Friday, June 30, 2023

'China’s BRI: Toward a Hybrid International Order with Socialist Characteristics?'

 'Will the BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] prove to be a platform that offers an alternative to the capitalist world order?...This world will be less Chinese, although the renminbi RMB) will be widely accepted as a reserve currency. '

The post-capitalist world Marx envisaged involved ‘abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production’ (Communist Manifesto):  in China & Russia, in contrast, wage labour was extended to a much larger proportion of the population. Lenin wrote of Russia in 1918: ‘reality says that State capitalism would be a step forward for us; if we were able to bring about State capitalism in a short time it would be a victory for us’ (The Chief Task of Our Time). In his Report of an Investigation into the Peasant Movement in Hunan (1927), Mao admitted that the coming revolution would not be socialist: ‘To overthrow these feudal forces is the real objective of the revolution.’ Writing four years earlier Sylvia Pankhurst stated: ‘Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance. Our desire is not to make poor those who today are rich, in order to put the poor in the place where the rich now are. Our desire is not to pull down the present rulers to put other rulers in their places’ (Socialism, Workers’ Dreadnought, 28 July 1923). Does this sound familar? What follows is almost prophetic: ‘…We do not call for limitation of births…’!

 Mao stated in 1949 'China must utilize all the factors of urban and rural capitalism that are beneficial and not harmful to the national economy and the people's livelihood, and we must unite with the national bourgeoisie in common struggle. Our present policy is to regulate capitalism, not to destroy it.'

'In China, as elsewhere, how you live and what you buy depends on how much money you have. And who, it will be asked, has the money? The answer, as in the Soviet Union is: the privileged classes, officials, high-ranking officers, scientists, technicians, skilled workers and so on. But there must be added a small and peculiarly Chinese category: the Chinese capitalists. These, surprisingly enough, are the former owners of, for example, factories, whose enterprises have been taken over by the State and who receive annually from the State as compensation a percentage of the capital value of the enterprise. As they are also very often employed as managers of the factories, some of them are extremely well off' (Sunday Times, 9 Oct. 1963).

 Guardian (18 March, 1995) John Gittings  considered, among other things, where Deng's economic reforms are heading and why Mao's policies failed. He asked: "What is meant by Mr Deng's famous phrase, used to justify his economic innovations, of 'socialism with Chinese Characteristics'? It is simply code, many suggest, for 'capitalism under the Chinese party rule.'"

More recently: ‘China is now an integral and irreplaceable part of global capitalism’ (consortiumnews, 28 July 2020).  Last year, 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..’ (16 June, 2021).

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