[Debate] China's inner-party struggle

jay rothermel jayrothermel at gmail.com
Fri Apr 13 18:27:16 BST 2012


China's inner-party struggle <http://www.workers.org/2012/world/china_0419/>
By Fred Goldstein
Apr 12, 2012

PART 3:  The Chongqing vs. Guangdong models

The ouster of Bo Xilai as Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing comes at a
juncture of intensifying contradictions, pressures and antagonisms in
China. They reflect three decades of a steadily advancing encroachment of
the capitalist mode of production and a dangerous erosion of the socialist
framework established by the great Chinese Revolution of 1949.

The Chinese Communist Party leadership is rent with conflict. On the one
hand are pressures from China's growing internal capitalist and middle
classes, as well as from the imperialist banks, represented by the World
Bank. On the other hand is the growing discontent of millions of workers
and peasants.

Furthermore, as the state-owned sector of the economy grows, the capitalist
side is also expanding. Capital expands automatically through the
accumulation of profits. The state sector, however, expands as a matter of
conscious policy and the absolute growth of the economy. Its growth
reflects the magnitude of tasks the state-owned banks and enterprises are
called upon to perform.

The struggle to control the planned development of society while retaining
sovereignty over the Chinese economy inevitably collides with the growth of
the internal contradictions of capitalist development and the infectious
influence of global finance capital.
The CCP leaders are trying to plan high-speed railroads, advanced
communications, hospitals, health centers and aid for rural development to
close the gap between the highly developed east and the underdeveloped
west. They are introducing more ecologically sound technology and other
strategic industries while improving the social security system for 1.3
billion people. At the same time, they have to worry about the development
of inflation, real estate bubbles, the global capitalist economic crisis,
mounting inequality of wealth, and a clamor by the bourgeois elements for
so-called democratic reforms — which would be a channel for open political
organizing of the capitalist class and its middle-class supporters.

As these contradictions and antagonisms mature, the question of which way
forward for China becomes more and more pressing.

Chongqing versus Guangdong

In the recent period, differences in the leadership have surfaced in the
controversy over the so-called Chongqing model versus the Guangdong model.
Bo Xilai has been identified with the Chongqing model, which has come under
heavy fire since his ouster.

Chongqing is the largest municipality in China and perhaps the world. It
has a population of 33 million and is located inland in western China. It
is one of China's four centrally ruled municipalities, the others being
Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. It has a rural area of 23 million farmers
and an urban population of 10 million. Millions of farmers are employed as
migrant workers in the city.

Guangdong is the largest province in China, with 104 million people.
One-third of the population, 36 million, are migrant workers. It is on the
east coast and is the site of the Pearl River delta, where the turn toward
market reforms and "opening up" first allowed the establishment of special
economic zones. Overseas capitalists from the imperialist countries as well
as Hong Kong, Taiwan and south Korea are heavily invested there, and have
created a large, low-wage manufacturing industry geared toward exports.

Bo Xilai became the party secretary of Chongqing in 2007. He initiated a
policy of emphasizing the dominant role of the state in the economy
alongside the capitalist market. Under his regime half of the budget of
Chongqing was spent on health care, housing, pensions, education and other
public services. ("One or Two Chinese Models?" European Council on Foreign
Relations, Asia Centre, November 2011) Some 87 percent of its recent growth
was in the state sector.

The government has undertaken to build 800,000 units of low-income housing
with rents at 40 percent below market rates and a low-income limit for
eligibility. (Bloomberg Businessweek, March 22) The apartments can be owned
after five years, but cannot be thrown on the market. The units are built
in the center of the city, near higher-income housing to prevent
ghettoizing.

The government in Chongqing is also spending 300 billion yuan ($47.6
billion) for rural education, health care and housing. In addition, it has
developed a policy to allow and encourage the rural population to migrate
to the city, but at the same time balances that with a policy to develop
new agricultural areas. In China's so-called "hukou" system of residency
permits, everyone has either a rural hukou or an urban hukou. Urban
residents are entitled to social benefits like health care and education at
government-subsidized prices.
Chongqing was the first city in China to develop this rural-to-urban
program. Its goal is to allow 10 million farmers to get urban permits. ("Bo
Xilai and the Chongqing Model," East Asian Institute, Vol. 1, No. 3)

'Red culture' versus more 'opening up'

Politically, Bo initiated what he termed "red culture." This included
encouraging and organizing the singing of songs from the Mao era and
performances of operas from the period of the Cultural Revolution. He
stopped commercials on the local television station, replacing them with
Maoist and other readings and performances. He had Mao sayings tweeted to
cell phone users in the city. And he took a 1,000-member singing troupe to
Beijing to sing Maoist songs.

Bo recommended that students and government workers spend time in rural
areas to get experience with the life of the masses.

Bo initiated a crackdown on gangsters and corrupt party and government
officials. And he initiated this by calling on the masses to submit
"letters of denunciation."
The Guangdong model, on the other hand, emphasizes the capitalist market as
the dominant force in development. Shenzhen is the city that Deng Xiaoping
visited in 1992 when he declared "opening up" China to foreign investment.
It was the first special economic zone. Since then the province has been
known as the area where the capitalist market prevails over state
enterprises and planning.

