Reviewing Mao’s China
Thanks to John Rudge for unearthing and collecting these reviews
John Rudge Issued Version 17th June 2019
During the early years of the Socialist Review Group (SRG), Tony Cliff, using his real name of Ygael Gluckstein, published two “academic-type” books. Stalin’s Satellites in Europe appeared in 1952 and Mao’s China: Economic and Political Survey appeared in 1957. Both books were published in the UK by George Allen and Unwin, and in the USA by Beacon Press.
The books were widely reviewed at their time of publication, mostly by academics or Russia and China experts in the professional and specialist press – but there were a number of reviews from the socialist press. I have previously presented the majority of the English language reviews of Stalin’s Satellites in Europe (Rudge, 2018). It now seems appropriate to do the same for Mao’s China.
Before turning to how others saw the Mao’s China book in terms of the reviews, I will, however, show how the book presented itself in the form of its sleeve-notes. I have chosen to reproduce the sleeve-notes of the US edition as, firstly, they are slightly more useful than the UK edition, but also, secondly, fewer UK readers will have seen these before. Here they are:
“With this book in his hands, the reader has available a vast amount of factual material drawn from the official Chinese Communist publications. It can no longer be said that we just don’t know the facts about Mao’s China, because here they are. And because of the universal importance of the present regime, the need for comprehensive and accurate information on the subject is obvious.
Perhaps the most significant revolutionary movement of this generation stems from the rise to power of Mao Tse-tung and the efforts of the Maoist bureaucracy in its mighty effort – whatever the cost in human terms – to break through the vicious circle of poverty, inefficiency, and backwardness, to modernise the country and turn it into a great industrial and military power.
Various facets of Mao’s regime are brought to bear on the central theme: land reform, forces “collectivisation”, the subordination of consumption to accumulation, bureaucratic management of industry, the increasing limitations of workers’ legal rights, the spreading of forced labor, the stratification of the trade unions, the differentiation of society into privileges and pariahs, an erection of totalitarian police dictatorship.
The author also discusses the centrifugal and centripetal forces affecting the Moscow-Peking bloc. He further analyses the historical, national, and international roots of Mao’s bureaucratic State Capitalism, which takes the stage accoutered as Socialism and Communism.
This is an authoritative and immensely valuable work. Ygael Gluckstein is the author of Stalin’s Satellites in Europe, and he is a frequent contributor to economic periodicals and learned journals. He has been doing research on Communist regimes for many years. The present study brings together official statements; reports and resolutions of conferences; laws and decrees; speeches of the leaders; and articles from the Chinese Communist press.
Says Karl Wittfogel, author of Oriental Despotism and Director of the Chinese History Project of the University of Washington and Columbia: “This is an extremely careful study which evaluates Communist China, not on the basis of fleeting impressions or doctrinaire generalities, but with the well-tested methods of social science. Mr. Gluckstein is thoroughly familiar with the Chinese Communist literature. He has a thorough knowledge of pertinent Soviet conditions. He therefore speaks competently and most instructively.”
Ian Birchall (2011) gives over a few pages of Tony Cliff’s biography to Mao’s China. Here are some of Ian’s key points:
“Cliff provided a remorselessly detailed account of economic and social life in post-revolutionary China, showing the real achievements of the new regime, but also the enormous difficulties it faced….Inasmuch as Cliff attempted to show that the theory of state capitalism applied to China, he made a plausible case. As an account of Chinese society the book had serious limitations. In some ways it became outdated almost as soon as it was written….The strength of the book was the way he drew the contrast between the desperate poverty of China and the needs of accumulation. The mass of detail on the conditions of both workers and peasants showed that both were objects of accumulation, without any control over the process….Mao’s China stands up reasonably well in comparison to the more naïve pro-Chinese accounts of the period….The analysis, revised and developed by Cliff himself and by Nigel Harris, served to immunise Cliff’s followers against the lures of Maoism, which swept like a tide over the international left in the 1960’s, and then receded equally rapidly in the 1970’s, leaving behind a host of demoralised renegades such as France’s “New Philosophers.”
Of course, Ian was writing from a revolutionary socialist perspective, and with the benefit of more than 50 years hindsight. Ian’s views are perfectly fair in that context, but cannot reflect how things seemed at the time. Whilst Cliff presumably wrote the book for a wider political purpose as he saw it, as a hardback edition with a massive price tag of 40 shillings (£2.00), it was never going to have a large sale in the British or American working-class movement.
