Friday, 22 July 2011
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Examples of empire propaganda against the ANC/SA and Brother Malema is this, this, this, here, and this, and this will continue especially as the ANC Youth have published a public discussion paper about nationalising the mineral wealth of SA, which empire can in no way tolerate without a project of sabotage. Here is one reply of the ANC Youth to all this issue.
Monday, 18 July 2011
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
This evening I went to a protest outside Parliament demanding an end to the bombing of Libya. The protest was organised jointly by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition.
It was wack. These two enormous left-wing organisations were not able to organise more than around35 people to protest in London against our government’s participation in the brutal assault on Libya.
Why has the anti-war movement developed so little momentum in opposing war in Libya? Two million marched against the war in Iraq; how come a protest against the war in Libya can’t muster more than 35?
I think there are a few reasons. Surely the most important is that the British ruling class is united in its wish to get rid of Gaddafi and get its hands on more of Libya’s oil. A very significant section of the British ruling class was opposed to the war in Iraq, for a number of reasons. This division gave huge impetus to the anti-war movement, as the Stop the War Coalition found for itself a powerful ally in the liberal press. In my opinion, it is crucial that the anti-war movement reflect seriously on whether it became too reliant on that ally (one whose support was always going to be shaky and unreliable).
Second, there has been an incredibly effective campaign of demonisation waged against Gaddafi and his government. This character assassination has not been limited to the lunatic right-wing press but has also found its way into ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ media. And, even though the reporting of Gaddafi’s alleged crimes has been shown by such respectable organisations as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to be totally biased and untrustworthy, very few have had the decency to retract the lies they were spouting just a few weeks ago. Again, there is a lesson that needs to be learnt: we need to instinctively distrust what the imperialist press is telling us. There were character assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Machel Samora, Ho Chi Minh and many others - when are we going to learn to understand that this criminalisation and demonisation is part of the west’s foreign policy propaganda?
Third, there was significant confusion about the situation in Libya. Lots of people thought the uprising was simply an extension of what was going on in Egypt (as it was painted in the press), and therefore afforded the so-called rebels uncritical support. Very few people managed to look into or understand the significance of the rebels’ links with western intelligence agencies.
Fourth, people were caught off-guard by the idea of a no-fly zone. We were fooled into supporting a war on the basis that we were simply preventing Gaddafi from “bombing his own people”. Hopefully we have all learnt now that ‘no-fly zone’ is another way of saying ‘vicious bombardment of civilians’.
Fifth, there was a major failure of leadership on the part of the resistance movements that have been leading the struggle against imperialism in the Middle East for many years. As a result, a lot of good anti-imperialists fell for NATO’s divide-and-rule game.
Lastly, the existence of George W Bush as US President was curiously effective in terms of galvanising resistance to the empire. Obama doesn’t do that job anywhere near as well (which is no doubt part of why he got to be President!).
Incidentally, the most passionate of the protestors this evening were the 7-8 Libyans that attended. In a rather alarming (but not untypical) example of the western left’s patronising attitude, a Stop the War officer asked them to put away their pictures of Muammar Gaddafi. Now, you may or may not like Gaddafi, but how can you ask Libyan patriots, protesting against the bombing of their country, to stop expressing support for their head of state? Gaddafi is the symbolic head of the resistance to this modern-day crusade, and on that basis he deserves the support of all those that oppose the war. I am not demanding you take a position on the nature of Libya’s political system, or on Gaddafi’s role within Middle Eastern politics over the decades, but surely it is uncontroversial to support those leading the resistance to colonial war?! Otherwise what is the meaning of this popular expression, ‘anti-imperialist unity’? I would posit that Stop the War are overly concerned about scaring off liberal ‘supporters’ (who have already shown their true colours).
There are a lot of lessons for us to learn from all this, and I hope people will take the time to engage in some critical self-reflection. Without that, there is no hope of moving forward.
Monday, 11 July 2011
eMPIRE ADMITS nATO IN COMPLETE DISARRAY AND DIVISIONS WHILE GADAFFI AND LIBYA ON HISTORIC MARCH TO VICTORY AGAINST eMPIRE!
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Friday, 8 July 2011
Thursday, 7 July 2011
The US attempt to militarily encircle China[source]
By Jane West
US imperialism is facing a threat to its global economic, and therefore also political, dominance. Even at market exchange rates the latest estimates are that the size of China’s economy will overtake that of the US within ten years. The recent prediction by the IMF that on current trends the size of the Chinese economy, measured in PPP terms, will overtake the US in as little as five years’ time, created international comment
Precisely because China’s rise is one of the most important threats to the position of US imperialism, the Obama administration has made it one of its top international priorities to attempt to strangle China’s development. This consists of a number of attacks on China’s economic growth and, in line with overall US tactics, to attempt to shift confrontation from the economic field, where the US is losing, to the military arena where the US is still pre-eminent.
