Northite Revisionism on Chinese Revolution of 1949
The following is excerpted from recent discussion in the IBT:
A few months ago the World Socialist Web Site (WSWSdaily on-line publication of the Socialist Equality Party headed by David North) made a significant reevaluation of the nature of the Chinese state.
In 1917 No. 26 (2004) we observed that WSWS articles on China studiously avoid the elementary question as to whether China is a bourgeois or deformed workers' state, while combining descriptions of a ruling Stalinist bureaucracy with references to Chinese capitalism. Recently, however, the Northites have proclaimed that the state that issued from the 1949 Chinese Revolution was bourgeois from its origins.
A lengthy report by WSWS China "correspondent" John Chan to a WSWS International Editorial Board meeting in late January was subsequently posted as a three-part series on the WSWS under the title "The implications of China for world socialism" (March 9, 10, and 11) http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/mar2006/cha3-m11.shtml. In the third part Chan claims that, following the smashing defeat suffered at the hands of the Guomindang in 1927, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was transformed into a radical nationalist movement in alliance with sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie. A few paragraphs later Chan asserts: Like other bourgeois nationalist movements, the Maoist regime had no difficulty in abandoning its anti-imperialist rhetoric and transforming China into a cheap labour platform [with the onset of Deng-era market reforms].
In 1949, when this bourgeois nationalist movement finally triumphed in its civil war with the Guomindang, it created a new state in its own image:
Rather than some kind of deformed workers state, it would more accurate to characterise Maos China from the outset as a deformed bourgeois state. The anti-working class character of the regime has been apparent ever since 1949, as the Beijing bureaucracy suppressed any independent role of the workers. Under market reform, Beijing has consciously acted as the collective representative of the interests of both Chinese capitalists and foreign investors, using police-state measures to enforce the ruthless exploitation of the working class.
Rather than tying themselves in knots trying to explain how a deformed workers state could be seamlessly transformed into a bourgeois one, the Northites have decided that Communist China must have been a capitalist state (albeit a deformed one) from the beginning. In a subsequent article entitled Chinas new five- year plan: futile hopes and promises (23 March), http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/mar2006/chin-m23.shtml. Chan dismisses the introduction of Soviet-style central planning under Mao:
The expropriation of the national bourgeoisie as well as foreign capital and the subordination of the key elements of the economy to centralized control was qualitatively different than what was loosely referred to as economic planning in countries like India and Turkey. What the Northites have done is extend to China the absurd position, first developed by Gerry Healy (the former leader of the international tendency from which the WSWS is politically descended), that Cuba remained capitalist because the working class did not exercise direct political power.
It is hardly surprising that the Northites are enthusiastic about the various democratic movements in China, particularly Hong Kong. While praising the aspirations of ordinary working people for democratic rights, the WSWS admonishes the democrats for seeking to confine the opposition to manoeuvres within the present anti-democratic framework (John Chan, Hong Kong political reform package rejected, 10 January: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jan2006/hkon-j10.shtml). Chan offers no criticism of the role of organizations with explicitly anti-Communist and counter-revolutionary politics in the Hong Kong demonstrations. Perhaps the Northites hope that democracy will correct the deformities of the Chinese bourgeois state.
In a somewhat parallel development the WSWS seem to have concluded that, with Lulas victory, the Brazilian trade union bureaucracy transformed itself into a layer of the bourgeoisie:
Of course, the Northites claim that trade unions everywhere have become capitalist institutions that are completely incapable of defending even the basic interests of workersso perhaps the Brazilian transformation is not so remarkable.
Posted: 25 August 2006