Capitalism in Russia and China in December 2017


30/12/2018 by socialistfight

Let us list the capitalist features of the Chinese and Russian economy and state:

1. The Chinese “iron rice bowl” of Chairman Mao is basically gone. His welfare state has been abolished apart from in a few places. The USSR welfare state collapsed quickly after 1991, with the life expectancy in the USSR/Russia fell from 62 in 1980 to 58 in 1994, and similar declines in all of the former communist East European states. It was 74 in Sweden at that time. “The immediate cause of the rising mortality is the rise in self-destructive behaviour, especially among men. Old problems such as alcoholism have increased; drug misuse a relatively new problem in the former communist bloc has risen dramatically in recent years … Suicide rates have climbed steeply too, by 60% in Russia, 80% in Lithuania, and 95% in Latvia since 1989.”

2. There is a thriving capitalist sector in China with its own class differentiated bourgeoisie and working class. Forbes rich list puts the number of billionaires in China in 2017 at 400, Asia as a whole at 637, the US at 563 and Europe at 342. However, the US and European billionaires are far richer than the Chinese ones. China has only 2 in the top 25 richest people in the world, the US’s Bill Gates is number 1 at $86 B, and China’s Wang Jianlin comes in at number 18 at $31.3 B. Russia has about 100 billionaires with its richest, Leonid Mikhelson coming in at 46 with $18.4 B. The USA has 15.7 million millionaires, the UK 2.4, Japan 2.1, France 1.8, Germany 1.5 whereas China has only 1.3 million in a population 4 times the size of the USA, just ahead of Italy at 1.1 and Canada at 961,000. Chinese income inequality is reported to be falling since 2015 but only Brazil has a higher Gini coefficient among the world’s 10 largest economies. Russia has the fastest-growing number of dollar millionaires in the world but, with only 182,000 it comes in at 15 in the world just above Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Norway. Russia has “an extreme level of inequality,” with the top 1 percent holding up to 25 percent of Russia’s wealth. All de-formed and degenerated workers’ states expropriated their capitalists and inequality never reached those levels because they prevented that class arising anew.
3. There is a Stock Exchange and capitalist banks in both Russia and China, although, a la Bismarck, Stolypin, and Keynes, they are state-controlled (unlike in Britain under Blair and Brown) to ensure the better development of capitalism. All deformed and degenerated workers’ states had/have no stock exchanges. This is not neo-liberal capitalism, but it is capitalism nevertheless.

4. The monopoly of foreign trade collapsed in 1991 in Russia, but it was also gone in theory in China since the 1992 restoration but far more so since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001. However, the state still retains strategic control over its state banks and regulates trade as good capitalist planners. All deformed and degenerated workers’ states had/have a state monopoly of foreign trade.

5.Few now doubt that Russia was a capitalist state after October 1993. The scramble by the state functionaries for privatised state assets doled out by Yeltsin was obscene; these wealthy oligarchs emerged almost overnight. The constitutional crisis of October 1993, when Yeltsin used military force to attack the anti-Yeltsin demonstrators, dissolve the parliament and arrest its leaders was the last defence of the distorted dictatorship of the proletariat lodged in the Supreme Soviet and a section of the bureaucracy. The working class eventually did rise to combat the brutally corrupt pro-Western imperialist regime of Yeltsin. But they were defeated by the state forces and the second part of the counterrevolution was consummated; the street fighting on 2 and 4 October resulted in some 2,000 deaths according to some sources; the bloodiest single outbreak of violence in Moscow since the Russian Revolution.

6. China and Russia seek to become imperialist powers; their investments in Africa, South America and Sri Lanka etc. are for purely commercial and strategic/military purposes. This is unlike the practice of the USSR where support and investment were to strengthen their hand and give them more pawns in the chess game of achieving peaceful cooperation and compromise with world Imperialism. The Chinese bureaucracy, under both Mao and Deng, sought to conciliate US imperialism by Mao’s theory of three worlds, where the first was the ‘great powers’, US and USSR who were ‘imperialists’, the second was the other advanced capitalist nations and the third world was China and the semi-colonial countries. This was an opportunist capitulation which resulted in the ‘Ping Pong’ diplomacy of 1972; welcoming Kessinger and Nixon to China whilst he was carpet bombing Vietnam with napalm and Agent Orange. In Africa, Latin America and elsewhere China sided with the USA against the USSR in a shamefully unprincipled manner. The USSR was prepared to sponsor, ideologically and materially, armed opposition to imperialism to achieve peaceful co-existence, China arms its clients today but, like Russia, has no ideological opposition to imperialism, however. distorted, to offer. However, China still retains strong elements of a semi-colonial state in its far-flung backward regions, which are prey to US/CIA interventions as in Tibet and Uyghuristan, to begin the breakup of a developing rival. Neither China nor Russia can become fully fledged imperialist powers in the Marxist sense as long as the USA remains the global hegemonic imperialist power.

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