James, I'm not sure I follow your argument, I mean, I understand what you wrote, but not so sure as how it exactly relates to what I wrote (I assume you're addressing that since you are quoting it).
Correct me if I'm wrong: I'm saying, in a nutshell, that if you give mercantile economy enough leeway, it will eventually push you out of the drivers seat, because of commodity fetishism (among other things). You seem to reply that capitalism is an inevitable stage, and so (from its inception?) the Chinese Revolution was meant to implant capitalism.
1. - Even if that's the argument being sold at the moment, I doubt that was really the original intention. No, even if they included non-proletarian elements, the purpose was to have socialism.
2.- If this is the case, how does this negate what I wrote, regarding the loss of control inherent to markets? Even if you say that capitalism was necessary (for the dispossession of people, establishment of urban centers and so on, I asume), the matter, as is up to what level can you implement it without irreversibly enslaving people back under the dominance of capital? (I mean, we're Marxists, we're materialists. People are not what they think they are or say they are, and a state doesn't act as how the people in power "want" it to act. A state is a RESULT of class contradictions, it is a power vector. What matters are production relations, and market conditions give birth to capitalist production relations. The state will inevitably begin to reflect this.)
3. - KlassWar said this a lot better:
I mean consider China today with Russia in the 20's. Didn't the USSR build socialism at that time?
The problem is that it seems things have gone past the point of no return...I don't think the state has the "desire" (irrelevant) or the capacity to carry this out. I'm no expert and I could be wrong here, but it seems that as a maintainer of stability, the state's horizon of choices is pretty limited and all "options" are capitalistic. If this is so, then the state is an obstacle, and even an enemy to socialist interests. Because of its restrictions, it is also an enemy to capitalism, which usually requires a parliamentary bourgeois democracy. The problem then becomes, do we go about removing this government? Does removing it imply a switch towards bourgeois democracy? Does this take us further away from socialism, or is it inevitable for this stage to happen, and so it would take us closer?
You're not a Leninist, I get it. But do you have to make these sweeping generalizations? They seem pretty irresponsible. The way socialist economies functioned varied over time and places.
If you produce on the basis of a plan, if you create x amount of a product in order to give it to another factory who will use it to create y, and then this y is distributed, then this isn't a mercantile economy. What matters mainly is the production stage, rather than the distribution stage.
More could have been done? Sure. I suspect that the lack of democratic participation not only hindered feedback, but also hindered things on the distribution end.
So because markets corroded socialist states, their solution was more markets? I don't get it.
Yes, socialism was the goal of the original revolutionaries, however, they held no illusion that they could go from feudalism to socialism in one quick step,
Over-optimism set in after the successes of the first 5 year plan.
I guess I gave a poor response because I just wrote down what I was thinking at the time rather than actually addressing the point you raised.
To be honest, at the moment, I do not know whether it's possible or not to stop the market, as I do not have the data, worse, there are no past examples to draw a pattern that can be used for prediction. I am not even sure if any attempt to pull the brakes is wise, as any major social changes will likely lead to turmoil and conflict, and given the size of China, it will probably cause humanitarian disasters of unprecedented scale. I think the only sensible thing the Chinese government can do at the moment is, as they described, crossing the river by feeling the stones. Yes, exploitation is bad, but how about wars and famines? Of course, I am not trying to justify exploitation, as a Marxist, I do want to see it end, however, millions of death isn't desirable either.
If you want to go one step further with that, production relation is a reflection of the level the productive forces are at, and can you really expect post-capitalism production relations to be sustained in a society where the productive forces have yet to surpass those under capitalism? Maybe, the production relations that have been imposed on those societies, are just as unsustainable as controls that are imposed on the market? No, I am not trying to be a smartarse, this is something that I have been thinking about since I was 18, when my uncle actually wrote a book on it.
How do you propose capitalism be ditched? China is currently feeding one fifth of the world's population with one tenth of the arable land, and 36% of the population live on less than 2 USD a day, any major political changes in you want to bring about better be very, very, very well thought-out, as it has the potential to cause massive humanitarian disasters.
In this regard, I must say that many socialists resemble the liberals who call for the immediate liberalisation of China -- A system does not conform to their views of how things ought to be, they condemn it, and call for changes, but the actual implications of the changes they advocate are not all that well thought through.
I'm not sure: I don't know China in detail. I'm not even sure to what point their capitalist restoration is a NEP-style retreat or a permanent deviation.
If they wanted to do it, I guess they can do it the fast way or the slow way.
