets in addition to Pueblo genre-specific music in settings such as Berlin’s Berghain.
DJ Zhao constructs powerful vibes without borders, bringing together the innovative underground club bass and electronic music from places such as Luganda, New Jersey, Johannesburg, London, Bogota, Chicago, Nairobi, Paris, Cairo and Berlin. I’ve actually been to most of those places.
Jeff– It is irresistible polyrhythmic energy and motion. DJ Zhao fuzes ancestral rhythms and urban based pressure connecting East and West, acoustic and electronic, traditional and modern. The best dance music from wildly different times and places come together with an artful sense of composition and mixing technique. DJ Zhao brings a sense of deeply satisfying sonic adventure to any occasion. And I’d say that’s true because I’ve listened to a couple of your songs and they’re really good
Leo- And we can get into the connection between ancestral rhythms and communism.
Jeff- All right. I’ve got tons of tons of hyperlinks, though. His website is where you can listen to his music on SoundCloud. He’s got his complete catalog. He’s even as nice enough to have an email if you want to contact him about his writing or his or his or his concerts, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So let’s get started.
Leo- All right.
Jeff- How did you get from Beijing to Berlin? I mean, please tell us a little bit about your upbringing and journey in life.
Leo- Well, I emigrated to the United States with my parents in 1986. I was age 12. And yeah, that’s I mean, we can go into that as well, but.
Jeff- Ok, so that’s why your English is so good. You basically grew up, you went to middle school and high school in the United States.
Leo- Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So what I went to Art University in Los Angeles and worked in Hollywood as a motion designer for about 10 years. And then I just got really fed up with Hollywood. I mean, this is a place where people think they are in the center of the world and they eat, breathe, sleep and shit Hollywood all day, every day.
Nothing, nothing. But so every single conversation is about this director or that producer, this actor, that project. And this, you know, is it becomes really the world is a much bigger place than that and the. My interests are certainly much more broad than that, and so I just got a little bit sick of L.A. and I wanted to see the rest of the world and it was almost a random decision to come to Berlin.
Jeff- Ok, now you said you were what kind of a designer for nine years are? I miss that.
Leo– Motion graphics. Meaning for television.
Jeff- Ok, motion graphics, OK, Alright.
Leo- Television, television and film title sequences and advertising and things like that. So there’s another irony. There’s another irony of someone who works in the advertising industry who is a devout communist.
Jeff- I love it. Well, why did you pick Berlin and not New York or London or Paris or even Tokyo for that matter? What? You know, Moscow or why wasn’t Berlin?
Leo- It was almost random, I mean, I sort of looked into New York and just by fluke, I did a few, too. Yeah, just New York didn’t work out at that time. And my plan was to be a globe global globe-trotting, you know, ruthless metropolitan. I think this is the is the right phrase. Yeah, my plan was to do freelance work from the road and to stay in Berlin for maybe six months, maybe a year. And now 10 years later, I’m still here in Berlin.
Jeff- Ok, so you went to Berlin then in 2008, is that right?
Leo- Something like that. Yes.
Jeff- Ok, cool. All right. Well, listen, this interview will be in two parts and one is for your music. Like I say, you’re a multitalented guy. And the other is for your ride. Well, speaking of politics, let’s talk about your journalism. OK?
Jeff– You obviously do not have mainstream ideas. And I will I will put the links to some of the articles that I’m I’m going to ask you about. And you so you do not have mainstream ideas about, you know, communist-socialist China and the capitalist West. And I assume that when you came to the United States when you were 12 years old, that maybe, you know, you know, you sort of bought into that to the Western paradigm and then maybe had an awakening.
And so what I want what I wanted to ask you is or maybe you did, maybe you came fresh off the boat. For those of you who don’t know that there’s a very famous serial TV show in the United States that was called Fresh Off the Boat about a Chinese family who
Leo- I’ve never seen that.
Jeff- That is pretty funny. And but anyway, please share with us your arc of awareness about Western propaganda and the way colonial empire works around the world. I mean, when, when and how did you figure it out?
