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China in Revolt?
August 29, 2012 11:43 PM   Subscribe


 
It seems surreal to describe China's government as right wing and its opponents, who demand a less socialised labour economy, as left wing. But I agree with the author's use of those terms: how else do you describe people fighting foreign capitalists for the right to unionise?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:55 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had a somewhat related conversation yesterday. An employee of a certain Asian company that has factories in China was describing the difficulty of complying with Chinese labor law. The problem for him was that Chinese law demands that only a certain number of overtime hours can be worked by an employee. However, this law is not widely followed in the area where his factory operates and employees there work many more hours than the law allows. In fact, the employees demand to work these hours. His company went to the local labor officials and attempted to get guidance on how to smooth out the difference between the law on paper and the law in practice. Apparently, the local officials were unsure of what the law really should be and didn't want to stick their necks out and make a decision that might get them a visit from the party, thus leaving the company in a precarious legal limbo.

I asked why the company didn't just hire more workers and give each worker fewer hours. He responded that the company believes that the workers are very protective of their 80 hour work weeks and would certainly strike if the company attempted to hire more people and reduce hours, unless they were being forced to do so by the government.

This is all second hand of course, but there you are.
posted by Winnemac at 12:07 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems surreal to describe China's government as right wing

It is, in the real sense of the word, fascist. The PRC is now somewhat defined by the union of executive and private commercial power combined with PRC/Han nationalism; seen like that it isn't so left-wing at all.
posted by jaduncan at 12:11 AM on August 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


I've had the "fascism" conversation before. Everything just stops, you get a reaction similar to what you'd get if you told the other person that his mother was an 18th century French mahogany armoire. It's not anger or outrage, because the words simply fail to parse. "No, see, China is communist, it says so right in the name of the country."
posted by 1adam12 at 12:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


It is, in the real sense of the word, fascist.

Correct. If the 20th century taught us anything it is that there is little difference between the far left and the far right. Comintern, anti-comintern, it's all the same. Fascism was born of Bolshevism and they ended up in the same place. Once "the workers" or "the voters" concentrate power in a small elite, it doesn't take long for that elite to figure out who's really in charge.
posted by three blind mice at 12:19 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


China naming themselves communist is simply propaganda. China is no more communist than the U.S. For a country to be communist as per the definition of Marx, the workers must control the means of the production. China is simply state capitalism, just like North Korea, Cuba and the USSR from shortly before Lenin died.
posted by kiskar at 12:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


"More than 30 years" seems a bit odd to me -- not sure where the Day 0 point is meant to be there. I'd say that the CCP's project of market reform as it currently exists (leaving aside the long decades of directionless lurching to and fro all the way back through the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward Backward) started in the very early 90s, when Deng Xiao Ping narrowly managed to push through his reform agenda in the wake of Tiananmen.

The big insight (obvious in hindsight) was that Gorbachev did it in the wrong order in the USSR -- that glasnost (openness and freedoms) before perestroika (restructuring, politically but more importantly, economically) was ass-backwards and led to the breakup and decline of the Soviet Union, and that people will endure much, as long the economy improves and they have enough to eat and maybe some shiny toys.

Which, for the last 20 years, has proven to be mostly true. But only for so long, it would seem. As I've said before, China terrifies me, but I'm interested to see what comes next.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Correct. If the 20th century taught us anything it is that there is little difference between the far left and the far right. Comintern, anti-comintern, it's all the same. Fascism was born of Bolshevism and they ended up in the same place. Once "the workers" or "the voters" concentrate power in a small elite, it doesn't take long for that elite to figure out who's really in charge.

This is inane. The PRC is fascist because it weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. That is not even a little bit like communism, which is explicitly anti-nationalist and anti-capitalist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [23 favorites]


Yes, and I actually think there's really interesting parallels between the Nazi system of national champion companies (I know, I know, but the Italians never really got things working as well) and the PRC picking winners in their own markets (as well as the Russians regaining commercial control of strategic industries with Gazprom as proxy force, to an extent). Really both systems partially revolved around a reaction to a lack of societal control, and a certain sense of national pride. It's economics as prestige project and as a source of national power.

It sounds awful, but I'm not sure it doesn't work quite well. The goals look different if the central concept isn't to optimise for efficiency so much as control of the national future. It's also not surprising that both countries demonised labour unions outside of the control of the state.

"No, see, China is communist, it says so right in the name of the country."

Man, wait till they hear about the DRC - "Ah ha ha sir, I think you have the wrong idea. Now sit back down and please make the checks out with Democratic Republic included. Thank you."

posted by jaduncan at 12:39 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Solidarity was a union movement as well, wasn't it?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:41 AM on August 30, 2012


Solidarity was a union movement as well, wasn't it?

Yes, very primarily so. Saying only that probably isn't enough though; the Catholic Church had a lot of influence within it.
posted by jaduncan at 12:44 AM on August 30, 2012


Didn't Vaclav Havel rule in a really super anti-worker sort of way after coming into power? Or am I thinking of a different anti-Soviet leader?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:46 AM on August 30, 2012


Solidarity was a union movement as well, wasn't it?

Significantly, it also terrified the CCP, and spurred much of the conservative cadres efforts at the time to head off any reform in China, as they watched things spin up in Poland.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:46 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty good article for an overview.
One thing the author touches on but doesn't really explore (not a criticism give the scope of the piece) is the generational and practical differences between the struggles at state-owned (or former state-owned) enterprises to defend conditions and prevent asset-stripping etc. versus the new working class in the private sector. If you talk to older SOE workers, they are aware of defending a political legacy too, particularly where the rhetoric of democratic control was more than lip-service, which was true in more cases than you might think. I've been told that pre-reform management wouldn't be able to just sack someone, even for what would be gross discipline violations in the West, and this was one of the fabled 'inefficiencies' of the old state system that had to be got rid of.
His point about the role of 'hometown' organisations in the new strike wave ought to set alarm bells ringing in Zhongnanhai - they're very like the secret societies Mao and apparently more so Li Lisan brought over to communism in Anyuan in the 1920s; after the crackdowns in the wake of the Northern Expedition the cadre headed back home to rural Hunan to become the backbone of the famous 'Peasant Movement'.
Nanhai Honda was a very well chosen target from what I've read - practised 'just-in-time' management so any disruption in the supply chain froze plants all over.
posted by Abiezer at 1:24 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I asked why the company didn't just hire more workers and give each worker fewer hours. He responded that the company believes that the workers are very protective of their 80 hour work weeks and would certainly strike if the company attempted to hire more people and reduce hours, unless they were being forced to do so by the government.

