Re: [OPE] Class structure: China

Date: Sat Apr 30 2011 - 19:37:50 EDT

Michael W:
Do you have some statistics and references on the growth of state-owned
'for profit' enterprises? I'm curious especially about how the surplus is
used and what authorities within the state make the decisions.
Dave Z:
Brief comments on your comments:

> Second point:
> Since the political force that won state power in the revolutionary
> process was a CP, it imposed a particular constitutional form of rule
> derived, in part, from Comintern.
Yes, but it's crucial also to recognize how Chinese policy and law
changed in the late 50's - especially after the rise of Khrushchev to
power in the USSR. After that time the "particular constitutional form of
rule" changed and the CCP moved in a decidedly different direction, including
the Great Leap Forward in 1958.
> Third point:
> Since there can be little doubt that capitalist expansion is being
> promoted in China, one should consider another aspect of the global
> political economy; a system of surplus-appropriating states which
> pre-dates the existence of capitalism. In the context of inter-state
> rivalry or conflict with an advanced capitalist state, pre-capitalist
> states are likely to to adopt a path of capitalist modernization for the
> development of the productive forces and hence their abilities to act in
> the inter-state system. Mooers wrote a nice comparative study of this
> competitive process and its unintended outcomes:
> Colin Mooers (1991), "The Making of Bourgeois Europe: Absolutism,
> Revolution, and the Rise of Capitalism in England, France and
> Germany", Verso.
Sometimes 'pre-capitalist', 'capitalist', and 'post-capitalist' are
inadequate descriptors for particular states, I think. It's hard for
me to conceptualize the current Chinese state as 'pre-capitalist'.
Was it also pre-capitalist under Mao?

> Of course, the
> central question is the phase transition itself; whether the Chinese
> state has crossed 'the tipping point' towards being subordinate to these
> structural mechanisms? You point to the emergence of a class coalition
> of state officials/managers and capitalists, pushing for privatization.
> On the other hand there appears to be factional struggle within the CP,
> which remains the dominant political force.
The factional struggle which led, imo, in a relatively straight-line
path to the current policy began after 1976 and was championed by the
late Deng Xiaoping. In retrospect, the name given to his faction within
the CCP by their factional opponents (the so-called 'Gang of Four') seems
to be correct: they were 'capitalist roaders'. The current
policy which Michael is asking about was rationalized in the 2003 "Three
Represents" change in the Party Constitution which had been proposed by
Jiang Zemin. It's true that there is a so-called "New Leftism" faction
within the CCP but they appear to be quite weak and unable to effect
changes in party policy.
What seems to be the case, imo, is that the party leadership has been
trying through a series of measures to not only change the role of the
state but also to rationalize this using some sort of
popular and leftist rhetoric to both the masses and their own rank-and-file.
This is not such an easy task - they want to have their cake and eat
it too, so to speak. That is, they want to promote capitalist development
while at the same time repeating the line that there is socialism in
the PRC and that they as representatives of the CCP are dedicated
communists. As the realities of Chinese society become more and more
understood by the Chinese masses, this becomes an increasingly tortured
and hard sell. I'm not even sure if the party leadership which espouses
this rhetoric believes it. But what does seem clear to me is that the
party leadership is intent on making sure that in this continued path
of capitalist development the role of the state, and hence the role
of the Party, isn't diminished. So maybe that's one way of getting around
to thinking about Michael's question - it could be seen as an attempt
by the party leadership to preserve the role of the state in the
development process - and hence also reproduce their own individual
and collective positions of power, (relative) wealth and prestige.
Certainly it's unusual - one might call it (playing on another
expression) "capitalism with Chinese characteristics".
The logic of the current situation makes me think that at some point
there is going to be a massive 'legitimation crisis' within the PRC
and, with it, heightened class struggle.
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Sat Apr 30 19:38:46 2011

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