[Marxism] Re: Moderator's note

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 19 13:57:15 MST 2006

>Incidentally, when someone is unsubbed, are they unsubbed  "in all
>perpetuity"? Or  can they get  back on the list after some time? I too miss
>Yoshie's posts. Perhaps she can be invited back, now that a substantial time
>has elapsed since her unsub-ment?

If people are interested in what Yoshie is 
writing nowadays, you can check the pen-l and lbo-archives at:




I actually invited her back a couple of weeks ago 
but she didn't even answer my email. That's okay, 
I suppose. From what I can gather, her interest 
in socialism seems to be waning by each passing 
day. For example, she recently took the side of 
the Chinese government against insurgent peasants 
and workers since their demands were 
"economistic", whatever the hell that means. I 
guess if you are getting kicked off your land to 
make room for a new Intel or Nike plant, you are 
reactionary if you protest. Since I filter out 
her messages on pen-l, I wasn't even aware that 
she made that point. I only became aware of it 
through John Gulick's reply. Gulick is an old 
cyberfriend who was James O'Connor's last dissertation student.

John Gulick:
In the service of making a completely plausible 
argument – that you welcome China's emergence as 
a big power because it strengthens the "axis of 
good" in the global system – you disingenuously 
misconstrue the domestic situation in China.  I 
say "disingenuous" because I prefer to extend you 
the compliment of being a sophist rather than the 
insult of being a naif. Your sophistry however is 
not so sophisticated as to be invisible altogether.

1) Many protestors in the PRC – especially idled 
SOE workers in their 40's and 50's, but also some 
unofficial peasant associations – explicitly 
frame their grievances in terms of the 
disappearance of socialist entitlements and the 
loss of an egalitarian ethos.  There is thus an 
implicit demand among an unmeasured segment of 
ordinary people for some combination of a "return 
to (a) state socialist past... or progress to a 
new democratic socialist future." Scholars 
ranging from Elizabeth Perry (fairly mainstream 
academic Sinologist) to Robert Weil 
(reconstructed Maoist) have documented this. This 
sentiment may not be universal, coherent, or in 
possession of an independent organizational 
vehicle, but it is unmistakably there.

2) Suppose your assertion that protestor demands 
are principally "economistic" is correct. So 
what? Cannot economistic complaints be radical 
criticisms if a regime cannot adequately deal 
with them? (I suppose you acknowledge this when 
you write about the possible consequences of a 
downturn in growth). What is your criterion for 
determining whether or not a significantly large 
number of people desire structural change? Most 
of them have to have in their minds a refined 
revolutionary critique? Name one historical 
situation, even under the most dire of circumstances, in which
this was actually true. Did the rural populace in 
the 1940's flock to the leadership of the Red 
Army because they believed in the principles of 
Maoism, or because in the liberated zones they 
sought effective refuge from usury, rack-rent, 
crooked administration, collaboration with the Japanese
killing machine, and so on?

3) Some of the demands which you yourself 
classify as "economistic" are anything but: 
"social rights"? "less corruption"? Myriad 
peasant challenges to massive land confiscation 
is "economistic"? Violent rural resistance to 
illegal toxic pollution is "economistic"? I 
suppose that any struggle that does not directly 
oppose the purported policy orientation of 
Beijing – "harmonious society," "sustainable 
development," etc. – qualifies in your book as 
"economistic." But at the end of the day, do you 
think protestors will be quelled by reassurances 
from the central government that it supports a 
"harmonious society" and "sustainable 
development," as long as the local face of the
party-state is irredeemably roguish and venal?

Now, I'm not about to claim that mass upheaval is 
right around the corner in China, nor that if it 
were, it would be an ideal development. I just 
find your claims to be inconsistent and sloppy – and intellectually dishonest.

Why not just contend that China's ascent to the 
status of economic colossus is a net gain because 
fostering international alliances against US 
empire is more politically important than moving 
toward democratic socialism at home? Why all the 
tendentious assertions about the complacent 
social consciousness of the PRC's popular classes?

John Gulick
Akita, Japan

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

 >China is no longer a socialist power but an emergent capitalist power.
 >What are we to make of this fact?  It seems to me that it is no use
 >bemoaning China's capitalist turn, unless and until masses of China's
 >workers and peasants demand the return to its state socialist past
 >(unlikely and undesirable) or progress to a new democratic socialist
 >future.  As far as I can see, a great majority of Chinese workers and
 >peasants are doing neither, and what they are doing seems to be to
 >make economistic demands: demanding better wages, better working
 >conditions, labor rights, social rights, less corruption, and so on,
 >while accepting capitalist development itself as a matter of fact.
 >Numerous economistic protests may eventually coalesce into a united
 >national force presenting a viable alternative to what China's current
 >power elite offer, but they have not done so yet, and they are
 >unlikely to do so while China maintains its current high growth rates.
 >When China experiences an economic downturn (as it inevitably will
 >sometime in the future), and if the downturn is very disruptive, China
 >may enter a new chapter in its history, but it is also possible that
 >the downturn to come may be slow and gradual, demobilizing rather than
 >escalating the protests.

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