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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: How Xi Jinping’s Marxism Out-thinks the West

by John Ross

How Xi Jinping’s Marxism Out-thinks the West

Translated Monday 7 May 2018

The Hamburg G20 summit was a further stage in a process that has been developing strongly during the 2017: a recognition that a new stage in China’s international ‘though leadership’ has developed. For decades China had the world’s most rapidly growing economy, the world’s fastest increase in living standards, and was responsible for over 80% of the reduction of the number of people in the world living in poverty. But now, as Edward Luce, the chief Washington correspondent for the Financial Times, noted: ‘ It was during Obama’s second term that China overtook the US as the world’s largest economy on a purchasing power parity basis. It is likely to overtake the US in dollar terms within the next presidential term, regardless of who is in office.‘ This gigantic economic development inevitably produced a growing global impact. But the new stage, as confirmed below, is even Western analysts note that China, or to be more precise the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President Xi Jinping, are winning in the global ‘battle of ideas’. It is therefore important to analyse the reasons for this.

Such examination illustrates not only individual issues but demonstrates clearly the superiority of Xi Jinping’s Marxist analysis over Western thinking. This can be particularly clearly demonstrated by examining the wide international discussion which has contrasted China’s key recent global initiatives, such as Xi Jinping’s speech at the Davos World Economic Forum and the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing, with US attempts to articulate a general alternative foreign policy framework to China’s. Such analysis has the advantage it clearly demonstrates the way these concepts put forward by Xi Jinping both flow from Marxist ideas and simultaneously develop them in a new international situation - and why they can be clearly understood by a non-Marxist audience. In summary, as will be shown, the wide ranging international discussions in 2017 have clearly demonstrated the superiority of the CPC’s Marxist thinking over Western ideas.

China rising

Immediately following Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, admitted in practice what were the two most influential global views today: ‘I think it’d be good if people compare Xi’s speech at Davos and President Trump’s speech in his inaugural…. You’ll see two different world views.’
Indeed, it is widely understood in the Western media that the last period has seen a major shift internationally in both practical policy initiatives and ‘thought leadership’ towards China. Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, and one of the West’s most influential journalists, stated bluntly at the end of May that the question now being discussed in all countries was: ‘Would it not be wiser, they wonder, to move closer to China?’ Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, the most influential Western ‘risk analysis’ company, noted regarding one of the key indicators of China’s success in projecting not only practical power but also ideas: ‘Davos reaction to Xi speech: Success on all counts.’
Merely to take in chronological order some of the landmarks of China’s sharply rising influence:
China’s initiative to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was highly successful – with even close United States allies, such as the UK and Germany, participating and refusing to support US calls to boycott it.
Xi Jinping’s speech at Davos World Economic Forum was almost universally analysed in the West as encapsulating a major strategic success. In addition to Bremmer’s conclusion already cited, Hans-Paul Buerkner, chairman of the Boston Consulting Group, noted: ‘President Xi emphasized the importance of continued globalization, growth and equity, which impressed me the most.’ Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board concluded: ‘President Xi’s insistence to deepen globalization, to strengthen economic growth, and his warning against isolationism are extremely comforting and a strong endorsement.’

The recent Beijing One Belt One Road (B&R) summit’s significance was well understood in the West. The Financial Times, under a self-explanatory headline ‘Europe must respond to China’s Belt and Road initiative’, analysed: ‘Beijing is using the laws of economic gravity and physics to shape the global economy… The gravity metaphor is well established in the so-called “gravity models” of international trade, which relate the size of trade flows to the “mass” (economic size) and distance between trading partners. The indisputable finding is that physical distance remains monumentally important in international economics… as international supply chains have grown over recent decades, the most complex ones are regional more than global... As for physics metaphors, the relevant concept is friction. Gravity affects all bodies equally in a vacuum; friction, however, can change the speed at which they fall. So, too, in economics, where the frictions are the costs of trade. These can be physical — in the case of landlocked countries with poor infrastructure, say — and man-made. The most significant man-made trade costs are no longer border tariffs but regulatory, administrative and cultural barriers to doing business across national borders. They remain high…China… understands both concepts very well. The Belt and Road aims to overcome the bounds of gravity by reducing frictions, and to use the forces of attraction this unleashes to centre a growing part of global economic activity on China.’
China has long been influential among developing countries but the Financial Times has now noted that China’s overall influence is extending even into traditional US allies. EU officials noted for example: ‘the establishment of a 16-nation bloc of central and eastern European countries — many of them EU members. The bloc is sometimes used to frustrate EU decisions that could disadvantage China, said the officials.’ Regarding Singapore, another traditional US ally, the FT analysed reporting the recent Shangri-La dialogue,: ‘Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s defence minister, was keen to build bridges with Beijing when he spoke to the assembled generals, diplomats and policy wonks at the Shangri-La hotel at the weekend. He made no mention of… the South China Sea and fawned over the Belt and Road project… “China has stepped on the pedal to push ahead with its plans to be a leader for trade in the Asia Pacific region, if not the world.”‘ Regarding Australia, another traditional US ally, Edward Luce noted: ‘Long before Trump’s victory, Australians were also debating whether their country should distance itself from the US to accommodate a rising China — a more important economic partner than the US. Now such arguments have gone mainstream. Former prime ministers, such as Paul Keating, make the case that Australia should hedge its bets.“’

