|Ken Hanly snarked:
The Chinese working class is growing by leaps and
bounds and is confident that eventually it will
achieve the American dream with Chinese
John Gulick sez:
Well, yes... and no.
The widespread embrace of consumer capitalist values
in China is stunning, but I think there is a tendency for
the "Western" (I hate that term) media and "Western"
observers to generalize from limited observations that
suggest this is the case, because it satisfies their smug
belief that deep within every alien soul is an inner
American (as if there is anything peculiarly American
about consumer capitalism, another provincial conceit).
On the other hand, China has a long and proud tradition
of the "right to rebel"... and since the Taiping Rebellion
this has been aimed at not only toppling illegitimate regimes,
but also illegitimate social systems. Of course for reasons
both laudable and suspect, Mao celebrated and stoked this
tradition. For a civilization imbued to a greater or lesser
degree with Confucian values, there is a tremendous amount
of conflict, dissension, and fighting in China. That is what
gives me hope that the bad shit will not last forever in China.
But then again... what really troubles me is that even those
of us who know better, those of us who factually know and
emotionally intuit that global accumulation cannot and will
not proceed apace in the face of ecological stresses, too
often forget to factor this immutable reality into our consideration
of China's hegemonic ascent. This recent winter of discontent
episode (railway bottlenecks/energy shortages/food price
inflation) is just a taste of the nasty future.
CB: I basically agree too. Whenever we have these left "who lost China?"
debates, I think, on Marxist fundamentals, there was not enough
capitalism in pre-revolutionary China to "make" socialism right away.
China didn't take the name "Socialist", but "Peoples's" Republic , I
thought for this reason. There was a slogan regarding " the road to
socialism by passing capitalism". Experience taught that it was not
possible to bypass capitalism in getting to socialism, in the world as
it is, with imperialism still dominate, and willing to commit
super-genocides to destroy countries trying to avoid capitalism, etc.
JG: Charles, this is just ex post facto nonsense, archly geared to validate
your embrace of the CCP's current orientation. I don't even know where
or how to begin. First of all, yes, in the early years of the PRC (1949-1955)
the CCP permitted small landholders and private capitalists to coexist
side by side with state enterprise, but this was done not only in the
name of building the productive forces but also in the name of building
the CCP's political authority, that is to lay the groundwork for a rapid
transition to communism. As you surely know but deliberately occlude,
by 1955, with Mao as the prime mover, a decisive move was made to
advance toward communism with the compensated expropriation of
private industry and the headlong rush from peasant cooperatives to
rural communes. You can doubt both his wisdom and his sincerity, but
one of Mao's justifications for so doing was his belief that there was
an inherent connection between ideological mobilization and economic
productivity... that is, that communism cannot be defined alone by the
advancement of the productive forces, and that in any event it is sheer
dogma to equate the building of productive forces with the capitalist
harnessing of productive forces. And this of course unleashed 20 years
of factional warfare that became so severe that for a short period of
time (early 1967) it appeared that workers' committees were actually
going to rule the country (a condition that none of the CCP factions
could tolerate, of course, all of them agreeing that the PLA must squash
the unfolding anarchy).
After 20 years of inter- and intra-class warfare, to make it sound as if there
was a polite discussion with a rational conclusion -- "experience tells us
that you cannot bypass capitalism en route to socialism" -- is such a ruse.
So too is your insinuating that there is some kind of undisturbed lineage from
1949-1955 to the Deng Xiaoping era and afterwards. Perhaps party intellectuals
differed on the pacing and the extent of the move toward full-blown communism,
but it was always understood in the 1949-1955 period that the petty capitalists
would soon be bought out or fused together in cooperatives. The main debate
revolved around how much to ape the Soviet model and how much to squeeze
the rural producers, not how much to use capitalism to build socialism.