U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Login ] [ Active ]

Labor's Share of National Income in China

Log-in to remove advertisement.
Post 22 Jan 2014, 16:37
I came upon this interesting article in the Monthly Review that discusses labor's share of the national income in the People's Republic of China and how this impacts the strength of the working class within China. ... tion-china

Any thoughts, comrades?
Post 22 Jan 2014, 20:13
I think this article is misleading. While the workers' share of profits may well have declined, their relative wages may still have increased. Since massive capital investment in China over the last 30+ years has resulted in a huge rise in the productivity of labour, it is no surprise that the workers' share of the profits has declined. Yet their wages have consistently risen over the past two decades.

Furthermore the article talks about unemployment and the reserve army, but according this IMF/World Bank source, unemployment halved between 1980 and 1990 and today is about one fifth lower than it was in 1980. The real reserve army of labour is to be found in the countryside where agricultural workers are not unemployed, but merely move to urban areas where wages are higher. This keeps wages low for many roles as it sets a minimum price (i.e. not much more than what an agricultural worker earns). However the huge demand for labour in China means that wages have risen absolutely overall.

Finally we come to the significance of this for China. China undertook these reforms in order to expand its means of production so as to increase the material conditions of existence and production for its people. This would necessarily require a greater amount of surplus-value produced than before. The evidence shows that this was achieved not by slashing wages (otherwise the workers would not be able to reproduce their labour), but by increasing the productivity of labour through foreign investment. This has ultimately been progressive due to the huge material advances in Chinese society. In the pre-reform era the workers' relatively high share of profit was somewhat redundant when there wasn't much else they could buy with it.
Post 23 Jan 2014, 01:54
@gRed Britain:

But what will happen once the process of development is complete in China? I know that the current system in the PRC is design to develop the requisite productive forces to allow China to achieve socialism, and in this sense it has been successful, but won't this just create classes that will oppose any move toward socialism in the future?

First, you will have individual Chinese capitalists, some of whom are extremely wealthy.

Second, you have the party bureaucracy that has also gained economically and has a privileged position of power within the society. ... s-20120108

Third, you have a Chinese "middle class" of relatively affluent workers who may play the same reactionary role that many so-called "middle-class" labor aristocrats play in the First World. ... consumers/ ... dle-class/

China's current systems looks like a form of developmental state capitalism not significantly different from that historically practiced by other East Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Were there other alternatives for development open to China that could have maintained the socialist character of the country?
Post 23 Jan 2014, 19:45
Well the CCP has never (to my knowledge) said what it will do once it has achieved prosperity. I suppose that makes sense at the moment because promises of future nationalisation and property confiscation could deter present-day investors.

Technically the party could decide to return to class struggle and grant the workers much greater control over the means of production. However, as you have pointed out, there are an increasing number of vested interest groups in China (including right near, if not at, the top of the CCP) who would lose out from this. I think another revolution will be more likely (or at least necessary). The trouble is, it may end up being an anti-communist revolution because the CCP already represents "the communists" in China. Thus people may try and remove the establishment with a fascist ideology.
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Privacy.
[ Top ]