CAN THE FREE WORLD AND COMMUNISM CO-EXIST? IMPLICATIONS FOR CHINESE AND CANADIAN TRADE
I have a question for you to consider. Can the free world and communism co-exist? Communism is an ideology that formed out of the socialist movement of 19th century industrial Europe. In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels coined the phrase “Communist” by publishing the Communist Manifesto. Communist as a political system was put into practice in Russia as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Soviet Union was established in 1922.
In attempting to answer the question, “Can the free world and communism co-exist?” we must first recognize that communism was created to be an antithesis to free world capitalism. Socialist leaders Marx, Engles and Lenin were deeply offended at the system that the free world practiced and consciously designed another system that was meant to be an exact opposite.
Communism was a revolution and foundational to the ideology was the position that the communist revolution had to be the last revolution. These early leaders interpreted all of history in terms of class struggle. The system that they rejected was, to them, one where the working class always lost out to the ruling or managing class. They proposed to turn that equation around through revolution. However, for it to be the last revolution, democracy could not be allowed. This is because if the communist government could be voted out of power then the equation would then revert back to subjugation of the workers. This was their reasoning.
These early leaders who formed the system of communism were succeeded by a leader who would live out the system of communism and that leader was Joseph Stalin. Lenin died in 1924 and, after a power struggle, Stalin assumed control of the Soviet Union. He conducted huge purges, having all of his known enemies killed. However, he didn't stop at killing leaders. He turned on his own people. Exact numbers are impossible to determine. Some of the victims died in labor camps, others in and through forced collectivization (a program where people forfeited land, which became collective farms and sold most of the harvest to the state at low prices set by the government), others as a result of famine and others by executions. Low estimates say that 10 million died as a result of these things, but other reports place that number at 20 million and even 40 million.
Stalin had an answer for our question. In 1952, he delivered a speech in which he declared that communism could co-exist with capitalism (in so far as communist countries were concerned) but capitalist countries would always be at war with each other. However, while Stalin professed that both systems could co-exist in the world, he would not allow any aspect of capitalism to be included in the Soviet system. He believed that the USSR had to be all or nothing communism with no capitalistic elements in their form of government.
What happened from there? Well, from 1940 to 1979 communism spread, either by force or by acceptance, to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Poland, North Korea, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, China, Tibet, North Vietnam, Guinea, Cuba, Yemen, Kenya, Sudan, Congo, Burma, Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, Laos, Kampuchea, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Vietnam, Somalia, Seychelles, Afghanistan, Grenada and Nicaragua. The Soviet Union was the motherland and these other states were, to one degree or another, satellites of the Soviet Union. Their systems and economies were linked and integrated. Did communism raise the standard of living of the people in these states to the standard of living experienced by those in the free world? No, it did not. Communism marked the beginning of what is called the “second world.” The third world are impoverished nations, mostly in Africa. The second world is the communist world and the Western free world is called the first world.
As history progressed the gap between the first world and the second world became very stark. The first world had freedom, a high standard of living, opportunity and wealth. The second world had a low standard of living and poverty. It didn't take long for many people in the second world to start leaving for the first world. What would be the response from communist governments to the exodus?
The responses of communist governments were essentially, stop it. Stop it by force. Citizens had to be made to stay a part of the communist system. It was the law. When the law was not enough to hold people, communist governments started building barriers and iron curtains. When people still escaped, governments doubled down and fortified their iron curtains as much as they possibly could.
The iron curtain around east Germany was probably the greatest example of what I am trying to say. It is also referred to as the Berlin Wall. This was a 7,000-kilometre-long (4,300 mi) physical barrier of fences, walls, watchtowers and minefields that divided "east" and "west" Germany. Before the wall went up, between the years of 1945 and 1961, 3.454 million East Germans migrated to West Germany. After the construction of the wall many East Germans still chose to defect and braved the wall. Between 1961 and 1971 approximately 2,300 successfully escaped each year. The government kept doubling down on their efforts to fortify the wall. During the 1970s only around 868 per year were escaping and between 1980 and 1988 only around 334 per year were escaping. Just how many East Germans were gunned down or blown up trying to escape the wall? Such information has never been officially published; it is a secret. Wikipedia says that unofficial estimates of how many people died trying to escape East Germany are around 1,100 people.
