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China’s Experiment With Marxism In Capitalist Economy

By Arun Srivastava

It is a misnomer that China under Xi is turning socialist. It is a façade Xi is wearing to confuse the global fraternity. With China pursuing the capitalist path assiduously over the years it is naïve to construe that it would make a paradigm shift, embrace Marxism and convert to a communist country.

Of course, some stray glimpses of Mao were seen at the venue of the 19th congress of the Communist Party of China, but that does not mean it has renewed its romance with communism. Even the social background and class character of the present set of leaders do not instill trust to accept the speculation that China would take rebirth as a communist country.

Thirty years ago, when the United Soviet Socialist Republic got disintegrated and the “Death of Communism” was being celebrated throughout the world, at the prop of the capitalist economy and its lackey elements, ironically China preferred to maintain a stoic silence instead of condemning the capitalist stooges.

Mao Zedong, had warned his comrades about ‘taking the capitalist road.’ Since 1949, China’s social, political, and economic life was dominated and tightly controlled by Mao and the Chinese Communist Party (or the CCP). But the same CCP, under Deng Xiaoping, took to the capitalist path and introduced reforms. Mao died in 1976, leaving the liberal Deng Xiaoping (DUNG she-YOW-PING) in charge of the CCP. Though the CCP’s repressive policies eased somewhat, the party maintained a tight grip on political and social life. Deng had realised that without a capitalist-based economy, China would not prosper. So he transformed the economy, allowed private property, open markets and international commerce. Due to Deng’s reforms, the Chinese economy opened itself up to the world. It exported mass-produced goods and invited foreign investment.

China has been transformed by the changes ushered in by Deng Xiaoping 30 years ago. “Engels never flew on an aeroplane; Stalin never wore Dacron” with this remark at a meeting, Deng Xiaoping had made it abundantly clear that he had launched his economic and political reforms. Deng’s words meant pragmatism was in. The current president Xi Jinping, who was at that time the vice president, the heir-apparent to President Hu Jintao, was the chief organiser of the celebration programme. It included concerts, exhibitions and endless speeches celebrating the “turning point” in China’s history when Deng gained the upper hand over the Maoists.

Certain portions of the proceedings of the 19th congress of the Communist Party of China gave the impression of Xi Jinping’s quest to revive Stalin’s communist ideology, but that was not true. That Western media still suffers from Maoist phobia was evident from the phrases they used in their write-ups. They wrote: “The Bolsheviks in Beijing—What the Chinese Communists Learned from Lenin.” Guardian was exasperated “Xi Jinping’s Leninist quest for a dynasty inspires congressional love-in,” and BBC talked of China’s “unreformed Leninist political system.”

The western media was far from truth, but the impression they created incidentally helped Xi. Sitting in the lap of capitalism, he managed to create the impression that he was still an ardent believer of Marxism.

It was a strategic move of Xi to terrorise the western world. With Russia already shattering the American hegemonic policies through its intervention in Syria, the global fraternity is split and is in a state of trance. In this backdrop, Xi wanted to project himself as the only person who can be the alternative by combining Marxism and capitalism. He intends to be the cufflink between liberal democracies and the socialist authoritarians.

In fact, China, pretending to continue to subscribe and believe Marxism, is a strategic move to maintain its distinct separate identity amongst the capitalist countries. It also faces the threat that the official declaration of abandoning Marxism-Leninism would invite the wrath of the people and may witness an upsurge. A majority of Chinese people still believe that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is still alive in China and this ideology shapes their destiny.

Xi does not intend to send any contrary message or signal to its people. That would prove to be disastrous. This is the reason that in the matter of evolving the development policy and strategy, the Chinese leadership has been reiterating the phrase ‘socialist mode of growth’. It is worth noting that the socialist theory practiced by the present Chinese leadership, post Deng Xiaoping, is different from classical socialism.

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping adopted capitalist methods and reforms in order to stimulate economic growth and restore confidence in the party. He and U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a historic accord in 1979, reversing decades of China-U.S. tension. Deng launched several economic reforms that allowed the private sector to start and operate their own businesses once again. He also established four special economic zones along the coast of China with the objective of attracting foreign investments.

There is no doubt that China has transformed itself from a global centre of low-tech manufacturing into a major hub of innovation and consumption. The country has taken significant steps towards becoming a more market-oriented economy.

In the wake of 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, one question that surfaced in a strong manner is whether China is socialist or, maintaining a facade of being so. The other question that haunts the people is why the capitalist roader China is pretending to be a believer in Marxist-Leninism and Maoism while it is trying to look more like the developed western economies with a large regulatory and welfare state.

China intends to present itself to the global fraternity as the political blend of Marxism and capitalism. While this is enough to scare the West, at the same time it would claim to be the leader of the developing economies. In this backdrop, Xi Jinping’s emphasis on defending and developing Marxism did not come as surprise. This is a strategic move to maintain its distinctive identity in the global race of asserting individuality. Xi has been spending huge financial resources in promoting Marxism in academia. It is really fascinating to watch China’s experiment with Marxism and capitalism as the theoretical synthesis to hasten growth and development. (IPA Service)

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