To understand how the book was perceived at the time one needs to go to Martin Wright’s review for the Socialist Review perspective. To the other left press reviews for the non-State Capitalist perspective. To the array of academic and specialist reviews for a wider feel.
In the first instance, the SRG perspective, is particularly interesting. The reviewer, Martin Wright, clearly has no truck whatsoever with the idea of this being an academic book. On the contrary, he sees it as an exemplary Marxist study, very much in the Third Camp tradition with which the SRG was associated. In fact, the review is doubly interesting. Who was Martin Wright? I have not come across this name elsewhere in the annals of SRG history and during the whole period of Socialist Review publication (1950 to 1962) he is the author of no other piece. Given the precision of the review, the style in which it is written and its easy way with theory and economic issues, it seems to me that Martin Wright is someone with some political experience. It must be a pseudonym. Fortunately, I currently have access to some of Michael Kidron’s correspondence and I have a letter from Mike to Ken Coates dated 9th September 1957: Extracts from the letter read as follows:
“I hear from Terry that you have in fact completed the review of Mao’s China but that you have withheld it because……you are as yet undecided on some theoretical questions and would not want to commit yourself to print before clearing them up……all I can say is that nothing would ever see the light of day if authors were to wait until they have proved their case to their complete satisfaction……One final word. Try, in future, to communicate with me directly, not through intermediaries. The law of entropy affects human discourse as well as natural phenomena.”
Only Kidron could have written those last three sentences! Anyway, assuming Coates delivered his review to the timetable Mike demanded elsewhere in his letter, then Martin Wright must be Ken Coates.
For the wider left press we have International Socialist Review – the theoretical journal of the US Socialist Workers Party being generally positive. The Healyite response from Labour Review is perhaps more balanced than one might expect. From Bert Cochran in The American Socialist(1) we have the suggestion that someone has missed something somewhere. He writes:
“[it] is a product of the same school of draftsmanship: a piece of mature scholarship and careful research – written from the vantage point of the West’s cold war and Western middle-class prejudices against Communism…..Of course, it is a bit of a feat – which has not daunted most of our Western scholars – to be able to write about the greatest revolution since 1917 and miss completely its historic import, to see only its negative features.”
In the instance of the academic and specialist reviews, one would have to say they represent something of a curate’s egg. At one end Harold Hinton says:
“Mr. Ygael Gluckstein, a recognized authority on Communism, has written a work devoted mainly to economic policy and economic conditions in Communist China and (in this reviewer’s opinion) probably the best study of these subjects yet published.”
At the other end of the scale Chao Kuo-Chun opines that:
“The author of this book appears to have spent considerable time in collecting his data, but most of his highly selective descriptions are quite disappointing to those who look for a balanced and analytical work. A writer is entitled to his opinions, but a book needs to be more than a piling up of quotations from mainland Chinese sources which report on specific, albeit often isolated, cases of errors and shortcomings in the programs being carried out in China.”
The majority opinion appears to be somewhere in between these two.
Of course, the book is now massively out of date, but for any student of the history of China and of state capitalism more generally, it is still a valuable addition to any library.
- The American Socialist was the organ of a pro-Pablo split in the American SWP. In a letter to Mike Kidron dated 17th August 1957, Sam Bottone of the Independent Socialist League, the US Shachtmanite group, says, “The American Socialist is a group which came out of the Socialist Workers Party, the Cannonites, over the Russian Question (having a more Stalinist point of view) and over the role of the party (for a propaganda group similar to the orientation of the ISL but orientating toward the Stalinist movement).”
Birchall, Ian. 2011. Tony Cliff. A Marxist for His Time. Bookmarks Publications, London, 664pp.
Rudge, John. 2018. Reviewing Tony Cliff’s First Book. Available online:
Mao’s China: Economic and Political Survey – The Book Reviews
1. “China Today and Tomorrow” by Martin Wright in Socialist Review Volume 6 Number 12 October 1957 p. 7.
“Nearly all the books which have appeared on New China to date are either pro-Kuomintang or pro-Communist. Now for the first time a genuine third camp study has appeared. Without an axe to grind for Chiang Kai-shek or Mao Tse-tung, the author, Ygael Gluckstein, subjects his quarry to a dispassionate analysis which is very clearly based upon a profound grasp of the Marxist method.
