By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: Amir Khan on the left and yours truly on the right, in his 39th-floor apartment overlooking Changsha, Hunan Province, China.
Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Note before starting: Great to see Amir Khan in Changsha, China and our live show is a lot fun and very informative. Few Westerners have done what Amir is living and working, so he has much boots-on-the-ground experience that you can learn from.
Our previous audio and visual interview together,
The transcript of our previous interview,
Here is his book we discussed,
And here is is first book,
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Audio (download at the bottom of this page),
Jeff J Brown (Host): Good morning, everybody. This is Jeff J. Brown, China Rising Radio Sinoland, and I am not on the D-day beaches of France. I am in Changsha, Hunan, China with my good friend and comrade, Amir Khan. How are you doing, Amir?
Amir Khan (Guest): I’m doing great, Jeff. Very happy to be on China Rising Radio Sinoland. I’m a big fan.
Jeff: Yeah, thank you. I actually interviewed Amir. It was probably three or four years ago, about his first book. He is an author. He has written a second book and published it. He has written a third book that he has in the tank. And he is now contacting publishers, and he has been published in several academic journals. So, he’s a writer.
He is also an esteemed member of the China Writers Group. And so, we stay in touch. And since I am in Shenzhen for most of the month of May, I had to come up and see Amir and say hello to such a good friend and see Changsha again because I was here in 2018, and my God, what a city. But we’ll get to that. Anyway, Amir, thank you for being on the show. Another live one. I did one with Metallicman in Zhuhai.
Amir: Wow. Great.
Jeff: And I’m going to do another one with Dongping Han in Hong Kong on the 26th.
Amir: I’m really with the esteemed company. It really is an honor for me. Thank you, Jeff.
Jeff: Well, Amir, tell us just quickly you explained to me your parents are from Pakistan. They emigrated to Canada. Tell us about that. And so that people know a little bit about where you come from, et cetera.
Amir: Sure, yeah. I mean, I always say whenever anyone asks me in China or elsewhere where I’m from, I always say Canada because I’m a citizen of Canada. I have a Canadian passport. I was born, however, in Pakistan. And how Pakistani am I? That’s always the question. You know that second-generation immigrants sort of have to think about it. Anyway, I don’t say this with any particular pride or shame at all. I was born in July 1981.
I’m dating myself. And our family moved to Canada in December 1981. So, I virtually have no memory of Pakistan. And in our household, we only spoke English. I mean, at least our parents only spoke English to my brother and I growing up. So, I’m a unilingual Canadian, born in Pakistan, teaching English literature to English majors at a University in China. How about that side of the story?
Jeff: You have a Ph.D., and many people get a Bachelor’s. Some people get a Master’s. Very few people get a Ph.D. What was your passion? What was your muse that drove you or inspired you to get a Ph.D.? Because it’s a lot of hard work. Tell us about that.
Amir: Maybe the first contingency was I was afraid to leave school and going to work was very frightening for me. So, I wanted to stretch out my graduate school years for as long as possible. But even if you want to do that, yes, you’re right. It’s very competitive, with very few spots. A lot of people competing for those spots. And there were some really close calls even getting into the Master’s program and then making the leap from master’s to Ph.D and I had some really good people help me and sort of give me the boost that I needed at times.
And then I did a Bachelor’s, I remember. And there’s kind of a funny story I sort of repeat often, but when I was doing my Bachelor’s, I really thought I’m not really a very brilliant guy. I can get a BA, or a Bachelor’s, but there are really brilliant literature people or whatever, and they will go and do their Master’s. But then I would be talking with some of my friends and I would listen to them and they would say, yeah, I’m applying for my Master’s. And then I was like, you are going to apply for your Master’s?
Wait a minute, I’m not brilliant, but I’m better than you. So, I’m going to also apply for my Master’s. So, then I got into a Master’s program and now, like, I settled and I was like, okay I’m not a Ph.D. caliber kind of a guy. There are other people, really brilliant people, who go and do their Ph.D. But then the same kind of deal happened. I would be talking with some of my colleagues and I mean MBA students. Yeah. Also, with me. And they would tell me that they’re applying for their Ph.D. What? You?
