Is China moving back toward Marx?

And should we celebrate along with Xi Jinping?  That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, with plenty on the debates within socialist thought, here is the close:

Do I expect those future political reforms to take a Marxian path of the dictatorship of the proletariat? Probably not. But when it comes to China, Marx is the one theorist who has not yet been refuted. It’s the Western liberals and the Maoists who both have egg on their faces.

If you think of Western liberalism as the relevant alternative, you might feel discomfort at the Chinese revival of Marx. But if you think a bit longer on Maoism, its role in Chinese history and its strong nativist roots, you too might join in the Marx celebrations.

Do read the whole thing.


In what sense has Marx not been refuted? Is this another revival of the notion that true Marxist communism hadn't ever really been tried?

Yes, I find the article really problematic.

Marx described capitalism in his writings, so if you see capitalism happening then it is evidence that Marx is right? That's awfully weak.

Absent is any evidence that China is actually moving in a Marxist direction. And China any many others failed to implement Marxism, while killing millions in the attempts.

This would be just a silly counterintuitive argument--but it's not silly, because it has been written in a context where plenty of other voices still fail to speak clearly about a heinous, murderous ideology. To write about Marxism and fail to be clear about its historical consequences, but in fact muddy the waters, is inexcusable in my opinion.

Maybe even GMU has some quota for publishing about Marx during one's career.

I think China is promoting Marx and calling itself Marxist as a strategy for preventing radical Communist groups. It's like a bit from Mr. Show in which The American Founders propose to make the American flag out of shit because "Who would shit on a flag make out of shit? It wouldn't make any sense!"

As I read it, Tyler is really just saying but you can't skip the industrialization and urbanization phase of development. The important thing is that they have private companies and billionaires *now*.

And so while Marx is proven right about the path, as Tyler leaves hanging, the future is pretty unknown.

Yes, I agree with this reading. I'm saying that this reading is dumb.

The existence of capitalism doesn't vindicate Marx in any way. Capitalism is well known to exist (and it predates Marx). What would vindicate Marx is evidence that this is a phase on the way to a Marxist revolution. There is no evidence of this in contemporary China, and indeed no one has succeeded at this despite >100 years of trying.

The future is unknown, but at this point we have very strong evidence that it is not the future Marx envisioned.

You don't think you are getting caught up emotionally?

Seems to me that the Marx's ideas are separable, and and one is (worthy of being bolded), capitalism creates great wealth.

Tyler certainly did not buy into the rest that "we would all head toward the paradise of utopian communism."

Lots of people think that. Marx certainly didn't originate it.

What is distinctively Marxist is not capitalism but the path through capitalism to a peasant revolution and eventual communist utopia. Tyler is clearly referencing this narrative when saying Marx has not been refuted.

Obviously he is not endorsing that narrative or predicting that outcome.

See below, 9:00 am comment.

'What is distinctively Marxist is not capitalism but the path through capitalism to a peasant revolution and eventual communist utopia.'

Well, for some value of 'Marxism' that does not include what Marx actually believed or wrote, which was the only way to achieve an eventual communist utopia was through capitalism developing enough productive capacity that the workers would finally take control to share in the created wealth.

Marx considered peasantry utterly incapable of supporting the necessary productivity to allow that famous redistribution based on ability and need.

It is completely fine to say that Marx's ideas were the foundation of the Marxist ideology that arose decades after his death, including both Leninism and Maoism.

But considering that Marxism and social democracy share a lot of roots in terms of ideology, I am not quite so confident in rejecting modern Germany as an example of how at least some of the ideas found in both Marxism and social democracy always lead to death and destruction.

That Marxism - and let us be honest, using Germany as a prime example - plus the virulent reaction against it led to that hundred million total being several tens of millions dead higher, is historical fact.

Marx as political philosopher was clearly a disaster, but he never believed what you attribute to him. That Marx can somehow be redeemed as a political philosopher is equally clear as a project doomed to total failure.

In part because the SPD demonstrates how it is possible to avoid the inherent (that now one can accept as utterly unavoidable in practice) flaws in Marx's ideology.


