Dispatches from China

Class struggle in a classless society

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote, “The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” (Communist Manifesto, 1848)

Thirty years of change have brought more than Lamborghinis to China and laptops to the West. Today, Europe is more socialist than China, and China is more capitalist than the United State.

The days when grey-clad men and women bicycled in choreographed unity through Beijing’s streets has been replaced by 4 million cars engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken chaos.

One aspect of this metamorphosis, one which businesses should be watching, is the emergence of a new complicated urban class system. One of the phenomenons is the number of billionaires, which seems to be going up exponentially, while the numbers of rural poor is only decreasing incrementally. As you look at China today, it seems to be following a familiar pattern to us, but one which is at odds with the ideals of its founding.

Read more here in the latest issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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