That seems to chime with this:

The implications for the dynamics of worker resistance have been immense. For example, there are very few recorded struggles over the length of the working day. Why would workers want to spend more time in a city that rejects them? The “work-life balance” of hr discourse means nothing to an eighteeen-year-old migrant worker toiling in a suburban Shanghai factory. In the city, migrants live to work – not in the self-actualizing sense but in the very literal sense. If a worker assumes that they are just earning money to eventually bring back home, there is little reason (or opportunity) to ask for more time “for what one will” in the city.

If workers are interested in maximising their wages, not per hour, but over the course of the year then they will be either hostile or uninterested in working hour reductions or mandatory weekends. Without either long term employment or class consciousness, any long term concessions over conditions or benefits are less useful to them because unlike wages they're not portable.

His point about the role of 'hometown' organisations in the new strike wave ought to set alarm bells ringing in Zhongnanhai - they're very like the secret societies Mao and apparently more so Li Lisan brought over to communism in Anyuan in the 1920s; after the crackdowns in the wake of the Northern Expedition the cadre headed back home to rural Hunan to become the backbone of the famous 'Peasant Movement'.

I wonder if those organisations will move "backwards" along with the migrant labour as the focus of inland peasant labour migration moves closer to their rural homes in places like Chengdu. If so many strikes in the coastal regions were about "ethnic" solidarity among workers from a particular province, that may form the basis for a much more disruptive and larger scale activism. Not only that, but Sichuan migrants who accepted their marginal legal status in far away Guandong may not be so accepting in a city like Chengdu which is "theirs". A migrant from a village that's relatively close may also be more likely to see a long term future at a particular employer and become more interested in demanding non-wage concessions.
posted by atrazine at 1:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The PRC is fascist because it weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. That is not even a little bit like communism, which is explicitly anti-nationalist and anti-capitalist.

When the communist party weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. What do you call that? Whatever the theory might say, in practice fascism and communism are both totalitarian systems where a small political elite rule like royalty over the population and economic privilege is based solely on political influence and political opponents are persecuted.

With regard to the theory, though, Marx envisaged that socialism was the most suitable evolution for advanced, capitalist countries and he always expected Germany to be where it would take hold. Of course it took hold in backwards countries full of ignorant peasants, with no industrial base, but still. Interesting that China now having acquired an industrial base seems to be abandoning communism when according to Marx they should be embracing it most strongly.
posted by three blind mice at 2:52 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


When the communist party weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power.

Ooooooh, you're one of those "The Nazis were left-wing! They had socialist right in the name!" types.

Whatever the theory might say, in practice fascism and communism are both totalitarian systems where a small political elite rule like royalty over the population and economic privilege is based solely on political influence and political opponents are persecuted.

If the practice does not match the thing, it is not the theory. Why do people scream up and down about how if you fuck up science, you're not doing science right, and yet China and the USSR are somehow exemplars of how communism "really is"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:50 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


When the communist party weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. What do you call that? Whatever the theory might say, in practice fascism and communism are both totalitarian systems where a small political elite rule like royalty over the population and economic privilege is based solely on political influence and political opponents are persecuted.
I don't need your 'history' or 'facts' to call this "false equivalence". I don't need anything to do that! Please, though, note that this has nothing to do with the fact that my mindset and the mindset of my circle/people I associate with understands a "small political elite" as desirable, as evinced by our actions, values, and everything we've ever done. I mean, please note that.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


When the communist party weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. What do you call that?
Anita Chan and Jonathan Unger called what has emerged post-78 in China 'corporatism' in a well-known paper written about twenty years ago. I see the term 'corporatism' bandied about these days to mean something quite different to what it always has historically, so far as I'm aware, which is not the 'capitalist corporate power' of your phrase.

Interesting that China now having acquired an industrial base seems to be abandoning communism when according to Marx they should be embracing it most strongly.
What is happening of course precisely fits the Marxian model - as more Chinese people are proletarianised (reliant entirely of the sale of their labour) so too does there sense of nevertheless as a class with separate interests grow. It takes a particularly wrong-headed notion of Marx's analysis to expect a state that represents (Three Represents!) capitalist interests to be the one embracing communism.
posted by Abiezer at 4:15 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


There/their - oh dear.
posted by Abiezer at 4:16 AM on August 30, 2012


And 'nevertheless' should be 'themselves' - commenting fail. Whoops.
posted by Abiezer at 4:18 AM on August 30, 2012


When the communist party weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power. What do you call that?

Well, Deng Xiaoping called it " Socialism with Chinese Characteristics." The struggles between the lerft and right branches of the Chinese Communist Party are pretty interesting (and, yeah, the CCP is a political party that, more or less, runs China, expecting it to be completely and totally "communist" is like being shocked that the Democrats are not pushing for a "total democracy."

Criticize Mao all you like, but the guy was seriously concerned with the condition of the rural peasant (and, interestingly, it seems women). I have been listening to a bunch of lectures and podcasts and stuff on 20th C Chinese history lately, and, while I am claiming no degree of expertise, it seems to me that the rightest elements of the party and their policies have improved the economic conditions of many Chinese a bit, a few Chinese an enormous amount, and done nothing (or rolled back) conditions for many (maybe most), especially in the poorer and more rural parts of the nation. The nation as a whole is more prosperous, but this has come at the cost of eliminating various aspects of the state system, including many of the price controls and other safety nets. The policies of Deng et al do not sound very communist to me, or, indeed, socialist -- they seem more like the sort of state-assisted free market capitalism associated with various elements of the American Right than any development of Mao's ideology.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


it seems to me that the rightest elements of the party and their policies have improved the economic conditions of many Chinese a bit, a few Chinese an enormous amount, and done nothing (or rolled back) conditions for many (maybe most), especially in the poorer and more rural parts of the nation.

