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Strategic Redefining of Traditional Discourses

Swaran Singh

By Hari Sharma
Daanish Books, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 176, Rs. 400.00


As Hu Jintao enters his second term of office as President of China, his vision of a ‘harmonious society’ bridging the gap between the rich and poor continues to struggle against China’s dominant hard realities of economic and political forces seeking continued high-growth rates as a prerequisite for social cohesion and political stability and security of the regime at its core. Especially, the success of its economic reforms, juxtaposed with its rising military and political clout, has kept China in the midst of all regional and global strategic debates and the course that China takes is increasingly seen to impinge upon the future of much of the world. Meanwhile, China has been and continues to remain an enigma of sorts for most commentators.   The book under review deals with some of these mysteries about China’s economic transformation in the recent past. What makes it especially interesting is that this book itself happens to be a collection of six review essays on a book by Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett titled China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle originally published by the Monthly Review Press of New York in 2005 that book has since been reproduced in several European and Asian languages, including in India by Aakar Books in 2006. Given its sharp and pointed conclusions, the original volume has been the subject of major debates.   The book under review is a result of the Roundtable that was convened by the Critical Asian Studies, which commissioned critical reviews of the aforesaid book, China and Socialism, by expert economists, sociologists, anthropologist as also those from areas studies like East Asian and Chinese studies. However, while China and Socialism focused on post-Deng reforms and concluded that much of the uncontested optimism about the success of China’s economic miracle ‘flies in the face of working-class realities … a world of deepening conflicts, more confusion, economic dislocation, and decay’ (p. 126), the CAS Roundtable tried to broaden the canvass by examining some of these themes from the post-1949 factual, conceptual and doctrinal perspectives to see if Deng’s reforms can be seen as stand-alone aberration.   It is interesting to note that the original book-project, China and Socialism, was triggered by authors attending a conference on Marxism in Cuba which seemed to eulogize China’s sustained economic growth especially its capacity to attract foreign direct investment and project this as the ‘growth model’ for the rest ...

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