Ask Prof Wolff: China Now: Socialist, State Capitalist?

A patron of Economic Update asks: "How should we see the CCP? Is this a Socialist project that is in the process of achieving communism? Or is China just another example of a state-capitalism that leans more authoritarian? How should we approach socialist states that do things that contradict our values without helping the reactionaries in our own country."

This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

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Showing 2 comments

  • David Audette
    commented 2021-09-22 15:19:38 -0400
    Certainly there are different “flavors” of capitalism. We see everything from highly regulated private enterprise like in the Nordic countries, to a less regulated variety as we see Singapore and New Zealand. But they all have one thing in common and that is private ownership of the means of production for private profit, and that is what makes them capitalist.

    Socialism is contrary to capitalism. Socialism is created by developing and expanding working class ownership and control of the means of production. That is what makes it socialism. Private ownership and profiteering can be neither valued nor advanced under socialism by definition.
  • David Audette
    commented 2021-09-22 15:02:04 -0400
    I have great difficulty agreeing with this. Socialism has always, everywhere, been presented as the “antidote” to capitalism. Communist parties which led revolutions in Russia and China and elsewhere called for the liberation of the working class from “wage slavery” of capitalism and other forms of exploitation. Socialism, or Marx’s “lower communism” is described as “the dictatorship of the proletariat” over the capitalist class. So socialism represents the end of capitalism. Indeed, the leading government officials of Cuba have for many years right up to the present, said they are working to “create socialism” and that they aren’t there yet.

    In the Critique of the Gotha Programme and elsewhere, Lenin stated that “state capitalism” may be needed for a while in Russia in order to develop productive capacity and other economic capabilities that capitalism is so good at developing, but would then probably require a second revolution later to complete the transition to socialism.

    China has incentivized private ownership of business and private profit which results. That is not state capitalism, but neither is it socialism.

    Mao warned about the “capitalist roaders” and for good reason as we now see. China today with its ultra-wealthy class built since 1950 has no relevance to socialism and “liberation of the working class from exploitation” that I can see. They are a failed attempt to create socialism in my estimation but I remain open to counter-argument.

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