Chinese communism [he uses a small "c"; I'd use a capital C] cannot be regarded simply as a subvariety of Soviet communism.... For one thing, it triumphed in a country with a far larger population than the U.S.S.R.... Moreover, China was not only nationally far more homogeneous than most other countries -- about 94 percent of its population were Han Chinese -- but had formed a single, though intermittently disrupted, political unit probably for a minimum of two thousand years. Even more to the point, for most of these two millennia the Chinese Empire, and probably most of its inhabitants who had a view on these matters, had considered China to be the centre and model of world civilization. With minor exceptions all other countries in which communist regimes triumphed, from the U.S.S.R. on, were and saw themselves as culturally backward and marginal, relative to some more advanced and paradigmatic centre of civilization. The very stridency with which the U.S.S.R. insisted, in the Stalin years, on its lack of intellectual and technological dependence on the West, and on the indigenous source of all the leading inventions from telephones to aircraft, was a telling symptom of this sense of inferiority.Well, I can think offhand of one Soviet-era invention that really was indigenous and that ended up being exported to much of the world: the AK-47.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Inferiority complexes and indigenous inventions
Hobsbawm writes (The Age of Extremes, p.462):