Though fundamentally critical of Mao’s regime, Gluckstein’s study does not depend upon personal vilification or simple hatred for the ideas to which the Chinese Communist Party adheres. Neither, fortunately, does it depend upon a rigid pre-conceived theory revealed by a long string of quotations and references from the “great masters”. Gluckstein instead relies upon an immense wealth of facts derived from an extremely wide range of sources consisting largely of Chinese Communist publications, but also of studies by recognized experts on every aspect of his analysis. This factual material gives overwhelming weight to Gluckstein’s underlying theory, the keynote of which is given in his opening sentence.
“Whatever path of development Mao and the Communist Party choose for China will be determined substantially by the material heritage of the former regime.”
This heritage was, and still is, as his study reveals abysmal, unbelievable poverty. China’s net income per head of population in the 1930’s was less than one-third of the net income per head of population in England in 1688 – much lower than the equivalent figure in India in the 1930’s. Though primarily an agricultural country, in 1951 she had less cultivated land per head of population than Modern Britain. In a country of nearly 600 million people, there were only 2000 tractors in 1951. Even in comparison with India, her industry is backward and the capital per head of population negligible. Gluckstein demonstrates most clearly that China is far more backward than Russia was in 1913 – four years before the Russian Revolution.
In such circumstances, as anyone with the vaguest notion of economic science knows, the only means of increasing production is capital investment on a vast scale. A United Nations report, Measures for the Economic Development of Under Developed Countries (1951) estimated that in the Far East, excluding Japan, 7,666 million dollars per annum would be required to raise national income by 2 per cent per head of population annually (p. 76). Yet net domestic savings were scarcely one-tenth of that figure. In the absence of investment or loans from abroad on a gigantic scale, therefore, to increase output China would have to find increased savings at home.
Mao’s solution to the problem has been primarily to squeeze the peasants and to subordinate industrial workers to a ruthless discipline. In addition, forced labour has been employed on a vast scale and strong diplomatic pressure has been brought to bear on Russia to secure the greatest possible volume of economic aid. As a result investment has been stepped up, though it is still a smaller percentage of national income than in the 1st Russian Five-Year Plan. The concentration of the investment programme on heavy industry has been much more extreme than in Russia and neglect of light industries which produce goods for the market more marked.
This means that despite greater output per head of population, real income in terms of consumption goods is and must, if investment is to proceed, be held down.
Inevitably these aims and methods must determine the character of the regime just as similar aims and methods – not the personality of any individual – determined the character of Stalin’s Russia. However, given the greater economic backwardness of China the roots of these methods are much stronger. Gluckstein gives ample evidence to confirm this view.
For example, he makes it clear that the degeneration of equalitarian traditions has proceeded more rapidly in the first few years of the New China than they did in Bolshevik Russia. Though the gap between the earnings of bureaucrats and workers is still less than in Russia, it is much greater than it was seven years after the Russian Revolution. Again, the development of secret police control of propaganda, the extreme centralization of power, the monolithic character of the Communist Party, rigged elections – all accepted features of Stalinism – are part and parcel of the system. Even the leader cult is there and Gluckstein gives examples which reveal how far it has emerged already. The reason for these developments is that they are necessary to prevent resistance against the policy of demanding more output from the mass of the people without permitting an equivalent rise in living standards – the only policy which will enable China to develop her resources without enormous foreign aid.
Gluckstein’s conclusion is that China “will be the strongest and most impregnable citadel of Stalinism” (p. 421-2. My emphasis – M.W.). As China’s backwardness is so much greater than Russia’s, not to speak of Russia’s European satellites, her working class so small and lacking in cohesion and culture, the forces compelling the bureaucracy to grant concessions, perhaps even threatening to blow up the regime through revolutionary explosions are much weaker in China than in Russia and even more than in Eastern Europe.
In this view he differs fundamentally from those who attempt to explain history in terms of personalities; from the fellow travellers who argue that Mao is less brutal, and that China’s path will be smoother than the Russian; from so-called Trotskyists who see a Chinese uprising on the Hungarian model in the offing.
At a time when many of us working in the British Labour movement are seeking to build a Marxist tendency independent of Stalinism, such a book is of immense importance. One of the primary needs today is for an independent Marxist study of contemporary problems and Gluckstein’s book represents a weighty contribution to this end.