No, no, no, no, no. I’m not brilliant, okay? But I’m better than you. So, if you are applying to do Ph.D., I will do it because I’m not going to listen to how you got into a Ph.D. program. But actually, once I got to my Ph.D. program, then it changed because at that point I started meeting people who were so brilliant and either couldn’t finish their Ph.D. because of life reasons, or family. You know, you get older when you’re in a Ph.D. program. They had a bad supervisor.
Then I started to panic because I was like, oh my God, you didn’t get your Ph.D. If you didn’t get your Ph.D., how the hell am I going to get my Ph.D.? And the same thing after even looking for jobs. So, some really brilliant, talented people who just don’t get picked up by the tenure track system, have very few spots, especially in literature and humanities. So, I graduated Ph.D. in 2013 and for about two years I was just like underemployed or unemployed. Very horrible, anxious time. It seemed like I wouldn’t be able to use my degree at all.
I would have to switch to another industry. And I was really at my wit’s end looking for work in Canada, just little small tutoring, English jobs, high school students, and stuff like that to survive. And then two years of unemployment in 2013. In the fall of 2015, well in the spring of 2015, a business, a joint business college, Missouri State University, and a Normal University in the hybrid business school in Dalian, China. And I was just applying everywhere. I was just throwing out resumes because, dear God, someone, I need a lifeline.
I need somebody to help me or to give me a chance to do the work that I was trained to do. And the first opportunity I got was in Dalian, China. And I just I mean, no problem. I know everyone asks me, Oh, that’s interesting. Why did you choose Dalian? Why did you choose China? They gave me a job. I needed money badly, So I just approved. And I was really great. Mike Coutts was the first guy who hired me, and I even thanked him in the acknowledgments of my second book.
But, wow, you really threw me a lifeline because as I said, I have so many friends’ way more talented than me who left the academy. They publish way more than me, more books, more articles. And they never found their job and the right city and some of them have spouses and kids and stuff like that. But my situation and whatever opportunity was there and I just took it and I’m still able to do the work that I’ve been trained to do, which is basically literature.
Jeff: Awesome. Now we’re in Changsha, which is in the central part of the country. Totally different vibe than up north. Tell us a little bit about Dalian and what you liked about it. By the way, if you get the map, it’s basically at the tip of that peninsula that sticks down into the I think it’s the Bohai Sea, and it was actually colonized by the Russians and the Japanese. It was called Port Arthur, and it’s now one of the major deepwater ports in the world. And interestingly, it has a Mediterranean climate just like California. So, tell us about Dalian, what you liked about it, what you didn’t like about it, and what it taught you.
Amir: Yeah, I’ll always sort of remember Dalian very warmly just because that was my first opportunity and especially the school that gave me the opportunity to be normal in Missouri State University. So that was great. But I worked for two schools actually when I was there, and I sort of made a switch and also was at Dalian Maritime University, another great school. That’s when I actually first started teaching literature because, at the business school, there wasn’t much opportunity to teach literature.
I was teaching, and writing. It was great. It was a great start. No complaints. But I wanted to do literature. They gave me the opportunity. At this Maritime University, they had really bright students actually. It’s a small foreign languages college, all of their other more prestigious departments in marine engineering and all this kind of stuff, top of the line, but a very small foreign languages department. But it was really a lot of fun teaching literature to those kids, really bright kids. Anyway, so I taught at those two schools.
So, I remember both very, very fondly the city itself and Dongbei, which means Northeast China. Well, Dalian is kind of in terms of nightlife, it’s a very quiet city. It goes to sleep very early. It’s 9:30 or 10:00, I believe the last Skytrain is 9:30 or 9:40. Like that’s a little too early. Sometimes you want to have a little, little fun or go out for a drink with some friends or whatever. And yeah, the nightlife there is just, and then after COVID, it really sunk to a new low.
