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Socialism or Barbarism in the 21st Century? China vs. Global North during Capitalist (COVID) Crisis, Inequality and Poverty

Khan, Haider (2023): Socialism or Barbarism in the 21st Century? China vs. Global North during Capitalist (COVID) Crisis, Inequality and Poverty.

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The analyses in CRISIS, INEQUALITIES AND POVERTY, complemented by the present analysis and the Chinese case study show convincingly that the crisis-prone World Capitalist System(WCS) will continue to inflict great harm on the most vulnerable people in society. Consider also the real presence of aggressive imperialism fostered in the advanced countries through the finance capital, and structural compulsions of the WCS. The dangers of global confrontation and war mongering particularly by the ruling classes in the US with segments of EU and Japan following are real. The choice between the two paths acknowledged even by a prescient bourgeois economist like Schumpeter is clear. Schumpeter had presciently pointed towards the dire possibility of global conflagaration which now looks all too alarmingly real. Being somewhat of a pessimist, he was reluctant to see the prospects for a progressive peaceful socialism although he acknowledged the possibility of a non-capitalist future also. To be fair to him, the legacy of socialism in the 20th century has been ambiguous at best. The Chinese case since 1978 is particularly interesting from this standpoint. Clearly there are many ambiguities in the Chinese case also---not the least being the restoration of hierarchical management and stifling of grassroots democracy that existed during the Yenan period and at the post-1949 revolutionary moments. But it must be acknowledged that however imperfect or ambiguous, the non-capitalist elements of the complex social, economic and political entity called PRC have managed both the 2008-9 global financial crisis and the COVID and other current crises so far much better than the US-led WCS. One can only hope that with further democratic socialist oriented reforms and future revolutions in these directions in parts of WCS, the world can avoid the dire conflagaration feared by Schumpeter and Arrighi among others. Not only this hopeful negative result of avoidance, PRC has also shown that even in a WCS dominated by neoliberal ideology, it is possible to move towards a path of moderate prosperity by following an alternative ---however imperfect---to neoliberalism, and one hopes, peace. The crucial question, of course, is if PRC can control the private capitalists and pro-capitalist state and party elements. Only if this crucial precondition is fulfilled will PRC be able to reduce various kinds of inequalities, and practice a Socially Embedded Intersectional Capabilities Approach(SEICA). A SEICA-inspired egalitarian capability enhancing policy regime in PRC and other countries will help to move towards more advanced forms of democratic socialism globally. Moving forward, although by no means a sure prospect, China in the 21st century may even lead a new genuinely socialist bloc in our time. If PRC fails to do this, other revolutionary actors in other parts of the world must carry the torch of egalitarian and democratic socialist movement forward. Rosa Luxemburg was right: we have to choose in our life time between socialism or barbarism.

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