But considering that Marxism and social democracy share a lot of roots in terms of ideology, I am not quite so confident in rejecting modern Germany as an example of how at least some of the ideas found in both Marxism and social democracy always lead to death and destruction.

The modern Social Democrat party in Germany is made up of people who no longer believe in Social Democracy. They just use the name. In that they are like the CDU which is made up of people who no longer believe in Christianity. And the Social Democrats were a party made up of those people who rejected the Marxist belief that violent Revolution was inevitable and unavoidable.

So sure, the credit for the policies of the people who rejected Social Democracy which is turn is an ideology based on the rejection of Marxism totally belongs to the Communists.

Whereas in reality modern Germany is a creation of the Nazis and the American Occupation Authorities. Just without the Jew hatred, well until the latest round of Vibrant Enrichment anyway. And Cassius Clay. No wait, Lucius Clay. I always get those two mixed up.

" Capitalism is well known to exist (and it predates Marx). What would vindicate Marx is evidence that this is a phase on the way to a Marxist revolution."

I agree. Modern China refutes Marx more than anything else, because China clearly has moved away from Communism to a largely capitalistic authoritarian state. I can see where Tyler is going, but just because China's recent history completely refutes Maoism, doesn't mean it in anyway supports Marxism.

In any case, Eastern Europe and Russia are direct refutations of Marx, regardless of China's recent history.

Marxism specifically and Communism generally are ugly, black eyes on history that for some reason we can't seem to move past.

Maybe the Straussian reading here is that Maoism is an especially rotten flavor of Marxism, so if we could move the Chinese hard left from Maoism to mere Marxism, we would have made a tiny incremental improvement? Improved the odds that the next bout of revolutionary violence results in a death toll somewhere in the low eight figures instead of mid eight figures?

I am confused by the pairing of Marxism and Maoism as if they were opposites. Surely Maoism is just Marxism?

The leading indicator would be China's billionaires. If they really thought Xi took Marxism (or Maoism) seriously, they would be fleeing before they were murdered and their property expropriated by the Masses.

Are they?

Mao "overturned" Marx with a peasant, rather than an industrial workers, revolt.

So did Lenin. So what?

Some diferences:

1 - In spite of all, the Russian Revolution begin in the industrial centers, and the bolsheviks have their main support in the industrial workers (the poor peasants supported more the Revolutionary Socialists)

2 - Lenin never theorized the peasants as the main force of the revolution

3 - Lenin did not believed in the possibility of the direct jump form pre-industrial society to socialism; then, the NEP, justified with the argument that "in the middle age, capitalism is good"

I don't think so. According to Stephen Kotkin, the Bolshevik Revolution was an urban thing. As late as 1928, the countryside was still "capitalistic" and not overrun with Marxist symbolism like the cities were. Collectivization and the extermination of the kulaks came later.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the current Chinese system favors urbanites. Young people growing up in rural areas have dismal economic prospects and substandard schooling, if any. They are not allowed to move to cities while urbanites are guaranteed residence down the generations. If China's rural people could organize, China might have a new revolution on its hands.

many excellent points but whichever sandwich narrative you end up swallowing from the sociology dept.
you are gonna need more biologists because
they are braver and more empiric without
being too bossy. biologists make good referees
most things aren't about
fear they are about biology
consider the poop incident in the town to
the southwest. there was poop in the creek.
pointing that out was mostly said to be fear of people, fear of poop, hate , uninclusiveness
fear of portapotties lack of diversity dualistic paranoia and there were
also some issues of aesthetics.
look at it from a Brazilian biologists point of
there was no conversation about hepatitis
which is the main reason you want to keep
poop out of the creek not because of how you feel about poop. the middle class is
starting to think
it is a evolutionary dead end to mostly eliminate
biology from the background of
people managing mostly
biological systems
mostly because people are afraid of biology.1
most of the biggest social problems we
are more biological than ideological
the ideology is getting to be like that
intermittent beepy noise from a smoke
detector/listening device thatalways starts in the middle of the night and gets in the
way of the signal which is the biology.

