The Beijing Olympics have raised a lot of questions in the minds of people about Chinese socialism. In the lead up to the Olympics, the issue of Tibet was pushed hard by the bourgeois media. Now a lot of people are saying that China has given up its socialist ideals and is a thoroughly capitalist country, coming to terms with Western ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ (read: the Free Market). Thats what the imperialists and their mouth-pieces say, and it really isn’t new. That’s what the Trotskyists and many ‘Maoists’ have long argued as well.
Let me say clearly that I think China is a socialist country. I don’t think it is perfect, but I don’t think some idealistic and utopian conception of socialism is very healthy, either. I think there are real contradictions in Chinese society due to the Market Reforms of the 1980s. These contradictions, in one way or another, go back to before the Cultural Revolution, when Mao started talking about two lines, and two roads.
In “On Krushchev’s Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons for the World” Mao says the following.
Socialist society covers a very long historical period. Classes and class struggle continue to exist in this society, and the struggle still goes on between the road of socialism and the road of capitalism. The socialist revolution on the economic front (in the ownership of the means of production) is insufficient by itself and cannot be consolidated. There must also be a thorough socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts.
I would encourage people to closely study this important article.
What Mao is describing is, of course, still happening in China, and it is becoming accute. In my opinion, we need to look at revisionism and capitalist restoration dialectically. Part of dialectical materialism is an understanding that change occurs as a process including quantitative accumulation followed by a qualitative leap.
Stalin puts it this way in “Dialectical and Historical Materialism“:
Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics does not regard the process of development as a simple process of growth, where quantitative changes do not lead to qualitative changes, but as a development which passes from insignificant and imperceptible quantitative changes to open’ fundamental changes’ to qualitative changes; a development in which the qualitative changes occur not gradually, but rapidly and abruptly, taking the form of a leap from one state to another; they occur not accidentally but as the natural result of an accumulation of imperceptible and gradual quantitative changes.
The dialectical method therefore holds that the process of development should be understood not as movement in a circle, not as a simple repetition of what has already occurred, but as an onward and upward movement, as a transition from an old qualitative state to a new qualitative state, as a development from the simple to the complex, from the lower to the higher:
It is clear that there is a lot of metaphysical thinking going on in relation to this question of capitalist restoration in China. I would argue that the Chinese experience of the Market Reform period includes such a quantitative accumulation on the part of revisionism, that is, on the capitalist road, but the qualitative leap (something like Gorbachevism) has not happened. Furthermore, the Chinese CP learned well from the experiences of the revisionist degeneration and capitalist restoration of the USSR and are cautious about all of this. For more on the lessons of this process in the USSR, I would suggest people read the 1999 declaration of the International Communist Seminar. The 1999 declaration makes it clear that capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union was a process initiated by Krushchevand completed by Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Furthermore, it is clear that two line struggle is still taking place in China, and is sharpening.
This is exactly what Lenin was talking about when he described the political economy of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. “This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism—or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble.” That is what socialism is, and China is dealing with all of this in a hostile, imperialist world, where socialists took heavy set-backs and real defeats.
Finally, I would like to suggest a good article:
Friedrich Engels and scientific socialism in contemporary China by Peter Franssen
I would also encourage people to examine the articles on Socialist political economy in my Marxist-Leninist study guide.