Even for those who reject his conclusions, this book is vital to a real appreciation of what is going on in China today. Every socialist who cannot afford to buy it should at least make a point of borrowing it from his public library and reading it, for it is an essential piece of reading not only on China but also on the problem of development in backward countries and on the nature of Stalinism.
Meanwhile, it is to be hoped that the author, who has already written a Marxist study of Eastern Europe since the war will turn his attentions to other spheres and produce Marxist studies of other contemporary problems. A host of subjects occur to one’s mind which cry out for such an analysis and I for one look forward with anticipation to the appearance of his next book.”
2. “Mr. Gluckstein’s China” by John Whitaker in Labour Review Volume 2 Number 6 (November-December 1957) pp. 186-187.
“By now we all know what to expect from a study by Mr. Gluckstein of a country ruled by a Communist Party – a multiplicity of quotations from the home and foreign Press and a detailed analysis of statistical reports, all strung together with remorseless efficiency to establish a conclusion he knew before his studies were even begun. So let us begin, like Mr. Gluckstein (and the White Queen) with the conclusions first. Mao’s China is a State capitalist country ruled by a bureaucracy with all the main characteristics of a class and being driven forward, inevitably and inexorably, by the same laws of capital accumulation as operate in modern monopoly capitalist countries, suitably modified by the fact that the class of bureaucratic State capitalists fully but collectively owns and controls the means of production The dust jacket blurb (often the product of the author) sums up the book admirably:
“It analyses the historical role of the Maoist bureaucracy in its mighty efforts to break through the vicious circle of poverty, inefficiency and backwardness, to wake the sleeping giant of the Chinese nation, modernize the country and turn it into a great industrial and military power. Various facets of Mao’s regime are brought to bear on the central theme: land reform, forced “collectivization”, the subordination of consumption to accumulation, bureaucratic management of industry, the increasing limitations of workers’ legal rights, the spreading of forced labour….the differentiation of society into privileged and pariahs and the erection of totalitarian police dictatorship.”
In the social sciences it is possible to formulate many different hypothesis, each dealing separately and specially with one particular constellation of selected facts – and it is always impossible to set up an artificially controlled experiment for their verification. A book, especially a big book like Mao’s China, which is elaborating a hypothesis, will normally analyze and select for inclusion that particular array of facts which most suitably fits in with that hypothesis – even though, especially in association with other facts deliberately left out, this array of facts may also be well used to illustrate some totally different hypothesis.
Does this mean it is impossible to verify any hypothesis in political science? Of course not. Put in the rather grandiose terminology favoured by some Marxists: “history decides”.
Mr. Gluckstein’s massive and intensely interesting and valuable tome suffers from these difficulties. He mercilessly collects evidence to show the growth of bureaucracy, the utilization by the Communist Party leadership of the peasants’ revolt for their own purposes, the strangulation of the democratic rights of the workers in industry. But search this book as you will, you will not find any evidence that the workers, peasants and intellectuals can resist, will resist, must resist and are resisting the “inexorable” laws of development of bureaucratic State capitalism. This is no accident. As one reads Mao’s China one feels oneself slowly being gripped by a sense of pessimism, by rabbit-like, paralytic fascination as the bureaucratic snake slowly moves in for the kill.
But what of Mao’s China since Mr. Gluckstein put down his pen and handed over his manuscript to the publisher? Is the advance of “bureaucratic capitalism” so inexorable as it once seemed? Who does Mao have to make lying but concessionary speeches and even give formal permission for strikes? The Khrushchev speech? Molotov’s disgrace? Mao’s weakness for Chinese compromise? No – not these, but the surge forward of the workers in every land, from China to Britain, from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro, from Jakarta to New York – a surge forward to revolutionary consciousness. And this produces, as temporary side-growths, Mr. Cousins in Britain and a Mao speech on “contradiction” in China.
Mr. Gluckstein’s book is therefore a most useful quarry of information on China just yesterday. I hope it will find many readers. I hope (and assume) that all his statistical tables are accurate and that his quotations are literally translated. However, alternative theories about the laws of development of modern China, e.g., that China is a workers’ State with bureaucratic distortions, cover Mr. Gluckstein’s facts, plus many others of a more recent date, much more adequately than does his theory of State capitalism. Therefore, reluctantly, I have to tell Mr. Gluckstein that as a piece of social science and social prognostication, Mao’s China is, along with the theory of State capitalism, a failure.”
