By Fred GoldsteinPublished Apr 19, 2012
The campaign of vilification to destroy Bo Xilai is an all-out attempt by the top leadership of the Communist Party of China to put up a smokescreen concealing a right-left political struggle over the deepening economic and political penetration of capitalism at the summits of Chinese society.
Bo has been charged with violations of discipline. Corruption charges against him are being contemplated. His spouse, Gu Kailai, has been charged with "intentional homicide" in connection with the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.
A front-page editorial appeared in the People's Daily of April 12 and was carried in every Chinese media outlet. It called on the people "to maintain a high level of ideological unity with the CPC Central Committee with Hu as the general secretary, and hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics."
The editorial adds, "We should strive to safeguard the favorable situation concerning China's reform, development and stability, make new achievements in building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, and speed up the socialist modernization drive, thus to welcome the 18th CPC national congress."
This was followed by an avalanche of charges, innuendo and so-called exposures of corruption by Gu Kailai.
What is clear from this unprecedented attack is that the top leadership of the CPC is terrified of having a political and ideological debate about the future course of China either in the Central Committee or in front of the masses of people. Bo Xilai's Chongqing model — raising the living standards and social benefits of the workers and peasants and reviving Maoist culture — are the real issues.
The capitalist reform-minded factions in the leadership were faced with the spreading popularity of Bo's model and his emphasis on "socialist values," along with his crackdown on corrupt party and government officials and business people in league with criminal elements. This earned him a host of enemies.
One China expert has put the case succinctly: "It's about whether to reform or not reform," said Zheng Yongnian, who directs the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore. (New York Times, March 21)
Monumental issue facing China
This is the issue underlying the present campaign of political annihilation. The leadership has chosen the course of evading the monumental issue facing China: whether to take longer strides toward a full-scale restoration of capitalism, or to hold the line and try to repair some of the damage done to the masses and the socialist system by the unleashing of capitalism for more than 30 years. These are issues of supreme importance to the Chinese workers and peasants and to the entire working class of the world.
Yet the CPC leadership has reduced the struggle — which is between, on the one hand, Bo Xilai and all those in his political current, and on the other, the faction led by outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao that urges the party to "further open up and reform" — to a narrow and diversionary question of corruption. By doing so they have swept under the rug the agenda of the right-wing, the Gorbachevs of China.
The agenda of the right
That agenda includes undermining the state banks and the state-owned enterprises, integrating China's banks more completely into the world capitalist financial system, further unleashing the financial power of private capital, pushing for a form of bourgeois democracy, and allowing bourgeois elements greater authority within the state.
The world imperialist establishment knows what is at stake in China.
The world capitalist system is gasping for breath, trying to keep its head above water as it struggles fruitlessly to extricate itself from the great crisis that began in 2007. It was the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe in 1989-1991 that gave the faltering capitalist system a lease on life. Just as the first jobless recovery of U.S. capitalism in 1991-1992 was dragging the workers and the system down, the collapse of the USSR allowed them 17 more years of economic expansion.
Today the world bourgeoisie is looking anxiously at China with similar hopes. But it is not just looking. It is working overtime to deepen the transformation of China into a capitalist state. The world capitalist system has been teetering on the edge of a renewed crisis since the so-called "recovery" in 2009. The system is plagued by an excess of capital, insufficient markets and perennial overproduction. As finance capital sees it, a surge into China would serve to bring vast profits to the global capitalist system and alleviate its crisis.
The capitalist ruling class is making a full-court press at the critical juncture of a change in the leadership of the CPC. Bo Xilai, who was scheduled to become a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, stood in their way.
In a previous article, we referred to a report issued by the World Bank called "China 2030." It was co-authored by the Development Research Center, an organ of China's State Council.
A commentary on the report carried in The Economist of Feb. 28 noted: "The DRC is an influential organization which supplies the government with policy advice. The finance ministry was also involved. A deputy prime minister, Li Keqiang, who is expected to take over as prime minister from Wen Jiabao next year, is thought to have played an active role in arranging this co-operation between officialdom and the bank."
As the World Bank itself noted in a Feb. 27 release: "The report makes the case for the government to redefine its role — to focus more on systems, rules and laws — to boost efficient production, promote competition, and reduce risks. It recommends redefining the roles of state-owned enterprises and breaking up monopolies in certain industries, diversifying ownership, lowering entry barriers to private firms, and easing access to finance for small and medium enterprises.
"Reforms should include commercializing the banking system, gradually removing interest rate controls, deepening the capital market and further developing independent and strong regulatory bodies to support the eventual integration of China's financial sector within the global financial system. Financial reforms in the next two decades should be decisive, comprehensive and well coordinated, following a properly sequenced roadmap. A priority is to liberalize interest rates according to market principles."
