Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: The Significance of China in the Global Economy

Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: The Significance of China in the Global Economy


This is David Harvey and you’re listening
to the Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: a podcast
that looks at capitalism through a Marxist
lens.
This podcast is made possible by Democracy at Work.
On January 2nd, 2019, after the stock market was closed, Apple Computer announced that
it was not going to meet its sales targets
particularly in China.
There was an immediate crash in Apple’s stock,
and the following day, the stock market that
had already lost a lot of money, declined
by another 2.5%.
Now the interesting thing about this was that
it was Apple Computer sales in China, and,
of course, Apple computers are made in China,
but it also has a significant market there.
And the main, official explanation of this
was that the consumer market in China was
softening because economic conditions there
were a bit more perilous for a number of reasons:
one, it was said, was because of the Trump
assault upon tariffs, but, actually, the other
which came in small print and later reporting,
was that for some time now, in China there
had been a cutback in consumerism for a variety
of reasons.
But then it turned out, when we started to
look were much more closely at what happened,
it turns out that Apple computers were no
longer as popular as they had once been, and
it turned out that Apple’s share of the China
market had been reduced to a mere 7%.
The other 80% was covered by Chinese computer
companies with names like Huawei, others that
I have difficulty pronouncing, but Xiaomi,
Oppo, Vivo– companies that nobody had really
ever heard of, and it turned out that most
of these companies did not exist in 2010.
So there has been a huge increase in Chinese
production of iPhones, and computers, and
the like; and that huge increase is producing
at a much lower rate of cost and [with] much
easier systems to follow so that increasingly,
in about four years in China, just preceding
all of this, many cities (and I experienced
this myself firsthand) went from a cash economy
to a cashless economy within the process of
three years, where everybody just took their
iPhone, and put it against a reader, and I
couldn’t even pay for a cup of coffee while
I was there with cash, and in some places,
it becomes hard to use cash anymore.
Now I mention all of this because there is
a significance to China’s presence in the
global economy, which is not really made very
central, in many of the accounts we have of
what’s going on in the world, yet as evidenced
by this last incident, what is happening in
China is going to be pretty determinate for
global capitalism in general.
And, in fact, I want to argue: it has been
really determinate, particularly since the
crisis of 2007/2008.
In general, I want to argue that capital–
capitalism, in general, was rescued in 2007/2008
by an expansion of the Chinese economy.
And the other reason, I think, is you have
to come to terms with the size of China’s
economy, and we have come to terms with the
speed of transformation.
I mentioned, for example, that in three years,
major cities in China (the one I visited:
Nanjing) went from a cash economy to a cashless
economy in a space of three years.
There are other speedier things as well, which
I will talk about in a little bit.
But the size of the Chinese economy is something
that really needs to be recognized at the outset.
You’re dealing with the second largest economy
in the world by conventional measures of GDP.
If you take the price parity measure, which
is a measure based upon what a local currency
is worth and what it can buy, then it turns
out that the Chinese economy is, in fact,
right now the largest economy in the world.
And if the Chinese economy flourishes, then
the rest of the world flourishes.
If the Chinese economy goes into a recession,
which there are signs that it’s going into
a gentle version of recession right now…
if that is the case, then this has a tremendous
impact upon the evolution of capital.
But the other side of this, and this is why
it’s so important to think about it from an
anti-capitalist standpoint, is that China
is still formally committed to its Marxist position.
It is still governed by a Communist Party,
and while many people will kind of say the
Communist Party is, in fact, a sort of a capitalist
class party, but it’s still a communist party.
They still believe in the heritage of Marx,
of Lenin, of Mao, Deng Xiaoping, and now,
Xi Jinping, as being absolutely central to
their ambitions.
At the last Party Congress, they declared
that they plan to be a fully socialist economy
by the year 2050, and that fully socialist
economy will be characterized by equality,
by democracy, by a benign relationship to
nature, by a cultural world of beauty and
excellence, and this is all going to be accomplished
through the agency of the Communist Party.
The declaration made very clear that there
was no chance of democracy right now; that
the domination of the party was absolutely
crucial, but it was the party that was going
to be the instrument for this transition to
socialism with Chinese characteristics.
So if we are interested in the future of socialism,
I think we need to take what is happening
in China seriously and to see it with two
questions in mind: to what degree does the
future of capitalism actually depend upon
what is happening in China, and if so, what
kind of future will it be?
The second question is: will the future of
socialism be determined by what might happen
in China, by this programmatic transformation
of its own economy towards a socialist economy
with Chinese characteristics?
And I think that, actually, for anybody on
the Left, we should pay attention to this
because in a sense, we live in a world where
what Marx called the “coercive laws of competition”
play a very important role in defining who
we are.
And we are very much in competition with China,
and China is very much in competition with
us, and I think that this is one of those
things that, of course, the Trump administration
has brought forefront into our consciousness,
so that we now think about China, and have
to think about China in a more coherent way.
Now I’m not an expert on China.
I wish I knew much more about it.
I wish I knew the language.
I’ve been there a few times, and I’ve just
worked, read a great deal, and I try to follow
what’s going on in the press, but I have t say that I have not got a very clear answer to those questions.
And I have not got either a very clear analysis
of everything that is happening there, and
I think there’s a very complicated society,
but there are certain things that I think
