I am a devoted Marxist Leninist. This means that I believe that Lenin and his Bolsheviks applied Marx’s work correctly (via a revolution) and in doing so turned Imperial Russia from a state ruled by a Tsar (who did not care at all for his people and led a deeply anti-worker, anti-semitic, and anti-peasant agenda) into a full fledged nation. Under Lenin and Stalin, the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a huge economic powerhouse that created full employment and a instilled a free and equal society.
China has had a history with heaps in common with Soviet Russia. China was also led by a long line of very harsh and anti-people royal families who suppressed them as a largely peasant nation. Then Mao came along and launched his own revolution for Chinese conditions, led by peasants that overturned their masters and installed the Chinese Communist Party.
Xi Jinping is following this long and proud tradition of steering his country towards greatness and making gains in totally abolishing poverty in China. I thank him for this.
There is a bit of a split on the left (I’m not talking about liberals - people like Hillary Clinton or those who vote for democratic politics, I’m talking about communists) as to whether China is actually a socialist country. I’m firmly in the ‘yes’ camp, but many say ‘no’.
The debate stems from people either recognising that communism changes over time and conditions, or, commentators proclaiming that communism is an anachronistic time period ideology. For example, some say “China is not communist because it has rich people” or “China is not a communist country because there is sometimes breaches in human rights”, and as of late “China’s Social Credit Score is not communist, but deeply anti-social”.
There could be some truth to such claims, but we then have to ask ourselves “is there is a reason for these Chinese policies?” We also have to recognize that there is a lot of pressure on China (from the United States) that exacerbate the situation.
I will address the Social Credit Score policy by taking a wide view of their reality. When the population is 1.386 Billion (as of 2017) you need a way to be able to control/regulate people and their behaviour. Having a vast police force is one matter, but China is also utilizing technology to enable surveillance techniques (like facial recognition software), and exploring a rewards and punishments system for bad and good behaviour. In fact, the Chinese people have very little issue with this! Crime has gone down, people feel safer, and it’s not even a national policy yet. Wide yes, but being tested in select areas for efficiency and efficacy. How it currently works is that if you do good things, and obey the law, you might get cheaper rent, cheaper air travel, or better phone plans. But, observed disobeying the rules or doing something bad, you cannot travel outside the country or maybe cannot own a good phone or possibly denied rent. A citizen can pay to get off the ‘bad list’ - much like paying a fine.
I strongly support such a system because there are so many people, and it needs to be done out of security and the national interest.
On an international scale, China is leading the way in world affairs. It precipitated a cooling of tensions around North Korea and helps millions of people in African countries with infrastructure projects and foreign aid.
It’s important to see the global picture to most, if not all, issues.
I’m not a CCP shill, but as an Australian I really wish my country would shift from the imposing control of the United States and stick with China. Why? Australia has a lot of Asian immigrants, we do most of our trade with China, and it is geographically closer to Australia than the US.
Bellow is a link to a reading guide that has thousands of links to articles and sources. It is not mine, but linked to me by a close comrade who has done great work on this question.
Please have a good read:
Katherine Revello (Classical Liberalism) Vs. “China’s Leading Light”
The author’s claim that countries with large populations “need a way to be able to control and regulate them” is hardly novel in the annals of statist history. Every tin-pot dictator whose reign has blighted the human race has given voice to a similar sentiment. They justify programs such as China’s 'social credit score' system by referencing the law enforcement functions they provide, as indeed does the author. But the thin veil of legitimacy imbued to such programs by police actions cannot be allowed to distract from the broader issue: that giving government carte blanche authority to rate citizens’ social compliance defiles basic human rights.
The power to regulate the citizenry should not be power of life and death. A criminal act is a singular act; the condemnatory judgment of a criminal action is not a summary statement on a person’s entire being. This is a fundamental tenet of political systems that adhere to the idea that justice should be blind, that law cannot be a means by which the personal grievances of empowered officials are avenged. Government passes judgment on actions, not the people who commit them.