3. “Why Bureaucratism?” by BC [Bert Cochran] in The American Socialist Volume 4 Number 12 (December 1957) pp. 20-21.
“Ygael Gluckstein’s study of China is probably the most valuable that has appeared thus far. It inevitably covers much of the same ground that has previously been trodden by China Under Communism by Richard L. Walker and Prospects for Communist China by W.W. Rostow, and is a product of the same school of draftsmanship: a piece of mature scholarship and careful research – written from the vantage point of the West’s cold war and Western middle-class prejudices against Communism. But Gluckstein maintains greater judiciousness about his judgements than does Walker, and in contrast to Rostow, is trying to produce a work of scholarship, not a briefing paper for the State Department. The book is also the superior of the other two in the more logical exposition of its themes and its wealth of cogent statistics and quotations from the Chinese press and official documents. Of course, it is a bit of a feat – which has not daunted most of our Western scholars – to be able to write about the greatest revolution since 1917 and miss completely its historic import, to see only its negative features. As a mithridate to this book, readers are advised to read Solomon Adler’s recent study, The Chinese Economy, which errs from the opposite direction in its uncritical acceptance of the official version of things. Taken together, the two books supply the critical reader with the best background material on present-day China now available in the English language.
One question merits our special attention: the chapter on The New Privileged which attempts to factually buttress Karl Wittfogel’s now fashionable theory of “Oriental despotism”. Gluckstein limits himself to the conclusion that “Now, for the first time in Chinese history, the totalitarianism inherent in Oriental society can come to complete fruition”. Most practitioners of the theory draw even more universal conclusions to the effect that ancient Chinese experience proves conclusively that nationalization of property and production leads inevitably to a new all-embracing bureaucratic despotism. What is this new data? What is it all about?”
This book review extends for a considerable further length in a discussion of the ideas of Karl Wittfogel – but without any other reference to Gluckstein’s book.
4. “The Experts Report on the New China” by John Liang in International Socialist Review Volume 19 Number 2, Spring 1958 pp. 61-63.
“This book is a serious and substantial addition to the growing body of literature about revolutionary China. It is a comprehensive and thorough economic and political survey based mainly on official documents of the Peking government – laws, decrees, speeches, reports, etc. – and the Chinese press. Like most other writers on the subject, the author is not at all friendly to the regime of Mao Tse-tung. This has its positive as well as its negative aspects, for in contrast to the apologists for Stalinism, he presents the new government and party bureaucracy in the cold light of reality, not through rose-tinted glasses.
Without his ever making it explicit, one gathers that Gluckstein’s views of the Peking regime flow, not from any hostility to socialism and revolution, but from a deep antipathy for Stalinism with all its anti-democratic and totalitarian practices. Indeed, he brings out clearly the remarkable similarities between the Maoist regime of bureaucratic absolutism in China and its Stalinist counterpart in the Soviet Union. He describes the “leader cult,” police control of the population (complete with a system of internal passports), bureaucratic mismanagement of the economy, with a special chapter on The New Privileged.
That’s one side of the picture. He also deals extensively with the development programs of the new regime and with the actual accomplishments, properly relating them to the inherited backwardness and also discussing general problems of China’s economic development.
Especially interesting is the chapter on Regimentation of the Working Class. Gluckstein points out how Mao’s rise in the Chinese Communist Party coincided with a transformation of its social composition – from proletarian to peasant. By 1949, he shows, there was a “complete divorce” of the party from the working class. The Shanghai workers, in 1925 when they staged a general strike, and in 1927 when they struck again and seized the city in an armed uprising, established a revolutionary tradition that seemed forgotten in 1949 when the People’s Liberation Army marched in. The workers were merely passive spectators of their own “liberation.” Mao’s strategy of reliance on the peasantry, the author says, completely contradicted the Leninist-Trotskyist conception of the leading role of the working class in the revolution.
“In fact,” says Gluckstein, “the Communist leaders did their best to prevent any workers’ uprisings in the towns on the eve of their being taken.” To prove it, he cites a proclamation by Red Army Gen. Lin Piao just before the capture of Tientsin and Peking and a special proclamation by Mao and Gen. Chu Teh at the time of the crossing of the Yangtze River preceding the occupation of Shanghai, Hankow and Canton.
The fear of revolutionary action by the workers and the manifest attempts to head it off were in line with what was to follow. Says Gluckstein: “After occupying the towns Mao followed a consistent policy of regimenting and atomising the working class, and subordinating it to State and Party.” This he goes on to substantiate with an impressive array of facts.
