[Marxism] Re: I'm glad that China's economy is growing so strongly, and enjoy Cuba's role in the world

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 19 18:35:11 MST 2006


Lueko wrote:
>Movies are not such a touchy subject as world politics, and socialist
>revolutions, or the growth of China, the country of about one fifth of
>humanity, which is preparing to take its place in the world, where one
>fifth of world production and world consumption should happen in China.

I've been pretty busy all day studying Turkish so I am first getting 
around to reading some of these posts. This one in particular demands a reply.

About twelve years ago I heard Joel Kovel give a talk on ecology at 
the Brecht Forum in NYC where he made the analogy between capitalist 
growth and cancer. He said it makes about as much sense to celebrate 
profit-driven capitalist growth as it does to celebrate metastasizing 
tumors. If somebody came up to you and said, "Oh wow, my prostate 
tumor has spread to my brain", you would think that they were nuts. 
Meanwhile, Lueko--who should know better--has joined the Thomas 
Friedman school of growth is good under Walter Lippmann's 
inspiration. Even Friedman has been backing off from this stance 
lately--how could he not in the face of such evidence:

---

Down a potholed street leading into an industrial park, a brick 
building that was once part of a forced labor camp is now another 
sort of prison: the small sundries shop where Zhang Yueqing lives 
amid the choking pollution of one of China's newest industrial corridors.

Hulking factories spew blue smoke as hunched men shovel minerals into 
the red glow of open pit furnaces. They are making coke, silicon and 
other raw materials to be shipped elsewhere in China, as well as to 
Europe, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Furnace ash is 
spread over empty lots like black icing over a cake.

"If you are here in the morning, you'll see an inch of coal dust on 
the ground," said Mr. Zhang, 54. "We cough a lot. At night, sometimes 
the smoke is so thick that you can turn on your car lights and you 
still can't see where you are going."

His wife, Chen Fengying, 53, added: "We can't plant anything. We 
can't plant tomatoes or hot peppers. They cannot grow."

The industrial park sits along the river in the region that joins 
Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, part of an industrial colossus built in 
less than six years on the arid, water-starved land surrounding the 
city of Wuhai.

"The kind of development that is happening is abnormal," said Chen 
Anping, an advocate for restoring grasslands in Inner Mongolia. 
"There's no way this can be sustained. There are not enough resources."

With one important exception: coal. The northernmost route of the 
Yellow River courses through the center of China's coal country. 
Under the planned economy in 1958, the central government founded 
Wuhai in the rocky terrain as the coal supplier for the state-owned 
steel maker, Baotou Steel.

But the collapse of the planned economy almost meant the collapse of 
Wuhai. By the early 1990s, local officials were debating how to save 
the city and built three coal-fired power plants to provide 
electricity to the east. But the city still needed jobs. So officials 
recruited investors to build the energy-intensive, heavy polluting 
industries that other regions no longer wanted.

"We told them we have cheap coal, cheap electricity, and if they came 
and invested here, we could give them land on credit," said an 
official in the Wuhai environmental bureau, who explained the city's 
history but asked not to be identified for fear of official reprimand.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/world/asia/19yellowriver.html 





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