New role of cholesterol in regulating brain proteins discovered

A study led by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics at the Faculty of Medicine in Charité Hospital, Berlin, published in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates that the cholesterol present in cell membranes can interfere with the function of an important brain membrane protein, through a previously unknown mode of interaction. Specifically, cholesterol is capable of regulating the activity of the adenosine receptor, by invading it and accessing the active site. This will allow new ways of interacting with these proteins to be devised that in the future could lead to drugs for treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The adenosine receptor belongs to the GPCR family (G Protein-Coupled Receptors), a large group of proteins located in cell membranes, which are key in the transmission of signals and communication between cells. GPCRs are therefore involved in the majority of important physiological processes, including the interpretation of sensory stimuli such as vision, smell, and taste, the regulation of the immune and inflammatory system, and behaviour modulation.

“Cholesterol is an essential component of neuronal membranes, where GPCRs reside along with other proteins. Interestingly, the levels of cholesterol in the membrane are altered in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, where GPCRs like the adenosine receptor play a key role”, explains Jana Selent, head of the GPCR Drug Discovery research group at the GRIB, a joint programme between Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). “This study has shown that cholesterol can exert direct action on this important family of proteins in neuronal membranes, the GPCRs, and establishes the basis for a hitherto unknown interaction pathway between the cell membrane and proteins”, adds the researcher.

Up to now, it was thought that membrane cholesterol could regulate the activity of these proteins through two mechanisms: either by altering the physical properties of the membrane, or by binding to the surface of the protein. In both cases, it was thought that cholesterol could only exercise its modulatory action from outside the protein.

However, by using latest-generation molecular simulations the researchers were able to detect the fact that cholesterol can leave the neuronal membrane and get within the adenosine receptor, in particular accessing the receptor’s active site. With this information, and in collaboration with Dr. Mairena Martin and Dr. José L. Albasanz from the University of Castilla-La Mancha, we designed an experimental protocol using cell assays to demonstrate that cholesterol is able to modulate the activity of this receptor by accessing its interior.

“Cholesterol levels in cell membranes could have a more direct effect than previously thought on the behaviour of key proteins in central nervous system diseases. In particular, high levels of membrane cholesterol like those present in Alzheimer’s patients probably block the adenosine receptor, which could in turn be related to certain symptoms observed in this disease”, explains Ramón Guixà González, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics at the Faculty of Medicine in Charité Hospital in Berlin and first author of the article. “Although other studies are needed to prove this relationship, this work provides key knowledge that could be used in the future in the development of new molecules that, like cholesterol, have the ability to get inside the receptor and modulate its activity”, says the researcher.

The results from this study represent a paradigm shift in the relationship between membrane cholesterol and GPCRs in the central nervous system, and open up new avenues of research in fields where the cholesterol-GPCR relationship is essential. It also appears that the cholesterol access pathway into the receptor is an evolutionary footprint. It is therefore necessary to discover whether the molecular mechanism described in this paper is present in other GPCRs and therefore potentially involved in a wide range of central nervous system diseases.

GPCRs/7-transmembrane receptors (7TM receptors)

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes. 


  • single polypeptide chain comprising of seven transmembrane α-helices
  • extracellular N-terminal domain of varying length, 
  • intracellular C-terminal domain.
  • length of the extracellular N terminus and the location of the agonist binding domain determines family.
  • The long, third cytoplasmic loop couples to the G-protein 
  • Usually particular receptor subtypes couple selectively with particular G-proteins
  • For small molecules, such as noradrenaline, the ligand-binding domain of class A receptors is buried in the cleft between the α-helical segments within the membrane. Peptide ligands bind more superficially to the extracellular loops

G protein system

GPCRs interact with G proteins in the plasma membrane when an external signaling molecule binds to a GPCR, causes a conformational change in the GPCR.  G-proteins comprise a family of membrane-resident proteins
whose function is to recognise activated GPCRs and
pass on the message to the effector systems that generate
a cellular response. 

