Sunday, December 16, 2007

What is 'Communist' about China today?

There was a time the People's Republic of China was fiercely Communist. There was no private ownership of any thing. The Government run by the Communist Party decided on every aspect of its citizens' life. There was centralized planning of the economy.There was only State-sector. Private citizens were not allowed to set up industries. Foreign Companies were not allowed to exist. There was no individual freedom. No political party other than the Communist Party was allowed to function.

China remained closed to the outside world for a long time. No one who was an adult in the sixties could forget what Cultural Revolution meant for the citizens of China. Intellectuals were jailed, if not murdered. Books were burnt. No idea other than Communism was allowed to take roots. The Chairman of the Communist Party wielded more power than the President or the Prime Minister of the country. So, China was really an arch Communist Country then.

But what about today? What is so 'Red' about it? Can one still call China Communist? If so, on what grounds? The country , of course, still does not allow any Political Party other than the Communist Party to operate. There is no Democracy. The freedom of speech is still very much restricted. The Govt.uses force to make its Citizens obey. But such conditions exist in some other countries too, though the ruling parties in those countries are not Communist. So, single-party dictatorship and absence of democracy and freedom of speech alone can not make a country Communist.

Today China follows its own version of Capitalism. Though big industries are still in the State sector, private initiative is allowed in several walks of life. There are opportunities to grow rich. Capital inflow from the outside world is encouraged. There is a Stock Market trading in Chinese company shares. Foreigners visit China in droves. Beauty contests which were once considered part of the 'Decadent Capitalism' are now a part of the Chinese social scene. Private ownership of houses, cars and other trappings of the Capitalist system has been accepted. China is no more insular. There is considerable disparity among its people in sharing the fruits of the economy. While in the old Communist China there was no economic disparity among its people ( except for the fact that the party functionaries were a privileged class), today's China is like any other country where there are rich, poor, and middle classes.

Yes, China has its right to pursue any economic policy which guarantees a better life for its citizens. When the whole world is under the spell of Market Economy , why should China be an exception? But why this Communist mask ?

If China still calls itself Communist, Karl Marx must be squirming in his grave. The Chinese have discarded his 'Das Kapital' once for all and embraced his class enemy, the Capitalists in a bear hug. Or Dragon hug. Marx, if he can make himself heard to the Chinese Rulers, must be pleading helplessly " Choose any name you like for your rule, but not Communism and any colour you like but not Red. Bitte nicht Rot."

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