This principle is not reflected by China’s 'social credit system'. The very idea that social credit is a system that can be adjudicated speaks to an alarming principle: one that does not respect individual sovereignty, but instead sees people as entities whose existence is lived at the sufferance of the government. It resembles nothing so much as the medieval church’s practice of granting indulgences to those willing to pay to gorge the vanity of self-important canonical officials.
This is a system not of equality, but hierarchy, giving to government officials disturbingly ill-defined discretionary powers to set the terms on which the Chinese citizenry lives.
As the author points out, China and the Soviet Union share much in common. Indeed, China’s social credit score system is yet another point of similarity, which does not bode well for the Chinese people. The Soviet Union divided its prisoners into two categories: mere criminals, guilty of conventional crimes such as theft and murder, and political prisoners, who were considered socially dangerous. (Article 58, Criminal Code of the RSFSR, 1934) This latter group was convicted under Article 58 of the Soviet Criminal Code, a vague and sweeping indictment of “counterrevolutionaries” that came to be a convenient way for Soviet officials to remove any unfortunate individual who rubbed them the wrong way. As historian Anne Applebaum comments in her book Gulag, “During waves of terror in particular, the regime appears to have chosen its victims in part because they had for some reason come to the attention of the secret police—a neighbor had heard them tell an unfortunate joke, a boss had seen them engaging in “suspicious” behavior—and in larger part because they belonged to whichever population category was at that moment under suspicion.” (Applebaum, 2003, 122.)
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, himself a victim of the gulag system, noted officials often “had no profound reasons for their choice of whom to arrest and whom not to arrest. They merely had over-all assignments, quotas for a specific number of arrests. These quotas might be filled on an orderly basis or wholly arbitrarily.” (Solzhenitsyn, 1985, 9)
Giving over broad discretionary powers of judgment to officials insulated from public outrage by the apparatus of the state does not make society a safer place; it introduces an arbitrary element into the behavior of so-called agents of justice.
There are already signs China’s social credit system is being used in a similar manner. Take the case of Liu Hu, a Chinese journalist who found himself on the “List of Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement by the Supreme People's Court” for his work on the government’s corruption and censorship. (Kobie, 2019) Denied the ability to travel, rent an apartment or take out a loan, Hu not only has no recourse to redress his grievance, he, for the gross crime of questioning the government, has effectively had his ability to live taken away. This is not just a violation of civil rights, but the most natural right an individual possesses: self-survival. To reinstate some of his privileges, Hu can pay a fine to the state, proving China’s social credit system is nothing more than a glorified extortion racket.
This kind of rank abuse of power, which profits the state at the expense of the citizenry, is the inevitable end of an authoritarian statist regime, for such a regime, by giving discretionary powers to its officials, allows those officials to embed their will into the very fabric of government and orient law completely around their desires.
Applebaum, Anne. Gulag: A History. Random House, Inc: New York, New York, 2003.
“Criminal Code of the RSFSR, 1934.” http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/uk58-e.html
Kobie, Nicole. “The Complicated Truth About China’s Social Credit System.” Wired. January 21, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social-credit-system- explained
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago. Trans. Thomas P. Whittnet and Harry Willets. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, New York, 1985.
Matthew Zink (Anarcho-Socialism) vs. "China's Leading Light"
The root of my concern with this article is from the author’s assertion that “you need a way to be able to control/regulate people and their behaviour.” I would argue that governmental attempts at coercing desired behaviours from citizens have been a failure...morally and practically.
The Chinese government attempted to change people’s behaviour under Mao during the Cultural Revolution. They sent out hoards of young and thoroughly indoctrinated 'red guards' to literally smash any relics of China’s past that were not communist. They forced countless people into show trials, executions, and forced relocations. The resulting devastation to people and history was so great that a decade later the Party declared “the Cultural Revolution was responsible for the most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the country, and the people since the founding of the People's Republic.” A rare admission of guilt from a party that was founded on lies and obfuscation. Even after a solid decade of attempted erasure and correction of people’s beliefs, those beliefs and attitudes quickly returned once the pogrom was ended.
If an idea, government, or proposed way of living has any merit at all it needs to be able to stand up to rigorous criticism. China’s unwillingness to allow competing voices is a sign of how weak their government and ideology really is.
