Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Heart: Why China Isn't Socialist

THERE'S MANY WAYS TO DETERMINE IF A COUNTRY IS SOCIALIST or not. One of them would be democracy. The whole point of the development of the socialist movement in the early 19th century was as a counter to the undemocratic allocation of resources and restrictions on the political franchise. And for Marx, of course, socialism was "the self-emancipation of the working class" - ie. the majority of the population taking control of their lives through their own efforts, rather than it being handed to them by an enlightened elite. That's why Marx and Engels opposed their idea of socialism to the "utopian socialists", people like Fourier and Owen, who thought that they could build communes and win the support of the enlightened wealthy to improve conditions for workers. And it was why they opposed the anarchist Bakunin with his secret conspiracies.
We could certainly find all sorts of tests and criteria to demonstrate that, in fact, China is not now never ever has been a socialist country. Or I could just quote this article on the development of a Chinese artificial heart for those who suffer heart failure.


The artificial heart, including a blood pump and battery, will be available to the public at the price of 600,000 yuan ($87,870) each, according to Xiang Tiangong, director of an artificial heart laboratory in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province.
Chinese wages have grown considerably as the economy has expanded rapidly (though the economy has expanded more rapidly than have incomes). However, the average income in 2006, according to the World Bank, was still $2,025. That means it would take an "average" worker over 43 years to pay for a heart - assuming they didn't need to pay for food, shelter, clothing, etc. As the original article about the heart went on to say:


"It is for the rich," said Lee, who questioned whether the price is a one-time payment or just a down payment on the continuing cost of heart transplants.
Typically, patients must pay the monthly cost of expensive medications to prevent the body's immune system from rejecting artificial hearts and organ transplants.
The Ministry of Health reported over a half-million sudden deaths from heart failures in China each year, the highest heart attack death rate in the world, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier this month.
Highest heart attack death rate in the world but an artificial heart only available to the richest of the rich. Sounds a lot like the United States healthcare system. And I feel confident to state that the USA is not a socialist country.
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