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Estimated year of creation: 1935 AD

God of Chinese socialism: None - Atheism imposed by the state.

Main books of Chinese socialism: The little red book.

Main Author of Chinese Socialism: Mao Tse Tung (Mao Zedong)

Headquarters / Capital in the world: Beijing, China.

Number of Chinese inhabitants: 1,400 million.

Main symbol of Chinese socialism:











Short description of Chinese socialism.


How is socialism in China?What is socialism with Chinese characteristics, is it just capitalism?

SCOTTY HENDRICKS. January 23, 2019.


• China has undergone massive economic and social reforms in recent decades while remaining officially communist.

• The state still has tremendous power over the economy, but private enterprise and markets dominate daily life.

• The question of whether the Chinese economy is technically capitalist remains unanswered.

When people today think of a socialist country, they often think of the People's Republic of China. Once known as a promoter of the global revolution, he is now better known as the workshop of the world and an increasingly powerful global influencer. But although most people know that China is socialist, they do not know how that socialism works. How is socialism in China?How does it work? How did it come to be the way it is now?

After the establishment of the People's Republic, Mao and his government went to work to establish a socialist system in China. The system they instituted, known as Maoism, had more than a few problems.During the Great Leap Forward, the overly enthusiastic name for the second five-year plan, the tendency for political goals to replace common sense had drastic consequences. General incompetence in agricultural planning, repression of dissent, and poor crop conditions led to a famine that killed an estimated 50 million people.

After this fiasco, Mao was sidelined until he launched the Cultural Revolution, a socio-political movement dedicated to ousting perceived capitalist influence in China. This event also wreaked havoc on the economy and resulted in the deaths of millions. It ended only with the death of Mao and the arrest of his high-level supporters in 1976.

In the late 1970s, a moderate named Deng Xiaoping came to power. His administration was marked by various economic reforms that he collectively called "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics." Agriculture was decollectivized and farmers obtained the right to sell their surpluses. Special economic zones were created where foreign investment was allowed and state regulation was reduced. Price controls were relaxed for urban industries. Private companies were allowed to exist again for the first time in decades. The Shanghai Stock Exchange was reopened and many state-owned companies were privatized. Unlike Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR, many of them were first tested locally and then applied to China as a whole after they were shown to work. Many observers argue that this is why the reform was successful in China and disastrous in Russia. Since the beginning of these reforms, China has experienced meteoric economic growth. As a result of this growth, the standard of living of millions and millions of people has improved and the food shortages that plagued China disappeared. There has been considerable liberalization of Chinese society as a whole, although it has been less than Western analysts predicted.

This sounds revisionist! Xiaoping sold himself to capitalism!

Many people argue that these reforms effectively abandoned communism in favor of state-led capitalism, but there is a method that provides ideological justification. Xiaoping took a page from Lenin's playbook and was able to show how his actions were in line with accepted communist theory.

In 1921, the Soviet economy was in trouble. After a long and brutal civil war, food shortages were common and factories struggled to find enough workers due to the number of people who had left the cities for the countryside. Popular discontent was on the rise. Lenin, having to think quickly or risk the collapse of the new USSR, withdrew from war communism to the New Economic Policy, also known as the NEP.

This program allowed some private control over the economy, especially in agriculture, and entrepreneurs known as NEPmen made decent amounts of money running small businesses in urban areas. Heavy industries, banking, commerce, and mining remained under state control. The system worked, and by 1928 the Russian economy had recovered from the triple blow of World War I, the revolution, and the civil war.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics has a similar motivation. Deng Xiaoping understood and admired the NEP and referred to it several times during the reform process.

The Chinese government still controls a large part of the economy. The dominant heights are still under state control and there are government monopolies in some industries. Five-year plans are issued, but the targets are broader than they used to be, and direct planning of production targets is generally limited to state-owned companies. Now they also call them "guidelines" instead of "plans."

Many private companies are owned, at least in part, by the state. This partial ownership is so prevalent that some observers find it difficult to decide how big the private sector is in China. Other companies that are firmly in private hands often associate or associate with the government. Sometimes this association is written in its statutes. All private companies are required by law to have a party organization in them, although until recently this was mainly a symbolic gesture.


