Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution

Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution

James Luchte

Lu Xun Nietzsche

 

O my brothers, not long will it be until new peoples will arise and new fountains rush down into new depths.

For the earthquake—it chokes up many wells, it causes much languishing: but it brings also to light inner powers and secrets.

The earthquake discloses new fountains. In the earthquake of old peoples, new fountains burst forth.

Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘On the Old and New Law Tablets’, 25.

 

Lu Xun – On ‘China’s Nietzsche’

Lu Xun was nineteen when Nietzsche died in 1900.  He had already begun to write poetry, in classical Chinese style, and came into contact with Western literature in Nanking, where he attended a mining school.  It was not until the following year however that he, with a government stipend to study mining in Japan, intensified his relationship with the available threads of world literature, European, British, and Russian – and Nietzsche. The work of which he had the most access was Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Japanese renditions of his thought, including the Untimely Meditations. Lu Xun travelled to Japan at the right time – amid the chaos of the post- war years, the reformation toward modernity, Japan sought to become an industrial and military power with the aid of Western, i.e. ‘Modern,’ science, including Western medicine and literature.

Lu Xun immediately recognized the political and cultural significance of literature, especially that of the English Romantics, Byron and Shelley (to the exclusion of the more introspective poets Wordsworth and Keats) in their individuality and defiance of a corrupt and oppressive cultural and political order.  He found a similar though deeper message in Nietzsche, one simultaneously of a poetic and philosophical order.  Yet, it is the meaning of this influence, and of Nietzsche’s message, that has remained controversial.

This current writing will be an attempt to dissolve this controversy through the exposure of the intellectual and artistic affinities of Lu Xun and Nietzsche upon their own respective and overlapping topoi.  It could be argued that Nietzsche had his most immediate impact in Japan, which already by 1903 (at a time which Lu Xun was already in Japan) had a ‘Nietzsche Dispute’, and had experienced ‘Nietzsche fever.’ Such an intellectual event could hardly have been missed by Lu Xun, and his first essays of 1907 and 1908 mention Nietzsche, echo Nietzsche, yet, from the perspective of a Chinese radical democratic ‘Mara’ poet.

Lu Xun is not served well by the name of ‘China’s Nietzsche’ – unless, that is, it is clear what we mean by ‘Nietzsche’.  Such clarity seems to have been lacking in many of the early receptions of Nietzsche, especially in regards to the notion of the Übermensch, which in the context of the early Japanese reception resembles more closely Zarathustra’s ape, a caricature of Zarathustra, of which Nietzsche had already anticipated, and which he warned would be due to poor reading, in his own prophesy of widespread mis-understanding of his philosophy.  In this light, I will cast into the light the caricature of Nietzsche in order to exorcise it from our subsequent discussions.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution.

Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution

Hysterical: South African press throws temper tantrum over new finance minister

Hysterical: South African press throws temper tantrum over new finance minister

South African press loses plot over finance change

President Zuma’s routine change of Minster of Finance meets with an embarrassing hysteria

James Luchte

 

Presidents Zuma and Jinping at China SA State Visit

 

For most countries, Cabinet re-shuffles are routine and are the prerogative of the elected leader.

Yet, the reaction of the South African press to President Jacob Zuma’s perfectly normal change of the Minister of Finance seems nothing less than sheer hysteria and crass unprofessionalism.

An impression was intentionally generated in the press of recklessness, that Zuma’s decision was un-announced and un-explained – even  un-democratic.  Yet, Zuma is constitutionally discharged to make such decisions and he promised detailed information to follow.  A detailed statement was released two days later explaining the entire situation.  But, by then, the media had already decided to use this decision as a pretext for what was essentially a farce – but one that was revealing.

The detailed press statement was not even mentioned in their hysteria – indeed, the hysteria could have been avoided if they had bothered to wait for more information ‘in due course.’ This is to act in a professional manner and wait for the statement of the president.  Instead, they created a false event and disseminated a distortion of reality.  Yet, this false event had real consequences which have damaged South Africa.

