by Brennen Ryan
According to The Hurun Report, China’s population of billionaires for the first time surpassed the United States’ in August of last year. Beating the United States by 90, China is now said to have a total of 568 billionaires compared to 538 in the United States. If true, China would now have more billionaires than any other country in the world. Other publications have calculated the billionaire population very differently. For example, the United States still beats China’s by far, according to Forbes. Regardless of the exact numbers, that China sees its increasing billionaire population as a reason for national pride might seem very strange being that the Chinese ruling party still calls itself “communist,” the government claims to have a “socialist economy,” and the flag is still red. That China has a billionaire population at all and that it takes pride in this fact is yet another example of complete defeat of socialism and the total restoration of capitalism there.
It was Deng Xiaoping named as “capitalist roader number two” during the Cultural Revolution who played a key role in destroying the Chinese revolution in the 1970s and 1980s who advised “To get rich is glorious!” Real communists would never brag about getting rich nor about the number of billionaires in their country, unless, of course, those billionaires were facing a firing squad. Leading Light Karl Marx once stated that when we hang the last capitalist, he will sell us the rope. A real socialist economy would not seek to compete with the United States’ in terms of concentrating such outrageous, grotesque income and wealth. A real socialist economy would not force its people especially its vulnerable populations into sweatshops to turn out cheap goods for American consumers. Maoists used to say, “Never forget class war!” The so-called “Communist” Party of China has not. They are just on the other side now.
Like with most things, context matters. Of course, there is more to the story. Americans need not worry much about The Hurun Report’s numbers. What needs to be understood is that the total Chinese population is much larger than the total population of the United States. China once accounted for a quarter of humanity. One out of every four people were Chinese only about a century ago. China’s total population rich and poor today is still a staggering 1.357 billion compared to the United States at 316.5 million. Even if The Hurun Report’s statistics are accurate, the United States is far ahead in billionaires per capita. In other words, the United States has a greater percentage of billionaires to the general population than China. Obviously, the number of billionaires per capita is less important to a revolutionary scientist than measuring global income inequality. The Chinese will never catch up to the United States on either.
The whole exercise of taking national pride in such vulgarities has long been part of the American spirit. The American writer John Steinbeck who wrote of life during the Great Depression who stated that “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Steinbeck was right that Americans even the poorer ones identified not with the global proletariat, but the wealthy. The American population understood something that First Worldist, dogmatic ideologues did not: that they were not a proletariat and that they gained more as imperial citizens by identifying with those above them. This is the real reason socialism never took off. Stalin’s regime tacitly understood this at times too. The reason 1940s film “The Grapes of Wrath” was banned by Stalin’s government was because it showed that even the poorest Americans could afford a car, something out of reach of not only most Soviet citizens, but most people in the world.