Ending his volume on a note of pessimism, Gluckstein expresses the belief that China will prove to be
“the strongest and most impregnable citadel of Stalinism. As China’s backwardness is so much greater than Russia’s – not to speak of Russia’s European satellites – her working class so small, and lacking in cohesion and culture, the forces compelling the bureaucracy to grant concessions, perhaps even threatening to blow up the regime through revolutionary explosions, are much weaker in China than in Russia, and even more, than in Eastern Europe. In all probability, if revolutionary events elsewhere do not cause China’s course to be steered along a different path, she will have to pass through a generation, perhaps two, before the rule of the bureaucracy is threatened. The present regime in China, if she is kept in isolation, will probably make its Russian Stalinist precursor seem mild by comparison. Mao’s China is and will be an important factor strengthening Stalinist exploitation, oppression and rigidity in the ‘Socialist Third of the World’.”
In face of the retreats and concessions forced upon the Soviet bureaucracy; the revolutionary uprising against Stalinism in Hungary; the continuing incipient revolts against Stalinism in Poland and East Germany; and, above all, the recent revolutionary history of China herself, Gluckstein is overgenerous, one might say, in allowing Chinese Stalinism a life-span of one or two generations. He also takes no account of the rapid growth of the Chinese working class, numerically and culturally – the Achilles heel of the new bureaucratic regime.”
5. Miron A. Morrill in Taiwan Today 1st February 1958
“This book is definitely not bed time reading. It is a cold, scientific and objective study of the economic and social situation in Communist China. It pays some attention to the political bearing of Mao’s regime in the international scene and its speculations under that head are interesting.
Ygael Gluckstein, the author, “is a frequent contributor to economic periodicals and learned journals. He has been doing research on Communist regimes for many years.” In this book his sources are an imposing array of technical works about the economics of pre-Communist China and translated materials from more than 40 current Communist and other Chinese newspapers, magazines and statistical abstracts and reports.
The most important and the most stringent of Communist China’s current goals (as it was with that earlier Communist power, Russia) is the development of heavy industry at the cost of a creeping increase in consumer goods and strict control of the food supply. All this takes place against a population “more than three times as ‘large as Europe’s at the time of its industrial revolution.” “The first reaction of a peasant to a rise in output where food is scarce is to fill his stomach … The vicious circle preventing the rise of agricultural surpluses for capital accumulation can be broken by organizing the peasants in large collective farms under centralized State control.”
Thus, in lieu of more food and a rise in other living standards for industrial workers, it becomes necessary to use persuasion, propaganda, prizes and, for the construction of railroads, mills, factories, forced labor.
Yet there have been gains. At the end of the first Five Year Plan in 1957, Li Fu-chun, Vice-Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission, claimed the following increases: “Grain,” including peanuts, peas, beans and potatoes, 17.6 per cent; cotton, 25.4 per cent; sugar beets, 346.4 per cent: and oil bearing crops, 37.8 per cent. The same source claims an increase in grain output of nine per cent between 1936 and 1952, but Gluckstein points out that this increase was outstripped by the gain in population.
China’s imports in 1954 were 83.5 per cent heavy machinery and other means of production. ‘The Chinese have found their trade relations with Moscow full of heavy going; Moscow is a shrewd and stiff bargainer; she wishes to keep China dependent upon her economically.
Communist land reform in China ran into many difficulties. It proved hard to define and identify landlords, rich peasants, and “middle peasants.” Gluckstein sums up: “There is no doubt that for millions of individual peasant families, particularly those who in former times were landless tenants and hired laborers, the land reform came as a tremendous, and most welcome, revolutionary change… However, this need not obscure the hard fact that the average peasant today does not own more than three and one-half mow of land, barely sufficient to eke out the most meager existence.” Peasants also pay heavy taxes ranging from 20 to 40 per cent of ordinary farm products up to 90 to 120 per cent on cigarettes.
The author notes “a pauperization of the mass of the peasants,” against which back ground some manage to grow rich. (The old methods of money-lending still prevail.) Also the problems of flood and drought remain. There has been a tremendous influx of poverty-stricken peasants into the towns.
