Authoritarianism: the U.S. versus the People’s Republic of China

Federal law enforcement separating families at the southern border with Mexico
Federal law enforcement separating families at the southern border with Mexico. | Photo: John Moore

By Chris Fry

On September 23, both Boss Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented virtual speeches to the UN General Assembly. An analysis by CNN, one of the most “liberal”, most anti-Trump of the corporate media outlets, compared the two speeches with an online article titled “UN General Assembly: Contrast between Trump and Xi couldn’t be greater, but Chinese leader is the true authoritarian”.

The article begins by quoting President Xi:

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the world to “join hands to uphold the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all of us.”

After hailing China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Xi said Beijing wants to “continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.”

The article then gives a brief description of Trump’s speech:

The difference between the two leaders was made neatly by Trump himself, who spent much of his UNGA speech attacking China, which he blamed for having “unleashed this plague onto the world.”

So why does CNN proclaim that Chinese President Xi rather than Trump is the “true authoritarian”? Here are the reasons that this corporate mouthpiece used to bestow this label on the Chinese government and its Communist Party leadership:

But the rhetoric doesn’t always match the facts on the ground: for all Xi’s talk of free trade — at Davos and the UN — access to the Chinese market remains exceptionally difficult for many foreign companies…

And while he may wax lyrical about world peace, under Xi, China is expanding its military and making increasingly aggressive moves in the South China Sea, in the Taiwan Strait, and along the country’s Himalayan border with India…

This week saw the jailing of prominent Xi critic Ren Zhiqiang for 18 years. The 69-year-old property tycoon and former senior party member was convicted on a raft of corruption charges, which appeared soon after he allegedly penned an essay criticizing Xi and calling the Chinese leader a “clown.” …The heavy sentence appears designed to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite: either fall in line or face the consequences.

So that’s what makes Peoples China “the true authoritarian” to CNN and the rest of the ruling class and their minions, both Republican and Democratic – it is making it harder for giant U.S. corporations to make big bucks in China, it is defending its land and sea borders against massive U.S. naval forces provocations, including parades of aircraft carriers and missile cruisers, and it is daring to arrest its corrupt billionaires, “to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite”, something that the U.S. “injustice” department would never do.

And what does CNN say about Boss Trump that makes him not “the true authoritarian”?

Yet for the many problems with the US system exposed by Trump’s time in office, a democratically elected president ultimately does not and cannot wield as much power as his authoritarian counterparts. For all that Trump might wish to lock his rivals up when they insult him, he is constrained institutionally from doing so.

To CNN, the ICE and Border Patrol atrocious separation of children, even babies, from their migrant parents does not meet the definition of authoritarian. As the NY Times stated in an October 6 article titled

“’We need to Take Away Children, No Matter How Young, Justice Dept. Officials Said”, “We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants,” one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. “I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log.”

On September 30th, Professor Xiaoxing Xi gave a webinar presentation on the wave of racist McCarthy-like attacks waged by the FBI and Justice Department against Chinese scholars and students for supposedly “stealing” scientific and technical “secrets”. Trumped up charges against these academics are being used to intimidate and even prosecute them based on their national origin, all part of a viciously racist anti-Chinese and anti-immigrant campaign by the U.S. repressive agencies and Trump regime officials. Is that not the very definition of authoritarianism?

And neither the knee-to-the-neck cop murder of George Floyd nor the six shots fired into the sleeping body of Breonna Taylor, not the thousands of other oppressed people murdered by unpunished police, not the millions of prisoners rotting in jails, many for months or years before their trial, not the brutal attacks on demonstrators by club-wielding uniformed thugs and their allies, armed fascist gangs, backed to the hilt by Trump and his chief henchman, Bill Barr, none of these seem to meet CNN’s definition of a “true authoritarian” system.

Of course, CNN’s assurance that Trump is “constrained institutionally” from overturning the election and locking up his rivals is plainly empty. He has already pronounced the election to be illegitimate unless he is declared the winner. He has called on Barr to arrest Biden and Obama “FOR THE BIGGEST OF ALL POLITICAL SCANDALS (IN HISTORY)!!!” He has boasted of his support from all the police forces in the country.  He told the fascist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by!”

And now a fascist militia group, armed with automatic weapons and bombs, has been caught preparing to kidnap the Michigan governor. Does not all this sound like a prelude to a Trump “authoritarian” coup attempt?

The CNN article did get one thing right:

This discrepancy between Xi’s international and domestic personas is perhaps a reminder that differences between the two leaders — and the political systems they represent — run deeper than mere style.

So there it is: the different political systems between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China unites CNN with Fox News, Donald Trump with Joe Biden, the Democratic politicians with their Republican counterparts, the entire ruling class and all their minions in their hatred of China, its government and its people.  Ever since the victory of the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 led by Mao Zedong, this has spawned Wall Street’s and the Pentagon’s dream of regime change in China.

Marxist foundation of the People’s Republic of China

In their 1848 pamphlet “the Communist Manifesto”, after the part about a “spectre haunting Europe”, Marx and Engels explicitly stated the goal of the workers struggle, which would soon explode all over the European continent:

We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of [the] ruling class to win the battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Some have opined that Marx focused entirely on Europe, but that is just not true. As a foreign correspondent for the New York Tribune, Marx wrote lengthy articles about the infamous Opium Wars waged by the British Empire, aided by the French and the U.S., against the Chinese monarchial government. Marx condemned these wars of conquest and capitalist market expansion, describing in detail for his U.S. readers the devastation, the massive suffering imposed on the Chinese peasants, from the destruction of the Chinese craft industry to the huge population trapped in addiction and the taxes imposed for the wars and reparations to the West.

