Friday, 30 May 2008
[picture: Premier Wen in a temporary classroom in SW Sichuan]
Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake
by Xinhua writers Ni Siyi and Lu Chuanzhong
·Chinese government fulfilled with actions its pledge of "putting people first."
·President Hu yelled out that "No hardship will daunt the heroic Chinese people!"
·Premier Wen wrote that "Trials and tribulations only serve to revitalize a great nation."
BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese nation was almost
caught off-guard by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan
Province earlier this month. As a result, an estimated
80,000 people perished in just a few minutes, and another
15 million lost their homes.
For a nation that has enjoyed three decades of economic
boom in peace and stability -- man-made or natural
disasters over the years sound too petty if compared -- the
sudden tragedy was just too much for every one to take.
Still, in the abyss of grief, the country moves into
reconstruction of the quake-hit regions. It is also high
time for the nation to ponder why the loss could be so huge
and what should be done to prepare for the possibility of
another of this kind awaiting us in future?
In fact, natural disasters of this size have never been
foreign for each generation of Chinese, whose national
terrestrial territory covers 9.6 million square kilometers,
let alone the fact that much of its land sits on a
Maybe, because the people have been longing for stability
so much and too cautious against arousing disturbance after
many years of chaos and disorder, there had been few such
warnings before the quake that the worst of Mother Nature
could occur -- people were just inadequately prepared.
The nation should start from now to realize that its future
should not be built merely on GDP figures, but on its
readiness toward off the worst odds of all natural and
Economists and other scholars have suggested disaster
prevention and relief be integrated into the national
economic and social development plan, and added into troop
training and school courses so as to minimize the damage
once disaster occurs.
The quake also helped enhance people's awareness of the
risks of natural disasters, making officials and builders
realize that projects should never be done cursorily;
otherwise they will face legal responsibility even if they
luckily escaped collapsed buildings they erected.
The central leadership has noticed the quality of
structures falling in the quake, especially vulnerable
school buildings that killed hundreds and thousands of
children who were having classes at the time of the quake.
He Guoqiang, China's top anti-graft official and member of
the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the
Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, urged for an
"upgraded quake-resistance standard" and "quality first" in
rebuilding quake-damaged schools when he visited the
Faced with strong protests from parents and public queries,
the Education Ministry and local governments have promised
to evaluate the construction quality of collapsed school
buildings and "severely punish those responsible if
problems were found."
With tens of thousands of lives lost, the quake proved too
dear a cost for the Chinese people. But if there is
anything the Chinese could gain from it, it's the bountiful
lessons both the government and the people have learned and
the experiences they have had.
Fourteen minutes after the quake struck, the military sent
out the first rescue team; within two hours Premier Wen
Jiabao was on a plane to the epicenter. The relief
headquarter was set up in the same evening in Dujiangyan,
one of the worst-hit cities in Sichuan.
Meanwhile, Chinese media rolled out around-the-clock and
nearly-live coverage of the disaster and the rescue work;
the whole of society was mobilized.
Chen Guangbiao, a private business board chairman from the
eastern Jiangsu Province, heading a team of 120 people and
60 excavators, rushed to the quake areas after an arduous
48-hour journey to help with the rescue work, side by side
with the military.
Military helicopters, field hospitals, satellite images,
air-lifting and air-dropping, scenes reminiscent of those
seen only in Hollywood blockbusters, now appeared in
China's TV news reporting, showing in a way the
effectiveness of the country's national mobilization
mechanism and also the economic and social prowess it has
gathered in the past 30 years.
Meanwhile, the Chinese people also saw on TV that President
Hu Jintao and Premier Wen braved aftershocks to direct
relief work and console victims in the quake areas;
military troops scrambled to rescue lives in the debris at
"Saving lives is the top priority," that's what the
government said and most importantly, what it did.
Many Chinese, including quake survivors, said they were
"proud of the government" when speaking to foreign and
Sharing the public sentiment, a young man surnamed Yuan
from Ya'an, one of the worst-hit cities, said he was "moved
by and proud of" his city government, which not only tried
hard to rescuelocals, but managed to help other quake areas
without any sign of red tape and local protectionism which
used to be common.
After the quake, the Chinese government fulfilled with
actions its pledge of "putting people first," something it
had advocated so hard, and beefed up the governing ideology
of openness and transparency. Officials saw this time the
surging of a civil society, found the norm of their actions
and the value of their very existence.
The general public also found the traditional values shine
again, such as courage, resolution, reason and sympathy,
which had once paled in people's mind when they were in
pursuit of economic benefits.
China's spoiled younger generation, called the
"post-1980s," grew up almost overnight after the quake,
becoming a major force of the volunteers in the rescue and
A young man in Chengdu wrote to a magazine: "Before this
incident, I had no confidence in humanity at all. Now, I
found they are still there, and very strong in everybody's
mind. The Chinese nation has a strong cohesive power."
LAW TESTIFIED BY HISTORY
President Hu may be a mild-speaking person in many people's
eyes, but he was seen on TV yelling out to a group of
relief soldiers that "No hardship will daunt the heroic
Chinese people!" Premier Wen also wrote on a blackboard in
a quake-hit school that "Trials and tribulations only serve
to revitalize a great nation."
They are not merely words of encouragement, but also a law
testified by history time and again.
Starting from the Opium War in 1840, China's modern history
was virtually one of foreign invasions and famine. The
Chinese, including rival warlords, consolidated their
ground and drove invaders away in the end.
After New China was founded in 1949, the Chinese people,
who had undergone a century of humiliation, cherished their
independence and territorial integrity so much that they
were always ready to safeguard them at any cost, including
giving their lives.
Some 20 years later, havoc was again wreaked on their lives
by a human disaster, the 10-year Cultural Revolution
(1966-1976), which brought their country onto the verge of
a breakdown. But it was also the retrogress and chaos that
prompted the Chinese to work harder in the next three
decades to build their nation into the world's fourth
The rise of a great nation has never been smooth. However,
the gains and losses from every disaster it experienced and
every mistake it made, will all be cauterized into the
nation's historic memory and to nourish it into further
The Sichuan earthquake, this time, given its great loss and
vast social impact, will not only serve as a turning point
on how the Chinese will build their infrastructure, but
also on how they see themselves and how to run the country.
Thursday, 29 May 2008
By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
May 27 2008
Western governments must strengthen their oversight of
financial markets and improve cross-border regulatory
co-operation if they are to avoid future global financial
crises, a senior Chinese banking regulator told the
Financial Times on Tuesday.
“I feel the western consensus on the relation between the
market and the government should be reviewed,” said Liao
Min, director-general and acting head of the general office
of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
“In practice, they tend to overestimate the power of the
market and overlook the regulatory role of the government
and this warped conception is at the root of the subprime
When asked what other countries could learn from China’s
regulatory system, he pointed out that Chinese financial
institutions needed CBRC approval to launch individual
product types, making it nearly impossible for exotic
financial instruments, such as the ones blamed for the
subprime crisis, to exist in China.
The majority of China’s financial sector is still owned by
the state, and the government retains tight control over
many aspects of the industry, including senior personnel
decisions at the country’s largest banks, insurers and
Thanks to China’s lack of integration with global financial
markets as well as the cautious regulatory approach of the
CBRC, Chinese banks have emerged relatively unscathed from
the global credit crisis, which so far has caused nearly
$380bn of losses at western financial institutions.
Apart from Bank of China, which reported a subprime-related
writedown of nearly $1.3bn by the end of last year, no
other Chinese bank has been seriously affected.
Mr Liao said the US downturn and the steep fall in the
value of the US dollar that came in the wake of the crisis
has had a much greater impact, exacerbating “hot money”
flows into China and contributing to asset bubbles and
The CBRC was established five years ago and since then the
country’s previously moribund financial sector has been
transformed. The largest state-owned banks have overhauled
their internal structures and sold shares to strategic
investors such as Bank of America, Royal Bank of Scotland
and Goldman Sachs before listing on the Hong Kong and
Shanghai stock markets.
The CBRC is advocating new international laws requiring
governments to provide timely, accurate information in
times of crisis.
By Geoff Dyer in Beijing
FT, May 29 2008
Christian Dior was yesterday scrambling to avoid a Chinese
consumer backlash after the actress Sharon Stone, who is a
model for the group, suggested the Sichuan earthquake might
have been retribution for Beijing's policies in Tibet.
The luxury goods group has apologised to its Chinese
customers after the 50-year-old American actress said the
earthquake two weeks ago, which has killed at least 68,100
people, could be the result of "karma".
In a statement yesterday from its China headquarters, Dior
said: "We absolutely disagree with her hasty comments and
we are also deeply sorry about them . . . We will never
support any opinion that hurts the feelings of the Chinese
Dior in Paris declined to comment.
Ms Stone made her comments during a visit to the Cannes
film festival last week, when she told a Hong Kong TV
channel: "And then all this earthquake and all this stuff
happened, and I thought, is that karma - when you're not
nice that the bad things happen to you?"
She also said that she was "unhappy" with the way that
China was dealing with Tibet.
The comments gained wider attention after the footage was
posted on YouTube and similar video-sharing sites,
prompting a wave of indignation among internet users in
The incident is potentially damaging for Dior, which has
made heavy use of images of the actress since she signed in
2005 to be the face of its Capture Totale skincare line. An
official at the company's China office said it had already
been inundated with complaints.
A Beijing newspaper reported yesterday that photographs of
the actress had been taken down from Dior branches in
several of the city's malls. Dior has 68 outlets in China,
including 11 in the capital.
The criticisms of Dior follow the uproar in China in April
after pro-Tibetan demonstrators interrupted the Olympic
torch relay in Paris. The incident led to a call to boycott
French goods, as well as protests outside a number of
Carrefour supermarkets in China.
The Cannes interview also prompted a strong reaction
against Ms Stone from the Chinese film industry. Two
companies operating cinema chains in mainland China and
Hong Kong said they would not show any films featuring the
actress, while the Shanghai International Film Festival
said it would withdraw her invitation.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
China mobilizes to save lives & rebuild
Workers World Party (USA)
The People’s Republic of China suffered an earthquake of immense proportions on May 12 in the southwest province of Sichuan. One week later, the toll of known dead had risen to more than 40,000 and was expected to keep growing. Some 3 million people have been left homeless.
The rescue and relief effort has been immediate and huge. By the eighth day, despite blocked roads, landslides and deadly aftershocks in the mountainous area, rescuers had reached all 1,044 villages hit by the quake. More than 150,000 soldiers were deployed in rescue and relief. Some 250,000 people were being treated for injuries, most caused by collapsed buildings.
After a week, people were still being pulled out of the rubble alive, including a 60-year-old woman rescued in Pengzhou 196 hours after the quake. She was conscious and rushed to a hospital by helicopter.
Communications, power, industry and mining were almost completely destroyed in the seven most damaged counties, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Because the government plays a dominant role in China’s national economy, it has been able to quickly mobilize resources for the rebuilding of the area. It announced that after a week all affected cities and towns had working communications equipment, including 1,000 satellite phones distributed to the area.
Detailed reports on the many ways in which the government has been working to restore communications so survivors can contact their families and health workers can order needed supplies can be found at china.org.cn.
Soldiers and other rescue workers have made a heroic effort to reach remote villages. Nearly 170 of them have died in landslides caused by strong aftershocks.
There is little coverage of China’s great struggle in most Western media, which are quick to criticize the government for not being prepared. However, Chinese building codes for the area had been based on an assessment of earthquake risk “considered equivalent to that of the Global Hazard Seismic Assessment Program, a U.N.-endorsed project designed to reduce the toll from natural hazards,” wrote the Britain-based magazine New Scientist on May 13. “GHSAP predicted Sichuan had a 10 percent risk in 50 years of experiencing an earthquake that would cause a peak ground acceleration of 1.6 m/s squared—which is at the mid-level of extremity.”
Instead, said Hong Hao, a civil engineer at the University of Western Australia in Perth, this earthquake “far exceeded that, perhaps by a factor of five. By some estimates at its epicenter, the energy released would have been equivalent to 300 to 400 Hiroshima atomic bombs.”
Although no one had expected a quake of this extreme intensity, the Chinese government moved very swiftly and decisively to save lives among those who survived the disaster.
Within two hours, Premier Wen Jiabao was put in charge of disaster relief and had boarded a plane to Sichuan. By the following day, even as drenching rain was falling over the area, thousands of soldiers, police, firefighters and other relief workers were already trying to open up blocked roads, repair bridges and dig people out of collapsed buildings.
The army started to parachute soldiers and supplies into the worst hit areas as others were still hiking in on foot. By midnight of the second day, “The first rescue team of about 800 soldiers forced its way into the epicenter Wenchuan amid heavy rain and rescue operations began.” (china.org.cn)
All over China, people are responding to the Communist Party’s call for support with money and other aid. Some $2 billion has already been sent in money and supplies to the devastated area. One week after the quake struck, the whole country stopped work for 3 minutes to honor the victims.
Chinese and international scientists now say the earthquake reached 8.0 on the Richter scale. On this scale, one full point represents a tenfold increase in magnitude. By comparison, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the most destructive ever to shake the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), was 7.8 and took about 3,000 lives.
The contrast between the handling of this earthquake and the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is stark. China is still a developing country. There was no advance warning of a natural disaster on the scale of this quake. Yet it was able to mobilize its resources within hours to provide relief to the survivors.
In the wealthy United States, the Army Corps of Engineers itself in a report a year earlier had predicted the levees above New Orleans could fail and the city be inundated if it were hit by a strong hurricane. Yet little had been done. As Katrina came barreling through the Gulf, meteorologists informed the federal government and “homeland security” of the danger. They were told all necessary preparations had been made.
After disaster struck, the levees broke and 80 percent of the city flooded. A million people had evacuated the area based on the storm warnings, but many poor and elderly remained.
Some 25,000, the majority African-American, took refuge at the Astrodome only to run out of water, food and working sanitary facilities as days went by and temperatures soared. Others languished on elevated highways and bridges, or were trapped in their attics as their homes flooded. At least 1,500 people died from drowning, dehydration and lack of food or even a raft to get to higher ground. Corpses remained in the fetid water for weeks.
It took President George W. Bush two days after the levees broke to cut short his vacation in Crawford, Texas, and fly over the area in a helicopter. Vice President Dick Cheney took four days to come back from his vacation, even as a horrified world watched the tragedy unfold hour by hour.
Photos of the troops dispatched to New Orleans show them patrolling the city armed with assault rifles and handguns to stop “looters”—often just people seeking food and water after days without services.
In the many pictures showing the disaster in China to be found at Yahoo’s photo gallery, taken by a wide variety of sources, none of the soldiers or other rescue workers is armed.
One photo from China shows a rescue worker planting China’s red flag atop a heap of rubble as his exhausted comrades sit below. It is a reminder that, despite the inroads of capitalism in their market economy, millions of Chinese feel united behind a cause—the betterment of all their people—that inspired a socialist revolution in their country just two generations ago.
As a time of great trial for the world draws nearer with the consequences of global warming, it is just this spirit of collective action that will be needed everywhere.
"Paunde [Frelimo Gen Sec] said the revolution and
construction of Mozambique have been strongly
assisted by China and Mozambican people always
bore deep feeling towards Chinese people, especially
those from Sichuan, where the first medical team
China sent to the country hailed from."
BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Wang Jiarui, a Communist Party
of China (CPC) senior official, met with Filipe Paunde,
Mozambique's Frelimo Party secretary general, here on
Tuesday, and the two discuss further party-to-party
Wang, head of the International Department of the CPC
Central Committee, spoke highly of exchanges between the
CPC and the Frelimo Party in recent years, and hailed the
important role played by the party-to-party exchanges in
promoting relations between the two countries.
He believed Paunde's visit would deepen relations between
the two parties and make fresh contributions to
China-Mozambique cooperation in various fields.
Wang updated Paunde on the latest news about the
devastating earthquake and relief efforts in Sichuan
Province and other affected areas. He expressed his thanks
to the international society, including Mozambique, which
sent its sympathy and assistance following the May 12
Paunde said the revolution and construction of Mozambique
have been strongly assisted by China and Mozambican people
always bore deep feeling towards Chinese people, especially
those from Sichuan, where the first medical team China sent
to the country hailed from.
As the earthquake happened, China quickly responded and
mobilized all the society to fight against the catastrophe.
Now, related work was progressing smoothly and the society
was being maintained in an orderly fashion, something that
left Mozambicans quite impressed, Paunde said.
While Mozambique was not wealthy, it wanted to provide help
within its capabilities to its brother country, Paunde
The two sides also briefed each other on the building of
party and exchanged views on further party-to-party
Saturday, 24 May 2008
BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- On May 12, a powerful
earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale jolted
Sichuan Province, southwest China, with its tremors felt in
most parts of the country and some neighboring nations.
Minutes later, the Xinhua News Agency began pouring out
stories on the quake, while the China Central Television
(CCTV) interrupted its regular programs to give viewers
round-the-clock coverage of the disaster.
Death toll from the devastating earthquake increased to
55,740 nationwide as of Friday noon. In Sichuan alone
55,239 people had been confirmed dead as of 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, according to official figures.
The whole world was watching the quick and efficient relief
work carried by the government and the people, seeing tens
of thousands of military and civilian rescuers rush to the
quake zone, with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao
standing on the ruins to soothe the survivors and encourage
Some observers attributed the timely and overall coverage
of the quake to the ideological emancipation that
accompanied the country's reform and opening-up drive over
the past 30 years, which brought about remarkable political
progress and transparency in China.
In the past, breaking news was a top secret to China's own
people and the international community was poorly informed
or left to guess.
On July 28, 1976, a quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter
scale devastated Tangshan City in northern China and
severely affected Beijing and Tianjin municipalities,
causing more than 240,000 deaths.
But the death toll was not declassified until three years
later,by a daring Xinhua veteran editor Xu Xuejiang, who
happened to learn about the death toll of the Tangshan
earthquake at an academic workshop in 1979.
"I made tremendous efforts to get the authorities to agree
to publish the figure," recalled Xu, who acted as a deputy
editor-in-chief of Xinhua in the mid-1990s.
The deadly epidemic of SARS (Severely Acute Respiratory
Syndrome) in 2003 was another good example. It was covered
up by some local governments in the initial weeks and the
public went into a panic. Beijing Mayor Meng Xuenong was
later forced to step down.
It was SARS that made the Chinese authorities aware of the
importance of protecting the public's right to know and the
dangers and risks of a possible government cover-up.
This year, the Chinese media did not hesitate to report big
events like the severe winter weather in southern China,
the Lhasa riot on March 14, and the derailment and
collision of passenger trains in Shandong Province on April
"Globalization means that nobody can cover up any news,"
said Wang Xiaozhen, an executive of CCTV. "The viewers want
us to release news in a timely way."
In recent years, the Communist Party of China led by Hu
Jintao has tried hard to deepen political reform. The media
have been allowed to play a bigger role in promoting
The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
(CPC) in October 2007 impressed people with the progress in
political reforms, by accepting the concept of protecting
people's right to know, participate, express themselves and
scrutinize the government, which drew great public
At the Party congress and this year's parliamentary session
in March, Chinese and overseas journalists were quite free
to observe panel discussions and interview legislators.
Nowadays in China, both the government and the public are
paying increasing attention to issues relating to people's
lives, Wang said.
The Provisions on the Opening of Government Information,
which took effect on May 1, say that the government must
publicize the information necessary for the public to know
widely or participate in.
Meanwhile, the Law on Emergency Responses, enacted Nov. 1,
does not prohibit media from reporting accidents on their
Information transparency on the quake is the latest, direct
proof of China's ideological emancipation, said Xiong
Wenzhao, a professor with the Law Institute of the Central
University for Nationalities.
Friday, 23 May 2008
ASMARA, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Eritrean President Isayas
Afewerkion Thursday slammed those allegations that China is
using Africa as a dumping ground.
"Is China using Africa as a dumping ground? That is not the
case," Isayas said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua,
on the eve of the 15th founding anniversary of the State of
"There may be incidents, there may be mistakes here and
there, but this should not be the way we judge this
partnership," he said.
"At the moment what you can do, even the purchasing power
does not allow people to go for expensive cars like
Porsche, Ferrari. That is not the kind of thing people can
afford now, may be the one or two out of millions can
afford that," said Isayas.
"I would say those, who are saying this, have no moral
authority or high ground to lecture us on what China should
do, and what China should not do," he said. "This is a
matter for Africa and China."
"These people have been the worst example, not only a bad
example in partnership, they cannot come to lecture on what
China should do, and what China should not do," said the
"We cannot make judgments by those who had been doing the
wrong things all the way and now coming to lecture us on
how China-Africa relationship should be governed."
Isayas calls for a stronger partnership between Africa and
"I think the healthy relationship that should develop
between China and Africa will have to be partnership to
solve the immediate problems now," he said.
Chinese official: Sino-S. African cooperation experiences fast development
PRETORIA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The strategic partnership
between China and South Africa has experienced fast
development in all aspects and has become one of China's
most important and dynamic bilateral relationships with
other African countries, said a senior Chinese official
here on Wednesday.
With the joint efforts of China and South Africa and other
African countries, the China-African relations have taken
on a new look and has brought tangible benefits to both
sides, said Ji Peiding, vice chairman of the Foreign
Affairs Committee of the Chinese National People's
Congress, at the seminar commemorating the 10th anniversary
of the diplomatic ties between China and South Africa.
Maintaining the overall friendship between China and Africa
is the goal and basis of strengthening the strategic
cooperation between China and South Africa, said Ji at the
seminar held in Pretoria on Wednesday.
China-African cooperation belongs to South-South
cooperation which has become more complementary,
diversified and flexible, Ji said, adding that the two
sides hold identical or similar positions on many major
China sincerely hopes to see a peaceful, stable, developing
and united Africa with a bigger role in international
affairs, he said.
China-African cooperation is all-dimensional, involving all
countries which are willing to cooperate with China and
Africa. Such cooperation has been based on complementarity,
mutual benefit and win-win progress throughout its growth,
Mutual investment between China and Africa has injected new
vitality into the economic cooperation and development
between China and African countries, Ji said.
Eritrean president hails China's competition in world markets
ASMARA, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Eritrean President Isayas
Afewerki on Thursday hailed China's competition in world
markets, saying that China's competition improves the lives
of those customers everywhere in the world.
"It is hypocrisy. They talk about free market, free trade,
when they control everything," Isayas said, referring to
some Western politicians who are jealous of China's growing
influence in Africa.
"When someone reaches a level where he can compete with
that, then free market and free trade does not work for
them. Free market, free trade, free competition or
competition in the market only suit them when they control
everything, when there is no one in the market to compete
with them," said the Eritrean president.
"Now China is emerging, other markets in Asia are emerging,
they don't like that competition," he said.
"We have been lectured on what capitalism is, what markets
are, what free trade is, but when it comes to stiff
competition, then all these values are abandoned."
Thursday, 22 May 2008
Special report: Strong Earthquake Jolts SW China
BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Netizens around the world
are deeply moved by the Chinese top leadership in the
quake-fighting battles, saying President Hu Jintao and
Premier Wen Jiabao "both deserve the Nobel Peace Prize."
The 8.0-magnitude quake, the most deadly in decades in
China, striking Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province at 14:28
pm on May 12, has killed over 40,075 and affected many
parts of the country.
On the same day May 12 or, to be exact, little more than
two hours of the quake, Premier Wen Jiabao took off from
Beijing. By 19:10 pm, he was already at the quake area,
directing the rescue effort from the ground. He spent 88
hours with the victims, rescuers and troops under the
threat of aftershocks still trembling.
In the past 10 sad yet encouraging days, netizens have
created websites, published posts or written blogs to join
the battles. They have extolled the central government's
quick response, good coordination and, most of all, its
"From the top leadership where president Hu Jintao despite
being in the middle of an aftershock encourages the
rescuers to continue to try to save lives, to premier Wen
Jiabao, who slipped and fell and refused medical treatment,
and from the very beginning directed the rescue effort from
the ground," a netizen from the United States wrote.
The netizen, named as Sifu, added: "I am encouraged by the
CHINESE leadership at ALL levels because they have a CAN do
attitude for the people."
Another netizen, called Jim Doyle from the United States,
wrote on a post "like most Americans I feel great sorrow
for the families who have lost loved ones in the Sichuan
earthquake. The deaths of so many children is tragic.
But China is so lucky to have leaders like Hu Jintao and
Wen Jiabao. For the work they have done all around the
world they both deserve the Nobel Peace Prize."
A netizen "loving everyone" from Hongkong said: "I just
watched a segment on CNN about the China earthquake. I was
moved by the mobilization of the PLA (Chinese People's
Liberation Army)and (Premier) Wen. No matter what our
differences are politically, the world sends its love to
the Chinese people and our prayers."
A netizen, named as Ho Sai Yuen from Canada, said: "The
Premier's true sense of dedication is not only commendable
but should be recorded in the annals of history."
Another netizen, called mengzhi from Australia, said: "The
way and speed with which the Chinese leadership has
responded to the catastrophe in rapid mobilization of men
and material is world class."
Mengzhi continued, "the unified dedication and unstinting
mutual help between the survivors, the rescue workers and
the army is a lesson in unity and co-ordination. The
Chinese people are impressed, and so is the world at large.
Well done China. We salute you and will continue to pray
for you. Jiayou (cheer up)."
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Earthquake has no mercy for anybody, and yet, when natural disasters like earthquake befall on mankind, the splendor of humanity shines even more brilliantly.
It is about one ordinary mother who was deprived of her life by the most fatal earthquake that hit Suchuan Province of China and moved all the rescuers to tears by the tragic and stirring way she died. She was down on her knees with her body crouching forward and her hands on the ground propping up her upper body to shield her baby who was unscathed and still sleeping like a log under her when they were found. Tucked in the quilt used to bundle up the baby was a cellular phone carrying her last short message that reads: "Dear darling! If you can survive this earthquake, make sure to remember that I love you!"
In this earthquake, we witnessed numerous touching moments. When death is staring in the face, the parents will give up their own lives to protect their child with their own bodies. Some survivors who just escaped with life from the debris plunged themselves immediately into the rescue of strangers whom they never met before. A head of a grass-roots People's Congress, who had lost all his relatives to this earthquake, found no time to grieve for his relatives and instead, he led the people to conduct disaster relief with a bandaged head. Our dear armed forces made up of sons of people dug out the survived children from the debris and reinforced concrete with their bleeding hands….
There were numerous such touched stories of rescue, self-salvation, and mutual help in the disaster areas. The flashing glory shines brilliantly in the darkness of disaster.
Nothing in the world is considered on a par with that of the people's life. When the rescue exceeded the "golden period" of 72 hours immediately after the earthquake, President Hu Jintao, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, resolutely reaffirmed that the job of top priority remains to be the rescue of people. So long as there was a slim chance of hope, we would leave no stone unturned to rescue the people. Premier Wen Jiabao hurried to the forefront of the disaster relief within two hours in the wake of the earthquake and stated with emotion that even only one person was still in the debris, the effort of rescue should go on. The Central Military Commission mobilized 100,000 troops who raced to the disaster areas and immediately plunged themselves into the rescue of people that in fact has become the overriding mission of the Party, the government and the armed forces.
For the sake of saving more people's lives, the Chinese Government embraces the approach of opening-up and cooperated with international rescuers for the first time. As a result, professional rescuers from Japan, Russia, South Korea and Singapore joined in the rescue. CCTV offers 24-hour release of news on the situation and development of the disaster. All these epitomize dynamically the respect for people's lives which overrides anything else and is therefore spoken highly of by the international community.
It is a Chinese traditional culture to practice "the policy of benevolence and cherishing the people". However, due to the historical limits, the past dynasties hardly practiced this culture. This disaster relief serves to bring out conspicuously the position of the CPC and the Chinese Government in putting people first, showing concern about people's livelihood and the action being consistent with words. Some foreign media complimented the "Chinese top officials for shedding tears at the forefront, which embodies their image of cherishing the people" and "the earthquake has displayed the image of a new China."
May 21, 2008 News Analysis
By ANDREW JACOBS
CHENGDU, China — He is widely known as “the crying prime
minister,” although he prefers to be called “Grandpa Wen.”
Over the past week, as Wen Jiabao toured
earthquake-shattered towns and cities across northern
Sichuan, he has hollered out words of encouragement to
those trapped beneath fallen buildings and shared tearful
moments with newly orphaned children.
If a story widely circulated on the Internet is to be
believed, Prime Minister Wen has been barking orders to
army generals and dispatching paratroopers to remote towns
hit hard in the quake, even though as China’s head of
government operations he has no power over the military.
Since ascending to the post in 2003, Mr. Wen, 65, has
cultivated an image as a man of the people, a rarity in the
pantheon of Chinese leaders, who are often seen as placing
stability and the authority of the Communist Party above
the wants of individuals. The state news media have long
labored to spread the notion that Mr. Wen cares for
ordinary folks, broadcasting his visits with coal miners
and migrant workers, and showing him eagerly shaking the
hands of drug addicts and people with AIDS.
Now, as the nation grapples with its greatest natural
disaster in three decades, Mr. Wen’s persona as an
empathetic, benevolent official has been cemented in
popular lore. He has become the public and inescapable face
of a nation’s grief since he jumped on a government jet
bound for Sichuan Province less than two hours after the
His high-profile humanitarian gestures, played again and
again on television, have stood in stark contrast to the
response of the rulers of Myanmar, who have been widely
denounced for inaction toward the victims of a devastating
cyclone. But Mr. Wen also appears to have forged a new,
media-savvy mold for Chinese leaders, who have long
delegated propaganda work to lower-ranking officials and
the state-run press.
“He really loves the common people, and we can see this is
not an act,” said Wang Liangen, 72, a retired math teacher
from the devastated city of Dujiangyan, who watched last
week as the prime minister climbed over the wreckage of a
school where hundreds of children were buried. “He has
brought the people closer together, and brought the people
closer to the government.”
Some analysts say Mr. Wen’s unusually public role may
signal at least a modest shift in the way the Communist
Party interacts with the Chinese citizenry. In a country
where many millions live in poverty and thousands perish
each year in mine accidents, for example, Mr. Wen ordered
shortly after the quake that lives must be saved “at any
cost.” And while Mr. Wen is not known to have supported any
substantive political change during his first five-year
term as prime minister, his frequent calls for more
democratic-style consultation with ordinary people and for
greater economic parity have resonated with the poor.
“Wen’s efforts will absolutely leave a long-lasting
influence on government work in the future,” said Fang
Ning, a political scientist at the China Academy of Social
Science in Beijing. “His quick response and immediate
appearance will set a precedent for other officials.”
It is difficult to know if the rescue effort Mr. Wen has
led will ultimately be judged a success. And it is unlikely
that the unusually vigorous press coverage of the quake and
of Mr. Wen’s hands-on role in managing the rescue effort
signal a shift away from strict censorship.
But Mr. Wen and his boss, President Hu Jintao, do seem
inclined to show the world a kindler, gentler side of
official China in advance of the Olympic Games. After the
international backlash over China’s crackdown on ethnic
Tibetans, the leaders have used the earthquake in an effort
to show that their authoritarian government can be
responsive, even populist, at crucial moments.
“I think the earthquake really has the potential to change
things,” said Cheng Li, a senior fellow of the Brookings
Institution, who argues that Mr. Wen — whose second
appointed term expires in 2012 — is one of China’s
brightest and most pragmatic modern leaders. Even before
his actions in Sichuan, he said, Mr. Wen was a muscular
champion for China’s have-nots, an advocate of broadening
the use of legal norms to help govern the country, and a
bulwark against party conservatives. “A lot of Chinese have
been overwhelmed by Wen and his sincerity, honesty and
humanity,” Dr. Li said. “Not many leaders have his
Mr. Wen often talks about democracy but is not a proponent
of Western-style democratic reforms. He remains an
unwavering advocate of single-party rule, and he has taken
a hard line on Tibet, accusing the Dalai Lama of
instigating the ethnic Tibetan unrest in March. In public
statements, he has said China is unafraid to use its
military might to prevent Taiwan from declaring
independence from the mainland.
Despite Mr. Wen’s well-tended image as an apolitical
pragmatist, cynics note that he did not earn his lofty post
by playing nice. “It takes a considerable amount of
political skill and cunning to become premier of China,”
said Fred Teiwes, a professor of Chinese politics at the
University of Sydney in Australia.
Mr. Wen is nothing if not the consummate survivor. A
lifelong technocrat, he made his way to the top of the heap
by pleasing his superiors, hewing to the party line and
making few enemies. A trained geologist who comes from a
family of teachers, he is sometimes ridiculed for
indecisiveness and for long-winded speeches flecked with
quotations from Descartes and classical Chinese poetry. In
the 1980s he served as a top aide to successive party
bosses, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang; both leaders were
purged after opposing harsh crackdowns on liberal forces in
society, but Mr. Wen went on to serve in senior posts under
their more conservative successors.
As with most Chinese leaders, much about him remains a
mystery. But he presents himself as self-effacing and
penurious. For more than a decade, he wore the same dull
green overcoat. Unlike most of his fellow cadres, he
refuses to tint his graying hair with gobs of black dye.
In contrast to Mr. Hu, an opaque and aloof statesman, Mr.
Wen favors a colloquial speaking style, even if his
comments always hew closely to the party script. Unlike his
predecessor, Zhu Rongji, who was known for his jocular
manner and snap decisions, Mr. Wen, when faced with tough
economic policy choices, will often spend days ruminating
and consulting before deferring to fellow members of the
ruling Politburo Standing Committee for a collective
decision, party officials have said.
“He may not be a good leader,” said Dr. Li, of Brookings,
“but the perception out there is that he’s a good person.”
That has been the overwhelming impression since a
somber-looking Mr. Wen announced news of the earthquake on
May 12 as he flew from Beijing to Sichuan. In the days that
followed, he was frequently shown hugging quake victims and
promising government aid. According to people who saw him
in those first few days, he cried more than once.
In recent days, a pro-government newspaper in Hong Kong and
a Guangzhou-based Web site wrote that Mr. Wen had tripped
and fallen as he walked on earthquake rubble and had
refused medical treatment for a bloody arm.
A more intriguing account described his fury when he
learned that rescuers from the People’s Liberation Army had
yet to reach Wenchuan, a city of 100,000 at the quake’s
epicenter. Even if concocted by Mr. Wen’s admirers, the
report reveals a shift away from the prime minister’s
persona as a vacillating, avuncular bureaucrat.
According to the account — which has been ricocheting by
text message for days — Mr. Wen screamed on the phone to a
general, who, under Beijing’s pecking order, does not
answer to the prime minister. “I don’t care what you do,”
Mr. Wen reportedly yelled, his face drenched in rain. “I
just want 100,000 people saved. This is my order.”
Then, according to the story, he slammed the phone down.
Huang Yuanxi contributed research from Beijing.
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
The U.S. corporate media has been forced to acknowledge the enormous efforts the Chinese government and people have put into this countrywide rescue effort. The night of the earthquake, the first units of 20,000 Chinese soldiers were deployed to Sichuan. In total, the government has dispatched 130,000 Chinese soldiers to the earthquake-ravaged areas.
The soldiers were joined by hundreds of busloads of civilian rescue teams, police and young volunteers. This rapid and widespread response was "a vivid demonstration of the Communist Party’s power to mobilize," according to the Washington Post. "Lines of buses and cars, many with red banners carrying political slogans, filled highways leading north from the Sichuan provincial capital," the article continued.
There hardly could have been a more difficult place to stage a large-scale rescue effort. The western Chinese province of Sichuan is covered with mountains—the Himalayas to the west, the Qinling to the north, and the mountains of Yunnan to the south. The enormous Yangtze River and many large tributaries flow through the province. A huge number of the roads through the mountains are entirely impassable, and giant boulders continue to rumble down the mountainside due to the quake’s lingering aftershocks. To make matters worse, heavy rain has slowed rescue teams.
Still, units of troops have marched for hours, fording rivers and crossing dangerous mountain ranges to reach towns that have been completely cut off from the outside world.
Scores of articles have surfaced detailing the technical and industrial shortages that have affected the rescue effort. This is undoubtedly true. On the whole, China is still an underdeveloped country, despite its false image as a new superpower able to rival the United States.
While the Chinese government has effectively mobilized food, water, tarp, and other necessities to the disaster-hit areas, the absence of cranes and heavy industrial equipment is heavily felt. Many soldiers carry simply a shovel on their backs, while some sort through the rubble with their bare hands.
The corporate media outlets and politicians who have used the earthquake disaster to score cheap shots against China should be ashamed. According to early reports, the earthquake is estimated to have affected 10 million people and potentially millions of buildings. Considering the task they are facing, the Chinese people have done quite a lot with comparatively little.
Hurricane Katrina: free-market disaster response
A brief comparison with the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Katrina should suffice to silence China’s imperialist critics.
Despite controlling the largest budget and most powerful economy in the world, it took five days for U.S. military personnel to reach New Orleans. New Orleans residents fleeing to safer parishes were turned around at gunpoint by local law enforcement. The New Orleans police were given a shoot-to-kill order to prevent looting. No public buses were provided for evacuations in advance of the hurricane.
The whole relief effort was conducted on an essentially free-market basis: Those who had the means to find a way out did so. Years later, the people of the Gulf Coast are denied the right to return, as the real-estate developers and politicians used the tragedy to facilitate a massive gentrification scheme.
The media has made a great deal of China’s early reluctance to allow foreign rescue workers into the country. Those governments that refuse to bow to Washington’s dictates are always hit with a barrage of bad press as soon as any such tragedies beset them. These countries are always most vulnerable to foreign meddling when coping with natural calamities.
Still, China has now permitted the entry of workers from Japan, its longtime colonial overlord, and Taiwan, which was literally founded on the basis of overthrowing the Chinese revolution.
But was it not the United States that simply ignored the Cuban government’s offer to send some 1,600 medics, field hospitals and 83 tons of medical supplies to ease the humanitarian disaster on the Gulf Coast? This was no empty promise: The Cuban medical personnel had packed their bags and were waiting for the word.
Socialist Cuba shows the way
Cuba is, of course, the shining example for disaster relief. While its Caribbean neighbors—and the United States—often suffer significant losses of life during hurricane season, Cuba protects all its citizens year in and year out.
The Cubans do not have better meteorologists, and are not endowed with any special powers to cope with the weather. Everything has to do with the organization of society along socialist lines—the whole people and the state are mobilized in advance to use the country’s collective resources to respond to crises according to a plan.
Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba’s National Assembly, explained, "That notion of telling people, ‘You should evacuate, or you must evacuate. Take your S.U.V. and go out and pray.’ To us, it’s inconsiderable."
Alarcón explained that Cuba does not function according to the same "individualistic approach":
"In my country, you may find people complaining because their house has not yet been rebuilt. They assume that they have that right, and that the state, the government, has an obligation. This is a completely different philosophy. [In the United States], if the insurance company doesn’t cover flooding, you’re out. It’s normal in this kind of society."
Asked how he evaluated the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, Alarcón replied, "What is to be blamed I think, is a system. It’s more than individuals."
Democratic Socialism Is Capitalism
A criticism of Xie Tao’s:
"Only Democratic Socialism
Can Save China"
Author: Wu Bing
Taken from and thanks for translation to Serve the People blogspot
1. The real features of democratic socialism
2. Violent revolution is the only way to realise socialism
3. The superiority of socialism over capitalism cannot be denied
4. The main difference between socialism and capitalism is public ownership and private ownership
5. Antagonism between socialist and capitalist systems of distribution
6. On how the question of the two systems of ownership and the two systems of distribution are compared
7. Shamelessly tampering with and distorting the fundamentals of Marxist theory
8. Distorting the New Economic Policy and attacking Leninism
9. Misrepresenting "The Three Big Transformations", Negating Mao Zedong Thought
10. Promoting the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and wanting
11. Confusing black and white and reversing the verdict on new and old revisionism
12. Be sure not to forget the mistakes of the
Early last December, the author saw People’s University former Deputy Principal Mr Xie Tao’s preface written for Mr Xin Ziling’s "Mao Zedong: A Century of Merits and Faults", on the internet, entitled "Only Democratic Socialism Can Save China" (hereafter referred to as "The Preface"). This "Preface" was reprinted in the February 2007 edition of "Yan Huang Chun Qiu". This magazine possibly considered it should "play it safe", and made a slight change to the title renaming it "The Pattern of Democratic Socialism and China’s Future", besides concealing Mr Xin Ziling’s title "Mao Zedong: A Century of Merits and Faults" and engaging in "technical processing" of some individual barefaced words and sentences. However, no matter how this magazine tries to conceal it, Mr Xie Tao is completely unmasked for opposing socialism, opposing Marxism, opposing the proletarian revolution and the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It can be said that everyone who has read this article has the same kind of response: this is one of the wildest and most undisguised reactionary articles in our domestic open publications. This article touches on several major theoretical and practical questions: what is socialism, and should
(This is the first section of Wu Bing's "Democratic Socialism is Capitalism". For the introduction and chapter headings, scroll down on this blog)
1. The real features of democratic socialism
As soon as it begins, Mr Xie Tao’s article clearly places democratic socialism in the position of the “pinnacle of human theory in the 20th Century”. According to him, since the most intense class struggles of the 18th Century, not only is there “competition for the public choice of the most advanced social system”, moreover “the result of the competition is a victory for democratic socialism, even with developed capitalism and developed communism, it is democratic socialism that is changing the world.”
Therefore, democratic socialism is already regarded as different to both socialism and the “third path” of capitalism.
And which countries are those that have had this “victory” of democratic socialism? Mr Tao has listed the
What actually is this treasure that Mr Xie Tao boasts is so dangerous and which he holds so highly? Let us see how in the political domain of world history, the decision already taken on this is annotated: “Democratic socialism: flaunted socialism, publicly opposed the ideological trend of Marxist reformism. It came about after the First World War. After the Second World War, the English Labour Party and the right wing leading cliques of some other countries’ socialist parties, in order to oppose Marxism and the proletarian revolutionary movement, and in order to make democratic socialism the slogan of their own guiding principles, convened the 1951 Frankfurt Congress of the Socialist International and publicly proposed in the manifesto of their publication “The Goals and Tasks of Democratic Socialism” that they use democratic socialism to oppose scientific socialism, to deny that classes and class struggle exist in capitalism, to oppose the proletarian revolution, and to oppose the destruction of the system of the private ownership of the means of production. They believe that in democratic Europe, Marxism would never again act as the effective strength of the theory of proletarian revolution. “Instruct them in the theory of evolutionary socialism”, “never again be able to take Marx’s famous maxim ‘expropriate the expropriators’ as their goal”. They spread a kind of special “third path” that was different to capitalism and to the “democratic socialism” of communism. They thought they could “strip the political category of revolution of any practical content”, that “as long as there was continuing reform, society could undergo changes.” They spoke highly of the “socialisation” of the functions of capital and the national economy. They proposed a “Second Industrial Revolution”. They declared that under the leadership of governments of Social Democratic parties, public ownership under capitalism was already a socialist system of ownership.” (“Concise Sociological Dictionary”, Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House, 1982, p 2292.) Referring to the Dictionary’s explanation, to sum up, we can clearly see that the essence of so-called democratic socialism is: in politics, to oppose socialism and pass off the so-called “new capitalism” and “the third path” as scientific socialism; in economics, oppose “expropriating the expropriators” and pass off reformist private ownership as socialist public ownership; in theory, oppose the theory of surplus value and historical materialism and pass off opportunism as Marxism; in questions of class struggle, use class reconciliation, cover up the class struggle and oppose violent revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. To summarise it in a single sentence: democratic socialism is imperialism in the moribund stage of capitalism; it does not even remotely connect with socialism.
Comparing Mr Xie Tao’s “Preface”, we can clearly see what the “Preface” promotes, and on the whole it is in the field of these several “opposes”. The “Preface” puts forward the so-called “mixed private ownership” of “the pattern of constitutional democratic socialism”, which is just private ownership; the so-called “democratic constitution” which is just the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; the so-called “socialist market economy” and the “system of welfare protection”, which is the capitalist economic system.
3. The superiority of socialism over capitalism cannot be denied
In the Preface, Mr Xie Tao makes no secret of his praise for or defence of capitalism, and plays down the bourgeois world view and political stand of the denial of socialism. He attacks Soviet and Chinese socialism, founded by Lenin and Mao Zedong, as so-called “violent socialism” that pales into insignificance by comparison with democratic socialism. He says: “Seeing the vigorous development of our capitalist economy, some call out in alarm ‘It’s a disaster, capitalism is restored in China!’ If there was no slavery in ancient times, there’d be no modern Europe today. Without the material wealth created by capitalism, socialism here would be forever a fantasy, forever at the level of the lowest common denominator.”