China’s sharply rising international influence was certainly further aided by self-inflicted US wounds such as Trump’s virtually universally internationally condemned decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Even within the US this latter decision was attacked as weakening the United States - a pillar of the US establishment such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein taking to Twitter for the first ever time to declare: ‘Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.’ But, as is clear from the facts already noted above, the further weakening of the US’s international position by Trump’s position on the Paris Climate Accord simply followed from a period when China’s global position was already strongly strengthening. As Edward Luce summarised:
‘The world was already making adjustments before Trump… Almost two years before the UK’s Brexit referendum, David Cameron, Britain’s then prime minister, rolled out the red carpet for Xi Jinping on a state visit to the UK. Britain also enraged Obama’s White House by rushing to join China’s Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank… Others, such as Australia and Germany, hesitated but then followed suit. Almost every western power sent delegations, among them 29 heads of state, to China’s recent “One Belt, One Road” summit in Beijing. When China speaks, foreign governments listen.’
The shifting of the centre of global initiatives and thinking to China, analysed from the point of view of internal Chinese development in Wang Wen’s 一带一路让中国人的世界观不再局限于西方 is therefore fully confirmed by the analysis in the Western media itself.

A ‘Trump doctrine’?

Almost certainly in reaction both to the rise in China’s impact noted above, and to increased scepticism regarding US foreign policy views, immediately after President Trump’s first foreign trip, his National Security Adviser McMaster and his Director of the US National Economic Council Cohn jointly authored a Wall Street Journal article systematically setting out the principles of US foreign policy. The significance of this joint article, which could not have appeared from such high placed figures without approval of the President, was immediately recognised - CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, one of the US’s most important foreign policy commentators, noted: ‘We now have a Trump Doctrine.’

With two coherent global views therefore now set out it is possible to systematically analyse the views of President Xi Jinping and the CPC on the one side and on the other the Trump administration. It is particularly revealing, as it deals with the most fundamental issues, to make a comparison between Xi Jinping’s concept of ‘Community of Common Destiny’, which forms the core of China’s foreign policy, and the ideas expressed in the ‘Trump doctrine’ by McMaster and Cohn. Making a detailed analysis of this contrast shows clearly the superiority of the CPC’s Marxist ideas to those of the West.

McMaster and Cohn

McMaster and Cohn’s starting point is a restatement, and an attempt to defend on the international field, the view in neo-classical Western economics which analyses the economy and society as simply composed of individual units. As Margaret Thatcher declared on the national terrain: ‘there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women.’[1] As McMaster and Cohn state on the international sphere: ‘The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.‘[2] McMaster and Cohn then draw out the conclusions which flow from this struggle between individual units: ‘America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.’ It is, evidently, inconceivable that such a general statement of US foreign policy could have appeared by two of Trump’s most senior officials if he had disapproved of it.

This statement that ‘the world is not a “global community”’ is evidently directly opposed to the explicit concept put forward by Xi Jinping of a ‘community of common destiny’ - and its associated ideas of ‘win-win’ solutions, ‘one plus one is greater than two’ etc. These concepts of Xi Jinping are, of course, derived from Marxism – this will be analysed in greater detail below. More precisely, to use Xi Jinping’s precise phrasing: ‘‘Mankind… has increasingly emerged as a community of common destiny.’ [3] Regarding ‘win-win’ solutions in regard to the US, in his first statement regarding Trump’s election, Xi Jinping made clear on 9 November: ‘I… look forward to working with you to uphold the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.’ Similarly, in regard to Africa Xi Jinping noted: ‘“We will work with Africa to embrace a new era of win-win co-operation and common development.’ This fundamental concept is popularly expressed in the concept ‘one plus one is greater than two’. As Xi Jinping put it: ‘By engaging in close cooperation and drawing on each other’s strengths to make up for respective shortcomings, we can show to the world that one plus one can be greater than two.’[4]

It is not hard in terms of psychology to understand why other countries prefer the concept of a ‘win-win’ relationship, that is their country also gains as well as China, to the goal set out by McMaster and Cohn that the US objective is enhancement of its own position: ‘America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.’

But international relations, and the ideas based on them, cannot be based on nice words, which can be false, or psychology – which is notoriously changeable. A policy can only be powerful and have a great international effect if it corresponds to real interests. Therefore, it is necessary to examine objectively which of these concepts is correct: the McMaster & Cohn US view that ‘the world is not a “global community” or Xi Jinping’s ‘Mankind… has increasingly emerged as a community of common destiny’?