US attempts to slow China’s economy
On the economic field the US has taken a number of steps to try to slow down China’s growth. These include blocking high technology exports to China, placing tariffs on some of China’s imports, vetoing Chinese companies’ attempts to expand their production into the US via takeovers, campaigning that China ‘manipulates’ its currency, calling for a fast revaluation of the RMB to make China’s exports uncompetitive internationally, attempting an ideological intervention to persuade the Chinese government to reduce the high rate of investment which powers its economic growth, discouraging FDI into China on the grounds that there is not a ‘level playing field’ for foreign business, and many others. All of these are continuing – although they have so far failed to stop the rapid growth of China’s economy.
US military pressure on China
Given that the economic offensive by the US against China has so far failed, US imperialism is forced to rely even more on the military field – where it still enjoys a large lead. Even the US does not at present envisage a world war with China, which would result in the nuclear devastation of the United States, but there are other forms of military pressure which can be applied. It is these that the US is now paying increasing attention to, even if this means it has to cut down to some degree the resources devoted to other conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
Therefore, alongside reducing its military commitment to Afghanistan, reducing its deployment in Iraq, and its refusal to play the leading role in the imperialist assault on Libya, the US is increasing its priority to developing military encirclement of China.
The aim in this is twofold. On the one hand, the US would like to create a relationship of military forces – through its own military presence and the creation of a string of key strategic military alliances around China – which could directly threaten China. But this is not easy to achieve. So, alongside this, it has the more realisable goal of driving up a series of regional and border tensions and therefore forcing China to redirect resources towards military defence and away from developing its economy and improving living standards – a strategy that is seen by US imperialism as having been successful in cracking the USSR’s economy in the 1980s.
This policy has involved the US in a series of diplomatic and military initiatives aimed at creating problems for China around its extensive borders.
North and North East Asia
To the north and east of China, the main forces are Russia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The US has therefore engaged in series of diplomatic and military interventions aimed at stoking up tensions and trying to tie these countries together into an anti-China alliance – a project in which it has had only mixed success.
South Korea (ROK) is entirely tied into the US’s system of alliances and is militarily dependent on the US – with 28 US army and air bases in the country and over 28,000 US troops permanently stationed there. Despite occasional disputes – most recently over the allegation that the US buried quantities of Agent Orange beneath one of its bases after the Vietnam War – essentially South Korea’s government strategically implements the US’s decisions on foreign policy. The US therefore initially decided that the Korean peninsular looked a promising area for heightening an aggressive policy against China.
The first phase of this US new offensive against China, therefore, involved trying to whip up tensions in the Korean peninsula, with sabre-rattling against North Korea, including several incidents involving exchange of fire, and staging provocative US-ROK military exercises in the Sea of Japan. New military exercises are planned, but the US aim of winding up the situation in the region cannot rely exclusively on South Korea - which is too small to pose a significant problem for China militarily.
Japan is therefore even more crucial than South Korea in US strategy towards China in North-East Asia. Like South Korea, Japan is militarily dependent on the US, including as a result of the constraints on Japanese re-armament imposed after the World War Two. The US has 23 military bases in Japan. Some of these have become controversial in Japan, particularly the Okinawa base, which has been subject to an on-going campaign for its removal. Various Japanese politicians have made populist promises to close the base – for example, Prime Minister Hatoyama was elected on such a pledge in 2010 and lasted only eight months in office after reneging on it. But all opposition to the base has foundered on US refusal to compromise and Japanese imperialism’s refusal to fall out with its most powerful ally.
Until recently Japan’s military policy after 1945 had been primarily directed against Russia – as part of the Cold War axis with the West against the Soviet Union. Therefore Japan’s key bases and main military deployment were in the north of the country. Significantly, in December 2010 Japan announced in the outcome of a strategic defence review that in future it will reorient its military focus to confronting China, with defences scaled down in the north and refocused in the south. The review also strengthened the military alliance with the US, which it described as ‘indispensable’.
This decision, undoubtedly at the behest of the US, was parallelled by deteriorating relations between Japan and China over the disputed Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, which in 2010 led to Japan detaining a Chinese trawler boat captain for 17 days for allegedly ramming a Japanese coast guard vessel. The US’s absurd offer to be a ‘neutral’ third party mediator in the dispute was roundly rejected by China.
The Diaoyu islands are also claimed by Taiwan, which has recently run into its own dispute with Japan in the area, when a group of activists protesting in support of Taiwan’s claim to the sovereignty over the islands, were confronted by Japanese coastguards. China supported Taiwan in this dispute with Japan.
This incident underlines some complications the US is also experiencing in its relations with Taiwan.
On the one hand, Taiwan has been entirely reliant on the US militarily. Taiwan is a clear historical part of China to which the defeated Kuomintang fled after the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Even the US does not recognise its independent status from China – which is of course also completely rejected by China. Taiwan’s dependence on the US was underlined when in January 2010 the US announced it intended to sell it $6.4bn of antimissile systems, helicopters and other military equipment – provoking protest from China. Taiwan’s total dependence on the US ties it into the anti-China military and diplomatic efforts of US imperialism in the area.
