Economy International Labor

The Chinese and American Synthesis

By Mike Kolhoff

It’s been clear that the Chinese and American economies have become closely intertwined since the end of the Cold War. Once arch-enemies, China is now a close trading partner with the United States, able even to influence the content of American motion pictures (re: the remake of “Red Dawn”). A vast distribution network, evidenced most dramatically in the dollar stores, has arisen primarily for cheap Chinese-made consumer goods. Impoverished Americans now buy cheap goods made by equally impoverished Chinese workers. The pauperization of the American working class by neo-liberal policies has meant massive profits for the exporters and importers of these cheap commodities.

American capitalists look with envy and admiration at the efficiency of Chinese capitalists. The Chinese entrepreneurs enjoy the complete support and protection of the Chinese state, the only requirement being a share of the loot. Any complaints from Chinese workers are dealt with swiftly and brutally by the forces of the police state. China once pretended to be a workers paradise, and is now a neo-liberal paradise in fact. The ruling elite must have realized at some point that there were limits to how much wealth they could accumulate operating a faux workers state, and decided to become the world’s first totalitarian capitalist state instead.

Neoliberal forces in America have been moving toward an equivalent vision in the USA, also since the end of the Cold War. While Chinese oppressors use the rhetoric of glorious revolution to maintain loyalty, Americans have turned to patriotic allusions to our own revolution. Since both revolutions were devoid of any real liberatory content despite the rhetoric, this seems a perfect fit.

China still advertises itself as a workers state, though workers have no power and only the most limited of freedoms. The Chinese labor movement is completely controlled by the state through the official Communist Party and offers no resistance or aid to workers.

The USA still advertises itself as a representative democracy, though workers have no power and the system of two capitalist parties is quickly approaching the efficiency of a single faux workers party. The US labor movement, once a nominal voice for the interests of workers, first entered into open partnership with the capitalist class and then was discarded by both the capitalists and the vast majority of the working class; it is currently living on the fringes of the political system and dying a slow and painful death.

Both China and the United States have successfully exploited the most expansive expression of love of one’s home and neighbors: “patriotism”. They have twisted this useful tool to the service of convenient lies and hatred-on-demand.

The governors of China have only one use for the working people of China, and it is the same use as the American governors have for American workers: as producers of surplus profit which the rulers can share out among themselves. The fake egalitarianism of China has found a perfect partner in the fake equality of opportunity in the United States. They are a living exercise in perverted dialectics: a mock thesis and a mock anti-thesis moving ever closer to a truly horrific synthesis.

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