Does a global community exist?

The difference of McMaster/Cohn on the idea of global ‘community’, and instead their assertion that there is simply ‘an arena where nations… compete for advantage’, versus Xi Jinping’s ‘community of common destiny’, is in fact both nationally and internationally an issue of which force is most fundamental – the individual or the social? Xi Jinping is evidently not asserting that there are never any clashes between individual interests – if that were true China would scarcely need a department of foreign affairs, except to organise convivial meeting with other countries at which everyone could celebrate that they agreed on everything! In reality China, like every country, is constantly dealing with specific differences in foreign policy (conflicts over protectionism with the EU and US, the South China Sea, relations with India etc). What Xi Jinping is asserting is not that there are never any conflicts of individual interests but that the common ones, the community, are most fundamental.

McMaster/Cohn are equally not asserting the US never has any common interests with other countries – on the contrary they state regarding the US and other countries: ‘Where our interests align, we are open to working together to solve problems and explore opportunities.’ What McMaster/Cohn are asserting is that the clash of individual interests is most important and there is not a ‘community’ - ‘the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage,’ Xi Jinping is asserting in contrast that while certainly specific conflicts of interest exist, the most fundamental is the community.

It can now be analysed which of these positions is correct from a fundamental point of view? Such analysis in detail of what will be shown to be among the most fundamental issues of both ‘Western’ and Marxist thinking, shows not only the superiority of Xi Jinping ideas on the particular issue of the ‘community of common destiny’ but also the general superiority of Marxism to the most recent Western ideas in ‘neo-classical economics’ and the relation to the most advanced Western ideas in general.

Adam Smith

The analysis of the relation between individual interests and common interests, or ‘community’, goes back to the origin of modern economics - and includes not only the economic but the moral and foreign policy dimensions of this issue. It was, indeed, one of the most fundamental questions analysed by the founder of modern economics Adam Smith. Examining in detail the fundamental and original statements of this issue precisely brings out its significance and solution most clearly – Adam Smith and Karl Marx were, to put it mildly, much clearer thinkers than McMaster?chohn.
While Smith is remembered for The Wealth of Nations he himself earlier published, and constantly revised until his death, a second book – The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This writing on moral issues preceded Smith’s writings on economics - one of Smith’s earlier positions, before he wrote The Wealth of Nations, was Professor of the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University.

The opening sentence of The Theory of the Moral Sentiments states precisely that the issue Smith aimed to investigate in the book was the relation between merely individual interests and those of society in general – that is precisely the issue analysed by McMaster/Cohn and Xi Jinping. Or, in the language of the mid-18th century, Smith wanted to analyse why: ‘How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles…. which interest him in the fortune of others.’[5] However, despite devoting his entire book to the question Smith came up with no satisfactory explanation of why a human being took an interest in the interests of others. He merely concluded it was ‘in his nature’.[6] Because The Theory of the Moral Sentiments failed to answer the question it set itself it is today largely forgotten, except by historians, while The Wealth of Nations is rightly regarded as one of the most important books ever written.

What is ironic is that Smith solved the question he asked in The Theory of the Moral Sentiments in his real masterpiece The Wealth of Nations. The problem was that Smith did not realise he had solved the issue! However, the reason Smith did not realise he had resolved his own problem regarding the relation of self-interested actions and common interests flowed from a method of analysis common not only to his book on morals but to The Wealth of Nations itself.

Adam Smith’s framework

In The Wealth of Nations Smith analysed the consequences that flowed from the fact human beings engaged in the social exchange of products with each other – thereby founding modern economics. But Smith attempted to explain this objective exchange of products from ideas held by human beings – merely debating whether these ideas were inherent in the nature of human beings or flowed from ‘reason and speech’:
‘This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived… is the necessary… consequence of a certain propensity in human nature… the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human nature, of which no further account can be given, or whether, as seems more probable, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of reason and speech, it belongs not to our present subject to inquire. ‘ [7]

The reality is, of course the exact opposite. The objective social exchange of goods does not exist because of ideas, whether inherent or due to ‘reason and speech’, but ideas are created by the objective social exchange of goods. This fact, that ideas were created by social reality was of course a fundamental concept introduced by Marx.
Marx himself, in the Afterward to the Second German Edition of Capital, famously once described his own relation to Hegel by the phrase of standing Hegel ‘on his head’, that is Marx turned Hegel upside down - but exactly the same parallel exists on this issue in Marx’s relation to Adam Smith. Regarding Hegel Marx noted:
‘For Hegel, the process of thinking… is the creator of the real world, and the real world is only the external appearance of the idea. With me the reverse is true: the ideal is nothing but the material world reflected in the mind of man, and translated into forms of thought.