  • G proteins are specialized proteins with the ability to bind the nucleotides guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and guanosine diphosphate (GDP). 
  • The G proteins that associate with GPCRs are heterotrimeric, (alpha beta and gamma subunits)
  •  alpha and gamma are attached to the plasma membrane by lipid anchors 
  • Trimer in resting state 
  • activated alpha monomer and beta/gamma dimer

Guanine nucleotides bind to the α subunit, which has enzymic activity, catalysing the conversion of GTP to GDP. The β and γ subunits remain together as a βγ complex. All three subunits are anchored to the membrane through a fatty acid chain, coupled to the G-protein through a reaction known as prenylation.

  • G-proteins are freely diffusible so a single pool of G-protein in a cell can interact with several different receptors and effectors 
  • When GPCR is activated by an agonist, a conformational change causes it to acquire high affinity for αβγ (G protein)
  • bound GDP dissociates and is replaced with GTP, which in turn causes dissociation of the G-protein trimer, releasing α-GTP and βγ subunits - the ‘active’ forms of the G-protein
  • which diffuse in the membrane and can associate with various enzymes and ion channels
  • Signalling is terminated on hydrolysis of GTP to GDP through the GTPase activity of the α subunit.
  • resulting α–GDP dissociates from the effector, and reunites with βγ
  • Attachment of the α subunit to an effector molecule increases its GTPase activity
  • GTP hydrolysis is termination –> activation of the effector tends to be self-limiting

Second messenger targets for G proteins

Main targets:

  • Adenylyl cyclase (responsible for cAMP formation)
  • Phospholipase C (inositol phosphate and diacylglycerol (DAG) formation)
  • Ion channels, particularly calcium and potassium channels
  • Rho A/Rho kinase (system controlling the activity of many signalling pathways for cell growth and proliferation, smooth muscle contraction, etc.)
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase) system controlling cell functions eg division.

(notes on these coming soon)

anonymous asked:

I've got to admit I don't understand how Maoism differs from Marxism-Leninism tout court (apart from having a bit more of a focus on agrarian rebellion and national liberation) & I really can't find any decent resources

Alright, so you may have heard a Maoist explain it with this phrase: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is both a continuity and rupture from Marxism-Leninism. Now this is true, but it doesn’t really get into the “meat” of what MLM is. So let’s start with what is meant by “continuity and rupture"

Marxism is a totalizing world philosophical, analytical and scientific outlook based in a materialist world view and a dialectical method, and it develops based on class struggle. With new developments in class struggle comes new developments in Marxist theory. This is where continuity and rupture come in. We learn new things with each new development, but we don’t completely throw away everything else. MLM traces its theoretical and practical history through Marxism and Marxism-Leninism. ML served not only as the first significant rupture from orthodox Marxism, but as the first systematized and practical basis for communist organizing and built a strategy for actually seizing state power. As such, we are still Marxists and Marxist-Leninists in this sense. 

Marxism and ML serve as the basis of MLM historically, that’s why we call it a continuity; we still promote the ideas and achievements of these developments: dialectical materialism, Marxian political economy, the theory of imperialism, the vanguard party, national self-determination, democratic centralism, the history of the socialist USSR, the Paris Commune, etc. But we are also critical of these in many ways as well, and we try to learn from their failures, and this is where the “rupture” part starts to come into play.

Now, new developments of Marxism can’t (and don’t) just come out of people’s heads, they don’t “fall from the sky”, they come from social practice. They come from developments in class struggle. ML was itself itself a rupture from orthodox Marxism in the context of class struggles surrounding the Second International, development of Imperialism starting in the 1890s, and the Bolshevik Revolution and early years of Soviet power. Similarly, MLM is a rupture that is rooted in the anti-colonial revolutionary wave of 1945-1970s/80s, the capitalist restoration and victory of revisionism in the USSR and other nominally-socialist countries (including, eventually, China), the experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), and the experience of the People’s War in Peru. Now let’s break each of these down a little. Each of these historical/social phenomena deserves its own essay, honestly, but for the sake of brevity in this ask I’ll try to just touch on the most important aspects, and show what experiences led to what theoretical developments of Maoism. (While I’ll try to talk about what each development means, a full explanation would be way too long. Anyone with further questions is free to send an ask or message though!)

