[Marxism] China's high speed rail plans

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 3 11:50:21 MDT 2009

Now you've gone off the track, Marvin.  I was never a fan of Maoism to begin 
with, thought the "Cultural Revolution" was in fact a pre-emptive 
counterrevolution, manipulated by Mao to destroy his opponents in and out of 
the party under the slur of "capitalist roaders," a manipulation Mao had 
brought to its end when workers began to self-organize against the 
predations of the Red Guards.

The Cultural Revolution, IMO, consolidating Mao's power, eliminating his 
opponents, allowed him to pursue the "Great Opening" with the west, and take 
the first steps on  the course that brought us to the Guangdong and about 
$500 billion in FDI.

Anyway, in going off the track you duplicate the error of LW, confusing 
"growth" with "development," "development" with "capitalist development," 
the means of production with the conditions, relations of production, and 
ultimately, use value with the production of exchange value.

Talk about useless, abstractions, LW's "what would a real workers' and 
farmers' govt. do" is about as useless as you can get.   First, why would a 
revolutionary struggle in China result in a "real workers'" government in 
what is already claimed to be a "workers and peasants state"?  Such a 
government is purely an abstraction, as the struggle in China will 
inevitably require the expropriation of property-- what's left of the state 
owned property, and expropriation of the growing private sector.

Such a workers', urban and rural, state, would certainly face a tremendous 
onslaught from the bourgeoisie within and without its borders, and so the 
question of "breaking" with the US  by abolishing that connection of 
purchasing  US Treasury instruments will not be a question at all, as the US 
will immediately embargo sales to China, and will refuse, probably to redeem 
the instruments that the "real workers' state" finds in its possession.

But there is another issue that needs to be addressed.  What constitutes 
economic development?  Historically, for capitalism, development is 
constituted in the organization of wage-labor in the overall production 
processes, but the expulsion of wage-labor from any particular process.

Development is measured by the change in the organic composition of capital, 
and capitals, with the increase of the technical basis.  China clearly has 
adopted and adapted to this capitalist form of development.  Whether or not 
you agree with LW's and Nestor's fantasy --that somehow the CCP is using 
capitalism to build socialism, and that sooner or later, the CCP will pull 
its great big trump card out of its sleeve, and laugh all the way to the 
Peoples' Bank--, for the last 30 years, China has overtly, explicitly, 
directly, adopted and adapted to the development of private property in the 
means of production, to capitalist development.

So having adopted and adapted to that, the question of capitalist 
development requires us to look at exactly how China is engaging and 
experiencing the laws of that development-- and the law of simultaneous 
aggrandizement and expulsion of wage labor from the production process. 
Thus, when China's largest steel producer, produces the same volume or value 
of steel as a steel maker in Japan, but BaoSteel requires 6 times the labor 
force, then we have a productivity gap, which can survive for a period of 
time due to the dramatically reduced wages of the laborers in China. 
However, overproduction and declining profits bring that end.

Prior to a drop in profitability, the situation of the less productive 
BaoSteel is parallel to that of a small agricultural producer in that as 
Marx puts it in Vol 3

"For the small farmer the limit of exploitation is not set by the average 
profit of the capital, if he is a small capitalist, nor by the necessity of 
making a rent, if he is a landowner.  Nothing appears as an absolute limit 
for him, as a small capitalist, but the wages which he pays to himself, 
after deducting his actual costs.  So long as the price of the product cover 
these wages, he will cultivate his land, and will do so often down to the 
physical minimum of his wages....

In order that that the small farmer may cultivate his land... it is 
therefore NOT NECESSARY [emphasis added], as it is under normal capitalist 
production, that the market price of his products should rise high enough to 
allow him the average profit....Therefore it is not necessary that the 
market price should rise, either as high as the value or as high as the 
price of production of his product.  THIS IS ONE OF THE CAUSES WHICH KEEPS 
PRODUCTIVITY OF THE LABORERS {emphasis added, obviously}"

Marx, Capital Vol 3 Part 6 Chapter 37 Sub-section V Metaire and Small 
Peasants' Property.

Now this is an incredible passage, identifying the process of agricultural 
involution that defined rural production in China's past-- the use of labor 
at reduced wages to maintain or increase agricultural input, at the cost of 
declining productivity, and overall rural and urban stasis.

But I think the passage can also be applied to China's direction in 
undertaking capitalist development based on its cheap labor policy for 
foreign producers, and its state/collective enterprises, like steel 
production, where productivity is so low.

While so low productivity, low wage, excess labor inputs can of course bring 
lower prices, they cannot bring development, either capitalist or socialist. 
The Chinese leadership clearly sees itself as playing a large and growing 
role in the existing capitalist world order.  To do that it has to scrap, 
quite literally, its current organization of agricultural and domestic 
production.   [For the "real workers' state" to play a role in the expansion 
of revolution, it too would have to fundamentally reconfigure, alter, these 
proportions, ratios of  living labor to the past accumulated labor of the 

This is not an argument for unemployment.  It is just the opposite, the only 
way social labor can develop is through its replacement in production by 
machinery, so that the social labor can be directed brutally by capital, in 
search of exchange value; rationally by the social laborers themselves in 
the satisfaction and creation of new needs.

So productivity matters, it matter more in capitalist development; it 
matters the MOST in a socialist society.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marv Gandall" <marvgandall at videotron.ca>
To: "David Schanoes" <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Thursday, September 03, 2009 12:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] China's high speed rail plans

> ======================================
> Of course not. And I think we could also agree that China's reverting to
> Maoist autarchy at this stage of it's historic development is also not the
> best course to follow, which is what Artesian seems in effect to be
> proposing.
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