Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century

Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century

by Giovanni Arrighi
     
 

In the late eighteenth century, the political economist Adam Smith predicted an eventual equalization of power between the conquering West and the conquered non-West. In this magisterial new work, Giovanni Arrighi shows how China’s extraordinary rise invites us to read The Wealth of Nations in a radically different way than is usually done. He examines

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Overview

In the late eighteenth century, the political economist Adam Smith predicted an eventual equalization of power between the conquering West and the conquered non-West. In this magisterial new work, Giovanni Arrighi shows how China’s extraordinary rise invites us to read The Wealth of Nations in a radically different way than is usually done. He examines how the recent US attempt to bring into existence the first truly global empire in world history was conceived in order to counter China’s spectacular economic success of the 1990s, and how the US’s disastrous failure in Iraq has made the People’s Republic of China the true winner of the US War on Terror. In the 21st century, China may well become again the kind of noncapitalist market economy that Smith described, under totally different domestic and world-historical conditions.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In this deeply learned, sharply argued, and fascinating book Giovanni Arrighi shows that the mandate of capitalist heaven is shifting to China, more generally to East Asia, but Americans won’t like it. We are witnessing both a return to centuries of past practice, and an auger for a 21st century that, in his view, will be defined by East Asian advance and American retreat. Meanwhile Professor Arrighi offers a truly insightful analysis of the thought of a great political economist: Adam Smith. This is by far the best book to date in the rapidly-growing literature on ‘China’s rise.’”—Bruce Cummings

“Proceeding from a bracing re-reading of Smith and Marx, through a reconsideration of the ‘Great Divergence’ of East and West, to a blistering deconstruction of the Project for a New American Century, Arrighi dismisses neo-liberal interpretations of China’s economic ‘miracle’ and credits instead China’s own robust market economy tradition. In the process, he leads us on a breathtaking tour of the history of world capitalism over the past three hundred years, and suggests where we may be headed in the future.”—William T. Rowe

“In this wonderfully provocative and wide-ranging book, Arrighi offers a fresh and challenging interpretation of China’s economic ascent.”—Gillian Hart

“The convincing power of Arrighi’s argument lies in his choice to conceive geopolitics as the endless process of construction of political cultures associating class conflicts and collective commonwealth in different specific ways.”—Samir Amin

“An original, brilliant, always powerfully challenging analysis.”—Wang Hui

“In the vast landscape of literature on China rising Giovanni Arrighi´s Adam Smith in Beijing stands out as a beacon of bold creativity and as pursuing a sustained trail-blazing argument.”—Goran Therborn

Library Journal

Here are the experiences of five British veterans who survived World War I physically but came home damaged goods. It is the psychic impact of the horrific war that Barrett (English, Univ. of London; Imagination in Theory) examines through the experiences of Willis Brown, Douglas Darling, Ronald Skirth, William Tyrrell, and Lawrence Gameson. Each was the victim of shell shock or what is now known as posttraumatic stress disorder. Yet Barrett reveals that these succinct mental classifications do not do justice to what these men experienced. It was the cumulative effect of death as a constant companion that changed these veterans forever. They all returned home to apparently normal lives but beneath the surface there was illness, alcoholism, bitterness, and depression. Through interviews with the soldiers' descendants and a careful reading of archival material buried in the Imperial War Museum, Barrett evokes the bloody crucible these five men passed through. She may be criticized for not offering more in-depth documentation of the archival resources used, but no one will question the authenticity of her compelling characterizations of these five veterans of the Great War. Sadly, this is a timely work. A worthy addition to the extensive literature on the mental health of combat veterans; recommended for all libraries.
—Jim Doyle

Kirkus Reviews
A collective biography of five shell-shocked veterans of trench warfare. Delving into mountains of personal papers, letters and photographs in London's Imperial War Museum, Barrett (Modern Literary and Cultural Theory/Queen Mary, Univ. of London; Imagination in Theory: Culture, Writing, Words, and Things, 1999, etc.) tells stories of three soldiers and two military doctors. All witnessed terrible things, suffered mental breakdowns and seemed to recover, but the experience permanently colored their lives. Investigating the flood of psychiatric casualties among uninjured soldiers, World War I physicians preferred an organic cause, so the term "shell shock" entered the vocabulary. Experts explained that soldiers in proximity to explosions suffered subtle brain injuries, but readers will share the author's shock at discovering how much the simple horror of trench life contributed to their breakdowns. Soldiers walked, slept, ate and fought among dead and rotting bodies and body parts. The smell of decaying corpses grew more intense during the summer and after battles, but it never vanished. "I thought by now the horrors of war could no longer shock me. I was wrong," writes Bombardier Ronald Skirth. "It must have been some ghoulish influence that drew me to the old battlefield and three months after the fighting had ceased the mangled, putrefying bodies of men and beasts still lay awaiting burial." Classic WWI memoirs (by Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and others) mention disgusting details of trench warfare, but those were written for publication and after time had softened the memories. The soldiers profiled here recorded their uncensored feelings on the spot. "The significant context ofthese life stories," writes Barrett, "is not what can be remembered, but what has survived for us to study." Fear and the death of comrades figure prominently, but it was the nauseating sights and smells that dominated their thoughts. When one of the author's subjects, a doctor, revealed this to a postwar Parliamentary investigation into shell-shock, it was censored. A unique contribution to war literature.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844671045
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
09/01/2007
Pages:
420
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Giovanni Arrighi (1937–2009) was Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Long Twentieth Century, Adam Smith in Beijing, and, with Beverly Silver, Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System. His work has appeared in many publications, including New Left Review—who published an interview on his life-long intellectual trajectory in March–April 2009, and an obituary in Nov–Dec 2009—and there are more accounts on his memorial website.

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