But on the other hand, Taiwan is increasingly economically reliant on mainland China, particularly for much needed investment after the international financial crisis. The election of Ma Ying-Jeou as president of Taiwan in 2008, on a mandate of reducing tension with mainland China, has led to a massive expansion of trade, investment, tourist links and cultural exchanges. This goes in the opposite direction to the increased military tension sought by the US.
However, the fundamental obstacle to the US strategy in North East Asia is its failure to gain the support of Russia, which, as a global military power on a scale far greater than all the other states in the region apart from China itself, is strategically crucial to any potential imperialist encirclement to China’s north-east.
Russia, Japan and China
The USSR entered the war against Japan in its last stages and its military offensive, among other things, secured control of the Kuril Islands to the south east of Russia. These islands now play an important strategic role for Russia, as control of them creates a Russian controlled ‘lake’ in the seas to its south-east from which its nuclear submarines and other military forces can operate with greatly enhanced safety. The Kuril islands are therefore regarded as indispensible to Russia’s interests and the demand that they remain within Russia is overwhelmingly supported by its population – even the slavishly pro-US Yeltsin did not dare to return them to Japan despite offers of major economic assistance from Japanese imperialism if he did so. This situation in the Kuril islands, and the overall threat posed by Japanese imperialism to Russia, is therefore creating problems for the US and Western policy of courting Russia with the aim of drawing it into putting military pressure on China.
US policy towards Russia appeared to be advancing in the first half of 2010 with a reactionary ‘deal’ which delivered Russian support for new sanctions on Iran in return for changes in US ‘missile defence’ plans in Eastern Europe. This helped pressure China into wrongly supporting the Iran sanctions motion at the UN, and appeared to be drawing Russia more closely into US strategic objectives, including with regard to China.
However Russia’s concern for security on its own eastern border, in particular to resist Japan’s claim to the Kuril Islands, has so far prevented any further advance for US policy in this area. Indeed Russia’s position on the Kurils was shown clearly when in November 2010 Medvedev became the first serving Russian President to visit the islands. Not only did he visit – an action that was described as an ‘unforgivable outrage’ by Naoto Kan, premier of Japan – but he went straight from the Kurils to a high profile state visit to China.
These events unsurprisingly led to a sharp deterioration in Russo-Japanese relations, which was deepened in February of this year when Medvedev declared the islands an ‘inseparable’ part of Russia's territory and a ‘strategic region’, while announcing an increase in the Russian military presence on the islands.
With neither Russia nor Japan willing to compromise over the Kurils, the US has therefore met a significant obstacle to pulling off its anti-China alliance in the region. Without the support of Russia the US does not present China with a new and more seriously worrying relationship of forces in the region. This appears to be why the US has slightly backed away from sabre-rattling over the Korean peninsula at present – although its aims and intentions remain unchanged.
Shifting pressure on China to the south
Given failure to make decisive progress in north east Asia, the US has decided to shift its immediate attention to a more aggressive intervention in the South China Sea. Hillary Clinton signalled US intentions on this in July 2010 when at a conference in Hanoi she announced the South China Sea and the local territorial disputes were in the US’s sphere of ‘national interest’ – despite the rather evident fact that they are thousands of kilometres from the United States.
The three main archipelagos of the South China Sea’s islands and atolls are nearly all historically disputed between various regional states including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei, due to their strategic position and more recently to their potential mineral, gas and oil deposits. The US has courted all the other key states in these disputes, offering support against an ‘over-aggressive China’, encouraging them to continue to promote the US’s presence in the region and to build up their military arsenals. Over the last two years, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have taken steps to acquire more modern naval equipment with the support of the US. In late June 2011 the US launched on-going naval military exercises with the Philippines just outside the South China seas, underlining its high profile military presence in the region.
The focus so far of the US’s intervention in the area has been in relation to the strategically significant Spratly group of islands which are particularly hotly disputed between China and Vietnam. Other states in the region also make claims to them.
The Spratlys are an archipelago of 750 atolls and islets spread across the South China Sea between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. There is probably only one really inhabitable island – known as Itu Aba or Taiping – and this has had a resident Chinese fishing population since at least the beginning of the 20th century – which France recognised when it claimed the islands on behalf of its Indochinese colony in the 1930s. Occupied by Japan in World War Two, Itu Aba/Taiping is now administered by Taiwan, which retained that role after the islands were reclaimed by China following the defeat of Japan. But Vietnam did not relinquish its claim, although the Chinese consider that a letter from the North Vietnamese government in 1958 recognizing the ‘12 nautical mile principle for territorial waters’ accepted the Chinese position.
The issue has waxed and waned in acuteness without being resolved, but has become more significant in recent years due to the combination of rising international trade, especially with China, which now places the islands close to important sea routes, the increased potential for exploitation of oil, gas and mineral deposits, the depletion of fish within the existing agreed maritime zones, and their strategic naval military position. The US has moved in on the dispute to deepen its alliances in the region and strengthen its military position, with a clear hostile stance to China.
In 2009 the dispute escalated when a U.S. navy vessel entered China’s maritime territory off Hainan – which is universally internationally recognised as part of China – without permission. In recent months there have been a string of incidents.
