The repression of Chinese anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong is part of a political crackdown on scores of activists, journalists, and intellectuals. This crackdown involves increased internet controls and a Marxist-Leninist ideological purification campaign for Chinese journalists on which I have commented earlier.
What is particularly fascinating about this new and predictable round of Chinese communist repression is that it has been accompanied by an official anti-corruption campaign organized by none other than Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping. This is uncannily reminiscent of the official Soviet reaction to corruption within the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).
Effects of corruption in the USSR
In the Soviet case, this corruption was the tip of an iceberg of a much larger crisis – namely, a crisis of Party discipline. It was this crisis that was one of the central reasons for the collapse of the communist enterprise in the Soviet Union.
What is the connection between this crisis and the Soviet collapse?
First of all, one must recognize that the CPSU had grown to be a massive bureaucratic monstrosity with over 20 million members. Most of them were ideological workers – i.e., propagandists and agitators – and prefects, who were non-productive monitors of what productive activity was undertaken in the USSR in order to ensure conformity with the Party line. The fundamental problem that had developed within this system was that orders issued from the top would suffer from erosion and ultimately would not be implemented efficiently or at all when they reached the lower and local levels.