Today, Mao’s China is one of the main pillars supporting world capitalism. How do we assess this evolution? First of all, the Maoist regime established in 1949 had nothing to do with genuine socialism. While it retained the title of Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the social and political content of the movement fundamentally changed after the defeat of the Chinese working class in the 1925-27 revolution.
Rather than some kind of deformed workers’ state, it would more accurate to characterise Mao’s 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.
“Market reform” in China was not a spontaneous process, but required active state interference and even violence to impose socially destructive policies on the Chinese masses. The massive supply of cheap labour was created by Beijing’s dismantling of the rural communes and state enterprises in the past two decades. This process reached its peak after the brutal massacre of students and workers in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which sent a message to international capital that any means would be used to suppress the working class.
The 30th anniversary of China's market reforms took place in december, but without any great fanfare. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has nothing to celebrate. Its hopes for a never-ending economic boom and its faith in the miracle of the capitalist market are rapidly turning sour.
In August, Beijing staged the Olympic Games at a staggering cost of $US43 billion, using the occasion to showcase the arrival of Chinese capitalism on the world stage. A month later, the global financial tsunami began to sweep over China, leading to one downward revision of growth after another as the major markets for Chinese exports—the US, Japan and Europe—all headed for recession. Most analysts predict growth in 2009 to be well below 8 percent—the level generally regarded as necessary to prevent an explosion of unemployment.
As growth rates continue to fall, social antagonisms are rapidly developing. The gulf between the regime in Beijing and the working class, which has vastly increased in size since 1989, has never been starker. The CCP is widely viewed simply as the defender of those who have enriched themselves at the expense of the masses. Its leaders are well aware that the end of the long economic upswing will shatter the last vestige of their political legitimacy, which rested on the illusion that capitalism would lift everyone out of poverty. The low-key ceremonies to mark 30 years of market reform reflect their political perplexity and fears as they ponder what to do next
Unrest is already widespread among Chinese students and graduates. Among workers and the rural poor, tens of thousands of sporadic protests are taking place against job losses, social inequality and rampant official corruption. What Beijing fears is that, as in the past, protests among students will ignite a broader class movement of the working people against the regime and the intensifying capitalist exploitation.