Better to have loved and lost than—oh, fuck it.
— Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (via mytheatreofcruelty)
Personally, I find the deabtes over China’s political and economic character a little befuddling. Top party leaders here take the official view that the “primary stage of socialism” looks a lot like capitalism anyway. The main innovation of the CCP is the way in which it has maintained political hegemony while largely rejecting traditional lines between the capitalist and socialist modes of production. In the modern day “state capitalist” and “state socialist” are both probably equally apt—and equally inapt—monikers to describe China’s experiment. While Hal Draper, denounced by the author of this article as a bogus theoretician, might counter that China’s state socialist/capitalist project is not one from below, the people I’ve talked to here have a default support for the current regime so long as it continues to deliver the goods on the ground. And no wonder:
"…the average life expectancy in China rose from 35 years in 1949 to 63 years by Mao’s death in 1976."
“China’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 1960, after the GLF, was $68.371 billion. In 2009, China’s GDP sits just under $5 trillion, making it the second largest economy in the world. In other words, the modern Chinese economy is about 73 times the size of its economy following the Great Leap Forward, which was previously the largest socialist economic overhaul in Chinese history.”
“In addition to achieving de facto full employment, ‘Urban wages have climbed significantly, by 18 percent between 2007 and 2008,’ representing serious material gains for the Chinese working class.’”
“On health care, Austin Ramzy of TIME Magazine reported in April 2009 that ‘China is laying out plans to dramatically reform its health care system by expanding coverage for hundreds of millions of farmers, migrant workers and city residents.’ These plans consist of spending ‘$125 billion over the next three years building thousands of clinics and hospitals and expanding basic health care coverage to 90% of the population.’”
"…the Draft Labor Contract Law, which “required employers to contribute to their employees’ social security accounts and set wage standards for workers on probation and overtime,” was enacted in January 2008.”
"Beijing’s regional government raised the minimum wage twice in six months, including a 21% increase in late 2010. In April of this year, the CCP announced annualized 15% wage increases with ‘promises to double workers’ wages during the 12th five-year plan that lasts from 2011 to 2015.’"
And on it goes. While it’s easy to hit back at such arguments by focusing on the negative aspects of China’s development—massive environmental devastation, continued labor unrest, persistent inequities along gender and sexual lines, and rampant corruption, to say nothing of the downplayed human toll of the Great Leap Forward and Deng Xiaoping’s role in brutally and bloodily suppressing worker and student protests in Tiananmen in 1989—that is far from all China has achieved in recent years. In many respects, the nation has made real material progress for millions of its citizens. No wonder Pew found in 2008 that “the Chinese people express extraordinary levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation’s economy. With more than eight-in-ten having a positive view of both, China ranks number one among 24 countries on both measures in the 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project.” These successes, and not just China’s well-rehearsed shortcomings, need to be studied too.