Hmm, I think that very much depends on when you start the clock, so to speak, and also, what you define as "rightist". Deng was part of the rightist elements himself, in many ways, and his policies and reaction against the Great Leap Forward saved many lives and definitely made life better for most people, especially rural.

On the other hand, some people characterise the Red Guard as rightist, as well, and they - and the cultural revolution - well, they made it worse for a lot of people, for sure. But they made it better for a lot of people in some ways too.

The whole left/right dichotomy really breaks down when you start talking China, doesn't it?
posted by smoke at 4:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Criticize Mao all you like
ok

he killed a whole bunch of people, like a football-stadium full of people
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:43 AM on August 30, 2012


Significantly, it also terrified the CCP, and spurred much of the conservative cadres efforts at the time to head off any reform in China, as they watched things spin up in Poland.

Margaret Thatcher was also scared of Solidarnosc, and papers recently released (by the German government, IIRC) reveal that she was considering helping to shore up Polish Communist leader Jaruzelski's regime, in order to keep labour militancy from spreading. The Communists in power, you see, you can do deals with…
posted by acb at 4:52 AM on August 30, 2012


he killed a whole bunch of people, like a football-stadium full of people

Big fucking football stadium, friend. Estimates run to 30 million people dying in 1958/9 during the ludicrous great leap forward. Mao was a monster -- eating high off the hog and fucking unwilling nubiles brought to him in his conference room antechambers while his people dropped like flies -- no less than Stalin or any of the other Big Evil Bastards of the mid 20th century.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:59 AM on August 30, 2012


Big fucking football stadium, friend.

it was intentional understatement
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:01 AM on August 30, 2012


Cool. I just get a bit irate when I think about those any of those old shitheels getting a pass.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:03 AM on August 30, 2012


This is inane. The PRC is fascist because it weds nationalism with capitalist corporate power.

The fascism = capitalist nationalism is a lefty canard. I know corporatism sounds like corporation, but they aren't closley related.

Fascism is pragmatic on economic issues; the point in fascism is that all parts of society and culture are in service of the state (itself, or the state as the embodiment of a "race"). Fascist leaderers will cheerfully bounce from market economy to command economy and back again, depending on what will serve the needs of the state.
posted by spaltavian at 5:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chinese readers might be interested in one the online worker cultural and organisational efforts:Labor Poetry (tagline "rooted on the shopfloor"); good forum, disseminates news and information (such as this translated handbook on going on strike) and produces some great first-hand accounts of the working class experience - this is (free) book notice about 'a collection of oral histories of worker struggles in the Pearl River delta'.
Despite censorship it's been interesting how well people have made use of online space, although there does tend to be a bit of whack-a-mole going on so sites come and go, but qq groups and weibo are harder to control so people soon learn of where they reappear.
posted by Abiezer at 5:31 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a little puzzled by what comes across to me as a pretty fundamental condescension inherent in the article. The author seems to assume that unless these labor struggles are coupled together with political struggles that they are somehow incomplete or even pointless:
The new frontier of capital accumulation presents the Chinese working class with opportunities to establish more enduring forms of organization capable of expanding the domain of social struggle and formulating broad-based political demands.

But until that happens, it will remain a half-step behind its historical antagonist – and ours.
I mean, really? Why assume that the only reason the Chinese working class isn't agitating for social services is because they're ignorant or deceived? Mightn't it be that they don't care about those things as much as they care about wages? Nonpayment of wages is a significant and ongoing problem. Why would it even make sense to demand something like social insurance, which involves paying money now for benefits later? If employers won't pay wages due today, and the state won't make them, the idea that they'll make good on promises to pay money down the road is just laughable. Chinese works might not be demanding those things because they aren't stupid, not because they are.

The whole thing just reads as if the author has a particular goal in mind--not surprising given the source--and won't be satisfied with anything less--or other--than that goal. This sounds a little bit like the sort of thinking that gave us Lenin, Stalin, and Mao in the first place.
posted by valkyryn at 5:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Criticise Hitler all you want, but..."
posted by panaceanot at 5:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


@panaceanot

that's a literal Godwin, you're breaking the rules of internet discourse
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:41 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of all topics, I would have thought Mao and Hitler could reasonably be discussed in proximity?

Both were responsible for the deaths of millions.
posted by panaceanot at 5:47 AM on August 30, 2012


Oh.... 'literal'. Yes. I apologise.
posted by panaceanot at 5:51 AM on August 30, 2012


Criticize Mao all you like, but the guy was seriously concerned with the condition of the rural peasant (and, interestingly, it seems women)

Interesting, but not surprising. Concern about the oppression of women was pretty central to the radical movements in China during the early 20th century. It was in the air, as it were, that Mao breathed. Mao's first writings, from before he considered himself a communist, focus on it.

Estimates run to 30 million people dying in 1958/9 during the ludicrous great leap forward. Mao was a monster

Yes, estimates - which vary considerably, and some of the highest rely on very dubious methodologies that would almost certainly not be used if they weren't being applied to an officially sanctioned 'monster.' And there are other factors one should take into account when making an assessment of Mao and his policies, things like the life expectancy of hundreds of millions of people being doubled in less than a couple decades (even with the disaster of the GLF), significant declines in infant mortality and other health indicators, the virtual elimination of drug addiction (in a country that in 1949 had 70 million opium addicts) as well as prostitution, tremendous increases in literacy, education, and similar indicators, the elimination of endemic famine and starvation (something which many China "experts" had long said was impossible). Many more examples could be noted (and are well known to actual scholars). Simply put, because of Mao hundreds of millions of people lived who would have died, they were fed, clothed, educated, they had work and health care - a remarkable achievement given the poverty of the country.

