In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 205 Barrett L. McCormick and Jonathan Unger, editors. China after Socialism: In the Footsteps ofEastern Europe or EastAsia?Armonìa, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. An East Gate Book, viii, 214 pp. Hardcover $64.95, isbn 156324 -666-x. Paperback $24.95, isbn 1-56324-667-8. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Western sinologists have searched—at times even hoped—for impending signs that a comparable process, either ofdissolution or democratization, would erupt in China. The Maoist view of socialism (with or without "Chinese characteristics") is generally assumed to be a discredited ideology ; the only question for many is how and when Communist rule in China will end. The peculiar combination offree-market economic reforms and political control—"one hand open, one hand shut"—seems to contradict conventional theories of development. Yet Party rule continues, confounding the experts. In the nine papers ofuneven quality collected in China after Socialism, the arguments ofboth doomsayers and optimists become longer-term, more sophisticated , and more qualified. Unlike the title, which (like most ofthe chapters) originates from a 1993 conference at Australian National University, the contributors ' papers are not restricted to only two possible explanations of China's future. Editors McCormick and Unger promise no "hard and fast pointers" or "simple either-or choices" (Introduction, p. 3), and the analysis largely lives up to their stated "wish to understand the forces presentiy at work in China." As the dualistic , assumption-ridden title hints, however, China after Socialism nevertheless suffers from a methodological haze.' Perhaps appropriately, given the current state of China's development, the collection presents a banquet oftoo many courses that do not quite belong together. Although many dishes are well seasoned and prepared , the meat too often slides offbetween die chopsticks. Broadly stated, the two competing paradigms of China after Socialism boil down to "Transformation of Communist Systems" (the name of the project that sponsored the Australian conference) and "The Miracle Dragon (or Tiger) Economies ." Each takes up roughly halfofthe book, the first including papers by Mark Seiden, Barrett L. McCormick, Graeme Gill, and Robert F. Miller, the second featuring Jonathan Unger, Anita Chan, Wong Siu-lun, Gordon White, and Paul Bowles. Predictably, the writers in the first section lean on Western and Eastern European sources, focus on political structures, and take a dimmer view of China's prospects than the second group. Gill, for instance, draws a useful dis-© 1998 by University úncúon between "liberalization" and "democratization," where the first "entails a of awai ? resswinding back ofstate control, but in such away that the essential capacity ofthe political authorities remains intact" (p. 54). Market reforms do require change within the system, but there is "no necessary link" to democratization (p. 72). 206 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Both and Gill and Robert F. Miller, however, generalize to a "China at the crossroads " scenario whereby eventually China's leaders will have to choose between political stability and further reforms (pp. 72, 94). As in the Leninist states of Eastern Europe, ifpolitical control is loosened, the entire regime would collapse due to die emergence ofwhat Barrett McCormick, following James Scott, terms "hidden transcripts": alternate ways ofpolitical discourse that the current regime suppresses (pp. 37, 50). Miller even explicitly argues that a "third way" ofgradual, authoritarian change from above "is not really a viable alternative" to the freemarket system and "the essential elements of economic transformation" (p. 74). Each of these conclusions follows from the syllogism that China's political system is Leninist, and Leninist systems have collapsed in Eastern Europe. The logic is excellent, but the first premise is flawed: the fact that Chinese politics exhibits many Leninist roots and features does not prove that all Leninist systems are comparable or necessarily follow similar trajectories of reform. Mark Selden's chapter on agriculture, though weakened by unsupported assumptions and several syntactical errors (pp. 22-23), demonstrates how die Chinese experience of collectivization differed radically from that in the Soviet Union, leaving farmers better prepared to profit from marketization in the 1980s. Once economic reforms began, overseas Chinese capital, which had fled the mainland in 1949, began to flow back, a source of funds to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 205-208
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.