How well did the communist and free world co-exist during this period of time? We look back on most of the twentieth century as the cold war era where the world's two superpowers The United States and The Soviet Union were locked into a political arm-wresle over which system would be dominant in the world. As the conflict intensified, populations feared that tensions would culminate in nuclear war.
Nuclear war between the communist world and the free world didn't happen, at least not yet. What did happen? Well, the Soviet Union unravelled, went bankrupt, collapsed, imploded, self-destructed. The Soviet Union could not hold communism together so it let it fall apart. It was an incredible moment in world history when, in 1989, the Berlin wall fell and East Germans freely crossed over to the other side. 1991 was another pivotal year. Between August and December, all the individual republics of the Soviet Union, including Russia , had either seceded from the Union or, at the very least, denounced the treaty that had created the Soviet Union. In December of 1991, the Supreme Soviet voted the USSR itself out of existence. Member states of the union became sovereign countries. The great arm wrestle between America and the Soviet Union was over and America had won.
Why did communism fail as a political system? It had too many inherent flaws. It was doomed to fail from the beginning. It is just unfortunate that tens of millions of people died during the whole experiment. It was built on socialism, a belief that puts the government in control and responsible for providing for the citizens. Citizens are expected to work hard in the system for the betterment of all, not for personal gain. Effort is not rewarded and, eventually, enthusiasm wears off. When the population becomes lethargic more and more controls have to be implemented by government to whip the people into productivity. As standards of living keep decreasing the population becomes more and more defiant. The people then want to flee the system and a police state has to be set up to hold things together and to suppress dissent. Iron curtains, mine fields, watchtowers, barbed wire, torture, firing squads all need to be employed to hold communism together. But why not just let it fall apart?
Meanwhile, in the free world people have freedom and with freedom comes opportunity. People pursue opportunity and take risks. With opportunity and risk taking there is an incentive for hard work. With hard work and effort the free world begins moving forward and upward and people begin attaining their goals.
Can these two systems co-exist? Can they be intermingled? What happened after the collapse of the USSR?In the aftermath, most communist countries abandoned communism. However, a few have held out. They are China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam and North Korea. While ascribing to Marxism and following communism, most of these communist countries prefer to be called “socialist countries” instead of “communist,” because of the stigma.
Four of the five countries that have continued with communism are impoverished. At least this is true of their people; their leaders of course live very well. The one country that is in some ways an exception is China.
What is the history of Chinese communism?
Communist leader Mao Zedong began a revolution in China in 1946. By 1949 he had taken control of the country and fully established national communist rulership and ironically called China the “People's Republic of China.” Of course this did not happen without tremendous bloodshed and civil war, with Chinese people on either sides of this conflict. What were the numbers of those slaughtered? Again, we can only estimate because this is not a topic China is transparent on. The lowest death toll estimates for the second Chinese civil war are around 100,000 but most historians believe it to be over one million people. Some put that number at three million and Rummel, who also works in the estimates of the democide and the subsequent famine, gives a number of over six million. Mao launched a massive initiative to industrialize the country and this initiative and the subsequent famine that followed it, resulting from it, took the lives of somewhere between 20 million and 46 million people between the years of 1958 and 1962.
In trying to understand communist China we must realize that it is a strange creature. Chinese communism is not identical to Soviet communism. China took from the Soviet example the police state. They copied from the system the aspects where citizens had no rights, no freedoms, were monitored, taken advantage of and ruled over with an iron fist. However, quite a bit of capitalistic trade and commerce is conducted as China has incorporated capitalism into its communism.