Leo- Fairly recently, for a long time, I was under the spell of the dominant capitalist way of thinking. I mean, when I was 12, obviously, I had no idea of such things. And I grew up with this liberal propaganda all around me reading it. And so, of course, I naturally took those views and took those positions, for instance, I participated in the demonstrations in 1989, not in Tiananmen Square, but from the US. You know, protesting for more democracy and
Jeff- Democracy and freedom.
Leo- And quote, freedom, unquote. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So I was a brainwashed little, you know, a capitalist, neo-liberal until fairly recently, until maybe only seven, eight, nine years ago.
Jeff- Well. OK.
Leo- Something like that. And then that’s just through a process of discovery, of education, of educating myself, of reading and thinking and observing. I mean, I there is a Chinese restaurant in Venice, California, called Mao’s Kitchen. And I remember writing an email to them when I was maybe 20 years old, twenty one complaining about their name.
Jeff- I thought, that funny.
Leo- I wrote the email, I wrote an email to them saying that, you know, that your restaurant is named after a dictator and a mass murderer is the same as, you know, naming your restaurant Hitler, that’s precisely what I said to them. And obviously, I’m quite embarrassed about my total ignorance and total brainwash state back then. But, you know, such as history. I mean, we all have to do the hard work of waking up. Right?
Leo– Of, of, deconstructing all of these lies, all of these vicious lies from the bourgeois empires.
Jeff- Well, don’t you way ahead of me. You know, I sort of halfway figured it out, you know in the 80s and 90s and living overseas and everything. But it wasn’t until I came back here in 2010 and took my and it was our second time here, we lived here in the 90s. And it wasn’t until I came back the second time and took a trip all over China.
Well, in western China. And that’s when I wrote my first book “Forty Four Days in and about China”. And so. And I was what, fifty-two thousand, you know, 12. I think I took the trip in 2012. So I was, you know, fifty-eight. So you caught on a lot earlier than me. So congratulations.
Leo- Yeah. We’re all at different places, you know.
Jeff- Absolutely. Well, speaking of Mao Zedong, you wrote a wonderful article and you reassessed the Mao era and you even quoted me. I was I was going, hey, that’s me. So anyway, thank you for quoting me. Please give us your take on Mao in the Mao era.
Leo- Yeah, your work has been instrumental, has been important for me.
Jeff– Thank you.
Leo-In the last in the last few years, I discovered it pretty late, but definitely, definitely learned a lot from me and from your writing.
Jeff– Well, thank you
Leo– I’m not sure if I can do a better job than you or the woman “Mata Hari”.
Jeff- Yeah. Women Mata Hari. Yeah. Yeah. With his eight-part series on my book, China’s Communist Damit. Yeah, he did a wonderful job. But that’s going to be published by that that series in his series on Russia and I think his series on Iran, you know, about socialist Islamic socialist Iran and the Russian Revolution. And my book, China, China’s Communist Damit, we’re just going to kind of put that all together. But I’m pretty sure BORTAC is going to publish it.
They published my third book, China’s Communist Damit. And yeah, he did. He did a great job. In fact, it’s funny, I’m going to actually write another article about Mao because I just read an article. You know, it’s just amazing how in the West China, Chinese history did not start until 1978 when you went shopping, you know, started the reform reform and opening up of China. And it’s like from 1949 to 1978, it’s just been completely airbrushed out of of Western consciousness.
And it’s and it’s been replaced with, you know you know, Mao, you know, was a, you know, dehumanized, you know, vampire with fangs and claws and, you know, Mosse teeth and who, you know, who woke up every day, you know, you know, you know, champing at the bit to kill millions of his fellow citizens. And so it’s just and I just spread it really, really a pretty good article this week, guy about Ray Dalio, I think it was he’s a billionaire hedge fund manager, but he got a lot, right.
I mean, he was actually a pretty good article. He’s been coming here for forty years and but it’s just like nothing everything starts in nineteen seventy-eight. You know, no one wants to talk about the tremendous, amazing success of the Mao era because it was communist-socialist and nothing that’s socialist can be recognized as good or productive or successful or peaceful or whatever. And that’s why they, the Western, you know, propaganda machine, the foghorn, you know, it’s just relentless against Cuba and Venezuela and China and Iran and North and North Korea.