1 biology is fun
ovaries are intriguing

a biología es tu destino.
la biología es el dragón
en serio tiene a nadie
reconsideró la decisión de eliminar bastante básico
¿Biología de casi todos los grados universitarios?

desde una perspectiva de biólogos brasileños parece
la Academia substituyó la biología con
ideología y terminamos con Trump

Miguel Madeira - May 11, 2018 at 11:01 am 11

I am pretty sure that Lenin's main support was among soldiers and the peasants in general. That is why he adopted the Social Revolutionary program - not a Marxist one at all. But Land, Peace and Bread. He did not even try to win support by arguing for collective agriculture or central planning.

The peasants were the central force for all Communist Revolutions whether Lenin said so or not.

Lenin manifestly did believe in the jump from a peasant economy to socialism. And said so. Many times. That was the point. The other Marxists, notably the Mensheviks, argued that the Revolution had to wait and Lenin said no. The NEP was caused by the complete collapse of the Soviet economy caused by Lenin trying to impose Communism. It was so shocking to Lenin that he immediately had a stroke and soon died.

Brian Donohue - May 11, 2018 at 11:09 am 12

Collectivization in China did not come immediately either. There doesn't seem to be much of a difference between the two Revolutions actually. Even if I am loathe to disagree with Kotkin.

And of course Deng Xiaoping overturned Mao with “To get rich is glorious”

Yes but did he mean it in the way that a Western politician like François Guizot would - enrichissez-vous. Or did he mean it in the way that a farmer talking to his prize winning pig might - get fat so the sausages will be especially fine?

Pretty obvious he meant enrichissez-vous, and I'm still optimistic that Xi does too, while rallying the Chinese around a seriously misguided positive memory of Mao.

"Is this another revival of the notion that true Marxist communism hadn't ever really been tried?"

With perhaps the exception of East Germany and Checoslovakia, all supposedly marxist experiments were in low industrialized countries, then, yes, in that point marxism was not really tried (and even the two exceptions don't really count, because there marxism was implemented by an external invasion by a less economic developed country, not by a movement of the industrial working class motivated by contradicions of the capitalist system).

At some point, though, the fact that no industrialized country has moved toward Marxism, and no working class has ever voluntarily taken up Marx starts to amount to a refutation. Marx thought communism was inevitable, and history has shown otherwise.

What could go wrong?

The China economic miracle has turned conventional economic wisdom on its head. Or has it? According to conventional economic wisdom, a large state (public sector) is supposed to be a drag on development and growth. China defies the conventional economic wisdom. Indeed, as China's economy surges, the West's economies lag even as (or is it because?) the public sectors in the West shrink. I would prefer for economists to consider that question rather than resorting to the old standby: a little red-baiting. The point I've made several times is that the China miracle was built on the economic success of the West, which has been consuming all those products made in China mostly for Western firms that shifted production to China. That phase of China's miracle is rapidly coming to a close, to be replaced by a phase in which China firms produce goods for China firms not for Western firms, such goods to compete with the goods produced by and for Western firms (including the goods made in China for Western firms). Will this new phase be as successful as the phase coming to a close? That's the question Cowen should be asking. On the other hand, maybe that is Cowen's point, that the new phase in China may trigger a rise of Marxism because China won't have the economic success of the West to continue the China economic miracle.

Autocratic countries can grow rapidly from a low baseline, if they allow lots of free market capitalism to happen. But they almost never advance beyond middle income status.

The story in China doesn't really diverge from the conventional wisdom. China has a $16,600 GDP per capita. But China is so huge that the sheer size of its growth impresses (and fools) people.

The economics are trivial. China's economy surged after it was deradicalized because it was starting from nothing (indeed, had been ground down to nothing by Mao). All of the Asian tigers have followed the same trajectory. Even the communist ones (Laos, Vietnam) had enough slack production capacity to overcome the statist millstone, but they certainly have lagged their non-communist counterparts in South Korea and Taiwan.

