Just a few days ago, China celebrated their national day. As you may (or may not) know, The People’s Republic of China was established on October 1st, 1949 after defeating the Nationalists. Here we are 63 years later, and we have to ask ourselves what the modern legacy of Mao’s revolution was. China is still ruled by a communist party, but just how socialist is that country? What are the implications for Japan, and the rest of Asia in relation to China’s economic rise? And where are we going with the land disputes that China is dealing with? If you’re interested in the future of Asia, you might want to read on.
It’s no secret that China and Japan have bad blood between them. Throughout history the two countries have battled, argued, postured and yelled. It would seem they don’t much like each other, and have found it difficult to resolve long standing animosities between themselves. Instead of starting back with the days of the original kamikaze incident in which a “divine wind” destroyed a fleet about to attack Japan, we’ll start much more recently. I’m not even going to rehash the specifics of the rise of the PRC, nor the industrial revolution under Meiji Japan. I’m going to start with the death of Mao Zedong, and how the country changed after his death, and how about the same time, (well, 4 years before in 1972) Japan and China normalized relations between them. China began industrializing after Mao’s death and the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1976, but what happened next, or my account of it rather, may piss off some other socialists. You see, the CCP has been in power for a long time. The problem is that in my opinion, they have become simply there for the purposes of their own power, and not for the goodwill and benefit of the Chinese people. While it is true that China has brought more people out of poverty than any country on earth, or in the history of mankind there is a huge caveat. They did it at the expense of the Chinese people. They did it by selling out to international capitalism. The PRC is now awash with foreign capital, financial firms like JP Morgan and other sinister characters. While the members of the Chinese Communist Party grow fat and sassy and send their children off abroad to study at prestigious universities, hundreds of millions of Chinese people live in abject poverty. The CCP has sacrificed the environment as well, producing foul red rivers, horrible smog and poisoned earth. The Chinese people are working in slave conditions, making pennies to enrich companies like Apple. When the workers strike, they are beaten and imprisoned. When they cry out for freedom of speech, the internet and the press, they are suppressed. The Chinese communist party has reneged on its high socialist ideals of a unified, free and prosperous country. They have slapped Marx in the face with their violent ignorance of class warfare, and have sold the very soul of China to foreign investors to the highest bidder. China indeed, is not socialist. They are capitalist, run by a capitalist class that wears red around their heads and dares anyone to shake the facade. Sure, China is growing rapidly. They are also facing the grim prospect of an international financial meltdown, inflation and collapse. They have ignored the contradictions of capitalism at their own peril, and they will pay the price for that.
What about Japan? Japan has been under the imperialist thumb of the US since the end of WW2. The US has turned Japan into its base for threatening and attacking countries in Asia, such as the DPRK, the PRC and Vietnam. The Japanese political establishment is in denial, denial of what happened in ww2 and before, denial of China’s rising economic and political power, denial of its own prejudice and racism, denial of its inability to solve any problems, and in denial of its complete and utter political and economic domination by the United States. Both the DPJ and the LDP are practically the same, in much the same way that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the US are ideological siblings,if not twins. They fight back and forth for power, and ignore the voices of the Japanese people, and when they fail, when both countries fail to live up to the promises of their governments, of their political and economic systems, there is only one thing to do. Bring up the bad blood.
So now we have a crisis. Japan and China are at each other’s throats. China accuses Japan of being imperialistic, Japan accuses China of being a bully. China claims the Senkaku islands are the property of China, and always have been, Japan claims that China is full of shit. The answer to that dispute aside ( I personally think Japan has a much stronger claim to ownership of the islands than China) what we need to be asking is why both governments seem to be encouraging the kind of violent nationalist rage that we have seen so often in the news lately. Chinese rip flags from diplomat’s cars, Japanese march in the streets waving the Hinomaru, eggs are thrown, flags burned, angry faces and shouted threats. Why? Over a couple of islands that no one freaking lives on? Is this issue really that important? No, I don’t think it is, but then again I am not part of the governments of Japan or China. The fact of the matter is that capitalism has failed both countries. While they have industrialization, money cars and gadgets, they also have debt, inequality and social unrest. What happens when the people rise up in China and demand real socialist democracy? They are appeased by giving them a bigger, more sinister enemy than their own government. They are diverted towards looking towards their eternal mortal enemy, Japan. They denounce atrocities that were committed when their parents weren’t even born, and the other side of course denies everything which just makes it worse. More flags are waved and it almost looks like war. Ah war, when you’re a government and you are doing a shitty job of governing, war is always a great distraction. People put aside their hatred and animosity towards their own government, and deflect it towards an “evil” foreign country. The people rally behind the flag, and all is forgotten and forgiven while we attack these damn uppity foreigners. Rinse, repeat
The solution is quite simple. A nice diplomatic resolution of this territorial dispute won’t happen as long as both the governments of Japan and China are benefited by deflecting the view of John Q. Public off their own failings and on to the so called enemy. What we need to remember is that Marx said that the proletariat has no country. For regardless of the language you speak, the culture you’ve grown up with, or the flag you fly, a wage slave is a wage slave. The workers in Japan and China have much much more in common than they might ever have thought. They struggle against a corrupt government, an intrenched and enriched capitalist class, and are fighting to just get the basics in life. The first step is to realize that nationalism is stupid, is divides the working class. Marx did not say “Workers of the world, divide yourselves into nation states and then hate everyone that is not from the same geographical location as you”. He said for the workers of the world to unite.
So dear Japanese, forget about Senkaku. Start thinking about the homeless that sleep on your streets, the children that go hungry in your cities, and the workers who die of overwork. Think about the lack of education funding for kindergartens, high schools and college, start worrying about the debt economy your country has built. And forget about the islands over there in the middle of the ocean with no one and nothing on them.
Dear China, I wish you lived up to your socialist ideals. While your leaders block the internet, your people are struggling to survive in rural areas, abused by their local and central government, unable to effect change. You live in a so called socialist country that has allowed the world’s largest wealth disparity to emerge, and a police state that would make any fascist drool with pleasure. Stop attacking Japan, they’re not your enemy.
Dear workers of the world, while your respective governments are working hard to make you hate other countries cultures and peoples, ignore them. No other country is your enemy, not Iran, nor Cuba, not Venezuela, none of them. Your enemy is the same enemy it has always been. Your enemy is the capitalist class that enslaves you. Stop nationalism, stop this deflecting bullshit. Our problems are in feeding the world, not categorizing it into ownership by nationality. Fight the capitalist class no matter what shape they come in, and help advance the class struggle.
Workers of the WORLD, UNITE!!