we should look at as background to looking
at those those issues.
The first thing is that the big transition
occurred in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping and a
group of young people who actually got together
and looked at the situation and said, “we
have to change something and we have to change
it in ways which are going to actually allow
us to increase productivity in the economy
dramatically” because the economy was stagnant.
And they were faced with the following situation:
that a mass of the population in China were
living under conditions of abject poverty.
The World Bank in 1980 did a survey, and they
estimated that something like 850 million
people were living under conditions of abject
poverty in China.
Now that is one thing– the other thing that
that is important to this is that China was
surrounded by countries that were developing
very fast and improving the standards of living
of everyone very quickly.
Japan had done so, South Korea had done so,
and even more important Taiwan, which Chinese
considered this part of China, had done so.
Also Hong Kong, which, of course, at that
time was still part of China had done so,
and Singapore had done so.
So you had a Chinese diaspora out of the country
that was flourishing: becoming very, pretty
wealthy, and you had a stagnant economy on
the China mainland itself.
And I think that party leadership saw this
as a very threatening situation, leaving aside
the attacks that might come from Imperialist
powers and all of those sorts of things.
They realized, just to take Marx’s phrase,
“the world of freedom begins when the world
of necessity is left behind”, and they had
a huge gap in terms of covering the necessities
of the Chinese population before they could really start to say they were a developing country.
And it was in that context that they decided
to introduce one of those elements into the
economy which was going to become critical
for the years that followed.
That is, they were going to actually start
to make economic entities compete with each other.
There were going to introduce market forces
into the economy.
In so doing, of course, they did consult with
Western economists; Milton Friedman visited
there in 1980.
There was a considerable revision in the way
in which economics was taught in universities
so that if you go to China right now, you’ll
find very few people who’ve studied Marx.
And very carefully, most of the economics
departments are staffed by people who’ve got
Ph.D.’s from MIT, and Stanford, and places like that.
Their neoclassical economics is very well
understood in China, and so their method of
analysis of the economy started to shift;
their policies started to shift.
So there was this introduction, and whatever
you think of it, it was astonishingly successful.
If you take any of the other countries that
moved out of communism or socialism into capitalism,
you think of what happened to all those countries
that were in this ex-Soviet Empire, then you
would say that they all went through a period
of chronic disaster.
China developed very rapidly.
The World Bank estimated by 2014, that whereas
there had been 850 million people in abject
poverty in 1980, there were now only about
40 million people in abject poverty.
And most recently, China has argued that it
is going to make sure that there’s zero poverty
in the country by 2022.
So whatever you may think of this, there’s
no question that the standard of living of
people in China– their access to commodities
and goods and so on has increased very very
substantially, and that it is, therefore,
an astonishing achievement to bring 800 million
people out of poverty in a period of 20 or
30 years.
This is, I think, China’s accomplishment.
But it’s not only done that; it’s also developed
completely new ways of living, and in particular,
one thing we would see is a rapid urbanization
of Chinese society.
By the time you get to mid 1990’s there are
hundreds of cities which have more than a million inhabitants.
You now will see a rate of urbanization which
is about 15% per year, and a tremendous migration
of populations from rural areas in into the city.
There were estimates in the 1990’s, for example,
that something like 300 million people had
actually moved from the countryside into the
cities over the last 10 or 15 years.
Now, if you look at the total migration from
Ireland to the United States you’re looking
at about 30 million people or something like that.
When we start to compare what is going on
in China with what has happened globally and
what’s happened elsewhere, the speed of transformation
is enormous; the scale of it is enormous.
And let me give you here I think one of the
crucial examples, which is important for the
saving of global capitalism.
In 2007/2008, you get the global crash.
A global crash crashes the consumer market
in the United States.
The crash of the consumer market in the United
States means that those companies in those
countries feeding that consumer market are
in recession.
China, it is said, lost around 30 million
jobs in 2007/2008.
There was a tremendous labor unrest in China
during that time.
There are reports on the numbers of incidents
of labor protests in China, and during that
year a lot of companies went bankrupt; they
didn’t pay wages that they owed for six months;
people were left on the streets with nothing,
so there was a tremendous problem in China.
Yet having lost what many people said was
something like 30 million jobs– by 2009,
there was a survey done by the IMF and the
ILO to say what was the net job loss from
the crash of 2007/2008?
The net job loss in the United States was
around 14 million people, and the net job
loss in China was 3 million.
So somehow, rather, China had created 27 million
jobs in one and a half years.
Now, again, that is something which is absolutely
phenomenal, and when I was writing about this,
I was saying, “nobody’s ever heard of this
or anything before” until I started to read
further, and I read actually: China, right
throughout 2000 was creating 20 million jobs a year.
I mean, again, this is a huge transformation.
Now, in 2007/2008, they couldn’t create jobs
in the export industries because the export
industries were dead, and many of them were
going bankrupt.
So what China did was to expand something
which had been beginning in the 1990s, which
was to expand infrastructure & investment.
And I have a graph I often use to illustrate
this, which is the consumption of cement in China.
Now, cement is used in construction, so if
a lot of cement is consumed, it means there’s
a lot of construction going on, and actually,
China, after 2007/2008, tripled its consumption
of cement to the point, where in between about
2009 and 2012 China consumed more cement in
those two or three years than the United States
