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400 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Despite this criticism, the book is a valuable reference for Chinese economic reform. It represents an official exposition of the great transformation of the Chinese economic system during the early stage of the reform era. Chu-yuan Cheng Ball State University Chu-yuan Cheng is a professor ofeconomics specializing in studies ofthe Chinese economy and has published thirty-six books on this subject. m Hill Gates. China's Motor: A Thousand Years ofPetty Capitalism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996. xiv, 326 pp. Hardcover $35.00, isbn 0-8014-3143-3. This is a heroic attempt by anthropologist Hill Gates to rehabilitate the "spirit" (p. 6) ofMarxism as a viable explanatory framework for the last thousand years of Chinese history, including the present. She tries to show how the rulers and people of a modified socialist state can prosper through the rulers' manipulations of an overgrown "Petty Capitalist" market which is the "motor" ofboth state and society. Ultimately Dr. Gates fails to rehabilitate Marxism, but in passing provides a number of illuminating insights on the inner logic of some key aspects of Chinese history and (both wittingly and unwittingly) on the conceptual and moral limitations of Marxism. Dr. Gates worries (p. ix) that her conclusions will embarrass non-Marxist scholars, mostiy fellow anthropologists, upon whose work she has drawn. She probably need not be concerned. Most contemporary anthropologists think well to the left, and at worst are merely too shy to make their material-determinist explanatory framework as overt as she does. Gates can also expect (though she might be embarrassed by) sympathetic treatment from Chinese apologists for the so-called "new authoritarianism," who also hope to synthesize a relatively open but politically neutered market with a relatively mild but politically authoritarian state defined and run by Marxists. Dr. Gates calls the vigorous and growing Chinese market since Song times by 1997 by University ^ Mandst name of¬ęPetty Capitalist Mo(je 0fProduction" (PCMP). She employs the traditional Confucian word "tribute" to characterize die political economy of the state and its servants as the "Tributary Mode of Production" (TMP). ofHawai'i Press Reviews 401 Gates' TMP is already familiar notjust, or even primarily, to Marxist material determinists but to their philosophical opposites, particularly the followers of the late philosopher ofhistory, Eric Voegelin.1Voegelinians might be characterized , using nomenclature parallel to Marxist material determinism, as practitioners of "ideational determinism." Gates herself sometimes comes perilously close to becoming a closet Voegelinian. She avoids this only by discounting her own narrative ofideational religious material and arbitrarily assuming that the claims it contains by rulers to a linkage with the transcendent must be bogus, reflecting Earthly rather than Heavenly forms. She thereby forecloses by assumption any way for the rulers to justify their receipt oftribute from the ruled in exchange for reconciling the ruled with the transcendent. Voegelin argues that hypocrisy is impossible to sustain in such matters. Successful rulers ofeach new stage of civilization seem first to perceive Heaven in a new way and then "re-present" their vision of Heaven onto Earth in the forms of the organization of their new state and society. Gates has her Chinese, both rulers and ruled, do the reverse and use their earthly organizations, both political and economic, as models for constructing their visions ofHeaven. Like Voltaire, she merely assumes that men always make their gods in man's own image and never the other way around. Voegelin, however, claims that such cynicism, like Voltaire's, tends to become dominant only during a crisis of civilization. Such a crisis occurs when the evolution ofEarthly institutions outgrows the honestly perceived but always limited vision ofHeaven that gave rise to these institutions in the first place.2 Gates would probably agree that China, possibly since Song times and surely since the Ming, has moved ever deeper into such a crisis of civilization. She is more convincing when she argues that (at least over the last millennium ) popular religion has been conceptually more antagonistic to than reflective ofrulers' religion (pp. 151, 155 n. 3, 168). A fair-minded Voegelinian could accept almost all of Gates' teasing of socioeconomic political...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 400-405
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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