And Russia is not really a communist-socialist anymore. But it’s you know, it’s that same anti-imperial camp and, you know, Eritrea and Africa every so, you know, Bolivia, Ecuador, every the ALBA group in the Caribbean, every socialist, you know, communist, you know, country has to just be trash, you know. So anyway, so but yeah, your article was excellent. You really, you know, just I love your perspective and I will include that one in the link in this in your article.
That’s what I want to ask you about as you travel to Africa. And in your article, which was really good, you wisely used Deborah Brautigam website. And I’ll include that as she’s she is the authority for our fans out there. She is the authority about China-Africa relations, and anyway you wrote an excellent analysis about China and Africa. Can you just tell us a little bit about what you learned? vis a vis versus the Western propaganda about China, you know, colonizing Africa.
Leo- Well, I think I think to characterize Chinese activity in Africa as colonialism is a disservice and an insult to all the victims of real colonialism throughout the world. I mean, colonialism and imperialism as it has evolved into. Rests on the active suppression of independence, economic development of the host countries, so the imperial forces move in and profit from these regions and actively suppress the development of these regions in order to keep prices low, in order for in order to facilitate exploitation.
The waves of autocratic leaders in Africa that the CIA has installed after assassinating their democratically elected socialist leaders all over Africa has contributed to so much destabilization, so much conflict, so much rivalry. The warlords in the Congo fighting for the rights to the mines so they can sell these minerals to Western corporations for very cheap. I mean, this is a long historical process of imperialism from the West. That is imperialism. And what China is doing is trade. It is absolutely a win-win.
I mean, it sounds like it sounds it’s difficult for us to imagine and for Africans to imagine, for anybody to imagine because without exception, a foreign activity in Africa has been characterized by a brutal oppression and exploitation. And so we it’s difficult for us to imagine a new kind of relationship, a new kind of engagement with outsiders and Africans. And so and so we, you know, bring all of this baggage when we look at China in Africa, when they are, you know, building roads and doing all of these things and people say or the English also built roads.
But if you look at the specific results of all of this activity, it is decidedly, fundamentally different in character from the activity of European empires in Africa that the roads China is building is connecting African communities and it’s not only for exports. Yeah, it is. It is rejuvenating trade between African nations, between African economies. And the infrastructure that China is building in return for resources is absolutely helping. African economic development has independence from the outside world. And so I think that’s the key point to understand about China’s activity in Africa.
Jeff- Yeah, I was really, well, you mentioned socialist leaders that were deposed. Look what they did to Gadhafi. And now look at Libya. I mean, and the French, the French, the French, DGSE, the basically the equivalent of CIA does not even just not even deny the fact that they have assassinated twenty-three, you know, African leaders. They don’t even deny it.
Jeff– So and the English do the same thing, and the French have the CFA, the, you know, the French, the French, the French, they supposedly, you know, African money and the former French colonies. And so they basically control the, you know, the banks and the French, the reserves of all the former French colonies and make them heavily dependent on French imports by controlling the value of the CFA. And, you know, just it’s just, you know, Haiti, half of Haiti’s GDP goes to paying interest on loans to, you know, the French and the British and the Americans.
Leo- So the crime against humanity.
Jeff- Yeah, absolutely. So, anyway, it’s an excellent article. And I really enjoyed it. And it’s I’m going to share with people who, you know, you go, yeah, but what about the Chinese in Africa? I’ll go. I’ll go and listen to Leo. You recently made the go-ahead.
Leo- Sorry, I was just going to say, there are, of course, local problems. There are, of course, no one is perfect. And the private corporations in Africa, the private Chinese corporations in Africa, of course, have contributed to some problems. And there are labor issues that are valid, you know, concern in many different cases, local specific cases. And those, you know, we have to pay attention to as well. We have to hold, you know, the Chinese Communist Party to the highest standards, even though there is a Chinese Communist Party representative.
In every corporation, there are still, of course, many, many problems that can arise, but none of these local procedural level problems and issues invalidates the larger perspective which you touched on in one of your articles, is an extension of the Chinese sort of for thousands of years, foreign policy.
Jeff- Let’s make a deal. That’s just the way the Chinese work. Let’s make a deal. Let’s cut a deal or so and sell stuff to each other. Let’s buy each other’s stuff, you know?