consumed in 100 years.
Now, living in the United States, there’s
a lot of cement consumed.
But China was consuming at an astonishing
rate, and they were building new cities, they
were building new roads and highways, & they
built a high-speed rail network– they had
zero miles of high-speed rail in 2008.
By the time you get to 2014, they’ve got around
15,000 [miles] maybe.
Now they’ve got around 20,000 miles high-speed
rail.
All of this takes a lot of materials, so China
boomed in terms of its infrastructure and investment.
Now, if you remember what happened after 2007/2008,
there was a proposal in this country to say,
“Look, we can put everything back to work
we have all of these bridges that are falling down.
We should be investing in infrastructure,
long term investments, etc.”.
But politically it wasn’t allowed to happen
because the Republicans, in particular, said, “We need austerity.
You can’t expand the budget, you can’t do
those things”, so a politics of austerity
set-in in the United States, a politics of
austerity set-in in Europe, and a politics
of austerity [set-in] in Japan.
So you have this politics of austerity in
the capitalist world saying the crisis of
2007/2008 was a debt crisis.
We’ve got to pay off the debt; how are we
going to do that through a politics of austerity?
People have to suffer in order to retire their
debt and get the economy back onto onto a good basis.
And then you look at well you know what that
meant for countries like Greece and you see
that appalling kind of politics.
The Chinese did exactly the opposite.
They said, “okay we’ve got this problem:
we’ve got all of these people milling around
with tremendous social unrest.
We have to put these people back to work;
We’ve got to create millions of jobs and do
it very fast.
We’re going to do it in construction.
And we’re going to build, and build, and build.
How are we going to pay for it? We don’t care.
We’re actually going to pay for it indebtedness.”
And the Chinese borrowed in their own currency,
not in a foreign currency, and this then allowed
them to get out of the crisis.
Now, as they got out of the crisis, of course,
if you’re building like crazy then, you need
raw materials to build, and one of the consequences
was that all of those countries and all of
those economies that were actually supplying
raw materials to China came out of the crisis
of 2007/2008 fairly quickly.
Australia, for example, provides a lot of
mineral resources to China.
A lot of Latin America does; Latin America
experienced the crisis, but not as not as
badly as you would have thought under normal
circumstances.
And so countries like Chile were sending copper
like crazy to China.
The rest of Latin America was sending soybeans.
So that’s what I mean by China saving the
global economy in the way that it did 2007/2008.
And what this meant was that China’s expansion
was critical at that time and has been critical ever since.
China’s increase in GDP has actually been
the most significant element in the revival
of the global economy since 2007/2008, but
as I’ve indicated, a lot of it was debt financed.
And the debt limit was exceeded.
The second thing that happened was that the
China was not only using debt financing, but
was having to build in a situation where they
needed consumers, so they had to start to
push very hard to build the consumer capacities
of the Chinese economy.
Now, this is something that’s very important
globally.
Because the interest of foreign capital is
not only in using China as a place to produce
low-cost goods.
There’s also an interest in China as a market.
I mentioned at the beginning that the Chinese
market was terribly important to Apple, even
though [it] no longer really is doing very
well in that market.
There are some other companies that do a tremendous
business in China.
For instance, Starbucks has more cafes in
China than it does in the United States.
And actually, the China trade for Starbucks
is huge, and if Trump messes around too much
with the Chinese, I can just imagine them
putting some sort of restrictions on Starbucks
or something like that.
And you’ll soon see US firms having a hard
time in China.
In fact, some of the automobile firms which
produce there already [are] having some kind
of complicated relations with the Chinese
authorities to the degree that this is one
of the other ways in which the Chinese authorities
can set up a counter movement to Trump’s proposal
about about the tariffs.
So the internal market in China then needs
to grow, but it needs to grow also in a certain way.
For example, if you build housing at the rate
that the Chinese build housing then, people
have to buy that housing or have to have money
to invest in that housing.
To do that, they need to be able to borrow
mortgage finance.
Now, before 2007/2008, there was very little
mortgage finance in China, but when this huge
building process began, then they had to create
new instruments so that people could finance
the purchase of housing.
Now, this is an interesting kind of thing
because then, what you see is that the financial
sector suddenly becomes an area in which money
is being expended on lending people to build
housing and apartments and all the rest of
it.
At the same time, it’s being lent to consumers
to purchase the housing and the apartment,
which means that you need very strong financial
institutions to be able to back this whole
kind of process.
Now, in the Cultural Revolution before 1978,
banks basically did not exist in China.
Banks were abolished during the Cultural Revolution
in the ordinary retail sense of the word,
so there was no banking.
They grew came back into the picture very
fast […] particularly after 1995 or so,
the bank started to play a much more vigorous
role in in Chinese society.
But, again, look at something which is significant:
what are the largest banks in the world today?
The four largest banks in the world today
are Chinese.
Now, you go from a situation in 1978, when
the Chinese banks don’t exist, to a situation
where the four largest banks in the world
[are Chinese].
The fifth largest bank is Japanese, and the
six largest bank in the world is JPMorgan,
so we like to think we have the biggest and
most powerful banks in the world, but the
Chinese have four banks which are far bigger
than anything else.
And these banks are lending money to developers,
and they’re also lending money, of course,
to consumers so the Chinese boom is also financializing
at a very rapid rate, and, again, the Chinese
economy is being transformed radically.
Now, there is, at the same time, an attempt
by the Chinese to recognize that you cannot
actually build a really vigorous economy in
the long run if the only form of industrialization
you have is the low-wage, high-labor content
forms production.
