New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Socialism, the choice of the Chinese people

by Andy Brooks

On 23rd November, the Chinese Embassy in London held an online symposium on the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee, where Ambassador Zheng Zeguang delivered a keynote speech. Andy Brooks, General Secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain, Robert Griffiths, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, Ella Rule, Chair of the CPGB (ML), Martin Jacques, a renowned expert on China, and Stephen Perry, Chair of the 48 Group Club, spoke at the event.

Also present were Professor Martin Albrow, a fellow at the Academy of Social Sciences in London; Sir Martin Davidson, Chair of the Great Britain-China Centre; and representatives of various other political parties, experts, scholars and representatives from the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party. This is Andy Brooks’ contribution to the discussion.

FIRST OF ALL, I would like to thank the organisers for allowing me to say a few words at this seminar focusing on the major achievements and historical experience of the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the last 100 years of its existence.

For a communist party to have survived for 100 years is, in itself, something to celebrate. To have led the Chinese people to victory is another. To raise the millions upon millions of the Chinese people out of poverty to build the modern socialist society that we see today is a third. And this is only the beginning of the march of progress in the 21st century.

expanding

Feudal China was once the workshop of the world. When the people’s government was established in 1949 China had the lowest standard of living in the world. Today China can now not only feed, clothe and educate its people, but also provide consumer goods and living standards for working people unimaginable before liberation. China has a modern expanding economy that has withstood the current global capitalist crisis to once again become the workshop of the world and is sharing its prosperity through the Belt and Road Initiative that spans the globe.

One hundred years have passed since the foundation of the CPC on 23rd July 1921. China has risen from being a weak semi-feudal, semi-colonial country to become a force for peace in the global arena with the second largest economy in the world.

In the past China’s wealth was the preserve of a ruthless, feudal ruling class. These days China’s wealth is being used to finally eradicate the last vestiges of poverty, raise the standard of living of everyone in the people’s republic, and help the development of the Third World through genuine fair trade and economic assistance.

This is the glorious achievement of the CPC which led the resistance that defeated the Japanese imperialists and the reactionary Chinese warlords and politicians in the pay of American imperialism, to establish the people’s government on 1st October 1949.

Discussion is a luxury communists can afford and as we join our Chinese comrades in celebrating their hundred years of victory, we can ask ourselves many questions.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies in eastern Europe led to calls in some communist quarters for a new communist international – calls that are still made from time to time in some parts of the movement.

But we cannot restore what has gone before us without first understanding why it failed in the first place. And that understanding cannot come from reading books or simply trying to transpose one experience to another.

stress

Chinese communists always stress that socialism with Chinese characteristics cannot be exported and that their revolution is not a model for others to copy slavishly. But we very rarely, at least in Western Europe, ask ourselves why?

The answer in part is based on the struggle of the Chinese communists to overcome dogmatism and sectarianism to eventually build a people’s democracy in their own way, to serve the needs of the working people of China.

Commenting on the rise of the bourgeoisie in France, Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Communists too can make mistakes, but unlike the bourgeoisie we consciously try to learn from past mistakes in order to avoid future ones.

mistake

In Europe, the mistake was clearly to elevate slavishly what was believed to be the ‘Soviet model’, even though few Western communists even really understood what the Soviet Union actually was. The Soviet Union wasn’t a ‘people’s democracy’ in the sense we understand it now. It was a unique state based on Soviet power, and whilst its economic structures could be imitated – as they were after a fashion in eastern Europe – the Soviet political system could not.

Following the Soviet victory in the Second World War, the revolutionary upsurge that followed led to the establishment of people’s democracies throughout Eastern Europe on the same basis as the people’s democratic dictatorship was established in China in 1949. The question was how long would this transition take?

In the beginning, people’s democracy was seen as a lengthy process. Initially it was believed that the length of the road to socialism would depend upon the development of social and economic factors in each individual country. But Cold War tensions led to the rapid incorporation of most of the European people’s democracies into a Soviet economic and military bloc, which later proved incapable of withstanding the counter-revolutionary pressures of the 1980s. The Chinese communists clearly believe that the transitional period, at least as far as their immense country is concerned, will be a lengthy process. But it is a socialist process.

Any hopes that imperialists held that China was ‘going down the capitalist road’ were dealt a severe blow at the 2019 Congress of the CPC, where Xi Jinping reminded delegates that: “Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not any other ‘ism’. Both history and our present reality tell us that only socialism can save China – and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China. This is the conclusion of history, the choice of our people.”