Sunday April 20th, 2014, 10:06 pm (EDT)

Asia

Asia

‘The Dangers are Great, the Possibilities Immense’

The Ongoing Political Struggle in India

It is always easy to criticize and dismiss an argument in its weakest formulation. Attacking the policies of the security-centric Indian state establishment, particularly the Home Minister, today does not need much daring. So let us instead take the benign, almost humanist utterance of the Prime Minister in his address to state police chiefs in September 2009: don’t forget, he said, that the Maoist movement has support among the poorest of the poor in the country. Those on the left opposing the impending armed state offensive often invoke this quote from the PM to buttress their point about how these are really poor people, innocent civilians and ordinary villagers who will suffer if the offensive is undertaken … | more |

Interview with Baburam Bhattarai

Transition to New Democratic Republic in Nepal

World People’s Resistance Movement: Thank you for meeting with us today. In your article in The Worker #4 ‘The Political Economy of the People’s War’ you write that “the transformation of one social system into another, or the destruction of the old by the new, always involves force and a revolutionary leap. The People’s War is such a means of eliminating the old by a new force and of taking a leap towards a new and higher social system.” Why then did the Maoist party enter the peace process and attempt to change society through Constituent Assembly elections? … | more |

A Different Perspective on the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

The U.S.-India nuclear deal was initiated through a framework agreement signed by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Bush in July 2005. India, at the instigation of Washington, agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear production facilities, and place all civilian production facilities under the inspection regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in return for U.S. economic, technological, and military cooperation. The nuclear deal, which took three years to complete, is officially aimed at promoting India’s access to uranium and to civilian nuclear technology, through enlarged importation of both. Whereas nuclear energy contributed a reported 2.5 percent of India’s energy requirements in 2007, the deal is expected to boost the contribution of the nuclear sector to India’s electricity supply, without reducing India’s primary dependence on coal. From its very start, the U.S.-India nuclear deal has generated huge controversies, both in India and internationally. The intent here is to lay bare the implications of the deal for the creation of waste, while putting aside, for the moment, other important controversies associated with the nuclear agreement.… | more |

Origins of the Food Crisis in India and Developing Countries

India has had a growing problem with food output and availability for the mass of the population since the inception of neoliberal economic reforms in 1991. A deep agricultural depression and rising unemployment rates resulting from “reform” policies have made the problem especially acute over the past decade. There has been a sharp decline in per capita grain output as well as grain consumption in the economy as a whole. Income has been shifting away from the majority towards the wealthy minority and a substantial segment of the population is being forced to eat less food and wear older clothing than before. This is exacerbated by the current global depression, which is further constraining mass consumption because of rising unemployment.… | more |

Mao Zedong: Chinese, Communist, Poet

Mao Zedong, The Poems of Mao Zedong, translations, introductions, and notes by Willis Barnstone (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008); 168 pages; $24.95 hardcover, $15.95 paperback.

What are we to think of Chairman Mao? A man of immense contradictions — a nationalist, communist, revolutionary, warrior, as well as the author of The Little Red Book, and the leader for decades of the Peoples’ Republic of China — he was also one of twentieth-century China’s best poets. A new translation of his work provides an opportunity to evaluate him as a writer and as an artist. A reviewer in The Washington Post called Mao’s poems “political documents,” but added, “it is as literature that they should be considered.” Separating the political from the literary, however, isn’t possible. “We woke a million workers and peasants,” Mao wrote in the First Siege, and though all his lines aren’t as explicit about the Chinese Revolution as it is, a great many of them are.… | more |

Slumlord Aesthetics and the Question of Indian Poverty

Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (based on Indian diplomat Vikas Swaroop’s novel Q & A) takes the extremely potent idea of a Bombay slum boy tapping into his street knowledge to win a twenty-million-dollar reality quiz show, and turns it into a universal tale of love and human destiny. In the quiz, Jamal is unable to answer questions that test his nationalist knowledge but is surprisingly comfortable with those that mark his familiarity with international trivia. For instance, while he knows that Benjamin Franklin adorns the hundred dollar bill, he has no clue about who adorns the thousand rupee note. This is obviously meant to suggest the irrelevance of the nation to its most marginalized member, but less obviously, also indicates its redundancy under globalized neoliberalism.… | more |