He says: “Owing to its ‘equality of poverty’, bringing about socialism “creates several decades of stagnation and decline in production”, “the so-called ‘superiority of socialism’ is always only partially emerging, smashing the ‘socialist’ signboard etc etc”.
Indeed, the development of capitalist economy has created the material conditions for the realisation of socialism; it can also be said that capitalism is the mother of socialism.
At quite an early stage, Marxism has further elaborated in relation to this truth. The goal of Mr Xie Tao is not in this passage - it is that while thoroughly negating violent revolution, to completely deny the superiority of socialism, to deny the magnificent achievements of socialism. Isn’t Mr Xie Tao saying that for humanity, the “model competition” for the most outstanding social system in the long run, is to hear their words and watch their deeds, and by comparison make rational judgements and decisions?
Ok then, let’s use historical facts to make the judgement.
Firstly, the socialist countries over a number of decades of speedy economic development and magnificent achievements, have fully demonstrated the superiority of the social productive forces of the system of public ownership. Take the Soviet Union and China as an example. The Soviet Union began the implementation of Five Year Plans in 1928, and by 1938 had increased production by over 7.5 times, reaching first place in Europe and second place in the world, providing the important material guarantee for the victory of Soviet troops in the anti-Fascist Second World War. During the war, the losses suffered by the Soviet Army compared to those of England, France and other Western countries, were much more serious, but the speed with which it restored its post-war economy was much quicker than them. Prior to the October Revolution, Russia’s gross value of industrial output was only 6.9% of that of the U.S. By the 1980’s it was more than 80% of that of the U.S. Other socialist countries also obtained a relatively large growth in their national economies. The achievements of socialism in China over several decades attracted worldwide attention. Capitalism was carried on in old China for nearly 100 years, with the result that national capital only occupied 20% of the fixed capital of the national industry, transportation and shipping industries. The major part of China’s economic lifeline and finances and banking were controlled by imperialism and bureaucrat-capitalism. Up until the eve of Liberation, national industry was in a hopeless situation, and not only did factories in the chemical, electrical and other departments go bankrupt one after the other, but even the spinning and weaving and flour industries that Chinese national capital depended on for its growth were also smothered and could not gain a foothold. At the time of the Liberation of the whole nation in 1949, we received from the hands of the Guomindang, an economy in collapse, a shambles in which people could not earn a living. Many imperialist elements asserted that China would be unable to heal the terrible wounds created by war, and would be incapable of changing the stagnant conditions of the last couple of centuries. However, it only took two years to restore industrial and agricultural production to the highest pre-war levels. Then we started planned economic development, winning our fastest development. From 1949-1978, the total output value of our country’s heavy industry grew by 90.6 times compared to that before Liberation. The total output value of light industry grew 19.8 times, total agricultural output increased by 2.4 times. Industry’s fixed assets grew by more than 20 times. The total output value of industry and agriculture over 30 years averaged an annual increase of 9.5%. In less than 30 years we covered the distance that it took many capitalist countries half a century or even 100 years to traverse, and had established the beginnings of an independent category of a relatively complete national economic system and by the 1980s already had more than 300,000 industrial and communications enterprises. Not only is Old China’s economy unable to match all of these, it cannot even be done by the capitalist world. Not only are the economic achievements of the two great socialist nations, the Soviet Union and China, huge, moreover the entire socialist world tasted the superiority of socialism. Up until the 1980’s, with an original economic basis of almost one third of the world’s total population, the majority of which were all relatively backward socialist countries, the gross value of industrial output had already reached 2/5 of the world’s gross output value, and national income had already reached 1/3 of the total world national income. How can it be said that these facts are “overshadowed”? Comparing the two types of system, it is not the socialist countries that are “overshadowed”; rather, it is the capitalist countries.
Secondly, what is even more important in the superiority of the socialist system over capitalism is that the socialist system eliminated the bourgeoisie’s exploitation and oppression, and the working class and the broad mass of labouring people truly obtained democracy and freedom and had people’s rights and truly became masters of the country, controlling their own destiny. Is this Mr Xie Tao’s so-called “fantasy”? A “Utopia”? No, this is an absolutely true fact.
Thirdly, the existence and development of socialism stops and defeats imperialist wars of aggression and is a mighty force and mainstay for protecting world peace. In the Second World War, the people of the Soviet Union made the biggest contributions and greatest sacrifices in fighting against German, Italian and Japanese fascism.
In the US-initiated wars of invasion in Korea and Vietnam, the Chinese people stood together with the Korean and Vietnamese peoples and crushed the imperialist aggressors and safeguarded Asian and world peace. In the more than half a century since the ending of World War Two, the existence and development of the socialist countries and the emerging strength of the Third World supported by them have been the decisive factor in determining that there has been no new world war. This could not be imagined if there was no socialism.
Fourthly, with the rise of the socialist countries, their great historical significance lies in the strength of their example, allowing the people of the whole world to see the light, to see hope. With the vigorous promotion and support of the socialist countries, the national democratic liberation movements of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples have developed vigorously, seriously attacking and shattering the imperialist and colonial systems. After the Second World War, more than 100 colonial countries achieved national independence and liberation, and the Third World quickly became a great political force that the world could not ignore. Today people often say that this phase of history is the so-called “Cold War”. The reason why this “Cold War” phase emerged, looked at in a certain sense, is precisely explained by the emergence and development of the socialist countries and the destruction of the pattern of world imperialism, leading to a serious attack on and weakening of the political, economic and military strength and ideology of imperialism, to a great reduction in their spheres of influence, forcing them over a long period of time to not dare to act rashly or in a self-serving manner.
Fifthly, we obviously completely affirm the historical inevitability of the replacement of capitalism with socialism, and at the same time completely affirm the superiority of socialism overt capitalism; we also need to keep a clear head and remain sober-minded. On the one hand we must see that socialism is still in the initial stage of communism, still needs to be constantly perfected and needs to constantly make progress. As Marx pointed out in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, owing to the fact that “it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.” So, as it advances along the road to the higher stage of communism, it still needs to continue the revolution, continue the struggle. On the other hand, owing to the fact that socialism first of all wins victory in the relatively economically backward countries, the economic basis of the socialist countries compared to the developed capitalist countries which have had several centuries of growth, is therefore quite weak and still pursuing a higher stage. In addition, owing to the existence of imperialism and class struggle, the road stretching out in front of the socialist countries is covered with prickles and thorns and hazardous tests. The struggle over “who defeats who” between the two social systems and the two main classes has still not finished nor has it relaxed; it will be conducted intensively.
Sixthly, in Mr Xie Tao’s view, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries took a path backwards, restored capitalism, and this is a so-called “defeat for violent revolution”, “violent socialism is at the end of its tether”, but it is a “victory for democratic socialism” which is “changing the world”. This is purely a prejudice of the bourgeoisie. It is clear that with a slight understanding of the ABCs of Marxism and of historical facts, that the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the drastic changes in Eastern Europe certainly is not a defeat of the socialist system itself, even less is it a fault of Marxist theory; in fact, it’s just the opposite, it is precisely because of the betrayal of Marxism by the revisionist cliques in the Communist Parties of the original socialist countries and their departure from the correct path and the correct line of socialism, giving rise to tragedy and great social regression for the defeated parties and nations. On this question, aren’t the revisionists and the cream of the reformists in our country also in there shouting out loudly that the socialism of the Soviet Union and our country was not real socialism, but so-called “Stalinism” and “the Stalin model”? In the same year that Chairman Mao directed a powerful rebuff at the Krushchov renegade revisionist clique’s total repudiation of Stalin, he incisively pointed out: “So long as we have an all-round view of the problem, then, if we need to talk of “Stalinism”, we can say, firstly, it is communism, it is Marxism-Leninism. This is the main aspect.” (Manuscripts of Mao Zedong Since the Founding of the Nation, Vol 6 p 283-284 Chinese ed.). This passage of Chairman Mao’s was not only an objective and correct appraisal of Stalin and “Stalinism”, but moreover has firmly defended the historical status of Marxism and socialism. In addition, these “masters of reform” accused socialism in our country of being premature, of making a mess of things, saying that we needed to draw a so-called “lesson” from the economies of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe having failed to “move forward”, and advocating “making up the lesson missed from capitalism” and going by way of “the Caudine Forks” etc etc. Although these fallacies are all rubbish that disregards basic facts and are not even worth glancing at, this trend of thought certainly has a market in our country, and is bearing down menacingly! This is probably decided by the “big international environment” and the “small international environment”. (The Battle of the Caudine Forks occurred in 321 BC when a superior Roman force was ambushed and surrounded by the Samnites. The Samnites had the choice of freeing the Romans or of killing them all. They chose to free them, but forced them to depart by passing under a yoke, thus humiliating and demoralising them. Marx referred to this in his letter to Vera Zasulich in March 1881, when he said that the ancient form of the Russian commune, in the international environment of advanced capitalist production and technology, might enable the Russian people to leap over the Caudine Forks and proceed directly to socialism, i.e. without getting caught in, and having to proceed through, a capitalist stage, a Caudine Forks. A Uighur friend told me that the debate over whether or not China had to go through a capitalist stage had occurred in the Chinese Communist Party in the late forties and early fifties of the last century, and that Liu Shaoqi and others had argued that it should. The debate resumed at several stages in the life of the People’s Republic of China, and has re-emerged recently, with a Google search in Chinese revealing more than 134,000 hits for “Caudine Forks”. Xie Tao is here accused by Wu Bing of being amongst those who are arguing that China needs to go through the Caudine Forks of capitalism before it can begin to build socialism – Trans.)
In short, Mr Xie Tao actively opposes and negates “violent socialism”, and truly represents the “demands for the development of the advanced productive forces”, whilst we must support and guard scientific socialism; moreover, he actively advocates so-called democratic socialism, and was basically unable to represent the “demands for the development of the advanced productive forces”; this is real capitalism and fake socialism. Therefore, putting this together leads to our topic below: where are the main expressions of the differences between socialism and capitalism?
Xie Tao, the author of the “Preface” under rebuttal in the article “Democratic Socialism is Capitalism”, has been noticed by the imperialists. Reuters, the capitalist news agency, brought him to the notice of the English-speaking world on May 6, 2007 in an article titled “In China a call for democracy stirs secretive storm” (here). The article ends with that tactic long-favoured by bourgeois journalists: the anonymous “insider” source who, in this case, indicates that there is widespread support for what is going to become “further calls for reform”.
On 16 May, a certain Li Datong, who is mentioned in the previous piece as a “think-tank researcher who advocates reform”, wrote a piece on the open Democracy website (see here), extolling Xie Tao’s “revolutionary credentials” and further pushing his “reform” agenda.
On May 26, The Washington Post Foreign Service ran a piece entitled “China’s Reform debate Surfaces in 2 Essays” (here). This piece referred to the inspiration gained by Xie Tao from “Northern Europe’s democratic socialist systems” (sic.) and noted that calls for “reforms” were encountering opposition within the CCP leadership.
On June 4, the Chinese version of AsiaWeekly, a Newsweek-style magazine, published an interview with the editor of Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine, the publisher of Xie Tao’s piece (see here).
Naturally, Xie Tao has also been picked up by media in Taiwan and by Falungons’s Epoch Times media group.
The so-called “reforms” advocated by Xie Tao and others are designed to allow the imperialists and the newly-emerged Chinese capitalists to have their own political parties so as to further erode the socialist remnants of the Chinese economy, and to further disenfranchise the proletarian and peasant masses.
I am slowly translating Wu Bin’s rebuttal of Xie Tao, which is a Marxist-Leninist critique of Xie’s “democratic socialist” worldview (see below). This was posted on the Mao Flag website in China.
For the moment, the current CCP leadership also opposes Xie Tao’s “reforms”, and has just published an article entitled “Democratic Socialism is not Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” on the Chinese-language page of its “News of the Communist Party of China” website, (the English-language page is here, but the article I am referring to has not been put on this version.)
Xie Tao’s “adoption” by the imperialists is proof that his proposals do not serve socialism in China or anywhere.
Democratic Socialism is Capitalism Pt 4
[added some comments to the translation where appropriate.]
4. The main difference between socialism and capitalism is public ownership and private ownership.
Public ownership is the major characteristic of socialism; private ownership is the major characteristic of capitalism: without public ownership there is no socialism, whereas to implement private ownership is capitalism through and through. Marx and Engels pointed out: “The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and expropriating products, that is based on class antagonism, on the exploitation of the many by the few. In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property.” (Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, p 27-8). This question was originally, with the birth of the Marxist classics, and in the more than 100 years’ practice of the socialist movement, and particularly in the practice of the victory of socialism after the October Revolution, scientifically clearly and explicitly answered. In other words, the question of how to practise socialism and the basic tasks of socialism, and on the main characteristics and basic problems, with the approval of the world’s proletariat and the world’s people, is not a “question”.
However, starting with the founder of democratic socialism, Bernstein, distortions of this already clear scientific definition and connotation have been increasingly and repeatedly put forward. Not only is Bernstein the founder of democratic socialism, he is also the originator of revisionism who, before the passing away of Engels, still dressed himself up as a devoted Marxist, a loyal student of Marx and Engels; however, just after the second year of Engels’ passing, he rapidly changed his face. In 1896, in the magazine New Times, taking “Problems of Socialism” as his general topic, he published a series distorting the theory of scientific socialism and opposed the views of Marxism. In 1889 he published his representative work of revisionism, "The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy". Lenin said this is a “treacherous, turncoat” book. In this book, Bernstein systematically summarised all the fallacies he had been spreading since 1896. Next, those revisionist gentlemen Kautsky, Plekhanov, Bogdanov, Trotsky, Krushchov, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and so on who all once called themselves Marxists, went around asking “What is socialism?”, “Do we need socialism?”, “How do we realise socialism?”, “How do we construct and develop socialism?” etc., twisting, attacking and denying the basic theories and practice of Marxist scientific socialism. These opportunist and revisionist renegades all revealed their true colours in front of the magic mirror of Marxism and the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, and all deserted to the camp of capitalism. Since the founding of the Communist Party of China these questions have arisen many times in the course of the struggle between the two lines and some opportunists and revisionists have gone over to the capitalist camp. Since the Reform and Opening policy, certain “outstanding” reformers have also brought out the broken flag of old and new revisionism, blatantly seeking publicity. Mr Xie Tao promotes these fallacies of democratic socialism, playing the same old revisionist tune. Mr Xie Tao’s “Preface” adopts the technique of sophistry and the perpetration of fraud to misrepresent and tamper with Marxism, and attempts to confuse the essential differences between socialism and capitalism, and in particular, makes a fuss of the distinction between the systems of public and private ownership. His many opinions are laughable.
(1) On the question of ownership, Marxism and revisionism, socialism and capitalism, there exist diametrically opposed points of view. It’s either one or the other, there’s basically no “third road” that can be taken at all. Mr Xie Tao is like all other democratic socialists with an obvious advocacy of the system of private ownership and opposition to the system of public ownership. However, he does not dare do this straightforwardly, but can only sell his ideas and his “reformist” stand by beating about the bush.
He says: “We are familiar with the developed capitalism of the Western countries which have all become the new capitalism, to varying degrees, by socialist democratization. After the twenties of the 20th Century, a nationwide coordination of labour and capital emerged, one after the other, in England, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway and the U.S., together with a substitution of class compromise for the original pledge against coexistence of the antagonistic labour and capital…leading U.S. President Roosevelt to boldly introduce democratic socialist policies after the economic crisis of 1929.
“We can take the British Labour Party Prime Minister Blair and the former US President Clinton as representing the advocacy of the ‘third road’, as a revised edition of democratic socialism…The views of the U.S. Democratic Party on the economy are rooted in the ideas of Marx and Keynes, and advocate government guidance of the market economy…nor when the Republican Party comes to power does it change the social policy of the Democrats. Democratic socialism has ‘communised’ the U.S.” “Democratic socialism is inscribed on the flag of contemporary Marxism.” “In countries where small-scale production predominates, the industrially underdeveloped former capitalist countries, building socialism by using the method of changing the relations of production to nationalise the means of production has been a basic mistake and a departure from Marxism of Communists since Lenin.”
These words of Mr Xie Tao’s are “enlightening” the people: at present the main capitalist countries are already in different degrees undergoing democratic socialisation, and democratic socialism is “legitimate” Marxism, “legitimate” socialism. According to the reasoning of this “scientific law” of his, the U.S. and the majority of the Western countries have already been “painted red” by socialism, and even the heads of British and U.S. imperialism are socialists. Talking all over the place like this, Mr Xie Tao actually turns what is called private in to what is called public, turns what is called capital into what is called social, and turns what is called revisionism into what is called Marxism! Such distortions of the facts, such deliberate misrepresentation really is extremely absurd.
We should recognise that Mr Xie Tao disseminates false logic and heresy like an “evil-minded monk”, and that in present-day China he is nothing out of the ordinary, and that there are plenty of others as well. They have already formed a political influence. For example, in the second issue of the 2007 edition of “Yan Huang Chun Qiu” magazine there was simultaneously published the transcript of an interview entitled “Li Rui Discusses Socialism in China” which is similar to Mr Xie Tao’s fallacious heresies. Mr Li Rui says: “All socialist countries have walked a twisted path, passing on problems for future generations, and there are also some problems in the theories of the classical writers, from economics and politics to ideology. For example, views on violent revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the elimination of private ownership and so on have been proven to have problems by subsequent history and are not scientific enough.” The so-called “theories of classical writers” refers, naturally, to Marxism. With Li Rui and Xie Tao we have one opposing “the elimination of private ownership” and one opposing “the nationalisation of the means of production”, and their views are one and the same, openly opposing the system of public ownership, opposing violent revolution, and opposing the dictatorship of the proletariat. To boil it all down to one sentence, they oppose socialism. These gentlemen who advocate that China should walk the capitalist road on the one hand openly oppose socialism, and on the other hand, wrack their brains to distort socialism. In the transcript of this interview, when asking “What is socialism?” Mr Li Rui said “Socialism is everyone getting a bit better off”. We would like to ask, without the safeguard of public ownership, without the safeguard of a socialist economic base and superstructure, how can the working class and the working people “get a bit better off?”
Indeed, twisting the original definition of socialism has already become a fashionable pretext and technique of the old and new revisionists and certain people with political influence who oppose and deny socialism. They take “renewing socialism” as a pretext to try to package up the black goods of revisionism and reformism, to pretend that false socialism is real socialism, to deceive the masses. In order to realise this hidden political objective, they have concocted many “favourable” and “reasonable” theories for the implementation of private ownership, for example, the so-called “the property rights of public ownership are undefined, it’s everybody has nothing”, the so-called “public ownership is not as efficient as private ownership”, “socialism is just efficiency + fairness”, “the state economy can only strive for quality but not quantity”, “we need to establish a complete market economy”, “the private economy is the main basis of the market economy”, therefore we need “the state to retreat and the people to advance”, “don’t seek to have it all, just seek to have a place” (this is a literal translation. It could also mean “be happy with what you’ve got”, but I’m not clear on exactly what sentiment is meant to be expressed here – Trans.), “withdraw the public economy from all areas of competition”, realise the “system of enterprise transfer” and “social transformation”. In order to speed up this type of “transfer system”, they also put forward the so-called “icicle theory” (that state-owned enterprises will inevitably melt away like an icicle, so why not sell them off now - Trans.), the “apple theory” (that the market increases the value of the commodity – Trans.), the “pretty girl marrying first theory” (to find a “husband” for the most beautiful daughter first, as she will get ugly later on anyway, i.e. to first sell off the best state-owned enterprises to multinational corporations before they lose their value - Trans.) etc. In brief, they change ten thousand times yet always remain the same; they just want socialist China to speedily change, to thoroughly head in the direction of the capitalist abyss. The last couple of years are known for Cao Siyuan or “Bankruptcy Cao” who publicly put forward “the universal correct path to privatisation” (Cao Siyuan is a former scholar of the Central Party School and the Research Centre of the State Council who drafted China’s first Bankruptcy Law, directed primarily at state-owned enterprises. He is now the Director of the Beijing Siyuan Merger and Bankruptcy Consultancy and the Centre for International Private Enterprise - Trans.); also for the famous writer Zhang Xianliang’s declaration that we need to “’rehabilitate’ capitalism” and shouting out “Long Live Privatisation” (Zhang Xianliang is famous for his account of labour camp life in the novel “Half of Man is Woman”; he is the son of a Guomindang official and industrialist. Most recently he criticised the size and performance of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, saying both that its numbers should be reduced, and that there should be greater representation of people who could put the views of other social classes - Trans.); for Li Shenzhi being praised by the “cream” of the reformers as the “commander of liberalism”, shouting out that “China must speed-up its privatisation” and take the capitalist road of “Americanization” (Li Shenzhi 1929-2003. A CCP member who became Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and who accompanied Deng Xiaoping on his visit to the United States as an advisor - Trans.). There are a great many people like this clamouring loudly for taking the path of capitalist privatisation, for example Zhang Wuchang, Yu Jie, Jiao Guobiao, Li Zhisui, Liu Zaifu, Ma Licheng, Qian Liqun, Wang Ruoshui, Liu Xiaobo, Ren Zhongyi, Zhang Weiying and so on. All over the world, and in all walks of life, there are people like these. As for those traitors, running dogs and propagandists who go running overseas to the bosom of imperialism, there’s even less need to bring them up. These people all belong to families with the surname “Private” or “Capital”. Xie Tao however, is nothing but a newly laid bare member of the special detachment of imperialism.
