[OPE-L:7129] Re: china trip

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed May 08 2002 - 08:41:07 EDT

Re Mike L's  [7l27]:

Welcome back from your trip.  

> What more is there to say? The following appeared in the Shanghai Daily on May Day (or was it 30 April?): <snip, JL>
Oh yeah, I could add that Chinese Marxists are busily debating about how capitalists are productive workers, how capital in socialism is not exploitative, and how capital is produced by the capitalist's own labour and comes from savings. Value theory is being upgraded so it can once again be a weapon for change. There doesn't seem to be any debate about how capitalists represent advanced productive forces; since, according to Ziang Jemin's 'Three Represents", the Party represents advanced productive forces, it follows of course that capitalists belong in the party (indeed, in the leadership). <

Well, I guess it was but a matter of time before the official state
ideology had to be modified to reflect the new reality.  There are
precedents in the history of the USSR: e.g. Stalin's doctrine of 
"socialism in a single country"  and changing interpretations of 
value theory in the l940's (noted by Raya Dunayevskaya in her
l944 article and l945 rejoinder in the _American Economic Review_;
also see "The War and the Assault on Marx's CAPITAL" in 
_Marxism and Freedom_, l97l, Pluto, 237-239).  In this sense 
the "instrumentalisation of Marxist theory by a totalitarian state",
which Alfredo notes in [7l28],  is -- unfortunately -- not new.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the ironies of recent history.
A small irony is that the article that you referred to was published
on (or on the eve of) May Day.    The use of value theory by 
"Marxists" to justify capitalist production relations is more  than 
a little ironic. And, of course, the mainstream use of the expression
"transitional economies" to describe the economies of the former 
"socialist" nations transition  _to_ "free market capitalism" is a 
bitter irony from the standpoint of the Bolsheviks, like Lenin and
Preobrazhensky, who used that expression to mean something 
quite different. What is quite interesting in the case of the PRC is
that the CCP leadership can't say, or choose not to say,  that they 
want  capitalism.   Indeed, they continue to claim that they 
are building  socialism. Yet, obviously,  there had to be modifications in 
their official doctrine to reflect the changing social relations of
production which have been fostered by the CCP leadership itself.

* A question for those who believe that China was (at some point)
either socialist or a (deformed) workers' state:  how does one 
determine when it has become a social formation  in which capitalism 
has become the dominant mode of production?  In other words, how
can we distinguish quantitative changes towards capitalism from 
a qualitative change to capitalism?   

Of course, the above question(s) -- with modifications -- could be asked 
about the former republics of the USSR, the  former "people's 
democracies"  of  Eastern Europe, etc.   One could also ask the same 
questions about Cuba.  Indeed, one could with a lot of justification claim 
that these are some of the biggest questions of the recent and current 
epoch  -- and are even recognized as such by mainstream economists.

Any takers?

In solidarity, Jerry

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