Can we take another look at China?

Maybe an economic depression can be avoided (not likely), but the depression of the people’s spirit is sweeping the USA. COVID may have been the trigger, not just that the virus itself made us feel powerless, but also the specter of the capitalists enriching themselves off our pain. Disaster capitalism fuels disasters. 

Looking for hope in this period is challenging. Discouragement emanates from every corner – war, hyperinflation, the likelihood of a Republican takeover, the result of our tolerating a racist form of “democracy.” And rising racism, the darkest cloud in the future, pun intended. 

Here is one hopeful fact. While the United States has had a million COVID deaths, China, the place where COVID began, has had 5,000. Looking at those numbers give one pause. Let’s take another look at China. 

I cut my teeth as a leftist on Mao. I was married to quotes from “On Contradiction:” He was a clear thinker. He was far from perfect. But he did embody a socialist spirit. The Cultural Revolution sucked and ended up giving power to the capitalists. Many of us rejected the Chinese model as hopelessly capitalist. But what has evolved is a coalition between the Communist Party and international capital. To build a country, you need capital. You have to get it from somewhere. As a result, China has brought more people out of poverty than any country ever. 

It’s a joke of course for the US to accuse China of being undemocratic. The US version of democracy is a pitiful model. I won’t defend China for its treatment of the Uyghurs. It’s no utopia. But we have to acknowledge that authoritarianism is sometimes a survival construct: take COVID. Look at those numbers again. Yes, China may be undercounting COVID deaths. But even if if was a hundred thousand, they’d still be way ahead.

Lenin called it the dictatorship of the proletariat, after all. Is China socialist? I’m opposed to ismism. We adopt the proven philosophy of dialectical materialism, Marx’ greatest contribution. With the precarity of the planet, we need to look for what works. What’s a government for if not to keep people alive?

It’s true China hasn’t fully embraced a trajectory away from climate change. But when it does, its actions will likely be the most effective – and ruthless. The planet is dying for more ruthlessness in its behalf. 

Oh, and which country is most likely benefit from the war in the Ukraine? The Buddhistic neutral to the South with a thin smile like its very coast. 

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