In May Vietnamese fishing vessels were confronted by Chinese coastguards allegedly outside Vietnam’s maritime zone and within the disputed waters of the Spratlys. While Vietnam hotly denied its fishing boats have breached the agreed maritime zones, and accused China of an unjustified, aggressive response, in fact it appears that the fishing community may have been tacitly encouraged by their government to extend their fishing areas into the disputed areas – both in response to local concerns about depleted fish stocks and to up the ante with China over the Spratlys.
Vietnam also unilaterally announced its intention to start drilling and excavating in the disputed areas. This was strongly opposed by China, which has responded by increasing its coastguard presence and other civilian shipping in the area, with a string of semi-violent clashes as a result. In June a Chinese fishing ships nets allegedly became tangled with the cables of a Vietnamese underwater exploration ship, leading to accusations by China that the lives of its fishers had been endangered, and from Vietnam that China had deliberately cut the cables. This was shortly followed by a highly provocative announcement by Vietnam that it would hold live-fire military exercises in the South China sea.
Behind this lies the US egging Vietnam into a more confrontational stance towards China, with the promise of US backing for its territorial claims.
It is true that China has shown little flexibility in recognising any element of the Vietnamese claims to the islands or the fact that its neighbours have legitimate interests in the area, which has not helped create any momentum towards resolution. But immediately China has put forward two reasonable principles: that the matters should be discussed and resolved bilaterally between China and Vietnam through talks without the involvement of external third parties, and that in the absence of a mutual agreement neither side should take steps to exploit the islands or extend their claims through fishing, port development, drilling or other measures.
This is what made Hillary Clinton’s Hanoi intervention in 2010 so deliberately provocative. Not only did it seem to assert some legitimate interest by Washington in an area in China’s backyard and an enormous distance from the United States, but she went on to suggest the US might help resolve the dispute through ‘collaborative diplomacy’ – that is US meddling in the area.
Not surprisingly this led to very sharp words from China, which objects strongly to attempts by the US to interfere in China’s relations with its neighbours – especially so blatantly. China may be being slow to negotiate with Vietnam, but it quite rightly has no intention at all of negotiating rights in the South China sea with the US, which has no claim at all.
The US strategy is clear – to create an encircling string of de facto or de jure military alliances, support the rearmament of China’s neighbours, intervene in local territorial disputes, and tighten a noose around China. It met with a setback in the North East as Russia could not be drawn into its strategy. It is currently meeting more success in the South China Sea where Vietnam has been unwisely drawn into its machinations and is tending towards greater confrontation with China.
The aim of US imperialism in all this is to try to force China to divert more resources to military defence, undermining its economic growth, and in the final analysis to be in a position to actually challenge China militarily if necessary. Given the rapid growth of China’s economy, and China’s development of increasingly sophisticated military technology, it is not at all clear for how long it is conceivable that the US can present a military challenge to China, so its timetable to strike some blows is speeding up. Not in the sense of a rapid direct military confrontation, but an urgency to turn the relationship of forces regionally against China, for which the US is now prepared to forsake so directly pursuing other interests – for example in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Seeking to win over Russia and isolate China remains a key component of the US policy of encirclement of China – which it has so far not achieved to the degree it wishes. But the US is ruthless, determined and with its global position, and that of the other imperialist powers, at stake it will not give up.
Anti-imperialists and socialists have to see through the machinations and ideological confusions spread by the US and its allies about ‘threats’ presented by China’s growth and understand that the real threat is to imperialism’s global dominance. Taking the side of defence of China against imperialist attempts to militarily encircle it is a decisive class line of divide in world politics today.
By Jane West
It is extremely difficult for those in imperialist countries, although as we shall see not for those in semi-colonial ones, to understand the full importance of the Chinese Revolution – which is, with the Russian Revolution of 1917, the most important event in modern human history.
The are several reasons for this. First, those in Europe or the US find it hard to imagine the low level of economic development of China at the time of its revolution – the leading economic historian Angus Maddison calculates that China’s level of GDP per capita in 1949 was lower than Britain in 1500. Nor is it easy to grasp the sheer size of China – it has two and a half times the population of the European Union and more than twice the population of the entire Latin American continent. The level of sacrifice involved in achieving China’s revolution is almost incomprehensible compared to the strikes, demonstrations and other things which are figure as ‘big events’ in Europe or the US. Thirty million people died in China in the war against Japanese imperialism and the succeeding civil war culminating in the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. This is the largest loss of life in absolute terms in any such struggle in history – although in terms of the proportion of the population killed the USSR suffered even more in the struggle to defeat Nazi Germany.
But it is exactly for these reasons that the left in the semi-colonial countries understand rather easily the significance of China and its revolution. A country which only sixty years ago literally had an income per head equivalent to medieval Europe will, within ten years, overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. A country where in 1949 only around 5-10% of women could read and write now has universal literacy. The might of China’s economy increasingly gives countries such as Venezuela or Cuba, and non-socialist ones such as Brazil or South Africa, far greater room to create an alternative economic orientation to subordination to the US. It is the junction of the left wing struggles in Latin America with China’s growing economic strength that constitutes the most important progressive axis in the world. China is achieving what every progressive semi-colonial country dreams of.
