[Marxism] China's downturn

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Mon Apr 20 11:58:13 MDT 2009


Artesian writes:

> 2. Marvin is wrong.  Landholdings have not been concentrated. Agriculture
> is
> practiced in the main on millions of small, non-contiguous plots.

You asked what the impact of capitalist social relations was on the
countryside, and I replied greater concentration of landholdings encouraged
by state policy. You note a decline of 40 million rural workers between
2001-2006, but argue that this doesn't reflect such concentration. In fact,
landholdings have become more concentrated, but mainly to benefit expanding
manufacturers and real estate developers. This is what has sparked rural
protests by Chinese farmers expropriated from their land and forced to seek
work as landless labourers in the cities. Where else has the migrant reserve
army come from, notwithstanding that millions of Chinese peasants still tend
small low-yielding plots?

In response to the growing rural unrest, and also to meet the growing demand
for food resulting from increased consumption in the cities, the state has
been encouraging more productive use of the land by promoting greater
concentration through the tranfer of land-use rights between farmers. In
October, for example, it established markets for doing so, an important step
which officials said "would enable the creation of larger, more efficient
farms that could increase output" - the latest stage in the privatization of
Chinese agriculture begun by Deng three decades ago with this goal in mind.

See:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/world/asia/20china.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin)

> 3. Is it possible for China to resolve its contradictions the same way as
> advanced capitalist countries  have?   Marvin says "yes."  Pretty
> incredible
> answer.  Seeing as how no advanced capitalist country has resolved those
> contradictions without class war, international war, civil war-- where
> they've been resolved at all.

Exploitation and inequality and resulting strikes, demonstrations, and
violent class confrontations are inherent features of capitalism, and don't
get resolved as such. But these contradictions haven't resulted anywhere in
the permanent overthrow of the world system, as Marxists forecast, although
the Chinese and Russian revolutions pointed in that direction for a whole
historical period. In that sense, capitalism has shown a remarkably
unexpected capacity, if not to "resolve", to at least contain these
contradictions. I thought that was the intent of your question, and replied
accordingly.

> Remember the question was can this cheap labor policy do what the
> leadership
> ever since Deng thinks it can do--" utilize capitalism to  create a level
> of
> economic development that will then, not just co-exist with, but actually
> sustain socialism?"  The answer is "yes"?  Fuck it, we should all be
> capitalists then. Deng was right.

I'd be more cautious about predicting either the imminent demise of
capitalism or it's indefinite capacity to sustain itself by improving living
standards - in China or elsewhere. If and when it proves unable to expand
the productive forces and improve conditions, there's no reason to believe
it won't be replaced as decisively as have been other failed social systems
before it. The startling collapse of the Soviet Union and the turn towards
the restoration of capitalism in China demonstrate how swift and unexpected
such change can be. There's no way of knowing in advance whether the current
crisis of global capitalism and resistance to it will deepen or whether it
will recover (short of a world war) and resume it's growth and the delivery
of tolerable living standards to the masses. We can only watch and respond
to developments as they unfold. For that reason, I'd be reluctant to declare
victory for the Dengists, despite the unexpected historical resilience of
Western capitalism and it's resurgence in China and Eastern Europe in our
lifetime.







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