Loren Goldner on the Chinese working class

July 14, 2019
Sunday, 5-7pm
1882 Woodbine
New York, NY

 

Revolutionary Mass Strike or a
New Bureaucratic Integration?

In 1978, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embarked on an era of reforms aimed at restarting the economy, which had ground to a halt after the “Cultural Revolution” (1966-1976). This decade of confrontation was neither about culture nor was it a revolution, but was rather a power struggle at the top between two bureaucratic factions, fought through huge proxy mass mobilizations.

The post-1978 reforms entailed a gradual opening to the capitalist world market and the creation of a private sector alongside the large state-controlled sector, while leaving intact the political power of the CCP. By 2017, there were a recorded 150,000 “incidents,” up from roughly 40,000 in 2004, struggles primarily in the countryside, protesting land grabs by the local CCP for the construction of luxury hotels and golf courses, but also several thousand strikes by workers. The CCP is “riding the tiger”; each necessary step toward further integration into the world market risks unleashing mass worker struggles which could sweep it away, much like the Polish mass strikes of 1980-1981 which ultimately brought down the Soviet bloc by 1989.

Loren Goldner will explore this dynamic in his talk.

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Recommended readings

“China in the Contemporary World Dynamic of Accumulation and Class Struggle: A Challenge for the Radical Left” (2005)
“Notes Towards a Critique of Maoism” (2012)

Loren Goldner became involved in radical left politics in Berkeley in the second half of the 1960s. During the lull in mass activity in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, he devoted himself to writing for what became his website Break Their Haughty Power. In 2010, helped found the online journal Insurgent Notes, where he remains a co-editor. From 2005 to 2009, he taught English in South Korea, writing about the class struggle there, and, more recently, about the class struggle in China. (A dozen articles on both the South Korean and Chinese working class are available on his website.) He has also published six books, including: Ubu Saved from Drowning: Worker Insurgency and Statist Containment in Portugal and Spain, 1974-1977 (2000); Vanguard of Retrogression: “Postmodern” Fictions as Ideology in the Era of Fictitious Capital (2011); and Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment: Russia, Turkey, Spain, and Bolivia (2018).

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