Jeff- Let’s, let’s exchange information.
Leo- Yeah, exactly. And in in the 14 hundreds, when the Chinese fleet’s with then unequaled technological and army power in the world, sailed around the world, sailed around Africa, they took no colonies, they took no slaves and merely traded. And this, I have to add, you know, of course, is not any testament to a essentialist inherent Chinese moral superiority. Of course not. This is an end to the European colonization of the world is no indication of any kind of inherent natural higher capacity for violence, for domination and for injustice of the Europeans.
It’s all historical circumstance, right? At fourteen hundred, China was very self-happy. That was very happy with his self. It considered itself the center of the world and it was very content. And so they had no desire to conquer and to colonize. Right? And the Europe, as they were emerging from the Dark Ages in the sixteen, hundreds were hungry people. They were they had just been subjected to centuries of abject poverty and brutal, brutal oppression from the upper class.
And, you know, and in such a state, I mean, the plague from killing the cats because cats are evil, the agents of the devil and the rats population explode and the black plague and then the hunting of the burning of the heretics. All of this is exactly all of this historical process contributed Europeans at that time of a mind that is well contributed to what they did. So my larger point is, is that colonialism and these wrong things that people do is not has nothing to do with who they are, but it has to do with the material conditions which shapes their mentality.
Jeff- We can also we could also add, you know, the Spanish Inquisition, the violence of the Spanish Inquisition and then the violence of the Crusades as just Europe has been a bloodbath for a thousand years. Actually, I think it probably goes back to I think it probably goes back to the Old Testament and at least as far back as know, Alexander the Great with his scorched earth policy taking over half of Asia, early 70s, Egypt and so on.
Leo- And so so the deeper the deeper Marxist understanding of history, you know, if if we had any access to that, we would not indulge in these petty, shallow identity politics of today, of demonizing Europeans, you know, of demonizing people for for what they do. It’s not their fault.
Jeff- Yeah, yeah.
Leo-That is a very, very complex. It’s a much bigger than that. But simply put, it’s not their fault. They are just reacting to the conditions into which they were born. And obviously has to deal with class struggle.
Jeff- Yeah, yeah exactly. And all it all goes back to capitalism.
Leo- Absolutely and property relations because yeah, of which capitalism is only the latest extension, the latest version. But it’s to give you a concrete example today. I mean, you’re right, there is there’s this stereotype of Germans being very, very strict. They follow the rules.
Leo– It’s very important to follow the rules.
Leo- People waits at the traffic. You know, people wait at the traffic lights even though there’s no car. Yeah. In the way the German character today is very much shaped by historical circumstance. Right. What’s his name? The socialist playwright. The author of Brecht Brass. Exactly. And he wrote, you know, the song shall be the way to the next whiskey bar. Incidentally, the not many people know that, but anyway the breath locates the historical trauma of the Germans in it. Not only the Thirty Years War but before that, the Martin Luther Revolution. The wars of the Reformation in which Germany suffered tremendously and it was basically from that time where anybody who spoke up, anybody who gave their voice, was basically slaughtered. And so the entire population learned to keep quiet
Leo- And yeah, I mean,
Jeff- Keep looking straight ahead and wait for the light to turn green.
Leo- Exactly. Exactly. And reprimand you if you deviate from the norm.
Jeff- Yeah. Yeah.
Leo- And so this this is instrumental. This is essential in the shaping of the petite bourgeois German mentality. There’s even a word for it, which is chapiza. Chapiza means a petty bourgeois manager, you know small shop owner type who is absolutely dedicated to rules and order and these petty, like social things to preserve order at any cost. This a devotion to any kind of stability, because the German people have there has been so much instability in their history. I mean, constant war and, you know, and so and so all of these circumstances contribute to the modern phenomenon of the chapiza of the people who tell you to be quiet if you are speaking a little bit louder and public. The absolute forbidding of public displays of strong emotion.
Leo-that’s absolutely, absolutely frowned upon in German society today. Like, no one, like, you know, loses their temper or or cries for, you know, in public or they will be shamed. So so, yeah, it’s just a small example of Marxism, of how only through understanding of class struggle and class imperatives throughout history can we really understand why the way things are, the way they are.
