Today the New York Times is carrying a story on Chinese fears of “cultural encirclement”.
“We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration,” Mr. Hu said. “We should deeply understand the seriousness and complexity of the ideological struggle, always sound the alarms and remain vigilant and take forceful measures to be on guard and respond,” he added.
This quote reminds us of something too easily forgotten, which is that Communists have always taken ideological struggle seriously. Communist theory teaches them to believe that the most effective way to break the will of the opposition is to de-legitimize its ruling class, degrade its culture, destroy its confidence in its own institutions and its own way of life.
Hu Jintao believes that the West is waging a conscious memetic war against Communist China – because he knows that Communists including himself have been waging a conscious memetic war against Western civilization since the 1840s. Sadly, this is not yesterday’s news.
What Jintao can also see, and the reason he is actually right to fear memetic warfare, is that the West has been seriously damaged by Communist successes at memetic subversion. The damage didn’t end when the Soviet Empire collapsed, because too many people in the West internalized and naturalized Soviet attack propaganda. Many of its tropes have become tribal shibboleths of major Western political tendencies, despite being just as wrong and just as toxic as when they were first uttered.
Hu Jintao holds up a dark mirror to our own situation. What he fears happening to the world’s last major Communist state is exactly what he knows the Communists did – more successfully than is generally understood – to us.
Now go read my essays on Gramscian Damage and Suicidalism. And, if you’re tempted to dismiss me as a paranoid, ask yourself this: why does Hu Jintao believe the things he does about “ideological struggle”? If you were he, or his ideological predecessors, what would you have been trying to accomplish during the long nuclear standoff?
Next, look hard at the West’s politics. And if you are a “conservative”, resist the urge to gloat that your kind was right all along. Because your kind were useful idiots just as thoroughly as Western “liberals” have been. You were incompetent at propaganda, fixated on silly irrelevancies like who was putting tab A in sexual slot B, and addled by religious particularism. You destroyed your own credibility with Chicken-Little ranting over porn, rock music, and games. Thus, when the Gramscians did their long march through academia and the media and Hollywood, you saw the danger well enough but you failed to stop them.
You conservatives had just one duty that mattered: to conserve, to be Western civilization’s antibodies – and you blew it. The wages of that failure is that the U.S. has a sitting President who spews Marxist propaganda tropes as though they were the laws of nature, and neither he nor far too many Westerners can any longer tell the difference.
Hu Jintao reminds us that ideological struggle still matters. I hope it’s not too late for us to profit from the reminder.