The Promise and Perils of Korean Reunification

It seems that nearly everyone publicly supports the reunification of Korea — the governments of the United States, North Korea, and South Korea, as well as the great majority of people in both North and South Korea. This should make us all nervous because it means that different people mean different things when they talk about reunification. We need to think carefully about what we mean when we offer our own support for reunification or, said differently, we need to stop thinking about reunification as unambiguously good and start thinking about it as a contested process. The obvious point is that a sound reunification process will greatly increase the likelihood of a desirable reunification outcome. One of our tasks then is to support Korean efforts to advance a reunification process that will be truly responsive to the needs of the Korean people.… | more |

A Failed System: The World Crisis of Capitalist Globalization and its Impact on China

In referring in my title here to “A Failed System” I do not of course mean that capitalism as a system is in any sense at an end. Rather I mean by “failed system” a global economic and social order that increasingly exhibits a fatal contradiction between reality and reason—to the point, in our time, where it threatens not only human welfare but also the continuation of most sentient forms of life on the planet. Three critical contradictions make up the contemporary world crisis emanating from capitalist development: (1) the current Great Financial Crisis and stagnation/depression; (2) the growing threat of planetary ecological collapse; and (3) the emergence of global imperial instability associated with shifting world hegemony and the struggle for resources. Such structural weaknesses of the system, as Joseph Schumpeter might have said, are the product of capitalism’s past successes, but they raise catastrophic problems and failures in the present nonetheless.1 How we choose to act today in response to this failed system is therefore the most critical question that humanity has ever faced.… | more |

Nepal, a Promising Revolutionary Advance

Imagine. A liberation army that supports a generalized revolt of the peasantry reaches the gates of the capital, where the people, in their turn, rise up, drive the royal government from power and welcome as their liberator the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), whose effective revolutionary strategy needs no further demonstration. What is involved here is the most radical victorious revolutionary advance of our epoch, and, for this reason, the most promising.… | more |

City of Youth: Shenzhen, China

Since ancient times, people have dreamed of a City of Youth, where the population never ages, and where any outsider who comes to live there will remain forever young. They probably did not have in mind, however, the “agelessness” of today’s Shenzhen, China. Lying just over the border from Hong Kong, this “instant city” has grown in just over twenty-five years from a small fishing village to a sprawling metropolitan region approaching ten million people. As the first Special Economic Zone in China, it was a model for the capitalistic “market reforms” and “opening to the world” initiated in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping. One of its most striking aspects is the low average age of its residents, which has hovered for years at around twenty-seven. This stands in ever sharper contrast to China as a whole, where the population is rapidly aging.… | more |

Nepal’s Geography of Underdevelopment

Baburam Bhattarai, The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional Structure of Nepal: A Marxist Analysis (Delhi: Adroit Publishers, 2003), xx, 540 pages, hardcover, Rs 600 ($14).

Emerging from a middle-peasant family background in Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai excelled at school and then, with a Colombo Plan scholarship in hand, studied architecture and planning in India. By the early to middle 1980s, the theoretical structure of spatial and regional planning studies had changed—in a Marxist direction. Bhattarai wrote his doctoral dissertation at one of the centers of political-theoretical ferment—the Centre for Study of Regional Development, at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi—finishing in 1986. While he was a student, Bhattarai was president of the All India Nepalese Students Association on its founding in 1977. He joined the illegal Communist Party of Nepal (Masal) in the early 1980s. Returning to his native Nepal in 1986, he was the spokesperson of the United National People’s Movement during the 1990 uprising, and from 1991 the Coordinator of the United People’s Front Nepal, the legal front of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre), which in turn gave birth in 1995 to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN[M]). Bhattarai served prominently in the Peoples’ War 1996–2006, and is now de facto second in command of the CPN(M). As of the date of writing preparatory negotiations for Constituent Assembly elections are still taking place, with the fate of the monarchy and the future direction of Nepalese society to be decided in the continuing struggle… | more |