And now it’s just like people. We both are communists and we are people. We are men of the people and we love the people. We love to see the people, the masses out on the street, and in Dalian, everybody is happy in their homes, but that’s okay. We love them too. But here in Changsha, come and visit. You’ve never seen anything like it, right? Well, to see people at all hours of the day makes you feel energized. Makes you feel like, yes, okay, the people are out. The people are happy and enjoying their life. You can enjoy your life a bit more, too. So that’s one big difference. And one thing I really like about Hunan Province, and it’s a different vibe, a different sort of city.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. And so, Changsha is the political capital of Hunan. It’s where Mao Zedong grew up. It is really the groundswell of the Communist Party of China and its entire history going back to 1921. In fact, we visited the Museum of the Communist Party of Changsha yesterday, which was an amazing visit. But anyway, yeah, Changsha is something to behold.
Amir: You must have some pics of that on your Twitter.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, on my Twitter. It’s just amazing. So, Amir has done a great job showing me around. Tell us a little bit about of course you unashamedly came here for more money which is what professors do. And tell us a little bit about what you’re doing here your teaching, your publishing, et cetera.
Amir: Oh, so actually, this is also the case at Dalian Maritime University both schools are making a play, and Chinese universities in general are really aggressive and they’re pushing to become top world-class universities to attract top world-class talent, not just in terms of faculty, I mean like in terms of students, especially maybe even Chinese students living abroad, the diaspora or whatever.
So, they’re pushing hard. And I think guys like me have been hired not because there are teaching responsibilities, but because there are sort of rankings ranking systems that are not domestic ranking systems. Unfortunately, they’re Western-centric, whatever, SSCI journals and A&HCI journals. But the world ranking system is what it is. China is trying to compete in those systems and trying to get more citations and more researchers publishing in specific journals.
Jeff: Western journals and English or French or whatever.
Amir: They hired me I think mostly to get the Hunan Normal University name and print it out into those journals because check off certain boxes and move up ranging in funding from what you receive from the federal government or central government and stuff like that. So anyway, my point is, yeah, they gave me a very light teaching load, so I’m grateful for that and I have lots of time to read and write and I have been very productive in the past. I’ve only been here for one semester and now this semester.
So almost a year is very productive. But I have lots of things in the pipeline and for whatever reason, publishing has been a real challenge. And maybe we can talk about the condition of the state of academic publishing right now. I really feel like it’s very difficult unless you’re parroting things that people want to hear. But this is true of all languages, whether it’s the news media or whether it’s academic publishing. There’s this feeling like kind of exhaustion and there’s just so much information out there that to break in with a new voice.
It’s not even that they’re not convinced by it, there’s the currents moving in conventional directions are so strong because there’s so much information out there that’s really against the current and very difficult even if somebody kind of appreciates the work or appreciates the way you see things. It’s just the colossus, the information publishing colossus, not only academic and trade publications and especially news media, fake news, and stuff like that it is so hard to push back.
Jeff: The Big Lie Propaganda Machine.
Amir: Yeah, yeah, information itself. I mean, what is the difference between? Yeah, there’s an idea that, okay, academic publishing is sort of holy or more held to higher standards or rigorous. Well, that is a bit misplaced, right? There are still rules of the game. There are still conventions and there are still standard narratives. And a lot of them are distorted like I always tell my students, I don’t know, right, how anybody can be a historian without being a revisionist in some capacity because all of the mainstream narratives and even professional historians will say this about their own discipline. You specialize in a certain field and basically how you specialize. Well, the mainstream is wrong.
And I have this new angle, and that’s how everyone survives in these sorts of isolated pockets of revisionists against some hegemonic thing. But in a sense, the hegemony itself requires the dissenting voices not coalesced against it, but in response to it to justify its own existence. So, when you’re publishing academically, you’re on the margins, you’re on the fringe, but even your resistance is sort of co-opted. And it only makes sense in opposition to the mainstream narrative, which carries the day. How you break that, I mean, I’m not sure, but we do what we can individually one by one.
Jeff: Well, even if you had gotten a job at a university anywhere in the West.
Amir: No. I’m so glad.
Jeff: I just want to say. And you told them you were a communist. They would have fired you that.
Amir: Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah.
Jeff: So at least you have the freedom here and you can be a neoliberal here.
Amir: Oh, yeah, totally.
Jeff: You can be a neoliberal. There’s much more flexibility and much more tolerance of ideas in universities here. And just like when I would go to the library in Shenzhen, they had works by all the neoliberal Fukuyama’s or whatever, all these neoliberal writers.
