The Transformation of Chinese Socialism

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In this significant contribution to both political theory and China studies, Lin Chun provides a critical assessment of the scope and limits of socialist experiments in China, analyzing their development since the victory of the Chinese communist revolution in 1949 and reflecting on the country’s likely paths into the future. Lin suggests that China’s twentieth-century trajectory be grasped in terms of the collective search by its people for a modern alternative to colonial modernity, bureaucratic socialism, and capitalist subordination. Evaluating contending interpretations of the formation and transformation of Chinese socialism in the contemporary conditions of global capitalism, Lin argues that the post-Mao reform model must be remade.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Transformation of Chinese Socialism is a visionary and critical reorientation for social theory. It is a great reminder of what the stakes are just now and why socialism, far from being defunct, has as much to offer governance theories and policy planners as it always has.”—Tani E. Barlow, author of The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism

“While most people have already cast China as a capitalist country with a communist government, Lin Chun shows that there may be life in Chinese socialism yet. Combining erudition, passion, and an engaging writing style, Lin challenges a lot of conventional wisdom about China. This book should be on the shelf of everyone who has any interest in the course of the Chinese economy and society.”—Meghnad Desai, author of Marx’s Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism

“With quite exceptional historical and theoretical insight, Lin Chun examines what remains of the Chinese Revolution’s socialist legacy and explores the prospects for the rebirth of a new kind of Chinese socialism in the People's Republic. This very original and thought-provoking study is essential reading for those concerned about the future of China and the fate of socialism in the age of capitalist globalization.”—Maurice Meisner, author of Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic

Arif Dirlik

The Transformation of Chinese Socialism is an important book. Lin Chun’s grasp of the issues of Chinese socialism, and the serious engagement with which she presents them, easily makes the book by far the best discussion of socialism in China available in English.”
Maurice Meisner

The Transformation of Chinese Socialism, certainly the most intellectually stimulating book written on the reform era, is an eloquent plea to create a democratic "socialist market system" that combines the more egalitarian and democratic features of traditional China, the modern Chinese revolutionary experience, and the innovations of the reform period. . . . In making historically plausible the vision of a ‘socialist market system,’ Lin Chun challenges the assumption that only a capitalist economy allows for the possibility of political democracy.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822337980
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lin Chun teaches comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the editor of the three-volume collection China and the author of The British New Left.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: The Making and Remaking of the Chinese Model 1

1. China and Alternative Modernity 17

2. Chinese Socialism 60

3. People’s Democracy 132

4. Liberty and Liberation 205

Conclusion: Rethinking the Chinese Model 251

Notes 289

References 323

Index 359

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted May 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent study of China

    Lin Chun teaches comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In this wide-ranging and intelligent book, she examines China’s past and present and its future prospects. Chapter 1 places China’s revolution in its context of imperialism and capitalism, using the concepts of nationalism, socialism and developmentalism. Chapter 2 studies China’s political economy, Chapter 3 the idea and practice of ‘people’s democracy’, and Chapter 4 the reform model. Right from 1949, the new government worked to end centuries of discrimination against women. As she writes, “Through legal and policy instruments the communists effectively banned foot binding, child-bride marriages, and forced widowhood chastity. Mercenary and arranged marriages without the consent of the individuals concerned were outlawed, so was the trafficking of women and wife beating.” Amartya Sen praised ‘China’s excellent achievements’ in raising the quality of life for women in education, health care, employment and other aspects of gender equality, which also decisively lowered China’s fertility rate. The government also worked to end discrimination against China’s minority peoples. As she notes, “generally speaking, social gains for China’s minorities since 1949 in education, poverty alleviation, population growth, and public welfare were real.” And, “Since the 1951 ‘peaceful settlement’ negotiated between the Tibetan elites and Beijing, life expectancy had increased from thirty-six years to sixty-seven years in 2003, and infant mortality and absolute poverty steadily declined.” She cites Aiguo Lu and Manuel Montes who wrote, “Measured by social indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and educational attainment, China forged way ahead of most market economies at similar income levels and surpassed a number of countries with per capita incomes many times greater.” By the late 1970s, the health service covered, according to the World Bank, “nearly the entire urban and 85% of the rural population, an unrivalled achievement among low-income countries.” Between 1949 and 1980, life expectancy at birth nearly doubled, from 36 to 67, the biggest improvement in the world. By 2003, it was 71.8 years for men and 73 for women, compared to 64 years in India in 2002. As Maurice Meisner concluded, “few events in world history have done more to better the lives of more people.” The Chinese people achieved all this by their own efforts, which included, crucially, building a people’s state. As Lin Chun writes, “an effective public-serving state power is, everywhere, a key to development.” She points out that the CCP from its beginning fought for social progress and national independence: “Fighting on two fronts to remove both a native ancien régime and foreign domination, communism in China was firmly a modern and democratic force.” The party practised mass line democracy. She quotes political scientist Bernard Crick: “as long as the power enjoys a popular basis, the communists “do not pretend to be democratic” – “they are democratic” as a matter of factual judgment when the party was voluntarily followed by the majority of the people.” She argues that capitalism is less democratic, and socialism is more democratic, than the myths would allow. She rejects the totalitarian model as adequate to explain China’s reality. She writes, “the political organization necessary for a participatory citizenry can take forms other tha

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