Realistic communism is capitalism ?

The Hindu reports today that West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has spoken out candidly about the practicality and inevitability of turning to capitalism for economic growth. This is bound to create intense debate all over, not least within the CPI (M).

Ganashakti, the party mouthpiece did not have a story on its front page or other linked pages, about Buddhadeb’s speech. Neither did People’s Democracy.  Perhaps they will soon update their websites with the report on the address by the Chief Minister (which incidentally was made at the foundation day of Ganashakti).

The last word on whether the average citizen is better off in the communist countries or in capitalist economies will not be heard for a long time. The ups and downs of the fortunes of people living in countries following either economic philosophy during the 20th century are well known.

The innovative and enterprising capitalists and technologists made good in the market, while communist countries appeared to struggle with inferior technologies, inefficient management, curbs on free speech and less prosperity. On the other hand, market economics caused agony, pain and perversion of politics in many countries that were coveted for their resources by unbridled capitalism and ruthless imperialists.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union, not many will venture to speak out for communism, on its impact in the economic sphere. How is it that Cuba’s healthcare system is more accessible to people, including the Americans in Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko,” than the best-in-class radically privatised care of the US system?

China’s own economic philosophy of using capitalist enterprise within a communist party framework, and its dismantling of many of the traditional communist welfare initiatives, such as healthcare for all (reported by the New England Journal of Medicine), is a subject for debate.

We can follow the debates keenly in coming days.

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