Saturday, May 24, 2008

Has China moved up to the next step in Marxism?

Marxism; it has almost become a bad word in Sri Lanka, unfortunately in this country the image that it conjures in the average joe (or siripala) on the street is one of rioting students and hardline political parties and not of a intellectually sound philosophy one that addresses the spirituality as well as the material desires of a population.

To put it very colloquially for those not so enlightened individuals that hasten to brand Marxism as a failed experiment, Marxism is not a philosophy that can only be categorized to mean a larger government and a total nationalization of the economy.

Marxist philosophy is based on three simple stages.

Stage Number One: This would be the prevailing situation in a country where large amounts of wealth is accumulated amongst a few individuals while the rest ( the lower classes) live in abject poverty. Their poverty is binding on the soul; thus it does not allow them to be free, or to experience happiness. ( This is rather difficult to explain think of it as the utopia of the philosophy similar to what Nirvana is in Buddhism.)

Stage Number Two : In order to reverse the prevailing situation, a rapid nationalization of the economy is enforced. Almost all systems of production , delivery and sale are under state controlled to create what big businessmen often call a "level playing field". The government enforces price controls to ensure so that the producer and the consumer can maintain a balance. Rigid controls are required to ensure that this system runs smoothly.

Stage Number Three: Due to a manged economy the distribution of wealth among the population is now more or less favorable, people's needs such as housing, education, clothing etc. can be adequately met, thus there is no further need for the controls enforced in Stage Two.

Before I come to the crux of my argument let me just emphasize on one point; according to Marx the method of converting Stage One to Stage Three was to nationalize, nationalize, nationalize! However, I beg to differ, in a sufficiently technologically advanced society that maybe possible but if one is to progress continuously while stage two is underway it is necessary to create competition in the market place.

Which is where the Social Democratic economic system comes in to play; that is however the subject of another post which I will proceed to publish very soon.

One aspect that was quite evident during the Sichuan earthquake was the amount of media coverage, the Chinese government was remarkably hospitable to foreign media crews and aid workers. Having earlier being described as xenophobic at best this is a startling revelation.

After the Cultural Revolution instigated by Mao, China went through a period of very very stringent government control that even rivaled the Soviet Union. Though allegations of Human Rights abuse are still rife in China the situation has improved, the government no longer dictates everything to businessmen. Mostly confining themselves to macro economic policy decisions.

This sudden openness in the Chinese economy and the relinquishing of absolute control by the government may mean that they have gone through the transition period and are slowly nearing the Marxist utopia, where citizens are free and not held down by economic constraints.

American propaganda gurus will tell you that Communism, Marxism and Socialism all mean an end to individual liberties, but is there a way of achieving the utopian state without infringing on civil rights?

Maybe, China has defineitly shown the difference a half a lifetime can make, maybe the fledgling leftist governments of South America can do it in less.

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