Friday, 16 June 2017

Kentucky Fried Kapitalism

When Karl Marx talked about the "contradictions of capitalism", which he felt would one day bring the whole rotten system down in favour of a communist system; He believed that this 'economic truth', was also a historical imperative, which couldn't be denied. He no doubt died believing that, but as many others thought at the time, and has been proved right since, it’s the adaptability of capitalism and capitalists, that has proved the stronger of the two systems.

Capitalism after all, is the system of commerce that the human race has naturally adopted, whether it be the early forms of barter and trade, where supply and demand set the values of exchanges e.g. 4 duck eggs for one deer antler etc, right through to the current more sophisticated models, with stocks and shares.

Kentucky Fried Kapitalism Comes To China

In reality, communism was nothing more than an intellectual exercise (like any other socialist 'utopian' systems), that should never have left academia. The millions who have died or suffered under its tyranny are proof of that .... it’s a system that simply has no root in reality, its 'laws' are unreal, based as they are, on a supposition of the human race sharing common aims and goals, when in reality 'greed' and 'sloth' (to over simplify it a lot), are major factors in all human intercourse and endeavour.

Whether it be the striving for power or prestige over others, a greed which communist politicians have displayed in spades in many countries, or the desire to physically own more than someone else (whether money or goods), greed has always motivated some to perform best. While other people’s desire to get something for nothing, or live off the backs other peoples hard work, aka sloth, is a drag on any system ... this was evident in a communist system that introduced work labour camps, as a replacement for 'unemployment welfare' (no one being allowed to be visibly unemployed in a communist state).

There are still erstwhile communist regimes in the world; Laos, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and of course China, but they are almost all one party repressive failed states to one degree or another (both economically and or politically where 'hereditary' communist leaders have developed e.g. The Castro’s in Cuba, or the Kim Il dynasty in North Korea). The two that have thrived are Vietnam and China, both of whom have embraced 'market reforms' i.e. 'capitalism', which has allowed the one party communist state to continue in charge, for now at least.

Mao Would Turn In His Mausoleum .....

So it should be no surprise when you realise that this year will be the 30th Anniversary of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken shop in China. The first KFC opened in 1987, right opposite the embalmed Mao Zedong's Mausoleum on Tienanmen Square ... I feel it’s safe to say that from that date forward, Mao Zedong's vision for China had officially failed. There are now thousands of street pictures of 'Colonel Sanders', and over 4,900 KFC's in China.

Mao had talked about 'contradictions' in an essay in 1937, when he was talking about 'the unity of opposites', which I believe was a reference to the fact that at the extremes of left a right, there was some commonality of purpose and methods (Adolf Hitler had also said something similar in the 1930's, when accepting Marxist converts into his National Socialist Party. Nazis in the old East German regime did it in reverse in 1946 by becoming communists), but I suspect that Mao never thought that western consumerism and capitalism would be the new opium of the masses that China would succumb to.

Of course whilst capitalism has thrived in China and Vietnam, the majority of workers still operate inside a state system. In China for example, 80% of all businesses in China are still state owned and often very inefficient .... the Chinese economy the world sees has been growing purely on the backs of the 20% of the businesses that are 'privately' owned. This of course is not actually sustainable over a long period, and how to downsize the state sector without mass unemployment and discontent, is a question that the Chinese state has to ponder over in this current economic cycle.

The Russians tried to do it with a quick bang approach under Boris Yeltsin, but only managed to usher in the decade of the oligarchs and unbalance the economy, with the result that a corrupt elected one party state has arisen, with ex KGB man President Putin at its head.

The current Chinese communist party wants and needs the benefits of capitalism (money and prestige) for themselves and the state, but not the downsides of economic and labour market fluctuations, that can bring unemployment (and the real risk to their grip on power). Its been noted by the Hurun Research Institute that one third of the people listed as China's wealthiest - including many billionaires - are also in the Communist Party, and many are members of the National People's Congress, China's parliament .... so the wealth hasn't fallen far from the tree - which is similar to the situation in Putin's Russia.

So this is a Chinese communist 'contradiction' (that the old emperors often faced as well), that too many commentators, both inside and outside of China are currently ignoring to their peril.


  1. Very interesting. Both terms Communism and Capitalism are I think, misused.
    Communism is the ideal where people work together for the common good INCLUDING the leaders and if it could be pulled off, might actually be pretty good. It has failed because no state has been able to implement Communism for the reasons that you've said, they've just ended up with dictatorships under the guise of an ideology.
    Capitalism is not so much an ideology as a default state. The ideology is "keep Government out of it, let us just keep doing what comes naturally". We don't really have that either; today's capitalism is a measured dog-eat-dog system with regulation against monopolies, corruption and exploitation.

    1. No, I agree, before you point it out, that Communism probably couldn't work even if it were to be properly implemented, it having no underlying, working economic system. Capitalism is probably the only economic system which works for us humans but that doesn't change the fact that Communist states are not really Communism.

    2. What can I say, you have finally decided to go the whole way and argue both sides of the argument. Thanks.


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