The Star led with “maelstrom of unreason’;  News24: “No obligation for Zuma to tell Cabinet about new appointments – Presidency”; Mail and Guardian: “Nene’s firing: Who will stop the wrecking ball?”; Independent Online: “Zuma ‘out of control’”; Rand Daily Mail: “Welcome to the Jacob Zuma soap opera: Episode 4323;” Eyewitness News: “OPINION: Zuma’s ‘grotesquely irresponsible’ gamble with SA economy.”  This is only a sample of the permanent smear economy is a 24-7, 7 days a week project.  The private media is an echo chamber, creating its own schizophrenic world.

Strangely enough, as I have mentioned, the president released, amid the hysteria, as a promised follow-up to his initial statement of Nene’s re-deployment (not sacking) on 9 December, a very  detailed press statement on the change at the Ministry which clearly stated that Mr. Nene would be South Africa’s candidate for the BRICS’ New Development Bank and details of the next few weeks.  It is in this context  of the historic FOCAC event in Johannesburg that Zuma announced a new finance minster. These events are intrinsically tied together: FOCAC, BRICS (which, as I have said, was not mentioned in the hysteria) and the new opportunity for Nene at the New Development Bank.

While it was clear to those focussed on the events in Johannesburg that Nene would have a direct role with the BRICS bank, the South African press lurched into high gear, not having the patience to simply allow the political process to unfold.  In the detailed and lengthy press statement, Zuma detailed the ‘new deployment’ two days after his original announcement.

The urgency of the changes in the leadership of the National Treasury was occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai, of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg. Mr Nene is our candidate for this position. (Press statement, South African Presidency, Dec. 11, 2015)

To underscore the normality of the situation, Zuma wrote later in the statement:

The economic cluster will meet on Tuesday, 15 December as announced by Minister Jeff Radebe to prepare for a special cabinet meeting on the economy, which will take place on Friday 18 December.

None of the newspapers in question could be bothered to wait for or when it did arrive even mention the president’s own statement, which is very clear on the meaning and the impact of his decision.  Indeed, contrary to the “shock and bewilderment” expressed by some “commentators”, Zuma opened his statement with a note that a prudent fiscal policy will be maintained.  He said:

His appointment as Minister of Finance does not signal a change in the government’s fiscal stance.

Government will not abandon the fiscal path that we have chosen in the last few years.  Maintaining a prudent fiscal position remains one of government’s top priorities.

The new Minister will strengthen the path and continue to support all efforts aimed at improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.

The very fact that the president’s own timely statement is never mentioned (even in the many days following the ‘crisis’) is symptomatic of a radically biased media which has abandoned its right to be called journalism.  The press exists to report news, not make news. Instead, the South African media created the impression of a crisis, and dominating the international news markets and search engine placements, disseminated the impression of a ‘crisis’  world-wide.  Yet, there was no crisis, only an impatience with the reality of having to wait for elaboration from the leader of the government.

Moreover, the failure – was it intentional?  – to make the connection between the historic Johannesburg FOCAC gathering and the change at the Ministry underlines the lack of interest of the South African press for facts and critical thinking.  Such a lack is underscored by the cheer-leading exercise for a Twitter hastag #ZumaMustFall, which as the protests fell flat, clearly did not have the support of the vast majority of the population – outside the parochial shell of entrenched elites.  Ironically, Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF – a favourite of the tabloids – even rejected the protests, called them a conspiracy of ‘white capitalists.’

To this extent, the South African press is not only failing its responsibility to enlighten the public, but has also shown itself to fail to understand the current geopolitical and domestic situation.  Such “journalism” deserves its proper name: propaganda.  It does not serve the people.

Indeed, as suggested, such mock over-reaction, exaggeration and outright hysteria is not a new event with the South African press.  This is business as usual and these new sources understand their audience and their advertiser’s desires – right-wing extremism sold to a captive audience of people who throw temper tantrums since they are not in charge.

