“It batters down all Chinese walls”

October 17, 2013 at 5:29 am (banks, capitalism, China, economics, grovelling, Human rights, Jim D, London, Tory scum)

“The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e; to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image” – Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, 1848.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne addresses staff and students at Peking University in Beijing.

Listening to George Osborne grovelling to the Chinese ruling class while his Tory sidekick Boris Johnson capered like a jester at the court of an all-powerful monarch, brought to mind Marx’s vivid descriptions of capitalism and the bourgeoisie sweeping aside outmoded social forms and cultural traditions. Just how strong, one wonders, is the Tory commitment to bourgeois democracy?
As Osborne and Johnson pleaded for Chinese investment and announced a simplified visa procedure for Chinese tourists, you can be damned sure no mention was made, even behind the scenes, of human rights or political prisoners. Britain must “show some respect” to the Chinese leadership, Osborne told BBC Radio 4, adding “of course we can bring up issues that we have concerns about. But we have to respect the fact that it is a deep and ancient civilisation that is tackling its own problems. We have to show some respect for that.”
As for the Dalai Lama: we’ve “no plans to meet him again.”

Nothing must stand in the way of Osborne’s “personal mission” to make London a Chinese offshore banking centre and a global renminbi hub.

The Torygraph‘s Michael Deacon gives a pretty fair account of Osborne’s grovelling:

“Long gone, thankfully,” said George Osborne, “are the days when Western politicians turned up here and simply demanded that China open up its economy to Western economies.”

He’s right. Our politicians no longer demand.

They beg.

The Chancellor’s speech at Peking University, on the first of his five days in China, was almost magnificently obsequious. Lavishly he praised “your great country”, “the depth and sophistication of the Chinese culture”, “the value you place on consistency and stability and on friendship”, and “your Vice Premier Ma Kai, whose reputation for economic reform and diligence impresses all”.

According to his script, available on the Government website, Mr Osborne is delighted that Britain and China have grown more “complimentary”. At first I thought he meant complementary, but on second thoughts I suspect not.

Normally when Mr Osborne encounters something he considers Left-wing – for example, Ed Miliband’s idea to freeze energy bills – he derides it. For some reason however his speech today contained no jokes at the expense of China’s ruling Communist Party. Perhaps he’s saving up those jokes for later in the trip. Although if he does tell them, he may find that the local authorities generously extend his visit. By, say, three or four decades.

Britain, gushed the Chancellor, would be only too delighted to welcome lots of lovely Chinese investment. We couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Not like those rotten Europeans, who “find all sorts of ways of making clear that Chinese investment is not welcome” – heavens, no, don’t invest in their snooty little countries! Invest in Britain! Do come in, sirs! May we take your coats, sirs? And may we recommend a bottle of the Chateau Margaux? On the house, sirs, of course!

His audience was largely made up of students. It was, he gurgled, “an honour” to be among them, “the students who are going to shape the future of the world”. Students who would make advances in technology, build new businesses, create jobs around the world – but more than that. “You,” said Mr Osborne, almost sighing with admiration, “are the students of today who will write the poems of tomorrow.”

And with any luck, they’ll come and open a vast new poem factory in Britain, employing thousands of British youths to mass-produce state-of-the-art villanelles at competitive prices…

Or, to put it another way:

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at least compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

Above: from the Financial Times


  1. “It batters down all Chinese walls” | OzHouse said,

    […] Oct 17 2013 by admin […]

  2. Robin Carmody said,

    Well, in the time when Marx & Engels were writing the Tories were in no way the party of bourgeois democracy; that was the Liberals/Whigs.

    After the return of the latter tendency during the Thatcher & Blair years (Thatcherism’s massive influence from Manchester Liberalism, Blair’s re-invocation of the Whig Interpretation of History and open belief that the left-right politics of the 20th Century had been a mistake which we needed to move beyond) the Tories are now simply reverting to type.

  3. Robin Carmody said,

    … the above (that British politics have now basically reverted to the 19th Century) is one of the main points made by my friend Alex Niven in his book ‘Folk Opposition’, which I think a lot of people here might enjoy (on Zer0, but don’t let the Atzmon connection put you off).

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      While as a fan of Christopher Lasch I am usually quite partial to such arguments anyone who seems to regard Ridley Scott and Raoul Moat as key exemplars of folkish (or should that be Volkische?) resistance automatically is a person of restricted seriousness in my book…

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      And politics never really ‘reverts’.

      For a start there is all the difference in the world between a bourgeois state which also still had a powerful landed aristocracy and happened to rule a vast global empire and one which now barely even counts as a sovereign nation-state any more in nineteenth century terms.

      However if this kind of thing floats your boat you might want to check out this piece on the new servile state allegedly being created in California:


      I do doubt however that invoking ‘feudalism’ (which as used by Marxists often bears little relationship to modern historians understanding of feudalism as it actually existed) brings any more to the table in explanatory terms than trying to apply the concepts of ‘Asiatic Despotism’ or Bonapartism to explain Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany did…..

      If not socialism but a genuinely new and monstrous social order is growing out of late capitalism the key thing about it must be that it is indeed new and requires new analysis rather than trying to shoe-horn it into classic Marxist categories which are in many respects now historically dubious anyway.

  4. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Osborne for one welcomes our new Oriental overlords…..

    Interesting piece in NYRB on the increasing use of reactionary language and images in state propaganda:


  5. Andrew Coates said,

    Meanwhile comrade Newman has soared to new heights of glory in North Korea (though I suspect this may well be a spoof): http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/andy-newman-invited-to-north-korean-skiing-resort/

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