Inequality is higher in China than in the U.S. One might view the crackdown on billionaires, such as the founder of Anbang, as an effort to release some of the social tension; after all, it is mostly small investors who were the losers in Anbang's collapse. In any case, the rising tensions between the U.S. and China triggered by hostile trade and territorial demands, and the rising tensions in the middle east between Israel and Iran and between the U.S. and Europe triggered by Trump's decision to scrap the nuclear accord with Iran, gives one a strong feeling of anxiety, especially if one prefers order and stability over chaos. As for Cowen, he prefers "disruption" over order and stability, so maybe he is excited about all the disruption around the world.

Have to fit that unrelated Iran-policy observation in somewhere today, I take it?

Ground Control to Major Ray!

The Chinese government spends about 14% of China's GDP. The American government spends just over 40%. China is not turning anything on its head. Small government means faster economic growth.

Yep. No welfare state. Get a job. Pay for medical.

I should have been more careful in my choice of terms. Mea culpa. By government spending I was actually referring to the high level of public capital investment, which is not included in "government spending" (which relates to consumption not investment). China's public capital investment is large, very large. By comparison, America has more "government spending", but it's public capital investment is dwarfed by that in China. That's the fundamental difference between America and China. China is running circles around America in economic growth in large part due to the enormous public capital investment in China.

You're both focusing on the small factors. The main factor is ably mentioned by dan1111 above: from a very low baseline China is doing a huge amount of catch up growth, and that growth is now slowing and will eventually match the growth of other developed nations.

China’s robust industrial policy, state mercantilism, protectionism, etc needs to be figured in. Basically anyone who wanted to move their production to China had to turn over their IP at the border, along with the ownership and instead “buy local.”

Not sure what to call that, but capitalism doesnt really seem to fit.

Long Live Xi! Ten thousand years, ten thousand years, ten thousand of ten thousand years! Sailing the seas depends on the helmsman!

@Tom T. : "In what sense has Marx not been refuted?"

well, Tyler's assertion that "... Marx is the one theorist who has not yet been refuted." is preposterous on its face -- therefore, it's pointless to seek an explanation. That empty assertion was offered merely to spice-up the Bloomberg column and attract some attention.
(how is China doing with Marx's Labor-theory-of-value or polylogism)

Masterful job of trolling and covering your left flank, Tyler. This should buy you some room for continued dabbling with Deplorables.

I'm perpetually stunned that humanity's most august civilization remains in part in thrall to a second rate European thinker and bum. If I were Chinese, I'd find this embarrassing.

Is there any sense in which Marx foresaw that, two centuries after his death, zero advanced capitalist countries would have succumbed to his vision, while a smattering of poor, less developed countries would have taken his ideas for a disastrous spin? Is that what he predicted?

The revolution seems to be perpetually around the corner, but the fact is that, worldwide, the high-water mark was The Great Depression. The closest parallel that comes to mind is the early Christian church's anticipation of the imminent Second Coming. The comparison is, I think, instructive- Marxism is a religion, and, as such, is eternally unfalsifiable. And like Christians, we shall always have Marxists among us.

The equation of voluntary communitarian lifestyles with Marxism is common, and it's dead wrong. You might as well say that giving birthday presents is Marxist. Choosing to exercise your property rights by sharing your property with others is quite different from violently taking away property for redistribution.

I'm not stating an equivalency here (although the early days of the Acts of the Apostles was pretty communistic), just noting the irony that the "opiate of the masses" guy accidentally founded a new religion, and like any decent religion, it's got some built-in durability in the face of difficult facts.

It's understandable to compare Christianity and Marx's ideology but they are completely opposite in reality. I guess you could say Communism assumes God is not real, and paradise is brought about by the collective of mankind. Whereas in Christianity, paradise is brought about by the individual, or rather, the individual gets to enter paradise based on personal actions that are completely removed from the state of the collective of humanity. In other words, drawing similarities between the political ideology of Marxism and the religion of Christianity is only possible by twisting Christianity into something it's not.

Well, to be fair, in those experiments, the US military and CIA did have a habit of contaminating the control groups.

