Year of the Rat Spirit Prevails As China Overcomes Its Weather

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Old Communist ideals triumph over freezing adversity

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Feb 8th – China’s long ten days of extreme snowy conditions finally relented as a massive coordinated effort by the national and regional Governments together with the military enabled the nation to enjoy a peaceful new year. Snow was cleared, trains although delayed, arrived, and fuel got through to power stations to permit Chinese nationals the luxury of a few days holiday. But for sure, the Spring Festival for the New Year of the Rat in 2008 will go down in legend as one where the nation had to pull together to make it happen. Hence the headline “Communist ideals triumph”. Now that may sound Communist, and it is, however let’s not forget that the basic intellectual values of communism – sharing values, struggles and successes together – can be mighty indeed when implemented. So just to put aside ideological differences, and some of the rampant cronyism that the same system can breed – this Spring Festival was a shining example of what China can really be all about when the nation is faced with a crisis. “Capitalism with Chinese characteristics” has rarely made so much sense.

What other government, one has to ask, would commandeer commercial trains and vehicles, to divert them to where power was needed – for the good of the whole, rather than pander to the continuing profits of energy and transportation companies ? Who else would step in and cap the prices of basic foodstuffs, when rampant profiteering had threatened to drive them out of the hands of many of Chinas poorer people ? “Its not market-driven!” scream the detractors. Definately not, but its a good deal more civilised. Capitalism with Chinese characteristics, right there, instead of the starving masses without food. And during Chinese New Year?

The Chinese have a point – poverty is a problem to be shared, and collectively solved. By deliberately capping the price of fuel and basic foods, the Chinese cut the capitalists out of the system and ensured everyone ate. Thats not just politics – thats basic humanity.

As for Communism, the standard defination is “A socioeconomic structure that promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production”. You know what ? As China suffered it’s worst winter in 50 years, the mobilisation of the entire nations forces to solve the problem – were based just on that definition.

As the snows in China recede, and as the nation can bask in the joy of a new Chinese Year, the main lesson to be learnt is that the Chinese system of managing their country seems just about right. “Capitalism with Chinese characterstics” works – when the State has the power to step in and correct adversity. Having solved the problem of keeping 1.3 billion people happy during the most important social time of year and under difficult national weather conditions, the Spring Festival of 2008 may well go down in history as when global economists – and don’t forget the new World Bank Chief Economist is Chinese – start to apply more of that medicine to curb the rampant selfishness of some capitalist theory and the insane ideology of the worst of communist social control that we see with depressingly now frequent occurance in the West, and in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere in Asia in different guises. The new global economic thinking is now Chinese influenced, and we just saw it in action in China. It was impressive.

Happy New Year, China. You thoroughly deserve it.