So there starts to become an interesting question
of “How do you change the Chinese economy?”
So you start to produce high-value goods.
And this is where the Chinese computer companies
and all the rest of it suddenly come into the picture.
And, again, notice the speed with which this
happened.
A lot of Chinese entrepreneurs, and Chinese
scientists, and engineers, and so on had training
in the United States.
Many of them had worked for Apple and Google,
and in the computer companies, and the like
of Microsoft and so on.
And there was an interesting sort of debate
within China about, “How can we create the
equivalent of a Chinese Silicon Valley?”
And if so, “How would we do it, and what
would we do?”
Now, here we’re going to go into something
else which is crucial in the Chinese case:
one of the big misunderstandings about China
is that everybody thinks of it as a highly
centralized economy.
It is not– it’s actually an incredible machine
in which centralization and decentralization
work together.
Essentially, the party in Beijing proposes
something.
The rest of the country runs around and everything
is decentralized, and people try to satisfy
what it is that the central government is
asking.
So in a sense, the central government proposes,
but it’s the localities that do the disposing,
and; therefore, the decentralization becomes
very very significant.
And the method the Chinese use is, if they’ve
got a problem, then it gets farmed out in
a certain way.
So people say, “We’ve got a problem”,
and all of the localities, and all of the
cities, and the regional governments are invited
to solve this problem.
And one of them then sets up and solves the
problem and then the central government says, “Oh!
Down in this place, they solved it this way;
therefore, everybody has to do what that solution is”.
And to do that you need local entrepreneurs
who are going to be very active, and actually
what you find in China is that the localities
are very insulated from each other.
They form competitive entities within the
totality of the Chinese economy, and they’re
competing with each other.
Now, the mayors of a local city don’t get
elected– they get appointed by the Party.
The average length of tenure of a mayor is
three and a half years; let’s say four years.
So you’re a mayor for four years, and at the
end of four years, you’re going to be evaluated.
You’re in the Party, and the Party is going
to look at what you’ve done.
At the end of four years, there’s this spreadsheet
of achievements.
How much did you grow the local GDP?
How did you do in terms of ensuring social
harmony?
Actually, it turns out, as somebody told me,
there’s now a spreadsheet of about 40 items.
Early on, there was only about 7 or 8 items.
One of them was: “How much did you grow
the local economy?”
So as a local mayor, you come in, and you’re
appointed, and you’ve got four years to grow
the local economy.
And if you do a good job, and you grow the
local economy real well, and you maintain
social harmony, people say, “Ah, ok. You’re a good mayor of this place.
There’s a bigger city over here, maybe you’d
like to become mayor of this bigger city”.
And that way you can make go up the hierarchy,
and you may end up in the Central Committee
in Beijing, and join the party apparatus at
its great heights.
But in those four years, you’ve got to go
like gangbusters to try to make things happen,
and whenever there’s something going not necessarily
on ideas coming from Beijing, you would seize
upon an idea which seemed to work locally,
and if it works locally, then the Beijing
would look at it, and say, “Oh, that’s a
good idea.”
Well, an entrepreneur in particular, who had
experience of Silicon Valley and all the rest
of it said to the Beijing government, “Why
don’t we create a kind of a space in the city
which is going to be all about innovation
and incubators for all of these new electronics
companies and the like?”
Now one of the things a central government
can do is clear a space.
You don’t have a problem with that in China.
So Beijing, just in six months, basically
evicted everybody from a particular area,
and they created this space called the “Avenue
of the Entrepreneurs”.
And they put together this whole kind of organization
of startup incubator spaces.
They put in facilities, they put in all of
the paraphernalia you might need, and then
it turned out that, of course, one of the
big things that you would have to do…
China was having problems of very high rents
on spaces of that kind, so the government
basically said, “Okay we’ll turn it into
a space of zero rent, so that you don’t have to pay any rent.”
So they set up this incubator space.
It was highly successful in adapting and becoming
an entrepreneurial space, which was extremely
competitive, and, in fact, involved themselves
in what they call a “copycat culture”.
That is, there’s absolutely no respect for
intellectual property rights in that space.
If somebody has a good idea, other people
would steal it immediately.
So if you had a good idea, you had to act
upon it very fast because if you didn’t act
on it very fast, somebody else would take
it, and somebody else would act on it.
So this is an extremely dynamic situation,
and in this particular space in Beijing, this
sort of thing went on, and they very quickly
started to develop all kinds of new phones
systems, new structures for utilizing it.
So you would go through the different phases
of innovation, diffusion, implementation in
a very short space of time.
And this created the equivalent of a Silicon
Valley, and it was done in about three years,
but it had a very different philosophy to
it than Silicon Valley.
In Silicon Valley, stealing other people’s
ideas is not good.
I’ll read you something from somebody who
is part of this as to what the culture was
like in China, and it’s rather scary. Let me read it to you.
This is from this book about AI superpowers,
which is about the way in which China has
positioned itself to be the only challenger
on artificial intelligence to the United States within the global economy.
So, this is what he says: “Silicon Valley’s
entrepreneurs have earned a reputation as
some of the hardest-working in America: passionate
young founders who pull all-nighters in a
mad dash to get a product out and then obsessively
iterate that product, while seeking out the next big thing.
Entrepreneurs there do indeed work hard, but
I’ve spent decades deeply embedded in both
Silicon Valley and China’s tech scene, working
at Apple, Microsoft, & Google before incubating
and investing in dozens of Chinese startups.
I can tell you that Silicon Valley looks downright
sluggish compared to its competitor across the Pacific.
China’s successful internet entrepreneurs
have risen to where they are by conquering
the most cut-throat competitive environment on the planet.
