Thursday, March 15, 2012

China: capitalism, democracy and sovereignty

David Seaton's News Links
China is an authoritarian state, run in Leninist fashion by a communist party and at the same time a vital player, perhaps, alongside the United States, the key player in the international capitalist system.

We wish it were more democratic.

Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.

Many who know China feel that the Chinese Communist Party is a moderating force on Chinese nationalism. That if China had something like a US system, they would be the plaything of fascist demagogues... It seems that reading their blog traffic etc, bears this out.

Let us take then, as given, that across the political spectrum, the Chinese are nationalist-chauvinist-revanchist. Then let us consider the situation they faced when the Soviet Union began to implode and it was no longer possible to play two superpowers off against each other.

China, a poor country, was left standing alone against what is commonly considered the greatest, most powerful, military, economic and cultural hegemon in the history of the world.

To use Maoist terminology the "primary contradiction" of the PCC was to maintain China's sovereignty at all costs: other priorities such as "building socialism" (whatever that might be) would have to be postponed in the greatest national emergency since the Japanese invasion, but facing the USA, open war would be suicidal.

What has happened in the past twenty years?

The best battle, Sun Tzu says, is the battle that is won without being fought.

After only two decades the United States economy and her currency are entirely dependent on China, that is to say, in many ways firmly in the grasp of the Chinese Communist Party. And now it seems entirely possible the Chinese People's Army's cyber-warfare capabilities could paralyze American infrastructure, again without firing a shot.

Let us assume that China's situation is that of a nation at war for its survival as a sovereign state... again, Sun Tzu:
"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."
People with a deep understanding of China have said that is a very fruitful exercise to study how Taoist thought (Sun Tzu is the greatest "applied" Taoist) found the dialectical thought of Hegel (as against Kant or Plato) the most congenial and useful of western philosophies and that Hegel led them directly to Marx.

If you take Marx as lucid analyst of the weaknesses of the capitalist system, especially the system's bottomless greed, and then knowing those weaknesses you take advantage of them in the manner of Sun Tzu, you might have a workmanlike description of what the Chinese have done.

If this is seen as a war, as a "national liberation struggle", which the Chinese are winning without firing a shot, then the sacrifices of the Chinese people in today's struggle are nothing compared to what they suffered to rid themselves of the Japanese, and instead of the smoking ruins that battle left behind it, today they have high speed trains.

And as for us, who think that by "converting" the Chinese to capitalism, we have won a famous victory. The famous Spanish mystic, Saint Teresa of Avila, said that there are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.

Again, perhaps we should be more careful what we wish for. DS

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