General Secretary Xi Jinping is correct in stating that Marxism works – Floyd Shivambu

by centra
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floyd shivambu EFF Deputy President

Opinion by Floyd Shivambu – When delivering the report to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 17, General Secretary Xi Jinping said: “Our experience has taught us that, at the fundamental level, we owe the success of our party and socialism with Chinese characteristics to the fact that Marxism works, particularly when it is adapted to the Chinese context and the needs of our times.”

This correct statement was a reaffirmation of another statement made in a document released in 2021 by the CPC Publicity Department, which said that “at the fundamental level, the CPC’s successes can be attributed to its mastery of powerful theoretical weapons to correctly understand, scientifically analyse, and effectively solve problems by applying the Marxist stance, viewpoint and methodology”.

All these statements are objectively correct despite the massive anti-Marxist and anti-Communist propaganda that has defined global political and economic discourse since the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the late 1980s and 1990s. 

The reality, though, is that even against massive systemic propaganda and defiling, Marxism has retained its scientific and superior relevance and value. One thing about science is that it remains true whether some people believe it or not.

China genuinely embraces Marxism and appreciates its scientific superiority. Almost all the top and universally rated universities in China have schools and departments of Marxism. 

The CPC has a Central Party School that teaches Marxism to all senior government officials before they are assigned significant responsibilities. Without being overly simplistic, it is correct to say that China’s success is mostly due to how Marxism was put into practice. This is not to say that there aren’t other factors at play.

The Chinese economy quantitatively and qualitatively expanded, and poverty plummeted under the ideological and practical influence and guidance of Marxism. The following indicators, sourced from different credible institutions, including those who are opposed to China’s Marxist development path, are the official developmental indicators that define China:

a) Since the beginning of reform and opening up, China has lifted 770 million impoverished rural citizens out of poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s total, while also meeting the goal of ending poverty, as established in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 10 years ahead of schedule.

b) In 2019, the average life expectancy of the Chinese people has increased to 77.3 years, up from just 35 years when the People’s Republic of China was founded.

c) China has built the world’s largest social security system in the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016–2020). The number of people covered by China’s basic medical insurance programme has stayed the same. By the end of 2020, more than 95% of the country’s population was covered.

d) For the first time in 2020, China had more Fortune Global 500 companies than the US, with 133 firms on the list.

e) In the early days following the founding of the People’s Republic of China, 80% of Chinese people were illiterate, and the average length of schooling was only 1.6 years. Moreover, the country only had 205 institutions of higher learning with a total of less than 120 000 students in 1949, and the gross enrolment rate was only 0.26%. By 2020, the average length of schooling rose to 10.8 years.

f) From 1948 to 2020, China’s total foreign trade volume surged from $907 billion to $4.65 trillion, with an average annual growth rate of nearly 14%.

Some of the additional achievements of the CPC as reflected in the report to the 20th National Congress include, the following:

a) China’s share of the world economy is 18.5% and is a major trading partner of 140-plus countries and regions.

b) China is number one in grain output in the world.

c) China is number one in total volume of trade in goods in the world.

d) China lifted nearly 10 million people in rural areas out of poverty.

e) More than 42 million housing units in run-down urban areas were rebuilt.

These undisputed indicators are not the only developmental successes of China under Communist Party rule. There are several, and all of them are verified by institutions and individuals who otherwise are opposed to the socialist reconstruction of society. The World Bank (2021) confirms that “since China began to open up and reform its economy in 1978, GDP growth has averaged almost 10% a year, and more than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

“There have also been significant improvements in access to health, education and other services over the same period.”

Furthermore, a substantial majority of China’s corporations in the Global 500 (the world’s biggest companies) are state-owned. 

This corresponds with the “Communist Manifesto” Marxist view that in the socialist transition, the state will rapidly develop the productive forces.

What makes Marxism perpetually relevant is perhaps best articulated by the founders of the scientific socialist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who in “The Communist Manifesto” illustrate the point that in a socialist transitionary phase from a capitalist economic system to a communist society, “the proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible”.

In pursuit of higher growth and development, China did not leave the development of the productive forces to the invisible hand of the market, but through decisive state leadership and guidance of all factors of production. China got rid of absolute poverty and became the second-largest economy in the world as a result.

Of course, China’s application of Marxism to its domestic circumstances came with mistakes and challenges, and instead of abandoning Marxism as a theoretical tool of analysis, China adapted. One of the lessons learnt in history is best articulated by Deng Xiaoping, who in 1984 said: “What is socialism and what is Marxism? We were not quite clear about this in the past.

“Marxism attaches utmost importance to developing productive forces. We have said that socialism is the primary stage of communism and that at the advanced stage the principle of from each according to his ability and each according to his needs will be applied.

“This calls for highly developed productive forces and an overwhelming abundance of material wealth. Therefore, the fundamental task for the socialist stage is to develop productive forces. The superiority of the socialist system is demonstrated, in the final analysis, by faster and greater development of those forces than under the capitalist system.

“As they develop, people’s material and cultural life will constantly improve. One of our shortcomings after the founding of the People’s Republic was that we didn’t pay enough attention to developing the productive forces. Socialism means eliminating poverty. Pauperism is not socialism, still less communism.”

China’s realisation and acceptance that socialism is not narrow collectivism and collectivisation but the development of productive forces is perhaps one of the most important drivers towards its current and future prosperity. 

While private capital was permitted to exist and thrive in the period post-Deng Xiaoping’s leadership of the CPC and China in the late 1970s, there has never been a period in China’s history where the executive of the state was but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

On the contrary, the government of China managed and continues to manage the common affairs of the bourgeoisie and directed the pace, form, content and direction of capitalist development. There is not even an iota of theoretical and practical evidence that the capitalist class in China directs the affairs of the CPC and/or the state.

Another important observation to make about China’s rise is that thus far, it has not used its economic strength to dominate, exploit and impoverish countries it does business with. 

Its economic relationship with Ethiopia, for instance, has led to massive infrastructure development and industrialisation which in turn led to an average of 10% growth of the Ethiopian economy for more than 10 years.

Unlike the erstwhile colonial masters, China is not using its economic strength to even impose its ideology, system of governance and methods of development. 

We in the global South, the African continent, South Africa and the Economic Freedom Fighters, must pay particular attention to many lessons from China’s scientific application of Marxism. Doing so will not mean that China would have imposed its views on us, but we would have realised and accepted the scientific superiority of Marxism as a tool of analysis and guide to action and prosperity.

Marxism works and its scientific value and relevance are demonstrated through China’s historical, present and future successes and common prosperity. Long Live Marxism.

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President.

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1 comment

Scott Gordon October 23, 2022 - 2:21 pm

Would take hours to correct the above .
You do not lift millions out of poverty by dropping the poverty level .
How did Marxism work under Mao and the great leap backward ?
If not funded by the greedy west , hoping China would change , did China grow .
Missing from the CCP conference so far is GDP growth, or lack of it !
Yes , we all love to live under a totalitarian state , that thinks and acts for us .
When we have a job and can work 🙂
With zero covid , the economy has ground to an halt .
Construction of houses , almost stopped .
The largest lake is only a puddle as Shanghai runs out of fresh water .
The poor there have lived with that for centauries , now hitting the big cities .
Maybe the writer will get all expenses paid trip from the CCP , then again , not sure .
FS may think the Afrikaners were racist , go visit China 🙂


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