(2) “The Preface” peddles the joint-stock system of capitalism and the nonsense that Western joint-stock companies have changed the nature of capitalism and “completed the transition to socialism”. Mr Xie Tao has quite a long passage on this. An excerpt follows:
“In the concluding remarks of “Mao Zedong: A Century of Merits and Faults”, Xin Ziling points out that ‘A world economic crisis erupted in 1868. After the crisis had passed, there was an amazing development in the concentration of capital. The appearance of large-scale investment banks and joint-stock companies changed the social structure of capitalist society. Along with the appearance of a new banking system, the accumulation of capital no longer depended on the thrift of the individual entrepreneur saving from his own accumulated funds, but relied on the savings of the whole society. Absorbing social funds to manage enterprises, the joint-stock company arose at an historic moment. On the continent of Europe, firstly in the iron and steel industry, then the chemical industry, the machine manufacturing industry and the textile industry, one department after another turned into joint-stock companies. Marx regarded this change as extremely important and believed that stock companies will abolish ‘capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself.’ ‘This is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-dissolving contradiction, which prima facie represents a mere phase of transition to a new form of production.’ (Capital, Vol 3, Peoples Publishing House, 2nd ed., p 504 Chinese ed.) The capitalist is no longer in possession of a private enterprise but only possesses private property, and this private property is a part of enterprise capital that is quantified through money; the capitalists are no longer enterprise owners, but are only enterprise shareholders with a legitimate creditor’s right to part of the company profits. The stock company has created the layer of factory directors who manage the organisation and direct production, separating all the enterprise rights and the rights of management. The management level takes hold of the right to be in charge of enterprises, making the rule of the bourgeoisie illusory. This separation is a peaceful ‘revolution’, creating the possibility for a peaceful transition to a new kind of system. Marx had already pointed out in the third volume of Capital that “In stock companies the function (of management – Trans.) is divorced from capital ownership; hence also labour is also entirely divorced from ownership of means of production and surplus-labour. This result of the ultimate development is a necessary transitional phase towards the reconversion of capital into the property of producers, although no longer as the private property of the individual producers, but rather as the property of the associated producers, as outright social property” (“Capital” 3rd Volume, Peoples Publishing Agency, p. 502 Chinese ed.). Following on from this passage of Marx, Mr Xie Tao says in an extremely positive tone that “In this way, capitalism has completed the transition to socialism. The third volume of Capital has overthrown the conclusions of the first volume of Capital, and there is no longer any need to ‘blow up’ the ‘shell’ of capitalism. In Marx’s mind, Manchester capitalism (primitive capitalism) had been destroyed.”
Actually, the help that Mr Xie Tao begged from these two passages of Marx is no help at all. We open Chapter 27 of “Capital”, “The Role of Credit in Capitalist Production”. Both sections of Mr Xie Tao’s two passages stem from here. In this chapter, Marx is very explicit about determining the nature of the joint-stock system of capitalism and the stock companies. This author has also extracted three passages (Mr Xie Tao, in his, uses two passages, but leaves out the beginning and the end, so the meaning is incomplete.) (1) Marx said that in the formation of stock companies, the “capital, which in itself rests upon a social mode of production and presupposes a social concentration of means of production and labour-power, is here directly endowed with the form of social capital (capital of directly associated individuals) as distinct from private capital, and its undertakings assume the form of social undertakings as distinct from private undertakings. It is the abolition of capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself.” (2) Marx said that “Aside from the stock-company business, which represents the abolition of capitalist private industry on the basis of the capitalist system itself and destroys private industry as it expands and invades new spheres of production, credit offers to the individual capitalist, or to one who is regarded as a capitalist, absolute control within certain limits over the capital and property of others. The control over social capital, not the individual capital of its own, gives him control of social labour.” Marx said that “Success and failure both lead here to a centralisation of capital, and thus to expropriation on the most enormous scale. Expropriation extends here from the direct producers to the smaller and the medium-sized capitalists themselves. It is the point of departure for the capitalist mode of production; its accomplishment is the goal of this production.” (3) Marx said “this expropriation appears within the capitalist system in a contradictory form, as appropriation of social property by as few…” (“Capital” Vol 3, pp 501, 502, 504, 505 Chinese ed.)
In here, Marx has already pointed out very clearly, that the appearance of joint-stock companies, this kind of “appropriation of social property by a few”, was still an establishment on “the basis of the capitalist system itself”, an “abolition of capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself.” That is to say, this is an “abolition” of a form of capitalist private property “on the basis” and “within the limits” of the capitalist system; this kind of “abolition”, however, is the appearance of a corporate capitalist form of capitalist private ownership, and it has certainly not changed the basic nature of the capitalist system of exploitation. The profit from share capital, namely the income obtained by the shareholder in the form of dividends, still stems from the surplus value created by the hired worker. Moreover, owing to the establishment and development of capitalist production’s share capital, strengthening big capital’s annexation of and rule over small and medium-sized capital, and to a certain extent at the same time giving impetus to the development of the social productive forces, leading to the “largest-scale expropriation” of capital, is just one step further in aggravating the oppression and exploitation of the hired worker, as well as impelling the further sharpening of the inherent internal contradictions of capitalism.
It should be said that in this part of Capital, in relation to the nature, the special characteristics, the function, the consequences and so on of the capitalist joint-stock system, Marx was perfectly clear. As for that which Marx said in here, “a mere phase of transition to a new form of production”, this author understands that sentence to refer to the expropriation of private property by the whole of society in the future, and to the “expropriation of the expropriators” through violent revolution as the only thorough preparation for crossing over to socialism, or “drawing near” to socialism. Under capitalism, with the appearance of joint-stock companies, there is basically no possibility for the existence of an already completed “transition from capitalism to socialism” or for “peaceful evolution to socialism” at all. The above passages from Marx, fundamentally do not have the meaning given by Mr Xie Tao’s annotations. This desire of Mr Xie Tao’s to secretly change the concept and twist the meaning of Marxism will simply get nowhere. As for Mr Xie Tao having said “The third volume of Capital has overthrown the conclusions of the first volume of Capital, and there is no longer any need to ‘blow up’ the ‘shell’ of capitalism” etc, this is just utter nonsense and rubbish. This author will refer to this question later.
(3) Mr Xie Tao declared that the capitalist countries have already put in place a planned economy and have solved the periodic economic crises. “The Preface” says: The capitalist countries have “drawn on the experience of the socialist planned economy and implemented a planned capitalism with state intervention”, “solving the crisis of malfunctions in the market economy by means of vigorous state intervention”, “President Roosevelt’s bold introduction of democratic socialist policies led the US to walk out of the 1929 world economic crisis”.
With nothing more than the desire to tell us, Mr Xie Tao offers explanations like this, that owing to the capitalist countries having “state intervention”, having “planning”, together with the introduction of “democratic socialist policies”, that the inherent contradictions between the socialisation of capitalist production and the private ownership of the means of production, has relaxed, so much so that they no longer exist. However, as shown by the historical development of capitalism and a host of facts, capitalism is not at all like the optimism of Mr Xie Tao.
Marxism tells us that so long as private ownership is practised, then it will be impossible to genuinely and thoroughly realise a planned economy and it will also be impossible to “solve” each of the periodic economic crises that occurs approximately every ten years.
In relation to the question of the so-called “planned capitalism” raised by Mr Xie Tao, Lenin, in the same year that he took aim at revisionism’s twisting of Marx and Engels on the question of the “planning” of capitalism, explained in this paragraph of The State and Revolution (right): “We shall note in passing that Engels makes an exceedingly valuable observation on questions of economics, which shows how attentively and thoughtfully he watched the various changes being undergone by modern capitalism, and how for this reason he was able to foresee to a certain extent the tasks of our present, the imperialist, epoch. Here is the passage: referring to the word “planlessness” (Planlosigkeit) used in the draft program, as characteristic of capitalism, Engels writes:
“…When we pass from joint-stock companies to trusts which assume control over, and monopolize, whole branches of industry, it is not only private production that ceases, but also planlessness.” (Neue Zeit, Vol XX, 1, 1901-02 p. 8)
Here we have what is most essential in the theoretical appraisal of the latest phase of capitalism, i.e. imperialism, viz., that capitalism becomes monopoly capitalism. The latter must be emphasized because the erroneous bourgeois reformist assertion that monopoly capitalism or state-monopoly capitalism is no longer capitalism, but can already be termed “state Socialism”, or something of that sort, is most widespread. The trusts, of course, never produced, do not now produce, and cannot produce complete planning. But however much they do plan, however much the capitalist magnates calculate in advance the volume of production on a national and even on an international scale, and however much they systematically regulate it, it will remain under capitalism – capitalism in its new stage, it is true, but still, undoubtedly, capitalism. The new “proximity” of such capitalism to Socialism should serve the genuine representatives of the proletariat as an argument proving the proximity, facility, feasibility and urgency of the socialist revolution, and not at all as an argument in favour of tolerating the repudiation of such a revolution and the efforts to make capitalism look more attractive, an occupation in which all reformists are engaged.”
Lenin had already quite clearly elaborated on this question. Under the capitalist system this type of single enterprise production planning is required by the capitalist; however, just like Lenin correctly said “The trusts, of course, never produced, do not now produce, and cannot produce complete planning.” In the whole productive activity of capitalism, it is absolutely impossible to genuinely put “planning” into practice, to overcome the “anarchy”. Engels pointed out: “only conscious organisation of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can lift mankind above the rest of the animal world as regards the social aspect, in the same way that production in general has done this for mankind in the specifically biological aspect. Historical evolution makes such an organisation daily more indispensable, but also with every day more possible. From it will date a new epoch of history, in which mankind itself, and with mankind, all branches of its activity, and particularly natural science, will experience an advance that will put everything preceding it in the deepest shade.” (Engels, “Introduction to The Dialectics of Nature”, “Selected Woks of Marx and Engels”, Peoples Publishing House, 1961 ed, Vol 2 p.75 Chinese ed.) My understanding of this is that “the conscious organisation of social production” and the “From it will date a new epoch of history” raised by Engels, is socialism, and can only be socialism.
It is true, we also note, that after WW2, the various Western bourgeois governments took some measures to strengthen direct intervention in the economy and made certain adjustments to the capitalist relations of production. In the initial post-war period the major Western capitalist countries had already basically completed the pattern of change from private monopoly capitalism in general, to state monopoly capitalism combined with private monopoly capitalism. The pre-way expenditure of the major Western capitalist countries as a proportion of GDP was generally 10-20%, but after the War had already reached 25-40% or an even higher level. Without this type of adjustment, without the strength of the state, the costs of enormous atomic energy plants, of complex aeronautics technology, of widespread modernized public facilities, of investments in basic industries that are large and slow to produce results, of major organisations for scientific experiment etc that needed to be built would be extremely difficult if not impossible. But we also need to see that on the one hand, the capitalist countries used this kind of a repair job to carry out adjustments, and it is basically impossible to eliminate its inherent contradictions, impossible to end the periodic economic crises; on the other hand, this type of adjustment has not changed the essence of capitalist exploitation, and this state-dependent capitalism which carried out large-scale direct investment is in fact giving back money to the capitalist in the form of levies and direct taxation and so on from working people’s income.
On the question of the periodic economic crises of capitalism we know that, beginning in the 1930’s, the English bourgeois vulgar economist Keynes and his Keynesianism became popular, and the capitalist countries attempted to use Keynesianism in order to melt away their inherent contradictions and periodic crises, but, in the end, they failed to achieve their goals, and even the “Roosevelt New Deal” finally failed and came to an end.
After the War, each main capitalist government also adopted the issuing of bonds and running large-scale financial deficits, maintaining high inflation rates and other coercive methods, expanding social investment and stimulating economic growth. In the 1950’s, consumer prices in the major developed capitalist countries increased at an average rate of between 1.4 to 3.4 per cent, and in the sixties this rose to between 2.6 to 5.8 per cent and in the seventies the inflation rate actually rose to double digits. These methods in the short term also brought about a stimulation of economic growth, delaying the effects of impending crises. However, this is only turning an acute disease into a lingering illness, making every type of economic and social problem inherent in capitalism even more difficult to change. From the first economic crisis of overproduction in English capitalism in 1825, in two centuries, this type of periodic crisis has never been eliminated, but keeps coming around one after the other. During 1929-1933 in particular, there was an unprecedented major crisis causing industrial production throughout the entire capitalist world to drop by 44% and causing 40 million people to become unemployed. According to what the data in the 1978 edition of the “World Economics Statistical Yearbook” shows, since WW2 (1948-1974), the main Western capitalist countries have had periodic economic crises on these occasions:
Country No. of Crises Biggest % Decline Longest Period of Decline (Months)
U.S. 6 -13.8 17
Britain 6 -23.6 22
W. Germany 5 -11.4 15
France 4 -16.3 12
Japan 7 -20.8 15
We can see from the table that in 26 years these five countries have had approximately 6-7 years when a periodic crisis has occurred. According to other statistics, in the US from 1854 to 1951, a total of 31 economic cycles have appeared. Each cycle is, on average, 48 months. Regarding this, the US bourgeois economist Paul A. Samuels could not help but acknowledge that “the US economy throughout contemporary history has suffered continuous economic cycles.”
Some reports say that an economic crisis also happened in the US in the early 1990’s, and that for two years continuously the increase in private consumption was lower than the growth in investment, and overproduction had become a fact. However, owing to the pattern of major world changes including the disintegration of the Soviet Union and drastic changes in Eastern Europe, the implementation in China of the policies of reform and opening to the West etc, the US obtained favourable circumstances and its economy was sustained over the length of ten years. Whilst this author was writing this, he has just seen Comrade Li Shenming’s just published article, “Certain Questions on the Present Situation and Development of World Socialism”. The article states: In the 1990’s “one of the basic premises of the ten year prosperity of the US economy was the destruction of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The gross value of industrial output for the former Soviet Union added to the eight countries of Eastern Europe was once one third of the strength of the total industrial output of the world. In the antagonism of the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War you could never begin to take the US as the leader of the globalisation movement in the Soviet-led Warsaw Treaty bloc. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe brought about by the US-led Western countries, and the rapid decline of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, massive funds, skilled personnel and inexpensive raw materials, technology, markets etc fell mainly to the US. This was an extremely important factor in the impetus for the sustained 10 year economic prosperity in the US. Nowadays, the US does not have these strategic spaces. All of these possess the possibility of speeding up and aggravating US economic recession.” The article takes its analysis a step further, pointing out that “In 2000, the US dot com stock bubble burst and the US economy entered a crisis. From 2000 to 2003 the US stalled 13 times in a sign that its economy still had not recovered. The Bush Administration started the Afghan and Iraq wars in 2001 and 2003 respectively with the result that the industrial plant equipment utilisation ratio again reached over 80% and the unemployment rate fell from 6.1% in the second and third quarters of 2003 to 4.7% in the first quarter of 2006…The US economy concealed a serious crisis, that it had been following a 40-60 year “Kondratiev Wave” (“Social Sciences in China Digest” 2007, Vol 1 p. 15) (“Krondratiev Waves” or grand supercycles or surges in the Western capitalist economies were put forward by the Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev, 1892-1938. He identified cycles of 40-60 years in length during which business fluctuated between high growth and a decline in growth. Based on the market crash of 1870, Kondratiev claimed to have been able to predict the 1929 Crash – Trans.) . In my view, this analysis of Comrade Li Shenming’s is completely correct and also quite profound. What I would like to add is that although the US no longer has the “strategic spaces” of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, this does not mean that it is not looking for new “strategic spaces”. Since the US was able to destroy the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, would it not also want to destroy our country? The answer is certain. No matter how our country may initiate “getting along harmoniously” with the US, how it constructs friendly relations of “strategic partnership” and “mutual benefit”, it kills my heart but I have not died, nor will I die in the future. We need to recognise that economic globalisation has brought China into contact with the great nations of the West, including the US, and that in truth, I am in you and you are in me. Foreign capital enterprises have already made good in China and at present foreign capital makes up half of our numerous competitive professions and industries. More than 60% of our foreign trade exports are created by foreign capital enterprises. Each of the first five cities of China that have already opened up industry is now controlled by foreign capital companies. Among China’s 28 main industries, foreign capital has the control rights in 21 of them. According to a number of announcements from China’s Commercial Affairs Department, among the worthwhile increases in contemporary Chinese industries, 37% have been brought about by foreign capital enterprises. If this type of thing continues to develop it will inevitably affect our country’s economic independence and national sovereignty. Some reports say that of our country’s current foreign exchange reserves of more than one trillion US dollars (a million millions – Trans.), two thirds, namely 6-7 billion (6-7 hundred thousand millions - Trans.) have been used to buy US dollar bonds, but the US is in fact insatiably avaricious and has time and again suppressed the revaluation of the Chinese RMB in order to seek greater advantages and benefit. In addition, the Taiwan region is under the control of the US, and the US has repeatedly secretly instigated Chen Shuibian’s clamour for “Taiwan independence”, and engaged in sales of arms and weapons to Taiwan. These are all bargaining chips used by the US to pressure China, to collapse our country’s new “strategic space”. The Chinese people, who have suffered the evils of imperialism and colonialism, must be vigilant.
As the facts above conclusively prove, the view held by Mr Xie Tao that the traditional periodic economic crises had already been solved, was superficial and shortsighted. Regardless of whether they adopt the method of state intervention, or resort to the method of war, the capitalist countries are unable to fundamentally solve the “crises of malfunctions in the market economy.”
(This is part 5 of Wu Bing's rebuttal of Xie Tao, who advocates a full-scale restoration of capitalism in China. I am translating it from the original which was posted on the maoflag.net website, so any mistakes are mine. For the Introduction and earlier parts, go to the May Archive. Because of the length of Part 5, I am putting it in a smaller font than usual. While we assume that the class struggle has been won in China, by the restorationists, we should not turn our back on comrades fighting for the realisation of Mao's vision. They have our support. There is much to learn from them! )
5. Antagonism between socialist and capitalist systems of distribution
From each according to his ability, to each according to his work is one of the main characteristics of socialism, and its opposite is the capitalist system of distribution according to wealth. Distribution according to work is, after making social deductions from the social product, and taking work as the criterion, the distribution of consumer goods to the labourers, with the greatest reward going to those who contribute more labour, and less going to those who do less, and with those who don’t work getting nothing to eat. Implementing this principle is the foundation of the socialist system of public ownership, and is a thoroughgoing revolution in the old system of distribution, of the exploitation of man by man. The working people will no longer be working for the landlords, sweating and working themselves to the bone for the capitalists, but working for themselves, creating beautiful life and work for society, and stimulating the enormous enthusiasm of the labouring masses and promoting the development of production. Lenin said that the principle of distribution according to work “contained the basis of socialism and was the inexhaustible source of the strength of socialism, and the indestructible safeguard of the final victory of socialism” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 3 p 560-561 Ch. Ed). On this major question of principle, Mr Xie Tao has also spread much confusion.
(1) He believes that exploitation and disparity are the “levers promoting social progress”. Xie Tao says “The basic principle of Marxism is that the development of the productive forces is the foundation on which the entire society progresses. Disparity and inequality and social differentiation are the result of the development of the productive forces and of the increase in social wealth, and therefore this is, generally speaking, social progress; however, at the same time, it also embodies regression, giving rise to exploitation, oppression and class struggle. In this way, society is a contradictory entity; this is a form of development of humanity farewelling the era of barbarism and entering the civilised threshold of social existence. The basic starting point of Marxism is the former, this is the cornerstone of historical materialism; to overemphasise the latter is the starting point of the utopian socialist school. If the distribution of social wealth is not equal, it is a lever to bring into play the enthusiasm of the members of society and to push forward social progress. There is a reasonable “degree” operating this lever (contemporary economic scientists call it the ‘Gini coefficient’ [used as an aggregate measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient varies from zero, when wealth is equally distributed among all people, to 1 when one person holds all the wealth. For example, in Australia, it was 0.86 in 1915 when there was a large concentration of wealth, to 0.52 in 1967, when there was a more equal distribution, to 0.64 in 1998 following a move back to a more concentrated holding of wealth – Trans.]), and exceeding this “degree” will lead to a social explosion; eliminating this “degree” will lead society to lose its vigour and its impetus for advance. The result of this is a bursting of the contradictory entity, giving way to a new dynasty or to a new system. The sum total of the skill of leaders is to grasp this, to regulate this “degree”. Communists have fought for several decades for an ideal society, and the biggest mistake in their policies has been to attempt to eliminate this “degree”, to use the method of “everyone eating from the same big pot” to achieve “equality”, believing that so long as things are fair then there is no need for efficiency, even to the extent of being proud of their poverty.” Mr Xie Tao beats around the bush in this passage, but his central meaning is to protect the system of private ownership and exploitation and in the main embodies this type of implication.
Firstly, he believes that “overemphasizing” “exploitation, oppression and class struggle” is “utopian socialism”. This is deliberately confusing the difference in principle between “utopian” and “scientific” socialism. What is utopian socialism? What are the differences between utopian socialism and scientific socialism? This was answered early on in the classical works of Marxism. Marxists believe that although utopian socialism had many important ideas that later became a direct source of the scientific socialism of Marx and Engels, there were differences of principle between utopian socialism and scientific socialism, and that it is not hard to identify these differences. Utopian socialism therefore is “utopian” precisely because it has not promulgated the essence and the root of capitalist “exploitation” and “oppression” that class struggle inevitably results in the law of the development of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They can’t see the great historical function of the proletariat, can’t find the correct path for transforming the capitalist system, and imagine that by means of “experiment” and by “setting an example” to the man of property that they will realize the unrealizable beautiful society of eternal justice. These things fully indicate the immaturity and limitations of this theory. Therefore, how are we able to say that Marxism’s stress on opposing “exploitation, oppression and class struggle” has turned into the “school of utopian socialism”? You can’t fit donkey’s lips on a horse’s jaw (i.e. what he says is irrelevant - Trans.).
It follows that the real intention behind Mr Xie Tao’s so-called “overemphasizing” “exploitation, oppression and class struggle” is in fact that the working class should not “emphasize” “exploitation, oppression and class struggle”. In this way, Mr Xie Tao is being a bit unfair, since the capitalist class can “overly” “emphasize” its exploitation and oppression of the working class, so why can’t the working class “overly” “emphasize” this type of exploitation and oppression? But the mistake and the lesson of utopian socialism is precisely that it does not “emphasise” violent revolution – believed by Mr Xie Tao to be an “excessive” measure – to destroy the exploitation of the bourgeoisie and the state apparatus used to oppress the people!
Whether to emphasise the elimination of private ownership, the elimination of exploitation and class oppression, emphasise class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat, is also to distinguish Marxism and revisionism and the touchstone for being differentiated from the democratic socialism promoted by Mr Xie Tao. Said like this, democratic socialism falls far short of utopian socialism! We know that when all is said and done, the utopian socialism of the three main utopians Saint-Simon, Fourier and Owen, was a significantly progressive theory of early proletarian opposition to capitalist exploitation and oppression. Before the birth of Marxism, many expressed the heartfelt wishes of the proletariat of that time. But democratic socialism does not do any of this. As Engels pointed out: “Although the nature of the doctrines of these three thinkers was extremely unreal and utopian, in the end they belong to the ranks of those with the greatest wisdom of all times, for with their talent they had indicated the boundless truth that we now have already scientifically proven” (“Collected Works of Marx and Engels”, Vol 2, p, 301 Ch. Ed.). Let us also look at the utopian communist Weitling ((right). In 1841 he pointed out in “Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom” that “Private property is the root of all evil”. In 1844, when praising this book of Weitling, Marx wrote: if one compares these halting but gigantic first steps of the proletariat with the mincing gait of the full-grown German bourgeoisie, one cannot help predicting that the proletarian Cinderella will develop into a prodigy of strength" (“Collected Works of Marx and Engels” Vol 4, p. 189 Ch ed.).The gentlemen of democratic socialism don’t have any of the “giant steps” of Weitling and some only have the “mincing gait” of the bourgeoisie!
