The differences between Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, and a Social Safety Net

April 4, 2017

Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have similarities as well as differences. One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, and communism refers to both an economic system and a political system.

The fall of communism in the Soviet Union did not mean socialism failed. It meant the autocratic, one-party state that defined communism failed.

After all, Russia still has a social safety net that funds health care and pension programs.  With at least five years of coverage, men age 60 and women age 55 are covered for old-age pensions. Russia also offers a disability pension and a survivor pension.

Having socialist safety net programs does not mean a country is socialist or communist. For example, the United States is not a socialist country just because it has Medicare, and Social Security. The difference is that the United States has a multi-party political system and still has private ownership of property and a capitalist business system.

China changed in the early 1980s when its Communist Party adopted elements of capitalism and joined the World Trade Organization. It’s true that part of China’s economy is still state-run, but there are not as many social programs as there once were under the previous communist system.

That leads to this question: If China allows capitalism to coexist with socialism, is it still a Communist country? Just to make a point, in 2014 Bloomberg reported that about 75-percent of China’s industrial output came from private businesses and not state-owned enterprises.

While no one in China may own land (yet), private citizens and even foreigners may lease land in urban areas while land in most rural areas is still owned by village collectives in conjunction with the central government and cannot be bought or sold because no one holds the title to most rural land. There is also no property tax, rent, or mortgages that come with interest payments for rural areas. This means being poor in rural China isn’t the same as being poor in the United States, because families can’t lose their homes to a bank.

Imagine what it must be like to not worry about making the rent, mortgage, and property tax payments. There are almost 600-million rural Chinese, and they even get to vote in democratic elections for their village leaders.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Red Star Over China

February 28, 2017

During one of our trips to Shanghai, China, we saw a film called Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow.

Edgar Snow (1905 – 1972) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.

The film was in Mandarin and wasn’t subtitled, so I had to watch carefully to understand what was going on. When I returned home to the United States, I searched Amazon for a DVD copy of the film but couldn’t find one.

However, I discovered that Edgar Snow’s wife threatened to sue China if the movie was released, but that didn’t stop the Chinese.

There’s no doubt that Mao had to have charisma to lead so many in battle for so many years to win a civil war that stretched from 1927 to 1950.

However, Mao changed after he became China’s modern emperor, and the power must have corrupted him. The evidence is the results of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the purges that killed so many.

There were also successes like the Chinese Communist Party’s war against poverty, the increase in life expectancy that almost doubled during Mao’s rule. and the health programs that were implemented such as the bare-foot doctors. The reason so many Chinese still think of Mao as the George Washington of China was because life after 1949 was better than life before the CCP won the Civil War.

Students of China may want to see this film, but the only place one may buy a DVD of this movie is probably China.

When Edgar Snow came down with pancreatic cancer, Zhou Enlai dispatched a team of Chinese doctors to Switzerland to treat him.

Discover Anna May Wong, the woman that died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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What Type of Government does China have?

February 15, 2017

By definition, as you will learn from this post, 21st century China is not a socialist and/or Communist country, even though it is still labeled as one. It is also not a capitalist country.

Socialism is a system where there is no private property and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. But in 2014 Bloomberg reported that private companies are driving China’s growth. Only 25-percent of China’s industrial output came from state-owned enterprises in 2014.

Communism is a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. When Mao died in 1976, China moved away from this political theory by ending Mao’s Cultural Revolution and arresting the Gang of Four, who planned to lead China and continue the Cultural Revolution’s class war forever.

Then there is capitalism that is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Since about 25-percent of China’s industry is still state-owned, China clearly isn’t a capitalist system like the United States is.  The evidence for this was on display soon after the 2007–08 global financial crises created by U.S. Banks and Wall Street greed that caused millions of Chinese to lose their jobs in private sector manufacturing.

That’s when China’s government stepped in.

The Global Economic Crises and Unemployment in China reports, “The state provided subsidies and basic entitlements to urban workers and their families in an effort to maintain social and political stability within the subsystem … the government has poured billions of dollars into public works designated for road and rail transportation improvements. These projects have created many jobs for migrant labor.”

What else do we know about today’s China?

China has one political party with 85-million voting members; it’s one of the largest political parties in the world. — Britannica.com

More than 600-million rural Chinese vote in village elections. New Politics reports, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement.”

China has its own Constitution from 1982 that includes Amendments.  For instance, the president of China is limited to two 5-year terms and can be impeached.

