Revolution is a central thesis of Marxist-Leninist economic theory. The argument is the following: Capitalists exploit the Proletariat by paying just enough in wages to allow the labour pool to subsist. Profits are pocketed by the Capitalists. The Proletariat doesn’t like this very much and spontaneously rise up and – bang – Revolution! The key ingredients for a Marxist-Leninist revolution are Capitalists and Proletariat…
…No such luck for Mao Zedong. His aspirations for a traditional Marxist-Leninist revolt lacked the key ingredients. China was, and still is, a predominantly agrarian society which meant that there were very few prols, and even fewer capitalists, to incite a revolution – just a bunch of farmers. Like any power hungry politician, Mao needed an ideology to justify his actions and rally the troops, so he and his comrades reinterpreted the Marxist-Leninist conflict to be between the farmer and urban progress. The farmer, being under attack from the drift toward the cities, would eventually be enslaved by capitalists as an urban proletariat worker. Therefore, the best thing to do if you were a farmer was to march with Mao, revolt and nip the evils of urbanisation in the bud.
Mao’s success in grabbing power backed him into a difficult position since he now needed to stop the urban drift or risk losing farmer support and therefore control. The ‘Cultural Revolution’ solved this problem nicely. The Cultural Revolution was a kind of nationwide ‘Greenacres’ experiment (remember that horrible US Sitcom starring Eddie Albert and ZsaZsa Gabor?), where citydwellers, the intelligentsia and other counter-revolutionaries were forcibly relocated to the farming community to turn back the clock.
Fast-forward to the present day and we find that the incoming Chinese leadership is populated by men who were victims of the Cultural Revolution in their youth. And guess what their central platform is? Rapid urbanisation! Mr Li KeQiang, in particular, was appointed First Vice Premier which commands the Finance and Treasury portfolio, and he wrote his doctoral thesis at the elite Beijing National University on the need for accelerated urban centred growth to continue China’s development. China’s leaders turned their back on Mao many years ago but the new leaders are confronting Maoist ideology head on.
There had been some speculation that China’s new leadership might throttle down the growth engine in favour of ‘quality-of-life’ reforms for the population. The message from the leadership appointments yesterday is that its full-steam-ahead…its time to buy China!