The shameful treatment of President Jacob Zuma by the privately owned media and its readers – a standing president who has four more years in his term and won with an overwhelming majority – is an embarrassment to South Africa in the face of the rest of the world.

Only America’s Fox News could applaud the bile of such “journalism”.  Indeed, Fox has become a model for right-wing and Neo-liberal news organisations all over the world, representing privileged suburbanites and entrenched elites.

The failure of the South African privately owned media to contribute to a positive transformation of South Africa exposes its reactionary and merely negative character.  It lives in denial, refusing to accept that it is no longer in charge.

Such was made possible, of course, by the de-regulation of media markets and the general Neo-liberal premise of the IMF controlled “democratic transition” in South Africa, one which has benefited the wealthy who are incidentally the primary consumers of the bile of the private media.

Yet, as Van Rooyen explained in his address at an appointment ceremony attended by the president, the focus of his tenure will be the expansion of opportunity to all South Africans, “not just the few”.

Such talk does not play well with the elites of South Africa, who hide behind their walls, never truly experiencing the utter deprivation of millions of their fellow citizens.  Instead of visiting the townships and offering a helping hand, a kind word, they repeat the party line of faceless “commentators.”

Bordering on the brink of sedition, they pray at night for the perfect storm, one that will never come.  In such a situation, a legislative introduction of a “Fairness Doctrine” would be appropriate for these private companies.

In the end, Zuma decided to calm the markets, their “animal spirits,” disturbed by the false crisis, one generated by the media, by replacing Van Rooyen with the former finance minister Pravin Ghordan.  This decision, it is no surprise, has also been latched on by the press as a symptom of Zuma’s alleged indecisiveness.  Yet, such ‘indecisiveness’ is as real as the ‘crisis’ generated by the media and is essentially the same. In fact, Zuma responded decisively to counter the mischief of the media and its fantasies of the fall of the ANC.

As Jackson Mthembu, National Spokesperson for the ANC, has outlined in his article on this fiasco, “Media lose its veneer of objectivity with #ZumaMustFall”, the architects of the crisis were the journalists and media outlets themselves.  Their hysteria and opportunism is to blame for the persistent obstructionism of the new South Africa. Their journalism is merely propaganda.

Kusurlunun Politikası/The Politics of the Imperfect

Kusurlunun Politikası

James Luchte

Turkish translation of ‘The Politics of the Imperfect: Building a Different World.’

Istiraki 7-8

The Fourth Reich: American Hegemony and the Question of European Democracy

Published 8 April 2015 in Daily Wales: News for a Sovereign Nation

The Fourth Reich

American Hegemony and the Question of European Democracy

Vote (2)

Europe is an invalid who owes her best thanks to her incurability and the eternal transformations of her sufferings; these constant new situations, these equally constant new dangers, pains, and make-shifts, have at last generated an intellectual sensitiveness which is almost equal to genius, and is in any case the mother of all genius.

Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book 1, Section 24 [1]

In a recent article in Spiegel, “The Fourth Reich: What Some Europeans See When They Look at Germany” [1], attributed to Spiegel Staff (Nikolaus Blome, Sven Böll, Katrin Kuntz, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Walter Mayr, Mathieu von Rohr, Christoph Scheuermann, Christoph Schult), a stunning admission was repeated, in which Angela Merkel laments, defiantly, ‘I am rather alone in the EU, but I don’t care. I am right.’ The article claims her lament was shared with ‘a small group of advisers during a discussion about the role of the IMF.’ The article continues: ‘Later, she said: “We are in Europe what the Americans are in the world: the unloved leading power.”’

The article offers context for the current situation of Europe, arising at the end of WWII:

After the end of the Third Reich, German dominance on the Continent appeared to have been rendered an impossibility for all time. West Germany and East Germany both were initially tentative states that more or less willingly subordinated themselves to their big brothers, the US and the Soviet Union. They ceded to the dominance of others.

