Saturday, June 23, 2007

Speaking of the RCP

While the RCP is content to concern itself with meaningless questions like defining a Marxist ideology and a Marxist worldview that's absolutely comprehensive and absolutely true in a "Scientific" way, the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party pre-Cultural Revolution is actually fairly interesting. The main question that they set out to answer was what would a revolutionary change mean for a country that has no industrial working class but is instead dominated by farming communities. They answered the question by rethinking what equality meant in a pre-capitalist environment, then implemented it in the areas that they controlled. Redistributing land, breaking down the traditional power structure in the village and creating more participatory ways of decisionmaking. The concept, from what I gather, was to go from this sort of proto-socialist equality to full blown socialism through a managed process that cut out the need to go through a traditionally capitalist phase.

The whole capitalist phase of society in general proved to be utterly meaningless for most of the third world, which exists largely in a non-capitalist or semi-capitalist state. I mean, the reason that people were proposing socialism was because of the exploitative nature of capitalism where as Marx noted "All that is solid melts into air". Why should people want to go through that?

1 comment:

the burningman said...

Can you link to where the RCP ever, anywhere uses expressions like "absolutely true" or "absolutely comprehensive"?

From what I read, their rap is that Marxism is a scientific approach to reality, one that "embraces, not replaces" other means of understanding.

A scientific ideology is different from both science (in the "hard" or "natural" sense), as well as scientism – or the use of scientific jargon to round out ungrounded hypotheses.

China did, in fact, have a large proletariat before the revolution. It was concentrated in the coastal cities, particularly Shanghai. It should be noted that the CP always enjoyed political hegemony among these workers, both before and after the revolution.

However, they still accounted for less than 5% of the population. By way of comparison, the proletariat was around 10% of the Russian population at the time of the Bolshevik revolution.

The disjunction between the urban and rural working classes in Russia was the cause of great suffering, where "primitive accumulation" was forced onto the agricultural classes there – and was something the Chinese both noted, and under Mao's leadership "absolutely" avoided.

Instead of just nationalizing land and having the state act as uber-landlord, they carried out land-to-the-tiller style reform (as well as immediate changes to the gender system that gave women full personhood for the first time ever).

Mao's particular analysis is far deeper than you're digging into here.

He noted that countries like China (or Iran, Russia, even today's Venezuela) are set up along "bureaucrat-capitalist" lines that use a large state structure to hold together industry/polity while maintaining feudal relations in the countryside.

If we look at (post-Maoist, now capitalist) China, we see that the state has returned to the pre-revolutionary bureaucrat-capitalist set-up.

Mao's analysis wasn't just "pro-farmer" or somethink like that. It was that socialist transformation must come out of the people themselves, and be manifested through tangible transformations in not just who conceptually "owns," but how we work, manage and reproduce our relations of production...

...which would bring us to the Cultural Revolution.

Obviously groups like the RCP aren't trying to invoke an agricultural revolution in the United States, so that is not really what makes Maoism a coherent philosophy today.

It's much more about "revolutionary communism" or, again, grounding communism among oppressed people and how they live and work, not just the policies of government.

It's also worth noting that "socialism" has always (everywhere) contained significant degrees of capitalist production. The Chinese bourgeoisie was never entirely dispossessed, provided their industries worked to build up the productive capacity of the country... even while (under socialism) China forbid the capitalists (as such) from exercising political or social power outside the managment and ultimate control of the state.

The insistence that Marxists believe in some "stage theory" only really applies to Trotskyites, who it should be noted have never led any actual socialist revolutions.

From Lenin's April Theses through Mao's People's War to todays Naxalites in South Asia – this pejorative claim of apriori "stages" has much more to do with pretending Marxism stopped when Marx died than in understanding the material world we live in.

In other words, Marxism is a scientific approach to reality and social revolution that isn't about making the feet fit the shoes... but making the road by walking.