Will our future be Chinese ‘capitalist socialism’?

Official Chinese social theorists paint a picture of today’s world which basically remains the same as that of the Cold War.

Thus, the worldwide struggle between capitalism and Socialism goes on unabated, the fiasco of 1990 was just a temporary setback and, today, the big opponents are no longer the US and USSR but America and China, which remains a Socialist country.

Here, the explosion of capitalism in China is read as a gigantic case of what in the early Soviet Union they called New Economic Policy, so that what we have in China is a new “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” but still Socialism. The Communist party remains in power and tightly controls and direct market forces.

Indeed, Domenico Losurdo, the Italian Marxist who died in June this year, elaborated this point in detail, arguing against the “pure” Marxism which wants to establish a new Communist society directly after the revolution, and for a more “realist” view which advocates a gradual approach with turnarounds and failures.

Rationalising Reality

Roland Boer, a Beijing-based professor, evokes the memorable image of Losurdo drinking a cup of tea on a busy Shanghai street in September 2016: “In the midst of the bustle, traffic, advertising, shops, and clear economic drive of the place, Domenico said, ‘I am happy with this. This is what socialism can do!’ To my quizzical look, he replied with a smile, ‘I am strongly in favour of the reform and opening up’.”

Boer then goes on to resume the argument for this “opening up”“Most efforts had been directed at the relations of production, focusing on socialist equality and collective endeavour. This is all very well, but if everyone is equal simply because they are poor, few would see the benefit. So Deng and those working with him began to emphasise another dimension of Marxism: the need to unleash the forces of production.”

For Marxism, however, “unleashing the forces of production” is not “another dimension” but the very goal of transforming relations of production.

[Extract. Appeared in RT on October 21st 2018.]