The rehearsal of the historical context of the current situation culminates in the fateful question: ‘Which is why the “German question” has returned. Is the new Germany too big and powerful for the other European countries or is it too small and hesitant?’

To read the rest, please visit The Fourth Reich: American Hegemony and the Question of European Democracy

Athens Without Slavery: The Battle for Europe – Syriza the the New European Left

Go to: “They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance” in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Athens Without Slavery:

The Battle for Europe

Syriza the the New European Left

James Luchte

‘First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin’ – Leonard Cohen

‘First We Take Athens, Then We Take Madrid’ – Syriza with Podemos

‘First We Take Athens, Then We Take London’ – Anti-Austerity UK

‘A Spectre is Haunting Europe…’ – Karl Marx

Rise Up Europe - Syriza Youth

European Democracy and the Limits of American Hegemony

A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Greek democracy.

We have been here before in Greece, of course… at least four times.

First, there is the celebrated original emergence of democracy millennia ago; second, the Greek War of Liberation from the Turks (1821-1832), immortalised by the poet Bryron; third, the attempt by Leftist partisan organisations (EAM, KKE, ELAS) to form a Provisional Government in 1946 (in the stead of the Right-Monarchist government, returned from exile, and elected in 1946 in elections which the Left had boycotted), but defeated by the intervention of the United States and the United Kingdom, thus beginning the Greek Civil War (1946-1949), which ended with thousands of deaths and Greek membership of NATO; and fourth, the re-emergence of democracy in 1974 after the fall of the US backed military junta installed in the 1967 pre-elections coup d’etat, the so-called ‘General’s Coup’, eventually replaced by the government of exiled Constantine Karamanlis, which put the monarchy up for a referendum, and with its rejection by the people, negotiated a new presidential constitution, and inaugurated the Greek Republic in 1975.

And, now, fifth, with the people’s mandate, Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, has taken power in Athens – not ironically with the help or participation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), who were re-legalised in 1974 – promising the people of Greece not only the ‘end of austerity’, privatisation, unfair strike laws, among other transformations, but also, and more fundamentally, the end to the system of oligarchy, propped up by seventy years of external intervention and centrist-conservative governance (New Democracy or PASOK).

Indeed, as we have repeatedly seen in recent modern and contemporary histories, democracy, the vote, the pebble (psḗphos) of the people does not often seem sufficient to challenge the hegemonic narrative of the victor of the war of Europe, the United States.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit Athen Without Slavery: The Battle for Europe

Go to: MASS EMERGENCY DEMOS IN SUPPORT OF SYRIZA AND THE PEOPLE OF GREECE, FEB 11th Big Ben 6:30PM & 15TH TRAFALGAR SQUARE 1 PM

ΣΥΡΙΖΑ κερδίζει – Syriza Wins!

Go to: “They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance” in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Go to: Athens Without Slavery: The Battle For Europe – Syriza and the New European Left

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ΣΥΡΙΖΑ κερδίζει – Syriza Wins!

The people of Greece have voted for a better future for their children, themselves, and for the myriad peoples of the world.

All of us have suffered long enough from the fraudulent project of Austerity, a cruel, utterly thoughtless, and unnecessary deconstruction/destruction/theft of the Public Realm.

Syriza Wins Greek Elections

We celebrate the victory of Syriza, who taught us that ‘Austerity is the crisis itself.’

Let us join with the Anti-Austerity UK alliance of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, the Scottish National Party  and The Green Party in the fight in the United Kingdom against austerity and nuclear weapons, in order to build a world where there are sound and smart public services and a strong NHS.

We all need to continue to work together to strengthen the European and World Movement Against the CRISES of Austerity and Neo-Liberalism.

