The Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci died recently at the age of 77. Known during most of her career for aggressive, throw caution to the wind type interviewing, she’s had an audience with movers and shakers from the Ayatollah Khomeini to Henry Kissinger and Deng Xiaoping. In the New York Times obit/article linked to above, we found links to several of her interviews, including one with Deng Xiaoping in 1980. The interview is interesting as it takes place at a critical juncture in Chinese history — Deng had assumed control two years earlier and launched the reforms that set the country on a drastically different path than the one Mao had envisioned. The interview deals with the legacy of Mao, the Gang of Four, the Cultural Revolution, and what the consequences of China’s reforms.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
Question: The four modernizations will bring foreign capital into China, and this will inevitably give rise to private investment. Won’t this lead to a miniaturized capitalism?
Answer: In the final analysis, the general principle for our economic development is still that formulated by Chairman Mao, that is, to rely mainly on our own efforts with external assistance subsidiary. No matter to what degree we open up to the outside world and admit foreign capital, its relative magnitude will be small and it can’t affect our system of socialist public ownership of the means of production. Absorbing foreign capital and technology and even allowing foreigners to construct plants in China can only play a complementary role to our effort to develop the productive forces in a socialist society. Of course, this will bring some decadent capitalist influences into China. We are aware of this possibility; it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Question: Does it mean that not all in capitalism is so bad?
Answer: It depends on how you define capitalism. Any capitalism is superior to feudalism. And we cannot say that everything developed in capitalist countries is of a capitalist nature. For instance, technology, science — even advanced production management is also a sort of science — will be useful in any society or country. We intend to acquire advanced technology, science and management skills to serve our socialist production. And these things as such have no class character.
Photo of Oriana Fallaci in Brooklyn from borg.com.