The State of Official Marxism in China Today

During November 13–14, 2006, I participated in an “International Conference on Ownership & Property Rights: Theory & Practice,” in Beijing. This was not just an academic conference, it was related to a sharp debate taking place in China at that time over a proposed new law on property rights.1 Although none of the presentations at the conference made any direct reference to the proposed new law, everyone knew that it was the subtext of the conference debate… | more |

China, Capitalist Accumulation, and Labor

Most economists continue to celebrate China as one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. We, however, are highly critical of the Chinese growth experience. China’s growth has been driven by the intensified exploitation of the country’s farmers and workers, who have been systematically dispossessed through the break-up of the communes, the resultant collapse of health and education services, and massive state-enterprise layoffs, to name just the most important “reforms.” With resources increasingly being restructured in and by transnational corporations largely for the purpose of satisfying external market demands, China’s foreign-driven, export-led growth strategy has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. Moreover, in a world of competitive struggle among countries for both foreign direct investment and export markets, China’s gains have been organically linked to development setbacks in other countries. Finally, China’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on foreign capital but also on the unsustainable trade deficits of the United States. In short, the accumulation dynamics underlying China’s growth are generating serious national and international imbalances that are bound to require correction at considerable social cost for working people in China and the rest of the world … | more |

China, Capitalist Accumulation, and Labor

Most economists continue to celebrate China as one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. We, however, are highly critical of the Chinese growth experience. China’s growth has been driven by the intensified exploitation of the country’s farmers and workers, who have been systematically dispossessed through the break-up of the communes, the resultant collapse of health and education services, and massive state-enterprise layoffs, to name just the most important “reforms.” With resources increasingly being restructured in and by transnational corporations largely for the purpose of satisfying external market demands, China’s foreign-driven, export-led growth strategy has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. Moreover, in a world of competitive struggle among countries for both foreign direct investment and export markets, China’s gains have been organically linked to development setbacks in other countries. Finally, China’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on foreign capital but also on the unsustainable trade deficits of the United States. In short, the accumulation dynamics underlying China’s growth are generating serious national and international imbalances that are bound to require correction at considerable social cost for working people in China and the rest of the world.… | more |

The Nepali Revolution and International Relations

A revolutionary civil war in Nepal ceased de facto with the popular triumph over King Gyanendra in April 2006, and de jure with the peace agreement reached in November 2006. The Royal Nepal Army (“RNA”) now calls itself the Nepal Army, and the peace agreement requires its democratization under the authority of the new government that includes the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). As of the date of writing this has not yet occurred and the Nepal Army is still commanded by those, primarily of the quite literally feudal elite, who — with U. S. “advisers” — had pursued the civil war with lawless brutality and impunity. Yet it is important not to underestimate the extent of the revolutionary changes in Nepal. Today both Nepal Army and the revolutionary armed forces (the People’s Liberation Army or “PLA”) are given in substance equal status under a peace agreement negotiated by the Nepalis themselves, and administered with the assistance of the United Nations.… | more |

Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?

Over the last 25 years the reputation of Mao Zedong has been seriously undermined by ever more extreme estimates of the numbers of deaths he was supposedly responsible for. In his lifetime, Mao Zedong was hugely respected for the way that his socialist policies improved the welfare of the Chinese people, slashing the level of poverty and hunger in China and providing free health care and education. Mao’s theories also gave great inspiration to those fighting imperialism around the world. It is probably this factor that explains a great deal of the hostility towards him from the Right. This is a tendency that is likely to grow more acute with the apparent growth in strength of Maoist movements in India and Nepal in recent years, as well as the continuing influence of Maoist movements in other parts of the world … | more |