The fast way would crash global capitalism beyond repair. If China seizes everything foreign companies have on their soil without compensation, freeze and socialize all capitalists' assets, demand immediate payment of all the sovereign debt they hold, (and generally be as disruptive as possible), they'd actually be capable of making the global socioeconomic system collapse completely. A large, powerful, socialist country could make immense gains in the ensuing chaos.
Pretty much all economies are dependent on China, to a degree. Causing global capitalism to fully collapse might even spark world revolution. Unfortunately, taking the plunge could also cause a humanitarian disaster in China and I imagine it wouldn't be all that popular.
Then there's the slow way: Gradually introducing socialist reforms and shifting the economy towards worker ownership control. If the shift is done gradually (over, say, 15 years), it could be pretty much seamless. In the absence of an international socialist bloc, going all Red is sure to cause isolation. China should take that into account and expand production in those sectors that don't cover their own internal demand. A slow shifting of priority from exports to internal demand could smooth the transition when the plunge is taken.
Overall, the slow road is more practical... But, unfortunately, it wouldn't crash global capitalism 'cause the global bourgeoisie could (to an extent) foresee it and prepare for it.
Whether China takes the fast way, the slow way or the traitor's way, a certain sociopolitical thaw ought to happen: The Vanguard Party is no substitute for the masses themselves, even in ideal circumstances. And a party controlled by capitalist roaders ain't a vanguard at all! The Party's tight control over society is more a hindrance than a help to revolution:
The labor movement, youth and left-wing factions ought to be able to wage a second Cultural Revolution. Stability at all costs deprives those very sectors from the breathing space they need in order to do so.
Cm'on baby, eat the rich!!! - Motörhead
Not really. I mean I'm sorry, but no, not really. Stalin's model was used in the entire Comecon, and in Cuba. And that was the most progressive kind of socialist economy. Yugoslavia or Chile were even worse.
Capitalism isn't a "mercantile economy" (it might be, but I'm unsure of definitions here), it's an economy that primarily runs on the production and exchange of commodities. ML economies created x amount of a product that factory a SOLD to factory b, in order for b to create y, and then this y had to stand the test of the market, precisely like any commodity under capitalism. Marx called this the commodities' "salto mortale".
Probably not, although I do remember Hu encouraging more "orthodox" supporters of socialism to join the CCP. The last possible and well known supporter would've been Hua Guofeng, who was designated as Mao's successor but was ousted by Deng. He was a member of the Central Committee until 2002.
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
Off topic, but to clarify: Chile wasn't socialist. They elected a socialist party who tried to make a transition towards socialism but was brutally halted. There were all kinds of signs of that transition, but "one swallow doesn't make spring," as they say. We'll never know if the "Chilean Way towards Socialism" could have been implemented (I mean we know that it failed, but because of their ingenuous trust on institutions)
More off-topic: Mercantile economy just means a market economy, such as capitalism, and such as the abstract "simple mercantile economy" used by Marx.
I need to look into the matter, I'm openly ingnorant here, but I thought that most of the factories in the USSR produced and distributed their goods according to the Gosplan.
Then that's a language barrier here. I've never heard of a simple mercantile economy before. Do you think it's possible to find out what Marx calls this in German? It sounds reminiscent of "einfache Warenproduktion", a term I've come across a number of times, but I'd translate that as "simple commodity production".
I've heard a couple of times that during Stalin's rule, there were actually some cases of goods being transferred between enterprises without any payment, overcoming relations of commodity exchange, but I can't verify this, and in any case it probably stopped post-Stalin. For most of the comecon's existence:
- factories were told what to produce, but they had to buy means of production from other factories, and they were told to do it for as cheap as they could.
- factories were told to maximise profits.
- the wealth of the socialist countries was a huge collection of commodities.
In fact when you read their literature on political economy, they openly state that the funds of socialist enterprises circulate just like capital does (which is basically the same thing as admitting that they are capital), they contain lengthy "explanations" for why commodity production is a necessity under socialism, they separate the working day into necessary labor and surplus labor, and so on - all the while repeating that exploitation has been completely overcome.
I'll look it up and pm you, if you want. Consider that I read Marx in Spanish. Direct translation, thankfully, but I'm translating back in English here. Doh!
(I'm tempted to look for the French edition of Das Kapital. I know there's a Spanish translation of this one too. It's deprecated, though.)
Re: commodity production. I'd say it's a bastard system, since there's a somewhat direct social production in that you're being told what to do, but the commodity form things take hides a lot of this.
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