Ecological Civilization, Indigenous Culture, and Rural Reconstruction in China

By Tiejun, Wen; Kinchi, Lau et al. | Monthly Review, February 2012 | Go to article overview

Ecological Civilization, Indigenous Culture, and Rural Reconstruction in China


Tiejun, Wen, Kinchi, Lau, Cunwang, Cheng, Huili, He, Jiansheng, Qiu, Monthly Review


The governments of almost all developing countries are facing the long-term twin problems of capital shortages and high fiscal debts, resulting from their attempts to modernize the state forms and economic and financial relations left by colonialism or copied from western political culture. Whether they claimed to be of the left or the right ideologically, they almost invariably undertook policies to attract foreign investment and encourage domestic private investors to join the global industrialization competition during the twentieth century.

When one looks across many countries, there is a general pattern that seems clear - the greater the reliance on agriculture as the main source of employment, the poorer they are. But such a causal relationship gives a false impression. Up to the present the heavy institutional costs of industrialization with a modernized political superstructure, occurring together with a backward economic infrastructure, have not been recognized. Most developing countries have traveled down this one-way path, and sooner or later they have fallen into the trap of "modernizing" while leaving the institutional cost to the people and the environment.

Continental China, the biggest developing country, with the largest population (but also with significant natural resource constraints) has close to 20 percent of the world's population, but only 9 percent of its arable land and a mere 6 percent of its fresh water.1 Over the centuries, China had its share of drought- or flood-induced famines. But if not for a 6,000-year history of irrigated agriculture, with its related "village rationality" based on traditional indigenous knowledge - which internalizes risks by its multifunctional rural cultures of sustainable self-reliance - China would have been a land of perpetual hunger.

China has in large part accomplished the historical process of transition from primitive capital accumulation for the formation of high-risk urban industry - although at an extremely heavy internal cost to rural society. It is unique in being the only emerging industrialized nation among the "underdeveloped" countries that has been able to pass through an industrial revolution while retaining an "indigenous" population larger than 100 million. (Here we use the term "indigenous" to refer to the retention of indigenous knowledge and culture among a considerable part of Chinese society, the 99%, as differentiated from Hong Kong or Shanghai which were transformed by western colonial culture.) But China has continued to suffer after entering the period of industrial expansion. Its problems were not just caused by the severe crisis of the mid-1990s, when government debt to GDP was 140 percent, and 30 million urban workers were made jobless, hence stirring up a big noise about "China collapse" from the Western media. These problems were also related to the impact of the East Asian financial turmoil in the late 1990s, at the same time as China was in the process of joining the World Trade Organization, and thus becoming increasingly integrated into the world competition of financial capital.

The political and ideological efforts of global capitalism have caused a century of conflicts. They are manifested in chronic overaccumulation (excess capital and excess capacity), reflecting a shortage of profitable investment outlets, relative to investment-seeking surplus. Such contradictions are evident at the global level and in China itself. China entered the World Trade Organization with a significant industrial capital surplus and, this, according to orthodox economic views (particularly in the West), worsened the global industrial capital competition in the mid-2000s. It also changed the international view of China from one of encouragement and applause for its new direction, to the one concerned with the so-called "China Threat" to the capitalist world-economy.

However, the real question with regard to the future of China, we would argue, is more ecological than economic. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ecological Civilization, Indigenous Culture, and Rural Reconstruction in China
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.