What Maoism Has Contributed

The Second International’s Marxism, proletarian-and-European-centered, shared with the dominant ideology of that period a linear view of history—a view according to which all societies had first to pass through a stage of capitalist development (a stage whose seeds were being planted by colonialism which, by that very fact, was “historically positive”) before being able to aspire to socialism. The idea that the “development” of some (the dominating centers) and the “underdevelopment” of others (the dominated peripheries) were as inseparable as the two faces of a single coin, both being immanent outcomes of capitalism’s worldwide expansion, was completely alien to it … | more |

Conditions of the Working Classes in China

This article is based primarily on a series of meetings with workers, peasants, organizers, and leftist activists that I participated in during the summer of 2004, together with Alex Day and another student of Chinese affairs. It is part of a longer paper that is being published as a special report by the Oakland Institute. The meetings took place mainly in and around Beijing, as well as in Jilin province in the northeast, and in the cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng in the central province of Henan. What we heard reveals in stark fashion the effects of the massive transformations that have occurred in the three decades following the death of Mao Zedong, with the dismantling of the revolutionary socialist policies carried out under his leadership, and a return to the “capitalist road,” leaving the working classes in an increasingly precarious position. A rapidly widening polarization-in a society that was among the most egalitarian-is occurring between extremes of wealth at the top and growing ranks of workers and peasants at the bottom whose conditions of life are daily worsening. Exemplifying this, the 2006 Fortune list of global billionaires includes seven in mainland China and one in Hong Kong. Though their holdings are small compared to those in the United States and elsewhere, they represent the emergence of a full-blown Chinese capitalism. Rampant corruption unites party and state authorities and enterprise managers with the new private entrepreneurs in a web of alliances that are enriching a burgeoning capitalist class, while the working classes are exploited in ways that have not been seen for over half a century… | more |

December 2005, Volume 57, Number 7

December 2005, Volume 57, Number 7

» Notes from the Editors

At the end of October John Bellamy Foster and Martin Hart-Landsberg (coauthor with Paul Burkett of China and Socialismand author of Korea: Division, Reunification and U.S. Foreign Policy—both published by Monthly Review Press) traveled to Mexico City to participate as representatives of Monthly Review in the Fifth Colloquium of Latin American Political Economists. John spoke on “Imperial Capital: The U.S. Empire and Accumulation.” Martin presented a paper (cowritten with Paul Burkett) on “China and the Dynamics of Transnational Capital Accumulation.” Among the conference participants who met with John and Martin in a special meeting for Monthly Review were Guillermo Gigliani of Economistas de Izquierda (EDI) in Argentina (see “Argentina: Program for a Popular Economic Recovery” in the September 2004 issue of MR), Alejandro Valle of Mexico, the chief organizer of the Fifth Colloquium, and Leda Maria Paulani, President of the Sociedade Brasileira de Economia Política (SEP). Our hope is that this important meeting will lead to the establishment of a strong connection between MR and Latin American political economists confronting neoliberalism. The final outcome of the Fifth Colloquium was itself a landmark event: the founding of the long-planned Sociedad Latinoamerica de Economía Política y Pensamiento Crítico (Latin American Society of Political Economy and Critical Thought). The new organization will not be simply (or mainly) an academic and professional organization but will be actively dedicated to opposing neoliberalism and to supporting political and social movements for radical change in Latin America. We salute our Latin American political-economic comrades in this important struggle… | more |

Nepal—An Overview: Introduction to Parvati

Nepal lies on the south side of a five-hundred-mile-long section, east to west, of the Himalayan mountain range. China (Tibet) is its northern neighbor, and on the east, south, and west Nepal is surrounded by India (Sikkim, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh). Nepal’s width north to south averages about one hundred miles—from the Himalayan ridge and the highest point on earth (Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet) down to a thin strip of the Gangetic plain (the Terai), where Nepal’s second largest city, Biratnagar, is less than 300 feet above sea level… | more |