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Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Doublespeak 

Went to Think in China last night. The professor began his lecture by saying that China is a socialist country. During the question and answer period, I queried him about this. I told him that socialism is a word that has a meaning. That meaning is "public ownership of the means of production."

He said, "When I say socialist, I mean a country that is led by the communist party. So if the party's approach to socialism changes, we simply change the definition."

Click for larger image.
So what he seemed to be saying was that socialism was whatever the Party said it was. There is a lot of truth to this. In China, it is not politically correct to spout Marxist philosophy. But it is also not politically correct to publicly admit that we no longer believe what Marx taught. Whatever system is adopted in China, we MUST call it socialism.

A few minutes later, the professor said, "China is a socialist country and America is a capitalist country." What does he mean by that? If I take what he said at face value, I would have to conclude that he was saying, "China is led by the Communist Party and the U.S. is not led by the Communist Party. But that's a meaningless statement. It sounds like what he was actually doing was sliding into the traditional statement that China is a socialist country as opposed to America, which is a capitalist country. That doesn't work. To juxtapose China's system vis-a-vis America's system implies an objective standard against which to measure both of them. But he had just got done saying that there was no objective definition. Socialism is whatever the Party says it is. You can't have it both ways. But in China, they seem determined to have it both ways, and this creates confusion. This morning, I opened up the China Daily and saw the following headline:

"Let the market play its own role"
Under that was the subtitle:
"State Council's latest move reduces intervention and facilitates business"
Does that sound like Marxism to you? You see, this is the problem with the way this whole issue is being implemented in China. The good professor says that socialism means leadership by the Communist Party. But if you say that, then sliding into old statements about China being socialist as compared to America being capitalist is not really honest. In fact, China is moving away from socialism, and America is moving toward socialism. But don't tell anybody.

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