Comment to Late Night Live on the rise of China

President Xi Jinping

President Xi Jinping

Hi Phillip,

I listened to your interview of the professor from Defence Studies at the ANU with regard to China.

I wonder if he referred to the many pigs at the trough (the most responsible, unpunished) when the latest crisis of capitalist dynamics – the ‘GFC’ (which came within an ace of bringing down capitalism and has not gone away) broke out? I strongly doubt it.

The Chinese are way ahead of the West for three reasons:

> they have had their socialist revolution which the Western nations are yet to have – for the fundamental reason not that I wish it or to provoke your guest but as Marx identified (I am not a Marxist) – that of the level of development of the productive forces, the uncontrolled ramifications of which can be seen everywhere in the West

> they have the potential of the one-party state (cf. the obligatory myopic street-theatre of Republican/Democrat, Liberal/Labor etc.) which, since Deng Xiaoping, has shown a crucial capacity to release the engine of reward for individual initiative within a socialist framework – something the Soviet Communist Party was never able to do (Lenin first unsuccessfully attempted this with his NEP in 1921)

> bearing on this is the consequential rapid rise into the middle class of hundreds of millions of Chinese – a class historically associated with ‘democracy’ – i.e. ‘a voice’ and power. There will be an increasing tension between the Chinese one-party state and their rising middle-class and I think that the Chinese will continue to successfully address this and other matters and lead the world with forms of political and economic organisation that will be models for it.

Worth considering are Engels’ words from a letter to America  in 1894:

‘The war in China has given the death-blow to the old China. Isolation has become impossible; the introduction of railways, steam-engines, electricity, and modern large-scale industry has become a necessity, if only for reasons of military defence. But with it the old economic system of small peasant agriculture, where the family also made its industrial products itself, falls to pieces too, and with it the whole old social system which made relatively dense population possible. Millions will be turned out and forced to emigrate; and these millions will find their way even to Europe, and en masse. But as soon as Chinese competition sets in on a mass scale, it will rapidly bring things to a head in your country and over here, and thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America…’

Philip Stanfield



ABC Radio National/Late Night Live 25.08.15/China crash

6 thoughts on “Comment to Late Night Live on the rise of China

  1. Dear Philip,

    I tried my best to understand this post. Since I am inexperienced in social philosophy, may I ask something about communist model if it’s not too taxing for your time?

    I have heard that there are millionaires in China and also heard that socialism means equal distribution of resources to all people of state. It’s all superficial knowledge I have gleaned. I wonder how there could be people richer than others in chinese model.

    If you have some time and leniency for my ignorance, kindly let me know about it.

    Anand 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anand,
      thank you for your comment and question.

      I think the question which underlies all others is ‘Which precedes the other – consciousness and its products, or ‘matter’ (objective reality)?’ One’s answer to that question fundamentally determines one’s world view – how one thinks about billionaires in China for example.

      I could reply to you by pointing to the billionaires and impoverished in the West and speak of the rights and dignity of man, but that would not move the conversation one bit further.

      As a materialist I look for the underlying determinants and I agree with Marx that the level of development of the forces of production necessitates particular relations of production which in turn are reflected in how people live, in ideology and what people think.

      Capitalism grew out of feudalism because feudalism had become a constraint on the development of the forces of production – the feudal relations of production were inadequate to that development. Capitalism is now in a similar position – it is not only a constraint but how it functions threatens human survival.

      So long as there is not widespread nuclear disaster (Trotsky referred to ‘barbarism’) I have no doubt that the world’s nations will become socialist – not because of morality but because it is necessary. (an example – beneath the fine moral justification for the North’s position in the US Civil War was the necessity that slavery had to go because it had become an impediment to economic development.)

      Best regards,


      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your well thought response Phil. I understand that socialism might become the order of the day. What do you think about its failure in USSR and elsewhere? I have read economists and socialists predicting a fate similar to USSR of China and others. I would love to hear your take on it.
        I also wonder that your blog’s title has mysticism in it but you consider yourself a materialist. Please let me know about it as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Anand,
        thank you for your interest.

        The causes for the collapse of the Soviet Union are obviously multiple and complex but they include the fact that the Soviet Union was the first socialist state (which the capitalists will never forgive Russia for, as can be seen in their ongoing hostility to Russia), that, impoverished, it was surrounded from the outset by an invading and hostile West (the arms race was a drain it could not maintain), and, in my view, it was the price paid for ‘overleaping’ the bourgeois stage of development (the Chinese have learnt from this).

        But again, fundamentally it is not a matter of what people like or don’t like, it is the working of objective reality and its necessity, and of understanding this.

        That a system we know as ‘capitalism’ grew from another system we know as ‘feudalism’ was necessary, as the productive forces developed. Likewise, and for the same reason, capitalism will be replaced by another known as ‘socialism.’

        Invasion, drone technology, black ops, psy ops and internet monitoring etc. can delay this as long as possible (again, that is the working of objective reality), but nothing can stop it. Consciousness is secondary to/the product of objective reality.

        On your second point, the dominant mystical theory in the West (Neoplatonism) is a theory of knowledge and that theory, having been turned by Marx from ‘standing on its head’ to its material feet became the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism.

        At a time when there has been so much disillusion with Marxism and the possibility of socialism (a mainly manufactured disillusion), this whole current needs to be reconsidered because after Marx, it is the epistemology of the future, because of the immense and ongoing contribution of mysticism to all aspects of culture which should be acknowledged and discussed openly not treated like pornography as academic philosophers do, and because of its shortfalls retained in Marxist theory (particularly its teleology – one reason I am not a Marxist).

        My blog is to argue for the living significance of mysticism in the West, for its relationship with materialism and for the entirety of that current’s reconsideration because of its importance.

        Best regards,


        Liked by 2 people

      • Your explanation give me much clarity into socialism, mysticism, materialism and your blog. Thanks for taking time out to explain in such details.


        Liked by 1 person

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