Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Party

Scab Rulers in China Moan over Corruption

Fake Indignation to Pacify People


First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 28, August 4-10,1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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When Teng Hsiao Ping and his gang of scabs staged a coup after Mao died, stole the ruling power away from the Chinese people and turned China back to capitalism, many said, “That just shows that workers’ rule doesn’t work, the capitalists are too strong.” But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the sellout leadership in China is sitting on top of a volcano, constantly fearing a new revolution that will return power to the workers and peasants.

Corruption Among Officials Exposes Government

A good example is the problem of corruption and wide-spread abuse of special privileges among Chinese Communist Party and government bureaucrats. The Chinese people remember this as an evil of the old society when feudal landlords, capitalists and foreign officials exploited and oppressed them. They know that under Mao’s leadership corruption and abuse of power was pretty much eliminated. But now that the problem is coming back again it is opening people’s eyes to the direction the present leadership is taking the country. That’s why Teng Hsiao Ping, ringleader of the ruling gang, said that the problem of blatant corruption is so serious that “if not resolved will lead to the collapse of the government.” He knows that it could arouse the people to launch another revolution.

There are many incidents of corruption and abuse of special privileges in China today. For example, early this year when Teng summed up the distribution of bonuses, he admitted that out of the five billion dollars given out two billion went into the pockets of officials. Last year, a government official in Europe refused to allow two Chinese sportsmen to return to China with her on her private plane. When the people heard about it there was a big outcry of anger against the official. Another example is that of an official who was caught using several hundreds of thousands of dollars of the public money to build a private mansion.

There’s a skit called “If I Were the Real One,” based on a true story, that is very popular in China today. It is the story of an educated youth trying to get transferred back to the city after years of working on a farm. He is unsuccessful because he doesn’t have the right connections. One day he tries to see a movie but is told that all the tickets are sold out. Just as he is about to leave he sees some latecomers get in with all the tickets they want. These special guests turn out to be government officials. Now the youth realizes how he can get his transfer. He adopts the identity of the son of a high-ranking Party official and quickly gets a transfer. He even gets a room in the city furnished with wall-to-wall carpeting, a stereo and a color TV (things rare in China) – all from some officials who want his pseudo-father’s help in getting a trip abroad. The story ends when the youth’s scheme is exposed. “I admit that I was wrong. I was wrong because I was not the real one. If I were the real son of this official, everything I did would have been all legal,” the youth says.

What’s the Big Deal About Special Privileges?

What’s the big deal about corrupt officials and some people having a lot of privileges over others? That’s nothing new to us: that’s the way things are in capitalist countries like the U. S. where ownership of property and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few people. But corruption isn’t readily tolerated in socialist countries. Though there is still a certain degree of inequality among the people (for example some workers will get higher wages than others) these inequalities are not allowed to grow. The Cultural Revolution was kicked off under Mao to get rid of the rotten bureaucrats who would take advantage of their position and bring back capitalism.

After the Teng gang staged a coup in 1976 and restored capitalism in China, they still kept the pretense of socialism to deceive the people who love workers’ rule. Even though the factories, mines and mills in China are now in the clutches of the managers and supervisors who dictate all the decisions, officially these rats don’t own the factories, mines and mills. In addition, since under socialism the workers and peasants are supposed to be the masters of society and Party members and government officials are supposed to serve the people’s interest, the capitalists now in power have to try to keep up the appearance of socialism. That’s why they can’t totally ignore criticism against the abuse of privileges.

Corruption, A Sore Point for Top Officials

Teng Hsiao Ping and company know that corruption has to be covered up or the rule of their class will be in jeopardy. Last year, in a speech to high-ranking Party officials, Teng appealed to these bureaucrats saying, “you people should sacrifice a little. Actually, it is not really sacrifice neither. Compared to the average people, you are already much better off.” According to reports from the 70s magazine (a magazine published in Hong Kong that supports the present government in China), Teng repeatedly stressed the seriousness of this problem and the negative effect it has on the Chinese people. At first the ruling gang wanted to deal with the problem privately. That’s why Teng made the speech to begin with. But since the bottom line for all capitalists is their own self-interest, none wanted to give up their privileges for the sake of their whole class.

The sharp contradictions they have among themselves came out during a discussion meeting at the Second Plenary session of the 5th People’s Congress held early this year. Many officials reacted so strongly to the criticisms against corruption that the meeting had to be canceled before it was half-way over. This forced leading Party bureaucrats to call an expanded Political Bureau meeting (the highest ruling body of the Communist Party of China) instead to assure the officials that the main purpose of the Plenary was to establish a judicial system and unite people around the four modernizations. All agreed to postpone discussion about corruption to a later date. The incident proved that there was no way to resolve the problem quietly and privately.

Sidetracking People Away From Real Problem

Then the Teng ruling group tried to create public opinion to pressure the most clumsy bureaucrats. Last year there were many big character posters (a form of mass propaganda) on the Democracy Wall in Peking criticizing the corrupt bureaucracy. But when the campaign started to get up steam, the scab revisionist leadership got scared that genuine revolutionaries would use it to mobilize the people against the government. So the regime banned big character posters, and the people lost a basic means of protest. But the government’s action couldn’t stop the people from speaking out.

A new form of expression appeared, this time mainly from the petty bourgeois intellectuals. Underground skits like “If I Were the Real One” exposing the corruption emerged. Now the government is coopting this form of protest to serve its own goals. These skits are now officially endorsed and are being performed all over the country with the government’s help. Recently the government-operated TV station even broadcast a documentary exposing the family of a bureaucrat enjoying their privilege of shopping in a big department store for foreigners.

People love these programs because they express their hatred against the bureaucracy. But this exposure purposely avoids the root of the problem – the fact that China has been turned capitalist – and doesn’t provide any way out for the people. Like 60 Minutes in this country, these programs only serve as a channel for people to let off steam. Because it doesn’t threaten their rule, the Chinese revisionists aren’t afraid to endorse these programs. In fact, one exposure novel recently got first prize in a literary contest.

So instead of searching for the cause of the problem and the way out. the whole protest movement is being turned into a literary debate about the merits of this kind of literary work, calling it “new realism.” On the one hand the writers’ works are condoned, on the other hand the government is warning them, not to go so far that the people will rise up. Meanwhile nothing changes fundamentally. The scabs in power don’t have to worry about these new novels and films like they feared the big character posters. The posters were the work of the workers and peasants, while the new literature is the work of petty bourgeois intellectuals who can easily be coopted.

Scab Revisionists Caught In a Bind

All these half-ass gimmicks only show that the Teng ruling gang doesn’t really want to abolish corruption among their ranks. Allowing special privileges is the only way they can get these old and new capitalists together to work for the government. They’re only worried about corruption when the people find out and their rule is threatened. That’s why they have to do something to put on a show for people that the problem is being taken care of and at the same time warn the really clumsy officials to behave better.

Mao summed up from China’s experience in building workers’ rule that the old capitalist class still exists and that new capitalists develop from party and government officials enjoying unrestricted special privileges. Mao’s solution was that every seven or eight years there should be a revolution to clear out these capitalists so the party’s color wouldn’t change and the country would remain in the hands of the workers and peasants. The capitalists in power now were the target of the Cultural Revolution led by Mao. Now they are back in power again and they aren’t about to give up their special privileges.

But the 900 million Chinese people, like people the world over, are a revolutionary people. They have swept these capitalist bloodsuckers from power before and they will surely do it again.