Looking at Andy Newman’s post at Socialist Unity defending the Chinese government’s “line” on its treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang, I came across the following passage:
One of the excellent points that Jenny [Clegg] makes is that the absence of substantive discussion in the West about China’s historical background, its concrete level of development, and the difficulties of ruling such a vast country, then Sinophobic mythology has built up that draws more heavily on “Yellow Peril” images from the colonial era than it does on the reality of modern China. What is more, many from the Western left either do not counter this Sinophobia, or actually collude in it.
Louis Proyect’s recent article is a frankly disgraceful example, but rather than exchange a polemic with Louis, let us refute his arguments by looking at the concrete situation today in Xinjiang province.
Now consider George Orwell’s take on a pro-Stalinist professor from 1946:
He cannot say outright, “I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.” Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
“While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.”
So here we are, more than 60 years later, and apologists for repressive regimes of the “Left” are still defending the indefensible by throwing around phrases like “concrete development,” “concrete achievement” and the like.
As I tried to make the case last year by citing the example of Costa Rica, there is no necessary conflict between human rights and democracy on the one hand, and “concrete achievement” on the other.
It’s long past time for Newman et al to get their heads out of the concrete.