Jeff-Excellent. I really enjoyed that. You recently traveled to indigenous tribal areas. Please tell us about your changing gears here. I’m just what I’m doing is I’m picking articles from your website. Now I’ll list all these and they’re just excellent. And you’re just a great writer, Leo. Anyway, you recently traveled to indigenous tribal areas. Please tell us about your experiences.
Leo- Well, I didn’t exactly travel to indigenous tribal area, but I went to a event conference/festival called Tribal Gathering in Panama.
Jeff- Ok, OK,
Leo- I and I’m about to go there again in about a month here.
Leo- But it’s the largest gathering of indigenous representatives from all over the world in the world. And so last year there was something like 80, 80 elders from indigenous groups, from all over the world representing this festival. And this conference festival features a lot of presentations and learning opportunities about indigenous culture. And and there are also these psychedelic retreats which the indigenous elders present their sacred, sacred plants, sacred plants, and how they are used traditionally in their culture. And, yeah, it happens every year. So last year I conducted a series of interviews with the tribal elders.
Jeff- Ok, I misunderstood. I thought you went to different areas, but they came most came to you. OK, I guess.
Leo- Yeah. Or we all gathered and I asked them a series of questions about indigenous lifestyle and things like that. Then almost all of them gave the exact same answers to the basic questions, which is that we have no private property. The land belongs to everyone. We share everything with everyone, and we always take care of each other. And we have no property rights. We have no concept of like if you need to borrow something, just take it. And things like this, you can. Yeah, the rest of it is in the articles. But it was very, very illuminating experience, which confirms a lot of what Engels wrote when Marx and Engels wrote about so-called, you know, in 19th century language, quote, primitive communism and quote and this character, I mean, we can take issue with the word primitive.
You know, that’s not really correct. But but absolutely, the the fundamentals are are very much accurate that that we evolved as a species of Li Keqiang egalitarianism, of sharing, of cooperation. And that’s the only way we the slow but intelligent apes could survive. And evolutionarily speaking, our brains are such are so expensive, our big, big brains, as compared to other primates to to apes other apes is very expensive in terms of evolution. There’s a lot of work and hair that needs to be put into allowing offspring with big brains to survive.
Leo- And also our children need at least 10 years or so or more to become independent. And, you know, which is very, very unique. And this is only possible with a collective child rearing practices of indigenous cultures where mothers help each other and sisters. So the radical anthropology, anthropology point of view I’ve been just listening to a lot of there are talks. There are a group called the Radical Anthropology Group is one of my favorite places on the Internet, but the view is that we are in a revolutionary species, not only evolutionarily advanced, but that our evolutionary advances were made possible by through revolution.
And this revolution is against the way things have always been done by the other great apes from which we come. Our species is the first one to be communist. Our species was the first one to collaborate and cooperate and collectivize and do things in a collective way, which is the only way that ensure the survival of our Zheng He. And so it I mean, if you if you look at the other great apes, their male dominated and their hierarchical and their warlike, and they’re very violent, but actually humans evolved to be. It’s difficult to say, but fundamentally of a different character,
Jeff- More peaceful, more cooperative.
Leo- Where we closer to the bonobos. Yes, you know, the bonobos are peaceful and they’re matriarchal. I mean, this word is problematic because it’s not matriarchal. It’s more female centered, not rule by females in the way that our world today is ruled by men. And so in order for a private property to emerge about ten thousand years ago or six thousand years ago, around that time, after two hundred and fifty thousand years of human beings living on Earth, there had to be a counter revolution. So the private property and the arising of patriarchy of these property owners, of the land owners with their slaves and their soldiers and their empires was a counterrevolution against our innate revolutionary nature of our species.
Jeff- Amazing. I like that angle. I understand what you’re saying, and I and I think it makes a lot of sense.
Leo- Yeah, and so sorry. Let me just go for a little bit more to connect this back to what we were talking about earlier. Sure. This egalitarianism, this original egalitarianism was very much revolving around Trump’s. And these spiritual experiences is communal, spiritual, orgiastic, Rafe’s basically, they’re like the illegal parties. I mean, in which, you know, it was centered around sound of the drums, psychedelics and orgiastic.