First, the anti-colonial wave following WW2. Many countries rose up in this period to throw off the shackles of imperialism and colonialism. Some notable examples are Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, and Angola. These revolutions tore asunder the relations of imperialism that culminated in the previous two world wars. Africa, Asia, Latin America; all were witness to huge revolutionary changes. We can also see these movements shaking the foundations of settler colonies like the US and South Africa. China was also witness to anti-colonial revolution, and successfully pushed the People’s War of resistance forward and established a dictatorship of the proletariat. While many other revolutions were guided by Marxism-Leninism, they were ultimately unsuccessful at establishing their own independent DotPs, as the USSR transformed into a social-imperialist power (see next paragraph). Because of the dominance of the bourgeoisie in many of these revolutions, many, while they succeeded at becoming independent, became neo-colonies of either the Western imperialists or Soviet imperialists. These revolutionary experiences in part led to the formulation of the theory of New Democratic Revolution, which states that in situations of semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism (that is, in countries dominated by imperialism), the proletarian dictatorship led by the Communist Party must form a united front with several classes in order to adequately develop productive forces for socialist revolution, as to telescope the bourgeois revolution and “pave the road” for socialist construction.

So the second big event that led to the formulation of Maoism as a break from Marxism-Leninism is the rise of revisionism (that is to say, the victory of capitalism) in the USSR. While the bourgeois line in the CPSU had always existed (as MLMs recognize with the concept of two-line struggle), it began to gain dominance following WW2 and, following the disunity of the Party as a result of Stalin’s death, was able to seize political power of the Soviet state. The CPC criticized this trend of revisionism thoroughly, and ultimately came to the conclusion, based on the economic relations in the USSR and the USSR’s aggression towards China, that capitalism had been restored in the country. This is further proven by later acts of aggression by the USSR, such as in Afghanistan and Eritrea, and the neo-colonial relationship of the USSR with most COMECON nations. At the the same time as this split, Communists in China recognized the growing dominance of the bourgeois line in their own Party following the Great Leap Forward.

The Cultural Revolution was launched in a struggle against the bourgeois line in the Party. The GPCR was a huge movement in the economy, politics, and culture, and is probably the best example of revolutionizing the relations of production historically. In this social movement, which is considered by Maoists to be the closest we have gotten to communism, many theoretical developments were “crystallized” in a sense; among them is the Maoist conception of dialectical materialism which posits that the unity of opposites (Law of Contradiction) is the fundamental and only law of dialectics, with other “laws” simply being expressions of this one. This can be summed up by the phrase “one divides into two”, a break from the old conception of dialectics dominant among Marxists which said “two combine into one”. One divides into two recognizes that struggle is constant and unity is temporal, and recognizes the change and conflict in all things. The GPCR laid the groundwork of anti-revisionism in the ML movement worldwide. Because Maoists recognize that struggle is constant, we know that class struggle will continue to exist under a proletarian dictatorship and in the Party. As such we recognize the need of two-line struggle in the Party (breaking from the ML and otho Marxist view that the Party is wholly of the proletariat and any capitalists within it are just “wreckers” or “infiltrators”), as well as the need for cultural revolutions, that is, if we view socialist revolution and a revolution in the economic base, the cultural revolution is a revolution in the superstructure of society. We know that class politics have to be primary in all our work, which is how we maintain proletarian political lines. This is a huge break from Soviet revisionist theory which put economic production in command. This focus on the forces of production is a revisionist error that only encapsulates and expands extant capitalist relations in society, and played a large political role in capitalist restoration both in the USSR and China. Communists in China also brought back an emphasis of the Mass Line method of leadership, so as to keep Party cadre in touch with the masses. This was a method used by the Bolsheviks and the Chinese Communists, and it can be summed up with the slogan “from the masses, to the masses.” Essentially, Communists should gather the different ideas of the masses, analyze them under Marxist theory, and then bring back those conclusions to the masses in form of political work and propaganda.

