China breaks new world record
It’s amazing really; thanks to the hypocrisy of the Communist Party of China (CPC) since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, China has achieved in 36 years what Western Capitalism has taken more than ten times as long to achieve. Thanks to Andrew Marr’s History of the World, I recently became aware of the way in which stock markets were first created in the wake of the World’s first commodity trading bubble – the tulip mania of Holland in the 1630s…
Since that time, Western Capitalism has succeeded in inventing and then abolishing slavery (but not before making sure that this colonial exploitation denuded an entire continent of the one thing that might have enabled it to prosper on its own terms)… It invented industry, pollution, and sewage treatment works… It invented colonial exploitation and then made a great show of renouncing it; only to perpetuate it by other means – through the instruments of multi-national companies, stock markets, trade agreements, and global institutions… It extended the right to vote to all men and then even women too… It lifted huge numbers of people out of absolute poverty and tantalised millions more with the promise of a better life… In the UK, we invented mandatory education for all children; and created and later abolished Grammar Schools – favouring instead the Comprehensive system that has succeeded only in failing all children equally…
In the final analysis, however, globalised Capitalism has – just like the Atlantic Slave Trade – served only the interests of those who were already better-off; and it has been spectacularly successful in one thing only – making them even more wealthy than they were before… We may well have eradicated Smallpox but, in the last Century – irrespective of the changes of government – the gap between rich and poor has grown steadily wider and wider. The trickle-down effect of the Reagan and Thatcher era was a cruel myth; in reality wealth has become evermore concentrated in the hands of a super-wealthy elite. Some, like Patrice Ayme, would call it a plutocracy but – whatever you want to call it – its only interest today is in ensuring its own survival. In a way, it is analogous to the Skynet of the movie Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines: It has become self-aware and is proceeding to exterminate its enemy – humanity itself.
As I said, the CPC has achieved all this in only 36 years and it too has now hit the growthmania equivalent of what Marathon runners refer to as “The Wall”… Ten times as fast and just as successfully, having promised to raise all its people out of poverty, it has comprehensively failed to achieve its stated aims. Once again, I find myself quoting John Gray from page xiv of the 2009 edition of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism:
Along the way, however, the CPC decided to construct a protective fortress around itself in the form of a million millionaires; and a burgeoning middle class… The CPC has embraced the need to tackle climate change but only because it perceives it as a threat to its own long-term survival… Sadly, although it has not taken its foot off the economic accelerator, the fuel tank is now empty… It has lent so much money to the West and seen very little return in recent years… It has cities the size of Lower Manhattan with dozens of skyscrapers built and no-one to rent them to… What a mad, mad, World this is in which we all live…
But don’t just take my word for it, see it and read it for yourself, courtesy of the BBC’s China correspondent, Damian Grammaticas… In the run up to the latest renewal of the CPC’s very own plutocracy, Damian is once again performing a valuable public service by focusing on the spectacular contradictions that the CPC’s multi-decadal abuse of power has caused:
In the past two decades China’s economy has grown by 10% a year and more than 400m people have been lifted out of poverty. But China’s growth has been deeply uneven. Those in the right places with the right connections have been able to become astonishingly rich. There are now 1.4 million Chinese US dollar millionaires. The number of billionaires has grown from 15 in 2006 to 251 today.
Week in China: Guizhou, the poorest province
China’s economic growth has been deeply uneven. Most have seen their lives improve in the past two decades, and 400 million Chinese have lifted themselves out of poverty. But those in the right places with the right connections, usually in the cities, have gained incredible riches. So China today is among the most unequal countries in the world. The serious and growing inequalities are a problem China’s next leaders know they must tackle as the gap between the rich and the rest grows wider.
China’s ever-widening wealth gap
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