The approach towards governance that China has been taking since the fall of the Soviet Union and the momentary triumph of global counter-revolution has been one of tactfully building up a system which can save the Chinese people from the capitalist world’s growing neoliberal hell. This has required China to open its economy up to the capitalist world for the sake of economic growth, and consequently to take China further from the dogmatically pure socialist path that the Communist Party of China’s ultra-left critics wish were present within it. But in 2020, with the rapid escalation of capitalism’s crises, we’ve seen just how crucial these moves towards economic growth have been for the country.
Without them, China’s people would now be in a far less economically stable environment amid the depression that the majority of the planet has entered into this year. All Marxists have some understanding of the reality that capitalism is doomed to eat itself, and that the profits capitalism produces will one day decline to a point where the lower classes are forced into misery to sustain the luxuries of the capitalist ruling class. So in a way, the CPC’s project over this last generation to lift over 800 million people out of poverty has been a preemptive defense of the Chinese people from the miseries that capitalism would one day produce. Communists have always known on some level that a year like 2020 would come, so in the decades before 2020 the CPC built a buffer against the worst of the inevitable chaos.
As Xinhuanet described in 2018, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era “makes clear that the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era is that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.” Since then, this contradiction has been addressed in a big way, with last month China having been able to declare after extensive investigations that the number of people living in absolute poverty has dropped to zero. This is in contrast to how throughout the capitalist world, over 100 million people have so far been pushed into poverty following the start of this year’s pandemic and economic crash.
And it seems that no matter how bad this depression gets, China will retain the ability to keep improving the living standards of its people. While assessing its future plans for development in the wake of last month’s official victory over poverty, China has settled on the approach of expanding assistance programs to its low-income population, which isn’t impoverished but is evidently still below the standard of living that the Party sees as ideal. This is again in contrast to the situation for the capitalist world-especially for the center of global imperialism the United States, where job losses are sure to further accelerate throughout 2021. More broadly, the IMF is going to increase austerity, privatization, and wage cuts within 81 countries in the coming months and years.
Also consider that Covid-19 has killed 335 thousand people in the U.S. alone so far, while China has had 4,634 Covid deaths so far. To get a greater sense of perspective, the U.S. has been getting more than 3000 Covid deaths on multiple days in this last month alone while China hasn’t gotten more than 100 cases within the span of a day since July. 2020 has shown that the material benefits which the CPC provides for its people are something which those living in the imperial core almost can’t fathom. At this point, I almost can’t imagine a reality where typically only a couple dozen people a day (or fewer) get the virus in my country. And China has created this reality for itself, despite having a population which is several times larger than that of the U.S.
This is the result of the Marxist-Leninist governing model which China is built upon. The fact that the Chinese government has approached its economic policies by looking at the contradictions which have been keeping some of its people poor, rather than by focusing on raising corporate profits while ignoring the very word “contradiction” like capitalist states do, has allowed for China to both virtually defeat the pandemic and continue to raise its people’s living standards amid a global depression.
China’s vast pandemic lockdowns from this spring may have slowed down the economy, but they were immediately followed by new growth for the country’s GDP and a historic anti-poverty victory. This is because unlike neoliberal capitalist countries like the U.S., China’s socioeconomic system is prepared to keep people protected by a robust social safety net during lockdowns, and therefore to make the recovery process from an outbreak quick and efficient. In turn, a quick economic recovery was also made possible.
So will be the case during the other, even more severe pandemics and economic shocks that will emerge throughout the era of climate collapse. The capitalist world is sinking, and the socialist world (by which I mean not just China but Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and the DPRK, which have all dealt with this year’s crises to similar success) is turning into a refuge from the hell that late-stage capitalism is creating. And despite what the CPC’s detractors want to believe, this vast advantage that China has in overcoming the world’s disasters isn’t merely the result of some good decisions that aren’t connected to socialism. Socialism is the reason why China and these other Marxist-Leninist countries have come out of this year in such a relatively good position.
The CPC’s anarchist, Maoist, and otherwise ultra-leftist detractors in particular claim that socialism hasn’t been the driver behind the Party’s good decisions. The gripes from these groups, which vary among the differing ultra-left ideologies, largely center around the idea that the presence of the bourgeoisie within China negates the CPC’s credibility as Marxist-Leninist. But whatever contradictions this situation presents for Chinese society, the fact remains that the People’s Republic of China is as much a dictatorship of the proletariat as it was during the Mao era, complete with an electoral system where the masses can decide which decisions are made. And their decision has been to utilize markets for the purpose of economic development, which as Marx wrote is an essential part of the liberation of the people:
It is only possible to achieve real liberation in the real world by employing real means, that slavery cannot be abolished without the steam-engine and the mule and spinning-jenny, serfdom cannot be abolished without improved agriculture, and that, in general, people cannot be liberated as long as they are unable to obtain food and drink, housing and clothing in adequate quality and quantity. “Liberation” is an historical and not a mental act, and it is brought about by historical conditions, the development of industry, commerce, agriculture, the conditions of intercourse.
This point was expanded upon by Lenin, who wrote that:
Capitalism is a bane compared with socialism. Capitalism is a boon compared with medievalism, small production, and the evils of bureaucracy which spring from the dispersal of the small producers. Inasmuch as we are as yet unable to pass directly from small production to socialism, some capitalism is inevitable as the elemental product of small production and exchange; so that we must utilise capitalism (particularly by directing it into the channels of state capitalism) as the intermediary link between small production and socialism, as a means, a path, and a method of increasing the productive forces.
And some try to characterize Xi Jinping Thought as “revisionist,” or as an outright betrayal of Marxism-Leninism! The economic development that the CPC is carrying out is entirely in line with the steps towards economic growth that the founders of Marxism-Leninism recommended should be carried out by a socialist state.
This is because China continues to be a nation that’s in need of economic growth as a means for raising the living standards of its people; as the imperialist media has been eager to point out, even after last month’s victory against poverty many in China lack living conditions which the CPC would consider ideal. So China must for now continue on its path of economic expansion, until it gains the productive capacity to dismantle its Deng-era market structures and develop further towards communism in the 21st century’s second half.
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