After revisionism won out in the CPC and capitalism was restored in the late 70s in China, many Marxist-Leninists said Maoism was dead. At this point in history, self-proclaimed Maoists existed globally (the RCP in the US and the CPP in the Philippines are two very different examples) but this was before MLM was consolidated as a universal theory. The Maoists of the 60s and 70s were all anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists or followed “Mao Zedong Throught”. However, shortly after the end of socialist China, communists in Peru launched their Protracted People’s War. PPW was the method of warfare and revolution implemented by the Chinese Communists in their Revolution. In MLM theory, PPW is a 3 part mode of warfare (defensive, equilibrium, and offensive) which implements 3 “magic weapons”: The Party, The United Front, and the People’s Army, to build base areas of red dual power in preparation for a seizure of state power. This was a large break from the ML strategy, which advocated a prolonged legal struggle followed by an insurrection, as in Russia, and rejected the ability of coups as capable of making socialist revolution, as in Afghanistan or Burkina Faso. Peruvian Communists applied PPW to the conditions of Peru, worked with the Peruvian masses, and, despite their errors, came very close to actually seizing state power. Working with ML-MZT movements in other countries, these Maoists began to crystallize Marxism-Leninism-Maoism into a universally applicable theory, just as the CPSU had done with Marxism-Leninism in the 20s and 30s. Peruvian Maoists, working with others internationally, “officially” declared MLM a new development in 1993. Since then MLM has been the dominant ideology of Communists worldwide. The shortest i can put it is that Maoism (MLM) is Marxism adapted for the terrain of Neo-Colonialism.

So, TLDR, MLM principally differs from ML in its dialectical method, which leads to the conclusions of most of its theoretical breaks. The focus on national liberation and agrarian revolution isn’t a tenant of Maoism (altho we support natlib struggles), but most likely misunderstanding of the theory of New Democracy and of the concept of semi-feudalism. I wrote this post of readings and websites to learn more about maoism a while back: To it i would add Continuity and Rupture and The Communist Necessity by JMP, plus his website has loads of good shit: If you (or anyone for that matter) has other questions feel free to hit me up, my ask box is always open and i accept all PMs!

anonymous asked:

Do you have anything I can read about the "active struggle to increase workers’ control over society and revolutionise the relations of production" in China under Mao?

As we are not a blog that focuses on reading communist literature or literature on the history of communism, we feel it is not adequate to answer this question with a simple reading list. However, the question of how there was an active struggle to increase workers control and revolutionize the relations of production is a pressing one, and deserves a thorough response.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) was a massive upheaval in social, economic, and political life in the People’s Republic. It was in this context that China saw a massive shift from the economic policies both capitalist states and the USSR (both in its socialist and capitalist periods).

In the factories, workers and local revolutionary committees maintained a strict political line and focused on the welfare of workers in their workplace. In Charles Bettelheim’s work, The Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organization in China, textile workers interviewed on the changing of relations remarked on the welfare of workers achieved in the GPCR:

“We pay particular attention to working conditions and are guided in this by the Chinese Communist Party. We are concerned with the welfare of the workers and the preservation of human initiative. In the old society things were very different. The capitalists did not care about such matters. […] There are two additional fifteen minute breaks for physical exercises designed to prevent work-related disabilities. These are at the same time military exercises, for we must all be prepared in case of an imperialist invasion.

All doctors attached to the infirmary are required to make daily rounds of the shops. This reduces the need for a worker to consult a doctor elsewhere. […] There is no charge for consultation and medication. […] Of course, we do not claim that we have done enough to improve working conditions. We must make even greater efforts, for there are always new problems to be solved.”

Other factories in China operated on similar platforms, as well as paying wages regularly above the cost of living, providing special assistance to workers in extraordinary working conditions, and providing more assistance to working women and mothers. Many of the larger factories offered educational facilities for workers, teaching technical skills, engineering, and more. During the GPCR, workers struggled to replace the individualist idea of “professional advancement” with serving the people- using these more advanced skills and new responsibilities to be useful and for the benefit of the collective and the whole people.

Most industrial workplaces in China were attempting to “learn from Daqing,” a petroleum complex that, following the end of Soviet aid as a result of the Sino-Soviet split, necessitated massive effort of workers and administrators working together, not just to earn more money, but to expand China’s resources and provide for the revolution and the people. Daqing was upheld as a model to follow for the PRC because it ended the country’s reliance on foreign oil and maintained a proletarian political line.

