Edit: it looks like my formatting didn’t work on mobile (ie: further indenting under bullet points); I hope the post is not too unclear Skip the first three sections if you just want the resources Introduction
On this forum, there is a void when it comes to political-economic resources for China's post-reform period. To be more specific I refer to a lack of a unified and continuous literature source, for MIM (for example) has some valuable resources to a certain extent (which I will be listing), say up to the 90s, but the literature seems to end there (save for some bits and pieces of theory which reference China, or literature which otherwise concerns them more generally). For Reddit, the most valuable conversation and resources are spread about various comment sections while the most unified material is unsatisfactory. I say this in the most general sense but it should be clear to everyone that news stories and books by politicians are far from satisfactory, and an informative post which primarily draws upon such sources is not doing the necessary work. This post seeks to begin
remedying this (I do not claim that I can provide a super resource to fill the gaps).
I won't simply be drawing upon sources which have already been read such as MIM theory and Li Minqi etc. (although they will most certainly be included here); I will also be drawing upon a burgeoning field of English-written (or translated) Chinese Marxian political economy, and more varied sources such as those which posters here have made reference to (for example, those examining the regional economic relationship of South Korea/Japan and China).
The end goal is to promote a more accurate understanding of modern China. Why are previous megathreads unsatisfactory?
They have been primarily focused on ideology, and it is not clear how deep an ideological understanding one could even get from reading them.
As Marx said:
My view is that each particular mode of production, and the relations of production corresponding to it at each given moment, in short 'the economic structure of society', is 'the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness', and that 'the mode of production of material life' conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life'.
Here Marx gives the example of bourgeois political economists who argue that the social formations attributable to the existing capitalist mode of production are in fact self-evident or attributable to nature; those same political economists treating pre-bourgeois social organizations of production ("natural" products of their time) as backward "in much the same way as the Fathers of the Church treated pre-Christian religions" (ibid, pp.175). Hence the given ideology which is tied to a given mode of production is considerably conditioned by it
while the old social formations - no longer of immediate value - either fade or are cast aside.
This doesn’t deny “dual movement”, nor does it deny the value of studying ideology. Studying from the ideological angle may provide some valuable clues; for instance, we might assume that the appearance of contradictions in a given ideology are products of definite contradictions of the mode of production, where the more contradictory a given ideology seems, the more the struggle of opposing forces there will be in the mode of production which it seeks to justify. But we are counting on being able to recognize such contradictions in the first place; we will be struggling against the process of naturalization in doing so, and the process of naturalization paints over such contradictions as “the way things are”. To extend the analysis here without a material rooting, one can only make abstract claims to meet the abstract claims of the other; and so we enter into a meta-narrative (not to mention being limited to a priori
And so it is that Marx did not write Capital
while relying on or
abandoning the words of bourgeois political economists and statesmen, but instead using them as supplementary material (separating the wheat from the chaff in the process). To this end this megathread adds
to the existing forum resources (and I will still include a section of resources which are influential to or indicative of CPC policy, including some ideological work, so it is not pure political economy). "Advisories"
This is not a perfect list, nor do I consider it a perfect post!
This compilation is
curated (as it is limited to what literature I am aware of, and is mostly focused on the post-reform economy as a point of contention), and I would not consider it as the be-all-end-all of understanding China's political economy (work is definitely missing). I tried to give easily accessible links for the literature but unfortunately I could not find links for all (here I place a subtle reminder about sci-hub and libgen). I would hope that the reader is able to supply some of their own literature and make connections to that which they have already read/will read. The point, then, is to provide some
valuable resources and directions for research which vary (they do not all complement each other); further, while not all are new to Reddit (some I've compiled by combing the forum), put together they provide a very solid base.
At times it will be necessary for the reader to extract the useful bits from otherwise shady writing should they be written by non-Marxian economists or be theoretically insufficient or confusing (if they are neoclassical thought hidden under Marxist language, for example). I’m sure that we, as communists, are all able to accomplish this (and therein lies the assumption that some communist theory has been read prior to diving in here).