There is also a mandatory retirement age that comes with a pension.

However, every year, China’s president is listed as one of the world’s dictators by elements of the U.S. media, but under China’s Constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers. This doesn’t fit the definition of a dictator who holds absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control and who is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives.

How are China’s representatives elected?  About.com reports, “China’s representative elections begin with a direct vote of the people in local and village elections operated by local election committees. In cities, the local elections are broken down by residential area or work units. Citizens 18 and older vote for their village and local people’s congresses, and those congresses, in turn, elect the representatives to provincial people’s congresses.

“The provincial congresses in China’s 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities directly ruled by the Central Government, special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and armed forces then elect the roughly 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“The National People’s Congress is empowered to elect China’s president, premier, vice president, and Chair of the Central Military Commission as well as the president of the Supreme People’s Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.”

Let’s look at how the United States elects its president.  Political Parties that are private sector organizations allow party members to vote in state primaries. These primaries are not public elections because most of them only allow registered party members to vote.

Donald Trump, for instance, only won a little more than 14-million votes from registered Republicans to end up representing the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 2016, and this is in a country that has more than 200-million registered voters. Hillary Clinton had more than 16.8 million votes from the Democratic primaries.

The winners (Trump and Clinton) moved on to campaign in the national election that is held and monitored by the public sector in each state.  In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote 303 to 235, but he lost the popular vote 62,979,879 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 65,844,954.

Does this seem strange?  Is there any other republic in the world where the winner loses the popular vote?

Last, a republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

After reading this post, what type of government do you think China has?

  1. a dictatorship
  2. a socialist state
  3. a communist state
  4. a capitalist state
  5. a republic
  6. A hybrid capitalist-socialist republic
  7. None of the above

 

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The Challenge of Health Care in China

January 31, 2017

In 1950, China’s population was almost 552 million, and the average lifespan was 35 as it had been for centuries. By the Time Mao died in 1976, even with the Great Famine (1958-1961) in a country known as the Land of Famines, the population increased to more than 930 million, and the average lifespan had climbed to almost 55. Today, there are almost 1-billion, 400-million Chinese, and the average lifespan has reached beyond 76 years, more than twice what it was in 1950 when Mao and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) became the leader of China?

How did all that happen?

After the CCP won the Civil war in 1949, health care improved in China. By the time Mao died in 1976, average life expectancy had increased by twenty years, so the program must have worked, right?

The CCP was the first government in China’s history to set goals and plans to help the people who lived in extreme poverty improve the quality of their lifestyles, and soon after Mao Zedong’s healthcare speech in 1965, the concept of the barefoot doctor (with basic paramedical training) was developed.

By 1968, the barefoot doctors program was a national policy, and it was offered free to the working class. The barefoot doctor program ended in 1981 with the end the agricultural cooperatives. However, two-thirds of rural village doctors currently practicing in China were first trained as barefoot doctors.

This program was the foundation of rural-health care in China, but back then anyone could become a barefoot doctor.

Mao told the people that if you wanted to be a doctor, you didn’t need to go to medical school. All you had to do was have the motivation to provide medical care to needy people and the government would support you and provide limited training.

The second class of medical care went to teachers, clerks and secretaries, who were considered ‘friends’ of the working class, the proletariat. The only difference was that these ‘friends’ had to pay to get medical treatment, and it was possible to face financial ruin from one hospital stay.

A third group of people was considered enemies of the proletariat: former shop-owners, landlords and denounced intellectuals like liberal arts professors. These people were denied health care.

Mao died in 1976, and between 1981 and 2003, the health care system in China was privatized. People had to pay before treatment or receive no medical care. This changed again in 2003, when the CCP launched a new cooperative medical system operated and funded by the government with a copay of 10 Renminbi per year for each enrolled citizen.

In 2008, the SARS epidemic resulted in the beginning of more health-care reforms.

Health Affairs.org reports, “China is at a crossroads in transforming its health care system. Like the United States, China is faced with the double-edged sword of having both a large uninsured population and rapid health care cost inflation. … China’s solution for its rural areas is the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS), a government-run voluntary insurance program. … In an attempt to redirect urban patients’ reliance on hospital services toward primary care, the government announced in 2005 the establishment of community health centers (CHCs) to provide prevention, primary care, home care, and rehabilitative services.”