They live in a world where speed is essential,
copying is an accepted practice, and competitors
will stop at nothing to win a new market.
Every day spent in China’s startup scene is
a trial by fire, like a day spent as a gladiator in the Colosseum.
The battles are life or death, and your opponents
have no scruples.”
Now, this is the world which creates these
new companies which did not exist before 2010/2011,
but which then sudden sweep in and take 40%
of the China’s market in mobile phones.
This is the kind of world which is being constructed there.
Now, this explains something to me; this copying
economy, which, of course, is one of the things
that is very upsetting to US entrepreneurs
because there’s no defense of intellectual
property rights internally within China, and
not very much respect for intellectual property
rights outside of China.
But this guy then goes on to talk about the
way in which this alternative digital universe,
which is being created then becomes the standard
by which everybody is evaluated.
As I mentioned, I sometimes visit Nanjing.
The second year I was in Nanjing, I went to
the local planning office, and there was a
huge exhibition there, which is about creating
a Silicon Valley culture in Nanjing and how
they were going to do it.
And, in effect, the central government (when
they looked at what happened of the entrepreneurs
in Beijing) basically turned to all of the
cities in China and said, “Okay, do this.”
Now, what this does, of course, is to start
to say that China is going to start now to
move into high-tech artificial intelligence,
all those kinds of value-added activities.
And this is, in effect, what has happened,
and we now have a situation… (which, I think,
it was indicated by this Apple thing that
I started about) …and now we have a situation
in which Chinese competition in these areas
has become so fierce and so good that actually
the United States is, I think, seriously threatened
in terms of its hegemony in many of these areas.
For instance, the one big company is Huawei,
and you may have read that the executive of
Huawei was arrested in Canada at the behest
of the United States for trading with Iran,
and there’s obviously something going on here,
which is rather more than just simply a trading
with Iran kind of problem.
But Huawei has done a great deal of innovation.
Now, there’s something called 5G: the fifth
generation of systems which handle mass data.
Huawei has been way ahead in terms of actually
developing the 5G network and 5G technology.
Now, other companies can’t compete technically.
Now, the United States has argued that we
should not invest in this technology because
it has within it the capacity for the Chinese
government to listen in on everybody’s conversations,
and that; therefore, it is not secure, and
there’s a security problem, and; therefore,
there can be no guarantee that this network
will actually work in the way which will be
insulated from utilization by the Chinese
government.
So this is the argument the United States
is making, and on that basis, the US is banning
the utilization of their 5G technology.
The same thing has been happening in other
countries.
They persuaded, I think, Australia and New
Zealand.
They’re trying to convince the Europeans.
In fact, the British are now kind of investigating
Huawei’s technology over this security question,
but most of the rest of the world is taking
the Huawei technology.
So, again, notice the speed of this.
We were thinking of China as a country and
an economy, which is about low-wage labor.
And it still is a very important low-wage
industrial economy, but since 2010, in effect,
China has suddenly moved into this area, and
within the space of about eight years, has
positioned itself to be a major competitor.
So, if you take the ten top high tech companies
in the world, four of them are now Chinese,
and that was not the case in 2011.
So this is the Chinese model in motion.
It is very fast, it is very quick, it is backed
by government, and it is has mixed in with
it strong government interventions, but it’s
also highly decentralized in a way in which
that entrepreneurial spirit that I’m talking
about (entrepreneurial culture) has become
absolutely central to what you might call
almost a gladiator capitalism, which is emerging
in the Chinese context.
Now, I think at this point, we have to ask
the question: “Is this the future not of
China, but is this the future of capitalism?”
Capitalism has historically grown, usually
through uneven geographical development.
A place develops, and becomes hegemonic.
If I was giving a talk of this sort back in
the 1980’s we would be talking about Japan
and we would be talking about West Germany.
As it was at the time that these were the
prime economies, and everybody had to do what
the Japanese are doing, so everybody started
talking about just-in-time production systems
and all the rest of it.
By the time you get to the 1990’s, Japan has
fallen into crisis, Germany is mixed up with
its kind of reunification, so who’s top dog
in the 1990’s?
Well, we have the Washington Consensus, which
is basically the United States emerging in
the Clinton years as a growth economy with
the dot-com economy, and all this kind of stuff.
And so, the US starts to become top dog, and
basically the US says to everybody, with the
the end of history and all the rest of it,
“Everybody has to be like us because we’ve
got the answer to to how capitalism should
or should not be.”
Okay, there’s a there’s a economic crash of
2001, there’s then a housing bubble and then
the crash of 2007/2008 and the question of
who’s top dog right now and who everybody
should copy is becoming really an interesting
competitive global scene.
And you can start to see the emergence of
these different regional hegemons.
There’s the China circuit, the North American
circuit, and the European circuit, with Japan
uneasily in the middle of a lot of this.
So, here we have a situation where the Chinese
are beginning to move into the the top dog
position, and if they move into the top dog
position, you will then ask yourself, “What
kind of capitalism is this going to be about?”
And that’s where the artificial intelligence
comes in because the Chinese have decided
that artificial intelligence is the future.
Now, what is artificial intelligence about?
Well, it’s about, actually, finding a way
to remove labor from the production process
and this is I think then the big question
is: “What’s going to happen to labor?”
And that, I think, I will deal with in the
next program.
Thank you for joining me today you’ve been
listening to David Harvey’s Anti-Capitalist
Chronicles, a Democracy At Work production.
A special “thank you” to the wonderful
Patreon community for supporting this project.

