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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/A Maoist response to “What was the Chinese Revolution and where is it going?”

A Maoist response to “What was the Chinese Revolution and where is it going?”

David McMullen

Platypus Review 147 | June 2022

This article is responding to the panel “What was the Chinese Revolution and where is it going?,” hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society on October 23, 2021, the video of which can be found at <>.

IF WE WANT TO DISCUSS CHINA, the first thing we need to note is that the present regime is a reactionary police state. It is not a “deformed workers’ state” that preserves some of the achievements of the revolution. It is the product of a counter-revolution that occurred in October 1976, a month after Mao’s death. The capitalist roaders that Mao warned about took power. They are the new bourgeoisie generated within socialism. The present task of the oppressed Chinese people is to shake off this regime in a tide of democratic revolution. In the course of this struggle a new underground communist movement will begin to develop and play its role in alliance with other opposition forces. This will not be easy. Indeed, being a communist in China would be a bit like being one in Hitlerite Germany. The overthrow of this regime is particularly important given that a proletarian revolution in Europe and North America would otherwise face a hot or cold war with this heavily armed monstrosity.

On the basis of experience in China and the rest of the “socialist camp,” Mao drew the conclusion that class struggle continues after the initial seizure of power and that a new bourgeoisie can gestate within socialism on the basis of the still profoundly bourgeois relations of production that pretty much retain the old organization of production and division of labor with its separation of mental and manual labor.

Mao’s response was to call for the continuation of the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This meant struggling to transform the relations of production and superstructure, and defeat those resisting this process.

The contrary line from the new bourgeoisie was the theory of the productive forces, or in Liu Shaoqi's formulation: the primary contradiction in China was not between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie but between the country’s advanced social system (socialism) and its backward productive forces (economy). According to this view the advance of socialism was simply a matter of developing the economy, and the relics of capitalism would peacefully fade away in some misty future.

The disastrous experience of the Soviet bloc showed where that line led. Managers and functionaries concerned themselves with their careers in a patronage system while being prompted to deliver at least some results by absurdly perverse systems of incentives. The rank and file showed absolutely no interest in what was going on and would have been rebuffed if they had. This system — surprise, surprise — proved inferior not superior to more standard capitalism.

With the Soviet bloc crumbling, the new leaders in China recognised that they could not stick with the desiccated carcass of socialism and did the full Monty. They corporatized state industry and created a new private sector based on foreign capital particularly from their confreres in Hong Kong and Taiwan. They then threw themselves with relish into the task of developing the productive forces and vastly expanding the size of the proletariat. In doing all this they are of course creating the conditions required for a future proletarian revolution. This is what capitalism does. So when the bourgeoisie has been confined to the history books and we are feeling ironic we might raise a glass and toast its contribution. |P