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A Short History of China: part 6 of 6

January 18, 2017

Mao Zedong walked a long and dangerous road on his way to leading China for 27 years starting in 1949 to 1976. His first step down that road was to survive the Civil War against the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, a brutal dictator for life that the United States supported. To escape defeat, Mao avoided combat as much as possible to retreating on an almost impossible march known as Mao’s Long March that’s considered one of the most significant military campaigns in the 20th century, and one of the most amazing physical feats ever attempted.

Surrounded by hostile armies, 87,000 Communist troops escaped and started a retreat that covered nearly 6,000 miles in one year.

In 1949, the Chinese Civil War ended and America’s ally for life Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan where he ruled as a brutal dictator until he died in 1976. For a peek into Chiang’s brutality, one example of many was his 2-28-1947 Massacre in Taiwan.

Meanwhile in China, Mao launched his Great Leap Forward that failed in the disaster of what’s still know as Mao’s Great Famine that I wrote about in Part 5.

Having failed, Mao stepped aside to let someone else run China. The large communes of the Great Leap Forward were abandoned and the peasants returned to their villages to farm the land,

Fearing the return of capitalism, Mao’s supporters printed a book with his slogans. Mao wanted to break the thinking and attitudes of old China. Through film, a propaganda campaign was launched so Mao could regain power, and in 1966, he launched the insanity of the Cultural Revolution.

Soon after Mao died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping ended the Cultural Revolution, led the revision of the Chinese Constitution to limit leaders to two 5-year terms so China would never have another Mao, a powerful dictator for life, and opened China to world trade, and in the last 40 years, thanks to Deng, China is not only responsible for ninety percent of the reduction in global poverty but also the growth of a U.S. style consumer middle class of about 300 million Chinese.

In fact, the Chinese middle class now leads the world in tourism, and sends more of their children to attend colleges in the United States, Canada, and Europe than any other country. More than 100 million Chinese freely leave China annually to visit, as tourists, other countries around the globe and then fly home.

One blight on China under Deng’s leadership was the alleged crushing of a student democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.  The truth is the protests that took place in Tiananmen Square didn’t start as a democracy movement, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not deny that there were deaths, but the CCP says the deaths took place several miles from Tiananmen Square due to a bloody confrontation between the People’s Liberation Army and violent protestors throwing Molotov cocktails. What is the truth about Tiananmen Square?

As this 6-part series ends, you might be thinking about what was missing. For instance the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canal, or China’s ancient irrigation system, the Treasure of Sichuan, built more than 2,200 years ago, the oldest and only surviving non-dam irrigation system in the word. The next two posts will be about the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal. Click the link in this paragraph to discover the Treasure of Sichuan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site admired by scientists from around the world.

Return to Part 5 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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A Short History of China: part 5 of 6

January 17, 2017

After a decline that started in the 16th century about the time Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macao, and 22 years later established a permeant settlement there, in 1912, China’s last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing, after more than 2,200 years of Imperial rule, collapsed followed by chaos, anarchy, and widespread suffering, and mass deaths.

Sun Yat-Sen attempted to form a republic in China but failed. Not long after his death, China was plunged into a Civil War in 1927 (with a short break to fight Japan during World War II) that raged between the Nationalists under a brutal dictator called Chiang Kai-shek, an American ally, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Zedong until 1949 when Mao’s CCP won.

The Rape of Nanking offers a brutal snapshot of what happened to China after Japan invaded in 1937.

In addition, David C. Schak reports, “Throughout most of Chinese history the majority of Chinese have lived in poverty. As the hundreds of famines that have killed millions of Chinese attest, Chinese poverty has often been absolute, i.e., lacking the very material resources needed to sustain life and maintain health.”

In 1949, the population of China was 562 million, and the average life expectancy was 36 years. In 1976 when Mao died, the population had reached 930 million and average life expectancy had increased to about 65 years.

But for his 27 years as the leader of China, the West had repeatedly blamed Mao for murdering 60 million of his own people by letting them starve to death during what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine of 1958 – 62. The CCP admits there was a famine but says that only about 3 million died. Henry Kissinger says it was closer to 20 million. Where did all of those estimates come from – 3 million, 20 million, and 60 million? From the same data that the CCP made available for the world.

What was happening in the West in the 1950s and 60s: The Cold War, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee and mass hysteria over the perceived threat posed to Capitalism by Communism. It was known as the era of The Red Scare. There was a war against the spread of Communism in Korea (1950 – 1953) that ended in a stalemate ,and then another war in Vietnam that the U.S. lost, because the government in Vietnam today is a Communist one, the same one the U.S. fought from 1955 to 1975.