Once again, the so-called “Disparity and inequality and social differentiation are the result of the development of the productive forces and of the increase in social wealth" is just a denial of the Marxist theory of surplus value, a denial of the historical fact of bourgeois exploitation and oppression of the working class and labouring people. In the final analysis, it is opposition to the replacement of capitalism with socialism, opposition to distribution according to work, and maintaining forever the exploitation of capitalism. This is a rerun of new and old revisionism’s “exploitation has merit” and “exploitation is reasonable”.
(2) The welfare system conceals the essence of capitalist exploitation. “The Preface” quotes from “A General Plan for the Operation of Capital” (Reform Publishing House, 1997, p. 227): The capitalist countries “Drew on the experiences of the socialist system of welfare and implemented a guaranteed birth to death welfare capitalism which we are used to calling the Western nations’ developed capitalism, for all of them have turned into the new capitalism and have to varying degrees become democratic socialist.” “America… active nationalisation, implementing medical insurance for all the people, having the government run the schools, reduction of taxes for the poor, a raising of the level of welfare and of minimum wages, paying great attention to the marginalised in society.” And again: “Common prosperity is not getting those with property to become propertyless, but getting the propertyless to become propertied; it is not getting the wealthy to become poor, but getting the poor to become wealthy. This is the general train of thought of social democrats in government. This completely new train of thought is one hundred times superior to Mao Zedong’s “class struggle” mentality of robbing the rich and giving to the poor; the former is common prosperity whilst the latter is common poverty. While violent socialism has run its race, democratic socialism in north western Europe has obtained outstanding success.”
What Mr Xie Tao means is that because the capitalist countries have become ‘democratically socialised” and implemented a welfare system of “common prosperity”, this type of “common prosperity” makes the “propertyless into the propertied”, however, he attacks the socialism of Mao Zedong as “robbing the rich to help the poor”, as “common poverty”, as “turning those with property into the propertyless”. This is nothing more than things being repeatedly turned upside down by Mr Xie Tao.
In relation to the question of the so-called “welfare system” and “common prosperity” of the capitalist countries, we have no alternative but to clear up several points below.
Firstly, the bourgeoisie of the main capitalist countries, for the sake of alleviating the class contradictions between themselves and the working class, have in fact at the same time as developing state monopoly capitalism, borrowed from the experiences of socialism, and in relation to the aspect of the welfare of the working class, has made some adjustments for improvement. For example, in some countries (e.g. Japan, West Germany) certain enterprises have adopted such measures as co-opting workers into administration, luring workers to go all out and to obtain a bigger profit for the enterprise. The bourgeoisie has adopted the deceptive measure of “making a bigger cake”, and from within the super profits which it seizes, takes out a little bit with which to improve and enhance workers’ wages and welfare, enabling class contradictions in the post-war period to temporarily relax. However, these improvements have not changed the basis of the exploitation of the working class and its being ruled over by the capitalist system, has not eliminated the basic contradictions of capitalism, and have not changed the basic condition under which capitalism gas already entered its dying stages.
In the post-war period, and after the implementation of the welfare system, the rate of domestic surplus value in each main capitalist country did not reduce, but rose greatly. In 1947, the rate of surplus value in the US manufacturing industry was 146%, whilst in 1975 it rose to 263%; in Western Germany, the rate of surplus value in industry was 204% in 1950, whilst in 1974 it rose to 265%; the rate of surplus value in Japan rose from 275% in 1951 to 421% in 1960 and 431% in 1976. This indicates that the bourgeoisie had actually aggravated the exploitation of the working class. In addition, the expenditure of governments in the capitalist countries is mainly dependent on taxation revenue, the major portion of which is personal income tax but the burden of this personal income tax falls mainly on the workers. For example, before the war, in 1938, the income tax and social security burden borne by the working class accounted for 21% of US state revenue; after the war, by 1975, this had grown to 74.45%. At the present time, the tax paid by US workers accounts for 20% or more of their income. This indicates that the capitalist countries have not realized the impossible-to-realize “common prosperity” of “the propertyless becoming the propertied”. This proposition of Mr Xie Tao’s is fictitious. The so-called “democratic socialism in north western Europe has obtained outstanding success”, if we were to exchange views, is that the bourgeoisie of these countries have achieved “success” in exploiting the working class and other working people, and is on no account the “success” of the exploited and oppressed.
Secondly, the developed capitalist countries, while “improving” and “adjusting” the welfare policy of the working class, increased their plunder of the countries of the Third World, and increased the gap between the countries of monopoly capitalism and the Third World. After the war, on the one hand they retained as far as possible for themselves their privileges in their former colonies, and on the other hand they adopted the technique of neo-colonialism to strengthen their expansion and infiltration into the developing nations. They reaped huge profits from the export of capital from the developed countries. According to various sources, the total export of capital from the US, Britain, France and Germany in 1938 amounted to 39 billion US dollars. Direct investment by the US in the developing nations up to 1988 had accumulated to 76.837 billion US dollars, and the profit in the 39 years from 1950 to 1988 reached as high as 177.359 billion US dollars, or 2.3 times the amount of the investment. The multinational corporations of the major capitalist countries exploited the inexpensive labour force of the developing nations, and their profit margin must generally be more than twice as high as that of their own countries. In 1976, the net amount of capital exported from the US to developing nations was 1.7 billion US dollars from which they derived a profit of 6.9 billion US dollars, not counting that amount that was reinvested overseas. In the year to the end of 1972, the total amount of US direct investment in Middle Eastern petroleum was 1.8 billion US dollars; in the same year, this earned a net profit of 2.4 billion US dollars, a profit margin as high as 130%. The export of loan capital creates a heavy debt burden for developing countries. The outstanding debt of the developing countries was just under 100 billion US dollars at the start of the 1970s, rising to 1320 billion US dollars in 1988. In 1988, the developing nations took out loans worth 92.3 billion US dollars, but reimbursed 142.4 billion US dollars from their debt payment funds, or 1.54 times the amount of the loans. The plunder of the developing nations through such unequal exchanges by the developed capitalist countries has exceeded the pre-War levels. The prices for the large amounts of raw materials from the developing nations are pushed down, but the cost of their imports of finished products rises unceasingly. According to estimates by overseas economists, prior to the price rises by the oil producing nations of the Third World in 1973, the developed capitalist countries exploitation of the Third World was approximately 100 to 150 billion US dollars per year. An Iranian Government official pointed out that “A handful of industrial nations, in the long space of almost a quarter of a century, has used cheap oil prices as the main force in the day to day rapid growth of their economies, but the developing nations have no option other than to pay ever-increasing prices for their imports.” In international trade, the developed countries use of the “scissors gap” between the prices of primary products and finished products has caused the developing nations to suffer heavy losses. According to data, from 1951 to 1973 alone, owing to the “scissors gap” between these prices, the developing nations lost more than 130 billion US dollars. Since entering the 1980s, the developing nations of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific alone lost 150 billion US dollars because of the “scissors gap”. The developed capitalist countries use all means possible to pass the burden of crisis and difficulty onto the developing nations, forcing down the price of primary products on the world market, enhancing the interest rates on the world money market, in addition to adopting trade protectionism on certain commodities, causing a sharp decline in the export trade of the developing nations and a sudden expansion in their unfavourable balance of payments. A debt crisis has appeared in various countries.
Economically, the gap between the developing nations and the developed capitalist countries has further expanded. According to data released by the World Bank, the per capita GDP of the developed countries was 14 times that of the developing nations in 1965; by 1988, the former was 23.46 times that of the latter. In 1978, the 16.2% of the world’s population living in the developed countries had 81.5% of total GDP, whilst the 83.8% of the population living in the medium income countries (including a minority of non-developing nations) and the low income countries only had 18.5% of total GDP. The economic inequality between the developed capitalist countries and the developing nations widened even further. (Selections from “On the Summary of the Study of Certain Problems of Socialism” by the Central Propaganda Department.)
In addition, as indicated in the Human Development Report issued in 1999 by the United Nations Development Programme Bureau, the total wealth of the 225 richest people in the world had surpassed 1000 billion US dollars, which was equal to the sum total of the yearly income of 2.5 billion people (47% of the world’s population). Also, the Forbes magazine website, on March 10, 2007, announced the 2006 Forbes list of the “World’s Richest People”. In 2006, there were a record 793 billionaires, an increase of 102 since 1988, and their total wealth had increased by 18%, reaching 260 billion US dollars, and the three wealthiest – the US Microsoft Corporation president Bill Gates (50 billion US dollars), the Walton Family (48 billion US dollars) and Warren Buffett (33 billion US dollars) alone had surpassed the sum total of the wealth of 48 developing counties including Afghanistan, Yemen and Zambia. The Report also demonstrates that in 1998 total world consumption rose to 24000 billion US dollars which was 6 times that of 1950, but this consumption was still concentrated in the developed wealthy countries. Nearly one billion people still cannot obtain basic social security. One-fifth of the world’s wealthiest people consumed 81% of resources produced (“Information and Research”, State Planning Commission Macroscopic Economics research Institute, 1999, No. 27). The most recent research materials issued by the United Nations on Dec 5, 2006 disclosed that half of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 2%, and that the wealthiest 1% has 40% of the world’s wealth, while 50% of the world’s people have 1% of the world’s wealth (Spain’s “Revolt” newspaper, Dec 26, 2006). At present the average income of people in the wealthiest nations is 330 times that of people in the poorest nations; the total amount of foreign loans owed by the South to the North has already increased from 794 billion US dollars in 1991 to more than 3000 billion US dollars today, an increase in ten short years of more than 4 times (“Chinese Social Sciences Digest”, 2007, Vol 1, p. 13)
Facts overwhelmingly show that in the poor countries created by monopoly capitalism, the poor get poorer, whilst in the wealthy countries, the rich get richer.
(3) In the same way, the existence of a serious polarisation of capitalism itself still exists – it has certainly not vanished. Along with the development of science and technology, the accumulation and expanded production of capitalism has deepened the exploitation of the working class and working people. Its result is the inevitable creation of two poles, one of which is the accumulation of wealth and the other of which is the accumulation of poverty. The difficulties of the proletariat and other labouring people are not reduced, but increase. According to statistics in Forbes magazine in 1999, those living under the poverty line in the world’s richest countries total more than 100 million people, there are at least 37 million unemployed people, 100 million homeless, and nearly 200 million people have a life expectancy of less than 60 years.
At the same time as he spreads the lie of the capitalist countries “paying great attention to the marginalised in society” and “implementing common prosperity”, Mr Xie Tao has also further stated: “Through major developments in the productive forces and the regulation of distribution, the capitalist countries have basically eliminated the differences between town and country, between workers and peasants and between mental and manual labour, setting in place the magnificence of democratic socialism.” (According to the views of Mr Xin Ziling, author of “Mao Zedong: A Century of Merits and Faults”, the “greatest achievement of democratic socialism was to eliminate the three big differences under the premise of protecting the system of private ownership”, and “Western Europe has already entered communism”.) Mr Xie Tao’s so-called “by using the method of uniting with the bourgeoisie to develop the advanced productive forces, the Social Democrats have brought about a common prosperity of continual reduction of differences,” the so-called “reduction of the three big differences does not rely upon the thorough destruction of capitalism, but upon its development to a high degree”, the so-called “persisting in democratic socialism….is not provoking class conflict or intensifying social contradictions; rather it is uniting the social classes, promoting economic development, constantly increasing the total quantity of public wealth, regulating distribution and taking the path of common prosperity” etc etc. These things are all nonsense to deceive people.
History has proved long ago that owing to the existence of exploitation by capital and to class oppression, it is impossible to eliminate the “three big differences” in the capitalist countries, and that the achievement of “common prosperity” is impossible through the “regulation of distribution”. In “Reference News” (March 11, 2007) under the topic of “The Day by Day Growth of Differences between the City and the Countryside in Japan”, there was a report and explanation of this kind of “difference” in Japan. In relation to this, there are many facts and data, and there’s no need to list them here one by one.
Mr Xie Tao is single-minded about the U.S. He said, “Recent calculations of results…. The views of the U.S. Democratic Party on the economy are rooted in the ideas of Marx and Keynes, and advocate government guidance of the market economy, active nationalisation, implementing medical insurance for all the people, having the government run the schools, reduction of taxes for the poor, a raising of the level of welfare and of minimum wages, paying great attention to the marginalised in society, …nor when the Republican Party comes to power does it change the social policy of the Democrats. Democratic socialism has ‘communised’ the U.S.” But is this really the case? Let us have a look at the real circumstances of the U.S, which has been described as “already communized” by Mr Xie Tao. According to data provided by the US Census Bureau, the Gini Coefficient of residential household income increased from 0.403 in 1980 to 0.457 in 1999, a rise of 13.4%. Over the same period, the proportion of people with the lowest 20% of incomes to the total population of income-earners dropped from 4.3% to 3.6%, while the proportion of people with the highest 20% of incomes grew from 43.7% to 49.4%. In 30 years, the degree of inequality has obviously expanded. Again, according to a 1995 investigation by Forbes magazine, the richest 1% of residential households in the US had nearly 40% of the nation’s wealth, but 80% of residential households had only 16% of the wealth. Obviously, the wealth of the US is rapidly concentrating in the hands of the rich minority. In these twenty years, income disparity has also rapidly expanded. For example, the ratio of disparity between the wages of senior administrative personnel and workers in companies rose from 42:1 in 1980 to 419:1 in 1998. In the US, regardless of one’s material wealth or poverty, they all rank first in the world, they have the highest average individual income, but according to the index of poverty, those living in poverty account for 16.5% of the total population, 1/5 of people are functionally illiterate and 13% of people do not live to 60 years of age (“Chinese Social Sciences Digest”, 2007, Vol 1, No 53, p. 13). In addition, on July 28, 2006 an investigative report by the US government was released which demonstrated that every night in the US there are 750,000 homeless people who sleep out in the streets. This was the first observation and research report in 23 years by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development focussing on homeless people. In the ranks of these homeless, by age, 41% are 31-50 years old and 21% are minors; by ethnicity, 59% are minority peoples; the report also raises the issue that 1/5 are ex-servicemen. However, there is some dispute over these figures as there are some scholars in the US, who believe that the actual numbers of homeless may be closer to 1% of the total population, or 300,000 people “Labour News”, 2 March, 2007. This means that the growth in the profits of the monopoly capitalist class, and the status of the working class and working people as having been exploited and oppressed, together with the tendency towards the daily pauperisation, have certainly not changed.
The so-called “raising the minimum wage and caring for the marginalised”. In reality, under the contemporary capitalist system, the rate of increase of workers’ wages has fallen behind the rate of increase of capitalist profit. For example, the profits of the largest 500 companies in the US increased from 37.8 billion US dollars in 1975 to 52.5 billion US dollars in1977, an increase of 39%., but workers wages only rose by 5% from 1967-1976. In a special report on 23 February, 2007 titled “The Rich in the US Love Money”, the international channel on Chinese Central Television revealed that “The average income of US company chairmen 20 years ago was 22 times that of the average income of ordinary workers, but today that gap has grown to 224 times. Obviously therefore, more and more of the wealth created by the workers has flowed into the wallets of the capitalists. Agence France Presse on February 25, 2007 had a report that said that the McClatchy Group (a US media company - Trans.) after researching the 2005 US census data had found that for 2000 to 2005 the numbers of US citizens in deep or very deep poverty had increased by 26%. The research discovered that the time during which there was a large increase in those living in poverty was also a time of rapid growth in the US economy, but the unequal distribution of profits led to more and more US people becoming impoverished. The report said that during the temporary recession after 2001, there was a rapid rise in the productive efficiency of US workers, but the rate of increase in wages and employment opportunities had not kept pace. At the same time, the share of state revenue flowing to corporate profits has been excessively large and this has also influenced wage levels. The report pointed out that in the past 30 years and more, the numbers of impoverished people in the US was in a condition of stable growth (“Reference News” 3 March 2007). This is the so-called “communization of the US”! This is the so-called “common prosperity”!
(4) Changes in the structure of the industrial workers certainly have not changed the exploited status of the working class. Mr Xie Tao has proposed that “Along with the knowledge economy and the development of science and technology, and the unceasing upgrading of the industrial structure, the composition of the industrial ranks is also in change, and this is mainly manifested in the reduction of the numbers of physical labourers, primarily blue-collar workers, and the expansion of the numbers of mental labourers, and primarily white-collar workers. At the beginning of the 21st Century, blue-collar workers in Germany only constituted 6% of the salaried stratum. The working class, which served as the main revolutionary army and face-to-face opponent of the bourgeoisie in the “Communist Manifesto” has turned into a minority,” therefore “the working class doesn’t need to rise in revolution, but will be “liberated” along with the development of the advanced productive forces.” This conclusion of Mr Xie Tao’s is obviously untenable.
Indeed, the significant breakthroughs in atomic energy, electronic, chemistry and space technology after WW2, a rising sector of industry developed very rapidly. The revolution in science and technology has caused the economic structure of capitalism to undergo profound change and has also brought tremendous change to the employment structure and consumption patterns of the working class. In the post-war period, many economists in the capitalist countries have divided the various branches and sectors of the national economy into three main industries. Differentiating on the basis of their criteria, the first is primary industry (including agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries); the second is the industrial sector (including mining, manufacturing and construction); and the third is the service sector; everything not directly producing a physical product is included in the service sector, like the transportation and shipping industries, public utilities, commercial services, the financial and insurance industries, and even the sex services and gambling professions. In the post-war decades, the most remarkable change in the economic structure of the capitalist countries is the slow rate of growth of primary and secondary industry alongside the rapid growth rate of the tertiary sector, and in the gross national product, the proportion which the primary and secondary industries occupies obviously drops while the proportion occupied by the tertiary sector rapidly rises. There are three obvious aspects to these changes displayed by the data records. One is the sudden drop in the place occupied by agriculture in the gross national product and the national income. In 1950, the proportion occupied by agriculture in the national economies of the US, England, West Germany and Canada respectively was 7%, 6%, 10% and 13%. By 1968 these had reduced to 3%, 3%, 4% and 5%. In 1952, the agricultural populations of the US, England, West Germany and Japan respectively were 6.81 million, 1.11 million, 4.7 million and 17.19 million, but by 1970 these had dropped to 3.46 million, 780,000, 2.26 million and 8.86 million. In the developed capitalist countries, the decline in the proportion of agriculture in the gross national product is a universal phenomenon. This illustrates that owing to the development of the productive forces, fewer and fewer people are required for food production. The second aspect is that the proportion of all physical products in the GNP has declined while that of non-physical products has risen. This rise in the proportion of GNP is a concrete manifestation of the growth of the so-called “tertiary industry”. Starting just in the 1950s, in the seven main capitalist countries, only the US had a service industry which surpassed 50% of the proportion of GNP, reaching 55%. In England, France, West Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, the proportion was 45%, 37%, 41%, 46%, 40% and 47% respectively. By 1968, the service industry’s proportion of US GNP rose to 60%, the Canadian and English proportions had rapidly risen to 62% and 57%, whilst the Japanese, West German, French and Italian proportions had risen to 48%, 43%, 46% and 49%. In the early 70s, the service industries in these 7 main capitalist countries had all passed 50% of GNP, and this tendency to grow is still present in all of them.
The tremendous changes in the economic structure of the capitalist countries inevitably affect the changes in the structure of the working class. From the 1950s onwards, there has been a big increase in the numbers of hired labourers in the developed capitalist countries, but this kind of increase mainly depends upon the increase in personnel in the so-called “tertiary industry”. For example, in the US, from 1950 to 1973, the proportion of personnel employed in the physical products sectors fell from 40.9% to 31.6%, whilst the proportion of personnel employed in the non-physical products sector increased from 59.1% to 68.4%. In the same way, between 1958 and 1968, the proportion of personnel employed in Western Europe’s non-physical products sector rose from 24.5% to 40.2%.
The shift of large numbers of workers from the physical products sector to the non-physical products sector in the developed capitalist countries and the daily enhancement of the status and function of the non-physical products sector in the national economy, resulting from the rapid launch of the revolution in science and technology, is a concrete manifestation of the day by day strengthening of the rule of monopoly capital. The revolution in science and technology has greatly enhanced labour productivity and this enabled the non-physical products sector to have the possibility of a massive increase in employees. For example, because the US has realised agricultural modernization, each unit of agricultural labour force can provide for a rapid increase in population. In 1950, each unit of agricultural labour force could support 15.5 people; in 1970 this rose to 42 people and in 1973 had reached 50 people, rising to 60 people by the end of the decade. In 1982, it could provide for 78 people. Precisely because labour productivity has been greatly enhanced, the US can in this situation of an absolute decline in the numbers of the agricultural working population, guarantee to increase agricultural production. For the same reason, there has been a big increase in the rate of labour productivity in the industrial sector, and the physical products sector has a relative reduction in labour force demand, and this is even, at certain times, a cause of an absolute decline. The widespread application of the achievements of science and technology in production, and more complex objective demands, and the substitution of a more skilled work for simple labour, in this way causes the proportion of personnel directly engaged in physical production to drop, and the proportion of engineers and technicians to grow. For example, from 1950 to 1973 those engaged in physical labour in the US increased from 23 million to 29 million, but as a proportion of those employed nationally, they fell from 39% to 35%. In the several decades after WW2, the numbers of so-called “white-collar” workers increased very quickly. In 1950, the number of office workers in the US was less than those engaged in physical labour, but by 1973 the number of office workers surpassed the former by approximately a third, occupying nearly one half of the numbers of those employed.
These changes that have occurred in the structures of the capitalist countries economies and in the working class have provided the false appearance for the propaganda of the bourgeois economists and sociologists. Long before Mr Xie Tao, bourgeois economists and sociologists had trumpeted the so-called “white-collar revolution” and covered over the class struggle under the conditions of modern capitalism, spouting the rubbish that “the working class had already disappeared”. In fact, along with the advancement of science and technology, the enhancement of the rate of labour productivity, the rise in the proportion of the non-physical sector in the national economy, and the rapid increase in the numbers of people employed in the “tertiary industry’s” various sectors, as well as the massive increase of skilled staff capable of grasping technology after specialist training, this is a kind of denial that a tendency for general development can be taken as a shift in the social system. Although, under the influence of the revolution in science and technology, the proportion of “white-collar” workers is increasing, and the proportion of unskilled physical labourers is decreasing, this is only a change in the structure of the working class and the “white-collar” workers are still a part of the working class. In modern capitalist society, all considered, the numbers in the working class have increased and the scope of the working class has expanded. Those engineering and technical personnel in the enterprises and research facilities operating electronic calculators and regulating automatic devices are all an inalienable part of the working class. Mr Xie Tao’s copying of the former monopoly capitalist class and its representatives with their so-called “sudden reduction in the blue-collar social stratum” that denies the existence of the working class, thus writing off the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the working class, is an effort in futility.