Hong Kong was a “prize” England won in the first Opium War, where it was held for more than a hundred years as a British colony until it regained status as part of China. Now it is the stage for the city’s rich to try to violently separate itself from People’s China, to  attach itself as a neo-colony of the U.S., no matter what the suffering imposed on the working class there. Of course this movement has won the support of the U.S and British ruling classes, who dream of this sparking a wider counter-revolutionary movement in the rest of China.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, where the workers and soldiers seized power from the capitalist government who had fled the city away from the besieging Prussian army. Although led by French anarchists, the Communards quickly established what Marx called a “workers state”, the first of its kind in the world. Although it  lasted only months before it was crushed, its lessons have echoed through history, through the Russian October Revolution and then, in 1949, in the victory of the Chinese Revolution, which ended the “century of humiliation” that the Chinese people had suffered at the hands of Western imperialism.

The Korean Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, all the national liberation struggles, all of these are rooted in that heroic Commune’s two-month struggle that proved that the working class and poor could seize and hold on to state power, to make laws and decisions that favored the workers, such as equalized pay, an end of “night work”, “working” representatives, suspension of rent, rights of women, and much, much more.

The hatred and fear of the Paris Commune by the capitalist class reached the U.S. shores. In his book “Reconstruction – America’s Unfinished Revolution”, Eric Foner described its effect when the Wall Street panic of 1873 created a depression that lasted more than 20 years: “The [workers] movement for ‘Work or Bread” also helped propel the urban bourgeoisie to the right, as newspapers of both parties joined in denouncing the idea of public employment, raised anew the specter of the Paris Commune, and praised New York’s police for effectively defending law and order.” Foner points out how this was a key factor in the capitalist class withdrawing support of Black Reconstruction, the removal of Union troops from the South in 1876 and the onset of Jim Crow.

In 1875, four years after the Paris Commune, Marx wrote what was for him a brief response letter to an emerging workers’ party called the United Workers Party of Germany. This was an ancestor of the Social Democratic parties in Europe and today’s Democratic Socialists of America. Then as now, their program for the workers was to make the various capitalist and hybrid capitalist/aristocratic governments “more democratic” by extracting reforms. Marx titled his letter the “Critique of the Gotha Programme”.

Marx explains how the “advanced” governments of the time, while they came in different forms, had (and have today), a common foundation:

“Present-day society” is capitalist society, which exists in all “civilized” [European] countries, more or less free from medieval admixture, more or less modified by the particular historical development of each country, more or less developed…

Nevertheless, the different states of the different “civilized” [capitalist] countries, in spite of their motley diversity of form, all have this in common: that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed. They have, therefore, also certain essential characteristics in common. In this sense, it is possible to speak of the “present-day state” in contrast with the future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off.

Then Marx goes to the heart of the matter, as he describes what the lessons of the heroic Paris Commune drew for all the revolutionary workers and their organizations to come:

The question then arises: What transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions? This question can only be answered scientifically, and one does not get a flea-hop nearer to the problem by a thousand-fold combination of the word ‘people’ with the word ‘state’.

Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

From the Manifesto’s “the proletariat as the ruling class”, Marx was now able, thanks to the Paris Commune, to describe the substance of every socialist country and its government to come: the dictatorship of the proletariat. Each may have different forms and quite different policies, but this foundation they have in common: the dominance, the rule, the dictatorship of the capitalist class, however disguised behind a “democratic” facade, is ended. The socialist state belongs to the workers and oppressed. The means of production is wrested from the hands of the capitalist class, to now be owned by the workers and oppressed to be used and expanded for the benefit of our class. No capitalist government is more democratic than that. The socialist state itself becomes the owner.

Vladimir Lenin expanded this notion in his seminal work, “The State and Revolution – the Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution”, written at the cusp of the October Russsian Revolution in 1917.

That was the meaning of the victory of the Chinese Revolution, led by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, who since 1949 have developed themselves through public control of the means of production from a war-ravaged peasant-based economy where millions upon millions faced homelessness and starvation, to a modernized industrial giant with health care, free education, retirement benefits and so much more, and who are on the verge of eradicating poverty itself within their country, something the U.S. ruling class has no intention of ever doing.

And that difference has inflamed Western Imperialism’s hatred of these countries that have turned to revolutionary socialism to create their “workers state” or aspire to do so, a hatred that has burst into open war against Korea and Vietnam, and could do so again against the People’s Republic of China, whether under Trump or Biden.

On October 13 the Trump regime announced the sale of three new weapons systems to Taiwan, breaching past agreements with the U.S. Newsweek reports:

The equipment involved was said to include a Lockheed Martin-developed multiple launch weapon called the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Boeing-made long-range air-to-surface cruise missiles called SLAM-ER and external sensor pods for F-16 fighter jets.

The workers and the oppressed peoples of these countries are asserting their “authority”, their “authoritarianism” through their workers and communist parties, their national liberation organizations, rather than the authoritarianism of the bankers and corporation owners, the wizards of high finance, the parasitic class of billionaires and their minions in Washington and the Pentagon.

The capitalist system is today devolving into a deepening crisis with the pandemic, and its rule based on white supremacy is being challenged by millions of people in the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this dangerous period of deepening struggle, it is time to mark and defend the achievements of those countries and those people who, like the People’s Republic of China, through revolutionary organizations and heroic struggles, have overturned the rule of profit in their countries.

Long live the struggle by the global oppressed nations and working class!

Long live the People’s Republic of China and all the socialist countries!

Long live revolutionary socialism!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply