Adrian Budd

Rulers make ready for discontent

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The recent centralisation of authority around Xi Jinping, and moves to reinforce conformity within Chinese society, have more to do with preparations to confront a host of emerging economic, social and political issues than the formation of a new cult of personality, writes Adrian Budd.

At the end of February 2018 the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) proposed that the limit of two consecutive terms in office for the state president and vice-president be removed from the country’s constitution. The National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, rubber-stamped the change almost unanimously a few days later. The chief beneficiary of the change is Xi Jinping — state president, CPC leader and head of the armed forces.

China: New strains on state capitalism

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Adrian Budd discusses the contradictions in the Chinese economy that might pose a threat to its celebrated — and feared — growth rates.

For three decades discussion of China’s economy has been overwhelmingly positive. Benefitting from what Leon Trotsky called the privileges of backwardness, China’s transformation has been remarkable since the reforms of Maoist state capitalism started under Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Contrary to neoliberal myth, average growth rates of nearly 10 percent a year have been achieved by a combination of state production and state orchestration of private capital.

China, the US and imperialism

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In the first in a new series, Adrian Budd examines the changing power balance between China, the US and regional competitors — and how this fits with the Marxist theory of imperialism.

The nuclear stand-off between the US and North Korea focused eyes on Asia in 2017. Despite their differences, including over sanctions, the US and China have cooperated over North Korea’s nuclear programme and have a common interest in attempting the impossible of stabilising global capitalism. But they also have rival interests and China’s rise is the key long-term issue facing US power.

My Brother is an Only Child

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Director: Daniele Luchetti; Release date: 4 April

Daniele Luchetti's critically acclaimed film won five prizes in Italy's Donatello film awards in 2007. It is set in the small town of Latina, originally called Littoria, one of the new towns established when the malaria-ridden Pontine Marshes were drained by Mussolini's fascist regime in the 1930s. Latina's close association with Mussolini is central to the film.

Daratt

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Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Release date: 27 July

Haroun's multi-award winning film focuses on a brief period in the life of Chad teenager Atim. His name, meaning orphan, suggests that he has better reasons than most to be an angry young man. Orphaned in Chad's 40-year civil war, he grew up with a grandfather embittered by the loss of his son.

When the national Truth and Justice Commission announces an amnesty for war criminals, Atim is given his father's long unused gun and, encouraged by his grandfather, sets out from his impoverished village to find and assassinate his father's killer.

Ode to Darkness

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Review of 'Walk The Line', director James Mangold

Against the background of mainstream country music, synonymous with anodyne formulaic muzak designed to satisfy record company accountants, Johnny Cash stands out as a beacon of integrity and artistic independence. From his early rockabilly records, via blues, folk, gospel and other genres, to the astonishing recordings he made with producer Rick Rubin in the decade before his death in 2003, Cash generally rejected the Carter Family's injunction to 'keep on the sunny side of life'.

Divided Country

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Review of 'Rednecks & Bluenecks', Chris Willman, The New Press £14.99

In March 2003 the multimillion-selling Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience of their shame that Bush came from Texas, their home state. This was a pretty tame anti-war statement, but the deep polarisation in country music meant that it provoked death wishes, picketing of their concerts, and public burning of their records.

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