(This is Part 6 of Wu Bing's refutation of Xie Tao's "Preface", a document advocating all-round resoration of capitalism in China. For earlier chapters, use the tags "anti-revisionism" or "Marxism-Leninism" opposite.)
6. On how the question of the two systems of ownership and the two systems of distribution are compared
According to Mr Xie Tao, the public ownership system is not as good as the private ownership system, distribution according to work is not as good as distribution according to wealth, and he also cites several “typical cases” like Sweden and others to support his arguments. He says: “Although Sweden is a small country, and although the Swedish Social Democratic Party is a small party, it is however, a model of democratic socialism and its experience has universal worth, and is an outstanding contribution to human civilization. Within the framework of democratic constitutional government, the Swedish SDP relies on the correctness of its own policies, and, representing the interests of the vast majority, continues to be re-elected and has long experience of holding political power; in economic development it upholds efficiency and equality, and implements fairness and common prosperity; it correctly handles labour relations and mobilizes the enthusiasm of the workers and the entrepreneurs to achieve a win-win labour experience; it has effectively prevented the emergence of a privileged class and has stopped official abuses of power, bribery and corruption, has maintained honest government experience over the long term, adhered to the socialist direction in reform and opening up, and provided a successful model in taking the road of democratic socialism.”
Relatively speaking, whether it is the per capita GDP or the economy as a whole, a small minority of the western developed capitalist countries must all be higher than the Third World countries. However, this does not lead us to conclude that capitalism is superior to socialism.
Firsly, we should note that in the world today, there are more than 210 countries and regions (of which 192 are countries), and that apart from a few countries that are still within the socialist system of public ownership, more than 200 other countries and regions are engaged in private ownership and belong to the capitalist system. Within this huge number of capitalist countries, apart from some 20 that are developing or quite developed, the majority are still at a relatively backward stage of economic development. The American economist Sero (not sure how this surname translates –Trans.) in his book “21st Century Rivalry” quoted these statistics: During the 118 years from 1870-1988, taking the average per person income as the basis, there was little change in the ranking of the richest countries, with only the two small-population, oil-rich petroleum exporting countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait entering the ranks, whilst countries that are low export price resource-rich countries, like New Zealand, Argentina and Chile have disappeared from the ranks of the rich countries. From this he concludes: it is virtually impossible for poor countries to push their way into the ranks of the rich. That is to say, in this 118 year period, no economically backward capitalist country has been able to enter the “rich countries club”. Many of them are getting poorer and poorer, they have fiscal deficits, are debt-ridden, have capital outflow, inflation, unemployment, there is a grain panic, ecological deterioration, political instability and their people live in squalor, and some of these countries are on the verge of economic collapse. This phenomenon, in the final analysis, is the product of the system of capitalist private ownership and imperialist plunder. When we compare the merits of the two different systems, we should not overlook this point.
Secondly, we should note that the developed capitalist countries and the socialist countries have different foundations and starting points. When we compare them, we should not only look at the present, but also at their history; we should not just look at how wealthy they are, but at the differences in their foundation and their starting points; we should not only look at economics, but also at politics, society, culture and other aspects; only such an analysis can result in practical conclusions. Otherwise, we will move into errors.
For instance, take our country. Prior to the founding of New China, calculated from 1840, China had experienced over 100 years of invasion and plunder by imperialism, lost several hundred million square kilometres, paid the equivalent of 1300 million taels of silver, suffered the War of Aggression started by Japanese militarism in the 1930s causing the loss of more than 20 million Chinese lives and property damage of more than 100 billion US dollars. Long-term imperialist aggression and oppression not only caused and aggravated China’s poverty and backwardness, but also widened the gap between China and the Western powers. By the time of the founding of New China, the major countries in which capitalism originated had already built up a modern industrial system with a greater per capita GDP than that in China today, and had already started to take electronic technology as the symbol of the prologue to modernization at a time when China was still a poor agricultural country whose industry only accounted for about 10% of the gross output value of industry and agriculture. On such a backward foundation, our country rapidly achieved a high level of development, a fact acknowledged as a success for socialism in China by unbiased observers throughout the world. In addition, the process of capitalist industrialisation was accompanied internally by cruel exploitation and externally by barbaric aggression and plunder, together with intense social conflict and turbulence. In China the process of industrialisation has relied totally on China’s own strength, has relied on public ownership and the superiority of a planned economy, has depended on maintaining independence and self-reliance, has relied on the entrepreneurial spirit and on the whole nation in building socialism with tremendous enthusiasm and daring. Generally speaking, the economic development of our country has been accompanied by national unification, national unity, improvements in people’s living standards and socio-economic, political, cultural and moral progress.
Thirdly, as for Mr Xie Tao’s high praise in the “Preface” for the welfare system of the small country of Sweden and the little French town of Bordeaux, and his claims that the “working class has already been liberated” there, and that they have achieved a “win-win for labour and capital” and “common prosperity”, I beg to differ in relation to this. There are three important points that Mr Xie Tao cannot evade. (1) From his words, it is not hard to see that although the standard of living of the working class in these two places may be a bit better than elsewhere, the capitalist system is still carried out and so is capitalist exploitation. This type of situation is just like that talked about by Marx in Vol 1 of Capital on the general rule of capitalism: “But just as little as better clothing, food, and treatment, and a larger peculium, do away with the exploitation of the slave, so little do they set aside that of the wage-worker. A rise in the price of labour, as a consequence of accumulation of capital, only means, in fact, that the length and weight of the golden chain the wage-worker has already forged for himself, allows of a relaxation of the tension of it.” (“Complete Works of Marx and Engels” Chinese ed. Vol 23 p. 678; see Capital Vol 1. Ch. 25 – Trans.). (2) As a result of the existence of capitalist exploitation, there is in it still distribution according to capital rather than distribution according to work, and there is still the problem of the existence of a polarisation of unfair distribution. Data show that from 1980 to 1995, Swedish inequality grew at an annual rate of 1.5%, on a par with Denmark, Holland and Australia, and slightly lower than in the United States and the United Kingdom (“Social Sciences in China Digest” 2007, Vol 1. p. 53). (3) As for Mr Xie Tao’s extreme praise for the “typical” experience of “common prosperity” in the small French town of Bordeaux, Mr Xie Tao presumably does not know of the typical cases of more than 8000 villages in our country like Nanjie and Huaxi where there is genuine common prosperity? How many times better than the welfare systems of Sweden and France are these new socialist rural areas that persisted in the good of the public ownership system! In particular, these new socialist rural areas, unlike the City of Bordeaux, have no “manorial lords” or “major shareholders”, and as they don’t have these exploiters, naturally there is no exploitation and no oppression, nor is there any kind of decadent capitalist malpractice. Sweden and the French city of Bordeaux are unable to compare with any of this. Only these places have the qualifications to truly say that they have “common prosperity”!
Fourthly, in refuting these fallacies of the Preamble, we have no alternative but to carefully examine the situation we face. After the 11th Session of the Third Plenary Conference of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr Xie Tao said “Please bring back the capitalists”, “Please bring back the advanced productive forces”, “Please write the important articles protecting the system of private ownership into the Constitution”, “This symbolizes that China has embarked on the road of democratic socialism” and so on. These words of his are negative reminders of the need for vigilance on our part. Since the policy of reform and opening up, our country has undergone tremendous changes. A great many public enterprises have in fact already changed into private enterprises and the newspapers use the formulaic term of the “non-public economy”. According to a report in the “People’s Daily” of 28 February 2005, of 40 main industrial sectors, the non-public sector in 27 industries (or 67.5%) had surpassed 50%, and in some sectors accounted for 70%. Vice-Premier Wu Yi, in a conversation with foreign guests, revealed that foreign capital and the non-public sector already comprised 65% of our GDP whilst the public sector of the economy had fallen to 35%. There are also some other economists who believe that the publicly owned sector contributes less than 20% of GDP. That is to say, public ownership is no longer the mainstay of the economy, and the economy as a whole is already privatized. Owing to these massive changes in the system of ownership, the distribution system inevitably evolved along with it, and in many factories and enterprises distribution according to work has already become distribution according to capital. Arising from the strange phenomenon that since the founding of the PRC we have never had “income disparity” and “unfair distribution”, a new bourgeoisie (also referred to by some people as “a new stratum”, “the rich” or “middle class”) has been brought forth, and a millionaires, multi-millionaires, a even billionaires have emerged. Polarisation is developing without let-up and the Gini coefficient is getting higher and higher and moving towards the forefront of those countries with the largest gaps in the world! According to Qinghua University professor Sun Liping, China’s Gini coefficient is only measures the urban population, and is above 0.5, at around 0.54; it does not include farmers and would be much higher if rural inhabitants were included. The international community generally recognizes a Gini coefficient of 0.4 or more as an indication that the income gap is too wide; higher than 0.6 indicates that society is entering a crisis and that social turmoil could erupt at any time. Therefore the international community takes 0.6 as the cut-off point. Regardless of the above, both the common people and internationally, there is recognition that China’s Gini coefficient is extremely serious. Moreover, in contemporary China, the 20% of the community who are rich account for 60% or more of the nation’s wealth. For the other 80%, education, health and housing are the “three new mountains” that they cannot escape in everyday life.
This serious social injustice has caused social instability. According to Outlook (Liaowang) Weekly, various places in China experienced 58,000 instances of public protest in 2004, six times the number ten years ago. (The quote above is from the July 13, 2006 China Economic Times article “On the validity of ‘China’s Gini coefficient is not serious’”). You cannot say that the emergence of these new situations and new problems has nothing to do with changes to the systems of ownership and distribution in our country. Realistically speaking, this runs completely counter to the original intention of the “reform is the self-improvement of the socialist system” put forward in the early stage of the reforms in our country. Remember in those years our leaders saying on many occasions to foreign guests things like: Our reform and opening up adheres to socialism, we will not take the capitalist road, and will avoid polarization. The wealth we create will firstly be returned to the country, and secondly to the people; it will not produce another capitalist class and will not produce millionaires. If it creates millionaires it will create polarization and produce a new capitalist class, and that will show that our reform and opening up has taken the capitalist road. (The main point) twenty years have passed and the leaders that spoke these words passed away years ago, so what is the result now? It is not just millionaires, but multi-millionaires and billionaires that have appeared. In particular, in recent years what the people reflect on most intensely is how, in the process of “transferring” the publicly-owned enterprises, collusion has occurred between bureaucrats and business people to create all sorts of excuses to incorporate the public property belonging to the people under their own names, massively draining state assets. Some business leaders do not use a cent of their own money to buy and sell, but use only bank loans, and put a price on the original value of the “purchase” that is several times, ten times and even a hundred times greater than the factory or the enterprise that they have grabbed for themselves. Oh! – this we know – this is the wealth that the Chinese workers, peasants and the people of the whole nation have sweated and shed blood to produce! In such a way has it been so easy for this minority to take (we should say “loot”) this wealth! Nowadays, these “overnight men of power and wealth” number in the thousands, tens of thousands, tens of millions and even more. So quietly, calmly and imperceptibly generated was the new Chinese bourgeoisie! Some media reports have stated that Communist Party members comprise more than 35% of this nascent bourgeoisie. Recently, a report of the National Association of Commerce and Industry stated that, amongst the owners of private enterprises, the proportion of those who had served as cadres at all levels of party and government organs and institutions was: 56.4% were general cadres, 30.7% were section level cadres, 11.6% were county level cadres, 1.4% were cadres above the county level, and that all four added together showed that state cadres comprised 99.1% of enterprise owners! (“Publication Digest” March 7, 2007). According to information released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the authorizing for capital reached an alarming level, where, of 3,220 people with wealth in excess of 100 million yuan, 2,932 were relatives of party and government officials at all levels. No wonder the foreign media commented that such a process of quick riches is the approach of “predatory capitalism” and “gangster capitalism”!
Why has such a result appeared under the policy of reform and opening to the West? It is necessary to sum up and reflect on this. Recently, however, the “finest specimens” of the reform, with the officials and businessmen who belong to the group of such people who collude together have all sprung up to unscrupulously publish articles and speeches. On the one hand, they deny that a serious polarization has appeared in China; on the other hand, they have shaped public opinion against probing into the “original sin” of the “first bucket of gold”, and have even guaranteed under law that the “first bucket of gold” is “sacred and inviolable”. Many academic legal experts pointedly noted: the real role of the “Property Law” is to protect private property. In May 1990, the Central Propaganda Department issued a “Summary of certain Questions on the Study of Socialism” that pointed out: “Although very few adhere to the standpoint of bourgeois liberalization or are strongly opposed to us exposing and resolving the problems of unfair social distribution, or even advocated increased social polarization, looking forward to the emergence of even more millionaires and billionaires, nurturing the new bourgeoisie, their so-called “middle class”, and think that this is where China’s hopes lie. They claim: ‘The establishment of a democratic system and a democratic society in China depends on the formation of a middle class. Without a middle class there will be no real democracy’. In fact, taking the so-called ‘middle class’ as the foundation of ‘democracy’ and a ‘democratic society’ is only possible in capitalism and a capitalist society. The purpose of the handful who adhere to the stand of bourgeois liberalization is the cultivation of the social infrastructure and the reliance on force for the subversion of the socialist system and the establishment of a capitalist republic.” How wonderful are these words! This is really profound; this really hits the nail on the head! However, this line of thought of the Central Propaganda Department (under then Minister Wang Renzhi) was not accepted by certain people and has not become the ideological mainstream of Chinese society, and those political forces conspiring to subvert the socialist system and to establish a bourgeois republic in China, are persisting in their old ways and getting stronger and fiercer! Against this background, is the splendid appearance of Mr Xie Tao’s “Preface” in a public national publication an isolated act? Is this not worthy of deep reflection?
Shamelessly tampering with and distorting the fundamentals of Marxist theory.
Writing off the differences between Marxism and revisionism is one of the established tricks of old and new revisionism. This is the case with Xie Tao’s “Preface”. The “Preface” suggests that “Isn’t the major theoretical fault since the policy of opening and reform that we haven’t clearly distinguished what is Marxism? What is revisionism? Where exactly is the legitimacy of Marxism?” What, then, is revisionism? He answers himself thus: “Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong are the biggest revisionists”, Bernstein is not revisionism, so “we must restore the reputation of (Bernstein’s) revisionism.” And what, then, is Marxism? He says: “Marx and Engels in their later years were democratic socialists, they were the originators of the ‘peaceful transition to socialism’, and democratic socialism is legitimate Marxism”, and besides, we have “the explanation of persuasive historical textual research”. That is, democratic socialism and revisionism are “legitimate” Marxism! Mr Xie Tao is really cracking a very big international joke!
In relation to Mr Xie Tao’s so-called “explanation of persuasive historical textual research”, in addition to the several distortions already discussed by me, and his tampering with the basic theories of Marx and Engels, he has also engaged in underhanded methods in the following couple of places:
(1) Mr Xie Tao’s article says: “In the Third Volume of Capital, Marx points out that ‘In stock companies the function (of management – Trans.) is divorced from capital ownership; hence also labour is also entirely divorced from ownership of means of production and surplus-labour’….in this way, capitalism has completed the peaceful transition to socialism. The third volume of Capital has overthrown the conclusions of the first volume of Capital, and there is no longer any need to “blow up” the “shell” of capitalism. In Marx’s mind, Manchester capitalism (primitive capitalism) had been destroyed. After that, capitalism under a pounding from Capital becomes socialised. The third volume of Capital is the final conclusion by Marx and Engels of several dozens of years of research into capitalism, and ten years of editing and revision by Engels, and was published the year before Engels’ death in June 1894. After Marx passed away in 1883, Engels continued to lead the international working class movement for a period of 12 years, and founded the Second International in 1889. Engels specifically instructed the German Social Democratic Party to wage a legal struggle, and emphasised the significance to the international working class movement of the German Social Democratic Party gaining success in the elections: ‘One can conceive that the old society may develop peacefully into the new one in countries where the representatives of the people concentrate all power in their hands, where, if one has the support of the majority of the people, one can do as one sees fit in a constitutional way: in democratic republics such as France and the U.S.A., in monarchies such as Britain’ (Complete Works of Marx and Engels Vol 22 p. 273).”
In this short passage of Mr Xie Tao’s, it is obvious that he tampers with and distorts the original works of Marx and Engels (see right). We will analyse the specifics of this below.
(One) In the twelve years between the death of Marx and his own passing, did Engels, besides “editing and revising” Capital and “establishing the Second International”, only “specifically instruct the German Social Democratic Party to wage a legal struggle, and emphasised the significance to the international working class movement of the German Social Democratic Party gaining success in the elections”? Obviously this is to disparage and distort Engels. The actual situation is that in the twelve years since the death of Marx, whilst at the same time as completing Capital and other scientific works, he invested an enormous amount of energy in continuing to lead the working classes of various countries to carry out the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism; in the process of founding the Second International, he waged an uncompromising struggle against every form of opportunism, and particularly the right opportunism that advocated “peaceful transition”. As for the “instruction” on “legal struggle” and “emphasising” parliamentary “success in the elections”, this is only one form of the proletarian revolutionary struggle advocated by Engels, and its objective is not “peaceful evolution” but the destruction of the old state apparatus and the gaining of the final victory of the revolution. At this precise time, (after 1871 capitalism entered a so-called peaceful period), Engels led the working class and the communists to use this form of parliamentary “legal struggle” to expose the enemy, educate the people and prepare their strength. This was correct and also brought about great results. However, Engels never “emphasised” any “legal struggle” or “peaceful evolution” as the main method or means of struggle for the liberation of the working class, and his consistent emphasis was still on violent revolution. This is completely borne out in the writings and correspondence of Engels during the twelve years after the death of Marx. For example, on Dec 8, 1889, Engels wrote to Gerson Trier that “If the proletariat did not undertake violent revolution, then it would be impossible for it to win its own political rule, and that is the only door to the new society” (Selected Works of Marx and Engels Vol 4, 1995 ed., p. 685).
(Two) Mr Xie Tao distorts the quotation he has used from Engels to mean that he “abandoned” violent revolution and advocated “peaceful transition to socialism”, but he has cut off the beginning and the end of the quote and taken it out of context so that it is subjective conjecture. This passage of Engels’ is from Vol 3 of Capital, called “A Critique of the Draft Social Democratic Programme of 1891” (also known as the “Social Democratic Party Erfurt Program”) Part 2, “Political Demands”. In order to have a thorough understanding and grasp of Engels’ passage, we may as well complete this passage by including what Mr Xie Tao has left out, as follows:
“It is an obvious absurdity to wish ‘to transform all the instruments of labour into common property’ on the basis of this constitution and the system of small states sanctioned by it, on the basis of the ‘union’ between Prussia and Reuss-Greiz-Schleiz-Lobenstein, in which one has as many square miles as the other has square inches.
“To touch on that is dangerous, however. Nevertheless, somehow or other, the thing has to be attacked. How necessary this is shown precisely at the present time by opportunism, which is gaining ground in a large section of the Social-Democratic press. Fearing a renewal of the Anti-Socialist Law, or recalling all manner of over-hasty pronouncements made during the reign of that law, they now want the party to find the present legal order in Germany adequate for putting through all party demands by peaceful means. These are attempts to convince oneself and the party that ‘present-day society is developing towards socialism’ without asking oneself whether it does not thereby just as necessarily outgrow the old social order and whether it will not have to burst this old shell by force, as a crab breaks its shell, and also whether in Germany, in addition, it will not have to smash the fetters of the still semi-absolutist, and moreover indescribably confused political order. One can conceive that the old society may develop peacefully into the new one in countries where the representatives of the people concentrate all power in their hands, where, if one has the support of the majority of the people, one can do as one sees fit in a constitutional way: in democratic republics such as France and the U.S.A., in monarchies such as Britain, where the imminent abdication of the dynasty in return for financial compensation is discussed in the press daily and where this dynasty is powerless against the people. But in Germany where the government is almost omnipotent and the Reichstag and all other representative bodies have no real power, to advocate such a thing in Germany, when, moreover, there is no need to do so, means removing the fig-leaf from absolutism and becoming oneself a screen for its nakedness.”
In the section that follows this, Engels points out: “But the fact that in Germany it is not permitted to advance even a republican party programme openly, proves how totally mistaken is the belief that a republic, and not only a republic, but also communist society, can be established in a cosy, peaceful way.”
I believe that these passages of Engels’ certainly do not mean the “retention of the capitalist mode of production”, and that even less do they mean he has gone against the shared ideas he advocated with Marx about the universal law of the proletarian revolution smashing the old state machinery by going through a violent revolution and the consistent implementation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Nor can Mr Xie Tao be helped out by grasping the straw of the phrase that “the old society may develop peacefully into the new one… in democratic republics such as France and the U.S.A., in monarchies such as Britain”. This passage is just one way in which Engels engages in indirect refutation. I believe that this sentence of Engels is a kind of assumption, and its premise is “concentrate all power in their hands” and “the support of the majority of the people”. My understanding of this premise is firstly, the basic question of the revolution is that of political power; secondly, this political power can only be obtained through violent revolution; thirdly, it is impossible for “peaceful transition to socialism” in Germany which does not possess the conditions in the US and France, which are already “democratic republics”.
Then, can the “democratic republics” of the US and France undergo “peaceful transition to socialism” or not? They cannot either. We can find this answer in a letter by Engels. On the same day, June 29 1891, that he completed “A Critique of the Draft Social Democratic Programme of 1891”, he wrote to Kautsky (right) fiercely criticising the Draft. We can see from the letter that, owing to the restrictions of time, Engels has only responded roughly to some of the provisions. Engels said: “I mean at first to try rewriting the preamble in rather more succinct form but want of time prevented my doing so, besides which I thought it more important to point out the shortcomings, some avoidable, others not, of the political part, as this would provide me with an opportunity to lash out at the conciliatory opportunism of the Vorwärts and the clean-devout-joyous-free ‘ingrowing’ of the old canker ‘into socialist society’. I have since heard of your proposal that there should be a new preamble; so much the better.” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 38, p. 119; Vol 22 p. 698, footnote 230). According to the way it is put in this letter, and precisely this part, Engels was impelled to fiercely attack this promotion of the theory of “peaceful ‘transition’ to socialism”. This proves beyond doubt that Mr Xie Tao is deliberately distorting the ideology of Engels.
