Is a cultural revolution going on in the West? Just like the Mao era in China, as long as Mao approved it, it was right. Now the West is right as long as it can oppose the Communist Party.

Thank you for the question.
There seem to be multiple issues and assumptions in this question, so I’ll try to tease those apart….

1. The “West” is not monolithic. So although many of the points below apply elsewhere in the western world, I will concentrate mainly on the U.S.

2. Is there a cultural revolution goin on in the U.S.? Yes, though it’s been a very slow moving one. Essentially, the wealth, status, and cultural relevance of a more conservative rural and blue collar white America is being usurped by urban, high-tech, more progressive and multicultural America. The rural and former industrial areas of the U.S. are getting hollowed out, and populations are increasingly concentrated in urban centers.

3. Socialist ideas, as implemented alongside markets in Western countries (see mixed economy), have always help fix the worst problems and abuses of capitalism. You can read more about this here: How Socialist Contributions to Civil Society Saved Capitalism From Itself. Marxist-Leninist forms of authoritarian communism, however, eventually were perceived as threats to the U.S. This was framed as an ideological and cultural clash (around liberty, economic opportunity, collective morality, etc.), but really was much more about economic competition between Western crony capitalism where corporations held much of the economic and political power, and communist “state” capitalism, where officials in the Communist Party held that power. This competition over control of capital has been the source of most anti-communist rhetoric in the U.S. (see Red Scare).

4. A separate — and more legitimate IMO — conflict between Marxism-Leninism and civil society in the West centers around the issue of democracy: the empowering of people to self-determination. This has been playing out acutely in Hong Kong. The fundamental difference between a Communist Party with a “president for life” and governments with officials who can regularly be voted into and out of office is profound — in both perception of a lust for power, and its actual diffusion. Of course, there are differing levels of democracy, too: Switzerland’s semi-direct democracy empowers the local and national electorate much more than the representative democracy of the U.S., for example. What the people of Hong Kong are resisting is losing even the semblance of local democratic self-determination.

5. Mao Zedong was actually, in the early stages of his ideas about communism, more attracted to Kropotkin’s anarcho-communism than to Marxism-Leninism. If Mao had followed his initial leanings regarding revolution, China would be a very different place — and Hong Kong would not be rebelling against centralized control. A main difference with Kropotkin is that there are no centralized controls — or any possibility of an authoritarian government — because decisions are made locally and more democratically.

Taken altogether, the main contrast and conflict in this context between “the West” (mainly the U.S.A.) and “communism” (mainly as implemented in mainland China) centers around two tug-of-wars:

1. In the economic system: Between plutocratic crony capitalist controls and centralized authoritarian controls over capital (really this means between private ownership of the means of production by a select few vs. public ownership of the means of production that is also controlled by a select few…so interestingly the end result is strikingly similar).

2. In the political system: Between democratic civil society and authoritarian, non-democratic centralized controls (again, though, the ultimate outcome in plutocratic crony capitalism in the U.S. ends up looking very similar to communist China in real terms…just with the constant threat of disruption to plutocracy, as Donald Trump is finding out firsthand).

If China became more democratic — with more diffused and distributed power across a strong civil society, and as Mao initially envisioned via Kropotkin’s influence — then “the West” would have a much weaker case when arguing that China is “less free.” Even allowing Hong Kong more self-determination, as China initially agreed to do when it took over from Great Britain, would go a very long way toward easing tensions. But, as throughout most of human history, concentrations of capital and concentrations of political influence nearly always go hand-in-hand. Greed for wealth ends up marrying itself to greed for power. Some of the most notable exceptions have, again, been anarcho-communist and other libertarian socialist experiments. For examples of those, see: List of anarchist communities.

My 2 cents.


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