In the early 1980s, China undertook a massive reform that dismantled its socialist rural collectives and divided the land among millions of small peasant families. Known as the decollectivization campaign, it is one of the most significant reforms in China's transition to a market economy. From the beginning, the official Chinese accounts, and many academic writings, uncritically portray this campaign as a huge success, both for the peasants and the economy as a whole. This mainstream history argues that the rural communes, suffering from inefficiency, greatly improved agricultural productivity under the decollectivization reform. It also describes how the peasants, due to their dissatisfaction with the rural regime, spontaneously organized and collectively dismantled the collective system. A closer examination suggests a much different and more nuanced story. By combining historical archives, field work, and critical statistical examinations, From Commune to Capitalism argues that the decollectivization campaign was neither a bottom-up, spontaneous peasant movement, nor necessarily efficiency-improving. On the contrary, the reform was mainly a top-down, coercive campaign, and most of the efficiency gains came from simply increasing the usage of inputs, such as land and labor, rather than institutional changes. The book also asks an important question: Why did most of the peasants peacefully accept this reform? Zhun Xu answers that the problems of the communes contributed to the passiveness of the peasantry; that decollectivization, by depoliticizing the peasantry and freeing massive rural labor to compete with the urban workers, served as both the political and economic basis for consequent Chinese neoliberal reforms and a massive increase in all forms of economic, political, and social inequality. Decollectivization was, indeed, a huge success, although far from the sort suggested by mainstream accounts.
Connects the Marxist construct of capitalism to systems of community In this book, Michael Lebowitz deepens the arguments he made in his award-winning, Beyond Capital. Karl Marx, in Capital, focused on capital and the capitalist class that is its embodiment. It is the endless accumulation of capital, its causes and consequences that are central to Marx’s analysis. In taking this approach, Marx tended to obscure not only the centrality of capital’s “immanent drive” and “constant tendency” to divide the working class but also the political economy of the working class (“social production controlled by social foresight”). In Between Capitalism and Community, Lebowitz demonstrates that capitalism contains within itself elements of a different society, one of community. Whereas Marx’s intellectual construct of capitalism treats it as an organic system that reproduces its premises of capital and wage-labor (including a working class that looks upon the requirements of capital “as self-evident natural laws”), Lebowitz argues that the struggle of workers in common and activities based upon solidarity point in the direction of the organic system of community, an alternative system that produces its own premises, communality, and recognition of the needs of others. If we are to escape the ultimate barbarism portended by the existing crisis of the earth system, the subordination of the system of capitalism by that of community is essential. Since the interregnum in which capitalism and community coexist is marked by the interpenetration and mutual deformation of both sides within this whole, however, the path to community cannot emerge spontaneously but requires a revolutionary party that stresses the development of the capacities of people through their protagonism.
Published for the first time in English, this influential work discusses the author's conception of historical materialism, outlining the conditions of reproduction in capitalist society and the revolutionary struggle for its overthrow and addressing questions that still haunt us today. Original.
In The Undevelopment of Capitalism, Emigh argues that the expansion of the Florentine economic market in the fifteenth century helped to undo the development of markets of other economies--especially the rural economy of Tuscany. As this highly developed urban market penetrated rural regions, it actually erased rural market institutions that rural inhabitants had used to organize agricultural production and family life. Thus, an advanced economy at the time of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance "undeveloped" over time. The economic development of this region in Italy was delayed as it failed to keep pace with the rest of Europe. Using a negative case methodology to show how urban and rural markets change, Emigh employs methods of historical sociology and sectoral theories to examine how markets can prosper and suffer at the same time. She shows how sectoral relations are crucial to transitions to capitalism and how capitalist development can also contract markets.
This volume explains China's economic rise and liberalization and assesses how this growth is reshaping the structure and dynamics of global capitalism in the twenty-first century. China has historically been the center of Asian trade, economic, and financial networks, and its global influence continues to expand in the twenty-first century. In exploring the causes for and effects of China's re surging power, this volume takes a broad, long-term view that reaches well beyond economics for answers. Contributors explore the vast web of complex issues raised by China's ascendancy. The first three chapters discuss the global and historical origins of China's shift to a market economy and that transformation's impact on the international market system. Subsequent essays explore the ability of large Chinese manufacturers to counter the might of transnational retailers, the effect of China's rise on world income distribution and labor, and the consequences of a stronger China for its two most powerful neighbors, Russia and Japan. The concluding chapter questions whether China's growth is sustainable and if it will ultimately shift the center of global capitalism from the West to the East.
In 1871, the workers of Paris took control of the city. When they established the world's first workers' democracy, they found no blueprints or precedents for how to run their city without princes or politicians. As they built new institutions of collective power to overturn social and economic inequality, their former rulers sought to thwart their efforts. By noting the historic problems of the Commune, debates over its implications and the glimpse of a better world it provided, Gluckstein reveals its enduring lessons and inspiration for today's struggles.