Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Communist Party of China @ 100 - High inequality and high poverty

China has moved from being a moderately unequal country in 1990 to being one of the most unequal countries according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At the same time, while great strides have been made in eliminating extreme poverty, claims that it has been vanquished have been disputed. Chinese premier Li Keqiang at the end of the National People’s Congress in May 2020 released data on household incomes. It showed that the bottom 40% of households ranked by annual income and accounting for about 600m people from a population of 1.4bn, had an average annual per capita disposable income of CN¥11,485 yuan (US$1,621) — an average of CN¥957 yuan (US$135) per month — according to an annual household survey produced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Deaths of 60 million people in Americas in 1500s and global climate change

Aztec emperor Moctezuma II on the balcony of his palace before his murder by Spanish captors in 1520. Library of US Congress

A Hendrick Avercamp's (1585–1634) painting of a Dutch waterway frozen in the extreme cold of winter: 'A Winter Scene,' c. 1610–1620, oil on panel, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Scientists report that in the century following the four voyages (1492–93, 1493–96, 1498–1500, and 1502–04) to the Caribbean and the Americas by Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), Italian Cristoforo Colombo, Spanish Cristóbal Colón (he was apparently a native of Genoa), European colonialism resulted in the deaths of 60m people. The European diseases and genocide that killed about 10% of the world's population triggered a climate crisis in Europe in particular, that brought famine and political upheaval. However, claims that revolts from Ireland to China and Japan in the 17th century all related to climate change are not valid.

It is estimated that the population of the Americas fell to just 5 or 6m within a hundred years. For comparison, Europe’s population in 1600 was 78m spread over less than half the area.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Useful idiots from Bernard Shaw to President Michael D Higgins

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright, at home on his deathbed. A picture of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is on the mantelpiece. Associated Press

Below, John McDonnell MP, then a senior British Labour Party politician in the House of Commons in 2015, reading quotes from Chinese dictator Mao Zedong's Little Red Book

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2007 was awarded to Doris Lessing (1919-2013), "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny."

In 1952 the British writer was part of a delegation visiting the Soviet Union. Her memories of the trip were clear and unforgiving according to a BBC documentary in 2010: “I was taken around and shown things as a ‘useful idiot’... that’s what my role was. I can’t understand why I was so gullible.”

Lessing was a member of the Communist Party in British-ruled Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1942-1944, and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1952-1956.