Mao had significant responsibility for the GLF and other policies that caused hardship to a great many people. But he also had significant responsibility for policies which transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people for the better - arguably, considerably for the better (something which I think is obvious if one knows about the conditions of the peasantry in China pre-1949. On balance, I think the evidence is the Mao left China in a vastly better situation than he found it. Obviously, reasonable people can differ in their conclusions about such an extraordinarly complex subject, but throwing around pejoratives like "monster" and selectively noting dubious statistics and anecdotes doesn't help anyone figure out the truth.
posted by williampratt at 5:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


More on Thatcher's support for the Solidarnosc crackdown.
posted by acb at 5:58 AM on August 30, 2012


By the metric people use - excess mortality due to results of policy - you could as well argue that Mao was responsible for the extended life and survival beyond infancy of millions (which land reform and basic health care delivered) and he'd have a net positive balance. Which is not to excuse the Great Leap calamity, but rather to say that it really is a bit of a shit talking point based on knowing not too much about Chinese history. The many flaws and failures of the Leninist state he founded can be criticised plenty for what they were, and have been by scholars of the politics of famine like Amartya Sen, without ever resorting to something so crude. Quite apart from anything else, it helps you be less puzzled when you find that the legacy of the collective era is not seen in such starkly black and white terms by the plenty of working class and rural Chinese people.
On preview, I see a similar point has just been made.
posted by Abiezer at 5:59 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a little puzzled by what comes across to me as a pretty fundamental condescension inherent in the article. The author seems to assume that unless these labor struggles are coupled together with political struggles that they are somehow incomplete or even pointless

I didn't see it as condescension so much as a recognition that Chinese workers are in fact responding rationally to their own conditions. I wonder if the author would say the same about the role of American craft and company unions which, while clearly being part of a labour "movement, always looked out primarily for the interests of their members.
posted by atrazine at 6:06 AM on August 30, 2012


That was my sense too, atrazine; in fact, I took the point in the quoted para in valkyryn's comment to be more about the necessity of making wider political demands if material gains are to be sustained rather than a criticism of Chinese workers for failing to raise them as yet.
posted by Abiezer at 6:11 AM on August 30, 2012


Mao had significant responsibility for the GLF and other policies that caused hardship to a great many people.

Hardships such as them prematurely dying deady-dead, forever?

I think I'll bow out of this particular discussion. Maybe I've drank the anti-Mao kool-aid and need my third eye pried open, but I'll stop commenting, and see if anyone has any actual sourced material that I could read to reverse my opinion of the guy.
posted by panaceanot at 6:13 AM on August 30, 2012


I think I'll bow out of this particular discussion. Maybe I've drank the anti-Mao kool-aid and need my third eye pried open, but I'll stop commenting, and see if anyone has any actual sourced material that I could read to reverse my opinion of the guy.

Understanding that the vast majority of what Americans who haven't specifically looked into the subject know about Mao, the history of China, and Chinese communism is what American Cold Warriors wanted us to know is a good start.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is not to excuse the Great Leap calamity, but rather to say that it really is a bit of a shit talking point based on knowing not too much about Chinese history.

You are totally excusing the Great Leap "calamity", and if the death of millions isn't a reasonable objection to a political system then I don't know what you think would be. Coming from the other side of the political spectrum, perhaps?
posted by alasdair at 6:18 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or shit, understand that what came before Mao was absolute monarchy. The Chinese communists didn't tear down a utopia to build a horror show, they tore down a monarchist system to build something run for the benefit of literally anybody other than monarchs. Mark Twain, speaking of the French revolution, said it best:
There were two 'Reigns of Terror', if we could but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passions, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our shudders are all for the "horrors of the... momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief terror that we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror - that unspeakable bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.
How high is too high a price to pay for dead emperors, kings, and queens? Where is your boundless and infinite sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression for millennia?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:23 AM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm really not, alasdair. I do think the Great Leap stands as condemnation of the Chinese state in that period.
posted by Abiezer at 6:23 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not American, Pope Guilty. And I have 'looked into' that stuff. *mocks zipping mouth shut and actually closes tab*
posted by panaceanot at 6:23 AM on August 30, 2012


Hmm, I think that very much depends on when you start the clock, so to speak, and also, what you define as "rightist". Deng was part of the rightist elements himself, in many ways, and his policies and reaction against the Great Leap Forward saved many lives and definitely made life better for most people, especially rural.

Deng was definitely rightest on economic issues. For heaven's sake, he was purged two or three times for being some variant of a "capitalist roader" during his career, although his precise views (and especially rhetorical terms, which confuses the issue) on the market economy would obviously vary from those of people in the the West who share many of his general views.

The Great Leap Forward is, I suspect, a far more complicated situation than most people realize. It is not sufficient to dismiss it as "Mao cynically let people starve." Mao was, I think, sincerely concerned with the rural worker and wanted what he saw as best for them. That it went horribly horribly wrong has a couple of elements combining to make a disaster.

1. The initial efforts at collectivization seem to have been moderately successful -- joining a set of families into a collective to maximize equipment usage and economies of scale is not necessarily a bad idea and there is some evidence it worked (at least in the short run).

2. The problem seems to have started when people at all levels, eager to please the central government and its ideological doctrine, began to fudge the numbers. So collectives reported better results, local government inflated those results, district-level officials inflated those results, etc. When the central government began rewarding people for their "success" a) it became impossible for anyone in the chain to admit that they had maybe fudged things a bit and b) everyone else realized that, if they wanted a share of the praise, they were going to have to fudge, too.

3. The central government, based on pretty much fictitious numbers, began to plan. They released more food to be used locally, which meant that small surpluses were exhausted. Meanwhile, Mao had gotten into a pissing match with the Soviet Union which included China shipping lots of food which the Soviet Union needed to show how Chinese Communism was better. This made for deficits at the local level, because the reserves that the food shipments were being theoretically paid out of didn't exist.

