Monday, November 12, 2012

Vandals Behind the Scandals

China:  The Fall of Bo Xilai & the “Chongqing Model” by Yeuzhi Zhao, Vol. 44, October 2012 Monthly Review

Scandals, scandals.  If you believe that Petraeus quit because he had an affair, I have a cold, dark, powerless building in Rockaway, Queens to sell you.  He bashed the Obama administration for abandoning the CIA/State Department station in Benghazi for 8 hours - saying this right before the election.  He was scheduled to go before Congress to perhaps repeat that notion.  Yet the FBI knew about his affair for months.  Ah, to have a Republican in your administration – so bi-partisan.  You reap what you sow.

At any rate, good riddance, war-monger.

An even more important scandal erupted in China in the last months.  This is the downfall of Bo Xilai, the somewhat leftist head of the Chongqing area of China, and the accusation of murder against his wife.  Facts will be hard to come by as the trial of his wife was bereft of them, and resembled more a show trial.  Some are comparing the downfall of Bo Xilai to Lin Piao so many years ago.  The CCP is now accusing Xilai of having billions of yuan stashed away, plundered through his position of power in Chongqing.  Of course, this from a Party which has 90% of the 1,000 richest people in China in its ranks.  If you believe that Xilai was stripped of his powers because of corruption and his wife murdered an English businessman, I have an out-of-date coal mine in China to sell you.

Zeuzhi Zhao, a professor in Canada, has written an article about this significant event in the October Monthly Review. Chongqing is a heavily working-class area, and was a leftist center during the civil war against the Nationalists.  Zhao uses warmed-over Maoist rhetoric, which is the only known leftist current in China, to discuss the strong points of the “Chongqing model.”   She describes an attempt to counter the reigning neo-liberal model of the Chinese CCP leadership by harking back to some aspects of Maoist doctrine – and meaning it. 

In Chongqing, the main television station was taken over by the state from its private owners.  Believe it or not, most media in China is privately-owned.  This station began to broadcast ‘revolutionary’ programs and become more like public television.  The state created a public investment firm that bought 1,160 state companies and returned them to sustainability and employment.  They started a program which allowed 3.22 million rural migrants to become residents of the region, with entitlements to urban benefits.  This is unlike other areas of China, which do not allow rural workers residency permits.  Since 2009, half of all government expenditures went to benefits for ordinary residents.  Xilai supported the idea of ‘common prosperity,’ something opposed to the ‘get rich’ theory of the CCP Central Committee.  Xilai started a popular program called “Striking Black,” designed to rid Chongqing of corruption, aimed at a nexus of party bureaucrats, private capitalists and criminals - using information provided by regular citizens.  As a result, crime and bribery in the region went down.  Xilai started to require Party and state functionaries to make visits to work sites, homes and villages in order to re-familiarize themselves with the population.  “Singing Red’ was a cultural program designed to promote collective revolutionary values through mass singing, plays, public readings and story-telling.

Of course, mixed with these progressive aspects were promotion of private firms and a top-down approach to instituting these changes.  Zhao called it a ‘mixed economy’ approach.  No mass councils or Soviets in sight, of course, given the politics of 'vanguard' society.  

The liberals decried Xilai as wanting to start the “Cultural Revolution’ all over again, and wanting to ‘overthrow the CCP’ or ‘bring in fascism.”  This kind of hysteria only shows how threatened they were.  No wonder Xilai and his wife were ‘disappeared’ along, with their supporters, right before the present Congress of the CCP.

Bloomberg reported on 5/2/2012:  "As Bo rose from a provincial bureaucrat to the Communist Party leader of Chongqing, where he rated a salary of about 10,000 yuan ($1,585) a month, his family’s wealth grew dramatically. His relatives have accumulated at least $136 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on the extended family’s business interests, including those of his wife’s older sisters. Li Wangzhi, Bo’s son by a first marriage, and at least two of Bo’s brothers held positions in banking and industry. Bo’s other son, Bo Guagua, studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts"

If true, Bo and his family, like other Chinese bureaucrats, was also taking advantage of his position.  However, this does not change the fact that his position was to the left of the CCP majority, and of benefit to the workers of Chongqing.

And I bought it at May Day Books, which always has Monthly Review in Stock.
Red Frog
November 12, 2012

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