In 1976, China was the most equal society in the world while today, it is led by billionaires
After the successful power transition in China, Xi Jinping is now formally in charge of the Communist Party of China, the Government of China and its formidable military wing. However, there are big challenges ahead for Xi.
Mao, the founding father of modern China and the Chinese communist party, is still popular in China but the present leadership is fast moving away from his thought. The life and work of Mao is an inspiration to the poor, oppressed people in many parts of the world, including present China. That is why capitalists in China and their followers hate the memory of Mao and do everything they can to denigrate the great revolutionary leader. In Nepal and India, millions of workers and peasants are in favour of Maoism. Mao’s conception of a people’s war is being applied by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is leading an armed insurrection in many parts of India.
As it becomes clearer that capitalism—the oppressive system under which we live—is in decline, capitalists and those who serve them are becoming more desperate to convince us that no alternative, especially socialism, is possible. Hence, capitalist roaders in China and rest of the world have been attacking Mao’s revolution of China.
A century ago, when Mao was young, the once great civilisation of China had been reduced by internal reactionaries and external imperialists to a state of disorder and destitution. Mao was a young Chinese determined to find a way to save China and turn it into a prosperous, modern society. It was the Communist Party of China, eventually led by Mao, which found the way forward leading to the defeat of internal and external enemies and the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949. In China today, Mao is widely respected and revered for the leading role he played in this great revolutionary struggle.
China during the nineteen fifties was a desperately poor society and bold measures were necessary to improve people’s livelihoods. In 1958, the Great Leap Forward was launched, which aimed to boost agricultural production and lay the foundations for developing modern industry. This policy had mixed results after several years of unusually bad weather and the neglect of agriculture in some parts of the country by peasants who were devoting all their time to industrial activities. It is true that millions of people starved to death as a consequence. Mao has been singled out for blame for the negative impacts of the Great Leap Forward although the policy was that of the whole Communist Party leadership.
During the nineteen sixties and seventies, the Chinese economy grew rapidly. By the time of Mao’s death in 1976, compared with 1949, the population of China had grown considerably, average life expectancy had increased by twenty-five years; there were great advances in health care and education and China developed a solid industrial base.
Learning from what was happening in the Soviet Union, Mao came to realise that there was a danger of capitalism being restored in China. This threat came not from old reactionaries or foreign imperialists but from“those in power taking the capitalist road” within the leadership of the Communist Party. People such as Liu Shao-chi (President of the PRC), Teng Hsiao-ping (General Secretary of the CPC) and privileged Party officials such as members of Jung Chang’s family wanted China to take a capitalist path to development, not a socialist one. Mao and his comrades first called upon the students and then the workers and peasants to rise up and overthrow the capitalist-roaders. This unleashed ten years of sharp class struggle in China but eventually the capitalist-roaders won. On his deathbed in 1976, Mao said,“I have predicted that full-scale capitalist restoration may appear in China”
Mao’s prediction has now come true. In 1976, China was the most equal society in the world whereas today, it is the most unequal with the ‘Communist Party’ led by billionaires. At the same time, workers and peasants have been losing many of the economic rights and social benefits they gained during the socialist period. Workers now face job insecurity and loss of pensions. Peasants are having their land stolen from them by corrupt officials.
But there is growing unrest and revolt among the Chinese people. As Mao said,“Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance.”
Hukum B Singh is a member of the Central Advisory Committee of the NCP-Maoist and Chairperson of the National Revolutionary Intellectuals’ Organisation, Nepal.