4. The early successes (and the inflated perception of success) led to an acceleration of collectivism without adequate infrastructure, increasing structural problems (e.g. it is way easier to slack off when you are in a collective of 1000 people than when you are in a collective of 40). Economies of scale could not keep up with the inefficiencies of scale and the failure of management and organization of resources.

5. When reality began to intrude, officials at all levels couldn't back down from their earlier claims, so they just fulfilled quotas based on centralized demands by taking it away from the rural workers. When the problems began to be noticed at the national level, admitting failure of the system was pretty much impossible (at least in part because of the aforementioned pissing match) and, once the first vocal critic, Peng Dehuai, was silenced, no one was going to do anything but pretend. This was Mao's moral failing, not the earlier part.

6. There is more to it -- the attempts to move industrialization and civil engineering to low-level collectives were ill-conceived and ill-executed, but their problems were really a sideshow to the famine that resulted from, essentially corruption at all levels of the government and refusal of the power elites to respond in a timely manner to the problem. Since this pattern is pretty common in Chinese history going back at least to the First Emperor (with distressingly similar results), it's worth considering that there is a systematic problem in the Chinese historical state that exists beyond the personal failings of Mao and his associates.

None of this is intended to excuse Mao. While it is likely that a severe famine would have resulted due to the utter failure of communication from the rural areas to the central government, Mao et al still failed to react swiftly to the crisis, immensely exacerbating the problem and increasing the death toll many times over. Looking for historical parallels, however, we might aim less at deliberate genocidal regimes and more at political failures like the mid-19th C British Parliament which allowed the Potato Famine to grow beyond a natural disaster into a full-fledged calamity out of a lack of interest and political will to address the problem. While the dead likely don't care about the ultimate intentions of the politicians who caused their deaths, historians sort of have to.

On the other hand, some people characterise the Red Guard as rightist, as well, and they - and the cultural revolution - well, they made it worse for a lot of people, for sure. But they made it better for a lot of people in some ways too.

I have trouble with this -- the Red Guard were, at their outset, so ideologically Left that characterizing them as Rightist seems, well, nuts. They seem more to follow a common pattern of Millenarian cults, where the initial ideology gets swamped in large numbers of people wanting to rebel against all sorts of dissatisfaction, the promise of a New Jerusalem overwhelms any sort of rational planning and goal-setting, and the infiltration of power-seekers, hooligans, and criminal elements into the original leadership renders the who exercise into a sort of aimless insurrection.

However, I will admit that I've only just begun to look at the Cultural Revolution, so my ideas are half-formed at best. I have heard someone defend the Cultural Revolution as good for the rural Chinese, who managed to avoid a) the worst of the disruptions and b) managed, to some degree, to purge corruption and push for greater parity with urban interests, but I have no idea how to evaluate that claim yet.

The whole left/right dichotomy really breaks down when you start talking China, doesn't it?


Well, yes. It's what I think of, as a librarian, as classification error -- when you have a classification structure you use to make sense of things and then you apply it to a different situation, you have to be sure that you are not "adjusting reality to match your classification" rather than the other way around.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:25 AM on August 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


wait a sec are we talking about the french revolution or the chinese one

i feel very strongly at all times and sometimes i get confused
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:34 AM on August 30, 2012


It's your stage five in that list where the criminal aspect of the Great Leap deaths comes into it, as I understand it GenjiandProust. There's more than ample evidence that as well as failing to resist or reappraise the quotas, they were enforced with violence and against farmer resistance, long after malnutrition and starvation were in evidence. In the end, for all the rhetoric, the state and its goals and interests took precedence over the actual people. This fits with Sen's idea about democratic deficits exacerbating famine.
posted by Abiezer at 6:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


>Criticize Mao all you like, but the guy was seriously concerned with the condition of the rural peasant (and, interestingly, it seems women)

Interesting, but not surprising. Concern about the oppression of women was pretty central to the radical movements in China during the early 20th century. It was in the air, as it were, that Mao breathed. Mao's first writings, from before he considered himself a communist, focus on it.


It seems though, that Mao had some fairly deep personal convictions about the status of women, deriving partly from his first unhappy (and arranged) marriage followed by the local suicide of a woman opposed to her own arranged marriage. The similarity in their situations seems to have sparked a genuine personal sense of the inequalities women faced. Now, I am not sure how deep his convictions ran, and it's pretty likely that his later behavior, although likely exaggerated, probably included keeping a sort of harem (with the attendant likely lack of essential consent). So Mao was hardly a feminist, but he seems to have been considerably outside of the mainstream of early 20th C Chinese society on this issue.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


How high is too high a price to pay for dead emperors, kings, and queens? Where is your boundless and infinite sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression for millennia?

Pope Guilty, I am mostly in your court on this thread, but I am not sure we have to take either side. Saying "the other side did it worse longer" is, maybe, an explanation, but it's not an excuse, and, if we really want an equal society, we shouldn't tolerate that. Nor should we knee-jerk condemn, either, but try to understand what worked and what went wrong and maybe try to predict and avoid those problems in the future.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:41 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't see it as condescension so much as a recognition that Chinese workers are in fact responding rationally to their own conditions.

There was some of that, sure, but I got the distinct impression that the author viewed any resistance that didn't include political reform to be incomplete. But I also get the distinct impression that the Chinese working class doesn't care much about the things the author thinks are important, i.e., political liberty and social services. They just want to do their work, get paid their wages, and live their lives. They don't seem to care much about participating in the political process, particularly if the political process gives them what they want. The authors seem dissatisfied with that, and not just on the practical level either. I didn't read their concern as "They'll never get what they want unless they do these other things too," as much as "They really ought to want these other things, and it's frustrating that they don't seem to."
posted by valkyryn at 6:44 AM on August 30, 2012


I also get the distinct impression that the Chinese working class doesn't care much about the things the author thinks are important, i.e., political liberty and social services.
What leads you to that conclusion? I certainly hear those sort of issues raised often enough, and you can see from other 'mass incidents' like the recent resistance to chemical plant sitings showing that people will stick their neck out for 'quality of life' issues too.
posted by Abiezer at 6:48 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's your stage five in that list where the criminal aspect of the Great Leap deaths comes into it, as I understand it GenjiandProust. There's more than ample evidence that as well as failing to resist or reappraise the quotas, they were enforced with violence and against farmer resistance, long after malnutrition and starvation were in evidence. In the end, for all the rhetoric, the state and its goals and interests took precedence over the actual people. This fits with Sen's idea about democratic deficits exacerbating famine.

