Gas for Less
OnChiria Joan Robinson -on campus this year as a lecturer in the economics department and described as “one of the truly great economists of today” lectured tuesday afternoon about present-day China. Not at all a dry theoretician, Robinson spent her time simply and warmly concentrating on her perceptions of how the Chinese people cope in practice with their reality in time and space. The following article is an attempt by Jan Laube to capture the content of her lecture. Laube is a graduate economics student and a chevron staff member.
HE COMBINATION OF the “Great Leap”, the disastrous harvest which followed and the Chinese culture revolution, gave the propagandists a‘ great gift wi,th which to obscure developments i’n China. The recent fall, however, cast some light on events in China and make it necessary to fabricate new lives. The largely sucessful economic development of China offers an alternative model to the ex-colonies of Europe now dependent on the limited markets and an&aid of industrial nations. . The aims and requisits of economic development are mutually-supporting and intersecting elements: give the people something to eat; establish national self-respect; accumulate capital and its implicit technology. 1htl ‘lims and requisites of economic developIllt’tl t are mutLraIIy-supporting and interacting c~lt~nic~tits: give the people something to eat; ~l\t,lblish national respect; accumulate capitol and 1t4 im~~ticit technology. Thus, it was first of all the increase of agricultural surl)Ius, due to developing technology and collected through the means of rent, which was the essential element in the birth of the industrial revolut,ion. In the:‘underdetieloped” countries this surplus is consumed ,by the landlords, and increase in utilization of the surplus requires the elimination of Land reform is therefore the this consumption. necessary first stage, even though this surplus is inadequate for the development of industry and of necessity defence. The land taken from rich peasants, those who hired people to till thd’ir land, and given to’the poor I)easants tiho had to hire out their labor, had to be ro-collected into communes. For the ‘individual Itlnd holdings of a sixth of an acre were inadequate Ihe mechanization and fertilizer to sit pport nc~cessc>ry to raise productivity. Communes also tltlo~c~cl ‘1 ‘more rational division of tabor.
Funds for investment in a developing capitalist economy the funds for inyestment are obtained through the forced saving imposed by inflation. imIn the more rational ‘Chinese system, provements to the land, terracing hillsides and the drainage ditches are done during the slack season. Work points are alloted to each working member of the commune on the basis of need, amount of work clone and helpfulness. The harvest is then distributed according to these points rather than in the arbitrary fashion of inflation. The projects are generally quick-yielding so the people can see what they have done. In the USSR and the developed countries of “western world” a great deal of force was necessary to extract the agricultural surplus from the countryside.
M & M Marine 8. AM Weber
to 7 . -PM CHAFkGEX
N. at Columbia
. The Chinese, however, produced consumer and investment goods which the communes can use. Industrial goods are not neglected for it is the ,~l)l)tication of “l)ower to production” which defines d tlt4oped technology. Until 1960, Ch ina received Soviet help in the building of its industry. China paid the Soviet experts and paid for the essential raw materials, and russian withdrawal added to the cumulative effect of the disasterous harvest following:the years of the “Great Leap”. Though a great deal of useful investment was done in those years, the propaganda mills seized on the economic stress caused by these harvests and attributed them to the “Great Leap”. Russian withdrawal had a useful “side effect”. By 1963 China had developed its own technology transcending the know-how obtained from the Soviets. They had adapted the technology to fit their own needs, using ‘labor-intensive’ methods to erect projects usually done through ‘capitalintensive’ technology. It was necessary to bring the vast reserve of idle labor’into action - giving the population, at the very least, an el.ement of selfrespect.
An integral part of the Chinese development has been a break-down of old mores: in Mao’s words, the difference between intellectual and manual work, between the town -and the country and between agriculture and indus’try. . An Indian economist has offered the opinion th,at the most important difference between the industrial developed and underdeveloped countries is a scientific revolution permeating the consciousness of the population; the attitude to solving ~~roblems in daily life. It is in the attempt to graph thcl theoriring oi the intellectuals with the practice of the workers that the differences are to be ~Iiniiriatc~~. Doctors, for example, are sent into the country where they train workers in the more essential and elementary medical techniques. The paramedical workers learn to recognize what they can treat and when they have to send patients to the doctors in the city. The doctors in turn learn what the most pressing problems are and orient their efforts towards the solutions. The analytical approach is learned by the workers; the practical by the doctors. In the mean time the population in the countryside receives better medical service. The “Thought of Mao”, often given credit for such endeavors as growing cabbages, is an attempt to inculcate the Chinese people with scientific and optimistic attitudes necessary for their progress. Progress they have made - surpassing us in the solution of problems that women’s liberation has only recently p&nted out. Care should, however, be taken in transposing the Chinese model into different surroundings. The differing national character’ of different countries, due t0 differing historical experience, has to be taken into account.
See LEE’ at
,Brea kdown of mores
Bond & Varsity 385 Frederick Shop
Tops & Bottoms’ 322 ,King W Shop
In China quotas as to how much to produce is Ijroducecl and how much is sold to the government cjre decided in each commune, with the more fertile sections of the commune selling more than the less terti le.
. “Power to production” But if peasants are going to sell their produce they require goods in return. The emphasis on capital . goods in the *early twenties in Russia precluded the production of consumer goods. This and the payments mabe to peasants prodqced inflations in consu@er gddd prices. The peasants , soon: caught on, and stopped producing‘ for the* with disastrous results for russian market development. ._ i ,
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