76) Problems Magazine

A lot of my stuff has been published there.  A full listing of recent items including articles by other authors can be found at the Labour Affairs website.

Problems 28: The Muon and the Green Great Dragon. Part One: In a Hole In a Hole Dwelt a Nothingness?

  • Why Muons were real, even when no one had believed they should exist. Or could explain why they did exist.
  • Why atoms are not really ‘a hole in a hole’.
  • Why any native English speaker would know that a ‘green great dragon’ was bad English, but would be unlikely to know why.
  • How the question ‘why’ is very different for human matters and for the physical universe.
  • How religions came in waves of ideas, and gave us ways to organise our thinking that had not existed before.
  • How religions show their human origin, by always supposing that it was a universe made as a dwelling for humans and similar creatures

Available from Athol Books, see below.

Problems 27China: Agnes Smedley’s Battle Hymn Against Japan

  • Smedley as Stranger In Her Own Land
  • Chinese Trotskyism
  • The little-known Trotskyist influence on Khrushchev
  • Witness at Xian – and Loose Cannon at Xian
  • A Failed Sexual Revolution at Yenan
  • Singing a Battle Hymn of China
  • Persecution by the Ignorant and Powerful
  • Death and Unjust Neglect

Problems 26Smedley: an American Woman Who Loved China’s Red Army

  • How Agnes Smedley found a life’s purpose in China
  • Her connection with super-spy Richard Sorge
  • Her account of the little-known Red Areas in South China
  • The surprising neglect of her work by later writers
  • How she told a genuinely unknown and potentially damaging story about Mao
  • The cowboy scholarship of ‘Wild Swan’ Chang and ‘Doc’ Halliday.
  • Her account of the ‘A.B. Group’, an early split within the Red Army
  • The Chinese Social Democrats’ efforts to created a functional Third Force

Available from Athol Books, see below.

Problems 25China: Blue Ants and Dangerous Reds

  • Why a very civilised Frenchmen called the Chinese ‘Blue Ants’.
  • How ‘Old China Hands’ in 1950 thought that the new Communist government would be as ineffective as the Kuomintang had been.
  • The amazing ignorance about ‘Red China’ found in 1950s USA.
  • Blood, Opium and Gunboats: how the West had messed up China before 1949.
  • The Amethyst Incident: when Gunboat Diplomacy ended.

Available from Athol Books, see below.

Problems 24 – China 1949: Fixing a Broken Society

  • The West’s false understanding of ‘Normal Politics’.
  • How the Kuomintang failed to develop anything much during their period of rule. How they failed to confront Global Imperialism, and then were very slow to resist Japan’s expansion into Chinese territory.
  • An interesting account of the first years after 1949, by a Christian missionary who stayed in China when most Westerners left or were expelled.
  • How Edgar Snow was well aware of the crisis after the Great Leap Forward, but noted the unusual weather and did not class it as a famine.

Also available as a PDF, Problems 24 China 1949

Problems 23 – China: Nurturing Red Stars

  • Why it become the job of the Chinese Communist Party to complete the necessary nationalist revolution that the Kuomintang had backed away from in 1927.
  • The unexpected role of Madam Sun (Soong Ching-ling) in publicising and strengthening Mao Zedong via Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China.

Also available as a PDF, Problems 23 – Nurturing Red Stars

Problems 22China’s Blue Republic, 1912-49. Stalin: Paradoxes of Power.

  • China’s ‘Blue Republic’ lasted from 1912 to 1949, and achieved nothing.  It achieved nothing because it was trying to erect a copy of the complex political structures of the USA or Western Europe on top of a society that had very different value. And doing it with a false understanding of the intricate political processes that had occurred there.
  • Stalin shaped the Soviet Union, which was for a long time regarded as the first and most important example of a working model of socialism.

Also available as a PDF, Problems 22_China’s Blue Republic

Problems 21China: Why a sophistocated Empire could not modernise. Including details of the exceptional nature of European developments.  And how Japan managed to modernise without uprooting its traditional culture.   Also available as a PDF, Problems 21 – Imperial China.

China under Mao – a period of great advance, when the economy tripped and life expectancy increased markedly.   Also available as a PDF, Problems 17-18 – China’s Maoist Foundations

Civilisation Alley.  Globalism before European Imperialism, considered as a broad band of advanced cultures from North-West Europe to South India, plus the sophisticated and diverse cultures of East Asia.

Crusaders and Other Barbarians.  How Europe was remade between the fall of the Roman Empire and the development of Puritanism.

Why The Ming Sea Voyages Led To Nothing.  Chinese vessels reached East Africa a few decades before Columbus and Vasco de Gama.  The Chinese ships were much better than anything Europe had until much later.  But the whole enterprise was abandoned, which is an historic enigma.

Nation States were NOT invented by the Peace of Westphalia, which merely left Germany in a fragmented state.  Nation states existed long before that.  The idea came from university Departments of Political Science, and is not supported by any historians I’ve come across.

Petty on English State Capitalism.  Writing a much more authentic description than the later work of Adam Smith. How he anticipated the modern world much better than Smith did, including the possibility of Britain becoming a country mostly devoted to industry and commerce, with agriculture margainalised.  And was in favour of tax as part of the developing economy, accepting the necessary role of the state.

Sociocide.  How Liberalism and North-West European norms became global norms by all sorts of dubious and oppressive methods.

The Diverse Forms of Democracy – much wider than the Western system.

Orwell on Spain and Britain.  George Orwell was part of Britain’s 20th century mistake.  His vision of socialism would have been an improved British Empire using socialist ideology. He never read much history or economics.  He was frequently wrong and sometimes dishonest.

Why the Left lost the Spanish Civil War.  Mostly concerned with the popular view that credits George Orwell and POUM and downplays the achievement of the Communist Movement.

British and US Genocide.  The standard Anglo view of the two World Wars was used to justify the Second Gulf War.  It wasn’t true.  Fascism and Hitler flourished for many years with the encouragement of Britain’s National Government.   Including details of how mainstream Science Fiction before World War Two was sometime positive or neutral about genocide.

To Subscribe, go to the Athol Books Webpage

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