It’s like saying terrorists bombed the lab, so therefore the experiment failed.

Tyler closed his previous column with this paragraph
"Most discussions about monetary policy aren’t about economic theory (properly understood) at all. Rather they are about blaming the system, as people feel a sense of outrage that somehow someone isn’t trying hard enough to fix basic problems. Most of the claims out there, when put under the microscope of reason, dissolve into beautiful, brilliant agnosticism. How little we know.”

I think Tyler could have closed his new column with this paragraph
“Most discussions about post-Mao China’s economy aren’t about economic ideas (properly understood) at all. Rather they are about celebrating wealth, as people feel a sense of joy that Deng Xiaoping tried hard enough to fix some of his country’s basic problems. Most of the claims out there, when put under the microscope of reason, dissolve into a beautiful, brilliant agnosticism. How little I know.”

I seems people above are misunderstandings this criticism:

"It’s the Western liberals and the Maoists who both have egg on their faces."

Part one says that the idea that the "freedom to choose" in markets and democracies were bound, might have been optimistic.

Part two just says that agrarian communism really is the worst. Sharing bad harvests.

Those points both have merit, but why place those points within a framework of "Marx is not as bad/wrong as you thought"?

Marxism is a third failed option (or two-and-a-halfth depending on its relationship to Maoism).

I guess Tyler didn't expect to step on your tail.

I mean really, you think the world is crawling with real-life Marxists ready to seize on Tyler's column and launch the revolution?

What I would like to see is a consensus that Marxism is an evil, utterly discredited ideology that killed 100 million people. Such a consensus does not exist, and I think we should be extremely worried about the fact that it does not exist. Not because a Marxist revolution is right around the corner, but because if we can't even agree that Marxism is abhorrent, then what other evil things might we allow? If we don't learn from history, we will repeat it, and all that.

This is why Tyler's kinda-sorta apology for Marx bothers me. On a point where I feel there is a moral imperative for clarity, he is not clear.

Yes, there are some valid points in the column. And I get that it's not really about defending Marx; it's about Western and Chinese attitudes. But I still object to the column's "maybe Marx isn't so bad" framing.

I certainly understand that Marxism is an evil, utterly discredited ideology that killed 100 million people.

I think whole world does, which is why where Xi will go with this is up in the air.

Robert H has a good take on this. The Chinese technocracy will do what they do, and call it Marxism, or not.

The whole world? Plenty of people are smart enough to get PhDs without knowing this.

I think real live Marxism is a monster that long since climbed out from under the bed, and went off to die somewhere.

Venezuela maybe.

I more or less agree, and I understand why naive young people continue to dabble in this stupidity, but I am not so forgiving of educated adults embracing the horror given what we have learned in the past century.

Same goes for Nazism, but this worries me even less, because it doesn't have the broad humanitarian appeal to naive youngsters that Marxism does, and I'm pretty sure you can count the number of Nazi professors infesting academia on zero hands.

It is possible that a belief in the primacy of the state, in combination with AI and universal surveillance, will lead to horrors only known in fiction.

The fact that they might do it *while* oligarchs amass billions makes it more scary, not less.

As does the observation that we have our own trends towards oligarchy and surveillance.

This comment seems misses the target.

Tyler says:
" The hope was that a socialist revolution would solve the problem of distribution and eventually we would all head toward the paradise of utopian communism.
It’s the Western liberals and the Maoists who both have egg on their faces."

Tyler isn't refuting freedom of choosing in markets and democracies. He's refuting the idea the China's Maoist Communism disproves Marxian Communism.

Furthermore, Tyler isn't saying that agrarian communism won't work due to bad harvests, he's saying that it won't work because it had low productivity and failed to "eliminate scarcity". It's not the bad harvests that doomed Maoism. China was losing ground to western civilization during the good harvest years.

Did you read carefully?

"How about the Western liberals? They used to say that as China liberalized its economy, and became wealthy, it would shed the communist party and become much more democratic. That prediction is also not holding up well."

This is true, but it's not what you wrote.