(Three) An additional point. About the content of the “Political demands” section of the article “A Critique of the Draft Social Democratic Programme of 1891”. Engels provided an exposition of three problems: (1) on republics; (2) national questions and questions of state structure; (3) the issue of local self-government. In relation to republics. Engels pointed out that the program does not dare demand the establishment of a democratic republic, that it fears the renewal of the “Anti-Socialist Law”. Therefore “It lacks precisely what should have been said” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 22 p. 272) and the servants of the German Social Democratic Party do not understand the great significance of the establishment of a democratic republic to the class struggle of the proletariat and to the struggle for obtaining socialism. According to them, under the conditions of the German monarchy the proletariat can achieve its own aims, but this is obviously a fantasy. Engels said: “If one thing is certain it is that our party and the working class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic” (ibid. p. 272). Engels believed that if the leaders of the German Social Democratic Party did not dare raise the demand for a republic, in an attempt to curry favour with the Junker landlord class, and did not even dare put in the wild fantasy of “republicanism” to their program under the conditions of Germany, but advocated “peaceful change” to socialism, then this is just deceptive talk. Only then does Engels raise the pointed criticism: “They strive hard to make the party believe…” Avoiding the basic demand for the dictatorship of the proletariat is another major flaw of the Draft Program. This shows that the German Party leaders only sought temporary successes and gave up the long-term interests of the proletariat. Engels severely criticised them, saying: “This forgetting of the great, the principal considerations for the momentary interests of the day, this struggling and striving for the success of the moment regardless of later consequences, this sacrifice of the future of the movement for its present, may be ‘honestly’ meant, but it is and remains opportunism, and ‘honest’ opportunism is perhaps the most dangerous of all!” (ibid. p. 274).
(Four) Another additional point. In the year before his death, on March 6, 1894, Engels wrote to Paul LaFargue (right), with this important question in mind: “From the point of view of the proletariat, the difference between the republic and the monarchy resides merely in that the republic is a ready made political form for the future implementation of proletarian political power” (Selected Works of Marx and Engels Vol 4, p. 734, 1995 ed.). See also Engels’ letter of the same year on January 25 to Borgius in which he earnestly warned him in relation to Marx’s “The 18th Brumaire” and his own “Anti-Duhring” and “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”, “Please do not weigh each word in the above too carefully, but keep the connection in mind” (Selected Works of Marx and Engels Vol 4, p. 734).
(Five) In “A Critique of the Draft Social Democratic Programme of 1891”, we can see that Engels’ thinking on violent revolution had not changed in the slightest. The situation at that time was as follows: With the deepening of the German domestic class struggle, and the development of contradictions within the ruling class, a majority in the German parliament overturned the 12 year old “Emergency Decree”. In the parliamentary elections of February 20, 1894 the Social Democratic Party won 35 seats. On March 20 Bismarck was voted out. His reactionary policy of high-handedly suppressing the labour movement was totally bankrupt. This was a tremendous victory for the heroic struggle, for more than 10 years, of the German working class under the leadership of Marx and Engels. After the repeal of the “Emergency Decree”, the ruling class implemented some improvements to the law as a concession to the working class so as to deceive the eyes and ears of the workers, to divide the army of the proletariat, and to shore up their own political status by means of easing class contradictions. In this situation, the German Party gave rise to two erroneous tendencies. One was the “Youth Guard” which, under the rhetoric of the ‘left’, advocated a semi-anarchistic strategic viewpoint of opposing parliamentary struggle and opposing the use of its legal status to carry out agitation and propaganda and to organise the work. The “Youth Guard” crudely distorted the strategic principles of Marxism, rejected any legal struggle and carried out anarchistic activities which risked being divorced from the masses and put forward nonsense about the principles of their activity being the same as Engels’. In relation to this, Engels severely condemned “this shameful behaviour” of the “Youth Guard”, pointing out that their theory was certainly not “Marxism”, and that their strategy was to undermine the entire strategic cause of the Party. Another erroneous tendency of the German Party, and its most dangerous and most serious tendency, was the rampant right opportunism of Vollmar and Auer. They thought that the abolition of the “Emergency Decree” is “genuine friendship towards the workers”. They advocate the Junker bourgeois government’s ability to act in accordance with the best interests of all the people, and that so long as socialism conducts education campaigns for more votes and more seats, then they can “peacefully” implement socialism. They assert that society’s future is the result of “consistently peaceful development”. Not only have these right opportunist views within the German Party not been responded to nor criticised, on the contrary, they even have the support of the leadership of the Party, and even W. Liebknecht in public discussion has often talked about peace. In order to guard the Marxist proletarian revolution and the revolutionary principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat, in order to support the revolutionary direction of the international workers movement, Engels waged a sharp struggle against the German Party’s inner-Party opportunism, and during 1891 launched three big “bombs” against Right opportunism: (1) In January, despite the obstruction of the leaders of the German Party, Engels published Marx’s “Critique of the Gotha program” that had lain buried for six years. This gave the whole party an understanding of Marx’s criticism throughout the ‘70s of the essence and significance of the theories of Lassalle and ensured knowledge of Marxist violent revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the basic theories and viewpoints of socialism and communism. (2) In March, Engels wrote the preface to “The Civil War in France”, summarising the lessons and experience of the Paris Commune, and once again expounded on the need for the proletariat to seize power through violence and destroy the old state apparatus, establish the revolutionary path of the dictatorship of the proletariat and profoundly criticised the opportunist viewpoint of the superstition of capitalist parliamentary democracy. In the preface, Engels emphasized: “Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesale terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” (3) In June, Engels wrote “A Critique of the Draft Social Democratic Programme of 1891”. From this political background, we can fully conclude that the so-called “peaceful transition to socialism” is a shameless distortion of Engels by old and new opportunism.
(Six) Listening to Lenin’s exposition on this question will also help us to distinguish between right and wrong. In Part 4 of Chapter One of “The State and Revolution” published by Lenin in 1918 (see p. 1 in Lenin's handwriting, right), entitled “The ‘Withering Away’ of the State and Violent Revolution”, he provided a penetrating elaboration on the question of “republics” in the Britain, the US and other countries. Lenin continued: “The words, ‘to smash the bureaucratic-military machine,’ briefly express the principal lesson of Marxism regarding the tasks of the proletariat during a revolution in relation to the state. And it is precisely this lesson that has been not only completely forgotten, but positively distorted by the prevailing, Kautskyite, ‘interpretation’ of Marxism! As for Marx’s reference to The Eighteenth Brumaire, we have quoted the corresponding passage in full above. It is interesting to note, in particular, two points in the above-quoted argument of Marx. First, he confines his conclusion to the continent. This was understandable in 1871, when England was still a model of a purely capitalist country, but without a militarist clique and, to a considerable degree, without a bureaucracy. Hence, Marx excluded England, where a revolution, even a people’s revolution, then seemed possible, and indeed was possible, without the preliminary condition of destroying the ‘ready-made state machinery’. Today, in 1917, in the epoch of the first great imperialist war, this qualification made by Marx is no longer valid. Both England and America, the biggest and the last representatives – in the whole world – of Anglo-Saxon ‘liberty’, in the sense that they had no militarist cliques and bureaucracy, have today completely sunk into the all-European filth, bloody morass of bureaucratic-military institutions which subordinate everything to themselves and trample everything underfoot. Today, in England and America, too, ‘the preliminary condition for every real people’s revolution’ is the smashing, the destruction of the ‘ready-made state machinery’ (perfected in those countries between 1914 and 1917, up to the ‘European’, general imperialist standard).” (State and Revolution, Chinese ed. p. 34-35)
If we study conscientiously and deeply understand the original works of Marx and Engels, and pay attention to their core ideology and “general connections”, we will conclude that class struggle, violent revolution and the proletarian dictatorship are all foundations of the complete theory of Marx and Engels. Thus, Marxism has long waged a struggle against every shade of opportunism on this matter of principle and has provided us with a thorough appreciation that the victory of Marxist theory has left the enemy with no choice but to disguise themselves as Marxists. However, these anti-Marxists, no matter how they try to disguise themselves, can never get away with it. Under the “sunlight” of the classic works of Marxism these anti-Marxist clowns fail one after another. Mr Xie Tao, who would like to follow in the negative historical footsteps of these characters, will probably also be unable to escape defeat of this kind.
(2) Mr Xie Tao also makes an “insinuation” about Engels’ “Introduction to The Class Struggles in France”. He says that this article by Engels is his “final revision and reconsideration of Marx’s entire theoretical system”, at the same time quoting several sections of speeches by Engels: “But we, too, have been shown to be wrong by history, which has revealed our point of view of that time to have been an illusion. It has done even more: it has not merely destroyed our error of that time, it had also completely transformed the conditions under which the proletariat has to fight. The mode of struggle of 1848 (Mr Xie Tao notes that this refers to the violent revolution spoken of in the Communist Manifesto) is today obsolete from every point of view, and this is a point which deserves closer examination on this occasion…. (History) has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe for the removal of capitalist production; … once and for all how impossible it was, in 1848, to win social reconstruction by a simple surprise attack…For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had essentially changed. Rebellion in the old style, the street fight with barricades, which up to 1848 gave everywhere the final decision, was to a considerable extent obsolete. If we say that the conditions for carrying out struggles between nations have already changed, then so have the conditions for carrying out the class struggle also, in the same way, changed. The era of carrying out sudden attacks via the conscious minority leading the unconscious majority in revolution has already passed. With this successful utilization of universal suffrage, an entirely new mode of proletarian struggle came into force, and this quickly developed further. It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organized, offer still further opportunities for the working class to fight these very state institutions. They took part in elections to individual diets, to municipal councils and to industrial courts; they contested every post against the bourgeoisie in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had its say. And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the workers' party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion… In the Latin countries, also, it is being more and more recognized that the old tactics must be revised. Everywhere [the unprepared onslaught has gone into the background, everywhere] the German example of utilizing the suffrage, of winning all posts accessible to us, has been imitated.” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 22, pp 595-7, 603, 607).
He thinks the phrase used by Engels, “we, too, have been shown to be wrong by history”, is pointing out that the violent revolution spoken of in the Communist Manifesto is also wrong. This is another example of a drowning man clutching at straws!
(One) We know that the 1848 revolution erupted just after the publication of the Communist Manifesto (see right). This revolution was the first great test of Marxism. Marx and Engels gave it their enthusiastic support and highly praised it for “causing the first major struggle between the two opposing classes of contemporary society.” After the defeat of this French revolution, Marx and Engels thoroughly summarised the experiences of this violent revolution, and published a series of works including the “Introduction” of which Mr Xie Tao speaks. In these works, Marx and Engels mercilessly counter-attacked the reactionary clique’s slanders, criticised the reformism of the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie, and emphatically expounded the theories of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Mr Xie Tao quotes this section from page 597 of Vol 22 of the Complete Works of Marx and Engels: “(History) has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe for the removal of capitalist production; … once and for all how impossible it was, in 1848, to win social reconstruction by a simple surprise attack…For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had essentially changed. Rebellion in the old style, the street fight with barricades, which up to 1848 gave everywhere the final decision, was to a considerable extent obsolete.” But this is incomplete. Before this, Engels said: “They appeared applicable, also, to the struggles of the proletariat for its emancipation; all the more applicable, since in 1848 there were few people who had any idea at all of the direction in which this emancipation was to be sought. The proletarian masses themselves, even in Paris, after the victory, were still absolutely in the dark as to the path to be taken. And yet the movement was there, instinctive, spontaneous, irrepressible. Was not this just the situation in which a revolution had to succeed, led certainly by a minority, but this time not in the interests of the minority, but in the real interests of the majority?” After the passage quoted by Mr Xie Tao, Engels added “It was believed that the militant proletariat had been finally buried with the Paris Commune. But, completely to the contrary, it dates its most powerful advance from the Commune and the Franco-German war” (ibid. p. 600).
Mr Xie Tao quotes p. 607 of Vol 22 of the Complete Works of Marx and Engels: “If we say that the conditions for carrying out struggles between nations have already changed, then so have the conditions for carrying out the class struggle also, in the same way, changed.” After this passage, Engels also says: “Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organization, the masses themselves must also be in it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are going in for [with body and soul]. The history of the last fifty years has taught us that.”
When we read the complete article, we can come to completely the opposite conclusion to that of Mr Xie Tao, exactly the same as that of Engels, erased by Mr Xie Tao, namely that “the militant proletariat… dates its most powerful advance from the Commune and the Franco-German war.”
If there is no understanding of the necessity for violent revolution there will be no understanding of “the direction” and “the path to be taken”, “in which this emancipation was to be sought”, and this “direction” and “path” – this is Engels’ real “final words”!
What also reveals a plot here is that, in order to achieve his mean goal of deceiving the people, Mr Xie Tao unexpectedly uses passages with different meanings from different pages, like putting together some hors d’oeuvres, and in this way making a new combination, completely tampering with the continuity and the intension of the original article. However, this is also good, bad things can also turn into good things. This performance of Mr Xie Tao can allow people to even better understand his deceitful tricks and countenance.
(Two) Mr Xie Tao is particularly interested in the remark by Engels that “we, too, have been shown to be wrong by history”, however, this remark in no way negates the 1848 revolution, even less does it negate the violent revolution of the proletariat, rather it was a new understanding and summary by Engels of the character of the revolution of this bourgeois democratic revolution. On this point, prior to the “we, too, have been shown to be wrong by history” comment he wrote, there is a large discussion: “When the February Revolution broke out, we all of us, as far as our conception of the conditions and the course of revolutionary movements was concerned, were under the spell of previous historical experience, namely, that of France. It was, indeed, the latter which had dominated the whole of European history since 1789, and from which now once again the signal had gone forth for general revolutionary change. It was therefore natural and unavoidable that our conceptions of the nature and the path of the "social" revolution proclaimed in Paris in February 1848, of the revolution of the proletariat, were strongly colored by memories of the models of 1789-1830. Moreover, when the Paris upheaval found its echo in the victorious insurrections in Vienna, Milan and Berlin; when the whole of Europe right up to the Russian frontier was swept into the movement; when in Paris the first great battle for power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was joined; when the very victory of their class so shook the bourgeoisie of all countries that they fled back into the arms of the monarchist-feudal reaction which had just been overthrown—for us under the circumstances of the time, there could be no doubt that the great decisive struggle had broken out, that it would have to be fought out in a single, long and changeful period of revolution, but that it could only end with the final victory of the proletariat.”
“After the defeats of 1849 we in no way shared the illusions of the vulgar democracy grouped around the would-be provisional governments in partibus. This vulgar democracy reckoned on a speedy and finally decisive victory of the "people" over the "usurpers"; we looked to a long struggle, after the removal of the "usurpers," between the antagonistic elements concealed within this "people" itself. Vulgar democracy expected a renewed outbreak from day to day; we declared as early as autumn 1850 that at least the first chapter of the revolutionary period was closed and that nothing further was to be expected until the outbreak of a new world crisis. For this reason we were excommunicated; as traitors to the revolution, by the very people who later, almost without exception, have made their peace with Bismarck—so far as Bismarck found them worth the trouble.” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 22, pp. 594-595)
My understanding of the core meaning of this passage by Engels is that, on the one hand, it affirmed the tremendous contribution and profound significance of the 1849 revolution, whilst on the other hand, it reconsidered this revolution as not preparing the proletariat for the seizure of political power and the eradication of the conditions of capitalism, and that at the same time, this was a quite optimistic estimation.
This theory of Engels was certainly not only put forward in the Introduction, it can also be seen in the preceding years 1890-1893, in the couple of “Introductions” that Engels wrote for the Communist Manifesto. In order to correctly understand this “shown to be wrong” phrase, we might as well review them. On May 1, 1890 Engels said in the Introduction to the German edition, “Thus, to a certain extent, the history of the Manifesto reflects the history of the modern working-class movement since 1848. At present, it is doubtless the most widely circulated, the most international product of all socialist literature, the common programme of many millions of workers of all countries from Siberia to California.” On February 10, 1892, in the Preface to the Polish edition, Engels said “The Revolution of 1848, which under the banner of the proletariat, after all, merely let the proletarian fighters do the work of the bourgeoisie, also secured the independence of Italy, Germany and Hungary…” On February 1, 1893, in the Preface to the Italian edition, Engels said “…as Karl Marx used to say, because the men who suppressed the Revolution of 1848 were, nevertheless, its testamentary executors in spite of themselves. Everywhere that revolution was the work of the working class; it was the latter that built the barricades and paid with its lifeblood. Only the Paris workers, in overthrowing the government, had the very definite intention of overthrowing the bourgeois regime. But conscious though they were of the fatal antagonism existing between their own class and the bourgeoisie, still, neither the economic progress of the country nor the intellectual development of the mass of French workers had as yet reached the stage which would have made a social reconstruction possible. In the final analysis, therefore, the fruits of the revolution were reaped by the capitalist class. In the other countries, in Italy, in Germany, in Austria, the workers, from the very outset, did nothing but raise the bourgeoisie to power. But in any country the rule of the bourgeoisie is impossible without national independence Therefore, the Revolution of 1848 had to bring in its train the unity and autonomy of the nations that had lacked them up to then: Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland will follow in turn. Thus, if the Revolution of 1848 was not a socialist revolution, it paved the way, prepared the ground for the latter. Through the impetus given to large-scaled industry in all countries, the bourgeois regime during the last forty-five years has everywhere created a numerous, concentrated and powerful proletariat. It has thus raised, to use the language of the Manifesto, its own grave-diggers… Just imagine joint international action by the Italian, Hungarian, German, Polish and Russian workers under the political conditions preceding 1848! The battles fought in 1848 were thus not fought in vain. Nor have the forty-five years separating us from that revolutionary epoch passed to no purpose. The fruits are ripening, and all I wish is that the publication of this Italian translation may augur as well for the victory of the Italian proletariat as the publication of the original did for the international revolution.”
I have quoted from the Prefaces to the different language editions of the Manifesto written by Engels in his later years to show that the core thought on the violent revolution, and the basic principles established in the Communist Manifesto did not undergo any change. Mr Xie Tao’s claim that these Prefaces by Engels “were a final revision of the complete theory of Marxism” etc, is just complete rubbish!
(Three) From Engels’ letter to Richard Fischer (March 8, 1895) we can understand the background and the situation of the struggle at the time this introduction was written. We may be able to deepen our understanding of the essence of the spirit of this introduction through this letter.
This introduction was written between February 14 1895 and March 6 1895. It was only two days after completing this draft, on March 8, 1895, that Engels wrote the letter to Richard Fischer. This letter is basically clear on the differences between certain leaders of the German Party and the intentions behind the preface written by Engels.
When this introduction was published, the executive committee of the German Social Democratic Party firmly requested that Engels water down the tone of excessive revolution, to make it more discrete; the reason advanced by Fischer at that time: the Imperial Congress was discussing the prevention of the draft of the political reform, and the internal situation was very tense. At the insistence of the Executive Committee, Engels had to make several deletions from the Introduction and change some of its formulations, and in his view the Introduction “suffered some injury” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol. 38, p. 766, note 508). In relation to this, Engels wrote in the letter: “I’ve considered your concerns as far as possible, and although I completely understand, nevertheless I still cannot understand – until at least half-way through your discussion – where your concerns come from. However, I cannot tolerate you swearing loyalty to absolute observance of the law, even to those laws that have already been illegally drawn up, in short, however, in the end it’s the policy of the right side of the face having been slapped, then delivering one to the left side. (I’m not sure I’ve got that last bit right – Trans.) That’s good, in Vorwarts sometimes people who in the past enthusiastically propagated revolution deny it, and moreover will possibly propagate it again in the future. But I don’t believe we can imitate this matter. I believe that there is definitely no advantage if you propagate absolute renunciation of violent behaviour. No-one would believe this, nor is there any political party in any nation that has gone this far, to renounce the right to take up arms against illegal actions. I must also conclude, that I am definitely unable to ruin my reputation in front of the foreign readers – the French, English, Swiss, Austrian, Italians and so on – of my writings. Therefore, I accept your suggestions for revision with the exception of the following points: 1, on p. 9 of the galley proofs where it is currently written in relation to the populace: ‘They should understand what the actions that they take are.’ (In Engels’ draft manuscript this section is written like this: “Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organisation, the masses themselves must also be in on it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are fighting for, body and soul.” – see The Complete Works of Marx and Engels Vol. 22 p. 607, editor’s note). 2, Completely erase the words about the attack. (The Executive Committee members suggested altering the sentence as follows: “…everywhere the unprepared launching of an attack has been relegated to the background.” –see The Complete Works of Marx and Engels Vol. 22 p. 607, editor’s note). Their suggestion (the Executive Committee members suggested altering the sentence as follows: “…everywhere the call for the unprepared launching of an attack has been relegated to the background.” - see The Complete Works of Marx and Engels Vol. 22 p. 607, editor’s note) is in fact mistaken. The French, the Italians and others utilise the call for an attack, only not very earnestly, that’s all. 3, On p. 10 of the galley proofs: ‘The Social Democratic Party’s change, it’s destiny now decided by…’ you want to remove the word “now”, and this is also a tactic to make a temporary change permanent and to make a relative significance into an absolute significance. I cannot do this, in order to spare myself eternal humiliation. Therefore I refuse to write anything to the contrary….” (The Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 39, p. 401).
From this letter, we can see how firm Engels was on the principle of violent revolution.
(Four) Speaking nonsense, Mr Xie Tao declares: “The Third Volume of Capital has overthrown the First Volume”, Marx and Engels’ summary of the lessons of revolutionary experience, acknowledgement of the aftermath of the mistakes of 1848, retention of the capitalist mode of production, and their peaceful transition to capitalism really is the greatest achievement of Capital, is the real subject of Marxism, and really is legitimate Marxism. This legitimacy is called democratic socialism.”
From the facts and the analysis above, we see that the ideology of “force as the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one” runs through from Vol 1 of Capital to Vol 4. Xie Tao’s words are absolutely groundless nonsense!