This is turning into me commenting a little too much, so I think I will back off for a while, but I think you have the correct view here, more or less. The problem with laying it all at Mao's feet, though, is that there are two levels of "governmental failure" here:

1. Mao and the central government refuse to accept the information that Peng Dehuai brings them because it's politically inconvenient. They allow the situation to escalate essentially through inaction and a refusal to face reality until the situation is unavoidable. That's a kind of passive evil.

2. The regional and local governments take a more active role in brutalizing the peasants to fill quotas that they should be reporting as unsupportable. This is a kind of active evil driven by an extreme form of covering their asses, since, apparently, beating the shit out of people and taking all their food was easier than admitting that the bureaucrats fudged the books earlier to make themselves and their districts look good.

You have a tragic combination of extreme centralization and poor communication combined with everyone looking out for themselves and insisting on ideology over reality instead of addressing the needs of the people who they were supposed to govern. Essentially, what I am saying is that Mao deserves a huge helping of blame, but there were systemic problems that exacerbated every bad decision that the central government made, and these systemic problems are typical of Chinese political organization going back millennia rather than an inherent flaw specifically in Chinese Communism. (Which doesn't mean that Chinese Communism is perfect, either, it's just that blaming it for it for its own failings (and recognizing its own strengths) is probably more fruitful than the typical American (and, to a lesser degree, Western) reaction to Communism as an ideology).
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems though, that Mao had some fairly deep personal convictions about the status of women, deriving partly from his first unhappy (and arranged) marriage followed by the local suicide of a woman opposed to her own arranged marriage. The similarity in their situations seems to have sparked a genuine personal sense of the inequalities women faced. Now, I am not sure how deep his convictions ran, and it's pretty likely that his later behavior, although likely exaggerated, probably included keeping a sort of harem (with the attendant likely lack of essential consent). So Mao was hardly a feminist, but he seems to have been considerably outside of the mainstream of early 20th C Chinese society on this issue.

I'm in basic agreement with you. My point was just to emphasize that concern with women's inequality was not unique to Mao during the time when he was radicalized. I feel it's a useful point to make given the tendency for people to assume that such concerns have historically been unique to the West.

Using a label like feminist for Mao is going to be problematic for a number of reasons. It's a word which encompasses a multitude of different positions. It's always a contingent, historically and culturally conditioned label. I think Mao's conviction around these issues was genuine and long-standing (and an important part of the struggles against more conservative forces withing the Party - as in the anti-Confucius campaign in the 70's and his comment shortly before his death that "the next Cultural Revolution will be waged by the women for the women"). Fundamentally though, Mao was a communist and any concerns he had that might be identified as being in line with a feminist perspective fits into how he viewed communism, that is, they are a part of transforming all areas of society. And while I've learned to be very wary of anecdotes about demonized figures, it's certainly possible in his personal life he was quite backwards. He did marry a hot movie star, after all.
posted by williampratt at 6:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


if the death of millions isn't a reasonable objection to a political system then I don't know what you think would be.

So what happens when you apply that same rubric to, say, the United States? Given the many millions killed and countries destroyed by endless wars, death squads, terror campaigns, coups and the like; the literal, officially sanctioned genocide of the indigenous population; the bottomless horror of slavery; the untold millions who have died through US-imposed economic policies: do these therefore count as a "reasonable objection to a political system?" Especially since these do not involve a relatively short time period but are extant for long periods, including through today. Or do you think of ways to excuse them?

Coming from the other side of the political spectrum, perhaps?

What side of the political spectrum one comes from doesn't mean anything. What counts is the methodological and epistemological principles being used, the consistency with which they are used, and how well they get to the truth of things (understanding truth here as a complex, contingent and usually contradictory and unfolding process, as opposed to a finite and static end point).

I'll stop commenting, and see if anyone has any actual sourced material that I could read to reverse my opinion of the guy.

I have different suggestion. Given that there are god knows how many thousands of easily accessed "sourced material" available, and you publicly comment with confidence on the subject, how about you just do the work yourself? I formed my take on Mao through reading that material (FWIW, in the process of writing a dissertation on the topic, though I focused primarily on political philosophy). You seem to have formed your opinion by being largely ignorant of that material. I think Mill is applicable here: "He who only knows his side of things, does not even know that."
posted by williampratt at 7:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


How high is too high a price to pay for dead emperors, kings, and queens? Where is your boundless and infinite sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression for millennia?

These are the justifications every villainous demagogue relies on: every Stalin, every Hitler, every Mao. I think we can be sympathetic for the poor and oppressed of the past while still recognizing the monstrous evil of communism in the 20th century.
posted by shivohum at 7:49 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh good, I was worried this would be a discussion about an interesting article. Glad to see that instead we get a pointless yelling match about whether Mao was worse than Hitler - that's something fresh we can all appreciate!
posted by cdward at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2012


There was some of that, sure, but I got the distinct impression that the author viewed any resistance that didn't include political reform to be incomplete. But I also get the distinct impression that the Chinese working class doesn't care much about the things the author thinks are important, i.e., political liberty and social services. They just want to do their work, get paid their wages, and live their lives.

I'm not sure the author thinks that political liberty in the Western democratic sense is important, they didn't mention it and in general Marxists don't assign it a high priority.

When the author talks about the lack of a political component to the worker actions, I think they mean in the Marxist sense that the workers don't have a sense of themselves as workers per se nor do they demonstrate worker solidarity. Obviously that's something that a Marxist would wish they did have.

