Determined to transcend the textbook categories of productivity, rate of return, etc., the authors (two Australian...


THE CHINESE ROAD TO SOCIALISM: Economics of the Cultural Revolution

Determined to transcend the textbook categories of productivity, rate of return, etc., the authors (two Australian economists who have worked in China) underline the ""non-economic"" aims and accomplishments of the Cultural Revolution. Maintaining economics and politics as wholly distinct categories, they view ""moral incentives"" as non-economic determinants, then show how the incentives have boosted production and invention. The book begins with a survey of 1949-1965 development, emphasizing the 1961-1964 New Economic Policy, which the authors think pushed rationalization of production at the expense of social values. The book is convincingly critical of the centralized-bureaucratic-modernization approach to planning, wage policy, technological innovation, pricing mechanisms, etc.; but instead of formulating constructive criticism of the Cultural Revolution's specific alternatives, Wheelwright and McFarlane stick to praise of the power transfer from administrators to local-level committees. And when they posit the Cultural Revolution as simply a continuation of Mao's general policy line, they contradict their own view that it represents a reaction against NEP policies. The book suffers from the unavailability of current overall statistics; nor do the authors even indicate the short-term material setbacks ensuing from the Cultural Revolution. Based instead on interviews and factory visits, the recent economic picture is too circumstantial to stand by itself as a basis for analysis. The Dernberger-Gray debate in Wilson's China After the Cultural Revolution (1969) is more succinctly to the point: but given this book's superiority to the run of I-was-there reports and the paucity of serious sympathetic overviews, no ambitious collection can dismiss this survey.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 1970


Page Count: -

Publisher: Monthly Review Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1970