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Harmonious Society or class struggle? A worker loads building material on a cart outside a construction site in the Central Business District in Beijing, March 6. | Andy Wong / AP

People’s World readers offer their take on a number of recent articles featured in our pages. The comments below have been proofread and edited for length. Join the discussion on the PW website and on Facebook, or submit your comments directly to editors@peoplesworld.org. Your thoughts could be the next to appear in this space.

Re: Labor in China: “Harmonious Society” or class struggle?

Cameron M. Orr says:
There are many interesting points raised in this article, particularly with respect to certain features of Chinese labor laws and objectives which I did not know about.

With respect to the question of whether China is pursuing a “Harmonious Society” or advancing the class struggle, I think the answer is both.

Under the heading, “The basic task of the nation in the years to come is to concentrate its effort on socialist modernization,” the third paragraph of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China states, “[t]he exploiting classes as such have been eliminated in our country. However, class struggle will continue to exist within certain limits for a long time to come.” Amendment Three also states that “China will stay in the primary stage of socialism for a long period of time.”

I do not think it is necessary to consider social harmony and class struggle as mutually exclusive, but rather as mutually supportive. The relationship between the two under capitalist rule is also fundamentally different than that relationship within the primary stage of socialism. Surely, communism is about social harmony and peace, and it is through many forms of struggle at various stages that solidarity is developed, but communism cannot be achieved, either, without an extremely high level of technological development.

The Chinese people and government, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, are working to build socialism, and, as a still-developing country, the basic contradiction in Chinese society is the “the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.”

“Harmonious” does not appear in the PRC’s Constitution, but I think it is true that the Chinese people and government value “harmonious” development. In its Constitution, the People’s Republic of China commits itself to “safeguard[ing] the unity of the nationalities,” and to upholding and developing “the relationship of equality, unity, and mutual assistance among all of China’s nationalities.” The Constitution also commits the nation to “peaceful coexistence in developing diplomatic relations” to “safeguard world peace,” and tasks the armed forces with safeguarding “the people’s peaceful labour.”

Harmony has been a strong cultural value for the Chinese people since ancient times, and I think today when the Chinese government emphasizes harmony it is usually with respect to solidarity between people of all ethnic groups. But the Chinese people are also deeply cognizant of the turmoil that resulted from left errors committed during the Cultural Revolution.

“Harmonious” development has been emphasized not just with respect to the internal conditions of China, but perhaps even more so with respect to the international situation. The CPC has a strong conception of the fundamental link between peace and development. This is an extremely important concept in the current period, with U.S. imperialism lashing out in all directions as it crushes under the weight of its own contradictions, and slowly strangles in a treacherous web of its own making.

 

Re: Labor in China: “Harmonious Society” or class struggle?

Thomas Riggins says:
Theoretically, we should find in China, as a socialist state, class struggle going on in the private sector as that sector relies on the exploitation of surplus value, so strikes and disharmony should be expected. However, workers in the public sector and state-owned enterprises should find themselves in a different situation, and the CPC should be working in their direct interests, and here the philosophy of the harmonious society should be visible. As long as the private sector is tolerated, the workers there should not expect to have the same benefits bestowed by state power as the workers in the socialized sector, but they should expect the state to regulate the private sector so that unfair advantages by capitalist standards (no overtime, no living wage, withholding pay, violating labor contracts, etc.) do not occur.

 

Re: Steel tariffs: Playing Trump’s protectionist game

Beth Edelman says:
A very thoughtful article. So the Trump move to impose tariffs on steel and to focus on China is bewildering and largely based on China envy—the Chinese have an economy that continues to grow at about 6 percent. That’s a big deal and one that breeds optimism in the working class as well as other sectors. Atkins says it will be very hard for workers to forget Trump’s action when they go to the polls. Maybe, I’m thinking that little will come from this relatively dramatic act. Will workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin not know, not remember what comes from imposing tariffs on Chinese steel. How many new steel jobs will there be?

 

Re: Students lead nationwide crusade for gun control

Zen Arts says:
The nationwide anti-NRA protest of the youth is adding another social force to the power of the resistance. The youth have also expanded their protest to include other issues, like budget cuts or school closings. They challenge not just the gun violence but also the political, economic, and education priorities of the extreme right wing.

The youth bring their numbers, grievances, demands, idealism, and commitment to the fight. The kids who participate in the anti-NRA marches, walkouts, and demonstrations are real heroes. They risk police arrest and brutality, or school suspensions and detentions for their nonviolent civil disobedience to bring about change. It is real commitment to their values, like the Civil Rights heroes of yesteryears.

What has been the response of the extreme right to this novel mobilization of power into progressive ranks? Obviously, it is fear. And fear generates virulent backlash. The extreme right have another social force to reckon with. So they attempt to discredit, disparage, or minimize the children as too immature or too manipulated to understand the issue of gun control. The issue of gun control also opens up for debate other issues the right wants to avoid, like spending so much more on the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes than on education. They fear they have lost control of the narrative to the children.

 

Re: Murder of Black politician Marielle Franco produces uproar in Brazil

Earl Clay says:
We must somehow demonstrate our support for the Afro-descendant peoples involved, in the favelas there, and in the ghettos and barrios in North, Central, and South America. There has been for decades on end a consciousness of the oneness of the struggle to free the peoples and indigenous peoples, including the Afro-descendant peoples, from Jose Marti, the famous Che Guevara (in Brazil also), and the Castro brothers in Cuba to Marielle Franco and her communities today. Today, we must express our solidarity with Amnesty International and the UN’s Organization for Human Rights. We must never forget W. E. B. Du BuBois’s early efforts to commit the UN to protect the human rights of African-derived peoples, which was continued in Paul Robeson and William Patterson’s petition charging the U.S. with the genocide of African Americans in the early 1950s, based on the UN Genocide Convention.


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Contributors to “The People Speak” round-up of discussions and debates happening on the People’s World website and on our social media networks.

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