The present party secretary in Guangdong, Wang Yang, was appointed in 2007.
He had been in Chongqing, but Bo Xilai took his place. Wang has openly
advocated the superiority of the capitalist market in allocating resources.
He has called for "small government." (Wall Street Journal, March 14)
Wang's policy is for further "opening up" and "reforms."

Guangdong has been the site of numerous workers' strikes and rebellions.
Some 200-plus strikes took place in the Pearl River delta last year,
beginning in May with Honda workers near Guangzhou. (The Economist, Nov.
26, 2011)

Wang preaches democracy, but the class orientation of his democracy was
illustrated by an experimental local election he authorized in the city of
Dudan last September. As The Economist reported, fewer than 7,000 local
inhabitants were allowed to vote, while 60,000 sweatshop workers who had
come from other provinces were disenfranchised.

'Red GDP'

Before Bo was ousted, he and Wang were both candidates for the nine-member
Standing Committee of the CCP's Politburo. There was open struggle between
them. Bo called for a "red GDP," meaning economic development had to be
subordinate to the well-being of the masses. Their differences emerged
publicly in a famous controversy shrouded in an analogy called "cutting the
cake." The "cake" was a metaphor for the GDP — the country's total
production of goods and services.

On July 10 of last year, Bo said that a "better division of the cake" takes
priority over "making the cake bigger." The next day Wang answered with "to
make the cake bigger, we must still concentrate on economic development."
In other words, overcoming inequality takes a backseat to production and
profits. ("Bo Xilai and Wang Yang: China's Future Leaders?" Jeffrey Hays,
factsanddetails.com, updated March 2012)

The political left in China has rallied to the cause of Bo, and had great
hopes for his ascendancy to the Standing Committee. In the wake of his
ouster, many web sites of the left have been shut down for a month. The
struggle is shrouded in secrecy, and it is very hard for the masses or
revolutionaries and progressives inside China, as well as outside, to get
any kind of accurate picture.

But it is clear that the Bo forces favoring the Chongqing model are
oriented to blocking further inroads of capitalism in China and reversing
it, if possible. The forces that side with Wang and the Guangdong model are
for widening the capitalist road.

Center-right bloc against Bo

The immediate task in the present struggle is to push back against the
right and the counterrevolution. However, by lining up against Bo, the
party center is in a bloc with the right. The center is fearful of the
Maoist revival and the leftist mood. The fear is that this could merge with
the mass discontent down below and take the form of not just an economic
struggle against inequality, but a political struggle against the
capitalist road. (Last year China reported 180,000 "incidents" — protests,
strikes and rebellions.) But the right wing is counterrevolutionary and
wants to go all the way in bringing the capitalist class to power.

In truth, the Chongqing model, while certainly preferable to free-market
capitalism and the political reaction of the Guangdong model, is only a
stop-gap measure at best. It still retains the capitalist market as a
significant force. And capital grows through the accumulation of profits.
Furthermore, 93 of Fortune 500 global corporations are operating in
Chongqing.

Reviving Maoist culture is a step in the right direction. Fighting
inequality is also a step in the right direction. But what is more to the
point is to revive the spirit of workers' struggle that was advocated and
led by Mao.

Cultural Revolution model

Before Bo was ousted, Premier Wen Jiabao attacked Bo and warned of the
"horrors of the Cultural Revolution." What precisely were these "horrors"?
The essence of the Cultural Revolution was to mobilize and empower the
workers to run socialist society, in the spirit of the Paris Commune. The
goal was to oust privileged officials from their comfortable positions of
authority and establish a revolutionary dictatorship under the direct
authority of the proletariat. Of course, excesses were committed during
that period. But the excesses were not the essence of what took place. The
essence was the attempt to "storm the heavens," as Marx referred to the
goal of the Paris communards. The essence was for the Chinese workers to
rule directly and take their destiny into their own hands. No amount of
vilification of the Cultural Revolution can erase that.

No one could suppose for a moment that such a development is in the offing.
But everyone in China who stands for the working class and Marxism must be
asking themselves, which way back? How do the Chinese workers and peasants
get back to the socialist model they once had?

Deng Xiaoping and his political descendants in China justified their
program of so-called "market socialism" on the ground that China needed the
capitalist market and capitalist technology to develop. Leaving aside the
validity of that assertion, the fact is that China has developed
enormously. It is now the second-largest economy in the world. The working
class has gone from 30 million to more than 450 million. China is competing
with imperialism in cutting-edge technology.

All justification for needing capitalism to further develop has been
undermined by China's economic advances. The interests of the workers have
been mercilessly sacrificed, counterpoising them to the need for
development. The task now is to find the way back. When casting about for
models to take China back on the socialist road, the road of the Cultural
Revolution is a glorious one. It's not necessary to retain the same name or
make it a carbon copy of the original. What is important is to revive its
revolutionary essence.

>  *To be continued.*

*Goldstein is author of "Low-Wage Capitalism" and "Capitalism at a Dead
End." For more information about both books and to purchase them, visit **
www.lowwagecapitalism.com* <http://www.lowwagecapitalism.com/>*. Goldstein
may be reached at **fgoldstein at workers.org* <fgoldstein at workers.org>*. *

*Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and
distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without
royalty provided this notice is preserved. *



Part 1: http://www.workers.org/2012/world/china_0329/
Part 2: http://www.workers.org/2012/world/china_0405/
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