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156 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994© 1994 by University ofHawai'i Press Deborah A. Kaple. Dream ofa Red Factory: The Legacy ofHigh Stalinism in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. xvi, 163 pp. Hardcover $35. In Dream ofa Red Factory, Deborah A. Kaple looks for fhe roots of post-1949 China's first factory management systems. She finds them in a likely though rather frightening place: the propaganda publications of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. The reader finishes her book with a deeper understanding of the foundations of the earliest communist Chinese management methods, though one may feel unsatisfied that Kaple's description of the Chinese "dream" ends so abruptly in 1953. Kaple's argument is straightforward yet compelling: in 1949 (and, in the northeast liberated areas, even earlier), the victorious Chinese communists needed some kind of model on which to base their socialist industrial development . Capitalist countries had little to offer beyond what the Chinese saw as their old repressive system, so the natural guide for China lay to fhe north, in the Soviet Union. But how to copy the USSR? And what elements of the Soviet system were of greatest potential value to the new People's Republic? Kaple asserts that the post-World War II Soviet Union and its rapid recovery from Nazi ravages presented an appealing model for the Chinese. Like fhe USSR, China had just finished many years of battles, and required methods both to assert control quickly over fhe country's citizens and to ignite industrial development among the urban work force. The years of Soviet "High Stalinism" ( 19461950 ) seemed to indicate the way to the dream of creating "red" factories all across China. The mefhods prescribed a powerful role for the communist party's factory representatives, and gave supporting roles to labor unions and youth organizations . The main problem for the Chinese was finding the exact blueprints of the High Stalinist management architecture. Here lies the crux of Kaple's argument: as the USSR was slow to send experts to China in Aie early 1950s, the only source for learning Stalin's methods was through Russian texts and articles translated into Chinese. But virtually all of the Russian works of this period were in fact propaganda , writing often inftated to glorify Stalin's accomplishments. The Chinese, fhen, received a model of a system that Kaple notes was eventually abandoned (as early as 1947) in the USSR itself. The book does a fine job of listing many original Soviet texts the Chinese chose to translate and adopt in their own propaganda and in actual factory practice . In fact, High Stalinist reliance on the overarching role of the communist party, on unrelenting worker inculcation of socialist virtues, and on quasi-mili- Reviews 157 tary appeals to patriotic work ethics in fhe factory setting did seem suited to a China trying to convert new immigrants to the cities into an urban socialist proletariat . In describing the sometimes terrifying "Three-Anti" and "Five-Anti" campaigns of the early 1950s against corruption, waste, and various "enemies" of the new rulers of their country, Kaple illustrates how the Chinese leaders captured the Aavor of the brutal tactics employed by the USSR's tyrannical dictator. As Kaple notes, however, High Stalinist rule proved too strict and overbearing in the USSR itself, and was apparently secretly abandoned in 1947. Here we begin to find an important shortcoming in Kaple's work: while she states that Aie Soviet methods were "unworkable and economically counterproductive" (p. 110), we are never told exactly why they failed, and, perhaps more important, what replaced them. Furthermore, though Kaple describes the Chinese meticulous copying of the Soviet example, she gives few hints that High Stalinism would fail in China in fhe same way Aiat it did in Stalin's USSR. Both of these points could be addressed by carrying the argument just a few years into the future. What management reforms existed in the Soviet Union in the mid-1950s that varied from the Stalinist model? Did the elements of Soviet managerialism persist in their raw form in China after consolidation of communist control? Perhaps these questions would have less urgency if Kaple...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 156-157
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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