‘I criticized the mystificatory side of the Hegelian dialectic nearly thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But just when I was working at the first volume of Capital, the ill-humoured, arrogant and mediocre epigones who now talk large in educated German circles began to take pleasure in treating Hegel… as a ‘dead dog’. I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker… The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.’

The same process applied by Marx to Hegel applies to Smith. Smith explained exchange of products from ideas, in reality ideas were explained by the social structure of exchange of products. But once this ‘inversion’ was carried out, that is Marx eliminated the problem that Smith, like Hegel, was ‘standing on his head’ the question of the relation between individual interests and common interest is immediately solved. By tracing carefully Smith’s analysis of the issue, and Marx’s reformulation of it, it is possible to see clearly the error of McMaster/Cord on foreign policy, the fundamental error of neo-classical economics, and the superiority of Xi Jinping’s Marxist concept of a ‘community of common destiny’ – and thereby the overall superiority of Marxist analysis.

Division of labour

The title The Wealth of Nations embodied the fact that Smith wished to analyse why the ordinary people of the advanced European countries of his time enjoyed such a high standard of living compared to many other parts of the world – in summary, why the advanced European nations were ‘wealthier’ than most other parts of the world. Smith began analysing this fundamental question long before completing The Wealth of Nations. In Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence delivered in 1763, 13 years before publication of The Wealth of Nations, Smith noted, using the extremely prejudiced and racist language of his day:
‘The unassisted industry of a savage can not any way procure him those things which are now become necessary to the meanest artist. We may see this… in comparing the way of life of an ordinary day-labourer in England or Holland to that of a savage prince, who has the lives and liberties of a thousand or 10000 naked savages at his disposall. It appears evident that this man, whom we falsely account to live in a simple and plain manner, is far better supplied than the monarch himself. Every part of his clothing, utensils, and food has been produced by the joint labour of an infinite number of hands, and these again required a vast number to provide them in tools for their respective employments. So that this labourer could not be provided in this simple manner (as we call it) without the concurrence of some 1,000 hands.

‘His life indeed is simple when compared to the luxury and profusion of an European grandee. But perhaps the affluence and luxury of the richest does not so far exceed the plenty and abundance of an industrious farmer as this latter does the unprovided… manner of life of the most respected savage.... In what manner then shall we account for the great share he and the lowest of the people have of the conveniences of life.’[8]
Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence gave the answer to this question he posed, of the much higher living standard of Europe in the form in which, as The Wealth of Nations makes clear, the systematic development of the founding of modern economics was to flow:
‘The division of labour amongst different hands can alone account for this.’ [9]
This question, and the answer given, were the starting point of The Wealth of Nations. As Smith put it concluding Chapter I of The Wealth of Nations, in words summarising his own Lectures on Jurisprudence, he was asking in his great masterpiece why:
‘the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king.’[10]
Smith stated the answer, thereby creating the science of economics, in the first sentence of the first chapter of The Wealth of Nations – from which the entire rest of the book flowed:
‘The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is directed, or applied, seem to have been the effect of the division of labour.’[11]

The famous example of division of labour Smith analysed at the beginning of the The Wealth of Nations, a pin factory, in reality simply illustrated the entire process which led to globalisation. Smith analysed why, put in prosaic quantitative terms, the division of labour embodied in the pin factory raised productivity by a minimum 24,000%.
‘To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of a pin-maker: a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches... [the] business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations… I have seen a small manufactory of this kind, where ten men only were employed… Those ten persons… could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day.’ [12]

This fundamental principle of division of labour, applied to far more complex operations than pin making, created the huge international division of labour interconnecting even different continents. But it followed that as greater productivity was created by greater division of labour, therefore the more advanced the country the greater would be the division of labour, including international division of labour, on which this development and prosperity was based. Therefore, as Smith noted:
‘The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. This separation, too, is generally carried furthest in those countries which enjoy the highest degree of industry and improvement.’ [13]
This fact in realty simultaneously solved the problem of the relation between ‘individual’ interest and ‘common’ or ‘social’ interest. As Smith noted it was not on individual effort but on this massive division of labour that the prosperity and well-being of each individual necessarily depended:
‘It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people.’[14]
The prosperity of the individual, therefore, could not exist without this social division of labour and depended on it. [15] That is the well-being of the individual depended on this division of labour/socialisation of labour – whose effects were far more powerful than the efforts of the individual themselves. As Smith summarised:
‘if we examine, I say, all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that, without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to, what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated.’[16]

