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China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle


The fastest-growing economy in the world today is that of China. For many on the left, the Chinese economy seems to provide an alternative model of development to that of neoliberal globalization. Although it is a disputed question whether the Chinese economy can be still described as socialist, there is no doubting the importance for the global project of socialism of accurately interpreting and soberly assessing its real prospects.

Hart-Landsberg and Burkett’s China and Socialism argues that market reforms in China are leading inexorably toward a capitalist and foreign-dominated development path, with enormous social and political costs, both domestically and internationally. The rapid economic growth that accompanied these market reforms have not been due to efficiency gains, but rather to deliberate erosion of the infrastructure that made possible a remarkable degree of equality. The transition to the market has been based on rising unemployment, intensified exploitation, declining health and education services, exploding government debt, and unstable prices.

At the same time, China’s economic transformation has intensified the contradictions of capitalist development in other countries, especially in East Asia. Far from being a model that is replicable in other Third World countries, China today is a reminder of the need for socialism to be built from the grassroots up, through class struggle and international solidarity.

Hart-Landsberg and Burkett present an insightful analysis of the internal and external contradictions of Chinese capitalism. They convincingly argue that the Chinese experiment of market socialism has led to nothing less than full-fledged capitalism exactly as classical Marxist theory would have predicted. China and Socialism will prove to be one of the most important contributions to the Marxist literature on contemporary China.

— Minqi Li, York University, Toronto

A work that strips away the myth that Chinese socialism survives in the midst of unrestrained capitalist practices.

— Harry Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster, editors of Monthly Review

Martin Hart-Landsberg is professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College, in Portland, Oregon, and author of The Rush to Development: Economic Change and Political Struggle in South Korea and Korea: Division, Reunification, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Paul Burkett is professor of economics at Indiana State University and the author of Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective.

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Publication Date: March 2005

Number of Pages: 128

Paperback ISBN: 9781583671238