The Guardian • Issue #2082

World Association of Political Economy report

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2082
David Matters.

David Matters.

Political Economy, the study of economic systems and how they are controlled by political systems, affects all of us. The following is a report from David Matters, who attended a recent international meeting on the topic.

The first face-to-face meeting of political economists from around the world since the COVID 19 crisis took place on the Island of Pingtan in 2023. The gathering was jointly hosted by the World Association of Political Economy (WAPE) and the Fujian Normal University. Scholars and lay political economists from around 15 countries were part of the gathering.

The subjects were organised around the theme of Chinese Modernisation and World Modernisation. The significance of hosting this conference of WAPE at such a prestigious place was not lost on the participants. To get to the conference, guests had to cross what is already one of the largest land and sea bridges to the Island of Pingtan.

Pingtan is in the Taiwan straights and Taiwan can be seen from the Island. Fujian province and Taiwan share much in relation to culture and language with Taiwan, the local dialect in Fujian is the same as the Taiwanese dialect. The bridge that we crossed will extend to Taipei by 2035, and the area is in a ‘Pilot Economic Zone’ as part of an initiative to encourage cross-strait relations. The peaceful reintegration of Taiwan into the mainland continues with special considerations for helping to bring along the economic development of the special pilot economic zone.

The writer of this article had been accepted to present a paper dealing with this theme from the Australian context. This paper had drawn the conclusion that the political and economic system in Australia was having a negative impact on Australia’s development and modernisation.

For example, I argue that the state monopoly system prevented transport modernisation including the introduction of fast rail, and that the control resource monopolies exert over the political and economic system through state monopoly capitalism has impeded the response to climate change.

The control that ‘developers’ had over this system was leading to the extinction of Australia’s unique flora and fauna including the koala. The excessive reliance on continuous urban sprawl and the road network were the result of the political and economic system which corrupted and spoiled the ability to respond.

The major influence of organisations such as WAPE and the development of progressive Marxist thinking in Chinese universities has had a positive impact. Ecological socialism which saw an economic measurement for the environment was having a profound influence in China. WAPE had gone from being one of many organisations in China to one that had bought some of the most progressive thinking to main stage.

As part of this recognition two major works were released at the conference. The first was the historical account of the development of the Innovative School of Marxism in China. This 750-page work traces the development of the School through the eyes of Marxist Scholars from around the world and is a significant contribution to the development of Marxism in the modern world.

The second work that was released at the Forum was China’s Economic Dialectic, the Original Aspiration of Reform by Professor Cheng Enfu. This collection of essays is not the musings of a cloistered academic. The writings have shaped policy initiatives, and successfully challenged the attempts of bourgeois forces to dominate the ideological struggle in China.

Enfu’s work has played an important role in advancing ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’. It is an encyclopaedic understanding of the development of Chinese Marxism and the interplay of mechanisms that have assisted the development of socialism in China. It is an exciting read for anyone interested in the continuation of Marxism.

WAPE as a forum has provided fresh insight into the continued relevance of Marxism in the modern world. It has boldly challenged the bourgeois ideologists in their own institutions and is worthy of our support. The forum will reconvene in Athens in 2024 and Istanbul in 2025.

Political economists could do well to link up with and advance this school of Marxism as well as consider attendance at future forums.

At this forum distinguished awards were given to those who had been considered to have advanced the study of Marxism through published works. The author of this article was honoured for a work originally published in the World Review of Political Economy, now available in Issue 74 of the Australian Marxist Review. The article was ‘the State of the Whole people and its influence on the Struggle for Socialism in the 21st Century’.

Editor’s note: ‘China’s Economic Dialectic’ by Cheng Enfu, along with other works on Political Economy, was reviewed in Guardian #2078, 13 November 2023. The Australian Marxist Review is published by the Communist Party of Australia, and like the Guardian is available at

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