China comprises one fifth of the world’s population. It has the largest working class of any country. Its economy will be the only one capable of confronting the US for several decades to come. For these reasons, as 1 July 2011 marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, which led these processes, it is important to reflect on the significance of China’s revolution not via short term impressions but from a fundamental angle.
China’s growth threatens US hegemony
To take first economic development, China’s growth is profoundly altering the international situation. China’s is already the world’s second largest economy, it has been growing at almost 10% a year for three decades, and within ten years it will overtake the US to become the world’s largest economy. It is the possibility of trade with China this process creates that has begun to radically change the economic policy that can be pursued by developing countries – making it possible to have an economic strategy of which the most important element is relations with China rather than subordination to the US.
The South African Trade Minister Rob Davies, for example, summarised the situation neatly, during an extended trade mission to China by President Zuma in August 2010. He told The Financial Times that China’s expanding presence in Africa ‘can only be a good thing’ because it enormously increases choices for semi-colonial countries: ‘We don't have to sign on the dotted line whatever is shoved under our noses any longer… We now have alternatives and that’s to our benefit.’
US imperialism is therefore determined to prevent China’s present growth trajectory if it can, as its continuation will destroy US global economic hegemony. It therefore campaigns for China to pursue economic policies that would undermine its growth, seeks to whip up an international campaign for China to revalue its currency and shift resources away from the investment that drives its growth, seeks to block China’s imports through accusations of ‘dumping’, and numerous similar policies.
At the same time the US is seeking to step up the military pressure on China by encouraging the military build-up in China’s near neighbours. The US is also seeking to put in place a series of encircling alliances stretching from Japan through the Korean peninsula, Taiwan, and the South China Sea to, in some measure, Vietnam. If possible the US would like to involve Russia and India in this encirclement.
The aim of these US moves are less an immediate military confrontation with China than about forcing China to defensively shift resources from its productive economy to military spending. This constitutes a US attempt to repeat the Reagan policies of the 1980s in which the ailing Soviet economy was pressurised through an unaffordable arms race.
China, however, is a far harder economic nut to crack than the USSR by the 1980s. China’s economic growth this year will probably exceed nine per cent, the fastest of any major economy in the world and far outstripping the US. This continues a rate of growth China has enjoyed for the last thirty years.
So far, China has also continued to resist US demands that it commit economic suicide via a large revaluation of its currency or by substantially reducing its level of investment – both of which would lower its growth rate.
Living standards in China
China has not only sustained the fastest rate of growth of any major economy in the world for over 30 years but its rate of increase of consumption, that is in living standards, is also the highest of any major country in the world. This growth has produced the extraordinary achievement that 630 million people in China have been lifted out of internationally defined poverty. To give an idea of the scale of that achievement it is simply necessary to note that this is greater than the entire population of either Latin America or the European Union.
Those who claim China’s economic success is based on ‘super-exploitation’ are simply engaging in bullshit without any sense of perspective or comparison. A peasant in China who moves to the city to work in a factory on average increases their income by 300%. Are working conditions in China what we would want in an advanced country? Certainly not and there are many avoidable abuses. But China is not an advanced economy. It will take decades to achieve that position and to gradually improve conditions of life and work. But most of the world’s population would literally jump for joy at a 300% increase in income. The economic progress of the China’s population dwarfs what has been achieved in the rest of the world.
Between 1981 and 2005 the UN estimates that China’s internationally defined poverty rate fell from 85% to 15%. This has completely transformed the quality of life, education, choices and life expectancy for hundreds of millions of people. It is a gigantic contribution to the well-being of humanity.
Independence of China
To pursue the path that has brought China such dramatic economic and social improvements it was necessary, first of all, for China to achieve independence from imperialism – without this China could not refuse to subordinate the interests of its economic development to those of imperialist states.
Prior to its revolution in 1949 China had suffered over a century of imperialist military attacks, deliberate promotion of opium imports as a commercial policy by Britain, occupation of its ports and key commercial centres, imposition of ‘unequal treaties’ to give the imperialists trading advantages, wilful destruction and theft of its cultural heritage, racism towards its people so that even in their own country Chinese people encountered signs reading ‘No dogs or Chinese’ in parks and on public benches, and finally full scale invasion by Japanese imperialism with the aim of reducing the country to a colony. China freed itself from imperialism only after more than a century of the most intense class struggles culminating in full scale war against Japanese imperialism followed by civil war.
