In her 1916 anti war pamphlet ‘The Crisis of German Democracy‘, Marxist theorist Rosa Luxemburg writes ‘Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism’. More than a century of objective history, and the present day increasing level of geopolitical tension between nuclear armed states, demonstrates how most of the human race continues to regress into barbarism, hence the contemporary relevance and urgency of Luxemburg’s prophecy cum advice.
As if the contemporary threats of potentially catastrophic climate change and a raging COVID-19 pandemic with its rapidly increasing death toll approaching 5> million as of late 2021 were not compelling enough, for the third time since the first and second world wars of 1914 and 1939, the human race is once again confronted with a similar level of geopolitical antagonisms and tension that gave rise to Luxemburg’s ‘socialism or barbarism’.
This time around could be ‘third time lucky’ – so to speak, there are several good reasons for being optimistic about us finally taking Luxemburg’s advice and choosing socialism. Unlike the previous two critical historical periods preceding the barbarism of world wars, this time the human race has the distinct technological advantage of a World Wide Web (WWW) capable of providing relevant up to date information throughout the entire planet on a daily basis. Moreover, this time around we have the contemporary example of how and why a Marxist inspired socialism is working and making good progress. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) represent almost 20% of the human race, and is now well advanced along its chosen pathway of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. It can now be clearly demonstrated as indicated above via the WWW what exactly the CPC/PRC combination has achieved by way of progressing socialism and liberating the Chinese people. This is how the CPC expresses such progress via its Jan/Feb 2020 edition of the bi-monthly Website of CPC Central Committee – Quishi.
‘For the proletariat and the people to liberate themselves from under the capitalist mode of production, they must have their own scientific theories to guide their actions. Marxism was the first theory to reveal the general trend of development in human society that capitalism is bound to fail and socialism will inevitably triumph. It provided the proletariat and the rest of the general public with rational concepts for understanding and changing the world, and pointed out the path for them to liberate themselves and all humanity. It has already been more than 170 years since the Communist Manifesto was published, but the truth of Marxism’s basic tenets is still being proven and becoming more evident.‘ (emphasis mine)
By way of putting the above statement into its Marxist context, consider the following sentence from The Communist Manifesto –
‘The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoise, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state, ie; of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible’. (emphasis mine)
Over the past 110 years of revolutionary struggle China has applied Marxist theory and economy as advised – ‘by degrees’, to the point where in 2021 the CPC Constitution can confidently stipulate that,
– “All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people. The National People’s Congress and the local people’s congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power.”
During 2021, the CPC celebrated its first centenary of revolution, reconstruction and reform, during which it has enabled the Chinese people to recover from being a conquered, impoverished, backward colony, to becoming the largest and most influential productive force in modern history. Following the defeat of the KMT and the formation of the PRC in 1949, the CPC has ‘by degrees’ also wrested capital from the bourgeoise and centralised all of the more essential instruments of production into the ownership/hands of the state. By having a centralised state ownership of the more essential elements of the Chinese economy, the CPC is able to control the extent to which capitalists and capital-ism can continue to play a role in developing productivity mostly from within the less essential periphery of a unique Chinese socialist market economy. Ref; ‘The theory on the socialist market economy’ –
While the eleven decades of revolutionary struggle in China may be described as being a form of ‘socialism in one state’, as a result of applying Marxist theory, the CPC knows better than most if not all other political parties that their chosen pathway to the liberation of the Chinese people in general and the Chinese working class in particular cannot – by any Marxist definition, be confined to a particular nation state. As the CPC said about its decision to be guided by Marxist theory – ‘It provided the proletariat and the rest of the general public with rational concepts for understanding and changing the world, and pointed out the path for them to liberate themselves and all humanity.’
By the time the USSR collapsed in 1991, the CPC had long since distanced itself from an isolated and flawed Stalinist Russia. Having formed the PRC in 1949 the CPC adapted to a rapidly globalising capitalist economy and within a few decades became a major productive force within it. The complexity of this struggle is well expressed by the CPC in its Jan/Feb 2020 edition of Quishi –
‘Marx and Engels believed that socialist revolution would occur in multiple developed capitalist countries simultaneously, resulting in a shared victory. According to their hypothesis, socialism would largely replace capitalism and dominate the international landscape in the future. However, looking at the history of international socialism over the past century, we can see that although the forces of capitalism and socialism have waxed and waned to a certain extent, there has been no fundamental change to the relative advantage of capitalism over socialism in the international arena. Socialist China has thus existed in a hostile environment since its founding, and faced enormous pressure in seeking survival and development. In the face of capitalist containment and suppression, China has upheld its independent foreign policy of peace and maintained unswerving commitment to its own path. Whether closed off by capitalist countries or embroiled in discord between other socialist countries, and whether facing competition between two opposing blocs or unprecedented changes on the global landscape, China has always stuck to its own path. Through this long period of contest and competition between two social systems, China has not only survived, but also kept growing stronger and holding high the banner of socialism, enabling scientific socialism to consistently shine with great vigor in China.’
