Wednesday, February 8, 2012

China Mountain Zhang

I just finished reading China Mountain Zhang, which is a science fiction book set in the somewhat-distant future. Mars has become a colony, and on Earth the US (and global) economy collapsed, leading to a Chinese-led Communist takeover.

In the book's present, the US is a satellite of China, which has become the world's economic, cultural, and technological center; this China is still very much Communist (more so than the current China, actually). The hero is a gay American-born Chinese man, and since homosexuality is strongly condemned in this universe, it adds an extra wrinkle to his existence. It's a very interesting book, and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it (especially because I tend to read more "serious"/boring books, and it's nice to have a change of pace).

The premise is totally ridiculous however. Supposedly the book is set in the 22nd century, so the world has been Communist for centuries. In the real world, Communism has not able to last even 100 years in any country (the world's holdouts, Cuba and North Korea, have only been Communist for 60 years, and it's not very likely that in 40 years either will exist in their current state).

This is because Communism's economic system is completely unworkable, even with a highly educated and motivated worker population. Human understanding of economic processes is just not good enough to allow ANYONE to manage the economy successfully. As a result, planners end up focusing on just a very few goals (for instance, steel production), and ignoring everything else (because it's just too complicated). You end up with success in the chosen goal (a lot of steel) and disaster in every other area (environmental devastation, retarded technological progress, no consumer goods, and food shortages).

In a way, this is a good thing, because Communism also seems to go hand-in-hand with political repression, labor camps, secret police and spies, and decreased public morality. I guess we are lucky that it's an economic failure, so that only the most crazy dictator would persist with the system.

No comments:

Post a Comment