Communism Revisited: A Third World Perspective

Friday, July 18, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: Main Hall
Oral Presentation
Ngai PUN , Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
As an idea or philosophy, Communism died in the West when the mature form of capitalism didn’t succumb to a communist revolution. As the result of the transfer of capital, with the support of militarism and class conflicts in the Third World, socialist revolutions arrived there in the 20th century. This is the history of communism, the first wave, if you would like to name it.

Since the movements of the 1960s, the state or party-politics has usually been represented as the enemy to be attacked. But from a Third World perspective, as Lenin highlighted, the highest stage of capitalism was imperialism. The first half of the 20th century focused on national liberation that required a state machine. This proved to be the foundation of communist struggle in the context of the Third World. After the revolution, the state didn’t vanish but this didn’t put an end to the struggle – as many in the West thought – since we see communism as praxis rather than an Idea of History.

There are three reasons for the continuing existence of the socialist state: The failure of Western communist movements to liberate their own working class and their counterparts in the third world. The Cold War required the strengthening of socialist states and develop the socio-economic conditions for socialism. The lack of grass roots democracy and the lack of substantial class forces which could counter-balance the bureaucratization of the party-state.

Although it failed, the Chinese Cultural Revolution was an attempt to address these historical predicaments. Capitalism has conquered most Third World countries and enveloped their life-worlds, thereby creating the social conditions for the final capitalist crisis and the second wave of the communist revolution. A new sociology of communism needs to revisit the politics of class, collective and human emancipation.