Road map to counterrevolution
This is the so-called "reform" roadmap to full-scale capitalist counterrevolution.
It is no wonder that the world capitalist press has become an enthusiastic participant in the struggle against Bo. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are carrying breathless accounts of every charge against Bo, Gu and their son. Bear in mind that the legal proceedings, the flow of information and control over the means of communication in China are entirely in the hands of a grouping of authorities politically hostile to Bo. They are bent on his destruction because of his opposition to deepening the role of the capitalist market at the commanding heights of the Chinese economy. Yet every accusation, every bit of gossip, every innuendo and unproven charge is repeated verbatim by the mouthpieces of world capitalism.
Whatever the facts of Bo's case, if they will ever be known, nothing can override the fact that corruption and privilege are widespread in China at the highest level. The children of high party officials have been schooled in prestigious Western institutions ever since the beginning of the Deng Xiaoping era. Other party officials have personally benefited from economic development. To unleash a highly publicized national campaign against "corruption," as is being done in the case of Bo and Gu, is totally arbitrary and politically motivated at a crucial moment of a change in the leadership and the upcoming 18th Party Congress.
The New York Times of April 12 admitted as much: "The disclosure of the charges against the Bos was carefully scripted, and apparently timed, to dispense with Mr. Bo well ahead of a planned turnover of Communist leaders and the 18th Party Congress this autumn."
Conspicuously absent in the capitalist media is any criticism of "authoritarian methods" that the scribes of the ruling class are quick to use when they perceive an attack on one of their allies in China. Not a word about "freedom of the press" in the wake of the orchestrated attacks on Bo and Gu that have blanketed the media. Not a word of indignation about "censorship" when the CPC authorities admitted that they had shut down 42 Web sites and censored 210,000 online comments on this case since mid-March. (New York Times, April 14) The authorities have disallowed the word Bo or anything related to it on the Internet.
The great Washington and Wall Street promoters of "democracy" in Syria, Iran, Libya, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and everywhere else where they want to overthrow the government, have not a word to say about the "democratic rights" of the Bo grouping to have their voices heard by the Chinese people.
Where are the pious voices of the "human rights" organizations, the ones that will let out a hue and cry on signal if some bourgeois dissident who wants to destroy communism root-and-branch is attacked or punished by the Chinese authorities?
Where are the workers' rights organizations that, whether or not they are well meaning, should be in a bloc with the Bo faction against the right? After all, as party secretary for Chongqing, Bo fought to alleviate the harsh conditions that had been imposed on the workers and peasants by economic growth linked to the development of the capitalist market.
To be sure, Bo was not opposed to capitalist relations in principle; he has been a follower of the so-called "market socialism" model. But his promotion of expanding the economic and social benefits of the workers and peasants and his promotion of "socialist values" was favorable to them, compared to the reactionary program of letting the capitalist market prevail, a position upheld by Wen Jiabao and Bo's accusers.
Wen Jiabao appears to be the architect of the anti-Bo campaign. We will deal with the question of his political origins and alignment in the political struggle in China at a later point. Suffice it to say for now that his political history includes showing sympathy for the counterrevolutionary uprising at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Wen opened up the public attack on Bo at what was billed as his last public press conference on March 14, a day before the announcement of the removal of Bo and after the conclusion of the National People's Congress. Wen warned that "now reforms in China have come to a critical stage. … Without successful political reform, it's impossible for China to fully institute economic reform and the gains we have made in these areas may be lost, and new problems that popped up in Chinese society will not be fundamentally resolved, and such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution [1966-1976] may happen again in China." (UPI.com, March 15)
Wen said he had addressed the topic of political structural reform in China on many occasions in recent years, giving his views on the topic in full and in detail. He said his long-standing interest in political reforms came from "a strong sense of responsibility."
Over the last month, the question of a return to the Cultural Revolution and the revival of Mao has disappeared from the discourse. The subject has been changed to corruption. In fact, a month later, on April 14, Wen wrote a lead article for the Central Committee journal Qiushi calling for a campaign against corruption and exposing the names of the corrupt.
The struggle opened up against the Cultural Revolution, but it has switched to one against corruption. While everyone should want to root out corruption, this smacks of fear of raising the Cultural Revolution in particular and Maoism in general as issues to be debated, particularly in front of the masses. They might very well take sides with the revival of socialist values and get a glimpse of the role the workers can and should play in shaping and reviving socialism and Chinese society.
Goldstein is the author of "Low-Wage Capitalism" and "Capitalism at a Dead End." More information about Goldstein and the books is available at lowwagecapitalism.com. The author can be reached at email@example.com.
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