Things that happen where sexuality is communal and its collective and there’s no pair, there’s pair bonding, but there’s no, you know, marriage as we know. And sexuality is much more fluid, much more communal than it is today. So this has to do with the music of the dance, with the indigenous experience that the music and, you know, and other things was central to the society, to holding it together, to sustaining this egalitarianism.
Jeff- I wrote in my first book, Forty Four Days”, I traveled down through southern Sichuan and on the union border there’s a lake called Lugu Lake Lugo, and that that area is the most war. And yet most of the private and their methods are matriarchal and matrilineal. And the women live in these big, huge houses collectively, and they raise all the children until they reach puberty. And then they the boys are kicked out and the husbands live outside and work and hunt and, you know, bring the food and all that. And the women do everything else.
They do all the educating up until the up until puberty. And of course the girls stay in the in the in the female colony until afterwards and then the men in order. It’s a little bit more subdued, they don’t have orgiastic stuff was what they do is the men come and knock on the door. And if they if they have seen one of the other women out in the market or whatever and he’s attracted to her, then he comes and brings her flowers and tries to woo her either through or through the window or he stands outside the door.
And if she agrees to be with him, then he hangs his hat on the door knob so that if another man comes, he knows that that woman is with somebody else. And there’s not really marriage per say. But I don’t know how that’s exactly handled with, you know, modern Chinese, although the Chinese or the Chinese government is very respectful of a local, you know. Now they are yes.
Yeah. Tribal, you know, tribal customs. But anyway, about 80 percent of them end up, you know, having more of us or, you know, a one person relationship. But it’s not really considered to be marriage. And fidelity is not an issue if she sleeps with another guy or he sleeps with another woman, but they become sort of like, you know, regulars, but they’re not monogamous.
Leo- Right. So there is no ownership. There is no claim of ownership.
Jeff- Claim of ownership. There was a really interesting chapter. And I had a lot I had a lot of fun writing that chapter about the most. Well, and they’re really interesting. So one last one last couple of questions. You really skewered Western liberals. You gave him a hard time about their fixation on identity politics. And you also went after ultra-leftists and ultra-communists and a really good article. Please tell us about that.
Leo- Well, I think identity politics is important, is crucially important, especially today, as a way to deepen and to sharpen our class consciousness, not as a replacement for it. I think that’s the liberalism, that’s the effect of that way of thinking to make issues of identity forward, to put these issues forward, to center on race, on gender oppression, while avoiding the source from which they come. I mean, these are ancillary oppressions. These are branches that come out of the fundamentals of class oppression.
The gender violence and gender oppression comes from the policing of female sexuality in the context of patrilineal descent and inheritance, right? It’s because of you have to make sure your er your son is going to get your wealth and your belongings and your property, that women’s sexuality has to be policed because you cannot have, you know, another man’s son inherit your property. And so the origins of gender oppression and everything that comes with the misogyny, the demonizing of female sexuality and slut shaming is a contemporary form of it.
All of this comes from the material evolution of our species in the last ten thousand years. Right. And race, of course, race was a concept that was invented in order to keep the poor whites and the poor blacks and the poor Asians and the poor Native Americans from working together to break up their solidarity. So this idea of race itself was born of the need to exploit materially, to dominate, to colonize. And so both gender oppression and racial oppression. And these are both arbitrary constructs that were invented to facilitate these dynamics of oppression.
They both come from that. And what the modern liberals, with their, you know, identity politics is routinely ignoring the deeper understanding. And it’s not it’s not like I mean, of course, it’s important to fight racism and to fight gender oppression. Of course it is. But this is all not only meaningless, but actually serves to sustain oppression, to keep it going without the more deeper understanding, the Marx’s understanding of the material economic roots of these oppressions.
Jeff- It’s really interesting. I just finished reading Roxann Dunbar Ortiz’s book. I wrote. Its an article based on it recently, A Peoples and Indigenous People’s History of the United States. And it’s really, really good. I felt I reached out to her and asked her to be on my show, but I haven’t heard back from her anywhere. She talks a lot about how the white elites in the United States would consistently use, you know, of color, you know, race as a as a way to assert it.