In Daqing and other factories, problems were discussed collectively, and daily, and so solutions were formulated outside of a purely technical outlook. In the USSR and capitalist countries, factories had "economics in command”- meaning production was seen as primary, along with monetary incentives, specialists, profit, etc. The top-down method of Soviet leadership in the economy was abandoned as workers made a serious effort to include political cadre in production and themselves in management. Before the GPCR, the division between workers and management was stark, similar to the USSR. Management was appointed by central administration and the factory party committee, which focused almost entirely on production and technology without much (if any) conversation with the workers. The GPCR flipped this model, and put “politics in command.” Factory committees were completely dissolved and replaced with mass organizations such as management teams and revolutionary committees, with the revisionist line of management eliminated as the workers and masses rose up under the leadership of the Communist Party. Piece wage systems were abolished, individual and group bonuses were increasingly eliminated, and production teams took over much of the work of management. Some factories implemented yearly production goals after lengthy, factory-wide discussion, and production teams even deliberated on their own wages based on experience, skill, and attitude. Furthermore wages were set on a system that averaged wage differentials to 1:3. Management, political cadre, members of the revolutionary committees, and administrators all participated in production as the GPCR went on. “Triple combinations” of workers, administrators, and technicians were formed to solve technical problems and make innovations. Factory workers began focusing on the needs of the country as a whole, instead of just their workplace.

Political study of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and other socialist thinkers was also common in factories, in order that workers would be more able to investigate and forge solutions to both economic and political issues.

When the Deng Xiaoping clique within the Party gained power, these achievements were all reversed, washed away and replaced with the all-too-familiar system where all authority was placed into the hands of factory managers.

This ask is already quite long, and we have really only touched on industrial production- but these achievements were deeply felt in the rural regions of China as well. During the GPCR, peasants in the countryside (who still made up 80% of the population) formed independent mass organizations in the People’s Communes, and directly confronted the bureaucratic methods of work by leadership and Party cadre. Production team leaders were elected and subject to recall. Village revolutionary committees were formed and exercised day-to-day leadership in villages and on Communes, similar to urban revolutionary committees did in city neighborhoods. Peasants began painting, writing, performing, and became involved with politics, and the expansion of education and healthcare brought immediate benefits to people who had never had access to it before. The rural Communes were advised to “learn from Dazhai,” which was a brigade of a Commune in Shanxi Province. Dazhai transformed its hills into fertile land, struggled against capitalist mentality in agriculture, and constructed new housing and community projects in villages. In the late 1970s, again with the rise of the Deng clique, the Communes were broken up, land was distributed to individual peasant households, and privatization brought an end to the collective healthcare system and “barefoot doctor” initiative.

The key achievement both in industry and agriculture towards revolutionizing social relations was in putting politics in command. By putting politics in command, the PRC was able to transform enterprises into interrelated political units, dramatically changing the relationship between workers and managers, between city and countryside, and further advancing the class struggle and demonstrating, especially considering the reversal of these achievements, that a proletarian political line is essential to the development of socialism and of communist transformation. 


Drug Receptors - Pharmacology

Ligand-Gated Ion Channels 

  • Ionotropic receptors
  • Structurally similar to other ion channels 
  • Quickest response
  • Each receptor consists of 16-20 membrane spanning domains, 4-5 per subunit
  • Open when ligand binds to extracellular part of channel 
  • (5 M2 helicases are sharply kinked inward halfway through the mebrane forming a constriction)
  • Excitatory neurotransmitters eg acetylcholine and glutamate induce opening of cation channels 
  • Inhibitatory neurotransmitters eg GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glycine induce opening of anion channels 

Nuclear receptors

  • Target for many hormones
  • Cytoplasmic or nuclear proteins
  • Ligand binding domain and DNA binding domain
  • Modulate gene expression
  • Upregulate or downregulate protein production 

Three families:

  • Steroid receptors (androgen/oestrogen/glucorticoid receptors)
  • Thyroid/retinoid receptors (vitamin D/retinoic acid/thyroid/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors
  • Orphan receptors