I lived in Beijing for a year as an English teacher and found myself looking for the differences between American capitalism and Chinese socialism quite often. It wasn't near the Worker's Gymnasium clubs or its parking lot full of fancy cars driven by the playboy sons of well-connected industrialists. I looked at the fancy malls and couldn't find it there either. It certainly wasn't in the gift shop behind Mao Zedong's grave.

I did my banking in a state bank, but the experience of doing business there was the same as in any private bank in the West. I would often ride a state-owned train and found that it could be top-of-the-line and luxurious or crowded and somewhat outdated depending on which route I took. I shopped at convenience stores owned by my neighbors and they were never short of anything.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a strange thing. Merging state control of the dominant heights of the economy with a large amount of foreign investment and regulated capitalism, the question of whether it is a capitalist or a socialist system is not an easy one to answer. However, it may not matter much, as China's most recent leaders have been more pragmatic than ideological. Deng Xiaoping once compared capitalism and socialism to a black and white cat and argued that "it doesn't matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice."

Given that China is likely to outperform America economically by 2020, it looks like they found a big cat.

While the Bolsheviks understood that this was a new form of capitalism rather than a socialist system, Lenin argued that this was acceptable. He pointed to Marx and his arguments that communism was only possible in countries that had reached the highest level of capitalism. The NEP was simply a transitional period between the prewar system of the tsarist regime and the future communist utopia that he presumed would come to pass. It lasted until 1928 when Joseph Stalin, initially a supporter of the program, abolished it in favor of central planning.




Why is China a socialist country ?: China's theory is in line with Marx (but not with Stalin)

Deng Xiaoping is famous for the saying `` it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice ''. As I am a shameless dengita in economic theory, the equivalent of this is that it is perfectly possible to understand China's socialist economy. in terms of western or Marxist economic theory - an analysis in terms of both is given on this website in 'Deng Xiaoping and John Maynard Keynes'. This reflects the fact that economics studies a material reality and analyzing it accurately is the most important issue. For this reason, most of the articles on this website, and others that I write, don't bother to quote any economists, they just study the facts, that is, they don't bother to discuss whether the cat is black or white, just they focus on catching mice. But the posts on this website have created some discussion among readers from a socialist point of view who believe in the myth that China is a capitalist economy. This is the misunderstanding that constantly leads Western analysts to make fundamental mistakes regarding China's economic and social dynamics; a typical example of such errors, which are updated periodically, is collected on this website under "China Incorrect Analysis - Listed by Author and Date".

This error arises among those of such a socialist point of view because they have a definition of socialism derived from Stalin rather than Marx, as will be shown below. To clarify the issues for you, this article is therefore a brief outline of the key foundations of China's economic theories and why they are fully in line with Marx. Those who prefer to use Western categories can analyze China's socialist economy in those terms, as described in "Deng Xiaoping and John Maynard Keynes," and they won't bother to read this article. Those who prefer only to have accurate economic analyzes, without worrying too much about the framework in which they are presented, can ignore whether the cat is black or white and simply study the economy of China.

China's economic theory

Deng Xiaoping, as a communist, naturally explicitly formulated China's economic policy in Marxist terms: China's economic reform policies were seen as integrating Marxism with China's specific conditions. More precisely, Deng declared: `` We were victorious in the Chinese revolution precisely because we applied the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism to our own realities. '' (Deng, August 28, 1985) Consequently: `` Our principle is that we must integrate Marxism with Chinese practice and open your own path. That is what we call building socialism with Chinese characteristics ”(Deng, August 21, 1985).

The authors, including (Hsu, 1991), have argued that Deng's economic policies were not in line with those of Marx. However, while China's economic policies clearly differed from those of the USSR after the introduction of the First Five-Year Plan in 1929, which introduced comprehensive planning and essentially total state ownership, it is clear that China's economic policies were in place. line with those indicated by Marx. If people want to formulate Chinese economic policy in Western or Marxist terms, it can be left to them. The most important thing is not the color of the cat, but whether it catches mice, that is, the practical political conclusions drawn. Thus, this appendix briefly shows that Deng's concepts in launching China's economic reform in 1978 corresponded to Marx's.