The Chinese Communist Party
The force which led this successful struggle against imperialism was the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The successful strategy and tactics of the Mao Zedong leadership of the CCP were its own invention. Its fundamental concepts – ‘the countryside will surround the cities’, ‘prolonged people’s war’ – were not remotely a mechanical copy of those of Lenin and the Russian Revolution. Those tactics which the CCP did derive from the Russian Revolution and the Communist International, for example the united front tactics in the struggle against the Japanese invasion, were applied with great tactical flexibility. This entire policy was a brilliant application of Marxism to the concrete conditions of China. And its result was to throw off imperialism, bring to an end more than a hundred years of national subjugation of China, and launch an economic course that has transformed for the better the economic and social conditions of the Chinese people – that is, of one fifth of humanity.
It is for this reason that, whatever were the post-revolutionary tragedies of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the Maoist leadership of the Chinese Communist Party overall wrote one of the most glorious pages in the entire history of the international working class. It is for this reason that the overwhelming majority of the left and socialist forces in China consider themselves ‘Maoist’. As Li Minqi, one of the ‘dissidents’ in China who evolved to the left and to openly Marxist positions, wrote in his book The Rise of China and the Demise of the World Capitalist Economy: ‘the rediscovery of China’s own revolutionary history has been an integral part of the rise of the Chinese “New Left”. Today, it is virtually impossible for someone in China to be a leftist without also being some sort of Maoist.’
Naturally China, at the time of its revolution, was an extremely economically underdeveloped country and the political forms it adopted to achieve its revolution do not apply in other countries. But the economic and social gains made by its people were a gigantic step forward. The left in China overwhelmingly considers itself ‘Maoist’ not in the sense that it wishes to return literally to the policies pursued by Mao, or is unaware of mistakes made, but in the sense that Mao Zedong led one of the two greatest revolutions in history without which the present enormous achievements of the Chinese people would have been impossible. Nothing of a progressive character will be created in China by denying that legacy, but only be building on it to confront the new problems of today.
If China is capitalist
Curiously some people attempt to present as a ‘left’ argument that all these achievements in China have been carried out by ‘capitalism’ or ‘state capitalism’. They simply fail to see the logic of their arguments – which are the exact reverse of ‘left wing’! If it were the case that capitalism, whether in a ‘state’ or any other form, were still capable of throwing off the yoke of imperialism and taking one-fifth of humanity out of underdevelopment and poverty then capitalism would continue to be a profoundly progressive system.
Politics in the Chinese Revolution
Some socialists also mistakenly argue that because the greatest part of the social forces that made the Chinese Revolution were peasants, the rural petit-bourgeoisie in strict class terms, this means that the revolution could not be socialist. This confuses politics and sociology. It also has a profoundly wrong line regarding social alliances in the struggle against imperialism. A successful revolutionary struggle in a semi-colonial country, in which the overwhelming majority of the population live in the countryside, could not be a struggle by the working class against the petit-bourgeoisie, i.e. the peasantry. It had to be a struggle of the working class in alliance with and leading the petit-bourgeoisie.
The politically dominant forces in the Chinese Revolution – as in the Russian Revolution – were proletarian. It was led by an explicitly Marxist party. The rule of that party did not see a consolidation of ‘peasant interests’ against the working class, but on the contrary a gigantic expansion of the working class and a shrinking of the peasantry. The class character of a revolution is defined by which class leads it politically, which class interests it represents, and what it does when it takes state power – not by the social composition of the forces mobilised on the streets or in the revolutionary army. To analyse otherwise is to engage in a crude sociological reductionism. A revolution, especially in a country dominated by imperialism, is not waged by just one class, but has to bring together the entire ‘people’, that is all the oppressed and exploited, in a struggle for liberation against their imperialist oppressors and their capitalist servants in the country concerned. Far from being a peasant revolution, the real facts of development in China are the following:
First, the Chinese Revolution in 1949 eliminated the landlord and the capitalist class, redistributed land to the peasants and engaged in a huge process of building up the working class through development of industry and manufacturing.
Second, while the post-1978 economic reform did restore private – that is, capitalist – ownership in some sectors of the economy, the state has maintained ownership and control of the banking system, the largest companies in the country, most major construction companies, most rail and infrastructure companies, most coal, oil and chemical companies and other sectors.
While there is indeed a considerable private – that is, capitalist – sector in China, it remains the case that the key levers of the economy are in state hands. To give an idea of the scale of this, the operating surplus generated by the two largest state-owned companies is bigger than the top 500 private companies put together. The decisive role of the state-owned sector was seen clearly during the international financial crisis from 2008, when China’s state sector was used to lead a stimulus package on a scale, and in a form, no capitalist economy could match.
China and the market
A further erroneous criticism of China is that ‘the market’ exists there. It does. But economies in transition to socialism cannot successfully eliminate the market in one swoop. To attempt to do so was one of the economic errors deriving from Stalin and was second only to the reactionary policy of ‘socialism in one country’ in bringing about the eventual collapse of the USSR. The consequences of such a wrong economic conception can be seen today in North Korea, and mistakes in that direction were responsible for errors in economic policy in Cuba despite all that country’s huge achievements – as Cuba’s leadership has admitted in launching its new economic reforms. As this matter is, therefore, of great significance for socialist strategy it is necessary to examine it in fundamental Marxist terms.