100 Replies to “Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: The Significance of China in the Global Economy”

  1. You can help us keep this podcast going! Become a patron of Anti-Capitalist Chronicles and support the project: https://www.patreon.com/davidharveyacc

  2. The Constitution of the United States of America is all we need It is the best piece of the written word of mankind . It is the enlightenment the of the human race .If the U.S can get back to its constitution and away from socialism and the socialistic hold on the market economy. America can again be free .

  3. Wow, "Democracy at Work" is the name for a marxist podcast? Marxism is the least democratic way of running an economy. Quite a lie coming from this guy.

  4. China is no way a socialism society, let alone communism. China is generally a society of state led capitalism.

    Inside the leadership they know very clearly and accurately about that and Mao has been recognised as the genuine leader who truly modernised China's social structure by violent revolution.

    Ironically when they look at India, while they know exactly why India has no hope to effectively modernise its social structure and some leader like Mao might be really needed, they avoid supporting Maoists in India all the way in order to avoid India becoming another modern competing power. That just proves that they definitely know what inherent advantage they are having in another way.

  5. China and Anti-Capitalism ?? xaxaaxaxaxaxa. The only reason I clicked on this rediculous channel is to point that out.

  6. I clicked here because I noticed words "anti-capitalist". Then I noticed that on Patreon comrade Harvey is trying to raise capital. Anti capitalist asking you to send your capital to him. Why ? Maybe because capital is evil and comrade Harvey is the saint angel who will help you to get rid of this evil. All hail to comrade Harvey ! Send him your capital now !

  7. Huawei was founded in 1987, Alibaba 1999, Tencent 1998…what does he mean by these companies didn't exist before 2010.

  8. A Marxist praising Chinese "gladiator" capitalism is pure Bolshevik!! Belt and road infrastructure is not helping to stabilize the Sudan. China is going to be just like the Americans. This guy is talking about appointed mayors (0 democracy) like it's a new innovation and something to be applauded. Btw, how is belt and road helping North Korea?

  9. China has achieved many of these impressive numbers because they believe life is cheap. Rather than incubating innovation, they exploit (steal) innovations of the west and copy them. This "gladiator capitalism" is ruthlessly criminal and that is why it will ultimately fail. The risk taking entrepreneurial west creates within the confines of the law. China copies with disregard for the law. China will sacrifice as many individuals as necessary in service of the group. If they defeat western capitalism, it seems to me that they destroy the source of greatest innovation.

  10. Capitalism hasn’t been since 1913 at the implementation of the federal reserve system so dear sir please stop your BS

  11. The economy o China leaped forward under Deng Xiao Ping because the US earth resources satellite found oil at the bottom of South China Sea that would make money for all nations about the sea. American oil companies got the tights to exploit that oil and market it as in Viet Nam. Deng gave that money to Chinese entrepreneurs and with manufacturing tech givn by Richard Nixon, China began to leap forward at 20-25% a year. China is now the biggest producer of gold, replacing South Africa. Deng was a follower of President Liu Shaoqi who was murdered by Marshal Lin Biao. The military is the power and forces the imposition of Marxism. Show me any country controlled by a military what knows how to run a country. They kno only how to lie and kill.

  12. Their migration into the cities,not great , they live in cage type dwellings with no toilet. On utube, ,they showed a dishwasher living in one of many of the. They take the farmlands and don’t compensate for it much. But I didn’t see any homeless, was there 2 weeks ago. Also January 1 some of the rules for China visas changed, I had horrid time on my departure. Make sure you check.

  13. No one outside the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party knows what’s going on in China because they’ve never told the truth, especially about economic statistics. Love from Australia 🇦🇺

  14. Greece was always headed for bankruptcy and it never met the standards to enter the EU. Love from Australia 🇦🇺

  15. So who’d rather live in China than the States or Australia? Can’t see many hands go up! Capitalism has brought freedom and real happiness. Where has Communism or Socialism done that? Love from Australia 🇦🇺

  16. The chinese economy is no longer in the phase of copycat which was common decades ago, now has moved to another phase of innovation and R&D, that is why chinese company Huawei 's 5 G technoledges is far way ahead of the USA counterpacts.

  17. One of the things about the intellectual rights and patents is that it is making it harder to innovate here. I bet good money that Apple is still collecting royalties from VisiCalc. There is music from the 50s and 60s that from old copyrights would have been public domain that ASCAP is still sucking up fees. Think about what if patents ran as long as copyrights, would cars have disk-brakes or variable speed windshield wipers? Probably not. One had to wonder what tech in the US would look like if things like VisiCalc weren't an economic drag on innovation. What we have here is about keeping things the same and collecting rent. With the lack of a capital diversity — meaning multiple investment sources — there isn't a lot of experimentation either. Thanks for a good video.

  18. Love the content. The format is good but could be better. Maybe a conversation instead of a lecture could be used at some point. I can't wait to see what the future holds for China and for us here in the US.

  19. That was interesting for we who find it hard to visit China ourselves. We didn't know that Chinese companies are themselves producing computers, cell phones and other electronics I assume, so that it's harder for US companies to sell their electronics. We also didn't know that China is becoming a cashless society.

  20. You have a lot of "freedoms" in US, but what has it brought to your government. Your government is continuous fighting wars for 70 yrs. and keeping 900 bases all over the world. You may have a lot "freedoms" but in your relationships with others, there is no "freedom" of speech and choice. i.e. if you don't like some leader, out he goes or worse, is killed off.

  21. Here me out. China is being ruthlessly capitalist to make capitalism reliant on it. A country too big to fail. When they reach this point they pull the plug. Capitalism collapses. International revolution happens

  22. STOP DEADLY 5G – 5G IS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO ALL LIFE ON EARTH! NO TO 5G!

    NO GREEN NEW DEAL WITH 5G! STOP DEADLY 5G MICROWAVES FROM FRYING LIFE ON EARTH!

