China’s rise to economic influence is unmistakable and one of the most important developments in recent economic history. As United States capitalism slips into a dangerous decline, especially following a generational health disaster and economic crash, a new “Cold War” has begun to form in U.S. political rhetoric. Throughout media coverage of this international tension, there have been various definitions of socialism and communism while referring to the Chinese economy and the “threat” some in the United States see in that system.
In the most recent Global Capitalism lecture, Professor Wolff focused on China to explain some of the realities of the Chinese economy, its significance in today’s capitalist world and what kind of challenge it might pose, if any, to the United States.
China’s transformation from poverty to economic power is the most significant economic trend of the last 50 years. Using what they refer to as “socialism” under leadership of a Communist party and the profit motive of international capitalists, China has changed from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the most prosperous. And don’t get it turned around, “any argument that the Chinese success is somehow peculiarly the responsibility of the capitalist part as opposed to the leadership of the Communist party, or the remaining enormous state-owned and operated enterprise sector, or all that happened before 1971, isn't historical analysis. It is bald ideological junk.”
So, if they do operate what Prof Wolff calls a “mixed economy”, are they really capitalist or socialist? Prof Wolff explains the definitions used by China to describe their own country, and how the international community can learn from their model and its success.
Finally, Professor Wolff discusses the effects of China’s economic influence on the world, and the dangers of the recent rise in Cold War style rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats alike. Both economies of the United States and China have benefited from trade and exchange, and Prof Wolff warns that a new Cold War might challenge that relationship.
“It is my hope that we do not let petty political calculations of scapegoat artists like Mr. Trump, and like Mr. Biden sometimes threatens to become, undo a cooperative mechanism.”
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