The result of which was therefore that the fundamental well-being of each individual depended not on himself/herself but on this social division of labour:
‘In civilized society he stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of great multitudes.’ [17]
Without this social division of labour with others, i.e. without ‘society’ or the ‘community’, human beings would still be living in the most primitive conditions, with no advanced facilities or conditions of life and with an average life expectancy of around 30 – as did early human beings. The myth of the ‘self-sufficient individual’ is precisely that – pure myth. In reality, the well-being of the individual most fundamentally depends on society.
Or as Smith noted in his earlier Lectures on Jurisprudence, which prepared the ideas of The Wealth of Nations:
‘In yesterday’s lecture I endeavoured to explain the causes which prompt man to industry and are peculiar to him of all the animals… These wants a solitary savage can supply in some manner, but not in that which is reckoned absolutely necessary in every country where government has been some time established.’ [18]
As without this social division of labour and society the individual would merely live very badly for a very short time, the interests of the individual are therefore not in the fundamental sense opposed to the interests of society, on the contrary the well-being of the individual most fundamentally depends on the development of social division of labour, on society.

Marx division of labour

Marx solved the problem Adam Smith had posed of the relation of individual interest and social interests by reversing the situation whereby Smith was ‘standing on his head’ – that is not explaining objective social structure from ideas, but explaining ideas from social structure. This simultaneously makes clear why there is no fundamental counterposition of self-interest and social interest and which is the most fundamental. By standing Smith ‘on his head’, in terms of causality, Marx solved the problem Adam Smith had entirely accurately posed but which Smith himself could not answer.
Marx, in the same way as Smith, analysed the principle of division of labour, of the pin factory which Smith had studied, that is as Marx put it: ‘division of labour… not by one person doing everything, but by many doing a little.’[19] As with Smith, Marx noted it was this division of labour which gave rise to the tremendous development of production and productivity: ‘The social power, i.e., the multiplied productive force, which arises through the co-operation of different individuals as it is caused by the division of labour.’ [20]
Marx noted, even more clearly than Smith himself, that division of labour immediately gave rise to this question of the relation between individual and general interests – the question Smith had rightly asked but been unable to answer in The Theory of the Moral Sentiments. As Marx noted:
‘For as soon as the division of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood.’
Therefore, put in general terms, the division of labour necessarily and immediately raised the question of the relation between individual and general/social interests:
‘the division of labour also implies the contradiction between the interest of the separate individual or the individual family and the common interest of all individuals who have intercourse with one another.’ [21]
But this contradiction was in fundamental terms resolved because, as already analysed, the high standard of living an increasingly advanced society, and the individuals within it, is only possible because of the huge division of labour which therefore creates the dependence of the well-being of each individual on society - the dependence of the ‘individual’ on the ‘general’ or on ‘all’. As Marx noted:
‘this common interest does not exist merely in the imagination, as the "general interest", but first of all in reality, as the mutual interdependence of the individuals among whom the labour is divided.’ [22]
This in turn created structures, including the state, which organised the relation of individual specific interests and general interests:
‘Out of this very contradiction between the particular and the common interests, the common interest assumes an independent form as the state.’[23]
The consequence, given division of labour’s fundamental role in developing productivity, was that as society develops division of labour becomes greater and greater. That is:
‘division of labour raises the productive power of labour and increases the wealth and refinement of society’[24]
Or, as Marx succinctly summarised it in the most general terms:
‘Division of labour increases with civilisation.’[25]
Such increasing division of labour precisely created globalisation, the international division of labour, or as Marx phrased it what is created is:
‘the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bound up with them.’[26]

Such international division of labour indeed creates a world community of ‘general interest’ – that is, the maximum prosperity of individuals in one country depended on production by those in other countries. Or as Marx put it:
‘only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established… and… puts world-historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones.’ [27]
Therefore, this mutual international dependence of the well-being of individuals in each country on those in other countries, creates for the first time a truly ‘globally connected’ human being. Or as Marx phrased it this produces:
‘this development of productive forces… which at the same time implies the actual empirical existence of men in their world-historical, instead of local, being.’ [28]
Such an international connection develops not only in production but also in ideas:
‘the real intellectual wealth of the individual depends entirely on the wealth of his real connections. Only this will liberate the separate individuals from the various national and local barriers, bring them into practical connection with the production (including intellectual production) of the whole world and make it possible for them to acquire the capacity to enjoy this all-sided production of the whole earth (the creations of man).’ [29]

Indeed, international division of labour is particularly clear and transparent in the sphere of ideas. No country has a monopoly in ideas – and all countries adopt other countries ideas. Human civilization could not have reached its present level without China’s four great inventions, without the contribution of British scientists (Newton, Darwin), the contribution of German scientists and mathematicians (Gauss, Einstein) etc.

