2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalist Hong Kong – Model or Threat to China?

Project Territory: China and its special administrative region, Hong Kong. Areas of Investigation: One country – two systems – to try to preserve the economic and political strengths that Hong Kong had built up and to maintain its capitalist free market, Hong Kong was offered the option of setting up a ‘one country, two systems’ policy – giving Hong Kong a great degree of autonomy from China. Capitalist paradise, communist paradise? Capitalism in Hong Kong has developed since the Second World War, and the region is now known to be a leading example of a laissez-faire capitalist economy. Attracting mainland Chinese and expatriates from afar, Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs over the last few decades have made extreme achievements. In opposition to Hong Kong’s capitalism, China’s Communist Party is the world’s largest political party. After the ‘May Fourth’ anti-imperialist movement in 1919, Marxist ideas began diffusing throughout China. Today though, the question that has to be asked is whether China is now a communist, socialist, nationalist or even capitalist society. Western Hong Kong, Eastern China. China has been much longer in development than Hong Kong has if the start of Hong Kong’s true development is considered to have begun only when the British gained control of it. Before this time, Hong Kong was, compared to the size of China, an insignificant port on China’s South coast. It can be said then, that Hong Kong has a more Western development behind it, while China, obviously had an Eastern viewpoint behind its development. Philosophical Ideas: John Locke – liberalism in relation to Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ method of government. Karl Marx – capitalism and communism, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The Communist Manifesto in relation to the governing principles of China. Max Weber – Weber’s connection between religion and economics and a brief look at his discussion of an ideal type of capitalism. Guy Debord – modern lives being invaded by the ‘spectacle’ and our passivity towards our own existences. This is related to China’s lack of freedom of speech and no free press forcing passivity onto the Chinese population. Conclusion: Hong Kong took risks – risks that worked to Hong Kong’s advantage – however, as the term ‘risk’ suggests, Hong Kong’s actions could just have easily made the region head down another road completely. Today, Hong Kong is not taking risks, but under the risk of China’s influence. Is Hong Kong a model or a threat to China? – The question may have to be reversed to China – model or threat to Hong Kong?

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Cuba: the Ideology of Communism in a Globalised World

A friend once told me visiting Cuba is like “the closest thing to time travel”. To understand exactly what they meant I did no less than visit the place myself. When I arrived the immediate visual images I saw confirmed this. Foremost I noticed the appearance of the buildings and transport; many still used horse and cart, and there was an abundance of 1950’s cars and likewise Soviet cars from the 1970’s. But even more strikingly there was a lack of imagery that one takes for granted in a capitalist society. Instead of seeing a huge Coca-Cola signs leering at me as I drove down the road I would see a huge monument of Che Guevara eyes staring down at me. In place of brand-name slogans are sentiments of an anti-bush propaganda. Does this country really exist? It of course got me to thinking about how this country has come to exist amids such an advanced capitalist and technological world? What has inspired this country so strongly that it has not only sustained itself without support from the western world but has managed to resist attack from it? To understand this country as it is today, first must be understood the movement which inspired such a revolution as Che Guevara’s and Fidel Castro’s. Che Guevara was inspired by Marx and the revolution can be seen as an honest attempt to put implement the theory of Marx’s science. I will explore Marx, in particular reference to Hegel and further explore what relevance the concepts of such a movement have today. Having explored the past of Cuba and what has led it to become the place that it is today, I will then ask what future can not only Cuba as a place have but what future there are for all the ideologies that surround it. Is Cuba only the shadow of an old History? Or will the direction the Globalised world takes revert back to some of these ideologies?