[Marxism] Moderator's note/China

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Mon Nov 20 14:52:42 MST 2006

Louis Proyect 

There is a difference between the NEP and what is going on in China today.
China is simply just another Asian "tiger", but in the anomalous position of
having Communists running the capitalist system.

CB: Lenin did not use the term "economism" with respect to the NEP.


That's right. The NEP was a retreat from the stated goals of 1917. I
wouldn't describe China as being in retreat. It is simply operating on the
basis of private property. 

CB: Assume for a minute that the strategy is to institute real capitalism
with actual fully formed private property- the reason being in part that
socialist relations of production cannot compete with actual capitalism in
production. In other words, the experience of the Soviet Union in the long
run showed that "retreat" at the level of the NEP was not sufficient.


Even the state-owned enterprises function against the grain of what Lenin
struggled for. 

CB: As great a Lenin was, what he struggled for ended up not keeping up with
capitalist production. Even the Soviet Union has more than "retreated".


Could you imagine a Soviet factory manager playing polo in the 1920s? I
can't myself but I am a Marxist troglodyte who has never understood the
appeal of competition and naked greed.

CB: In order to produce as much as capitalism, the workers in socialism have
to work as hard and long as workers under the capitalist, polo playing
managers.  They would have to drive themselves very hard. It is not to the
discredit of the Soviet and Chinese workers that they were not able to
perform such contortions for many decades ( though they did it for a while).

I'm not sure that Lenin would have emphasized the immorality of capitalist
greed, bourgeois individual motivations so much as the reason for building
socialist relations of production, would he ? Didn't Marx, Engels and Lenin
recognize these greedy motives as causing capitalists to fulfill their
historical role ?

>CB: In the way Yoshie seems to be using the analogy to Lenin's usage
of>economistic, "social rights" or corruption might be closer to
the>"shopfloor" and "trade unionism pure and simple" than to the larger and
>determining political questions.

This does not reflect the reality of struggles going on in China today.
Peasants are deeply political. They understand that they are being
dispossessed because of capitalism.

CB: The point is that there are further levels to today's political depths.
There is disposession because of capitalism. Is it possible to compete with
capitalist production with the current forms of ownership ? Hasn't 80 years
taught that there are deep political consequences of not being able to
compete with capitalist production levels ? Both the Soviet Union and China
have concluded that they cannot sustain the competition with capitalism with
the relations of production they had.  Are you certain that these decisions
are rooted in some kind of spontaneous return of the appeal of competition
and naked greed in those parties ?


>CB; What was the property form of the land ownership before confiscation ?


>CB: The issue is that after 80 years of experience in a number of
countries,>imperialism has been shown itself irredeemably roguish and
utterly unwilling
>to allow peaceful coexistence and competition between countries
with>different social systems. I imagine Lenin had an idea that that was a
long>shot when he formulated it, but now it has proven untenable.  Perhaps
the>Chinese are just undogmatic enough to go at socialism a different way
when>the way they tried at first was not making it, even though it offends
our>communist ideals and "morals".


Yes, they say that are going to build socialism by creating capitalism. Some
might call this dialectics. I call it flim-flam.

CB: So, you are absolutely certain that China could have gotten to socialism
bypassing capitalism in the world as it actually is and has been for the
last 50 years ?

Please address the _political_ problems of competing with capitalism
militarily, the historically and concretely demonstrated untenability of
peaceful coexistence of countries with different social systems, because of
the unlimited bellicosity of nuclear armed imperialism. 

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