[Marxism] China's downturn

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Mon Apr 20 09:49:32 MDT 2009

Artesian writes:


> Still the issue isn't whether I think China is subordinate, or whether
> Marvin thinks China is superior-- the issues are:  what social relations
> of
> production are being developed in China? what are the impacts of those
> relations on the conditions of agricultural production, land tenure, and
> landed labor?  what are the impacts of the expansion and contraction of
> the
> world market on urban, rural, and migrant workers in China?  Is it even
> possible for China to resolve its contradictions through its explicit,
> official, cheap labor policies,  which is seen as utilizing capitalism to
> create a level of economic development that will then, not just co-exist
> with, but actually sustain socialism?
I don't think China is the economic and military equal of the US, much less
superior to it, but the gap has been closing and I expect the present global
economic crisis will probably accelerate rather than retard the process. In
answer to your questions:

1. Capitalist social relations are being developed in China.

2. Concentration of landholdings facilitated by changes to the land tenure
laws introduced by the revolution, increased agricultural productivity
(though not matching the increased demand for food) rural depopulation and
migration of surplus agrarian labour into factory sweatshops and the reserve
army of the unemployed.

3. Yes, it is possible for China to resolve it's contradictions in the same
way other capitalist states have, assuming that a world socialist revolution
doesn't issue out of the current crisis of capitalism. China’s current
problems are in fact consistent with the challenges of older capitalist
powers at earlier stages of their economic development.

The Chinese CP has been leading the economic transformation and has itself
been transformed into a bourgeois party in the process. The crisis has
stalled the transformation, but it will resume. A major part of the
transformation requires a shift from exports - at least, of the low
value-added kind - and raising labour productivity and mass purchasing power
on the farms and in the cities, as you've suggested. But these aren't
contentious points, neither in China nor in policy- and decision-making
circles in the West, and the Chinese leadership has been steadily moving in
this direction. Nor is there much dispute that such transformation is
inevitably accompanied by widespread social tension and conflict and efforts
to contain it by a combination of reform and repression.

There is more dispute, including on this list, about whether China's leaders
believe, whatever their socialist pretensions, that China's further
development should be along capitalist lines. I believe most are conscious
about the capitalist content and direction of their policies, but favour a
"European" rather than an "American" development, characterized by a higher
level of state intervention and a more developed social safety net. Their
official discourse sounds to me social democratic, including their
consistent emphasis on social "harmony".

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