Amir: I’m the one getting antsy. I want to write a letter to the Party. And you just don’t let this into the school garbage, too.
Jeff: But what? So, you and I both found out very late. It wasn’t until I came back to China in 2010, we had gone bankrupt and we were broke. And we came back for our second time, seven years in the early 90s. And we came back from 2010 to 2019. And that’s when I really got it. I thought I finally figured out, wow, communism and socialism, given the chance to not be destroyed and have successful war declared on it like every other country Cuba, Eritrea, Vietnam, they all have war declared on them.
Russia was the USSR and now Russia. We can go on and on. Bolivia, Venezuela, many, many of them DPRK, North Korea. But China is so big and so colossal and so powerful that nothing that the West can do to keep this communist-socialist juggernaut from being successful. And so that’s what it took me to see that. I understand that you, Amir, became more and I think it’s for me, instead of saying radicalized for me, it’s like becoming more normalized.
Amir: Sure. Yeah, de-propaganda.
Jeff: Yeah, de-propagandized. It wasn’t until I was about 56 that I became de-propagandized. When did it happen to you? De-brainwashed.
Amir: It’s a process, right? It’s not like a hallelujah. And you just one day find yourself out of the matrix. It’s a constant every day. And by degrees, eventually, you get there and maybe I’m not even where I need to be yet. And maybe I’m still growing. But the invasion of Iraq was a big one. That was a 2003 invasion of Iraq because and then weapons of mass destruction were not there and stuff like that. I mean, it sorts of dawned on me because I remember in the lead-up to that, I was just starting out in university and in somewhat of a privileged position.
Well, of course, it is. I’m going to university. I’m going to develop a country like Canada or whatever. And I was reading four or five newspapers a day. And if I still was taken in by all of this and taken in precisely by the newspapers what does the average person like how are you ever going to that? That’s when I really understood when there were no weapons of mass destruction. But I live, we live in a propaganda state. There is no way around it. I mean, if somebody who is at the university reads three or four newspapers a day, that person should know the truth.
That person should be well on their way to knowing what reality is. And the less of the newspapers and the less you tune in to all of that crap, a person who just kind of had a hunch and had an intuition. No, I just think that this is imperialism at work again. And that’s all you need. You don’t need to go read five newspapers again to know what is your evidence. What do you say? These are all just propaganda tricks. There is a kind of intuitive gut feeling that people know injustice is happening. And I knew that I was out of tune with that. I was not.
And that bothered me. That really made me upset. Like, why were some people who are less educated than me understand the nature of power relations and how the US works? Whereas me, I’m reading all these books and writing all these papers and reading all these newspapers and I can’t see it. Yeah, that really disturbed me. And that’s when I started really, you could say, radicalizing and liberalizing myself. Because before that I was just the good liberal. I was just trying to be like, progressive, but like, come on. Like, we got to see both sides here and we got to see where the phony liberal.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. I was just a cardboard liberal. I thought I was a do-gooder, and had all the answers for the Chinese. We know better and we’re smarter.
Amir: And we appreciate the Chinese, you know what they’re doing. Anyway. I mean, there’s this guy, this Singaporean economist Kishore Mahbubani, right?
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Amir: So, he’s making the rounds on social media. I see in China where he basically tells off this British reporter for basically bringing up, so the British reporter basically goes, oh so China, we know that there are economic miracles and they’re doing all these things. But what do you think about their repressive human rights?
Jeff: The social crisis.
Amir: Yeah, exactly.
Jeff: And which we pointed out last.
Amir: Yeah, yeah. Like all of these, you know. So how do you square that? So, of course, Mahbubani has answered this very pretentious, put-on question, which is not a question. It’s an accusation like it’s a question designed to. Okay. Audience everyone listening? China is good, and we’re talking about their promise and everything like that. But never forget all of these horrible human rights things that are happening. You have to stick in the reminder under the guise of. But I’m just being objective.
