Communism isn’t working: China’s shift to pseudo-capitalism

Kate Reynolds – Period 3

Karl Marx explains in Chapter 2 of “The Communist Manifesto” that several steps must be taken in order to enforce communism. Marx states that one of the steps that should be taken is “[e]qual liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture” [1]. Marx argues that industrial armies should be established for the benefit of society and to help keep a country’s economy competitive. In the time period known as the Great Leap Forward, China attempted to apply this strategy and instantiated industrial armies in order to develop agriculture and industry. Everyone in the society worked for the common good. Although it appeared successful at first, China was unable to meet its bare minimum requirement for harvest and it is estimated that around 9 million people died of starvation in 1960 alone. Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist party, admitted failure [2]. In communist economies today such as China, the realistic application of communism strays far from the ideal society that Marx had constructed in “The Communist Manifesto.”

Marx then explores his view of the negative effects of capitalism: “the need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere” [3]. Rather than mirroring Marx’s utopia of peace and a balanced economy, China is doing whatever it takes in order to remain competitive in the industrial market. In order to do this, China is sending teams to the United States to learn western business practices, and then stealing these practices and bringing them back to China. Rather than forming their own business innovation, China is dependent on economic theft. This theft is creating an “industrial war” – a sort of cyber war in which the United States is firing against China for stealing tools to aid them in the industrial competition.

China’s economy has shifted to a sort of pseudo-capitalism that strays from Marx’s ideal communism. China has relied to this pseudo-capitalist society because they are unable to thrive as a purely communist economy, shown by the failure of the Great Leap Forward.

In “Liberty and Property” by Ludwig von Mises, Mises contradicts Marx’s views against capitalism and explains how capitalism can be used for good. Mises says that “capitalism is not simply mass production, but mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses” and later furthers upon capitalism:

The shortcoming of nineteenth-century historians and politicians was that they failed to realize that the workers were the main consumers of the products of industry. In their view, the wage earner was a man toiling for the sole benefit of a parasitic leisure class. They labored under the delusion that the factories had impaired the lot of the manual workers [4].

Marx failed to realize that capitalism was benefitting both classes. China cannot thrive as a communist society – they are unable to remain competitive and innovative and are becoming dependent on westernized economies. Through industrial war China can attempt to remain competitive; however, this shows that the ideal communist society that Marx designed is not effective in modern society as China is shifting towards capitalist ideologies.

[1] Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto, Chapter II, 6 .

[2] C. N. Trueman “The Great Leap Forward” The History Learning Site, 26 May 2015. 7 May 2018.

[3] Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto, Chapter I, 3.

[4] von Mises, Ludwig. Liberty and Property, 2.

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