But while such great ‘individual’ geniuses and inventions are rightly celebrated they were in reality themselves the product of social division of labour and the development of ideas by others which were indispensable for their own. To the present author’s knowledge nobody knows exactly which individuals created China’s four great inventions; it was the inventors of the telescope in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century who allowed the observations by the Italian Galileo that definitively destroyed the idea that the sun circled the earth and proved correct the fundamental concepts of the Pole Copernicus; if the Englishman Newton had not developed calculus and the law of gravitation someone else would have (the German Leibniz developed calculus at almost exactly the same time), Darwin almost lost his well merited recognition as the discoverer of evolution because he was so intent on collecting an abundance of evidence over more than 20 years for The Origin of Species that he was almost beaten to publication by Alfred Russel Wallace who developed the idea after Darwin but was content to publish with infinitely less supporting evidence.

In addition to these fundamental social processes both Smith and Marx’s detailed economics also flows from the implications of the processes analysed above. As this article deals with fundamental international social developments these more detailed economic issues are not dealt with here - an anslysis can be found in my book 一盘大棋? ——中国新命运解析.

Xi Jinping and the ‘community of common destiny’

Evidently Xi Jinping’s ‘community of common destiny’, and its associated concepts, are the expression in more popular language of the fundamental conclusions analysed above. Because Xi Jinping is the president of a country, speaking to a mass audience, including countries in which Marxism is scarcely understood such as the US, and he is not an academic giving a university seminar, Xi Jinping naturally does not intersperse speeches at events such as Davos or the One Belt One Road seminary with long quotations from Marx. But, speaking in language understandable to a mass, including a non-Marxist, audience Xi Jinping precisely expresses and develops these ideas of Marx.

· The idea frequently expressed in Xi Jinping’s speeches that ‘one plus one is greater than two’ precisely expresses in a popularly understandable way the fundamental concept that via division of labour productivity is increased: ‘By engaging in close cooperation and drawing on each other’s strengths to make up for respective shortcomings, we can show to the world that one plus one can be greater than two.’[30]

· The concept of ‘win-win’ is not an empty psychological ‘feel good’ phrase but expresses the fact that because division of labour, including international division of labour, increases productivity all those participating in it gain – division of labour is literally not a zero-sum game either nationally or internationally. Xi Jinping’s comments on this on the US and Africa have already been noted so here can be added his comments on BRICS. ‘The BRICS cooperation is an innovation, which transcends the old pattern of political and military alliance and pursues partnerships rather than alliances." And: "The BRICS mechanism surpasses the old mindset of zero-sum game and practices a new concept of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation."[31]

· It clearly follows from the above analysis that China supports globalisation – the international expression of the division of Labour. Again, expressed in popular form in Xi Jinping Davos speech: ‘Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean that you cannot escape from. Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible. Indeed, it runs counter to the historical trend.’[32] Or, in a counterposition widely analysed in the international media, as Martin Wolf noted: ‘‘Donald Trump, US president, asserts that “protection will lead to great prosperity and strength”. In contrast, President Xi Jinping of China insists that “we must promote trade and investment, liberalisation and facilitation through opening up — and say no to protectionism”’

· Xi Jinping clearly notes, following the analysis of Marx and Smith, that the more advanced is global development the greater the international division of labour: As Xi Jinping put it at the Beijing OBOR summit: ‘Never have we seen such close interdependence among countries as today, such fervent desire of people for a better life, and never have we had so many means to prevail over difficulties.’[33]

· Specific initiatives such as OBOR evidently constitute part of China’s practical contemporary way to promote globalisation. As Xi Jinping put it at the Beijing OBOR summit: ‘In the autumn of 2013, respectively in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, I proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which I call the Belt and Road Initiative… Four years on, over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in this initiative… Thanks to our efforts, the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit… the Belt and Road Initiative responds to the trend of the times, conforms to the law of development, and meets the people’s interests...’ And: ‘In the face of the profoundly changed international landscape and the objective need for the world to rally together like passengers in the same boat, all countries should join hands in building a new model of international relations featuring cooperation and mutual benefit, and all peoples should work together to safeguard world peace and promote common development.’ [34]

· This point clearly demonstrates that current initiatives by China such as OBOR, or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are not separate or isolated - they are interrelated by the fundamental underlying ideas of the ‘community of common destiny’ and the concepts associated with it put forward by Xi Jinping.
The current major strengthening of China’s international position noted above therefore lies precisely in the interrelation of China’s economic success, which is in turn created by the correctness of the concepts of China’s economic reform, and China’s success in the international ‘battle of ideas’ due to new practical and ideological initiatives since Xi Jinping became President. It can also be seen why the concepts put forward by the CPC, Xi Jinping, and Chinese Marxism have been shown in international discussion to be far superior and more correct than those in the West.

Xi Jinping and the development of the Marxism in China

The above points also clearly illustrate the further development and general dynamic of China’s Marxism. The ideas of ‘community of common destiny’, ’win-win’, OBOR etc are clearly formulated in concepts originated by Marx – as already analysed. But they are not simply a restatement of Marx – who naturally never developed ideas related to OBOR, current relations between China and the US etc. These concepts of Xi Jinping are an application and development of Marxism in the new period of both China and the global economy. They therefore flow from a correct analysis of the situation and dynamic both of China and the international situation. This correspondence to the practical dynamics of the international situation, and therefore their international impact analysed above, confirms that Chinese Marxism is the most advanced framework of thinking in the world today. An analysis of some economic aspects of these new conditions is made in my article IMF预言发达国家陷入大停滞 中国怎么走?

