In a world that is dragooned by economic ascendancy and ranked by capitalism backwaters, it is hard to believe that theories like communism exist and exist to play. And if I am not mistaken, it has been horse riding a towering country with zero or minor falls for a whopping ninety years.
Last weekend, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrated 90 years of its founding in Mainland China. Foreign Policy reports, “in an impressive propaganda effort, the CCP has sponsored concerts, shows, and exhibitions of revolutionary art, as well as “red games” and “red tourism” — all to drum up interest in communist hagiography. The CCP even purchased two handwritten letters by Karl Marx to mark the occasion.” Such pomp and such pageantry — surely not a Mahayana marvel of a Marxist miracle.
So, what could be the story behind China’s ceremonious economics, pan political agreement, and an ever-flourishing culture? The formula is simple. Ideology has been relegated to a distant second position. Instead, a sense of duty, excellence, cooperation and social elitism has taken its course.
Ask any Chinese honcho in the corporate sector about the superstructure of Karl Marx’s genius and they’ll present you with nothing more than a vague, muddy expression, or perhaps throw in a few words on class struggle and the bourgeoisie. The Guardian (UK) reported about the capitalism-communism collision in 2008, citing interesting outlooks to solve the Sino mystery. To quote:
Being a member of the party… is not a political choice but is about “contributing to China” — about “standing up and being counted”. So when the recent earthquake struck, Cathy (works in Wall Street and is an active communist party member) contacted other party members working for her investment bank and started raising relief funds. […..] And it is also about being part of the elite – and about networking. “Joining the party is very popular,” Cathy said. “If you got top marks then you definitely apply. So here all the top students are members … and a majority of the business school.”
To articulate, the Chinese success story has two major pillars.
For one, the CCP does not rely on central power holding. The party knows how extravagantly difficult it is to maintain a countrywide huddle of one political agenda and aye. Hence, spread the tentacles, make thee presence felt, go an extra mile to ensure participation from the civilian of the civilians. The schools idolise radical revolutionaries like Mao Zedong, and Tiananmen Square is, well, an extension of China’s Babri Masjid where everyone is at blur about the ignition.
Secondly, China shows that when it comes to economics, there is no dividing line between communism and capitalism. For years, we’ve assumed that capitalism and democracy fit hand in glove. We took it as an article of faith that you can’t have one without the other. That’s why a key element of American policy toward China has been to encourage free trade, direct investment, and open markets. As China becomes more prosperous and integrated into the global market — so American policy makers have thought — China will also become more democratic. But that dream obviously saw doomsday, as we, today, see a steady, spinal capitalist economy with an authoritarian government following dogmatic communist ideologues — modeled to suit the tastes of the Chinese disparity. But oh, disparity! It reminds me of what policy wonk Robert Reich said:
Communist, as in communal? Are you kidding? The gap between China’s rich and poor is turning into a chasm. China’s innovators, investors, and captains of industry are richly rewarded. They live in luxury housing developments whose streets are lined with McMansions. They feed in fancy restaurants, and relax in five-star hotels and resorts. China’s poor live in a different world. Mao Tse Tung would turn in his grave.
In China (if not elsewhere), communism is a totalitarian concept taught at law schools. It is an absolutist’s ritual for prospective sovereignty. It is imperative in the country that civil liberties be paralyzed, authorities can arrest and imprison people who threaten stability (as the party defines it), and there are no labor unions and not a single political power outside the communist party.
But no, China shows no regret or remorse whatsoever. A number of recent surveys indicate that after 30 years of capitalist reforms in China, private entrepreneurs are much more interested in running their enterprises and making money than demanding democracy. As long as the Communist Party continues the program of free market reforms and keeps the country stable, China’s new capitalist middle class seems to be content to go along with the current regime. And as far as the Manchurian achievement (worldwide) is concerned, it’s pure complacency. So hey, hail to your amour-propre and congratulations on the ninetieth. If all goes well, I’ll be right here in flesh and blood to type in about your glorious hundredth.
Written for The Huffington Post