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Revolutionary China and Its Late-Capitalist Fate

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A Review of Au Loong Yu, China’s Rise: Strength and Fragility, and Other Recent Writings on China

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This essay examines several works that contribute to an understanding of the nature of contemporary Chinese capitalism and its historical development. Core issues include the character of the bureaucracy, which has had a distinctive relationship to capital formation, and the character of the working class. The periodisation of Chinese capitalism and the relation between the pre- and post-reform periods are pressing political and analytical concerns. This essay suggests the advantages of a clearer focus on the dynamics of depoliticisation in understanding the transition. The contemporary left-intelligentsia in China has in large part pinned its hopes on achieving some form of ideological hegemony within the ccp, maintaining that it still operates within its revolutionary tradition. This represents a questionable strategic gamble. Acknowledging the important contributions made by Au’s book and other recent characterisations of China’s political economy from the left, this essay suggests that there remains much to be done.

Affiliations: 1: University of California Santa Cruz


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