The Withering Away of Communism

Karl Marx argued that under Communism the state would wither away, but in reality we saw that countries which adoped Communism become among the most totalitarian in human history. In China we are seeing far too little withering away of the state, but at least we are seeing the withering away of Communism. The Economist reports on a new property law being adoped by the Communist Party:

SOME 2,500 years ago, one of Confucius’s big ideas was the “rectification of names”. If only, he argued, sons would behave filially, fathers paternally, kings royally and subjects loyally, all would be well with the world. A faint echo of this thesis has been resounding this week in the cavernous auditorium of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where nearly 3,000 delegates to China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), have been enjoying their annual fortnight of wining, dining, snoozing and pressing the “yes” button. Living up to one’s name poses something of a problem for the Chinese Communist Party, which dictates the laws the NPC will pass, and whose name in Chinese literally means “the public-property party”.

To such a party it must be an ideological embarrassment that China has such a large and flourishing private sector, accounting for some two-thirds of GDP. So one law due to receive the NPC‘s rubber stamp this month, giving individuals the same legal protection for their property as the state, has proved unusually contentious. It was to be passed a year ago, but was delayed after howls of protest from leftists, who see it as among the final of many sell-outs of the ideas of Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong, to which the party pretends fealty.

The party’s decision to enact the law in spite of that resistance is a great symbolic victory for economic reform and the rule of law. Clearer, enforceable property rights are essential if China’s fantastic 30-year boom is to continue and if the tensions it has generated are to be managed without widespread violence. Every month sees thousands of protests across China by poor farmers outraged at the expropriation of their land for piffling or no compensation. As in previous years, placating those left behind in China’s rush for growth has been a main theme of the NPC (see article).

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