Five U.S. Presidents fought the Vietnam War from Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 – 1961) to Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977). In between were Presidents John F. Kennedy (assassinated), Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon (resigned to avoid being impeached).

Few in the West know that America’s leaders refused to lift an embargo on China during what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine, and help feed those starving Chinese once Mao and the CCP discovered what was happening and asked for help from the world.

The only help came from Canada and France, two countries that broke ranks with the United States to help save lives in China.

To end Communism in China, America’s leaders were willing to let millions of Chinese starve to death, and then blame Mao even though China is known as the Land of Famines, because Imperial records for more than 2,000 years recorded that China has had droughts, floods, famines, and loss of life annually up to 1962 when under the leadership of the CCP, the Chinese haven’t suffered from one since, a first in Chinese history; a first most of the global media outside of China has not reported on.

Continued in Part 6 on January 18, 2017 or return to Part 5

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Mao as a Complicated Man

August 2, 2016

Mao was fifty-six when he became China’s leader and seventy-two at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. But who was Mao for the other fifty-five years before he ruled China?

Many outside of China only think of Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) as a brutal dictator, but he was more than that.

For instance, as a child, his father was a stern disciplinarian who beat him and his three siblings often, and Mao became an avid reader.

And while commanding the Red Army during The Long March (1934-1935), he was a man respected by China’s peasants. Then there was Mao’s move away from Communist Russia after Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, when Mao said to Nixon, “Our common old friend, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, doesn’t approve of this.”

In 1935, Mao’s poem, “The Long March”, reveals an awareness of the sacrifice and the willingness to suffer to accomplish great things.

The Red Army fears not the trials of the March,
Holding light ten thousand crags and torrents.
The Five Ridges wind like gentle ripples
And the majestic Wumeng roll by, globules of clay.
Warm the steep cliffs lapped by the waters of Golden Sand,
Cold the iron chains spanning the Tatu River.
Minshan’s thousand li of snow joyously crossed,
The three Armies march on, each face glowing.

Mao was a complex man, and it wasn’t until after the failure of the The Great Leap Forward (1958 – 1961) that the fatal attraction and power of leadership corrupted him leading to the horrors of The Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), that Mao’s many critics outside of China use to define him.

Anyone who follows all of Mao’s life instead of relying on his last decade would understand that he cared deeply about the common people while punishing the landowners and wealthy, who abused the people he cared about.  On the other hand, his foe, Chiang Kai-shek, supported the landowners and wealthy while crushing the peasants and workers, but few outside of China condemn this brutal dictator who was a U.S. ally.

Mao Zedong Poems reveals what Mao might have been thinking about as President Johnson increased America’s involvement in Vietnam. Was Mao also warning us of what he was about to do in 1966, when he launched The Cultural Revolution?

Two Birds: A Dialogue (1965)

The roc wings fanwise,
Soaring ninety thousand li
And rousing a raging cyclone.
The blue sky on his back, he looks down
To survey Man’s world with its towns and cities.
Gunfire licks the heavens,
Shells pit the earth.
A sparrow in his bush is scared stiff..
“This is one hell of a mess!
O I want to flit and fly away.”
“Where, may I ask?”
The sparrow replies,
“To a jewelled palace in elfland’s hills.
Don’t you know a triple pact was signed
Under the bright autumn moon two years ago?
There’ll be plenty to eat,
Potatoes piping hot,
Beef-filled goulash.”
“Stop your windy nonsense!
Look, the world is being turned upside down.”

Through Mao’s poetry, we learn more about the man beyond the demonized stereotype created in the media outside of China.

And Do the Chinese People Currently Consider Mao Zedong to Be Evil or a Hero. In Forbes, Kaiser Kuo writes, “If I were forced to say there’s a dominant view of Mao among mainlanders, it would be that Mao was ‘good’ up until the very early 1950s — before the Anti-Rightist Campaign got into full swing, and before he set China on a course toward collectivization. Whether or not these beliefs can be supported by fact, it’s widely believed among Chinese that Mao led the Communist Party and its Red Army in effective resistance against the Japanese invaders; that they represented a morally superior vision over that offered by the Guomindang (the Nationalist Party) — a vision that championed egalitarianism, feminism, anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism, nationalism; and that they allowed China to ‘stand up’ after a century of abject humiliation beginning with the Opium War. After 1949, land redistribution and the Marriage Law (which was, by any measure, a very progressive piece of legislation) won them plaudits too.”

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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