"Did you read carefully?"

Did you write carefully?

JWatts zings carefully.

I consider those sentences quite equivalent.

Especially considering that these ideas are not new. People have been worrying about the breakdown of Milton Friedman's dream for a least a decade. Ever since, in fact, Chinia "became capitalist whike remaining communist" in their unique way.

Friedman argues for economic freedom as a precondition for political freedom. He defines "liberal" in European Enlightenment terms, contrasting with an American usage that he believes has been corrupted since the Great Depression. His views are especially popular among American conservatives and libertarians.

But Friedman insists that economic freedom is a necessary condition for political freedom, and not a sufficient condition. He discusses this theoretically and with many examples (I think he mentions fascist Italy, where at least in the beginning year economic freedoms were Okay but political rights were quickly destroyed).

To "falsify" Friedman, you would need an example of a country with very low economic freedom but good political freedom. China 2018 is certainly not an example of that.

Rather that Firedmann's vision it is more Fukuyama's which is in tension with the example of China.

The obvious recent examples of Friedman's view are South Korea and Taiwan. Get rich and develop a middle class under the generals, then the middle class demands a say in the political process when they have the power to do so.

China will get there.

"China will get there."

I used to think it was just a matter of time. That Tiananmen Square represented the last desperate grasp of authoritarianism. Then China took over the South China Sea and Xi had his term limits removed.

I do think the two processes (authoritarianism vs economic prosperity) are mostly opposed. But I'm not longer confident in the outcome of the battle.

"But Friedman insists that economic freedom is a necessary condition for political freedom, and not a sufficient condition."

I think the liberal view, the one Tyler was referencing, went a bit further yes. Thinking, or just perhaps hoping, that expanding economic freedom created the right kind of momentum.

I agree. Simply I pointed that this optimist liberal view is not represented by Friedman, who was not the kind of thinker to make long-term prevision into the future of society. It is well represented by Fukuyama for instance, and many others.

(Sharing bad harvests was my rueful summation of agrarian communism.)

Well, we will have to see what happens when economic growth slows down and how the economic elite/workers react. However it is still capitalist dictatorship that mostly using soft power to control behavior and China has enough cheap labor to continue fast. (However there will be a financial crisis because there is always a financial crisis with any capitalist economy. My guess it is 2024ish and follows more Japanese style.) So I am not sure if they completely reject Marx and it is clear they are not embracing Hayek either.

They do still have a lot of cheap labor, but I'm seeing more older workers now, not so many kids.

And population is set to shrink in 2020.

Shrinking population could combine with housing to form a crisis.

If you want a really depressing idea, the bit about Western liberals is intended to tie to the whole Global Retreat of Democracy vibe.

Cowen: "Right before Deng’s reforms, per capita income in China was only a few hundred dollars a year and the starvation of millions was a recent memory."

True, GDP per capita was only a few hundred dollars per year, and it was only a few hundred dollars a year for the next eight years as well but under much faster 10% growth: 1980 $300, 1984 $600, 1987 $800. (PPP, $2017)

China was already growing at around a fast 6% a year from 1962, fell during the Cutural Revolution but only briefly to return to 6% per year growth as shown by the graph here:

China's GDP per capita was $300 in 1980. But the Chinese economy had been growing at 6% a year for most of the Mao years except for the Cultural Revolution? Is that what you are saying?

Growth of 6% means a doubling every ten years or so. It seems you are implying that China's economy doubled twice - or more depending on what you mean by "briefly" as applied to the Cultural Revolution.

So you are claiming that in 1949 Chinese GDP per capita was about $80? Or do you think that perhaps the Communist government lies a lot?

Todd just says 6% since 1962. This year was the end of the "great leap forward", so we're starting from a very low base; from the graph in the link given by Todd, the Chinese economy of 1962 was back at his point of 1952, just after the destructions of WWII and the civil war. Thus, the assertion of an annual 6% growth from 1962 to 1980 except during the cultural revolution doesn't seem absurd in his face. That's a multiplication by about 3 of the Chinese economy from 1962 to 1980, or actually from 1952 to 1980, staring from a very very low beginning, and thats not per capita figures, at a time were Chinese population were growing very fast.

