Capitalism, China, and the Pol Pot Solution

Chinese domination won't be Communist.

As the West continues its increasingly-fast spiral down the toilet bowl of history, nervous sorts are eying the putative next superpower: China.  What sort of a world would be one in which China was the equal of the United States, or even its superior?  Did we fight a half-century-long Cold War to save the world from Soviet communism, only to wind up dominated by the Chinese variety of Communism?

We certainly don't enjoy watching the decline of America or the West in general, and a Chinese world would not be an improvement from our point of view.  That said, though, the one thing we don't have to worry about from China is Communist world domination - at least, not in any way Karl Marx would recognize communism.

The Death of Communism

The fact is, China itself is no longer Communist in any way Mao would recognize.  When it comes right down to it, it's more capitalist than we are.

Sure, Party leaders mouth allegiance to the old slogans, but they don't let slogans about equality get in the way of making money.  They have completely sworn allegiance to Deng Xiaoping's dictum "To get rich is glorious;" their job, as they see it now, is to ensure that all Chinese do exactly that.

What a contrast to the environmentalist true-believers we find over here!  How can the leader of a modern economy say with a straight face, as did Barack Obama,

Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

Energy is the lifeblood of all modern technological nations.  He might as well have said, "Under my plan, you'll all have a lot less blood in your bodies, and it'll be thinner."

China's Communists would never commit national suicide in that way, and for good reason: in the world's most populous country which has finally tasted the riches of modern technological life, they dare not do anything to stand in the way of their citizens getting more and more of the good stuff.

The Chinese people understand from whence they have come.  They haven't been rich for generations like Americans, so they haven't forgotten what it's like when you literally have nothing and things get really bad.  Any Chinese leader with the stupidity to threaten his nation's so very newly received pleasures would quickly find his throat slit.

Muscle-Powered Starvation

In addition to the "revolution of rising expectations" which they've barely forestalled through economic growth, China has a worse problem, or depending on how you look at it, even stronger security.  For all of China's many thousands of years of recorded history, the #1 problem confronting any ruler is how to feed the teeming masses.  China has always been one of the world's most crowded places by the standards of each era, now more than ever.

Can China feed its hordes if it listens to the organic, sustainable-growth, all-natural elites of the decadent West?  It flatly cannot.  China avoids starvation solely by taking total advantage of every scientific discovery, every miracle of modern technology, every erg of fossil-fuel energy it can generate.

What would happen if the diktats of anticapitalism and no-growth world environmentalism were applied in China?  Actually, we don't have to guess.  We know, because the ideologies of anti-capitalism and anti-technology were applied in Cambodia in the 1970s under the reign of Pol Pot.

Wikipedia sums up his economic program thus:

During his time in power he imposed a version of agrarian socialism, forcing urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labour projects, toward a goal of "restarting civilization" in "Year Zero." The combined effects of forced labour, malnutrition, poor medical care and executions resulted in the deaths of approximately 21 percent of the Cambodian population.

Is this not precisely the dream of the "small is beautiful" crowd - shutting down the great cities and sending everyone out to healthy country farms where they can grow their own food, fertilize it with their own wastes, and eat it right where it's grown?

The problem is not merely that most people have no idea how to farm and don't particularly want to learn, but that individual muscle-powered hand-farming is grossly inefficient.  One farmer driving a modern tractor can produce more food than a hundred men with hoes - and you still have to feed those hundred men and their families.

The Chinese know this, even if our environmentalists have forgotten it.  Modern China's leaders are old enough to have lived through the famine and starvation of Mao's "Great Leap Forward," or at least their parents did; they have no desire to return to those times.

The only way to set back the clock of technology and capitalism would be for them to do as Pol Pot did: murder at least 20% of the population if not more.  In China, that's 260,000,000 people, pretty close to the total population of the United States.

No, the core competitive principles of capitalism have resoundingly proven their worth to everybody that matters in China; they will not soon be abandoning them as we're doing over here.  We may have decided to ditch our history, our culture, our traditions, and our world power, but China's history of starvation and mass murder is entirely too fresh for them to fecklessly forget.

A world dominated by China will not be a particularly nice or altruistic one.  But it won't be a Communist world either, nor a time of technological backwardness - if you're Chinese.  Would that we could say as much here!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

What are they going to do with all the money? Build armaments and start wars to get resources? Siberia has lots of resources and it's just across the river. Do you see trouble there if the Chinese have trouble getting the resources they need from other places?

October 25, 2011 7:16 PM

Tom Clancy certainly did in The Bear and the Dragon. Anything's possible, I suppose, though the Chinese have preferred to buy Africa rather than take it over directly. That way they don't have to worry about running the place, and the same may apply to Siberia.

October 25, 2011 7:41 PM

You have a point, Pet. If they are serious about population, tho, a good war is the best there is, but its a high-stakes game.

October 25, 2011 7:44 PM

China is in the position because of the US trying out socialism/fascism as a system without calling it that. It is obviously failing. If, and that is a big word, we get our house in order we will leave China in the dust. Our GDP is 50% higher than China's in spite of them having a much larger population and our per capita is 6 times that of China. We cannot however continue on the spending path that we are on, our power is not limitless. It is my opinion that the American people realize this and will straighten this out in the next election. There is another great asset that we have and that is our ability to innovate, create and use our free markets to explode our economy to the upside. We have a pent up desire for this to happen and it will when we get the government out of the way. China is not an imperialistic nation, at least since Genghis Kahn. They have enough of a problem feeding their people without trying to exert their power abroad. They have to import soybeans, corn, rice and wheat in order to feed their people now that they have experienced a better diet. This was all done by capitalism albeit a watered down, Chinese version of it. We have conquered more countries with capitalism than with guns and I must add this, why we don't do this with Cuba is beyond me, we are torturing those people by not doing trade with them. Castro would have been an ancient memory had we traded with them. At any rate, China is not a problem for us, we are our biggest problem.

October 25, 2011 10:41 PM

@bassboat - you are dead on, so I will repeat what you said:

At any rate, China is not a problem for us, we are our biggest problem.

Are you old enough to remember Pogo's words of wisdom?

"We have met the enemy and it is us."

To go even further back, President Garfield pointed out that We the People don't have any excuses:

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces. - James A. Garfield

To quote Wikipedia:

James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) served as the 20th President of the United States, after completing nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Garfield's accomplishments as President included a controversial resurgence of Presidential authority above Senatorial courtesy in executive appointments; energizing U.S. naval power; and purging corruption in the Post Office Department. Garfield made notable diplomatic and judiciary appointments, including a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Garfield appointed several African Americans to prominent federal positions.

Of course, Civil Service unions weren't as strong then so he was able to purge corruption in the Post Office. We don't seem to be able to do much about it now.

October 26, 2011 6:24 AM


Yes I do remember Pogo but I was out of town when Garfield made his speech and missed it. In regard to that speech let's take a look at a leader that we now have in congress, one Nancy Pelosi. When the Tea Party protested she called them everything but the garbage in the trash can. What does she say about the Wall Street protest mob? God bless them! Is there any doubt that we have a cancer in DC?

October 26, 2011 11:17 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...