The errors of McMaster/Cohn

The above analysis makes clear the correctness of the ideas of Xi Jinping and China’s Marxism, in particular of the ‘community of common destiny’, and the errors of McMaster/Cohn, the ‘Trump doctrine’, and ideas from Western neo-classical economics which underlie them. As shown, the same principle applies on both national and international level:

· Far from their being a fundamental contradiction between the interests of the individual and the interests of society the well-being of each individual in reality depends on the massive social division of labour – on society. This naturally does not mean there are no conflicts of individual interest, but this social division of labour is far more powerful in producing the well-being of the individual than any efforts by any individual themselves – without this social division of labour the life of the individual would be ‘primitive, brutal and very short’. The maximum well-being of the individual can therefore only be achieved by developing this social division of labour – that is the fundamental interests of the individual do not contradict, but fundamentally coincide, with the common interest of developing this social division of labour. This shows on the national level not only that Thatcher’s claim that ‘‘there is no such thing as society… There are individual men and women’ is false but that society is a far more powerful force in securing the well-being of the individual than any efforts possible by that individual themselves.

· The same principle underlies the international s well as the national level. The maximum prosperity of a single country depends on an international division of labour. The more developed an economy, and the more developed the global economy, the greater is this international division of labour -and therefore a country’s dependence on it. This does not mean, of course, that there cannot be particular contradictions between individual interests of individual countries, or between individual countries and general interests, but it means that securing the maximum prosperity and well-being of an individual country coincides with the common interest of developing this international division of labour. There is, therefore precisely common international interests – an international community of interests. The interests of humanity, and of international countries, in maximising their well-being therefore lies in developing this common international division of labour. The claim by McMaster/Cohn that ‘the world is not a “global community”’ but there is simply ‘an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage’ is false. Or as Xi Jinping put it: ‘‘Mankind, by living in the same global village in the same era where history and reality meet, has increasingly emerged as a community of common destiny in which everyone has in himself a little bit of others.’ [35]

Conclusion

The practical conclusion of the above is clear. Xi Jinping is correct in the concept of a ‘community of common destiny’, and McMaster/Cohn wrong in their assertion there is no such thing as community. McMaster/Cohn merely repeat on the international level Thatcher false claim on the national terrain that: ‘there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women.’ In the clash of international ideas the Marxism of China and Xi Jinping clearly shows itself superior to the West in its thinking.
This fundamental difference in ideas underpins and helps leads to the growing influence of China analysed above. The practical implications as they affect other countries, and therefore their effects on foreign policy and relations with other countries, can be summarised simply.

For McMaster/Cohn the role of US foreign policy is simply to express US interests: ‘the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. Therefore: ‘America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.’

For China on the contrary it is to simultaneously benefit from and contribute to human society. As Xi Jinping put it: ‘Throughout 5,000 years of development, the Chinese nation has made significant contributions to the progress of human civilization… Our responsibility is… to pursue the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, so that China can stand firmer and stronger among the world’s nations, and make new and greater contributions to mankind.’[36]

These words of Xi Jinping are eloquent, but even more important they are true. China’s maximum well-being and prosperity cannot be achieved without participation in the international division of labour, both economic and intellectual, and simultaneously and reciprocally China’s maximisation of its own development benefits other countries. This is why China’s relations with other countries are win-win – and also why China’s Marxism is increasingly openly winning the ‘battle of ideas.’
Finally, on a more minor matter, this does pose an issue. Given that the ideas of Western neo-classicism and neo-liberalism are clearly wrong for the reasons given why is there the situation that some Chinese universities continue to teach these errors when China itself possesses far more advanced ideas? It is rather ridiculous that when China is globally winning the ‘battle of ideas’ such patently false ideas continue to be taught in China. This apparently corresponds to the logic that ‘China cannot be murdered so it must be persuaded to commit suicide’. While the ideas of neo-liberalism are justly losing the battle with China’s Marxist ideas and influence on the international terrain it is rather foolish and damaging such ideas are being taught in China.

However, this is not the main point. The main point, as analysed here China is winning not only the struggle for international influence due to its economic strength. It is now clearly winning in the international ‘battle of ideas’ – particularly due to the further development of Chinese Marxism under Xi Jinping.