Kinase linked receptors

  • Mediate the actions of a wide variety of protein mediators eg growth factors, cytokines and hormones
  • Large extracellular ligand-binding domain connected via a single membrane spanning helix to an intracellular domain
  • intracellular domain possesses kinase activity 

Main types include:

  • Receptor tyrosine kinases (eg epidermal growth factor, nerve growth factor and insulin receptors)
  • Serine/threonine kinases (eg transforming growth factor)
  • Cytokine receptors (eg colony-stimulating factor)

G-Protein Coupled receptors 

  • Membrane located - inner side of plasma membrane
  • 400 gene sequences for GPCRs
  • eg muscarinic ACh receptors, adrenoreceptors, dopamine
  • Most have extracellular N-terminus, 7 transmembrane domains and an intracellular C-terminus
  • Universally called 7-transmembrane receptors (7TM receptors)
  • Called G-proteins because of their interaction with guanine nucleotides GTP and GDP
  • G-protein system consists of three subunits (alpha, beta and gamma)
  • Trimer in resting state
  • GTP molecule binds to alpha subunit

GPCRs are divided into three groups

  • Family A: largest, comprising mostly of monoamine, neuropeptide and chemokine receptors
  • Family B: includes receptors for some other peptides such as calcitonin and glucagon
  • Family C: smallest: metabotropic glutamate and GABA receptors 

[Read more for some GPCR specifics]

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

im kinda new to communism and im sincere asking this but i dont get the mao thing? He was a dictator, right? Im sorry im so ignorant but im trying to learn

No. First off, just so we’re on the same page, I’m saying “dictator” is defined as someone with total or absolute control over a country. Also keep in mind that the function of state organs has changed drastically since the Mao era, with the constitution changing dramatically in 1982 (it changed in 1975 and 1978 as well). I’m answering this based on the 1954 constitution, which the PRC was governed by until a year before Mao’s death.

Mao held several political offices in his life, but the two most important were his position as Chairman of the Peoples Republic of China and as Chairman of the Communist Party of China. He was elected to the former by the National People’s Congress (the legislative branch of the PRC, defined by the 1954 constitution as the “highest organ of state authority” and “only legislative authority in the country”- an equivalent would be Congress in the USA, altho Congress is bicameral and the NPC is unicameral) in 1954 when the constitution was adopted at the 1st Congress, and left office in 1959 when the 2nd Congress of the NPC elected Liu Shaoqui to the position. Mao remained an elected member of the NPC until his death however. This office was later vacated in 1968 when Liu was criticized during the Cultural Revolution, with its roles being filled by the Vice-Chairman Dong Biwu. This position was actually abolished in the 1975 constitution, but reinstated with less power over military and administration in the 1982 constitution). The other high-standing political office with significant power was the Premier (think Prime Minister), which was held by Zhou Enlai.

The other office Mao held was Chairman of the Communist Party, where he had most of his political influence as a member of the Central Committee. This was not a state institution, it was the ruling party, and the CC was elected by party members since the party was a democratic organization. While the CPC held most of the seats in the NPC, this doesnt in any way mean a dictatorship. The Communist Party was also massively criticized and changed during the Cultural Revolution, with its most bureaucratic and capitalistic elements and functions changed or abolished. The important thing in the period of transition from capitalism to communism is to ensure that the proletariat holds political power. This is what was being attempted in the GPCR. People often claim the GPCR was a power grab by Mao, but it was really a mass movement of workers, students, and peasants. Understanding the GPCR really gets rid of a lot of the basis for the whole “Mao was a dictator” myth thats pushed in the West. Mao did have a large cult of personality grow around him during the Cultural Revolution, but again, this doesnt mean dictatorship. Look at the cult around America’s early presidents and leaders. Their faces are literally carved into a mountain, but they werent dictators. And neither was Mao. This of course doesnt mean he is free from criticism, but its a big leap from “bad leader” to “dictator”.

Even if you dont believe all this though and for some reason still think hes a dictator, its honestly ridiculous to claim he killed over 70 million people, thats just baseless and exaggerated ahistorical anti-communism.

