An Italian comrade takes a sardonic look at the latest abasement of so-called “academic Marxists” at the feet of the new imperialist order à la chinois.
At the "Fifth European Forum on the Chinese Way" (Bologna, 14 October), promoted by the Academy for Marxism of the People's Republic of China (together with Marx21, the Gramsci Foundation and the Confucius Institute – University of Bologna), there were a series of interventions defined as "high level" ... i.e. academic. Alongside the variegated home-grown species of communists (including the remains of Rifondazione1 in primis) the participants were principally their Chinese colleagues. The latter reconfirmed their role as supporters of a policy whose “objective is to contribute to the progress of Europe”, which the "Chinese system" views with interest. A special interest, that of a nation: "national-socialist" China, which has become a pillar of "world growth" with a government which – it was stated in the interventions – has amongst its political objectives the goal of working for the "happiness" of one's own people ...
Serious praise for a "highly developed communist state" like China, even if the reference to the "communist state" was a little embarrassing for some of those present, for whom it was a little unclear what the Chinese "comrades" meant when they declared themselves committed to completing the "construction" of their socialism by 2050. It is also true that another "Marxist" who is dear to their affections (the late Losurdo2 ) had criticised as too "abstract and utopian" Marx’s vision of the fundamental extinction of the state in a communist society. So, amongst the various expert snake charmers (many with salaries directly paid by the bourgeoisie), there was also a Domenico Moro who claims that the state must become "an expression of the interests of the community"; not only that, but that the management of state intervention "includes the participation and control of workers ..." (Globalisation and industrial Decline).
And there was no lack of appreciation (what it had to do with Marxism, is not known) for that "productive capitalism", where the "public" sector exists next to the expanding private sector, favoured by the Chinese Belt and Road (B&R) project.3
So, they have had enough of "wild free-exchange" and acclaimed their unconditional(?) support for the Chinese policy of peaceful cooperation (viz in Africa ...) accompanied with eulogies about the "creation of wealth and (capitalist - ed) development as a way to halt immigration".
Another issue was the question of the need to work (i.e. for the Chinese Communist Party) to spread greater "seriousness" and "discipline" in the country, since the policy of "opening up" to the world has put the Chinese in contact with capitalist production relations and with different competing ideologies which poses the risk of internal degeneration...
The various representatives and scholars of "Chinese Marxism" applauded the progress achieved in social productivity and the attention to the new "social needs" of the Chinese people (see their response to "democracy" and freedom ...). For its part, the Party is evaluating the existence (unfortunately) of a "series of contradictions on different levels" and therefore the need for active political participation by the people. This "socialism with Chinese characteristics" would thus have a dialectic in "continuous evolution"! The Chinese economists then stressed that today the EU is China's leading trading partner: $674 billion in 2017, with a wide "composition of goods". We also have, among the B&R enthusiasts, the economist Giacché (another type of "Marxist"): according to him this would be an "alternative economic model to the dominant one in the West" and therefore opposed by "Western chancelleries". Therefore, Italy should join the B&R to act as a Mediterranean centre for the development of capitalism in the South.4
Finally came the announcement: we need to rebuild a "new world monetary order, as a challenge for the coming years". This follows from the underlining of concepts dear to "socialism with Chinese characteristics", or rather "family and nation" as the "cellular nucleus of society". In other words, the traditional "values" fundamental for a society that is "building" socialism, and which are also valid (and above all!) for their "socio-economic usefulness". In fact, only in this way – with family support – can the elderly be supported, otherwise the State would have too many "unprofitable" expenses ...
With these objectives and with the "tactical flexibility" required by "an international strategy to improve the world", it is necessary to forge "alliances" (both political and commercial) with the external capitalist world. Hence the "win-win" system. Moreover, while the imperialism of the past had "unilateral rules of exchange" imposed by force, the "win-win" system allows for mutual economic benefits! Warm applause from some exponents of the new national-socialist imperialism of the East and of the West! (As they say in Italy, “the mother of brigands and robbers is always pregnant”.)5
28 December 2018
- 1Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation Party) was originally the “tankie” split from the Italian Communist Party when it declared itself the Democratic Party of the Left in 1991 (after the collapse of the USSR). At that time it had 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies but today it has none, having gone through a series of splits and political transformations which saw it even supporting Italian participation in the invasion of Afghanistan. It now tries to unite leftist activists around a variety of issues for electoral purposes.
- 2Domenico Losurdo (1941-2015), Self-styled Marxist academic philosopher; member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), then Rifondazione. Despite a reputation as an iconoclastic thinker, he never really broke with Stalinism and was sympathetic to Maoism.
- 3Chinese strategic project for commercial growth through a new Silk Road with the enhancement of Mediterranean ports ... For an elaboration see leftcom.org
- 4We are talking about $1,400 billion of infrastructure investments for maritime, road, airport and railway works. In 2001 Chinese trade with the Mena area (Middle East - North Africa) amounted to $20 billion and rose to $245 billion in 2016. In two years China has already invested over €3.1 billion ($3.7 billion). And, as far as Italy is concerned, the airports of Genoa, Savona and Trieste are particularly interested in the project, as points of arrival for traffic from China to the Mediterranean, through Suez.
The Chinese penetration strategy includes purchases in Holland, Antwerp and Hamburg where an automated container terminal will be built. In the Mediterranean, the Chinese are interested in the ports of the South as supports for railway lines and roads of the new Silk Road. Strong Chinese quotas (almost €300 million) have gone to the purchase of the Port Authority of Piraeus in Greece; more than €850 million for the port of Haifa (Israel) whose port of call will pass to the Chinese administration in 2021. A container terminal will then be built in Ashdod (another €850 million). Existing purchases include terminals in Turkey while various manoeuvres involving non-Chinese investors and joint ventures operating in Suez, the canal container terminal, are under way.
The Cosco, a Chinese state conglomerate (China Ocean Shipping company), acquired 51% of the Spanish Noatum ports’ holding in June this year (a deal worth €204 million), among them the assets of the container terminals of Bilbao and Valencia. In Italy, in addition to Savona-Vado, where Cosco and Qingdao invest €70.5 million (€53m in the former and €17.5 million in the second), China looks above all at the possibilities offered by Genoa and Trieste, with its free customs zones and rail links with Central Europe.
- 5The "Spartacus" group which defines itself as Trotskyist (Fourth Internationalist) says that Cosco, is not a "capitalist company" but "a component of the Chinese collectivised economy". And in China, where there is "a workers’ state deformed by the CCP bureaucracy" it is only for this reason that Cosco implements "starvation wages and flexible contracts that bleed the workers"! (Literally, you can read it in their newspaper ...). The collective motto of "hard work = happy life": includes "12-hour shifts for a handful of euros". However, –according to Spartacus – this "socialism with Chinese characteristics" (as defined by the rulers of Beijing), does not make China "an integral part of the international imperialist system". These Trotskyists explain (?) that "participating in world trade is neither capitalism nor imperialism". And in fact – they continue to tell us – even if "a capitalist class has developed" in China (?), it does not have "political power", and if it gained power this would "destroy the workers' state and those forms of collectivised property at the base of break-neck industrial development (disruptive growth rate) and of the enormous achievements for the workers and peasant masses". In addition, there would still be "control of the financial sector by the State Banks" ... And if anyone has any "doubts", they should understand that "investments (of capital - ed) of China abroad are not driven by the search for profit". A few lines later, however, the writer admits that the production (of goods) in China "is organised to produce profits to meet the needs of the life of the masses" ... We repeat: it’s all there in black and white, in Spartacus, October 2018.