Tampering with, fabricating, twisting and revising Marxist theory is the age-old method of old and new opportunism. In The State and Revolution, Lenin (right) exposed opportunism when it despicably distorted Engels on “the ‘withering away’ of the State” and “violent revolution”, and indignantly denounced them: “Engel's words regarding the ‘withering away’ of the state are so widely known, they are often quoted, and so clearly reveal the essence of the customary adaptation of Marxism to opportunism…” Lenin pointed out: “It is safe to say that of this argument of Engels', which is so remarkably rich in ideas, only one point has become an integral part of socialist thought among modern socialist parties, namely, that according to Marx that state ‘withers away’ — as distinct from the anarchist doctrine of the ‘abolition’ of the state. To prune Marxism to such an extent means reducing it to opportunism, for this ‘interpretation’ only leaves a vague notion of a slow, even, gradual change, of absence of leaps and storms, of absence of revolution. The current, widespread, popular, if one may say so, conception of the ‘withering away’ of the state undoubtedly means obscuring, if not repudiating, revolution.” “Such an ‘interpretation’, however, is the crudest distortion of Marxism, advantageous only to the bourgeoisie. In point of theory, it is based on disregard for the most important circumstances and considerations indicated in, say, Engels' ‘summary’ argument we have just quoted in full.” “How can this panegyric on violent revolution, which Engels insistently brought to the attention of the German Social-Democrats between 1878 and 1894, i.e., right up to the time of his death, be combined with the theory of the ‘withering away’ of the state to form a single theory?” (Lenin, The State and Revolution, pp. 15-16, 19, 53.)
(3) At the same time as he twists and slanders Engels, Mr Xie Tao dissolutely twists and slanders the ideals of communism. Talking nonsense, he says “In his later years, Engels gave up the so-called ‘highest ideals’ of communism”, “had no great goal of ‘communism’ whatever, this was something put forward by the founders of Marxism in their early years but abandoned in their later years.”. He said: “Engels said ‘Why, we have no final goal. We are evolutionaries, we have no intention of dictating definitive laws to mankind. Prejudices instead of detailed organisation of the society of the future? You will find no trace of that amongst us.’” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels Vol 22, pp. 628-629). Talking rubbish, he says this is Engels denying the design for “the pattern of a future society”, namely communism, written when he was young in “Principles of Communism”. Mr Xie Tao quotes these words of Engels, words spoken in an interview with a reporter from the French newspaper Le Figaro, when the German Social Democratic Party was taking part in the elections. From this discussion between Engels and the reporter, I cannot see any “abandonment” of the ideals of communism by Engels. We can look at this from three different sides. (1) These sentences of Engels are passages in a probing by Engels and the reporter of questions related to the probability of success by members of the German Social Democratic Party’s participation in the parliamentary elections, and in the preface to this discussion and in other questions use three isolated symbols to force them apart. The reporter asked: "Will the socialist party have candidates in all the constituencies?" Engels: "Yes, we shall have candidates in all 400 constituencies. It is important to us that we should muster our forces.” The reporter asked: "And what is your final goal as German socialists?" Thereupon, Engels spoke those words. In this way, the two things link up, and it’s very obvious, no matter whether asking a question or answering, it is the “final goal” of this election that is being discussed, and not the so-called “ultimate” goal of “abandoning communism” by Engels as understood by Mr Xie Tao. (2) In addition, following straight on from this writing to which Mr Xie Tao directs us, Engels says: “We shall be satisfied when we have placed the means of production in the hands of the community, and we fully realise that this is quite impossible with the present monarchist and federalist government." Straight after Engels finished his explanation, the reporter continued: “I permit myself to observe that the day when the German socialists will be in a position to put their theories into practice still seems a long way off to me.” This was refuted by Engels: “‘Not as far as you think,’ replied Mr. Engels. ‘For me the time is approaching when our party will be called upon to take over the government. Towards the end of the century you may perhaps see this event come about.’” Here, the meaning of Engels’ two sentences “when we have placed the means of production in the hands of the community” and “when our party will be called upon to take over the government” is very clear, namely, to change the system of private ownership to public ownership, and change the state of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie into the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat; however, these kinds of changes under the conditions of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie “are impossible”. Public ownership is one of the main characteristics of socialism, and socialism is recognised as the initial stage of communism. In these two sentences Engels had already cleverly told the reporter interviewing him of the ultimate goal of the proletarian revolution and the realisation of communism. (3) There is also one kind of situation here that needs analysis, namely, the question of the degree of accuracy of the notes taken by the reporter from Le Figaro. In the seven days following this “discussion” (on May 11, 1893) and the four days after its publication in Le Figaro (May 13, 1893), that is, May 17, 1893, in “A Letter to Friedrich Adolphus Sorge” talking about the German parliamentary elections and the interview published in Le Figaro, Engels said “You can see my views in relation to the German situation from the “Interview” enclosed with this letter. Just like any interview, some methods of expression get distorted, and the general narrative has some flaws, but the general idea is correctly conveyed.” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels, Vol 39, p. 71 and Vol 22 p. 771 note 530). Said like this, might not the reported words of Engels that “we have no ultimate goal” be just such a “distortion”? Should we not just take the “general idea” of Engels’ interview alone as being correct? I believe we should.
In addition to distorting these quotes by Engels, Mr Xie Tao also borrows a few words from the old signboard of revisionism. For example, he said: Brezhnev once said to his own younger brother “Any communism is just empty talk for the masses.” Mr Xie Tao also said that the ultimate goal of communism has “evolved” from the idea of the Christian heaven, and is its “modern version”, “communism has become the banner of utopianism”. “When Bernstein advocated making solid improvements to society, seeking practical improvements in the welfare of the workers and when he proposed that ‘the ultimate goal is not worth mentioning, the movement is everything’, he definitely became the enemy of Lenin who held high the banner of communism.” He attacks and slanders the socialist system as “comforting the people by using the happy lifestyle of a future communist paradise and calling on them to endure hunger, poverty and misery, a fantasy of socialism used to deceive the people. This should all stop.”
Is it communism that “fools the people” or is it the trumpeting of democratic socialism by Mr Xie Tao that “fools the people”? As we often say, one speaks according to one’s social class! Just like Jiao Da of the Jia household in Hong Lou Meng (A Dream of Red Mansions is a classic Chinese novel and Jiao Da was a servant who fell in love with one of the ‘ladies’ of the household – Trans.) who could not love Miss Lin, and nor could she him, neither can the Chinese working class and labouring people love that democratic socialism of his, and by the same token, neither can the capitalist class and imperialism love socialism.
As for Mr Xie Tao wanting socialism to “stop”, this is however just wanting capitalism to “take the stage”, that’s all. Whether or not capitalism can “take” the “stage” depends on the situation of the struggle between two social classes. However, there is one point that I firmly believe, that even if the bourgeoisie prevails for a while in our country it won’t last long, and that no matter how much people like Xie Tao distort and slander the Marxist ideology of violent revolution, or how deeply it takes roots in people’s minds, if this capitalist class of yours really does take the “stage”, then it will never silence the principles of the Paris Commune nor will the iron fist of the proletarian revolution turn to vegetarianism! Because wherever there is oppression, wherever there is exploitation, there will be struggle. It was that way in the past, it’s like that now, and it will remain so in the future.
8. Distorting the New Economic Policy and Attacking Leninism
At the same time as tampering with the basic theories of Marx and Engels, Mr Xie Tao aims the spearhead of his attack at Lenin and Leninism.
(1) He attacked Lenin for “using changes to the relations of production as equal to the method of nationalization of the productive forces in building socialism”, for this was “a basic error of deviation from Marxism”. The he carried on his distortion of Lenin with a change of tone, saying “Lenin recognized this mistake in his old age and proposed the New Economic Policy, saying ‘Inasmuch as we are as yet unable to pass directly from small production to socialism, some capitalism is inevitable as the elemental product of small production and exchange; so that we must utilise capitalism (particularly by directing it into the channels of state capitalism) as the intermediary link between small production and socialism, as a means, a path, and a method of increasing the productive forces.’ (“The Tax in Kind”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 32, p. 342)”
On the question of Lenin implementing a New Economic Policy in Russia, this has been distorted by the “masters” of certain reforms in our country who attempt to flaunt this banner to lead China along the capitalist road. It has to be said that the proposals and debates surrounding this question are already very old. It is no great interest for Mr Xie Tao to restart this in his Preface.
Everyone knows that shortly after the October Revolution, Lenin placed the task of organizing the socialist economy on the agenda, pointing out “The Bolsheviks have already convinced Russia, have already taken Russia out of the hands of the wealthy, and must now learn how to administer Russia”.(“The Proletarian revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 28 p.234). Thus, beginning from the Spring of 1918, on the basis of an analysis of the economic characteristics of the transition period in Russia, Lenin determined the interim plan for the construction of socialism. However, owing to foreign armed intervention and the domestic counter-revolutionary rebellion, the plan could not be implemented in a timely manner. In 1921, the Soviet state ended the civil war and Lenin once more raised the task of restoring the national economy and building socialism. Owing to the destruction of four years of imperialist war and three years of civil war, in addition to severe drought and other natural disasters, there was an extreme shortage of food and fuel, a number of factories had to shut down. In the light of these circumstances, the 10th Congress of the Soviet Party decided to move from a system of collecting surplus grain to a tax in kind. This was the first important policy of the New Economic Policy. Its main purpose was to enable the rapid restoration of agriculture and to establish the worker-peasant alliance on a new basis and get the wheels of the whole socialist economy moving even better.
In an extract from Lenin’s “On the Tax in Kind” referred to by Mr Xie Tao, Lenin said: “The most urgent thing at the present time is to take measures that will immediately increase the productive forces of peasant farming” (“The Tax in Kind”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 32, p. 331). This was in order to restore industry on this foundation and to create the necessary material conditions for the construction of socialism.
Another important measure of the New Economic Policy was the implementation of state capitalism. Implementing the food tax (tax in kind) and allowing farmers to freely dispose of their surplus agricultural products requires some room for freedom of trade. Lenin believed that allowing free trade would definitely give rise to the development of private capitalism, and that this type of situation under the condition of the existence of vast numbers of small farmers was inevitable, and that the Party must conscientiously guide this development along the path of state capitalism. Lenin believed that in the struggle between socialism and capitalism over “who wins and who loses” in the transitional period, state capitalism enters the doorstep of socialism and that this is a strength that the proletarian state can use. State capitalism was capable of limiting capitalism in the economy, was a type of capitalism that was capable of having its limits determined, its purpose was not to develop capitalism but to use capitalism in the service of socialism, on the political level it could divide the bourgeoisie, and at the same time it could help the state carry out struggle against the spontaneous trend towards small scale production and anarchy, and through state capitalism, gradually lead small scale peasant production towards collectivization. In this sense, it really is a type of tool by which the proletariat wages class struggle, so state capitalism was conceived of by Lenin as a method and supplementary means for the transition to socialism under Russian conditions. Later, owing to the new circumstance of the emergence of the struggle over “who wins, who loses” and to the beginnings of rapid large-scale socialist industrial development, state capitalism no longer had the significance it was originally estimated to have.
In the course of the transition to the new economy put forward by Lenin, strong resistance from the bourgeoisie was encountered and opportunists within the Party also attacked Lenin in a vain attempt, in the Party’s policy of “concessions”, to turn the socialist state into a capitalist state. Therefore, Lenin said: On the economic front, the struggle over the problem of who will defeat who will be fiercer than the struggle with Kolchak and Denikin, because “It was, of course, much easier to solve war problems than those that confront us now” (“The New Economic Policy and the Tasks of the Political Education Departments”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 33, p. 48). In the Summer of 1921 the Constitutional Democratic Party and the Octobrists published in Prague “Changing Landmarks”, from which they got the name “Changing Landmarks faction” and attempted to prove that in its turn to the New Economic Policy, the Communist Party was giving up on the construction of socialism and was turning to the bourgeois system. The “Changing Landmarks faction” wrongly estimated the situation, they appealed to the bourgeois intellectuals cooperating with the Soviet political power to urge this kind of transformation on the Soviets. The “Changing Landmarks faction” brazenly proposed the abolition of the nationalisation of banks and industry, the abolition of the monopoly on foreign trade and demanded the restoration of the system of private ownership of land. The united with the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries and wantonly engaged in counter-revolutionary activities to subvert Soviet political power. In the course of just one year of fierce struggle, the New Economic Policy completed its historic mission. Convening the 11th Party Congress in March 1922, Lenin drew an extremely important conclusion: The early period of the New Economic Policy which allowed certain degree of a capitalist component now closing, the task now was the redistribution of the strength for a step in the direction of an attack on private economic capital. At the Congress Lenin said: “For a year we have been retreating. On behalf of the Party we must now call a halt. The purpose pursued by the retreat has been achieved…We now have a different objective, that of regrouping our forces” (“Political Report of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.)”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 33 p.246). Lenin also pointed out at the Congress through the resolution on the report he wrote: “The Party believes it must make concessions towards private capitalism, and has completed each measure stipulated over the past year; on the basis of this point, the Congress has recognised that the retreat has ended and believes the tasks before the Party is to renew the distribution of the Party’s forces in order to completely guarantee the practical implementation of the policies adopted by the Party” (History of the Soviet Socialist Period, Sanlian Bookshop, 1956 ed., p. 511).
This is the long and the short of the historical background to Lenin’s new Economic Policy. From this we can get an in-depth appreciation of how to put into practice the task of building socialism, which was, as far as the newly victorious Russia goes, a completely new experience. On the basis of the fundamental tenets put forward by Marx and Engels, Lenin creatively developed Marxism by integrating it with the specific conditions of Russia, formulated the correct line and policies on how to make the transition from capitalism to socialism following the seizure of power by the proletariat, how to plan and take measures that conformed to the construction and development of socialism, how under specific conditions to work out the necessary strategic retreat to the advantage of the revolutionary cause; and also, which has been stressed repeatedly in many works by Lenin, and particularly in those later works where it was thoroughly explained, how to change over to the strategic offensive at a suitable opportunity. Lenin included amongst the basic elements for the construction of socialism: implementing socialist public ownership and industrialisation; implementing the transformation of agricultural cooperatives according to the principles of socialist public ownership; implementing the socialist distribution system; strengthening the building of political power, the building of the party, and ideological building and cultural revolution etc.
Where, from so many historical materials and from Lenin’s series of expositions on the New Economic Policy, are there the so-called “mistakes” Mr Xie Tao says Lenin recognised in his later years? And where in fact have communists since Lenin “departed from Marxism”? If we say these things, then it is revisionism post-Bernstein! It is the likes of Krushchov and Gorbachev! It is the false Marxism of those Party members hanging up the signboard of new liberalism and trumpeting democratic socialism, of fake Party members! It is revisionism! It is Mr Xie Tao’s kind of people with the surnames “Private” and “Capital”, a faction backed by the elite!
(2) In his attacks on Lenin and Leninism, Mr Xie Tao’s writings also made an issue of the changing of the name of the Russian Party. He raised as an example something that caused people to not know whether to laugh or cry. He said: “In Marx and Engels’ time, the political party of the working class was called the ‘Social Democratic Party’, so democratic socialism is ‘orthodox Marxism’!” However, Lenin “in 1918 changed the name Russian Social Democratic Party to Communist Party”, and this was not correct Marxism but “doing something unorthodox”! I had never imagined that Mr Xie Tao, having engaged in high academic education and social sciences research work, would unexpectedly “ignore” the basic elements of the history of the international communist movement!
What was the nature of the Social Democratic Party of Marx and Engels’ time? It is written in the history of the international communist movement: the Social Democratic Party first appeared in France in the 1840s. It was a section of the petty-bourgeois republicans with a socialist colouring. In 1869, the German working class established the German Social Democratic Party by which name the first batch of workers parties in various European countries subsequently became generally known. In some countries, they were also known as the Labor Party or the Socialist Party. In their early stages they spread Marxism and united the working class and played an active role in promoting the development of the labour movement. It should be noted that the first batch of socialist political parties established in Europe and the US in the 1870s-1880s were not at that time thorough-going Marxist political parties, but were subject to the influence of varying degrees of opportunism, and their guiding principles lacked explicitly revolutionary demands, their ties with the labour movement were not strong, the party foundations were weak, and the majority had not clearly drawn a line of demarcation between themselves and the various bourgeois and petty-bourgeois schools of socialism. They also were more in the nature of propaganda associations and were in the development stage of becoming socialist political parties. Therefore, Marx and Engels gave strong assistance to the socialist parties of various countries to help them change into genuine revolutionary parties of the working class. Meanwhile Marx and Engels waged unremitting struggles against various schools of opportunism. In 1889, six years after the death of Marx, the Social Democratic parties of various countries established the Second International under the direction of Engels. In the last six years of his life, Engels waged an unyielding struggle against “left” and right opportunism to safeguard the proletarian revolutionary nature of these political parties. In the early part of the 20th Century, there was rapid growth of opportunism inside the Social Democratic parties of various countries. Apart from the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik) under Lenin’s leadership and the Spartacist faction of the German Social Democratic Party, the majority of these parties degenerated into bourgeois reformist parties. During the First World War, they adopted the standpoint of social chauvinism, supporting their own bourgeois governments in the imperialist war and allowed the Second International to become bankrupt. After the October Revolution in Russia, they came out in opposition to the October Revolution and the proletarian dictatorship. Against this background, and because the name of the Social Democratic Party was not able to fully express the final goal of the Party, so, in line with Lenin’s proposal about “Our Party must be like the way that Marx and Engels professed it to be, and called the Communist Party” (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol 3, p. 62), the Russian Social Democratic Party at the March 1918 Seventh Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik) made the decision to change it name to the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). Since then, the Marxist political parties of various countries no longer use the name Social Democratic Party.
In the period between the two World Wars, the Social Democratic Parties resumed contacts through the Berne International, the Vienna International and the International of Socialist Workers Parties etc. In 1951, the Socialist International was re-established in Frankfurt, Germany. In addition to the older parties, it also included several newly emerging parties in the nature of Social Democratic Parties from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their basic position was democratic socialism.
In relation to the change in the name of the Party, Lenin explained it this way in The State and Revolution:
“Engels came to express his views on this subject when establishing that the term "Social-Democrat" was scientifically wrong.
“In a preface to an edition of his articles of the seventies on various subjects, mostly on “international” questions (Internationales aus dem Volkstaat), dated January 3, 1894, i.e., written a year and a half before his death, Engels wrote that in all his articles he used the word “Communist”, and not "Social-Democrat", because at that time the Proudhonists in France and the Lassalleans in Germany called themselves Social-Democrats.
"... For Marx and myself," continued Engels, "it was therefore absolutely impossible to use such a loose term to characterize our special point of view. Today things are different, and the word ["Social-Democrat"] may perhaps pass muster [mag passieren], inexact [unpassend, unsuitable] though it still is for a party whose economic programme is not merely socialist in general, but downright communist, and whose ultimate political aim is to overcome the whole state and, consequently, democracy as well. The names of real political parties, however, are never wholly appropriate; the party develops while the name stays."
“The dialectician Engels remained true to dialectics to the end of his days. Marx and I, he said, had a splendid, scientifically exact name for the party, but there was no real party, i.e., no mass proletarian party. Now (at the end of the 19th century) there was a real party, but its name was scientifically wrong. Never mind, it would "pass muster", so long as the party developed, so long as the scientific in accuracy of the name was not hidden from it and did not hinder its development on the right direction!
“Perhaps some wit would console us Bolsheviks in the manner of Engels: we have a real party, it is developing splendidly; even such a meaningless and ugly term as “Bolshevik” will "pass muster", although it expresses nothing whatever but the purely accidental fact that at the Brussels-London Congress of 1903 we were in the majority. Perhaps now that the persecution of our Party by republicans and “revolutionary” petty-bourgeois democrats in July and August has earned the name “Bolshevik” such universal respect, now that, in addition, this persecution marks the tremendous historical progress our Party has made in its real development--perhaps now even I might hesitate to insist on the suggestion I made in April to change the name of our Party. Perhaps I would propose a “compromise” to my comrades, namely, to call ourselves the Communist Party, but to retain the word “Bolshevik” in brackets.
“But the question of the name of the Party is incomparably less important than the question of the attitude of the revolutionary proletariat to the state” (Lenin, State and Revolution, pp 71-72 Chinese ed.).
From the above discussion by Engels and Lenin on the formation, development and evolution of the proletarian political party, we can see that Mr Xie Tao has been criticised by Engels and Lenin in relation to the transformation of the proletarian party into a reformist party of democratic socialism, and for writing off the differences between the Marxist political party and bourgeois and petty-bourgeois opportunism, and then for seeking for the basis of their democratic socialism in theory and Party history. This is laughable and, naturally, is also futile.
(3) Mr Xie Tao also slanderously asserts that “Leninism is the inheritor and developer of Blanquism”.
On this matter, Mr Xie Tao is certainly not being original, for the “first wind” of this was led at an early stage by the founder of revisionism, Bernstein (right). Of course this was the despicable “wind” of revisionism. In The State and Revolution, Lenin talked about this when criticising Kautsky: “Bernstein, in his Premises of Socialism, of Herostratean fame, accuses Marxism of “Blanquism” (an accusation since repeated thousands of times by the opportunists and liberal bourgeoisie in Russia against the revolutionary Marxists, the Bolsheviks). In this connection Bernstein dwells particularly on Marx's The Civil War in France, and tries, quite unsuccessfully, as we have seen, to identify Marx's views on the lessons of the Commune with those of Proudhon. Bernstein pays particular attention to the conclusion which Marx emphasized in his 1872 preface to the Communist Manifesto, namely, that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes". This statement “pleased” Bernstein so much that he used it no less than three times in his book, interpreting it in the most distorted, opportunist way. As we have seen, Marx meant that the working-class must smash, break, shatter (sprengung, explosion--the expression used by Engels) the whole state machine. But according to Bernstein it would appear as though Marx in these words warned the working class against excessive revolutionary zeal when seizing power. A cruder more hideous distortion of Marx's idea cannot be imagined” (State and Revolution, pp94-5).
Xie Tao is the same as Bernstein, he does not have the qualifications to discuss Blanquism, for although Blanquism is utopian communism and revolutionary adventurism they (the Blanquists) had not yet arrived at Marxism, they were not Marxists, but still they something of the revolutionary spirit and revolutionary mettle, but Xie Tao? He does not even have a bit of it! All he has is betrayal and treachery!
Attacking the leaders of the proletarian revolution is determined by the natural disposition of old and new revisionism. This natural disposition is in the class nature of the bourgeoisie. Isn’t the behaviour of Mr Xie Tao also determined by this class nature? He must be honest with himself about this.