Political Leftism plus Economic Rightism:
If the Names are Wrong, the Words Ring False
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
November 13, 2013
Summary: Political leftism plus economic rightism, signaling left while turning right, will eventually lead to political and economic rifts, and left vs. right schisms. If the names are wrong, the words will ring false. If the words ring false, the goals will remain unfulfilled.
Full text below:
The Third Plenary Session of the CCP 18th National Congress has just convened. Inside and outside Mainland China, the media have characterized the session as "political leftism plus economic rightism." For example, the session is characterized everywhere as "signaling left while turning right," and as "political leftism becoming more leftist, and economic rightism becoming more rightist."
The characterization of economic rightism is correct. If by economic rightism one means more capitalism, more free markets, more openness, more liberalization, more cosmopolitanism. Take the Shanghai Free Trade Zone for example. Political simplification and decentralization are indeed rightist.
But the characterization of political leftism becoming more leftist is not particularly valid. Because political leftism means a return to Marxism or Mao Zedong Thought. But today's Mainland is economic rightism becoming more rightist. This is undoubtedly based on the surplus value created by working class industrial and farm labor. They are no longer advocates of class struggle. Instead they advocate a "harmonious society." This is at odds with Marxism. Also, if the Cultural Revolution amounted to "a great victory for Mao Zedong Thought," then politics turning left is unlikely to return to the thinking of the Ten Year Catastrophe or Catastrophic Decade.
Therefore the characterization of politics turning left does not indicate a return to Marxism or Mao Zedong Thought. Besides, Marx advocated the "withering away of the state." Mao advocated a "new democracy." These contain rightist elements as well. Therefore, objectively speaking, so-called politics turning left and economics turning right, is merely another way of saying "strengthening political despotism while promoting economic development." This is closer to fascism. It is certainly not Marxism or Mao Zedong Thought. Because from Marx to Mao, no matter how rightist the Mainland might have become, it was never as brazenly rightist as it is today. Today it has totally turned its back on Marx and Mao, and will turn even further to the right in the future.
If we equate politics turning left while economics turns right with strengthening political despotism while promoting economic development, that is understandable. Both Taiwan and South Korea are successful examples of highly profitable authoritarian capitalism. Mainland China faces a multitude of problems. Despotism to promote economic development may have some justification. It has amassed a universally acknowledged record of success over the past 30 years. But this political leftism plus economic rightism is not really leftist. It is actually a kind of extreme right fascist politics, with a false Marxist or Mao Zedong Thought label attached to it. The danger is that A. A signaling left while turning right policy of political leftism plus economic rightism will eventually lead to a political and economic rift that will tear society appart. B. It will enable the political ghost of Marx and Mao Zedong to hover over Mainland China. Political leftism plus economic rightism is an impossible contradiction that could cause the Beijing regime to lose its political mandate. The right may complain the policy is only half-heartedly rightist. The left may complain that the policy is ersatz leftist. To wit, Bo Xilai. Given the two scenarios, the Mainland cannot signal left while turning right in perpetuity.
Therefore the leftist component in political leftism plus economic rightism is merely leftist Communist dictatorship to promote rightist economic development. It is merely a means to an end. It cannot evolve into economic rightism to maintain permanent Communist rule. It cannot be an end in itself. This sort of leftism is simply untenable, under either Marxism, Mao Zedong Thought, or fascism.
The Third Plenary Session did not touch upon political reform. Instead it spoke of "improving government efficiency," to ensure "long term rule." Also, compared to the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao administrations, its political leftism was even more pronounced. For example "Document 9" listed "Seven Unmentionables." One of the unmentionables was "universal values." This may be a Western value. But the PRC Constitution embodies "special Chinese characteristics." So why was constitutional rule included among the unmentionables? Take for example, the "Two Undeniables." It was virtually a facsimile of the 1981 "Resolutions on Historical Issues since the Founding of the Party." This sort of leftism presents major ideological problems. A. What is the highest goal of Mainland Chinese rule or the Chinese Dream? Is it Chinese Communist Party single-party dictatorship, and permanent rule? B. Can upholding Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought ensure permanent CCP rule? C. How much leftism is required to ensure permanent CCP rule? D. This sort of permanent leftism may be the CCP's dream. But is it really the Chinese Dream?
To be fair, we must consider historical experience. The world cannot deny that political leftism plus economic rightism, and authoritarian capitalism have been highly profitable. But political leftism plus economic rightism should be defined as "first economics, then politics," and "first the easy, then the difficult." It should be defined as reformist and gradualist. It should not be exclusively economic reform, with no political reform. Its goal should not be one-party dictatorship and permanent rule. The CCP is attempting to use political despotism to promote economic development. Perhaps it must go through this stage. But if Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought are the goal of permanent rule, its decline is likely to be ever more precipitous, and the dilemmas it encounters ever more ridiculous. Therefore the correct political path for the CCP is to reject Marx and Mao and to uphold Deng and Sun (Yatsen). The CCP cannot backtrack. But it can maintain a Chiang Ching-kuo style "democracy by the installment plan." It can gradually use economics to introduce political change. It can start with the easy, then attempt the difficult. This is the way to achieve the Chinese Dream.
Political leftism plus economic rightism, signaling left while turning right, will eventually lead to political and economic rifts, and left vs. right schisms. If the names are wrong, the words will ring false. If the words ring false, the goals will remain unfulfilled.
2013.11.13 02:35 am