There is some interesting information on China in an article in today's New York Times. It concerns economic growth and satisfaction with life. Starting in 1990 real per capita consumption and GDP has doubled and doubled again. Most households according to this article have TVs and in cities have refrigerators and washing machines. Yet one study that has been conducted and which is backed up by four other studies and also by the huge numbers of strikes and uprisings show that on average the Chinese masses are no happier, in fact are less happy than they were in 1990. The studies were mainly in urban areas where the growth and change has been greatest. The reason seems to be the overturning of the "iron rice bowl." That is the security which came with having enough to eat, a secure job, subsidized food, housing, health care,child care, pensions and jobs for grown children. Life satisfaction during this period among urban Chinese despite their much lower levels of income, was almost as high as in the advanced capitalist countries.
The move towards capitalism has over turned the iron rice bowl. Now jobs and the social safety net are being shredded. Insecurity is rife for the masses of Chinese workers. Capitalism is making its inroads with its dirty fingers and its insecurity. Financial satisfaction is worse. 42% of the lowest third of the population income wise were satisfied with their income situation in 1990. This is now down to 27%. This is somewhat similar to the situations in the countries of Eastern Europe and Russia where after the reintroduction of capitalism there is now a hangover. Things are not looking so good. The uprising in the huge factory in China over the past days shows what is developing under the surface in that country.
A related point here concerning the USA. The pathetic safety net that exists in the US is one explanation for the social and personal crises that exists in the US. This safety net is now being torn apart by both Republicans and Democrats. Insecurity, already very high on the scale in the US relative to other advanced capitalist countries is getting worse and worse. The offensive of capitalism against the US working class will soon meet up with an explosive movement of the US working class. In preparation for this activists and left forces should be preparing a united front of direct action and struggle so this movement can have a channel, an organization, through which to express itself, throw back the capitalist offensive and open up a new working class offensive.
The Chinese working class on the offensive, the US working class on the offensive, this would shake up capitalism and its efforts to drive the world's working class back to 100 years ago. I am looking forward to the future.
- AFSCME Local 444 negotiations assesment 1997
- Preparing for Revolution: A discussion document
- The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations
- Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers
- Sanders: Our Alternative
- The Nature of the New European Left
- University of California workers and Unions
- An Invitation to Our Readers
- Facts For Working People Weekly Phone Conferences and Discussions
- Help open The AFL-CIO AIFLD Archives