Is China fascist?

Some of China’s opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics had the tinge of the pageantry of Germany’s 1934 Nazi Party Congress as filmed in Leni Ricterstahl’s progaganda piece: Triumph of the Will. Is China a 21st century fascist state? Before exploring this question, I’ll touch upon what China is not. China is neither a liberal democracy or a traditional communist state.

Under communism the means of production is controlled by the state. This economic system is severely flawed, as it inherently does not respond to market forces to allow for natural, organic growth of the economy. This results in a misallocation of resources including management, who are selected on the criteria of party loyalty rather than proven competence within an industry.

For years China’s backward economy failed to progress under communism, while the economies of liberal democracies of the world flourished. (The below artist’s depiction of Mao sleeping while surrounded by a sea of dinosaur figures vividly conveys the idea of a sleeping China in an economic dinosaur age under communist dictator Mao.)

The Chinese state (federal government) does not espouse liberty as a virtue. Freedom of speech, religion, and affiliation suffer restrictions. The state hammers dissent and the people fearful of retribution acquiese. Nor does the state pretend to be on a path toward democracy. On the contrary, under a strengthening economy the power of the state and it’s global reach expands. Feeding the economy is a system of predatory state capitalism. Predatory on unskilled laborers who are paid meager wages. Predatory on the environment and the people’s health with pollution clogging lungs in urban areas. And predatory against foreign competition as its currency is artificially devalued by more than 20% and dumping is tolerated for the sake of dominating world market share. Despite its outrageous shortcomings, China is succeeding in developing itself into the world’s next economic superpower, on a projectory to surpass the size of economy of the United States of America and the European Community within 50 years despite its aging population. Already 300 million of its 1.2 billion inhabitants have entered middle class status or above. Should we fear this emerging economic giant? Is China indeed a fascist state?

Under traditional fascism one leader controls the state apparatus enforced through a single political party while the means of production operate under the principles of capitalism. Arguably, modern Russia aptly fits this description as it is widely perceived Putin is its dictator. China’s state, on the other hand, is not controlled by an individual, but it is controlled by one political party, misnamed the Communist Party. As such, it cannot be reasonably argued that China is a traditional fascist state. However, political ideologies recycle and evolve. In this evolutionary process, fascism has taken on a new and more potent form of state control by a single political party without interfering the means of production. China and Iran are models of 21st century fascism. China’s version is secular, while Iran’s is driven by an irrational and radical Islamic fundamentalism. Of the two, Iran poses a greater immediate threat to peace. Unlike Iran, China is not deluded it has the backing of a vengeful God. Nevertheless, it is worrisome to see China develop into the world’s next superpower.

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