    WE MUST STOP 5G BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

    I want to bring to your attention one of the intentions of the Green New Deal that needs to be deleted because it is encouraging the worst invisible pollution there is: 5G, smart meters, etc. Here is what the Resolution says. You will find it starting on Line #14 on page 7:

    14 (D) building or upgrading to energy-efficient,

    15 distributed, and‘‘smart’’ power grids,

    16 and working to ensure affordable

    17 access to electricity;

    So the Green New Deal is promoting "smart" power grids which include "smart meters" and 5G. As you know, smart meters have not been approved. Smart meters have no surge protectors to stop unnecessary surges of energy to travel through your wires to your appliances of which over 400 fires and explosions (including a few in Paradise California) have already been proved to be started by the meters; PG&E had to finally admit before a state senate committee that more than 43,000 of its digital meters have suffered from various problems — 9,000 didn't work and another 23,000 meters were installed incorrectly.

    No more Privacy Rights: Meters gather private data 24/7: Digital meters can tell and record what television show or DVD you are watching, what you are doing on the computer, what appliances you are using and when of which utility companies have admitted that they sell to other corporations. It's called Corporate Surveillance. They have even admitted that they make more from selling the data than from what your electricity bill amounts to. Furthermore, a remote shutdown can occur as well as being able to control your appliances, including the computer and other appliances. This includes if your neighbor has a meter and you don't. Your neighbors meter can gather data and shutdown your appliances as well.

    Very easy to hack.

    Costs double and triple: A woman who lived in Fremont, CA was astounded when her electricity bill was $2,000 a month after a meter was installed. She and her family were used to paying around $500.

    Can cause Cancer, possibly ADD, ADHD, AutoImmune diseases and a plethora of other illness: The radiation levels cause cancer as well as "leaky brain" because the frequency breaks the blood barrier in the brain. I'm sure you're aware of these problems.

    So the Green New Deal supports 5G is not all it’s cracked up to be. There are a lot of good things in it, but there are some resolutions that need to be changed or they need to be clarified because they are too vague and can do more harm than good.

    I cannot and will not support it. I think you should, reach out to Cortez and any other politician and inform them of the dangers of smart grids, how many hundreds of law suits are out there against them, and how this segment in the Green New Deal is NOT green at all, but life-threatening in the long run, and not needed. This segment needs to be deleted.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-04/retired-general-warns-against-letting-china-dominate-5g-networks

    http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/un-staff-member-5g-war-humanity

  23. To suggest that copying (IP theft) was not an integral part of the rise of the original Silicon Valley, indicates a very naive understanding of how the US works.

  24. and very important the Chinese Goverment don't believe in faith. They don't have the problems between christs, moslems or jewish beliver. And they spend a lot of energy that faith would not be a probelem in the Chinese future. Maybe this is better as the words on the Doller: In God we trust……sorry please misunderstood.

  25. I had no idea China was so on top of the game. Gladiator capitalism, I like that term… Could we have capitalism with a social conscience?

  26. I am really curious to see where a world-leading power that is actually trying (unlike the retro protectionism US) can take things and how the world will arrange around it.
    What about climate change? genetics and AI, recently space programmes? I am looking to China for this, not the USA. And with the final sentence of this show: Wher does this move capitalism? What happens if the #1 economy in the world doesn't need labour anymore and becomes actually socialistic, if that is possible?

  27. 30:34 That seems like some moral hazard for the local governments to make those four years look really good on paper. I have to wonder if this is what leads to a lot of Chinese shadow banking.

  28. I remember a wise teacher that once reminded us that the Chinese saw what happened in Russia and realized it was more important to give people economic freedom first than to give them Democracy. Western capitalism doesn't stand a chance against the Chinese government. Wonderful lecture and beautiful stated.

  29. I saw a post on the "hidden prisons" in China, with "Muslim prisoners, "so called terrorists", Christians. So one can only think that its only "atheism" is only acceptable to them and not those with "Religious Beliefs". They also operate on "Credit points", which I find to be quite controlling.

  30. Yes, capitalism is horrible, give it to us Iranians, we'll dispose of it properly, you can have whatever the hell it is we have, and don't worry about giving it back, we'll be just fine.

  31. Not to worry – the British will find a way to somehow undermine China until it collapsed upon itself.
    Past is present.
    China's manufactured industries are not naturally quality based. Shit won't last.
    I'm not worried. I didn't worry about Ivan as well.
    And I certainly won't let an old dried up man make me worried.

  32. Both are extremist and anti-humqnity. That ideology is no more believed but used to maintain the exisiting system and previleged aristocrat

  33. By far, this is the best one I even viewed talking about Chinese economy, government role, crisis solving, competition from a western expert.

  34. It's not Communist, Democratic, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, and nationalism.
    You can call all you wanted.
    But there's no clue about what it is.
    Rather in reality is called NEW FUSION political system. Getting the best of all political system in one fusion reaction in action.
    While avoiding the worst of each old political systems.

  35. Did Xi really literally say that? 2050 true socialism? Never pay attention to politics. So never heard of that, in fact nobody around me ever talked about that, but i am Chinese living in China and thinking we are socialism already.

  36. I have seen some videos about Chinese construction which put forth the idea that the construction is terrible and it falls down in 2 years. If the construction is useless will that eventually have an effect on their economy?

  37. That was very informative, thank you. If America attempts to become a cashless society there will be riots in the streets. Giving banks that much power and the ability to track every dollar spent hasn't passed the sniff test yet.