Anyway, Mahbubani answers this, it’s like a sort of gentleman and he kind of knocks down all of the bullet talking points one by one, and it’s really great. And then after watching that exchange, I was almost what I usually well, it wasn’t a victory at the same time for Mahbubani and why wasn’t it? Because I know what that British reporter is left thinking. He goes like he doesn’t exactly think that Mahbubani himself is brainwashed, but he leaves thinking, well, you know what at least in my society, you can say that, and I can ask you that question.
So, we’re better. And he will leave, not having changed his mind at all. So, unless Mahbubani addresses that, that’s the only real exchange which he won’t write. He’s only going to stick to his talking points stick to yours. And the final talking point in the imperialist head is, well, in my society, you can talk about it and we can talk about it freely. And in China, you can’t. So even though they’re successful, they can’t talk about everything that’s good and bad. Therefore, we are better.
Jeff: Well, they actually know, we know they can. Of course, they talk.
Amir: Oh, of course, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeff: But all right. Well, actually for me, when I came back in 2010 with my wife and our eighth-grade daughter, it was actually somebody, I started writing a little blog and somebody sent me a video of the World Trade Center Building Number Seven collapsing in freefall. And I’m a certified science teacher and a lifelong scientist. When I saw that, I thought, that’s not possible. And so, for you, it was Iraq, the genocide with the depleted uranium and the genocide in Iraq in 2003. And for me and once you kind of cross that, once you kind of get slapped in the face, and see something that just jars you so much, you kind of, you take the plunge, you go, wow.
And you start looking for more information and it’s just like, it’s like peeling an onion. And for me it was, me proving to myself that 911 was an inside job and that it was perpetrated by the US government and very 95% likely with Israel. And so, it’s just those kinds of epiphanies, those kinds of revelations that you cross can just completely just blow, blow the scales off your eyes and I never turn back.
And that’s why I wrote China Rising because it exposed all the Western, the Western matrix all the false flags and the genocide and everything. And this is very difficult for people outside of China. By the way, we are in Amir’s apartment. That’s his nice little library behind us. And he’s on the 39th floor of a nice skyscraper, high-rise apartment. We have a beautiful view of Changsha. But anyway, what was I talking about? What I wanted to say, I forgot.
Amir: We just finished off with the 911.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. What was I going to say?
Amir: We were just in Changsha, looking around.
Jeff: Oh yeah. We went to. Yeah, this is difficult. We believe in communism and socialism. In fact, I joined the French Communist Party. I don’t know how many years ago, just although it’s gentrified and completely spineless.
Amir: I feel the same way as most Western.
Jeff: Yeah, Western communist parties. But I did it just to say I’m a card-carrying communist because seeing what China has the power to resist Western destruction and what this communist socialist country has done since 1921 when the Communist Party was founded is breathtaking. It’s beyond anybody’s imagination. Just tell us your feelings. We went to this museum yesterday. It was beautiful. Why do you have so much respect for the Communist Party of China? Amir, what it means to you? And also, about the role of Mao Zedong in 20th-century history.
Well like my favorite communist China is Red China and China under Mao. That’s for sure. And in a sense since the death of Mao, they’ve gone in a certain direction. But they brought in a lot of benefits. And a lot of definitely you can see China strong. But one thing that I want to always warn even some of my students about within the parameters that I’ve had, is that when you get all the good stuff the technology, and all of the consumer goods and rising standard of living, rising wages, real wages and stuff like that.
You also have to be careful, especially since wars are fought on many fronts, but you also have to be careful in the propaganda cultural front, because once you start opening up the airwaves and stuff like that, this is why I’m absolutely for the Communist Party is totally correct to keep out Google, keep out, you know Facebook, all of that crap, those are the fifth columns. That is how you destabilize the country. I mean, look what’s happening in Russia. Russia allows all that crap in and China does not so maintain that. But you know information and culture like China wants to do you want to promote yourself you want to engage in real cultural relations.
But how do you do that with an enemy? How do you do that with somebody who hates you and wants to destroy you? If I see myself as having a kind of a role here Academic or whatever it would be to remind all my comments. Just be careful because you’re benefiting a lot, and make sure you’re taking as much as you can from the West. But it is a double-edged sword. Never forget that. Yeah. And just to kind of be careful. I mean, what can I say? Like, human rights is a good example, right? Human rights are just something that the West uses to berate other countries.