Collectivization of agriculture uses the mutual aid team, enlisting three to four households for a season and the year-round mutual aid team, enlisting a larger group, without affecting private ownership of land or cattle. A third type is the agricultural producer co-operative on a common pool of land, which, however, remains in private ownership. By January 1956, 108 million peasant households, or 90.4 per cent, were enrolled in producer co-operatives. The final stage is, of course, the collective farm, more than 29,000 of them by the end of 1955. The canny peasants, as in the earlier experience of Russia, slaughtered their animals before they joined the co-operatives. On April 1, 1955, there were 101 mechanized state farms averaging 27,000 mow (about 4,500 acres) per farm. The mechanized farms encounter management problems and the production per unit remains small.
And so this valuable work goes on with its statistical account of the situation through 1955. Doubtless men will turn to it for a long time to come as an authoritative summary of Chinese economics until that date.
The Maoist Communist party is not of peasant origin. Its hard core is military men who have fought through 20 years of civil and national war. Yet it came to power on a wave of peasant revolt. “The urban working class,” writes Gluckstein, “did not play any role at all in Mao’s rise to power.”
In towns and cities the laboring class experience the usual disciplinary measures. There are piecework rates and other wide differentials in pay. “The whole of the trade unions from top to bottom is Communist-dominated.” The average wage is US$11 to US$13 a month, which is much above the average for China in the 1920′s and 1930′s, but the rise is not greater than the decline in purchasing power. Thus, real wages have not changed much.
Other chapters in this book deal with the familiar Communist outlines in their Chinese setting – police control of the population, the party and its relation to constitutional government, propaganda, the leader. Propaganda is overwhelming. In February, 1953, there were 71 broadcasting stations and 20,519 “radio-diffusion exchanges” or arrangements for transmitting programs through wired speakers directly into homes and public places.
Mao Tse-tung, the leader, has completed the usual totalitarian cycle. “With power to confer life and death and himself being outside the scope of the purge, the picture of the Man-God is complete… Mao is commonly called Chiu Hsing – the Saving Star.”
China, the author forecasts, will become the leader of rumbling dissent in South-eastern Asia. But China herself cannot give economic aid to others. Both China and the Communist cohorts elsewhere must look to Russia for aid. This development will put a great strain upon Russia; it will also increase tension between the satellites as they clamor for Russian aid. Will Russia adopt a more “pacifist” policy to ease the strain of armaments and thus be able to supply economic aid more fully to her dependents? Or will she undertake the military conquest of western Europe in order to gain industrial resources for the same end – her own development and that of China and Southeast Asia? And what is the bearing of the internal situation within Russia itself, upon all this? “However, the following may safely be said of China’s general role in world Communism: that it will be the strongest and most impregnable citadel of Stalinism.”
6. Harold C. Hinton in Far Eastern Survey Volume 27 Number 6 June 1958 pp. 95-96.
“Good books on Communist China are still not as numerous as they ought to be, and it is a pleasure to welcome an addition to their number. Mr. Ygael Gluckstein, a recognized authority on Communism, has written a work devoted mainly to economic policy and economic conditions in Communist China and (in this reviewer’s opinion) probably the best study of these subjects yet published. The author’s main purpose seems to be to show that the peasant and worker in Communist China are badly off, contrary to the general impression conveyed by the Communist press, and that their plight is a necessary result of the Chinese Communist Party’s basically Stalinist policies. To demonstrate this thesis Mr. Gluckstein assembles an impressive mass of data and quotations from Chinese Communist sources. His interpretations are reasonable and sometimes memorable. What could be more devastating, for example, than this comment (p. 88) on the elaborate criteria devised by the Chinese Communists to identify rural landlords in connection with “agrarian reform”: “Where feudal landlordism really exists, the peasants do not need to be told how to recognize it!” In addition to the economic sections, there are others dealing with political affairs and Sino-Soviet relations. Although basically sound, these are somewhat sketchy and less satisfying than the economic sections. A few errors and defects, essentially minor given the basic purpose of the book, may be listed. Too many direct quotations from Chinese Communist sources are included, though admittedly some of them are of great interest. There is too much deference to Dr. K. A. Wittfogel’s views. The historical background, because of Mr. Gluckstein’s lack of expertise in things Chinese, is inadequate and sometimes inaccurate; the unification of China in 221 