At the Syriza Victory Rally in London on 28 Janary 2015 at the TUC Congress House, a representative of the new Syriza government warned that much pressure will be placed upon the new anti-Austerity government in Greece and that the best way for us to support their revolution is to mobilise strong anti-austerity movements in our own countries.

We must do everything we can to continue to energise the already existing Anti-Austerity movement, and now with the inclusion in the debates and a viable chance of political expression and representation, work to hold the ‘balance of power’ in a hung parliament.  A strong movement and humane government here will benefit the peoples of the the United Kingdom, Europe and the rest of the world – and will prevent another Allende unfolding for the first Left government in European history.

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Go to: Write to Ofcom, Demanding Inclusion, Diversity & Equality in the Leaders Debates and Make A FOI Request on the Equality Act of 2010

A Moment of Conversation in Shanghai

The British Wasteland: A History of the Present – Daily Wales: News of a Sovereign Nation

The Politics of the Imperfect: Building A Different World

The Politics of the Imperfect

On Global Politics: Building a Different World

Concrete Needs, Concrete Situations and Concrete Actions

James Luchte

Untitled, Chinese painter, unknown.

The Global Context and Poly-Centric Perspectives – Taking Sides

I am speaking of global governance as a complex organisation which cannot be merely wished away. Getting from A to Z when you are at H requires that one go to I, J, and K, before X, Y, and Z. There have been movements to build a world government before, but that cannot even be an issue until America is reigned in – we are at a more preliminary phase of history, where even a weak institutional world federation would be a mammoth step forward in a world which cannot even have an effective United Nations. If we jump too far ahead in our thinking, we will become merely talkers and not actors of real history. We need to deal with the concrete and specific conditions of the world as it is evolving now.

Every single person upon this earth has a story to tell and a life to live.

Every single person is also radically finite, mortal, thrown upon the topography of the earth, and inhabiting an ultimately makeshift world.

Each in his or her way is also ‘eternal’ not only with respect to having been there, as a fact, or phenomenon, but also as a free and creative being engaged in his or her situation.

No one, no word, act or omission, no silence is every truly forgotten.

One tries to listen to all the stories, all the voices from across the world, but each is limited – there is only so much each of us can experience or know. One sifts through the material and makes a rough sketch of the evolving state of the planet.

Beyond the facticity of cosmopolitan life, each also seeks to speak with others, make connections, and create relations that transgress our own routine limited perspectives. Such relations are finite as each is finite, but this transgression of accomplices will have its ‘eternal’ impact in collective action.

It is upon this expanded topography that one begins to express strong instincts and suspicions in the context of a ‘we’, a relation. Experience and knowledge, experiencing and knowing, are collective as well as individual endeavours.

At the same time, however, life is not merely about ‘experience’ and ‘knowledge’, as it would be if one were merely a tourist of life, but life is primarily lived, and lived in very similar and basic manner by everyone – but in widely divergent avenues in terms of the quality of life. In this light, life is therefore about struggle, action, imagination, creativity, disappointment, patience, joy, sorrow, love and hate.

The tragic drama of life takes place upon a common earth, yet this place where we inexplicably live, ‘our world’, remains divided on so many grounds into an indefinite typology of territories, relations of subordination, servitude, hunger, violence, intimidation and outright murder or forced starvation.

Capital plays itself out as the global ‘gangster’ on this theatrical stage of a permanently militaristic political economy, democracy as McDonald’s-ization, franchises of KFC, Burger King, human trafficking – corruption, theft and chaos. Stock brokers snort cocaine off the bellies of corporate sponsored escorts while millions die of starvation, lack of access to clean water, to medicine, where the very principles of capital forbid the fulfilment of basic so-called ‘human rights’ (a thoroughly politicised and over-determined notion, rendered nearly meaningless via political and legal nihilism), and under the cynical cloak of ‘intellectual property,’ litigiously prevents the production (and distribution) of more affordable generic versions of food or drugs for the sake the poor.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit The Politics of the Imperfect

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