The primary stage of socialism

Regarding China's economic reform policies, Deng pointed out, as stated in Marxist terms, that China was in the socialist and not communist (higher) stage of development. Large-scale development of the productive / production forces was the prerequisite before China could transition to a communist society: `` A communist society is one in which there is no exploitation of man by man, there is great material abundance and the principle of from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. It is impossible to apply that principle without overwhelming material wealth. To realize communism, we have to fulfill the tasks established in the socialist stage. They are legion, but the fundamental thing is to develop the productive forces ”(Deng, August 28, 1985).

More precisely, in a characterization maintained up to the present, China was in the 'primary stage' of socialism, which was fundamental in defining politics: '' The XIII National Party Congress will explain what stage China is in: the primary stage of socialism. Socialism itself is the first stage of communism, and here in China we are still in the primary stage of socialism, that is, the underdeveloped stage. In everything we do we must start from this reality, and all planning must be consistent with it "(Deng, August 29, 1987).

Deng's fundamental characterizations have been maintained to the present, therefore, for example, in July 2011, President Hu Jintao stressed that 'China is still in the primary stage of socialism and will remain so for a long time' (Xinhua , 2011), while speaking with UN Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, noted 'As a whole, China is still in the primary stage of socialism' (Xinhua, 2010). The conclusion that follows from this, as Hsu pointed out, was that: `` From this perspective, a grave mistake in the past was the leftist belief that China could skip the primary stage and practice full socialism immediately. '' (Hsu , 1991, p. 11). )

The conclusion of such a contrast between a primary socialist stage of development and the beginning of a communist society (which, as Deng pointed out earlier, was regulated by 'from each according to his ability to each according to each according to his needs') was that In the current 'socialist' period the principle was 'for each according to his work': 'We must adhere to this socialist principle which demands a distribution according to the quantity and quality of an individual's work' (Deng, March 28) . 1978)

In Marxist theory, outlined by Marx in the opening chapter of Capital (Marx, 1867), economic distribution according to labor / labor is the fundamental principle of commodity production, and a commodity necessarily implies a market. In this socialist period, therefore, there would be a market, hence the final Chinese terminology of a "socialist market economy." As presented by Deng Xiaoping and his successors earlier, such a Chinese analysis is highly compressed but clearly in line with Marx himself.


Marx's analysis

It is clear that Marx foresaw that the transition from capitalism to communism would be prolonged, noting in The Communist Manifesto: `` The proletariat will use its political supremacy to seize, gradually, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all the instruments of production. in the hands of the state, that is, of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible "(Marx and Engels, 1848, p. 504).

Note the "by degree": Marx, therefore, clearly envisioned a period during which state property and private property would exist. China's post-Deng system of simultaneous existence of private and state-owned sectors is thus clearly more

They are in line with Marx's conceptualization that Stalin's "one-shot" introduction of essentially 100% state ownership in 1929.

Regarding Deng's formulations about communist society regulated by 'each according to his need' versus the primary stage of socialism regulated by 'each according to his work', Marx noted in the Critique of the Gotha program of the post-capitalist transition to a communist regime. society: 'What we are dealing with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary, as it emerges from capitalist society, which is so in all respects, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges '' (Marx, 1875, p. 85).

In such a transition, Marx described payment in society, and the distribution of products and services, necessarily had to be 'according to labor' even within the state sector of the economy: 'Consequently, the individual producer receives from the society, after deductions have been made, exactly what he gives you. What it has given you is your individual amount of work. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his part in it. You receive a certificate from the society that you have provided this or that amount of work (after deducting your work for the common funds); and with this certificate, it extracts from the social stock of consumer media as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of work that you have given to society in one way, you receive in another.

"Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as the one that regulates the exchange of goods, insofar as it is an exchange of equal values ​​...". As regards the distribution of the latter among individual producers, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given quantity of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal quantity of labor in another form.

