The Rise of the Social: For a Communist Moral Economy



The most creative thinking emerged from China regarding the invigoration of Chinese socialism rejects conventional modernization and globalization in their prevailing forms. The new vision is “local,” local national, local social, and local communal, in the sense of locally desirable and feasible, as a negation of the standard modern markers of relentless industrialization, urbanization, commodification, and homogenization. In line with a normative Chinese model outlined in Chapter 5, this project toward satisfying needs, common pursuits, and free development of individuals and communities must be measured according to its own goals. It could be a long and difficult yet confident process in which the direct producers assume their rightful place in crafting an unparalleled political economy as an advanced social formation born out of China’s indigenous, revolutionary, and socialist traditions. Such a formation is to be based on thorough socialization as opposed not only to isolated petty production but also to private control over the market, thus paving the way for a future global postindustrial and postcapitalist reorientation. The ongoing struggles in China to undo privatization of land and strategic industries are intrinsic to the reinvention of local and national moral economies, a project that breaks the monopolistic yet false equation of capitalism and the modern.


Direct Producer Socialist Market Global Capitalism Socialist Market Economy Moral Economy 
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  1. 3.
    For a more detailed discussion see Lin Chun and Tian Yu Cao, Reorienting Socialism in the 21st Century: The Chinese Experience and Beyond ch. 4, London: Routledge (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    The foremost classical treatments of the agrarian origins of capitalism within the Marxist perspective are by Engels, The Peasant Question in France and Germany (1894), Karl Kausky, The Agrarian Question (1899), and Lenin, The Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899). Marx focuses on the English path as the most typical. Lenin compares the Prussian and American paths: in the former “pre-capitalist feudal landed property transforms itself into capitalist commodity production, converting its previous labor force of peasants into dependent wage workers”; while in the latter “without feudalism and transition from it; capitalist farming emerged from once-independent smallholders who become increasingly subject to the economic compulsions of commodity relations from the late 18th century” (Bernstein 2010: 30–32). The East Asian path debated among the comparative economic historians is reviewed in Chapters 2 and 7.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Exclusive intellectual property rights might be required by normal market function, but their limits and absurdity are obvious in any true “knowledge economy” or “information society.” However outrageous the current Chinese practices—which are often against formal laws and intended regulations—might be, in principle privatization of knowledge and information is obsolete. Cf. Eben Moglen, “The dotCommunist Manifesto”, 2003,

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© Lin Chun 2013

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