Wednesday, December 21, 2016

China: 460 million ordered to stay indoors.

Chinese working class on the march.
 Sean O' Torain

The original authors of this Blog were expelled from an organization called the Committee for a Workers International. One of its, and until we were expelled, our weaknesses, was we pretty much thought we knew everything. A common ailment amongst the self-styled revolutionary left.

In the years running up to my expulsion and ever since I have come to realize that I do not now everything and as a result I know more than I did before. I am only half joking here.

Seriously though, one of the mistakes of that organization and the self styled revolutionary left as a whole, is that it is far too unconditional when it tries to work out what is likely to happen in the future. If anybody doubts this just consider who amongst the self styled revolutionary left forecast the collapse of Stalinism. Not many if any. Imperialism was more accurate on this. This is by means of introducing a topic for discussion on this Blog - Chinese Stalinism.

After the collapse of Stalinism in the former Soviet Union a brutal Russian capitalism has arose and it has been much the same in the other former so called Soviet republics. But while capitalism has been restored the Russian bourgeois have been unable, at least so far, to develop a modern vibrant capitalist state with a growing home market and exports that can compete on the world market. It pretty much relies on its oil and gas exports and arms.

So what has this to do with China? As China has moved towards the capitalist road we, the original founders of this Blog, have had discussions on the possibilities for China. In doing so trying to learn the lessons from our past: in particular keeping in mind that that we were always too unconditional in the past and striving to be more cautious this time.

We looked at the giant Chinese economy and military machine and asked ourselves the question: could a Chinese capitalism develop into a modern capitalist economy with a developed home market able to compete on the world market, and in the process open up a period of world economic growth such as the period of growth of the two to three decades after World War 11.

 We considered this: Chinese Stalinism had driven out imperialism and had wiped out Chinese feudalism. So was there anything then to stop it moving on to developing as a modern capitalist economy with a modern developed home market? We looked at Trotsky's theory of the permanent (uninterrupted) revolution for help in our deliberations. After discussion and with some conditionality we concluded it could not for these reasons.

One was its giant working class which had developed partly before the Chinese revolution with investment and development under imperialism and partly through the development of industry and the economy under Stalinism. We concluded this giant working class would rise to its feet and demand an increase in its share of the production as well as challenge for power and in doing so  cut across a Chinese capitalist class being able to develop and modernize and open up a period of growth that would give the world economy a new lease on life.

But another major factor we said would prevent the Chinese elite from developing a modern economy and home market, was the issue of the environment and pollution. Just today in the Financial Times it has been announced that 460 million people in northern China have been ordered to stay in their homes due to the extremely polluted air.  The Financial Times wrote: "Pollution has become a rallying force for Chinese citizens." The paper quotes a Chinese air pollution specialist in Beijing; "The link between smog and industry is clear."

The Chinese elite say it is a "weather disaster." They are trying to blame it on the weather. Like the capitalist class in the west they try to say the capitalist catastrophes are "natural" disasters.  But the Chinese workers are not fooled. They are taking to the streets. Riot police are being sent against them. 460 million in northern China were ordered to stay in their homes. Yes 460 million. This will not last. One protester said: "The government is under too little pressure. The people are under took much pressure - if we try to protest we are said to be creating a public disorder."  In spite of trying to learn lessons from my past and not be unconditional looking into the future I feel confident in saying that China will not be able to over come its contradictions, its giant working class and its destruction of the environment and the quality of life for the Chinese people, will and are colliding. China I believe will not be able to become a modern capitalist economy with a developed home market able to give a new lease of life to the world economy. 

It will not be able to develop with any relative stability between the classes. It has come on the scene of history too late. Huge economic, environmental and class struggles lie ahead. As they unfold the giant Chinese working class, the largest on the planet will seek to find its way to its feet. I look forward to that.

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