2020s >> 2021 >> no-1404-august-2021

Rear View

Chinese Capitalist Party

‘China is now an integral and irreplaceable part of global capitalism’ (consortiumnews, 28 July 2020). More recently, the Financial Times had this to say:

‘The very first line of the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution declares it is “the vanguard of the Chinese working class”. In reality, the last ruling Communist party of a major country has morphed into a conservative reactionary party bent on preserving the power of state capitalist elites and advancing a distinctly 19th century form of ethno-nationalist imperialism. None of this will be allowed to spoil the festivities as the CCP celebrates the centennial of its founding next month’ (ft.com, 16 June).

There was nothing to celebrate, and the event merited no mention in last month’s Socialist Standard. The FT’s largely correct analysis in a piece titled ’How Xi’s China came to resemble Tsarist Russia’ provoked numerous rebukes, including one from Zeng Rong of the Chinese Embassy in London, who described it as ‘..ideologically biased and full of smearing, defaming and groundless accusations against the Communist Party of China and China’s political system. It smacks of political prejudice and is a long way from the standard of journalism and professional ethics of the FT as an influential international newspaper. The leadership of the Communist party is a choice of the people…’ She could not be more Rong!

One nation under Xi

‘One party has ruled China for 72 years, without a mandate from voters. That is not a world record. Lenin and his dismal heirs held power in Moscow for slightly longer, as has the Workers’ Party in North Korea. But no other dictatorship has been able to transform itself from a famine-racked disaster, as China was under Mao Zedong, into the world’s second-largest economy, whose cutting-edge technology and infrastructure put America’s creaking roads and railways to shame. China’s Communists are the world’s most successful authoritarians’ (economist.com, 16 June).

The history of Leninism and Maoism in power shows that allowing elites to rule on behalf of the working class is always disastrous — for us. Working class self-emancipation necessarily precludes the role of political leadership. So, for its anti-democratic elitism and its advocacy of an irrelevant transitional society misnamed ‘socialism’, in theory and in practice, vanguardism deserves the hostility of workers everywhere. And there are signs in China and slsewhere of resistance: ‘Zhang is a Chinese millennial who has joined the ranks of a social movement called tang ping – the “lying flat movement.” It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, and a personal choice for some disillusioned Chinese youth who have given up on the rat race and are staging a quiet rebellion against the trials of 9-9-6 [9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, plus overtime] work culture’ (insider.com, 8 June).

Arbeit macht frei

‘The Chinese government remains in opposition to the “lying flat” movement. It promotes working hard — as Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a 2018 televised address — as the “most honorable, noblest, greatest, and most beautiful virtue.”‘ Emperor Xi wants his wage slaves to continue working hard: ‘The number of US dollar millionaires in China will increase by 92.7 percent to 10.17 million by 2025, compared with a 27.8 percent rise in the US to 28.06 million US dollar millionaires over the same period, according to a projection by the Swiss lender’ (scmp.com, 22 June).

Wealth is the product of human labour, acting upon nature-given materials, that is capable of satisfying needs. We work, they take and pass on. Paul Lafargue reminds us: ‘The Greeks in their era of greatness had only contempt for work: their slaves alone were permitted to labour: the free man knew only exercises for the body and mind… The philosophers of antiquity taught contempt for work, that degradation of the free man, the poets sang of idleness…’ (The Right to Be Lazy, 1883). The Ju/’hoansi people work only 15 hours a week and ‘they hate inequality or showing off, and shun formal leadership institutions. It’s what made them part of the most successful, sustainable civilisation in human history’ (theguardian.com, 29 October 2017).

Ministry of Truth

‘Xi Jinping‘s new history of Chinese communism has little room for criticism of Mao Zedong. In February Mr. Xi issued a revised version of “A Brief History of the Communist Party of China,” the official party history, in preparation for next month’s commemoration of the party’s 100th anniversary. This edition plays down Mao’s atrocities, in particular softening the party’s historic 1981 condemnation of the Cultural Revolution. That places Mr. Xi in the dubious company of dictators for whom “yesterday’s weather can be changed by decree”—a power George Orwell attributed in 1942 to Franco, Stalin and Hitler’ (wsj.com, 20 June).

But it was another journalist, Julian Harvey, writing a century earlier who came much closer than Orwell to describing the democratic (i.e., leaderless) revolution socialists work for and regard as essential if we are to establish a post-capitalist world of production for use and allocation according to self-defined need: ‘It is not any amelioration of the conditions of the most miserable that will satisfy us; it is justice to all that we demand. It is not the mere improvement of the social life of our class that we seek; but the abolition of classes and the destruction of those wicked distinctions which have divided the human race into princes and paupers, landlords and labourers, masters and slaves. It is not any patching and cobbling of the present system we aspire to accomplish; but the annihilation of the system and the substitution, in its stead, of an order of things in which all shall labour and all shall enjoy, and the happiness of each guarantee the welfare of the entire community’ (The Red Republican, October 12, 1850).

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