China bashing reaches new levels
by Peter Symon The mass media has gone into overdrive in its reportage of the recent Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Sydney Morning Herald headlined one article, "China rolls out red carpet for capitalists" while the ABC correspondent in China, Eric Campbell, declared that "it's hard to see why they call themselves communists anymore" , although if these stories represented the reality they would be head-over-heels with delight and applause. Pushing the same line, Green Left Weekly headlines an article on the CPC Congress: "CP welcomes capitalists into its ranks" and goes on to write of "China's drawn out process of capitalist restoration." Needless to say the capitalist press latched on to the handful of "entrepreneurs" who attended the Congress while ignoring all the other hard working achievers from among the working class, farmers and intellectuals. When the Soviet Union was broken up by the treacherous leadership of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the mass media trumpeted that "communism is dead" and that "socialism does not work". It is therefore difficult for the media to now admit that socialist China is forging ahead at a great pace with GDP rising by an average of 9.3 percent over the last 13 years. If China were really going "back to capitalism" how is it that she has sustained a growth rate three times that of any of the developed capitalist countries?. China's achievements can be contrasted with the virtual collapse of the economy of the Soviet Union when that country was dismembered and did take the capitalist path. Nor is communism dead as a look around the world will show. Discussion of the policies of CPC (and achievements) are legitimate but they need to be set in the context of the past and the present and the international situation rather than by seizing on bits and pieces. The construction of a new socialist society is a very complex process and takes much more time than some seem to think. It is significant that Jiang Zemin said at the Congress that state ownership should play the dominant role and that expanding the state sector and having it control "the lifeline of the national economy is of crucial importance in displaying the superiority of the socialist system". But there will be other forms of ownership as well in the long transition period — collective, fully private, joint state and private ownership, joint foreign and state owned as well as fully foreign owned. It is this that is being portrayed as "rolling out the red carpet for capitalists", and as "capitalist restoration". Exactly the same allegations were levelled at Lenin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the early days following the Russian revolution of 1917 when the Party introduced in 1918 the New Economic Policy or NEP as it became known. The following assertions come from a Social Democrat of that period: "The policy of Soviet power...has lately pursued more and more openly a course of compromise with the bourgeoisie and has assumed an obviously anti-working class character. On the pretext of nationalising industry, they are pursuing a policy of establishing industrial trusts, and on the pretext of restoring the productive forces of the country, they are attempting to abolish the eight-hour day, [and] to introduce piece-work. This policy threatens to deprive the proletariat of its most important economic gains and to make it a victim of unrestricted exploitation by the bourgeoisie." (Quoted by Lenin in "Left-Wing" Childishness and the Petty- bourgeois Mentality Section V). Lenin also quotes an article from the "Left" communists in their misnamed publication called Kommunist: "The introduction of labour discipline in connection with the restoration of capitalist management of industry cannot considerably increase the productivity of labour, but it will diminish the class initiative, activity and organisation of the proletariat. It threatens to enslave the working class. In order to implement this system, the Communist Party would have to rely on the petty bourgeoisie, as against the workers, and in this way, would ruin itself as the party of the proletariat." (Ibid). Lenin ridiculed such ideas. "Only those are worthy of the name of Communists who understand that it is impossible to create or introduce socialism without learning from the organisers of the trusts. For socialism is not a figment of the imagination, but the assimilation and application by the proletarian vanguard, which has seized power, of what has been created by the trusts. We, the party of the proletariat, have no other way of acquiring the ability to organise large-scale production on trust lines Lenin went on, "We...must expropriate them...put a stop to their sabotage, subordinate them as a section or group to Soviet power. We, on the other hand, if we are not Communists of infantile age and infantile understanding, must learn from them, and there is something to learn, for the party of the proletariat and its vanguard has no experience of independent work in organising giant enterprises which serve the needs of scores of millions of people." (Ibid). And again: "At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state. This is also ABC." (Ibid Section IV). The Russian New Economic Policy was designed to promote rapid economic rehabilitation and to pave the way for the socialist reconstruction of the economy, and it did just that. There are obvious parallels between the New Economic Policy implemented in the early stages of the economic construction of the Soviet Union and the current policy being implemented by the Communist Party of China. I had the opportunity of visiting the People's Republic of China some years ago and visited an enterprise set up by Australian capital. It was turning out small refrigerators. In answering questions about this situation my Chinese hosts pointed out that they needed to learn management skills, obtain technical know-how and obtain capital. The Australian capitalists provided products needed by the Chinese people and it is in this sense that they helped to build socialism. They, of course, made profits and perhaps dreamed that they would eventually overthrow the Party leadership and re-establish a fully capitalist China. Socialism is not about maintaining poverty but about providing a better life for the working people of town and country than can be provided by capitalism. The mass media is also attempting to make great play with the fact that some who are owners of property may join the Communist Party. The real question is the political convictions of the person concerned. The conditions of membership are support for the Program and Constitution of the Party, activity in a Party organisation, observance of Party decisions and payment of membership dues. At the same time Communist Parties pay attention to maintaining their predominant working class character. This is why Jiang Zemin said at the Congress: "We should recruit Party members mainly from workers, farmers, intellectuals and servicemen, thus expanding the basic components and backbone of the Party. We should admit into the Party advanced elements of other social strata who accept the Party 's program and constitution, work for the realisation of the Party's line and program consciously, and meet the qualifications of Party membership following a long period of test ." Needless to say, the media does not quote the actual terms of the report. They are out to confuse and to influence those who take their politics only from newspaper headlines. Of course there are difficulties and dangers to be met. The class nature of society remains a reality and must not be played down; the ideological struggle for socialist principles must not be relegated; "entrepreneurs" who become millionaires have accumulated their wealth by exploiting the labour of the workers and the objective of socialism is to eliminate the exploitation of man by man. Neglect of any of these matters could endanger socialism and undermine the rule of the working class and its allies. The realities of the world situation marked by the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the rampage by US imperialism has also to be taken into account. How is the world to be saved from imperialist domination — a danger that is going to persist for several decades in all probability? There is an obligation on the Party leadership of the People's Republic of China to build economic and political strength as quickly as possible. The same obligation rested on the leaders of the Soviet Union when Hitlerism came to power in Germany in 1933 and announced its objective of world domination. The Soviet Union also pursued a "forced march" of rapid industrialisation and, as a result, was able to defeat the Nazi challenge and the threats from other western imperialist states. What is usually not understood by the critics from developed capitalist countries (who have never had the responsibility of building a socialist society except in books), is that the transition from capitalism to socialism occupies a long historical period and is not achieved by waving some magic wand or by rhetorical speeches and slogans. To quote Lenin once again: "when the problem of taking power arose and the Bolsheviks explained it to the whole people, [we] stressed the necessity for a prolonged, complex transition . from capitalist society (and the less developed it is, the longer the transition will take)." (Report to the Second All-Russia Congress of Political Education Departments. October 1921).