"...or actually from 1952 to 1980, staring from a very very low beginning, and thats not per capita figures, ...."

The graph I linked to gives GDP per capita figures.

Ah okay, I missed that. But the 6% growth figure is not per capita?

You are right - in the text it says GDP was 6%. I knew that China's GDP pere capita was 5% in the 1970s before Deng's reforms and saw the 6% figure in the text so mistakenly used that.

The graph shows GDP per capita was about $200 (1990 dollars) in 1952 and $500 in 1972, which is an average growth rate of 7.5% over those twenty years and 6% growth from 1972 to 1979, the first year of Deng's reforms.

GDP fell quite a bit during The Great Leap Forward as well but recovered.

Did you look at the log graph of China's growth and read the summary? It shows China GDP per capita (PPP) was around $200 but that is in 1990 dollars and the wiki link Cowen linked to gives PPP 2017 dollars.

As far as lying, non Chinese economists can also give a good estimate of growth. Around ten years ago, the World Bank cut China's GDP by a notable amount - I think by 25% upon their reevaultion. South Korea's central bank has been providing estimates of North Korea's GDP since 1991.

The straussian reading is Tyler wants to cripple China as a geopolitical rival by encouraging them to embrace Marxism.

It won’t work. The Chinese students I knew in grad school had a heroic capacity to take good ideas and then translate them into Marxist ideology so they would be acceptable. Their straussian take on Marx is that you don’t believe Marxism, you make what you believe Marxism.

They might have icons of Marx in places, but that is to save face and confuse Western intellectuals. Their economic system has more in common with National Socialism than Marxism. And their forays into movie production bring the nationalist message.

Marx would be aghast at the credit-score-on-steroids-system the Chinese are putting in place. Surely the lowly proletariat will fare horribly under that system?

"And their forays into movie production bring the nationalist message."
So what? Stalin was angered at Eisenstein because the latter did not praise Ivan the Terrible as much as the former thought adequate. Yet, America opposed Stalin, but supports Red China's totalitarian regime.

They aren't Marxists.

Yet, Stalin famously developed Marx insights on Dialetical Materialism (Diamat).

Marx would be aghast at the credit-score-on-steroids-system the Chinese are putting in place.

Why do you think that? Lenin tried to explain how future Communist societies would work with no police or foremen to enforce social norms. He said that basically everyone would be watching everyone else as they all lived in a giant communal dormitory and so no one could afford to slack off.

China's social credit system seems like it is perfectly in line with the core of Marxism to me. What did Marx write that would even suggest he was opposed to the idea?

Communism works! The food shortage that led to mass starvation in China under Chairman Mao was SOLELY the result of drought and horrific extreme weather caused by GLOBAL WARMING.

As the Chinese economy grows, we see increasing disparities in wealth.

Marx would predicate that the workers will demand a more significant share of this new wealth (which the bourgeoisie will not share) that will lead to a socialist revolt and a redistribution of wealth. Private ownership will be replaced with collective ownership etc. Simply, class struggle forces a change in the economic system, and this changes the social structure.

Many Western analysts claim that the growing wealth will be redistributed through the market - the interest of the capitalist and the worker are the same. Growth and profits benefit both parties. As wealth increases, one of the things people want to buy is greater control over the rules that shape society. This desire leads to a drive for a more democratic government.

The Chinese communist party leaders are seeking to maintain power. Whether they will surrender that control is uncertain and at present appears unlikely. That may lead to a union of the economic elites and the party leaders. They will repeat the Russian model of crony capitalism or a kleptocracy.

(The Chinese often look like they would prefer Neocolonialism as they expand around the world.)

Tyler argues that Marxism still has an appeal to the Chinese. Income disparities can lead to class struggle which changes the economic system, and this changes the social structure. The Marxist call for revolution, amongst many modern Marxist at least, does not mean violent revolution. It can call, strangely enough, for the fall of the current communist party in China.