If you want to better understand the GPCR and Mao-era China, I recommend starting with this:

anonymous asked:

As someone who is quite unfamiliar with the history of modern China, what would you say are some critical points/events that led to its communism turning into this... thing that it is now

By the late 1950′s, early 1960′s, there were elements within the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) that more or less called for the restoration of capitalism within China, among these Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping who presented themselves as loyal supporters of Mao Tse-tung yet were considered more “moderate” in terms of policies.

The star of Liu Shaoqi was in the ascent during this period. Liu’s leadership of the ‘first line’ gave him the authority to convene conferences, select speakers, and thus secure passage of the measures he supported. For example, in an expanded CC meeting of January 21-27, 1962 (the ‘meeting of the 7,000’ cadres), Liu Shaoqi presided and gave a speech (on the twenty-sixth) in which he reported that Hunan peasants had told him that the failure of the Leap was only 30 percent due to natural catastrophes and 70 percent due to ‘human errors.’

At the same time, Liu called for the following reforms: (1) immediate cessation of work on projects from which no 'economically relevant results’ were expected; (2) shutting down enterprises that make no profit or operate on a loss; (3) reintroduction of free markets and higher prices for agricultural produce; and (4) use of the production team as the basic accounting unit. This conference was followed by the Xilou conference of the Politburo Standing Committee, which was held from February 21 to 26, 1966, and again chaired by Liu. At the meeting, Chen Yun submitted a report pointing to a deficit of two billion yuan. The report, which was accepted and distributed to local levels, justified retrenchment and increased reliance on local initiative to solve economic problems. At the Beidaiho Politburo Conference in August 1962, Liu Shaoqi again raised the questions to be discussed and dominated the meetings.
(Dittmer, L. Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Rev Ed. England: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1998. p. 42.)

Understanding that there was an urgent necessity to attack and remove capitalist roaders from the party, and to avoid what happened in the Soviet Union with the ascension of the Khrushchev clique, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was launched to address this pressing issue (among others).

While Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were purged (forced to retire from their positions, and more or less barred from any party duty) during the GPCR, the latter would have the benefit of being Zhou Enlai’s protege, someone who had accumulated a lot of power within the CCP and held certain influence over Mao Tse-tung, especially after Lin Biao’s attempted coup (some argue that this coup was initiated because Mao Tse-tung had refused to follow Lin Biao’s suggestion of becoming head of state, thus displacing Zhou Enlai and allowing Lin Biao to later succeed as head of state and party chairman. It’s hard to say whether this was based on rivalry or genuine mistrust regarding Zhou Enlai, but the coup had catastrophic effects and affected the general opinion on the GPCR).

With Zhou Enlai’s death, Deng Xiaoping, who Zhou had appointed as his successor, saw himself being removed once again from any influential positions as the Gang of Four, with Mao Tse-tung’s support, launched a campaign against Deng. Hua Guofeng instead became the premier and vice chairman of the party.

Once Mao Tse-tung died, Hua Guofeng succeed as chairman of the CCP and the central military commission to much of the Gang of Four’s surprise. Thus they engaged in a political war to ensure the future of socialist China (which they unfortunately failed to win). Since Guofeng required support in dealing with the Gang of Four, he restored Deng Xiaoping to series of positions (Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army). In reply to his rehabilitation, Deng would use his newly found influence to oust Guofeng, consolidate his power over the CCP, and a launch a series of campaigns to besmirch and “criticise” the GPCR (in a similar fashion to De-Stalinisation in the USSR) and to reform China’s economic model with pro-capitalist elements.

A real cowboy of revisionism

This, of course, is a very brief and simplified version of the events that transpired. If you’d like to read more the subject, we have a bunch of books in our library but we also recommend reading “The Political Economy of Counterrevolution in China: 1976-88“ by Henry Park, “The Capitalist Roaders Are Still on the Capitalist Road“ by China Study Group, “And Mao Makes 5″ by Raymond Lotta, and “Evaluating the Cultural Revolution in China and its Legacy for the Future“ by MLM Revolutionary Study Group in the U.S.


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