Appendix

This article was finished in English at the end of June. Publication was delayed while it was translated and edited into Chinese. On 12 July Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, published an article also analysing the McMaster and Cohn article and US foreign policy concepts ‘Donald Trump’s clash of civilisations versus the global community’. Martin Wolf was entirely correct to understand the fundamental nature of the McMaster and Cohn article and its concepts. What Wolf did not do is to state that the most fundamental opposition and alternative to the ideas of McMaster and Cohn, and the ‘Trump doctrine’, is the concepts of Xi Jinping. China and Xi Jinping were stating these ideas as central for years before Martin Wolf. China was showing ‘thought leadership’ and the Financial Times is following.

Bibliography Marx, K. (1844). Comments on James Mill, Élémens d’Économie Politique. In K. Marx, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels Collected Works (1975 ed., Vol. 3, pp. 211-228). Moscow: Progress Publishers.
McMaster, H. R., & Cohn, G. D. (2017, May 30). America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-first-doesnt-mean-america-alone-1496187426
Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1.
Smith, A. (n.d.). Lectures on Jurisprudence.
Thatcher, M. (1987, October 31). Epitaph for the eighties? "there is no such thing as society’. Women’s Own. Retrieved from http://briandeer.com/social/thatcher-society.htm

Notes

[1] Thatcher, M. (1987, October 31). ‘Epitaph for the eighties? "there is no such thing as society”’. Women’s Own. Retrieved from http://briandeer.com/social/thatcher-society.htm

[2] McMaster, H. R., & Cohn, G. D. ‘ America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone ‘, Wall Street Journal 2017, May 30

[3] Xi Jinping, ‘Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Global Peace and Development’, 23 March 2013.

[4] Xi Jinping, ‘Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Global Peace and Development’, 23 March 2013.

[5] Smith, A. (1790). The Theory of the Moral Sentiments (1982 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc p9.

[6] Smith, A. (1790). The Theory of the Moral Sentiments (1982 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc p9.

[7] Smith, Adam. Wealth of Nations (Optimized for Kindle) (Kindle Locations 314-319). Kindle Edition.

[8] (Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, 29 March 1763 p. 340-341 – English spelling modernised)

[9] (Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, 29 March 1763 p. 341 – English spelling modernised)

[10] Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p24.

[11] (Smith, 1776, p. 13).

[12] In greater detail Smith’s analysis reads: ‘To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of a pin-maker: a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations… have seen a small manufactory of this kind, where ten men only were employed… Those ten persons… could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day.’ Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p14-15

[13] Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p15

[14] Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p22.

[15] As Smith analysed it in detail: ‘Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or daylabourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people, of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country? How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world? What a variety of labour, too, is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine, in the same manner, all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the coarse linen shirt which he wears next his skin, the shoes which cover his feet, the bed which he lies on, and all the different parts which compose it, the kitchen-grate at which he prepares his victuals, the coals which he makes use of for that purpose, dug from the bowels of the earth, and brought to him, perhaps, by a long sea and a long land-carriage, all the other utensils of his kitchen, all the furniture of his table, the knives and forks, the earthen or pewter plates upon which he serves up and divides his victuals, the different hands employed in preparing his bread and his beer, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, without which these northern parts of the world could scarce have afforded a very comfortable habitation, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniencies’
Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p22.

[16] Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p22.

[17] Smith, A. (1776). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1981 ed.). Indianapolis: Liberty Edition Volume 1 p15

[18] (Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, 29 March 1763 p. 341 – English spelling modernised)

[19] (Marx, ‘Justification of the Correspondent from Mosel’ Collected Works Vol1 p. 333)

[20] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 46-48)

[21] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 46-48)

[22] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 46-48)

[23] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 46-48)

[24] (Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, 1844, p. 240)

[25] (Marx Comments on James Mill, Élémens d’Économie Politique. In K. Marx, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels Collected Works (1975 ed., Vol. 3, pp. 211-228). Moscow: Progress Publishers.

[26] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 48-49)

[27] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 48-49)

[28] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 48-49)

[29] (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845, pp. 51-52)

[30] Xi, J. (2014). Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Global Peace and Development. In J. Xi, The Governance of China (Kindle Edition) (pp. Location 4059-4060). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

[31] Cited in ‘Xi: BRICS cooperation will usher in new ’golden decade’ http://china.org.cn/world/2017-06/20/content_41059451.htm

[32] ‘President Xi’s speech to Davos in full’ https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/full-text-of-xi-jinping-keynote-at-the-world-economic-forum

[33] ‘Full text of President Xi’s speech at opening of Belt and Road forum’ http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1046925.shtml

[34] Xi, J. (2014). Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Global Peace and Development. In J. Xi, The Governance of China (Kindle Edition) (pp. Location 4000). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

[35] Xi, J. (2014). Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Global Peace and Development. In J. Xi, The Governance of China (Kindle Edition) (pp. Location 3993). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

[36] (Xi J. , The People’s Wish for a Good Life is Our Goal, 2014, pp. Location 137-144)

Original source: https://www.learningfromchina.net/how-xi-jinpingrsquos-marxism-out-thinks-the-west.html


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