Canadian Mark Carney who is the current Governor (director) of the Bank of England has warned that as wages in the west continue to stagnate and more jobs are replaced by automation and so-called artificial intelligence, that consequently, the ideas of Karl Marx will become increasingly attractive to the western underclass. Carney makes a good point, except for the fact that while he correctly identifies the problems of advancing technology benefiting the owners of the means of production rather than the proletariat, he fails to realise that the solution to creating a moderately prosperous society in an increasingly robot driven world is already being implemented in China and has been for a long time.
The Chinese model of market socialism that was first articulated by Deng Xioping and has since been expanded for the needs of the 21st century in Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era offers a practical solution to the problem of increasing living standards in an age where fewer human workers are necessary. According to the Chinese model, enterprise and entrepreneurialism is not only allowed but encouraged, arguably more so than anywhere else in the world. However, the profits from the fruits of these enterprise remain centrally regulated, thus insuring that the capital derived from Chinese invention and labour is reinvested into Chinese society and the Chinese people.
The critical element of the Chinese model is that the phenomenon of capital flight which is such a widespread problem in the west, is tightly monitored due to China’s strict rules about capital outflow from the country. Because of this, China is well prepared for an age when fewer Chinese will be in factories but more will be using modern technology to invent the next generation of modern technological marvels. Because the profits created by automation and artificial intelligence will be sustained, circulated and re-invested within China just as the profits created by the human hard already are, there is no danger of mass poverty among Chinese workers when more and more robots take the place of human workers.
In this sense, China has both a built-in safety net for its people and a means that actually encourages people to become more intellectually and mechanically creative, just as machines will largely supplant the human time and effort needed to manufacture existing products. In the west by contrast, there is no real safety net for the unemployed, specifically in countries like the US, UK and Canada. In the western world, when a man or woman is replaced by a machine, they are left with nothing. Furthermore, while China encourages an attitude of enterprise and invention once associated with the United States, the western countries continue to increase bureaucracy, regulations and restrictions just as China is reducing such things.
Finally, China’s world-leading education system gives Chinese the tools necessary to become world leading originators of new products, ideas and technological systems while the western education systems, particularly those funded by the state continue to fall further behind.
In such societies, Marxism will in fact become increasingly attractive as the outdated capitalist system fails to produce anything even approximating an equitable distribution of national wealth. But this does not mean a return to 1848, 1917 or 1949. What it means is that people in the west who have been betrayed by their own leaders ought to look to the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping and the current success and intellectual genius of Xi Jinping in order to try and make their countries moderately prosperous again.