As soon as soon as the blacks and the soon the poor blacks and the poor whites started getting together or the Indians started, you know, the poor, the poor Indian started getting together, you know, it was you know, the elites went into high gear to, you know, to do everything they could to, you know, to tear them apart and then have another book because they did because they had they had economic common economic interests. And so they had they had to split them up.
And then another one another book I read while I was back in the States is the new Jim Crow, which was really good. And she talks the same thing that you know, that as soon as the poor, poor blacks and poor Latinos and poor white people got together, you know, the elites would just would resort to any sort of violence or manipulation or fake news or, you know, false flags. It didn’t matter what it would take. They could not allow, you know, people, you know, of different, you know, different races to get together because of economic exploitation. So what you just said is very true.
Leo- Yeah. The Huey Lewis, the leader of the Black Panther Party who was murdered by the police and Malcolm X and Dr. King all understood that there is no ending racism without ending capitalism, that the two are together and one is invented by the other in order to facilitate it. They all had this revolutionary understanding. But the modern liberal identity politics takes that revolutionary part out. And it becomes it becomes a shallow kind of horizontal hostility and these endless rights of inclusion, exclusion and ignoring capitalism, ignoring the fundamental, more deeper roots of these problems that we are fighting against.
Jeff- They’re going after they’re going after the symptoms, not the cause.
Leo- Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And this can even be a boost for the order. For the oppressive order. Because it destroys solidarity, there’s so much there’s so much, you know, just demonizing each other, castigating each other for minor offenses and for being, quote, problematic, unquote. Yeah, and there needs to be a deeper conversation to be had. There is there’s a much deeper conversation that we had, and it’s not allowed in this identity group circles.
I’ve been to many meetings in Berlin of anti-racist meetings in which it was basically forbidden to talk about capitalism. Like everyone just say just say it and say, I hate white people. And that’s applauded. That’s the politically, politically correct position. But that if you talk about like, OK, all right, we hate white people. But let’s go a step further and think about, you know, the history of colonization, of European colonization, colonization, where that came from and how Europe was colonized by other Europeans long before they set their sail to other shores.
Why don’t we talk about that? Why don’t we talk about all the Zulus conquered South Africa and colonized South Africa? And basically and were very brutal to the indigenous people. Why don’t we talk about that? I mean, the real the real conflict is not between whites and blacks or Asians. The real conflict is class is empires, these colonized colonizing empires based on wealth and property and these hierarchies of power based on wealth and property. And nobody wants to talk about that. It is liberal identity politics circles. Yeah. They would rather just like, you know, like call each other out for being sexist or racist, which is also necessary. But we can’t end there. We cannot exclude the larger perspective. And that has everything to do with the Cultural Revolution, right?
Leo- Where where the Cultural Revolution went wrong. I mean, I’m fully supportive of the idea of a cultural revolution to get rid of imperialist bourgeois, a property owner, values and cultures to clean people’s minds from this bullshit that we have inherited. But it went it went too far. It went not too far to get away, but it was conducted with not enough of a Marxist backbone. It wasn’t conducted with not enough of a basic Marxist understanding.
And it became a horizontal, you know, endless rights of horizontal hostility in which people demonize each other and condemn each other and torture each other. And of course, my parents came out of that era, and that’s a part of why I moved to the United States, is because they were very much disheartened by the Cultural Revolution and they were sympathetic to the Communist Party. And all of this plots, they were singled out as educated. I mean, I guess not upper class, but definitely educated class.
Jeff- The intellectuals called intellectuals.
Leo- Exactly. My parents were singled out. My father and mother spent years in the reeducation camps in the 60s before in the 60s, before I was born. And so that historical process really made them sort of turn away from the revolution. And they turned away and embraced Western style capitalism. And that’s why they wanted to move to to to the US.
Leo- Yeah. And so it’s very difficult to really get to the bottom of it. I mean, it’s impossible because revolution is a messy process. Right. And
Leo- Imperfect and people make mistakes. People are people. People get, you know, passionate and they sort of yeah. They sort of do things in a in a way that’s not really good for the long run. But I mean, it’s a very complex. Right. I mean, there there’s also validity to the argument the cultural evolution was more than the negative effects, had very positive effects on Chinese society. Right. That’s definitely very valid as well. But at the same time there was a lot of things that were done that were unjust and I think hurt China as well.