Back to the iron-fist elements of Chinese communism. Human rights is something that China and the western world have disagreed on for decades. China practices the suppression of religious freedom, the suppression of freedom of speech, the suppression of freedom of press, suppression of freedom of association, suppression of freedom of assembly, and practices organ harvesting. Christian churches are frequently disrupted and their leaders arrested. Churches are sometimes bulldozed down so that their congregants can't use them. China controls what its citizens can and cannot view on the internet. It practices numerous forms of torture. China requires, for their records, the DNA samples, fingerprints, eye scans and blood types of millions of people. China has a mass surveillance system for monitoring the Chinese population. It includes video cameras, mobile phone tracking surveillance drones, etc. By 2019,it is believed that 200 million monitoring surveillance cameras were in operation in China as part of their skynet system. However by the end of 2020 it is forecast that they will have 626 million surveillance cameras in operation. Chinese citizens have a “Social Credit” number assigned to them and this number increases and decreases, depending on their behaviour. Your social credit number score determines how many freedoms you are permitted to enjoy. Chinese internment camps are another hot topic on which we have no transparency from Chinese authorities. As of 2018, it was estimated that the Chinese government has detained hundreds of thousands or perhaps a million of its people in these camps. For decades it only allowed one child per family, with certain exceptions, and required abortion when mothers became pregnant outside of these parameters. China practices capital punishment, not just for murder but, for a number of offences. It is estimated that over 1000 people are executed every year in China. The iron fist is in full swing and western nations find China's controls over it's people excessive and cruel.
What is the response of the Chinese government to western criticism of their controls. The Chinese government says that they practice “ 'Asian values” and that these values protect the welfare of the collective and that the rights of the collective should always be put ahead of the rights of any individual.
So, how is the collective doing in their Peoples Republic of China? Again, relying on information coming out of China is frustrating. They would lead us to believe that standards of living are steadily rising. The Chinese government would say that there are a little over thirty million people living in poverty in China. So I ask, where would you rather live in Canada or in China?
Well, can't the Chinese communist system be reformed so that it is free and democratic? That would mean embracing the exact opposite of what it was designed to be. Remember communism was designed to be an exact opposite of free world system. Also, central to its ideology is the position that communism is the last revolution. After it is established, no more revolutions are allowed. In free nations, when the people disprove of their leaders, they vote in new ones or sometimes they hold demonstrations to express their feelings and call for change. Chinese students tried a demonstration like this in 1989 in Tiananmen Square. The demonstration lasted 1 month, 2 weeks and 6 days and then, in front of the whole world, the Chinese government levelled their guns on the crowd and gunned down the best and brightest of their own people. Demonstrations don't work in communist China because the government doesn't care. More recently, Chinese freedom seekers began protests in Hong Kong, in march of 2019, that have been ongoing and, to my knowledge, have been suspended only because of the corona virus outbreak. It began as a protest over an extradition bill that China forced on Hong Kong so that it could apprehend persons and put them on trial in mainland China. The protesters later expanded the protest to call for other freedoms.
At various times in the protests numbers have swelled to the hundreds of thousands. What did the Chinese government do? They suspended the bill but but have resisted granting other freedoms and requests. There are two reported deaths and 7,950 arrests of protesters. The demonstrations, which are unprecedented in Chinese history for their numbers and for their size, could just as easily be twice that size and twice that duration because, in the end, the government doesn't care. The Chinese government has sophisticated weapons of mass destruction that it could turn on its own people if it needed to retain its hold on rulership.
What about this strange mixing of Soviet communism and socialism with economic capitalism and can it co-exist with the western free-world system? China's government has blended the systems to create, in their eyes, the best of both worlds. They rule China's population with an iron fist. They control the flow of information so that the population can't see the whole picture. They have marshaled the workforce into working long hours for low wages, and they reap great profits. They do share those profits with the rest of the world and that is what makes their products so attractive. No one can compete with their prices.
What happens when the free world engages with Communist China for business and trys to compete with their system? First, lets look at the relationship between the United States and China. Under U.S. president Bill Clinton, in the 2000 United States–China Relations Act, the U.S. gave China a “Most Favored Nation Status.” This blew the doors wide open for China to have normal economic relations with America. However, it soon became apparent that the US could not compete with China's low priced products and a trade deficit began to form and grow. In 1990, the deficit was $10.4 billion. It increased to $83.8 billion in 2000, and in 2010, swelled to $273 billion. This number continued to grow and in 2017, the value of Chinese goods coming into the United States ($505 billion) exceeded United States exports to China ($130 billion) by roughly $375 billion. With the United States hemorrhaging this kind of money, and trade deficits mushrooming to 375 billion, it was becoming unclear who would win the arm-wrestle. America was not wrestling with the Soviet Union anymore. It was wrestling with China instead. The arm-wrestle was over economics. With this arm-wrestle raging, a new candidate put his name forward to run in the 2016 election. Donald Trump vowed to aggressively attack the trade deficit by placing tariffs on China's products. After being elected to the presidency, he did exactly that and began a trade war with China that is unprecedented in U.S./China relations.
