Falun Gong, Soka Gakkai, and How to Organize Today’s Proletariat

By Jing Zhao, August 1999

In the last July, Komei Party (translated as Clear Government Party), Soka Gakkai’s political entity, formally decided to make a union (power sharing) with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as well as Ozawa’s Liberal Party. During the meeting between Komei and LDP’s tops, Obuchi especially mentioned Komei’s role in establishing Japan’s "normalization" with China. This is a natural result after ten year’s political "regime shift" since the end of the "Cold War" from June 4, 1989.

Due to its special characteristics, I have paid attention to Soka Gakkai since I began my sociological research in Japan. Besides research from data and books, I also attended some Soka Gakkai’s local activity and made some rank and file members of my best Japanese friends. A couple of cooks, from the rural Wakayama Prefecture, even prepared to protect us from Japan’s legal system which is always hostile towards ordinary Asian people. Although it is said that there are two grass-roots parties in Japan (the other one is Japanese Communist Party), Soka Gakkai is the only politics-oriented grass-roots organization containing mostly today’s proletariat (I cannot find a better word for them) in Japan.

Soka Gakkai’s ruling circle, under their "sensei" Ikeda (who prefers to be called President), has behaved a brutish political intention. Increasing Ikeda’s shake-hands photos with world leaders is one important accomplishment of Soka Gakkai’s diplomatic activity. Naturally, Ikeda shook Li Peng’s hands soon after the Tiananmen Incident, obtained one of the cheapest photos for him with a "world leader". In fact, Japan’s Socialist Party was China’s real alliance during the whole preiod of Cold War, but Zhou Enlai had to utilize Komei (which had direct connection with Premier Tanaka Kakuei), not LDP’s rival, at the final step to negotiate the core condition (war reparation). Nonetheless, domestically, Soka Gakkai succeeded in organizing Japan’s mostly unskilled, unemployed, and temporary worker population. Nobody doubts that Soka Gakkai has played a significant and will play a more decisive role in Japan’s politics.

This successful strategy utilizing Buddhist tradition to organize today’s proletariat now has been repeated in China, especially in a radical changing time.

From the beginning, Falun Gong was distinct from any other qigong organizations with a strong social appealing. Like Zhang Jiao’s "Five-dou Rice" network, Hong Xiuquan’s "Worship God Association" centuries ago, qigong now becomes the perfect means to connect China’s urban populace who benefit little (if any) from Beijing’s current "Reform and Openness" policy. What Falun claims to follow, Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance), are exactly an opposition, at least an alternative, against the current Chinese society.

Since the crack down ten years ago, Beijing relies more and more on military police to maintain its power, and it seems that this brutish policy functioned well enough for these years to ensure Beijing promoting economy "reform" without political change. However, now there emerges enough proletariat populace from various "reform" waves (mostly laying off working people, the "master of state," or transferring state estate to bureaucracy-capitalist complex), and they are ready prepared to lose nothing but the miserable social status during the coming radical structural change.

Unfortunately, Zhongnanhai did not realize this situation. Although there were troubles by Falun Gong, Zhongnanhai thought that can be handled at a Falun Gong vs. He Zuoshu level. By the way, though with a Nuclear Physicist title, He Zuoshu has left Physics and become famous for his "philosophical" articles published in CCP’s official propganda such as _People’s Daily_, _China Construction_ ever since the 1950s. Indicated by Li Hongzhi as a "scientific prostitute," He Zuoshu is not Falun’s rival. Falun’s rival is Zhongnanhai, simply because only Zhongnanhai has the power to handle the problems which brings about the emerges of organizations as Falun Gong.

Zhongnanhai was shocked by the April 25th besieging (Falun claims it was an unorganized "visit" simultaneously by thousands of practitioners, not a protest) because it did not expected any Chinese dare to besiege Zhongnanhai. Only after three months, Zhongnanhai declared that "this is a severe ideological and political struggle" (_People’s Daily_, July 24) and began to crack down Falun Gong. From my observation, however, this is a clear indication that, after losing social control in rural area since Deng’s countryside reform, the CCP has also lost social control in China’s urban cities. The CCP is still strong enough to crackdown one Falun Gong, but it cannot prevent from the emerge of new Falun Gongs.

Beijing may have had the opportunity after the 14th CCP Conference, in which Jiang Zeming established his number one status, to adjust its policies since the Tiananmen Incident. However, from the result of the CCP 15th Conference (for example, the creature of "Deng Xiaoping Theory" inserted into the PRC Constitution), it becomes apparent that Jiang has neither the interest nor the ability beyond securing his status within the CCP. Falun Gong is cracked down, but China’s emerging proletariat will find a new form to be organized. Since CCP’s legitimacy to stay at power is purely on the economic development and China’s economy becomes so serious that Zhu Rongji had to go and beg Washington to let China enter WTO with whatever Washington wanted, if China’s proletariat populace are not connected as a new Falun Gong or Soka Gakkai, alas, thanks to Mr. Lee Tenghui’s "special state to state relation" stimulus, they will be mobilized to the rising nationalism direction.

On the other side, we have seen that Washington is ready to operate in Asia region after it occupied Yugoslavia’s Kosovo, and Tokyo is also rushing to prepare the unavoidable coming conflict by a series of war acts and the sanction of the "national flag" Hinomaru and "national anthem" Kimigayo. The only problem is: ordinary Asian peoples are not ready to stand up against this catastrophic destiny.

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