Organized Panel Session
This panel examines a range of vibrant communist culture that emerged in colonized Asia in the 1920s and 1930s, focusing on the ways that communists from colonized Asian countries tackled the centralized power and positivist tendency of the Comintern at the time. Although communism in theory ought to abolish the state authority and ultimately party authority by way of the proletariat dictatorship, the Comintern came to be the substantial center of the international movements against capitalist empires. The Comintern, furthermore, unwittingly drew on orientalist empiricism when assessing colonial issues, causing intense conflicts with communists from colonized states. To grapple with these issues, as the presenters show, those communists came up with distinctive strategies that challenged the fixated power structure and the epistemological limit of the Comintern.
Belogurova shows that Chinese communists selectively utilized a Chinese version of Pan-Asianism to balance out the Comintern’s power and claim China’s agency in world communist movements. Han analyzes two Korean communists who foregrounded East Asian vitalism and ethics as an antidote to empiricism on which the Comintern built its authority regarding colonial issues. Keith reveals the French dimension of Vietnamese communism that engendered the Stalinist-Trotskyist alliance in Saigon politics against the Comintern policy. Finally, Vasudevan investigates the ways in which Indian communists appropriated British communism and Indian Commissions to challenge the Comintern ideology and practice and constitute the “Indian course.”