Finally, this is a page in progress
. I will add works that I find later on, or good works that are suggested to me, and I may even edit later on to give explanations and/or summaries of the literature choices or otherwise trim the post (if I find the time and motivation to do this). FURTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR READING ARE WELCOME FOR EVERY SECTION!
Anyway, let's get into it. General works for China's economy
Analyses of the economy of China (or aspects of it) from different periods in history or across them: China's economy nested within a global perspective
For those works which conceptualize or touch upon China but take a global (or regional) perspective. Perhaps Anwar Shaikh, E. Ahmet Tonak, Samir Amin, Michael Roberts, Tony Norfield or Vijay Prashad would be welcome here?: Chinese Marxian Perspectives
A list of works (mostly articles) by actual Chinese Marxian political economists (including Orthodox/Heterodox economists who incorporate Marxian methods). Includes analyses of class, labour productivity, labour share/supply, prices, land reform and more: Understanding CPC policy: thoughts and influences
I wanted to include this section to show writing by academics/theorists which has made a definite impact in government economic policy post-reform
, or work which describes post-reform policy and provides scattered clues as to ideology (I figure that its inclusion at the end of the post implies the importance of first reading up on China's political economy). I've avoided work by big-name politicians as I figure we have quite enough of that.
If I find any further influential work I will add it (I am notably missing work conceptualizing Deng's southern tour and further thought on the 90s, for example). Sometimes I made a conscious choice to exclude writing, however; for instance, the work of Li Yining
was incredibly influential on the government's 90s liberalizations (including the privatization of SOEs through a shareholding system) but who would willingly read that bourgeois drivel. I have also tried to avoid listing other influential liberals, but be aware that they have had their day.
Anyway: Some Thoughts Once again, ignore if you just want the resources; this is just me thinking out loud.
Although this is an unfinished post here is a lot to read through here; I had even more to list but I decided today to just post this as it was getting fairly long (and hence more will be added later should I have ample time and motivation; no guarantees). In the interest of keeping this post more impartial than not, I will limit myself to a few general comments on the Chinese Marxian works (so please don't take my words here as a summary of all of the posted works; my comments here are not meant to reflect upon every book):
I still hold my belief that there is a struggle over the Chinese mode of production; a "line" which moves according to the strength of each opposing force - the Chinese capitalists (bourgeoisie/billionaires/elite etc) and the Chinese communists (proletariat/working class/socialists etc). The arena is the entire Chinese nation; enveloping the party, its ideology, domestic & international policy, law, academia etc. To this end, the "third path" advocated in some of the works linked above would appear to be the changing location of said line. The trajectory of CPC policy, and the Chinese mode of production, to me, should be understood this way.
And so it follows that the intellectual sphere follows this struggle. A wise person once said: "The worst advocates for Chinese Marxism are the Chinese Marxists themselves" (or something like that). Indeed, for there has been a fight with (and subjugation to) capitalism and capitalist ideology in the arena of ideas for almost 40 years (hence being incredibly diluted and mixed); only recently having more of a voice (closely tied with the strength of the working class). This is one possible explanation, but I should note that it is not the only possible one.
More specifically, the power of the proletarian movement dictates the ability of Marxist science to hold ground in the intellectual sphere; in this specific case, whether Marxists can be in the position to work and train new Marxian intellectuals. Hence we can expect further political economic work in this tradition (this mirrors how Soohaeng Kim was able to be in the position to supervise Marxist post-grads at Seoul National, for example). Not to say that academics should be the focal point of our study as communists, but their research can be valuable. Hence I have put such an emphasis on their work (besides the fact that they are most likely not widely read), and I believe the tradition should be followed with interest.
In summary of the whole post, I hope that plenty of reading material has been provided for postulating China's mode of production (and the ideologies which sprout from it and condition it). Each work should be read for what it is, and I think each can help increase our understanding. One final time, I would welcome (in fact I am looking for) additional works which would fit here so I might increase the value of the post.
Anyhow, that's enough talking. Happy reading!