Jeff: Invade them.
Amir: Yeah, I mean, but even culturally.
Jeff: Their right to protect?
Amir: Sure. Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: Like Libya, Syria.
Amir: And this is very subtle right when it comes in like and I always tell. You know even when I talk about Feminism for example in my classes. Now, I am not by any means suggesting right. That there isn’t a gender problem in China, that there isn’t a gender, Male, female, that there aren’t some inequalities and stuff like that. I would be the first of all, I’m not qualified to even have an opinion really on that. I’m not trying to use it in China, man. But one thing I always tell. If you import the so-called Western solutions to that problem, you will be just as screwed up as the West is because they haven’t solved it.
It’s almost like they’re not interested in solving it. They’re just interested in exacerbating societal tensions. So, when the Communist Party comes in and says, you know what, no, no rainbow flags, no rainbow cakes, we’re getting all this gender equality propaganda out of our country. Well, now you accuse Xi and the Communist Party of being authoritarian. But that’s not it at all. That is not it at all. Who would be against any genuine, sincere attempt to create asymmetric or some more symmetrical relations between the genders and the sexes in China, in the West, anywhere?
Why would you be against it? Why would I be against it? You have two daughters. I have a daughter. No, we want to see women thrive and grow. And but when they do it through Wokeism. And when I see that crap in China and I see very sincere social energy, very sincere social energy of young women who are frustrated with maybe patriarchal conditions that do exist in China, but when they reach for Western solutions, beware. I mean, really beware, because what are you going to get?
You will get three washrooms. Well, that’s all your problem. No, I mean, It’s not going to solve your problem. But that is the only solution the West will give you and it will make you feel like you’re progressing, but you’re actually regressing. It’s retrograde and it’s designed to sort of destabilize and take away social cohesion because that’s what they want. And that is human rights are a great way to destabilize.
Jeff: Divide people, Identity politics.
Amir: So, I hope most of my students get that. But every once in a while, I do see, you know, we’re having a feminist reading group or a feminist study group, and I’m wondering who’s running this? Where is it coming from? How is this? And I always say on any of my campuses, if I ever see a third washroom, I’ll just throw up. I hope I never see that in Changsha.
Jeff: Well, first off, a lot of people don’t know anything about Hunan University and I want Amir to tell us about it. It has a unique distinction. But what about Mao Zedong? Why do you respect and admire him so much?
Amir: Well, the first essay that I read that what really turned my attention to Mao Zedong was Alain Badiou, a French philosopher, on the Cultural Revolution.
Note: here is the downloadable PDF,
Jeff: Yeah, you sent it and I read that.
Amir: Yeah, that was amazing. The Cultural Revolution. The last revolution. Meaning that was the last time humanity could imagine an alternative to capitalism. And it isn’t just taking a real human transformation, isn’t just taking the best of capitalism and trying to kind of reform it and control it. Marx even says is very once the genie is out of the bottle, once you unleash capitalist forces in your society, they’re hard to put it back. I mean, the Communist Party, at least in China, China definitely has a capitalist class there, a billionaire class.
And then there’s people and the Communist Party is in between. And they are doing their best to rein in the billionaire class to make sure that they don’t rape the people too much. Whereas in the West there is no buffer, there is no party buffer, Democrat or Republican, which is to do anything that their corporate masters want. So, in China, the people have protection, and that is the Communist Party. But I’m not sure anymore how interested China is in changing actual lives, and social relations because that’s a real revolution.
How do you and I relate to each other, how do we work, work that I do? How is it beneficial to you, my relationship with neighbors, my relationship with my Commune, with my country, and that kind of unit? And that to me is what Mao understood. He said it’s not enough just to take their technology and just advance in the sense that we take the best and we try and control the worst aspects of it. I mean, in that sense, why even import the worst at all? Why not change human relations in such a way that we don’t that those things aren’t even a problem?
Like the gender, thing is the transgender thing, let’s put it that way. Nobody in China is worried about how many genders are there. But one day that may become a problem. I mean, I see it now. If you want to publish in those index journals, you write some woke article about how many genders there are and you draw from this and that, and I get published and I get in basically an index journal, I get a check on my job performance review and the school gets a check on his job.
