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The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy Paperback – March 1, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A thought-provoking account. Li considers the consequences of the entry of China into the global capitalist system, in light of the challenges facing human society from economic, political, and environmental constraints. This book makes a major contribution."
-—David M. Kotz,University of Massachusetts, Amherst



"Li has accomplished something different and very important. He has placed the ‘rise of China’ from the Mao era to today in the context of the history of the entire world-system. He makes a persuasive case."
-—Immanuel Wallerstein,Yale University

About the Author

Minqi Li is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah. He became an adherent of radical economics as a political prisoner in China from 1990-1992 and began an intensive study of China’s economy and its role in the world capitalist system upon his release.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158367182X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583671825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,447,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had hoped this would be a hopeful book somehow laying out a convincing argument that China's rise will eclipse the disintegrating international capitalist economy and usher in a new world order focused on meeting human needs in an environmentally sustainable manner. Sadly, that is not this book's argument.

"Chinese socialism was the historical product of a great revolution, which was based on the broad mobilization and support of the workers and peasants comprising the great majority of the population. As a result, it would necessarily reflect the interests and aspirations of ordinary working people. On the other hand, China remained a part of the capitalist world-economy, and was under constant and instance pressure of military and economic competition against other big powers. To mobilize resources for capital accumulation, surplus product had to be extracted from the workers and peasants and concentrated in the hands of the state. This in turn created opportunities for the bureaucratic and technocratic elites to make use of their control over the surplus product to advance their individual power and interests rather than the collective interest of the working people. This was the basic historical contradiction that confronted Chinese socialism as well as other socialist states in the twentieth century."

The author, Minqi Li, was a member of the student dissident movement of the 80s in China. He describes the milieu during which he studied neoclassical economics at Beijing University: "The 1980s was a decade of political and intellectual excitement in China.
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Format: Paperback
This book is less than 200 pages long but is so well written in clear prose expressed very conscisely. I learned an overview of China's modern imperial history, the Chinese Civil War, Maoism, the coming of capitalism to China in the late 1970s, the Tiananmen Square protests, Immanuel Wallerstein's world systems theory, the ecological and energy implications of Chinese (and other semi-peripheral nations) industrialization among much more. The book made me want to read and learn more (which I plan to do via the works listed in the bibliography).
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This short book sets out a hard hitting argument as to where the "world system" is heading in response to the rise of China (and India). The argument runs something like this. The world system as it has evolved since the sixteenth century has depended on a hegemon to set the rules and maintain a framework within which the capitalist system works. That hegemon was originally the Dutch Republic during the days when it was the world's financial centre. It was replaced by Britain and then by the United States. With the United States in relative decline and China (but also powers such as India and Brazil) rising, that hegemony is drawing to an end. The author sees no real successor to the United States as hegemon because of structural weaknesses within each possible successor (even if China is the likeliest successor). These weaknesses are likely to prevent the successor from taking over the role the US has played. Further, under the challenges of diminishing resources and climate change, the author sees little prospect of any successor to the United States being able to command adequate resources to succeed the United States and support a hegemonic position. The United States itself is now too weak to continue that role especially in light of the strong challenge posed by China (and others).

The problem posed specifically within the framework of Marxist "world systems" theory is that capitalism always depends on looking for the cheapest labour and has moved from place to place in the search for the cheapest labour. The last major viable reserve of labour was China which global capitalism began to exploit from the 1980's onwards.
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Format: Paperback
The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy

Minqi Li (Monthly Review Press 2008)

Review by Lucia Green-Weiskel
originally published in Global Politics:

[...]

Is China the beacon of an alternative model country?

As a 1989 Tiananmen Square veteran, author Minqi Li risked his own life to defend free market democracy twenty years ago. Now, after seeing the impact of free markets on the quality of life for working people around the world, Li has become a Maoist/Marxist. Li is not ambiguous or ambivalent. He concludes: "A socialist world-government with global democratic planning will offer the best hope for humanity to survive the coming catastrophes and preserve the most important accomplishments of human civilization."

Li, an economics professor at the University of Utah, presents a China that is on the rise - although not as a military menace, but instead as the beacon of an alternative model country and one that will be asked to "provide system-level solutions to the system-level problems left behind by the US hegemony." Up until now, Communist China through its export-led economic growth has merged with and indeed played a key role in the global system of US-led capitalism. Now, as this system is in a state of demise, argues the book, China as a rising power will have to redefine itself in this new climate.

But there is a problem: Li doesn't see the leadership in China as quite up to the task. "Given the rules of the capitalist world economy," he writes, "can we count on the Chinese capitalist elites ... to act in accordance with human's long-term common interest?
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