The question still remains. Can the free world and Chinese communism co-exist? Can they compete fairly or will one over-throw the other? Can they be in an economic partnership together without one side dominating the other? China, by marshaling its population, can seemingly produce products cheaper than anyone else. They are also accused of manipulating their currency to further leverage their profits. They also lend huge amounts of money to borrower nations. They own one trillion dollars worth of America's debt. How long will it be until this economic relationship becomes really toxic and irreversible? Why not just stop trading with China? That's it, just stop!
There is one thing stopping the free world from ceasing trade with China. What is that one thing? It will surprise you. It's called globalism.
What is globalism? Globalism is an ideology about becoming interconnected with the rest of the world. We have been told that globalism is all about diversity and multiculturalism. We have been told that globalism is all about having a friendlier face towards foreign people and enriching our culture by blending it with other cultures. We have been told that globalism is a friendly belief that opens us up to all of the good that can be found across the globe. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not what globalism is. Globalism is an economic strategy. It was devised by powerful multinational companies. These multinational companies constitute the wealthiest elites in the world. They have enacted a strategy by which they have partnered themselves with the Chinese government. What is this Partnership? Its called “outsourcing.” They have moved much of their manufacturing base to China where they can benefit from cheap labour. Labour that has no rights. Labour that is strictly disciplined by its government. In this partnership they share the profits with Chinas's government. The partnership works well for both the multinational companies and China's communist party. This is what globalism is. Globalism is not friendly Canadian diversity and niceness. Globalism is money, or perhaps I should say, the love of money.
Well, what if we just stop globalism and business with communist China, both? Well, there is a problem. Our government believes in globalism. What does our government believe? Our Canadian government is made up of mostly Liberals and Conservatives. I know, there is also NDP, Green, Block, etc. The two prevailing views are Liberal and Conservative. Liberals are all in, with both feet, 100 percent hog-wild in favour of globalism. Globalism is the religion of Liberalism. Conservatives, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Many Conservatives are also globalists. However, Conservatives who hold to a more Tea Party interpretation of political conservatism are anti-globalist.
So far Canada has been going down the hog-wild, pro-globalism path. Globalism is taught to our children in grade school. It saturates curriculum from grade school up through university. The media is promoting globalism full board and so is hollywood. Our politicians are engaged in social engineering campaigns to mainstream globalism in every possible way. After all, globalism is Canadian niceness and diversity. No, it's not. Globalism is money and our politicians can't get their eyes off of the money.
So we need new politicians who will stop globalism and stop business with China. We need to chuck globalism. In the meantime, the Canadian government has decided to sit down at the table with China and have an economic arm-wrestle. We have two different systems. In our system, people have some rights and some freedoms but that comes at a cost. In their system, no rights, no freedoms, no costs. It's a different set of rules. They are ready to arm-wrestle. We are the smaller of the two wrestlers. They are the world's largest exporter. They have the second largest economy in the world. Their budget revenues are three times our size coming in at 1.86 trillion dollars. We exceed them in one category, we have more debt than they do. We have three times more debt than they do. We have different systems and they play by a different set of rules. They are ready to wrestle.
Will somebody please tell our politicians that this is not a good match up. That is, not good for us. There is a long list of other countries that did business with China, that today are in debt bondage to imperialist communist China. Our politicians need to change their core beliefs. Can free Canada and communist China co-exist in an economic struggle? Our politicians are shaking hands with a government that has an awful lot of blood on its hands. Tell the multinational elite that it is not worth it to us. We stand with the common Chinese man and woman in their struggle to be free.