China: A hopeful sign
Published Mar 17, 2006 9:54 PM
The National Peoples Congress of China “is consumed with an ideological
debate over socialism and capitalism that many had assumed had been buried by
China’s long streak of fast economic growth,” according to a lead
story in the March 12 New York Times.
The debate forced the Chinese
government to shelve a draft law to protect property rights that “had been
expected to win pro-forma passage.” It also “highlighted the
resurgent influence of a small but vocal group of socialist-leaning scholars and
policy advisers,” said the Times. “These old-style leftist thinkers
have used China’s rising income gap and increasing social unrest to raise
doubts about what they see as the country’s headlong pursuit of private
wealth and market-driven economic development.”
according to the Times, has its origin in a critique of the property law by a
Beijing University professor, Gong Xiantian, who attacked the drafters of the
law for “copying capitalist civil law like slaves” and offering
equal protection to “a rich man’s car and a beggar’s
“Most of all,” the writer protested that the law
did not make clear that “socialist property is
President Hu Jintao has reportedly advised cadre to
study Cuba and North Korea to learn how to achieve social stability.
Furthermore, films about the 1991 Yeltsin-led counter-revolution in the Soviet
Union are being shown to cadres to warn what happens when socialism is
This debate takes place against a background of 200 rebellions
a day in the year 2005 as workers and peasants revolt against capitalist
“reforms.” A campaign has been launched by President Hu and Prime
Minister Wen Jiabao to close the income gap between the city and the countryside
under the slogan of a “new socialist countryside.”
China is leased by the farmer from the village and can’t be sold legally.
The imperialist media expressed disappointment that this new agrarian plan left
in place the ban on private sales of land. However, Chinese leftists are also
disappointed that the leadership has not firmly restated the social character of
The reemergence of the left in China is a setback to the
imperialist ruling class, which hoped socialism was on a one-way downward spiral
and would be inevitably overcome by capitalist counter-revolution—by the
irresistible, evolutionary progression of global capitalist penetration of China
and the inevitable advance of the domestic bourgeoisie toward political power
through the takeover of the party and government.
This ideological and
policy debate is at bottom the emergence of a representation—in various
forms, more or less consistent—of the class interests of hundreds of
millions of workers and peasants in China who have been subjected to the
terrible downside of capitalist “reforms” that has accompanied rapid
economic growth and the abandonment of socialist guarantees.
appears to be a first step in what must be a long and difficult struggle against
entrenched capitalist class interests. But the emergence of significant leftist
political currents who are trying to steer China farther from the capitalist
road and closer to the socialist road is a hopeful sign for all partisans of the
great Chinese socialist revolution of 1949.
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