Friday, May 16, 2008

Currently reading "On New Democracy" by Mao

This is a text that the RCP probably doesn't care much for. It was written before the propaganda blitz and dictatorial excess of the Cultural Revolution, was written in 1940 before the Chinese Communist Party won the war both against Japanese occupation and against the Nationalists of the Kuomintang. On New Democracy is a really important document because it lays out how Mao and the CCP saw a revolution coming to be in a country where the vast majority of the people were peasant farmers. The solution was to put off a total and complete revolution, say the 'Revolution from Above' that Stalin inflicted on Russia in 1928, and instead establish a kind of semi-socialist society that allows a lot of economic market freedom on the part of farmers and small business in order to facilitate economic development. This is because in that era there wasn't any economic development. The sort of stores, commercial centers, not to mention factories, largely didn't exist in China outside of a few centers, with very basic markets, small towns, and farming communities being the basis of the country. Economic development under the protection of a socialist movement would be the way to develop these features of a modern economy without having capitalism take over completely. The end point would be a transition to a fully socialist economy.

Very interesting.

This, by the way, was what the much maligned "New Economic Policy" in early Soviet Russia was aimed at doing. Russia, despite what Lenin wrote about capitalism in certain places being constructed out of the most modern methods, was an overwhelmingly agrarian society. The NEP tried to have a sort of managed capitalism that had the socialist components predominating. Stalin claimed that the NEP had gone a long ways to reestablishing capitalism in Russia, and theoretically weakening socialism, but that was part of the point. His response, even if you believe that that was a dangerous situation, or that it was somehow avoidable, was to viciously force collectivization on the large mass of peasants farmers across the USSR, leading to famines, deaths, and many people thrown into the GULAG system on the belief that they were enemies of the people who had profiteered wealth through the NEP policies.

The idea of state managed capitalism, even when the state is specifically socialist and everyone knows going into it that the socialists would be in control, brings up a lot of questions of accountability and of how exactly this sort of thing could be possible without the bureaucrats becoming the new exploiters out for their own aggrandizement.

Maybe I'll examine those questions later, comrades, but for now I'll leave the topic open. It's sort of the question of all non-spontaneous economic development.

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