We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Thousand Li: an introduction to a three part series on China; and Part 1

Click here to access article by Chuang, "a collective of communists who consider the 'China question' to be of central relevance to the contradictions of the world’s economic system and the potentials for its overcoming."

This introduces an attempt to understand China's history from a materialist point of view and where it might be headed. Both the introduction and the first part are quite lengthy, and sometimes abstract, but I think it is worthy of study by anyone what seriously wants to understand China and its increasing role in the world's economy. There has been far too little from authentic sources in English which attempts to do that. 
In this journal, our goal is to formulate a body of clear-headed theory capable of understanding contemporary China and its potential trajectories. In this first issue, we outline our basic conceptual framework and illustrate the current state of class conflict in China. We also include translated reports and interviews with the proletarians engaged in these struggles, pairing our theory with primary sources drawn from class dynamics that might otherwise remain abstract. In general, we see our project as part of the recent revival in Marxist theory in the English-speaking world, sparked by the economic crisis of 2008 and the struggles that followed. More specifically, our theoretical framework is drawn from the work of similar editorial collectives such as Endnotes, Sic, Kosmoprolet and others who speak of communism in the present tense. One of our goals is to expand this framework beyond the US and Europe. At the same time, we hope to add to the global perspective of this theory by examining the implications of Chinese economic trends outside of China.

To understand the living, however, one must first turn to the lost. Though taking the present moment as our starting point, we are also in a way performing burial rites for the dead generations who have populated the collapse of the communist horizon in East Asia. This issue therefore opens with a long-form article on the socialist era, “Sorghum and Steel: The Socialist Developmental Regime and the Forging of China,” the first in a three-part series aiming to narrate a new materialist history of modern China (the next two parts will be included in subsequent issues).