Marx noted that the transition from capitalism to communism would be prolonged – constituting an entire historical epoch. As he wrote in The Communist Manifesto: ‘The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.’ Note the ‘by degree’, not ‘all at once’ as Stalin carried out in 1929 – or Pol Pot did in Cambodia to take an extreme example of such a policy!
Marx wrote in the ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’ of this transition, even within the socialised sectors of the economy:
‘What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.’
In such a first stage of transition from capitalism to a fully developed socialist society, payment in the economy, and distribution of products and services, necessarily has to be largely according to work, and cannot in the first stage be according to need no matter how much that is the final goal. But payment in terms of work performed parallels the commodity, that is, market form itself. Therefore the transition from the market to distribution according to need cannot take place ‘at a stroke’ but only over a prolonged historical period. As Marx put it:
‘Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society – after the deductions have been made – exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labour. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labour time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labour (after deducting his labour for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labour cost. The same amount of labour which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.
‘Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labour, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labour in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labour in another form.
‘Hence, equal right here is still in principle – bourgeois right… The right of the producers is proportional to the labour they supply; the equality consists in the fact that measurement is made with an equal standard, labour.’
In such a transitional society inequality would therefore necessarily still exist:
‘One… is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labour in the same time, or can labour for a longer time; and labour, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement. This equal right is an unequal right for unequal labour… Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard insofar as they are brought under an equal point of view, are taken from one definite side only – for instance, in the present case, are regarded only as workers and nothing more is seen in them, everything else being ignored. Further, one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labour, and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.’
Only after a prolonged transition would a payment according to work be replaced with the ultimately desired goal, distribution of products according to the needs of members of society. Marx noted:
‘Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby. In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labour, has vanished; after labour has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!’
The elimination of all small-scale commodity production and ownership by Stalin ‘at a stroke’ after 1929, and the continuation of this policy by his successors in the USSR, was therefore not in line with Marxist theory. That such a policy initially industrialised the Soviet Union, producing superior economic growth to that which existed in most of the world at that time, was due to the specific conditions that existed in 1929, not to Stalin’s policy’s conformity to overall Marxist analysis. The year 1929 was not only that of the launching of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan, but of the onset of the Great Depression. The capitalist world economy fragmented into a series of protectionist empires amid a generalised collapse of production in a process culminating in World War Two. Under such conditions, i.e. of the greatest economic crisis of capitalism in its history, Stalin’s policy, despite its departure from overall Marxist theory, produced rapid economic growth. Stalin demonstrated that essentially total immediate statification of the entire economy, and ‘socialism in one country’, as he termed his policy, produced greater economic growth than ‘capitalism in one country’ – or more correctly that socialism in one country was more successful than capitalism in fragmented and warring colonial empires. But the reintegration of the world capitalist economy after World War Two demonstrated that ‘capitalism on a world scale’ was more efficient than the voluntaristic attempt to replace the market by fiat, rather than by a historical process, introduced by Stalin.
The analysis of the CCP that China is in the ‘primary stage of socialism’, that is, one in which it is impossible to eliminate the market, is correct. It is also a conception advanced, with different terminology, by Trotsky and Preobrazhensky, among others, in the USSR in the 1920s before they were purged, and eventually murdered, by Stalin – although China, of course, arrived at such an analysis independently.
China is not a capitalist state, nor a capitalist country. It is a society in transition to socialism operating in a capitalist world economy which it does not control, but in which China’s growth and improvement in the living standards of its people are due to the fact that it wrested control of its economy from imperialism and capitalism. Today, as shown again by the events after the international financial crisis, the state, not private capitalists, controls the decisive levers of China’s economy. The maintenance of large elements of market relations in the ‘primary stage of socialism’ in China, even under conditions of state ownership of the most powerful means of production, is in line with Marxist theory and is necessary – and helps explain the success of China’s economy. As in every country the elimination of the market, with all the abuses and inequalities it creates, can only be a prolonged historical process.
The class struggle in China
Does this mean that the necessary and correct reintroduction of a market, and therefore of allowing the recreation of a capitalist class, is without dangers in China? On the contrary, a class struggle goes on inside China – indeed it is objectively the most important class struggle in any country in the world. There is an ongoing struggle in China between capitalism and those who have illusions in the capitalist market on the one hand, who would take China’s economic reform decisively in the direction of the restoration of capitalism, and on the other, those seeking further progress of the transition to socialism – those who think that it is precisely state control and ownership that has allowed China its success. The imperialists constantly seek to exploit these differences. They support those who want to move in a capitalist direction, and make economic demands – like the constant calls for a sharp revaluation of the RMB – that would subordinate the interests of the Chinese economy to the interests of the US and imperialist economies. At the same time a clear left wing also exists in China – primarily, for the reasons already outlined, defining itself as ‘Maoist’.
The progress of China aids struggles internationally, but events in the international class struggle also crucially affect China. The international financial crisis helped discredit those in China who praised a ‘US model’ and sought decisive steps towards capitalism. The rise of the left in Latin America, a continent with increasingly important ties with China, equally aids socialist forces in China.
