How ‘Communist’ China has embraced capitalism but remains Leninist at heart
Cary Huang says that on the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution, Beijing’s silence on Lenin’s legacy displays both a rejection of his economic priorities and an embrace of a totalitarian authority
Leninism has played a much greater role in China than the original theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for the Russian leader’s interpretation of Marxism inspired Mao to launch the peasant uprising and agrarian revolution. His dogma on the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses against “exploiters” and “oppressors”, as well as on the dictatorship of the proletariat, helped shape Mao’s philosophy of rule and transform China. The wholesale execution of enemies inspired Mao’s brutal dictatorship and his launch of the Cultural Revolution under the theory of “continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat”.
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China has come a long way from its revolutionary past since Deng Xiaoping’s free-market reforms put an end to Mao’s terrifying Leninist experiment in utopia. Today, it is all the more ridiculous to call an economy, the world’s second-largest, “socialist” when 70 per cent of it is privately owned, when it hosts the world’s largest army of billionaires, or when it grapples with issues such as a debt crisis, stock market woes and a real estate bubble.
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The most embarrassing question facing China’s leadership is the ultimate accomplishment of the Bolshevik movement, and also the Chinese revolution, in putting an end to the practice of exploitation and oppression in society.
China is now more a Leninist capitalist state than a Marxist socialist one, as its burgeoning middle class, calculated to reach 800 million in one or two decades, jumps aboard the capitalistic consumerism train under the stewardship of communist totalitarianism – Leninism’s lasting legacy.
Cary Huang is a senior writer at the Post