What then might China’s ongoing progress in liberating the Chinese people including its working class mean for the liberation of ‘all humanity’, for the international working class as a whole? Consider the following extract from ‘The Writings of Leon Trotsky’ 1939-40 – ‘The perspective of the permanent revolution in no case signifies that the backward countries must await the signal from the advanced ones, or that the colonial peoples should patiently wait for the proletariat of the metropolitan centers to free them. Help comes to him who helps himself. Workers must develop the revolutionary struggle in every country, colonial or imperialist, where favourable conditions have been established, and through this set an example for the workers of other countries. Only initiative and activity, resoluteness and boldness can really materialize the slogan “Workers of the world, unite!” (emphasis mine)
Clearly a contemporary CPC/PRC is setting an ‘example for the workers of other countries’ as Trotsky suggests. Not only by virtue of China having fully developed its productive force, but more importantly its ongoing ‘transition to Socialism’, and the liberation of the 1> billion Chinese working class. As of 2021, it can be assumed that a Chinese middle class of 400> million with their increasing wealth are likely to be overwhelmingly supportive of the CPC. Moreover, that the Chinese working class – many of whom must surely be aspiring to become wealthier middle class, have over recent decades consistently demonstrated a relatively high level of trust and confidence in the CPC. As for a Chinese billionaire class of 300>, at this point in time they are being well enough regulated by the CPC to ensure that they do not have an undue influence on political power in China, their role in the context of the CPC deliberately ‘allowing some people to get rich first’ is confined mainly to that of providing sustainable competition, commercial advice and inspiring a so called upper middle class of Chinese millionaires to also become billionaires – its a bit like using obscenely expensive fishing bait. Keeping their billionaire class, monopoly capital-ism and its subsequent social inequality under control, while striving to achieve the goal of a moderately prosperous socialist state that provides the material and cultural needs of the Chinese people as a whole, will be the greatest challenge that the CPC faces in the decades ahead.
Be this as it hopefully may, the CPC/PRC relationship is in stark contrast to that of the lumpen, deformed relationship between the US Congress and the American people, a capitalist socio-economic form of governance and productivity that is already collapsing under the pressure of monopoly capitalism and a US billionaire class that dominates political power throughout the US. The US centre of globalised capital-ism is unwilling and hence unable to cope with COVID-19, having already lost more than 750,000> lives to the virus. This too is in stark contrast with the way that China – with more than four times the population of the US, has been able to restrict its death toll to less than 5,000 over the same period.
The lesson for the whole human race is the stark contrast between two very different ideologies cum socio-economic systems of governance and productivity, one that has resulted in a profit driven imperialist US that is now so desperate to retain its global economic hegemony that is has resorted to goading its main competitors China and Russia into war. Given that such a war between major state powers would almost inevitably be fought for the first time using nuclear weapons, the outcome is impossible to fathom, the human race has not been here before. Suffice to say, the wrong decision this time around could well be our deepest and final ‘regression into Barbarism’. The people who have already made their choice to ‘transition to Socialism’ are our best source of advice.
‘According to a more traditional perspective, socialism and capitalism are two opposing systems that are incompatible with each other and locked in an antagonistic relationship. In 1952, Stalin introduced the theory of “two parallel world markets,” which argued that the formation of a socialist bloc would cause the single world market dominated by capitalism to disintegrate, and lead to the emergence of two parallel world markets that would exist in isolation from and opposition to each other. He therefore proposed that all countries in the socialist bloc should work together to resist the capitalist market that was moving toward its doom. The socialist and capitalist blocs remained in a tense standoff for quite some time, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and dramatic changes in Eastern Europe brought the world socialist movement to a low point. The CPC’s major proposal to build a global community with a shared future is one that transcends disagreement and opposition between different systems. It reflects the Chinese nation’s open-minded outlook of striving to build a just and peaceful world, and serves as a banner under which China will seek to guide global trends and the progress of human civilization‘.
Summer 2021 SH.