I am writing this post because of a conversation I had with a comrade some time ago. He was saying that we (communist) shouldn't support a certain group (the Maoist Communist Party of China) because "they support capitalism." What he was referring to was point ten of their basic political program where it states:
"All privately owned enterprises and companies that do not rely on selling out the state, opportunism or gross exploitation, and do not harm the welfare of the public, can carry on running as before. At the same time, the law of the state protects the right of every person who wishes to engage in small-scale private businesses and will provide help when necessary."
But if one actually reads the language we can see that this is not supporting capitalism as much as recognizing that you can't destroy every business over night in a revolution. Also this was a moot point for two reasons; one being that the CPC has already opened up corporatist capitalism and two is answered by the MCPC which states in point one of their basic political program:
"We call for the overthrow of every big and small capitalist-roader and corrupt bureaucratic elements. We shall remove the capitalist constitution and law that has been imposed upon the peoples of China by the traitorous revisionist ruling bloc. We shall establish people’s supervisory councils, so that everyone takes part in the management and supervision of the state, army and government, so that the people are guaranteed to become the real rulers of the country."
They go on to mention this in point four: "People’s communes will be restored in the countryside. Concretely for each particular village, we shall respect the choices of the masses, those who wish to embark on the collectivist path the state shall give support, those who wish to keep things as they are will also be allowed to do so."(1) (2)
So what we see here (and I think is correct) is that small businesses would be allowed under socialism (not allowed to make profit under communism obviously.)
To kind of get to the main point here; some communist mistake the realization that small businesses will exist under socialism for a communist supporting capitalism. Allowing small businesses to exist is not supporting or encouraging capitalism. We would dismantle corporations that exploit the masses for the profit of the rich. We would nationalize the major corporations that use natural resources to make their profit. But companies that pay fair wages and are generally good to their workers, there would be no reason to destroy those companies under socialism.
In fact sometimes small businesses have an interest in proletarian revolution. Some small business owners make just enough to pay their shops rent and live off the rest. This is not to say that small business owners would stay on the side of socialist construction after a revolution, but with anti-corporate language that communist use it would certainly attract some small business supporters and small business owners. So theoretically some small businesses would initially side with the socialist revolution.
But what about after the initial stages? Where profit of any kind is starting to be shunned and exploitation is seen as a crime? Would these same small shop owners stay with in the revolution or would they succumb to reactionary elements?
My partner and I have a little disagreement here on this issue of small businesses and small business owners, their class orientation and their would be roles in social revolution.
She believes that the small business owners are usually among the proletarian class and do not make enough actual profits to be considered a bourgeoisie. Though she admits that a small portion do hold petty bourgeoisie ideologies she says that most small business owners are only trying to make ends meet and want to survive doing what they love doing. For example she believes that most people start small businesses because they wanna do what they love for a living such as if a person loves flowers they will open a flower shop. If someone loves cooking they will start up a restaurant etc.
She also believes in what I call her "nine million dollar theory" that is to say that any and almost every small business owner doesn't go into business to sell their business and make a lot of money. But if a chain restaurant or walmart offered to buy a persons business for nine million dollars, who wouldn't sell their company and retire early? Almost everyone including communist would take the nine million dollars. I personally would take that money and start a self sustaining commune wherever there was no land taxes.
She thinks that most small business owners would have every reason to side with a socialist/communist revolution. If for no other reason then that they wouldn't have to worry about competing with today's walmarts and other major corporations. Because these corporations would be destroyed or nationalized eventually, leaving small businesses secure from corporate competition. I agree with this point.
My major disagreement is that while some or even most people who start small businesses do it because they are following their passion. I believe that there is a significant amount of the small business owners who start a business strictly to become rich and who aspire to become the new walmart or McDonalds. I believe a sizable portion do it to become members of the capitalist class so that they can make money of the backs of workers that they exploit for their labor.
Her points and counter points (not all listed here) make it hard for me to make my own concrete analysis of the small businesses role as a whole in the occurrence of a communist led revolution. I think it would be important to have a "business by business" policy to research and feel out how the business owners feel towards proletarian revolution and emancipation before determining their possible role in a revolution.
I think at this point it goes without saying that there would have to be small businesses after a socialist revolution. I might even say that it would be useful propagandizing in support of small businesses before and during a revolution to gain support of both the small business and people who support small businesses. In my area the fight for small businesses are very popular among the population. Walmart in my area has been battling legally to expand to a supercenter for almost ten years. But do to petitions and other actions by the local population it has not been able to expand yet. It is amazing the level of resistance that my local walmart has been confronted with by the local population in defense of the local small businesses.
I'm not disillusioned that all small business owners are communist or want a socialist revolution. I'm just stating that if we got to the point to where the proletarian masses were revolting there would be a number of small business owners that would feel compelled to side with our cause. After and during the revolution undoubtedly some would side with the reactionary forces, but I find this question interesting. What role would small businesses and small business owners play in a communist led revolution? Both during and after?
I for one believe in what the MCPC states in point ten of their basic political program and I think that this is the most realistic stance a party or group can take during socialist construction.
(1) "The ten declarations of the Maoist Communist Party of China." Revolutionary Initiative. March 22 2009. Web. August 16 2011.
(2) "Maoist Communist Party of China on 2nd Socialist Revolution." Kasama Project. August 11 2010. Web. August 16 2011.