State and Market in Development: Synergy or Rivalry?

By Louis Putterman; Dietrich Rueschemeyer | Go to book overview

9
State, Cooperative, and Market:
Reflections on Chinese
Developmental Trajectories

MARK SELDEN

The 1980s was the decade of the market. From the triumph of Reaganism and Thatcherism in the West to the demise of the ideological orthodoxies and the collapse of core institutions associated with Stalinism and Maoism in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China, state- and collective-centered approaches to the political economy were discredited and in full retreat. Amid the celebration at the demise of Marxism-Leninism and existing socialism and the near universal recognition of their economic as well as political bankruptcy, it seems almost churlish to note that the central developmental issues that spurred the challenges to capital and the market over the last century—problems of core and periphery, of poles of inequality of wealth and poverty, of exploiter and exploited, of powerful and powerless—are as salient as they have been at any moment in human history. If socialism is dead and all but buried, evidence is elusive to show that capitalism has achieved significant developmental breakthroughs on a global scale. In particular, I find no evidence that unfettered market forces in the Reagan-Thatcher manner, recently touted by many, East and West, has anywhere proved effective in advancing the developmental clock for poor and peripheral nations or, for that matter, for rich and powerful ones. We know, moreover, that in every single example of the “miracles” of Japan and the newly industrializing economies, whose economic dynamism has been widely heralded if rarely emulated successfully, substantial and sustained state intervention has controlled markets and restricted the domain of international capital, particularly in early and fragile stages of the development process.

This chapter explores three distinctive if overlapping approaches to Chinese political economy framed over half a century in the revolutionary base areas and in the People’s Republic, assessing their economic and sociopolitical implications and reflecting on the possibilities and limits of socialist development alternatives. In the process, we range widely over issues pertaining to accumulation and growth, industry and agriculture, city and countryside, equity, income and consumption, and empowerment. The

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