August 20, 2004

The Condition of the Working Class in China

It never fails to amaze me when people talk about the collapse of Communist power in the 20th century, because, after all, about a fifth of the world's population is still under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. This organization has gone from being responsible for the worst famine in history, through a concerted attempt, at the instigation of a delusional old man, to wreck both the economy and the culture of the people it ruled over, followed by bloodily crushing any hint of dissent in the public view of the entire world, to its present eminence as, probably, the second most powerful government in the world and a key part of the international order. From this high it engages in penal servitude and the imperialist domination and colonization of its western territories. I suppose that it should come as no surprise that, when it decided to embrace capitalism, it would take the most simplistic Vulgar Marxist ideas about how the state is merely the instrument of the capitalist class, and the third-world state merely the instrument of international finance capital, as instructions.

The current issue of Dissent carries a long article, "The Condition of the Working Class in China", documenting just this. It's condensed from a 100-page petition (PDF) drawn by the economists of the AFL-CIO. It is one of the most shocking and horrifying things I have read in a long time. I am not altogether sure I agree with them about the abuse of Chinese workers substantially squeezing first-world workers, but that hardly matters. This is the gross, chronic exploitation and oppression of tens of millions of our fellow human beings; the deliberate and profitable creation of situations making Manchester in 1844 seem like a worker's paradise. Industrialization has never, in any country, been pretty or painless, but this is intolerable. Please read it.

The Dismal Science; The Great Transformation; The Progressive Forces

Posted at August 20, 2004 12:34 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth