Are private property, its uncontrolled size and organization and its inheritance compatible with any form of socialism?


We should note that, in his far-seeing masterpiece Rights of Man, the great American democratic revolutionary, Thomas Paine, had definitively shown that "democracy", as a legitimate political regime, should strive to enhance the creativity of all its individual citizens and of society in general. Moreover, it should do so in the strict respect of the general equality among all citizens. In particular, at the end of his powerful book, he demonstrated that no Welfare State, understood as the necessary material framework uniquely suited to allow democratic equality among citizens to flourish, could ever be based on large-scale private property. Hence his brilliant advocacy for strict rules making inheritance of private property a social sin against both individual equality and the general interest. Today, too many people in every conceivable political regimes have a tendency to retreat both from Keynesianism and from the early Welfare State imagined by Paine. It is intolerable. It is unjustifiable. It is suicidal. It will not secure either the support of the proletariat and its allied classes nor of their organic intellectuals.  


China's recent constitutional wedding to "private property" with the sole purpose of protecting criminal leaders and their sons and daughters is a neat case of political blindness. These people have come to take themselves for capitalist barons, just because they think that they can proceed to the spoliation the proletariat and its collective wealth with impunity and by force. Unless the tendency is rapidly reversed and corrected, it will ineluctably lead to greater class and regional disparities and therefore to social strife. At this point, the regime will slide into an open capitalist dictatorship, the most repugnant regime ever since it will still pretend to dress itself in the egalitarian communist mystic of Mao and of Popular China.


China cannot survive without an equal social redistribution capable to overcome the intimate contradiction of advanced authentic Keynesianism (see for instance, "Keynésianisme, marxisme et Pacte de stabilité" in the International Political Economy section of the site ). To do so while simultaneously increasing the "spaces of freedom" of all its citizens, the country does not need to retreat to pre-Keynesian capitalism first. Indeed, this retreat would constitute the ultimate proof of their blatant ignorance of Marxism and Maoism as well as of the general laws of motion of capitalism. It would also show a suicidal ignorance of the theory of class struggle. The hope of protecting the robbed property of the so-called "red barons" by extending "private property" to a necessarily small number of peasants is a dirty way to commit and encourage crime by association. It would be implemented instead of other authentically socialist and acceptable transition policies. For instance the development of the theory and practices related to "private possession", which embodies a property form that could easily be allowed in the framework of cooperative or public organizations. It also fails to understand Mao's study of the county-side as a prelude for the Revolution and for the Long March. If pursued with the present unexplainable zest, this regressive journey can only lead to the quick loss of the Heavens' Mandate, which, as all Chinese historians still know, can only be conferred by the people.


The urgent Chinese task is to invent and develop all aspects of socialist democracy, not to constitutionally protect criminally acquired private property and its inheritance (that is to say, the private property over and above that restricted to nuclear family units and employing no more than a few individuals). Modern management of big corporation does not depend on privatization. Nor can the Chinese leadership hope to quietly engineer a "Nietzschean return" to a censitarian liberal and savage capitalism sustained by a centrally dominated military regime. In any case, no property forms in China, whatever they may be, should be immune from the permanent control of socialist democratic institutions, at all levels. These should include interactive socialist central planning and universal socialist management of all firms and cooperatives. This in turn implies the prior autonomous organization of workers' representation, preferably within the Party and its affiliated unions. China should remain the country capable to reinvent the Commune. It should not strive to become the shameful sweatshop of the world, a status not compatible with its historical heritage nor with the future envisaged by the Fathers of the Communist Republic of China.


Paul De Marco.                          

Copyright ©  March 7, 2004