Will we see the creation of a break between party elites and the new growing economic elites - a rejection of the Russian model? Will the new path be more capitalist or socialist? At least for the near future, it seems to be drifting toward Neocolonialism and crony capitalism. The Marxist class struggle leading to social change seems uncertain, but to some degree appealing.

I do think China's leaders have some instinctual leftist pro-worker thoughts. This is why the keep raising minimum wages, for example.

Minimum wages vary greatly across China and are sometimes held down to maintain competitiveness and maintain employment. Wages equal MPL and cost of capital. In China minimum wages are probably not keeping up with MPL increases.

Wage flexibility in real terms seems part of the Chinese system.

If you are a US nationalist and care only about the USA maintaining its economic preeminence over China, you will applaud Xi as his authoritarian bent will take the country backward in the direction of Mao rather than Deng.

If you value the net happiness of humanity, of which the well-being of nearly 1/5 its population is not an insignificant component, you will not be so thrilled.

Even more to the point, if you are a Marxist Professor then you will certainly applaud XI moving China in the direction of Mao rather than Deng.

Of course, the Communists have never valued the happiness of humanity in the same way as the majority of mankind. I'm sure they would proclaim that crushing individual property rights was essential to future happiness. If a few million workers have to die, to expedite the situation, then so be it.

Ok - this is taking the "on the both hands" part of Tyler that is already getting old way too far. These tweedley-dee masturbatory perspectives actually cost lives. Shame on you. Grow a pair. Take a stand.

I think I will hence-forward describe these type of posts as Sans Oignons. Without Onions.

There are a lot of growth versus level misunderstandings here. Growing fast from dirt is not like catching up with the rest of the word. #soinsoignons

So let's see. Brazil supports America and is mocked and hated. Chinese murder young Americans -- it is praised!!

Is there a cut off in number of murders and imposed suffering caused, that divides the killing done at the hand of communists, versus those by capitalist nations? Such that one is evil and the other not worth mentioning, depending on where they sit on the scale.

Does it depend on where you put the nazis, like arguing theyre actually communist or something?

Or imperial england for that matter. Can someone explain how their violence doesnt count?

MR commenters, please read up on Marxism. The ignorance here is astounding.

Andrew Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest are the pride of Tennessee. In high school we memorize events with the reverence of little psychopaths. But the mention of Marx or socialism in polite society is akin to summoning Voldemort. I am skeptical of Marx’s demonization, when our idols are butchers. I must have read 10+ articles over the last week saying “he killed millions”. Then I look at the history of religion or the American myth and I scratch my head.

Where would we be if Korea had never been ripped apart? If Vietnam never invaded? Our attempts to eradicate Communism have failed. I am hopeful that China transforms into a more tolerant environment. America needs to work on its own issues for awhile. Are we content to turn our eye inward or is paternalism an impossible habit to break?

Indeed. Not to mention the coup in Iran, and a variety of leftist African and SA nation. Oh and that Saddam guy.

A murderous dictator installed here, a right wing death squad trained there, paramilitary narco-trafficers here there and everywhere (flying loads on CIA planes)... pretty soon it starts to add up

that's a laughable comment --- china has always been its own; and always will be

sometimes, a big walks into the room? It's like thunder & lightening, in the distance

A resurgence of the cult of personality rooted in Maoist, nationalistic, xenophobia is tsking place. The Maoists based their movement on the Marxist-Leninist ideological model with the Little Red Book added for effect. The present leaders are digressing to an outdated, imported ideology that failed and wreaked havoc on humanity. The ideas represented by Christianity and democratic republics are too individualistic and endanger the collective dictatorship. They are
therefore prosecuted and suppressed. Devilish antics that bode badly for China's future.

I think the column is OK on the economics. The problem is economists tend to think of Marxism as just an economic theory. There's far more to Marxism than that. Philosophy and politics. Power and who gets to wield it. And Marxism is militantly atheistic. There's no space for a competing religion in the Marxist state.

Boy, this was quick: from support for free markets to appreciation and even "celebration" of Marx, in 10 years or so.

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