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China no longer fears capitalism

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Anyone subjected to the turgid, interminable and self-righteous dronings of the Marxists who once afflicted the planet has to take a certain cheer from events in Beijing.

The Communist Party in China is no longer communist and not much of a party, either. Other than a determination to hold onto power, it doesn't know what it is.

The late Chairman Mao — and whatever did happen to all those "little red books" of the great man's banal thoughts? — styled himself a Marxist prophet on the order of Engels, Lenin and even Marx himself. His credentials were impeccable; through murder, starvation and mismanagement he probably killed more members of the proletariat than both Lenin and Stalin.

The Chinese leaders are trying to remake the party he left behind. What they seem to be remaking themselves into are Republicans. On its 80th birthday, the Chinese Communist Party is about to admit to membership — brace yourselves — capitalists.

One opponent astutely observed, "If these people join the party, they will use their strength to first seize power within the party and then to change the party's nature." Exactly what people said of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.

While China's president and party leader, Jiang Zemin, is willing to let capitalists into the party, he draws the line at a Western-style multiparty system. Clearly, Jiang has seen the havoc wreaked in the United States by the two-party system.

Recognizing the importance of capitalists, be they of the running dog, jackal or hyena variety, shows how far China's Communists have come.

When they took over in 1949, they killed, imprisoned or exiled business and land owners and confiscated their holdings, homes and possessions. Economically, it was pretty much downhill from there until Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward took the country back to the Dark Ages. Bicycles were considered cutting-edge technology.

By 1978, it was clear that the communist system of huge, inefficient, bloated state-owned companies and rural communes was close to collapsing of its own weight.

The government reluctantly began allowing private businesses. Ironically, many of the first entrepreneurs were the sons and daughters of the vanished capitalist class.

Because of their capitalist, bourgeois backgrounds they had been banned from the brainwashing that passed for education and barred from cushy state jobs.

Now the capitalists account for 20 percent of China's gross domestic product and private businesses are the fastest-growing sector. Jiang surely noticed also that about 110,000 of the party's stalwarts had joined the ranks of the entrepreneurs to exploit the masses by providing jobs.

China's Communist leaders once felt compelled to wear special outfits, like Mao's shapeless gray boiler suits, to show their solidarity with the struggling proletariat. (After his death, it turned out that Mao's private living arrangements had more in common with the Chinese emperors than the working class.)

Jiang welcomed capitalists into the party wearing a dark business suit, white shirt and red tie, much like President Bush.

He stood beneath a large "80," for the party's birthday, embellished with a hammer and sickle. It would be interesting to know how many people under 30 around the world know what the symbol stands for.