Jeff: For being Wokist.
Amir: For being a Wokist. Yeah. And I’m not even saying that anybody in my department would even know what I’m writing about, but if I was wanting to publish in that vein, it would check all the boxes for me. It would check all the boxes for the school. This is very insidious all of this woke stuff. And it’s around. So yeah, changing our society. Anyway, then suddenly something that was not a problem for any Chinese person ever wondering if there are more than two genders slowly starts to become a problem.
It’s a created, fabricated problem, a propaganda problem, you see. And that’s what happens with reform and opening up. It just seeps in. It’s not that the Communist Party wants this or doesn’t want this. The Communist Party is open and they want to advance and they want to take the good stuff. But you can’t just take in the good stuff. When the good stuff comes, all the crap comes to you and you can try and keep it out. And they’re doing a good job, you know Google and Facebook and all that.
Jeff: And the foreign NGO law.
Amir: Yes, exactly.
Jeff: For all the Soros’s.
Amir: You have to be vigilant, right? But at the same time in 2020, China created the most billionaires in the world singlehandedly. Now then, now you have a new enemy to fight. And to be vigilant over. So, Mao’s solution was like, why do we create conditions where we have to import that stuff at all? Right. Why not just actually transform lived human relations in their totality?
And to me, that’s why Mao was so inspirational, because not only did he win the revolution in 1949, but by the time 1966 came around, he took a look around and he saw already in 1966, upon the Communist Party became a class rule party, meaning all of the best medical care, all of the best medical, all of the best education opportunities were going to party members. And Mao didn’t like that. This is his own Party, right? This is the party that he founded and he loved. And he said but he said, wait a minute, All the warriors who fought and died for me, they’re not benefiting.
The revolutions for them. Now, the real historical question, is what Badiou talks about in its wonderful essay that Mao is the first man in history to face a historical contradiction. How do I use the power of the state to undermine the state. The Cultural Revolution wasn’t about destroying the Communist Party. It was about reforming the Communist Party to make sure that it served the people. And all revolutions do this. You have a revolution, great revolutionary energy.
But the old habits and the old ways are still with us. You start to, okay, let’s just take the easy road and let’s just get the day-by-day sort of benefit. And let’s forget the long-term class struggle, international vision. Let’s just do this day by day and progress slowly and slowly. this is Deng’s famous feeling, rocks in the water. And I guess you could say Mao said, okay, yes, maybe we’re feeling rocks in the water, but you have to stay focused on where you want to be on the other side. You have to keep that in mind.
If you’re just looking down at the rocks and you don’t know where you’re going to end up and before you know it, you might be a revisionist party or a capitalist party. And to have the courage to really understand that I am now in a position of power and in my position of power, I will use it to undermine the very power structures that I am part of for the people. I mean, what does that mean? There is virtually no historical figure. Do you know who does that anyway? I mean, Ramin Mazaheri also wrote a great eight-part piece on The Saker, where he kind of says the first cultural revolution was the Shia revolution in Islam.
The grandson of the Prophet was actually trying to do the same thing. Mohammed started a great revolution and the grandson of the Prophet wanted to. He saw that the gains of the revolution were being lost quickly. And he wanted to sort of rejigger the same Islamic Revolution over the world. And it wasn’t successful. And the Second Cultural Revolution, because that’s what a cultural revolution is. You’ve already won the revolution. Now you have to defeat the revolution successfully.
Jeff: Because they’re coming. Everybody’s out there.
Amir: It’s relentless. I mean, and look, the Soviet Union’s gone and everything like that, and Mao is sort of ahead of its time. And I really admire it. That is something that I think even Chinese people have a hard time appreciating about Mao. And that’s why I think he’s such a great, great man.
Jeff: Yeah, I always say we don’t have time to get into all the nitty gritty, but you can read The China Trilogy and learn all about it. I always say, never has one leader done so much for so many people in so short of time, as Mao Zedong. And that’s it. 500 million people. When he died, it was a billion people and they were liberated from Western hegemony and Western genocide. And very, very, very few countries can make that claim. And he was an incredible visionary, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant visionary leader.
