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Booknotes: Is the East Still Red?

January 19th, 2016 · No Comments

Is the East Still Red?: Socialism and the Market in China

The argument in this book will have to speak for itself, but this text is a good moment to consider something broader: the debate over market socialism has missed the point. These debates assume an economy is a unified dynamical system. But is that true? We see in reality hybrids where components not logically reconciled coexist together and create a new overall effect. Take the case of China and consider how elements of capitalism, communism, and market socialism coexist. It is beside the point to declare market socialism refuted as we examine cases like that of China. The real issue is the remnant stalinism that corrupts what is, or could be, just as well a version of democratic socialism. We see capitalist sectors and socialist sectors and their interaction.
Now it is likely we as americans could never accept such a system. But that again isn’t the point. At a time of crisis we can assemble a hybrid (no doubt pledged to a transition beyond capitalism) in many forms, and all the theoretical books on the subject go out the window. We can only find out by trying. We need to remorph the chinese case to include, freedom from american imperialism, a capitalism sector with property ownership either still individual or state controlled, parallel socialist/civil society sectors, and much other ad hockery. All these theoretical books tell us what we can or can’t do, but China makes mincemeat of all the ruckus (those books are still of interest, of course).
The issue for an american left is to consider such hybrids beside neo-communism pure, along with evolutionary/revolutionary tracks under construction, etc…

And on top of that the method to construct a pure communist system with new technologies of planning lurks in the background of this transitional hybrid ‘mess’ that works about the way the Chinese mess works. The key issue is to remorph this toward versions of democratic culture without the free rights to capital industrialism without feedback from an economic court, viz. pre-analysis of environmental impact.

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