The policies of the CCP
While the international situation impacts strongly on China, nevertheless developments within it are still dominated by internal processes – this is reinforced by the enormous scale of the country. Furthermore for a prolonged period virtually all forces in China became wary of foreign entanglements and events. Chinese illusions in the role of the leadership of the USSR were destroyed by the reactionary pro-imperialist policies of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, who attempted to sabotage China’s economic development by withdrawing Soviet advisers, and who in the 1970s even inaugurated military clashes with China. The enormous success of China’s economic reforms after 1978 coincided with a period of huge retreat for the class struggle internationally with the defeats of the revolutions in Nicaragua, the ‘lost decade’ under neo-liberalism in Latin America, and then the collapse of the USSR. The conception that China could rely only on itself, and furthermore that it was large enough to do so, deeply permeated all layers of Chinese society.
This did not mean that China abandoned all progressive actions and stances in the international struggle. China maintained extremely good relations with Cuba – President Hu Jintao and future president Xi Jinping, for example, demonstratively meeting Fidel Castro on recent trips to Latin America. China resisted intense US pressure not to launch a satellite for Venezuela, and trade with China aided innumerable semi-colonial countries. But China’s attitude to such developments might be summed up as ‘if you make a revolution, good, but please do not ask us to promote it – we are not in the business of exporting revolution.’ China, seeking to limit conflicts with the US, also refused to veto reactionary UN resolutions on issues such as Iran or Libya.
Domestically the Chinese leadership, while successfully promoting the development of China’s economy, adopted many social and political positions that were wrong. The failure to take adequate steps against corruption and abuse of power, the excessive use of the death penalty, past open discrimination against lesbians and gays (a policy that has now changed) were examples of wrong positions. But the CCP’s replacement by a leadership that conceded to imperialism and which was seeking to reintroduce capitalism in China would be a gigantic defeat not just for the Chinese people but for all progressive struggles worldwide. It would once more subordinate China to imperialism and result in enormous social and economic regression – as seen in the former USSR. The only way that represents progress in China is not overthrow of the CCP by the capitalist right, the project of imperialism and pseudo ‘liberals’ in China, but the strengthening of the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist left within China. The very fact that openly capitalist forces in China complain that since the onset of the international financial crisis increasing layers in China believe that this crisis shows the superiority of China to the capitalist model indicates the rising strength of such currents. Furthermore, at present, the leadership of the CCP itself is introducing a series of policies – radical increase in social housing, moving towards reintroducing free health care, increasing the length of free education, increases in the minimum wage – which strengthen the position of the working class and at present move China in a progressive direction.
The stance of the international left on China
Precisely because China, and the possibility of economic relations with China, is one of the most important threats to the position of US imperialism, the US administration has made it one of its top international priorities to attempt to strangle China’s development.
That means the US is not only stepping up economic pressure on China but is also seeking to step up military pressure. The US is currently intervening sharply to try to create a military encirclement of China. The aim of this is both to try to create a relationship of military forces where it can directly threaten China – which is not easy to achieve – or, as a more realisable goal, where it forces China to redirect resources towards military defence away from developing its economy and improving living standards.
As US imperialism is ruthless, and determined to drive China back, it will use every means at its disposal to achieve this. Its offensive against China has a number of components:
* The US is seeking to force China to sharply revalue the RMB, making its exports less competitive, a tactic it successfully used against Japan in the 1980s. So far the US is making little headway in this, as very few forces within China see anything to be gained from this.
* The US is encouraging a false debate about ‘consumption’ in the Chinese economy, arguing that for ‘balanced’ growth the proportion of the economy devoted to consumption should be increased and the proportion devoted to investment reduced. This would have the effect of slowing the Chinese economy overall and therefore the actual rate of increase of living standards of the population would also fall.
* The US argues that foreign investment in China should be redirected elsewhere.
* The US seeks to create a pro-imperialist fifth column among the capitalist and privileged layers within China.
* The US is aiming to pin China down militarily through its network of alliances in the region.
China’s growth and its resistance to imperialism is one of the most decisive question in the international class struggle. It is a therefore also a decisive test of line of all political forces. Within the semi-colonial world there is little ambiguity on this struggle. Almost all progressive forces support China in its struggle against the attacks of US imperialism. In the imperialist countries however, under the pressure of the imperialist ruling classes, some political forces in the left wing of the labour movement become confused in this clash and even align themselves with imperialism in attacks on China.
Given the enormous stakes not only for the Chinese people but for all progressive struggles in the world, and in the first place for all those struggling against imperialism internationally, there is no place for such ambiguity. Defence of China against the attacks on it by the US and other imperialist powers is one of the most important of all issues facing the international working class. On the outcome of that struggle depends the fate of the one fifth of humanity who live in China and the position of all those struggling against imperialism throughout the world. Simultaneously the rise of the struggle against imperialism in Latin America and elsewhere is the greatest defence and aid that can be offered to China globally.It is for this reason that when dealing with such a gigantic event as the Chinese Revolution it is necessary to concentrate on fundamentals.