Amir: And I really think that vision lasted right until his dying day. Everyone thinks he just got old and got confused in his later life and China went astray for ten years. I mean, I don’t agree with that at all. You can even say China went astray and that mistakes were made or whatever. But Mao knew the reasons for those mistakes. It’s because we have to rearrange human relations. And this is going to be a long revolutionary process. And of course, it will be chaotic.
Jeff: We take a lot of taxis and we talked to a lot of people and you talk to Chinese people anywhere you go, and they will tell you if there was no Mao Zedong there would be no free China. And free China means not being a Western whore, like Indonesia or the Philippines or Japan, or South Korea, the list which can go on and on. I mean, New Zealand, Australia, and the whole West are beholden to Western imperial capitalism. So, an amazing visit yesterday to the museum. Tell us an interesting factoid about Hunan University that the West denies. It says it’s not true. They pretend that it’s not true. Tell us about it.
Amir: You should tell us about this. I learned it from you.
Jeff: Hunan University is the first university in the world in 759 AD And they actually Hunan University right here in Changsha actually preceded Oxford and Cambridge.
Jeff: And so not by many years, I mean, I think Oxford and Cambridge were maybe just a few decades before. But he is teaching, Amir is teaching at the oldest university in the world. And it’s really an amazing campus and they’ve got a beautiful, well you said there are nine campuses. It’s just unbelievable. And of course, there’s a massive statue of Mao at Hunan University. But it’s really, really hard to find anybody who is against him. You’ll find the occasional crank. You’ll find the occasional crank that doesn’t like Mao.
But even the ones that don’t like Mao will tell you that, well, if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here today. And that’s basically what they’re saying, “Well, I didn’t really like what he did and there are a lot of people who were on the wrong end of the stick of the Cultural Revolution or their families and their children and their grandchildren”. And even those say, well without him we would not be here today.
Amir: Yeah. Be more like India.
Jeff: Yeah. So anyway, well, this has been fun. I will put our first interview on the web page. I will make sure I get the PDF of this Cultural Revolution article that you gave me. It was translated into English, wasn’t it?
Amir: Yeah, it would be.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, translated into English. So, it’s in English, I’m sure it was probably originally in French. The French have some incredible, incredible philosophers and thinkers. So anyway, thank you so much.
Amir: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you. Jeff.
Jeff: You have been a wonderful host. I’ve got to go back to Shenzhen tomorrow and wrap up my trip. I am coming back to China in August to finalize my business. Well, my business is one person me. But anyway, it will give me the opportunity to get a business visa and not spend hundreds of euros for one entry. I’ll get a one-year multiple-entry visa and hopefully, I can come back in August.
Amir: Always welcome.
Jeff: If you’re here, we’ll go. And this city is unbelievable. I do want to encourage everybody, if you are not on my Twitter, you need to get on it because I’m just every day I’m just I’m probably driving by taking pictures constantly because there’s just so much to tell you. And it’s just going to Twitter @44_Days. @44_Days. That’s the name of my first book. And you will be amazed at China. It is just nothing like it.
There is just nothing like it in the world. I know Amir feels very, very lucky to be here. And he’s found his passion in English literature and English writing. And I know that you’re going to get your three articles published in academic journals. So, you’ll stay here in Changsha. This incredible city. This city has 12 million people. Shenzhen has 14 million people and they’re second-tier cities. They’re just second-tier cities. Not that big of a deal. Amazing. Amir, thank you for being on the show.
Amir: My pleasure.
Jeff: Comrade Amir, I will give you also a Buddhist bow because China has always been and always will be Confucius, Daoist, and Buddhist. Well, Communism is Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. That’s just all there is to it. It’s just got kind of a different name to it. Anyway, thanks a lot and I will be looking forward to the fans seeing this. Bye, bye.
Amir: Bye, bye.
Do yourself, your friends, family and colleagues a favor, to make sure all of you are Sino-smart:
Google ebooks (Epub) and audiobooks:
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YBKHEAAAQBAJ
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YNmLEAAAQBAJ
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Amazon print and ebooks (Kindle):
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Praise for The China Trilogy:
Why and How China works: With a Mirror to Our Own History
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