  38. Professor,
    Thank you for your insights. At the end of your podcast you said that China believes AI is the future. And that AI is the removal of labor from production. Does it seem odd to you that the nation with the largest production force in the world has this goal? If the question is what will happen to labor after AI then China must by definition have the largest exposure to this problem. Thank you.

  39. Demon bureaucracy big difference between capitalism and communism social justice and democracy is a fake economy full of corruption that actually demonises great China mother China the dictatorship from America like to stick up dictatorship through demonizing deception clearly making it and Hysteria by speculating inaccurate information and knowledge of the past and the present and the future consumer conception

  40. That's what you call deception 1978 Hong Kong was not part of China as it was rented out to the capitalist to the British imperialism mileage sing along filling shilling coins

  41. China is a capitalism under communist rule. None of Chinese know what is it exactly Only thing chinese care about is get rich and better life.

  42. Nobody is talking about US government accusing Huawei of spying. Or arresting daughter of Huawei founder and deputy chairwoman of the board and chief financial officer of Huawei. Or US taxes.

    There is huge role of Chinese patriotism in Apple decline of sales in China. They simply want revenge. You trying to fuck us? We can do it to you too. It can go even further if US administration continue all this shit. What would happen if China government simply decides they don't want to produce Apple products? Where would Apple move production lines? It would collapse Apple. What would US do? More taxes? Put sanctions on China? Bomb them?

    In my country there is saying that goes something like this "Stick has two ends" You are holding stick but that same stick can be used on you too.

  43. As much as Capitalism is a problem, this podcast while being interesting illuminates something interesting about socialism and Marxism. Regardless of whichever system you use, this is all about money based economics, consumer economics, competition and most importantly, a complete disregard for nature? Benign? Wow. Almost nowhere in the discussion about the transformation of the Chinese economy was the effect on nature discussed? Essentially an injection of more than 800 million consumers boosted that economy, but at what cost? And then there is 5g. No discussion anywhere on the issues of increased radiation (yes I know what we currently have is bad enough) and the effect to the biosphere. Everything is all about competition. Then the shift to AI, and it's impact on jobs. We have to move to a system beyond ALL the isms, and away from GDP and competition.

  44. At beggining of 90's some US politician or maybe economist, I don't remember" said "China is biggest player in history of world" Now we will see how big is biggest.

  45. Please don't compare the weaknesses of the West with the strengths of China. I chinese am ashamed of the Chinese who say such silly things. And please don't speak ill of foreign countries. It's very impolite.

  46. Excellent presentation on China despite being humble about not being a China expert!!!
    China is heavily demonized just because the party running it is called "communist" and Marxist based..! What happened after USSR becoming a democratic country.. ? Yet it is still being heavily sanction by the west..!!
    Conclusion: "democracy" is just the pretext to demonize China and Russia just because this two countries rise are NOT in the western interest. !!!

  47. These people celebrate China´s huge corporations, as if this country and the oligarcs in power were anti-capitalist, when in reality China has become a huge capitalist economy, and crony-capitalism, the worst. What a contradiction.

  48. The last a few sentences are troubling me. What would capitalism be, if the labor to be take away from the production. Feeling scared a bit.

  49. He was reading from "AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order" book by
    Kai-Fu Lee.
    https://www.amazon.com/AI-Superpowers-China-Silicon-Valley-ebook/dp/B0795DNWCF

  50. Another knowledgeable person on China is Prof Martin Jacques. He has several interesting lectures on Youtube.

  51. You can't really compare China''s response to the 2007/08 crisis with western economies. China's economy still had/has huge scope to grow compared to the mature economies so it could double it's national debt to support it's economy knowing there was a good chance the size of its economy would also double within the next 7-10 years.

    If a developed country doubled it's debt it would take over 40 years without austerity to reach pre crisis debt levels.

  52. "The Trump ASSAULT".. okay I can see where this garbage is going already and Im just 1.30 into the video.
    So if a leader of a country who mentions his own country is not getting a fair deal and so wants to change it somewhat its called an assault, rather than politics and business deals..

  53. So, lets see now, Chinese starting making computers/laptops etc,I Phones et al, a few decades ago and the West has been making them for a lot longer, so when Donald Trump dares to suggest that China has been stealing technology is he wrong?.

  54. For being one of the most prominent Marxist theorists, Harvey seems to have sacrificed a lot to neoliberalism. His whole argument about China being somehow different is just there's more state investment. At this point he is not arguing a qualitative difference with capitalism, only a quantitative one. Ian Bremmer has a much more interesting idea of how China's state capitalism is of a different variety which Harvey never even suggests.

  55. I am an american born chinese. As the 1st generation born here I am so lucky my parents instilled me with the virtues of sacrifice, commitment, and honor. I believe this country still has those ideals, but they have been corrupted to serve greed. So many in this country only honor the dollar and commit to the sacrifice of others for personal gain.

  56. as soon as Trump realised chinese communists are better at capitalism and corporate corruption than the western capitlast pigs he backed down

  57. only difference between chinese Communist one party dictatorship and Western Capitlast 'democracy' is that China dont go through the overchoreographed farce of elections as in West where the winner is elected by mainstream media and murdochs crim global empire. The West fast catching up with one party dictatorship Only neoliberals and bankers elected

  58. democracy in west implies that rich are as disempowered as the 90% which as we know is complete bullshit because all power in hands of Wall St and global billionaires Once they own the media as they do they are in control. The power of corp propaganda is incredibly underestimated and dismissed. Population is too braindead to vote for whats good for them instead they vote for the so called hyperindivual souldead materialism promoted to death in mass media even though they have less and less wages ie destroying themselves ie destroying the working class

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