Lecture Series 2022: China

In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has become an increasingly popular topic for theoretical and political discussions on the left. Broadly speaking, two factors have contributed to this. On the one hand, China has an extremely interesting history, dating back to the socialist movement between 1966 and 1976, that is to the time of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This was the period in which Chinese revolutionaries managed to purge the capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society and establish a new socialist government. This event inspired other international movements, such as the massive student protests and Mao-Dada movements in West Germany, Italy, and France, and the urban guerrilla movements in Latin America. On the other hand, the topic of China is becoming increasingly popular in left-wing discussions due to China’s contemporary geopolitical position. To put it simply, China has become a new world superpower. It is successfully building a new international network known as the New Silk Road; it has the world’s largest armed forces that are also highly ranked and well equipped; it is the world leader in developing many of today’s most important technologies, including artificial intelligence; it owns countless major companies, and it was the only major economy in the world to see positive economic growth in 2020. Last but not least, the latest pandemic also demonstrated the strength of its centralized state apparatus, which managed to successfully cope with both the Covid-19 epidemic and its socio-economic consequences.

However, despite China’s growing importance on the global scale and its growing presence in leftist theoretical discussions, contemporary public discourse on the cultural revolution, the Great Leap Forward, Deng’s economic and political reforms, Xi Jingping, the Uygur genocide, and other related topics, show that modern/contemporary China remains a contentious and often murky issue, subject to misunderstanding from liberal, right-wing, and leftist political commentators alike. Thus, there is still a clear need for educational content that discusses these topics and that sheds light on the internal and international workings of China in the 20th and 21st centuries.

To meet this need, the Institute for Labour Studies will organize 8-12 lectures on the issue of modern/contemporary China held by domestic (Slovenian) and foreign lecturers. The lectures will begin in January 2022. If possible, they will be held at public venues in Ljubljana. If this will not be possible due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, they will take place via Zoom or a similar online service. In either case, footage of the lectures will be available on the Institute’s YouTube channel and website. The Institute for Labour Studies will also cooperate with the Publishing House Sophia to publish a collection of articles on the topic of modern/contemporary China.

By organizing lectures and publishing articles, the Institute will contribute to elevating public discourse on China - it will also provide new sources of education for leftist theorists and activists interested in the future of communism, international relations, imperialism, and the accumulation of capital.