On social services, I think the point is that the structure of the Chinese labour market makes it irrelevant to the workers. When you work somewhere for a short period of time, you will not be motivated to fight for anything that you can't immediately cash out. That's logical. If that continues to be the way that the market for labour is structured, then we will continue to see workers striking only for wage increases. Just to be clear, there's nothing wrong with that, it's the rational thing for them to do. If however, assembly work moves closer to the sources of labour then things may change. We can see that Chinese workers are not intrinsically only interested in wages, because in state enterprises that do not hire primarily migrant labour they agitate to gain (or to prevent losing) working conditions, job security and other non-wage benefits.
posted by atrazine at 8:33 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The legal system, comprising workplace mediation, arbitration, and court cases, attempts to individualize conflict. This, combined with collusion between state and capital, means that this system generally cannot resolve worker grievances. It is designed in large part to prevent strikes.

This seems to be the goal of management everywhere. It's like the 20th C never happened, or, at least, only the bad parts.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:31 AM on August 30, 2012


MetaFilter: i feel very strongly at all times and sometimes i get confused
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm finding williampratt's and Pope Guilty's arguments for Mao's positive influence surprisingly familiar. They're essentially the same as those given by apologists for imperialism and neoliberal globalisation. "Sure, a few peasants get fucked, but you really have to take the long perspective."

The Great Leap Forward was not a sad but necessary byproduct of bringing the benefits of modern society to the Chinese people. There were plenty of other countries which managed to achieve growing life expectancy and falling infant mortality without slaughtering millions, Just as there are plenty of European states that managed to thrive without sacking non-European states for resources and convenient captive markets.

Morality isn't mathematics. You shouldn't get to shoot ten people in the head, save twenty, and beat the murder charge because you're "ten ahead." Not if you live in Beijing circa 1965, or London cira 1865, or Washington circa 2001. Especially when there's no real cause-and-effect connection between the butchery and the benefits. It's like Britain claiming that the parliamentary system and improved sanitation made the Conquest, the many idiotic and exploitive actions of the imperial administration, and that whole massive Indian famine a wash, ethically speaking. It's not just appalling - even if you accepted the breaking eggs argument, there's no connection to the omelet.

How high is too high a price to pay for dead emperors, kings, and queens? Where is your boundless and infinite sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression for millennia?

In the same place with our sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression by Mao Zedong. Some of us don't make distinctions on the basis of convenience.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:32 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh good, I was worried this would be a discussion about an interesting article. Glad to see that instead we get a pointless yelling match about whether Mao was worse than Hitler - that's something fresh we can all appreciate!

Hmmm. Wished I had read that before I posted, because you have a point...sorry to contribute to the derail.






Fuck Mao, though.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:36 PM on August 30, 2012


Yes, estimates - which vary considerably, and some of the highest rely on very dubious methodologies that would almost certainly not be used if they weren't being applied to an officially sanctioned 'monster.'

Sure, they go as low as 15 or 18 million, or even lower, sometimes. What a loathsome tack that is to take, though -- hey, it might not have been 30 million! Maybe it was only 20! Or 10! And that's just a drop in the bucket, amirite? Where's your cut off point where it doesn't matter for one's outrage what the number is, but merely the fact of such an skyscraper pile of corpses? I would be ashamed of myself for having tried to apologize for mass murder by suggesting the number might not be all that big.

And there are other factors one should take into account when making an assessment of Mao and his policies.

That's one way to look at it. I think it's the wrong one, even if I do acknowledge things are never entirely black and white. I would suggest that the advances made during Mao's time -- and let's not make the mistake of comparing the plight of the Chinese in 1949 with the situation now when we're discussing Mao and his pernicious influence, but rather 1949 and, say, 1980 -- occurred in spite of him rather than because. To be honest, if we look at the 30 years or so from 1950 to 1980, more or less, few of the things you mentioned actually improved all that much if at all for most Chinese, and for very many, things got much worse indeed before they got better, if they got better at all.

I would suggest that in the absence of Mao and the system that was built around his worship, life in China for most may have gotten better faster, than it did under him. I would suggest that he and the CCP damn near destroyed the country, certainly destroyed countless lives -- a whole generation's worth, at least -- and slowed progress towards a better Chinese society far more than they ever spurred it But might have beens are masturbation when it comes to history, I admit.

Nonetheless, I disagree quite strongly with your assertion 'On balance, I think the evidence is the Mao left China in a vastly better situation than he found it.' I do flatly believe that he was a monster and a killer on a massive scale, and like all ideological True Believers, a fool.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:35 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Great Leap Forward was not a sad but necessary byproduct of bringing the benefits of modern society to the Chinese people. There were plenty of other countries which managed to achieve growing life expectancy and falling infant mortality without slaughtering millions, Just as there are plenty of European states that managed to thrive without sacking non-European states for resources and convenient captive markets.

About those plenty of European states:

Which? And when? First, colonialism affected the entire European continent's economic life, so colonialism was a net improvement to standards of living on the European continent (with differences of time and place). Second, there are basically three categories of what European states did in relation to colonialism: expanded within Europe, expanded outside of Europe or didn't really thrive (obviously, at different times, various states tried several of the categories, but they usually found themselves in one category, and late to unify states like Germany and Italy aimed for "a place in the sun" with desperate and violent non-European conquests). Switzerland is the only one I can think of that did particularly well - by becoming Europe's banker and mercenary provider, along with minor principalities that look picturesque today, but if they thrived, it was through a niche.

If you mean after World War 2, that's within Cold Ward, with the US world system and Marshall Plan or within the Soviet Union, which has its own skeletons.
posted by Gnatcho at 5:00 PM on August 30, 2012


In the same place with our sympathy for those systematically starved, murdered, used as pawns of war and oppression by Mao Zedong. Some of us don't make distinctions on the basis of convenience.

That's bullshit, because it is possible to have threads about capitalism that do not degenerate into shouting matches over who despises Carnegie or Rockefellar or Hearst or Andrew Jackson or Leopold II the most.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:08 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


That it went horribly horribly wrong has a couple of elements combining to make a disaster....

I think that's an excellent and balanced summary of the different takes/factors around the GLF, flagged as fantastic.