Jeff- Yeah, well, I read in China is communist damage that that I don’t think that China would. I don’t think that China would be where it is today without the Cultural Revolution, because the Cultural Revolution gave voices to the, you know, back then six or 700 million rural people to finally stand up and ask and demand to be to be accounted for and to be to be considered, you know, equal members of society compared to the you know, to the urban people who were treated as elites.
And I think because of the Cultural Revolution now the Chinese are not afraid to stand up and say, hey, you know, this guy is a crook. This guy is corrupt. Hey, this guy, you know, this factory is polluting us, etc. And I luckily, the culture revolution, I think, got rid of a lot of feudal thinking and a feudal mindset in China where they were just, you know, lump it in and take it in and, you know, Zhen’s, they would they would, you know, almost too much Confucianism, almost too much, you know, Daoism and Buddhism.
They were just until it would finally explode and then they would, you know, depose the government and, you know, the heavenly mandate would be lost and they get a new ruler. But now, you know, now there three to 500 protests today in China. And I think for a variety of reasons, know corruption and pollution and everything else, a lack of services. And I don’t think those I don’t think that they would have happened without the people’s revolution and with that and without those protests every day and people speaking up and getting involved.
You know, now, of course, especially in social media, it really it really makes the government accountable. Like it never like you like it, you know, much more accountable than the West. So, yeah, is it’s a huge I wrote a long, long chapter in and by the book number three of the China trilogy and China’s and I wrote a long chapter about the Cultural Revolution. And as you said, there’s just no there were so many good things that, you know, that happened, you know, rural education and rural, you know you know, it was again, every revolution is always a it’s a one group demanding a share of another, another groups, you know, resources and money.
And wealth that they have tended to hog and keep to themselves at the expense of the majority. And the great leap forward in the Cultural Revolution were both rural people who were demanding a bigger chunk of the pie of the national pie, because historically, China had always favored the you know, you know, the urbanites who tend to be the elites. So, yeah, it’s the culture revolution is this is a fascinating topic, that’s for sure.
Leo- Well, we can learn about the mistakes that were. Yes, I fully. All the good things like Cultural Revolution did for China, but we can also learn from the mistakes that were made and there were some grave mistakes. I think I was just saying that my father was basically sent to hard labor for many years in the reeducation camps for things no more than like listening to a track record or reading or reading Einstein. All of these things were labeled as, you know, reactionary culture, even though Einstein was a socialist.
Jeff- Yeah he was.
Leo- But anyway. Yeah, he was, but anyway, so, yeah, we can learn from those mistakes and which the liberal identity politicians I think are repeating.
Jeff- Do you have any journalism or book writing projects in the works or are you going to continue to write occasionally on medium.com or What are your, what are your writing ambitions?
Leo- Well, I’m publishing a couple of places, but, yeah, my first article was translated into German this year and published in the argument, the oldest leftist magazine in Germany.
Leo-The oldest existing leftist publication. But, um, yeah. I mean, no concrete plans. I plan to just write just write more and possibly a book at some point. But I’m not sure.
Leo– But right now my plan is to make more music. I mean, it’s all connected, you know, our love of music and the revolutionary politics and everything. It’s all connected. And I just want to get this message out there. And I think China can learn a lot from Africa. Which I hope to contribute to and to contribute to those relationships, the cultural exchange between the two between the two continents in the future.
Jeff- Cool, Well, Leo. You’re an amazing guy. This has been one of the most fascinating interviews I’ve ever had on China Rising Radio Sinoland. And I loved having you on. And when my wife and I go back to France this coming summer, if you’re in Berlin, I’d love to take a take a high speed train and spend the day with you in Berlin and meet and meet you and talk to you in person.
Leo- Yeah, that would be lovely. Let’s get a beer when you come.
Jeff- A German beer.
Leo- Yes. Without speaking too loudly, speaking in a very even measured volume.
Jeff- Hey, listen, Leo, thanks a million. You’ve been a joy to have on the show, and I’ll be looking forward to let you know when it’s published in and up on my website so you can share with the world.
Leo- Thanks a lot, Jeff and I will continue to learn from your articles and stuff. Keep up the good work.
Jeff- Thank you. Bye, Bye.
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