How communist China’s Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ adapts to being the largest economy within a capitalist world is a pertinent question for any politically conscious participant in the International Committee of the Fourth International and Socialist Equality Party (ICFI/SEP) program and party of World Socialist Revolution.
As such I am an interested casual observer of what the communist party of China nowadays refer to as Socialism with Chinese characteristics, when describing their socio-economic form of governance and productivity. Given that China is most likely to become the worlds largest economy within the present decade of the 2020s, what will China do to address the subsequent growth of social inequality now taking place throughout its relatively large population? The fact that communist China decided to adapt to a globalising capitalism, presumably in order to develop its productive force is understandable, and it can be well argued that its relatively rapid economic and productive growth over several decades justifies China having made such a decision.
Among the many political lessons to be learned by students of International Socialism is how China’s experimental modern socialism deals with the inevitable growth in social inequality that comes with having adapted to capitalism. With China having reached the worlds second highest number of about 390 billionaires, it can be argued that they represent a Chinese capitalist class that is now emerging out of a relatively fast growing Chinese middle class. In Marxist terms, the emergence of a so called capitalist class in China is in effect the emergence of a Chinese ruling class. A Chinese ruling class will by any Marxist interpretation become more and more dependent on the exploitation of the Chinese working class in order to continue maximising profit and thereby further the accumulation of their privately owned wealth. However, unlike most capitalist states The People’s Republic of China the PRC, forms Socialism with Chinese characteristics by retaining a significant amount of state owned finance and industry, as a form of socialism this too has enabled China’s relatively fast growth of GDP.
The Chinese communist party may not be able to, or even want to, reduce the profit driven exploitation of its working class productive force. Be this as it may, the Chinese communist party is at least placing a lot more emphasis on meeting the social and cultural needs of its vast population than most so-called democratic states. How China controls an increasing emphasis on profit making and the accumulation of privately owned wealth, while improving its capacity to satisfy the social and cultural needs of more than 1.4 billion people must now surely be one of China’s greatest challenges.
It will be interesting to observe what the Chinese communist party will do about an increasing social inequality within its own state borders and how it manages the inevitable geopolitical antagonism that comes with it’s rise to becoming the worlds largest economy. In addition to a profit driven exploitation of working class labour – the productive force, capitalism also brings with it the need for individual nation states to compete against each other for limited resources in an effort to maximise their GDP. This is what the two world wars were fought over and this is why China must now spend an increasing amount of its GDP on building its military industrial complex and force.
China is already the worlds largest population, soon to reach the 1.5 billion mark, probably well within the present decade China will also become the worlds largest economy. Never before has there been a major state power with so much potential to influence the rest of the world, for better and for worse. Previous major world powers such as Rome, Britain and the USA, all arrived at their world pinnacle via imperialism and warfare. Providing the present so called world hegemon the USA can tame its fear of and belligerence toward the economic rise of China, thereby hopefully avoiding an imperialist nuclear war, China could be the first and largest ever state power to provide the rest of the world with an example of what can be achieved without resorting to imperialism or warfare. Moreover, Chinese world leadership could also provide an example of how and why the socialist principle of placing a higher priority on satisfying the social and cultural needs of society, rather than on the accumulation of privately owned wealth, is in the best interest of humanity as a whole.
The main lesson to be learned from Socialism with Chinese characteristics is that it does not begin with the premise of socialism being or becoming international, consequently it is a socialism that is confined within a single nation state and as such it will never be able to achieve socialism’s full international potential. Hence Socialism with Chinese characteristics can be regarded by students of International Socialism as being counter-revolutionary. However, Socialism with Chinese characteristics could present the first, largest and possibly the best yet example of how and why International Socialism should replace international capitalism throughout the entire planet, sooner rather than later.
As part of our preparation for world socialist revolution, students of International Socialism should observe and consider how and why the science based International Socialism advocated by Marx and Trotsky is indeed a far more sophisticated and sustainable socio-economic form of governance and productivity than that of socialism within a single nation state, as advocated by Stalin and Mao and now being adapted to a global capitalism by China.
Robert Taffy Seaborne