I also get the distinct impression that the Chinese working class doesn't care much about the things the author thinks are important, i.e., political liberty and social services..

No offense, Valkrynyn but what in sweet georgia brown would you know about what the Chinese working class thinks?? Holy bananas, even the Chinese working class would struggle to know what it thinks, given the state resources poured into muddying the waters, shutting down conversation, and promulgating bullshit. Additionally, I don't even know if there is such a thing as the Chinese working class, in any meaningful sense in the way you've used it. China is a huge country with staggering diversity of opinion, culture, demographics. Comparing the working class of a Shenzen factory is very different from the working class of farmers on the Tibetan plateau, disnenfranchised Uighurs in Xin Jiang etc etc is a pretty fraught exercise for someone who's not an expert, imho. Do you even read Mandarin?
posted by smoke at 5:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]




Everything You Think You Know About China Is Wrong: Are we obsessing about its rise when we should be worried about its fall?

Should we be worried about property developers and moderately insane boom economics leading to leverages that assume 12% GDP growth a year? Yeah, of course it's running too hot, and sooner or later the S curve starts to slacken off for everyone (hello early 90s Japan) and you see who has a wildly overoptimistic loan book.
posted by jaduncan at 9:53 PM on September 2, 2012




What in the fuck.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:37 AM on September 9, 2012


Didn't you read the article? They're interns.

Besides, without corvée labor the iPhone 5 might be delayed.

Anyway, I'm sure that this sort of thing would be remedied when Obama no longer needs to focus on winning a second term.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:19 PM on September 9, 2012


I posted a link to it on Facebook just before I went to bed and obviously nobody actually read the article, because the discussion I awoke to was about how bad unpaid internships are. /sigh
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 PM on September 9, 2012




So it's totally not forced or coerced, except for the coercion. It's like they got somebody from von Mises or the Libertarian Party to do their PR.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:45 PM on September 10, 2012






Zakaria: What in the World? [Aired August 5, 2012 - 10:00 ET]
This past week, an unusual state of affairs caught my eye. I expect protests in China to be stamped out pretty quickly. Instead, not only did the government recently allow a large group of protesters to run amok, it also apologized and caved in to their demands. What in the world?

Let's begin in the town of Qidong, about an hour north of Shanghai. Thousands assembled to protest against the construction of an industrial waste pipeline. And then something rarely seen in China took place. Despite the presence of scores of policemen, the protesters went wild.

Hundreds entered and took over an entire government building. Computers were smashed. Outside, cars were overturned. At least two police officers were beaten up. I would have expected Beijing to retaliate with great force. Instead, it caved. The waste disposal project was abandoned. And the state-run "People's Daily" applauded the decision, writing that a responsible government should create an inclusive environment for public opinion."

Here's what's even more surprising. The same thing happened a few weeks earlier. Tens of thousands of citizens of Shifang in Sichuan Province staged a protest against a smelting plant. It was met with anti-riot police and tear gas, but later, the government relented, doing a u-turn and shutting down the $1.6 billion project. The two protests, despite being about 2,000 miles apart, are actually connected. Residents of Qidong said they were inspired by the news of the successful demonstration in Shifang.

There's another connection. The protesters in both cities mobilized on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, where as many as 300 million users share news, photos, and discuss politics.

According to the consulting firm McKinsey, China has "by far the world's most active" social media population. Ninety-one percent of its surveyed internet users visited a social media website in the last six months, compared with 70 percent in South Korea, 67 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in Japan.

The internet, despite Beijing's best efforts at censorship, has empowered and connected China's people in a way that could not have been envisioned even a few years ago.

So, are the events of Qidong and Shifang part of a larger trend? Will it spread? For now, it seems not. From years of watching China, one thing is apparent, Beijing picks its battles.

If people complain about pollution or the environment, it increasingly has begun to make some concessions, but protests over economic policy produce less change. And demands for political liberalization are met with a very different kind of response.

Also, many of these decisions are actually taking place at the local and provincial levels, where governors have significant powers and independence. So sometimes these provinces will tolerate demonstrations as a pressure valve to let off steam.

In other cases, most cases they crack down. The key is whether protests in one place build momentum to a regional or national level, and that's what Beijing works very hard to prevent. But about four in ten Chinese now have access to the Internet. As China advances, that ratio will grow and grow. In the past, Beijing could contain the flow of information from one part of the country to another. But that might prove increasingly difficult as the Chinese people get more and more connected. The Internet will not make China free. That will take actual Chinese reformers and revolutionaries and organized movements. But technology does in some ways help the cause of individual liberty here.
re: hukou reform - "China's urbanisation to date hasn't created a booming middle class, and it won't unless there are major reforms to the hukou system."

viz. Rethinking the welfare state: Asia's next revolution & Asian welfare states: New cradles to graves

cf. Five decades reshaped how we spend on health care & the crisis in China's health-care system (Drugs and emerging markets & Indian patent rules infuriate Big Pharma)

China's economy: The sceptics' case - "MICHAEL PETTIS, a thoughtful analyst of the Chinese economy who teaches at Peking University, has long been sceptical that China's investment-heavy economy can rebalance in favor of household consumption unless observed GDP growth slows down significantly." [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9]

also see...
-Has the Great Rebalancing already started?
-How do we measure debt?
-By 2015 hard commodity prices will have collapsed

and btw...
-69% of recent college grads in China earn less than migrant factory workers
-A Bellwether of Chinese Revolution
-Western expats saying goodbye to China does not bode well for economic growth
-iPhone manufacturer scraping by on thin margins and risks of factory closures
-China's shifting demographics and their impact
-Getting old before getting rich in China - "Some people are just not satisfied that Foxconn pays us so little and asks us to work long hours..."
-Apple's 'headaches' - "The most telling quote about Apple's recent stumbles didn't come from CEO Tim Cook. It came last month from Terry Gou, the chairman of Apple manufacturer Foxconn. Discussing the rise of robots in production Gou said: 'As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.' "
posted by kliuless at 8:33 AM on September 29, 2012


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