“Therefore, the equal right here remains in principle - bourgeois law ... The right of the producers is proportional to the labor they offer; equality consists in the fact that measurement is carried out with an equal standard, work "(Marx, 1875, p. 86).

In such a society, inequality would necessarily continue to exist: “one ... is physically or mentally superior to another and, therefore, provides more work at the same time, or can work longer; and work, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it is no longer a standard of measure. This equal right is an unequal right for unequal work ... it tacitly recognizes unequal individual endowment and, therefore, the productive capacities of workers as natural privileges. It is, therefore, a right of inequality in its content like any right. Law, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable by an equal standard only insofar as they are subject to an equal criterion, they are taken from a given side only, for example, in the present case, they are considered only as workers and nothing else is seen in them, everything else is ignored. Also, one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, etc., etc. Therefore, given the same amount of work done and therefore an equal share in the social consumption fund, one will receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and soon. To avoid all these defects, the law should be more unequal than equal "(Marx, 1875, pp. 86-87).

Marx considered that only after a protracted transition would pay according to work be replaced by the desired end goal, the distribution of products according to the needs of the members of society.

“The law can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development that it determines.

'In a higher phase of communist society ... after the productive forces have also increased with the integral development of the individual, and all the springs of common wealth flow more abundantly, only then can the narrow horizon of the The entire bourgeois right and society inscribe on their banners: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs! '(Marx, 1875, p. 87)

Thus, it is clear that post-Deng policies in China were more in line with Marx's prescriptions than Stalin's post-1929 policies in the USSR. Given essentially 100 percent state ownership of the industry in China in 1978 'Zhuada Fangxiao' (keep big, let go small) - keep big companies within the state sector and free small ones to the non-state sector - together with the creation of a new private sector, an economic structure was created clearly more in line with that envisioned by Marx than essentially 100% state ownership in the USSR after 1929.

Deng's insistence on the formula that in the transition period the reward would be "according to work" and not "according to need" was clearly in line with Marx's analyzes. It is notable that in the USSR itself several economists opposed Stalin's policies after 1929 for the same or related reasons, including Buhkarin (Bukharin, 1925), Kondratiev (Kondratiev sf), and Preobrazhensky (Preobrazhensky, 1921-27) . However, his works were almost unknown as these problems were `` solved '' by Stalin killing economists who disagreed with him and banning his works, although several accounts have been published outside the USSR - see for example (Jasny, 1972) (Lewin, 1975). Therefore, China's economic debates preceded mainly with reference to China's conditions and Marx, and not earlier debates in the USSR.

Thus, it is clear that China's post-reform economic policy is in line with Marx's analysis of socialism and that, as stated in the Chinese analysis, post-1929 Soviet policy deviated from Marx's analysis: the argument that the reverse is true, by Hsu and others, is invalid.


China's economic theory certainly differs from Stalin's, because it dates back to Marx.


At present, all Chinese citizens are monitored and evaluated in their daily activities by the government. Citizens receive “moral” scores based on their behavior. The Chinese government dictates how many children families can have, and being a tradition of yesteryear, encourages them to be male, since life as a woman is much more difficult. Machismo, misogyny and the lack of rights and respect for women in China is evident.




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Deng, X. (June 2, 1978). 'Speech at the all-army conference on political work'. In X. Deng, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping 1975-1982 (2001 ed., Pp. 127-140). Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific.

Deng, X. (August 21, 1985). 'Two kinds of comments about China's reform'. In X. Deng, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping 1982-1992 (1994 ed., Pp. 138-9). Foreign Languages ​​Press.

Deng, X. (August 28, 1985). 'Reform is the only way for China to develop its productive forces'. In X. Deng, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping 1982-1992 (pp. 140-143). Beijing: Foreign Languages ​​Press.

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Deng, X. (August 29, 1987). 'In everything we do we must proceed from the realities of the primary stage of socialism'. In X. Deng, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping 1982-1992 (pp. 247-8). Beijing: Foreign Languages ​​Press.

Jasny, N. (1972). Soviet Economists of the Twenties. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Xinhua. (2011, July 1). 'China still largest developing country: Hu'. Retrieved February 2, 2012, from China Daily:






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