The Guardian • Issue #2085

Anti-China economics threaten the world

Traditional and modern China.

Photo: Sharon Drummond – flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The mind of the average bourgeois economist at first appears disordered and schizophrenic. But there is an almost orchestrated approach to their anti-China reporting that is rather telling. This synchronised approach is perfectly illustrated when reading any commentary about China’s economy when compared to the rest of the world and particularly to the United States. China’s economy is written off as failing. America’s is described as ‘motoring’ ahead. It is repeated, mantra-like, in an effort to convince the world and themselves that their words are true. But they are not.

The IMF’s most recent figures for global economic growth for the year is just 3.1 per cent. The USA can expect 2.1 growth in its GDP and China, after the property problems and Evergrande’s collapse has been factored in has dropped but still is expected to be at least 4.6 per pent this year. Growth for the ‘advanced’ economies is predicted to be 1.5 per cent The IMF while putting a positive spin on these rather bleak figures has routinely downgraded its predictions as the year unfolds. This will inevitably mean attacks on the global working class as states respond to more economic pressure.

Despite these figures, the economists, the media and Western governments continue to declare that the Chinese economy is on the rocks and the West is moving ahead. Successive Australian Treasurers and their loyal media assert that ours is an economy that is a thing of envy around the world. The IMF expects Australian growth to be 1.25 per cent! Deloitte Australia acknowledges that there will be a 9 per cent drop in real disposable income in the coming year.

The final chapter in the Chinese Evergrande property crisis is being played out. Western ‘experts’ are greeting this with something almost akin to glee. The fact remains that the crisis was a long time coming and the Chinese have all but ensured that there will be no ripple effect through the broader economy. The IMF has highlighted the fact that while the Evergrande collapse was a major problem, the manner in which the Chinese government has been responding across the broader economy has significantly limited the damage.

The same bourgeois economists and observers ought to give thanks on a daily basis for the strength of the Chinese economy. The very opposite sentiment is poured out in almost every opinion piece, in every section of the capitalist media.

The Western world, its political establishments, economists, and media all face the same contradiction when dealing with China. There is an acknowledgement of the power of the Chinese economy and that it is a major trading partner with many countries. It is Australia’s largest trading partner. Australia’s economy survives, largely on the back of the Chinese and yet barely a day goes by when economists do not exclaim that the end of the Chinese economy is almost in sight.

If their wishes come to fruition then the global economy will crash. Understanding how such disordered thinking can exist is to begin to understand the logic of capitalism that allows global war, climate destruction and impoverishment on a global scale so long as the reptilian system survives and hegemony rests with the existing imperial power.

Individual capitalists and entire sections of capital do not share the mad rush to economic Armageddon that would accompany a seriously weakened Chinese economy. What we are witnessing, however, is a general tendency of capitalism towards economic nationalism, that returned following the cracks that developed in capitalist globalisation.

Globalisation was seen as a panacea to capitalism’s crisis. Marx’s theory of a tendency for profits to fall was evident to all from the 1970s. The response was to globalise, thereby reducing costs and maximising profits. Manufacturing industries relocated, often to China, laying waste to national economies and devastating entire communities. The nation-state was in retreat. Capital showed that it cared nothing for the interests of anyone but its own survival. It has always been a survival predicated on growth and expansion.

It was a brief respite. The same contradictions that haunt capital returned. Profit rates rose briefly and began, once more, to decline. At the same time the distribution of wealth became concentrated into fewer hands. Such is the logic and the laws of capitalism.

Globalisation failed to be the cure-all. Economic nationalism and the political nationalism that goes with it had already led the world into two world wars and yet the cycle is being repeated.

Against this backdrop of capitalist crisis, China’s socialist transformation continued. Capitalism initially thought that China would simply be the ‘workshop of the world’ but the Chinese Communist Party regarded the future in quite a different light.

Today it equals the economic might of the USA. It is able to defend itself and yes, it does threaten the West. The threat is an ideological one. The battle of ideas between capitalism and socialism is being fought out before the eyes of the world and it is becoming increasingly obvious, not just to Marxists, but to increasingly large numbers of people that this is the case.

This is why governments, economists, and the bourgeois media, spend such energies seeking to ‘prove’ that China is either a ruthless autocracy, a communist dictatorship, an expansionist military threat, or a predatory economic power. It can become anything that the propagandists decide it to be.

The awful reality that underpins the thinking of imperialism is that it is prepared to destroy the global economy to maintain power and to destroy socialism. There is no other logical explanation.

If China was seen simply as an economic rival to the USA, then there would be no issue. Other great economic powers in the post-war period have not been threatened with destruction. But things are different. There is a shift in attitude and it is a shift back to business as usual for imperialism with the added pressure of an ideological struggle against socialism.

Imperialism, being the highest stage of capitalism, sees survival as more important than competition or cooperation. Imperialism would be willing to see the entire global economy crash in order to preserve hegemony. History shows that there is no crime which the USA, as the leading imperialist power or its henchmen will not stoop to and no price too great to maintain global control of the global market.

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