“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” -Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto (published 1848)
I firmly believe that what is quoted above is a universal truth–a truth without any exception in any place at any time. This quote is why I call myself a ‘Marxist’ and until ‘the history of class struggle’ truly becomes ‘history’ I will continue to call myself a Marxist. In China, the class struggle is just that: a class struggle. It’s is not complicated by race or religion as it is in America or in Israel . No, in China, there is one race, there is no official religion, the struggle is between rural and urban. There are 1.3 billion people in The People’s Republic of China. 300 million of them live in cities and 1 billion live in rural China.
In a previous post I wrote on gentrification so I’m assuming that my devout followers know what that is already; but, have you heard of it’s ugly cousin called ‘white flight’? Cliff’s Notes version: black people move into a city, white people move out and take their money with them (why they have the money is another story) leaving the city impoverished (a la Detroit). Anyway, the same thing has happened in China. We’ve already established that China is a racially homogenous society, so ‘how is white flight applicable here?’ you are asking. If we call it ‘rural flight’ instead does it make more sense? The people who could afford to leave the countryside during the period of rapid development in China did leave; leaving rural Chinese villages impoverished. As an interviewee put it: rural flight left only “old people and babies” in rural China. Thus, solidifying everyones places in Chinese modern society forever.
Today the struggle between urban and rural in China could be interpreted as a struggle between the producer and the consumer. The consumers don’t care about the well being of the producers yet demand to consume more and more (more than their fair share) and the producers are simply trying to maintain their meager living by producing more and more to keep up with the demand of the consumer (if you understand marx and you understand supply and demand, this will sound very familiar to you). The problem is, having to produce so much for so little disincentives producers–farmers for example– from producing the best quality product (food). It’s supply and demand gone wild–it emphasizes quantity over quality–and this is NOT what Adam Smith wanted. I bet Adam Smith’s descendants are saying: “I don’t think my father, the inventor of capitalism, would be too pleased to hear about this”.
So in response to this mess (i.e. large quantities of unsafe food) there is a movement of urbanites back to the land. They’re producing smaller quantities of foods grown with care (i.e. no chemicals, pesticides, GMOs, etc.) and they are doing this because they care about their bodies, and the land, and the air way too much to let the monstrosity that is the neoliberal market economy LITERALLY KILL THEM.