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Workers United

Manoranjan Mohanty

By Janet Goldwasser and Stuart Dowty
Monthly Review Press, New York and London, 1975, 404, 5.30

VOLUME I NUMBER 4 October - December 1976

Even though there has been a slight slump in the flow of American visitors to China in recent months, the travel accounts of the period of the ‘China Rush’ from 1971 till 1973 continue to pour out. One type of account coming from the American radicals of the anti-war campaigns seems to show their radical utopia emerging in China. The CCAS delegates' reports contrast the elitist, consumerist, alienated and polluted society of the United States with the community-oriented, decentralized and hu­manistic society of China. Other travellers like Harrison Salisbury who are not too unhappy about the contemporary American conditions took a gene­rally condescending attitude towards what they saw in China. They noted with appreciation the many pragmatic policies at different levels which Mao’s China had adopted; but at the same time they poin­ted at the backward living conditions of the people and the primitive character of China's technology. Within this category of observers we can also include J.K. Galbraith who generally accepted the rationa­lity of China's development strategy and appropriateness of some of her techniques though his overall impressions tallied with those of the other prominent Americans. Galbraith, however, commended the Chinese model to the countries of the Third World. A third group of observers can be described as Marxists who went to see how a new socialist socie­ty was being built in China. Goldwasser and Dowty describe themselves as ‘socialists’ and have presented a favourable account of socialist construction in China. In spite of their claim the account itself shows that they are a cross between the first and the third categories of visitors. Even though they occasionally refer to Marxist principles, their overall understanding of China’s experiences in various fields does not show clear comprehension of ideological and practical ques­tions. Some of their comments betray the new left thought-currents of the CCAS type of observers. To give a broad example, the authors summarize the ‘principles of Chinese socialism’ in Chapter 8 thus: (1) Politics in Command; (2) Serve the People; (3) Rely on the Masses; (4) The Yenan Spirit of Self-­Reliance and Hard Struggle; (5) Combine the Old and New and (6) Criticism and Self-Criticism. These are undoubtedly some of the most important principles guiding Chinese practice though there are many more like them for various spheres of activi­ties. What makes them constitute a mode of soci­alist construction does not come out of this list. ...

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