Furthermore, it would be foolhardy to believe any statistics coming out of China about crime dropping as a result of the social credit system or people feeling safer. If they are wiling to lie about the price of pork and pollution levels, you should be damn sure they will lie about crime statistics.
Could you imagine living in a country where you wouldn’t be allowed to voice your views about the government without fear of damaging your social credit? Not being able to board airplanes, rent a home, and having your basic liberty restricted in numerous ways? Even within China’s one party rule there are cliques that arise (i.e., the Shanghai clique heralded by Jiang Zemin). Would you really want a system where one day certain things are allowed and, if a different clique takes over the next day, those same ideas now run afoul of the government and you will be punished all the same?
Could you imagine if the US decided to implement such a system and every time a party retook control of the government they’d be able to engage in retribution against people who voted against them? Would you really want Donald Trump or Barack Obama to be able to punish half of the electorate for holding views that run counter to their party? Would you really want to them to silence your 'comrades' for speaking out against the government?
The social credit system was one of the reasons I decided to leave China after living there for a decade.
Paul Bennett (Socialism) vs. "China's Leading Light"
This article makes no real attempt to show that China has ever had any connection with Socialism or the ideas of Karl Marx. Marx advocated the abolition of the wages system, but in China after 1949 (as in Russia after 1917) wage labour was extended to a far greater proportion of the population. China used to be a state capitalist country, where the main means of production belonged to the state, and those who controlled the state formed the ruling class. It is now a mix of state and private capitalism, with more billionaires than the US.
The social credit system is a form of government surveillance that interferes with people’s daily lives in ways that they have little control over. This system is apparently defended here simply on account of the size of the Chinese population, which is no defence at all.
Mae Fengári (Anarchism) vs. "China's Leading Light"
Communism is a violation of human rights. I’m not talking about the concept that anarcho-communists advocate (the voluntary participation in a mutualist society), I’m referring to the totalitarian regimes that have slaughtered millions of innocent people. In a system where the masses are more important than the individual, it is par for the course that basic human rights become null and void.
It was only in 2015 that the infamous “one child policy” (in quotes, as this is technically a misnomer - there were exceptions to this rule) was abolished. Even then, in 2016 a two child policy was enacted. It comes as no surprise that the country that forced women to have IUDs (intrauterine devices) surgically implanted after their first child and after they had a second child, forced them to undergo tubal ligation (often referred to as having ones “tubes tied”) has interfered in Buddhism’s most sacred tradition.
China has violated Buddhism in a way that may never be repaired. They have interfered with the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, causing the current Dalai Lama to potentially refuse to reincarnate - ending the centuries old tradition. The Chinese government kidnapped the current Panchen Lama and his family when he was just six years old, replacing him with their own pawn with the intention of taking control of the process. The government has stated that any Dalai Lama that is not chosen by the Chinese government is fake and illegal. They are strong arming one of the most peaceful religions in existence; a religion whose five main rules to live by are...
Do not kill.
Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not misuse sex.
Do not consume alcohol or other drugs.
These people have no quarrel with the Chinese government - the Dalai Lama maintains that he simply only seeks autonomy for the people of Tibet. Yet China has branded him a separatist, and has claimed that he has no say in the continuation of the Dalai Lama lineage - all because he does not conform. The actions taken by the Chinese government against Tibetan Buddhists are an absolute disgrace. China has no concept of freedom of any kind.
Have you ever felt like someone was watching your every move? If you live in China, there’s a good reason for that. Private companies along with the government stockpile information on every Chinese citizen. From something as insignificant as what coffee they drink, to their financial standings. All of this data is used by the government to determine a person’s social credit score. These scores are used to either enhance or hamper someone’s life; everything you do is recorded and can be used against you. The government can bar citizens from leaving the country, or even from travelling within the country. The social credit score also affects what kind of education that children will receive, what kind of home people are able to purchase or rent, and even whether they can buy insurance. The Chinese government reduces humans to nothing more than numbers.
Free will is one of the most important traits humans have - we have the ability to use reason, not just instinct. China has taken measures to stamp out it’s citizens (as well as the citizens of Tibet and Taiwan) ability to make autonomous choices. As hard as governments try...
Morality cannot be legislated.