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Monthly Review Volume 72, Number 5 (October 2020)

October 2020 (Volume 72, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

This special issue of Monthly Review, “China 2020,” is the product of a long period of cooperation with critical Chinese Marxist scholars. This has resulted in an extensive series of articles on contemporary Chinese social and economic relations since 2012, to which most of the authors in the present issue have previously contributed. It takes on a special significance due to the growing conflict between the United States and China, making critical Marxist analysis in this area all the more important. | more…

A clerk counts cash at a bank in Nantong, Jiangsu province

China 2020: An Introduction

In the twenty-first century, all signs are pointing to another period of hegemonic struggle over the world economy, this time between the United States and China, although complicated in this case by the unique, indeterminate aspects of the post-revolutionary Chinese social formation, which is neither entirely capitalist nor entirely socialist. | more…

Progress in phase-one trade deal talks signals hope

U.S.-China Trade War

Has the Real "Thief" Finally Been Unmasked?

In 2018, Washington launched the trade war against China. Measures included sharply increasing the customs tariffs borne by certain products imported from China, further barriers to imports from China, and sanctions against Chinese companies targeted by bans on the use of U.S.-made inputs. By June 2019, as tariff increases hit new sectors, China was no longer the United States’s largest trading partner. | more…

A Boeing factory in South Carolina, US, employs about 7,000 workers

Toward Delinking: An Alternative Chinese Path Amid the New Cold War

During the 1960s, China was effectively excluded from the two major camps: the Soviet camp and the U.S. camp. For about a decade, China was obliged to seek development within its own borders and thereby achieved some extent of delinking: a refusal to succumb to U.S.-eurocentric globalization and an embrace of a people’s agenda of development. While foreign relations were later normalized and China once again brought in foreign capital, since being explicitly targeted as the primary rival of the United States, however, the situation may again warrant moves toward delinking and searching for alternatives, with ups and downs along the way. | more…

Rice fields in Jiande city, Zhejiang province, Sept 17, 2020

Tracing a Trajectory of Hope in Rural Communities in China

Survival Bricolage of Zhoujiazhuang and Puhan Rural Community

Zhoujiazhuang and the Puhan Rural Community offer contrasting experiences of how communities in different parts of China have responded to, negotiated, and undergone extensive changes during the last forty years since the reform policy was implemented in the country in 1979. | more…

A farmer operates a harvester to reap rice in a field at Xiaogang Village in Fengyang County, east China's Anhui Province, on Sept. 27, 2018

Revisiting Collectivism and Rural Governance in China

The Singularity of the Zhoujiazhuang People's Commune

Zhoujiazhuang is singular, being the only de facto people’s commune in China today. At present, Zhoujiazhuang still maintains the political, economic, and social structure that has been essentially in place since 1956. For over sixty years—since ten years before the Cultural Revolution and thirty-eight years after the dismantling of almost all people’s communes in 1982—Zhoujiazhuang has survived as an organizational unit over the same territory comprising the same six natural villages. | more…

Local staff members of Puhan cooperatives in the field

Negotiating Debt

The Making of Puhan Rural Community in North China

Originally set up in 1998 in China, the Puhan Rural Community was the first peasant-initiated, cross-village organization established after the collapse of the top-down people’s communes and the implementation of the household responsibility system. Puhan learned a lesson about the exploitation of usurious microfinance and decided that it was capable of establishing a system of mutual aid credit by itself, changing the cultural emphasis on money. Its story of struggling with rural financial organizations opens up a debate on the trap of marketization and monetization, the root causes of loans and debts, the negotiating power of collectives, the production mode of ecological agriculture, and the redefinition of the commonwealth. | more…

Indian and Chinese national flags flutter side by side at the Raisina hills in New Delhi, India, in this file photo

India, COVID-19, the United States, and China

Since the emergence of COVID-19, the United States has quite openly decided to use the crisis, at a global scale, as a weapon against its perceived rival, China. In this context, India has taken a number of steps to restructure its relation to China, asserting economic stances and implementing policies that are becoming more and more closely entwined with its geopolitical positions and aspirations. | more…

Virus also reawakens Wests racism

The Yellow Plague and Romantic Anticapitalism

COVID-19 is a great revealer, laying bare the structures of racial disposability that have sacrificed people, from migrant detainees to meat packers. We are also witness to the rise of anti-Asian violence. Brutal attacks against Asian Americans have exposed the fraudulence of the model minority myth and the assimilationist paradigm that legitimizes state violence against Black and Brown bodies. | more…

President Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong-un, June 12th 2018

The Angler and the Octopus

Kim Jong-un's Ongoing Peace Offensive

Ever since the United States divided the Korean peninsula in 1945, North Korea has had to cope with the existential challenge of U.S. hostility. Korea marks the western boundary of the empire, a border area where the sea power of the United States adjoins the land power of Russia and China. North Korea has been able to utilize this liminality to create a sovereign stateÑthe Democratic People’s Republic of KoreaÑwhose independence is not welcomed by either Moscow or Beijing but tolerated because the alternatives, a client of the other or absorption into the U.S. empire, are considered worse. Washington, as global hegemon, has been less willing to tolerate this independence but has faced constraints. The result has been a policy of hostility, of unrelenting diplomatic and economic war of varying intensity, stopping short of actual kinetic war, though never far from it. | more…

Idle workers at Ford Motor Company's Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan in December, 2018

Economic Surplus, the Baran Ratio, and Capital Accumulation

In 1957, in the Political Economy of Growth, Paul Baran made a seminal contribution to our understanding of the connection between economic surplus—a concept he introduced into the development discussion—and growth. Given that the ruling class controls the surplus of society, how the surplus is used—whether it is invested, consumed, or simply wasted—is at its discretion. The effective utilization of surplus implies a reasonable rate of capital accumulation and economic development. In the following study of the utilization of surplus I compare the size of surplus and gross capital formation in a variety of countries starting from the mid–nineteenth century. | more…

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