B.C., for example, is attributed to the famous historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien instead of to Ch’in Shih Huang Ti (p. 312). The statement (p. 209) that Mao Tse-tung’s revolutionary strategy was based on the peasantry is an oversimplification. In reality, Mao’s main weapon was armed struggle and his second was the Leninist concept of the united front (in which, to be sure, Mao singled out the peasantry as the most important element). Furthermore, Mao was generally at great pains, in his writings, to preserve an appearance of strict Marxist orthodoxy by attributing the leading role in the Chinese revolution to the urban proletariat rather than to the peasantry. Mr. Gluckstein exaggerates the prevalence of forced labor in Communist China (p. 288), probably because he fails to draw a necessary distinction between genuine forced labor (i.e., prisoners serving sentences) and “unpaid labor” con- scripted temporarily and without prejudice. The list of minor parties (p. 355-56) is incomplete. It is incorrect to equate the present National Defense Council with its far more powerful predecessor, the People’s Revolutionary Military Council (p. 361). Mr. Gluckstein apparently does not realize that since 1954 the commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army has been Mao Tse-tung, acting in his capacity of chief of state (p. 362). Jao Shu-shih is not known to have been executed (p. 374); he has simply disappeared. The cult of Mao Tse-tung (p. 377-80) has declined sharply since the current emphasis on “collective leadership” was inaugurated in the Soviet bloc generally in 1953, following the death of Stalin. The account (p. 395-96) of Soviet policy toward the Chinese Communists in Manchuria in 1945-46 is misleading in two respects; the Soviet Army did in effect turn over Japanese weapons to the Chinese Communists, and it was precisely because they knew this would happen, rather than on account of any Soviet prohibition, that Chinese Communist troops entered Manchuria unarmed. Mao Tse-tung’s first visit to Moscow is dated simply February 1950 (p. 401), but in fact Mao had been in Moscow for two months by the time of the signing of the celebrated Sino-Soviet treaty of February 14, 1950. It is questionable whether the Japanese Communist Party is more under Communist Chinese than Soviet in? fluence (p. 418). It is not entirely true to say (p. 419) that the Indian Communist Party has not criticized Mao Tse- tung since January 1950, for the Cominform (during Mao’s stay in Moscow) rebuked the Indians for having criticized Mao in 1949 as a Titoist; in 1951 the Indian party strongly implied that the Chinese revolutionary pattern as evolved by Mao was not wholly applicable to other Asian countries, or at least to India, and this view was confirmed in tactful language at a congress of Soviet orientalists meeting in Moscow at the end of the same year. Mr. Gluckstein thinks that Mao’s China is likely to grow more oppressive than Stalin’s Russia (p. 422). This is not inconceivable, but thus far one of Mao Tse-tung’s main sources of strength has resided precisely in the fact that he has been wise enough to avoid repeating the worst of Stalin’s excesses.”
7. “A Contrast of Views on Maoist China” by Joseph R. Fiszman in Problems of Communism July 1958 pp. 50-53.
“StudentsofMaoisttotalitarianism—its evolution, policies, and impact on the lives of China’s hundreds of millions of citizens—will find varied as well as thought-provoking fare in these recent contributions to the literature dealing with the emergent Chinese Communist state. The books by Peter S. H. Tang and Ygael Gluckstein are both scholarly analytical studies of broad scope, in the manner of the earlier surveys of Communist China by W. W. Rostow and Richard L. Walker; yet, while covering much the same ground, the two authors differ notably not only in general approach, viewpoint and area of primary emphasis, but in interpretation as well.
Tang’s wide-ranging study is easily the more ambitious of the two scholarly works. It embraces not only the whole spectrum of Peiping’s policies, both internal and external, but also the organizational structure and functioning of the party, state and army apparatuses, Maoist ideology and its relation to Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, and a prefatory historical recapitulation of the birth of Chinese communism and its 30-year struggle for mastery of China. However, in view of the many-sided complexity of the Communist experiment in China, it is not surprising, nor to the author’s discredit, that his effort to cover every phase of the subject has resulted in a certain inadequacy of depth in some areas of his analysis. Mr. Tang is clearly most concerned with the political aspects of Chinese communism, and most at home when dealing with them; in the equally important sphere of economics he appears less comfortable, and less penetrating.
The emphasis is exactly reversed in Mr. Gluckstein’s volume. Though his survey purports to be both economic and political, the author—a research economist— actually devotes less than a fourth of his book to its two “political” sections: one, of a scant 60 pages, skimming over the political highlights of Maoist totalitarianism; the other a 40-page survey of Sino-Soviet political relationships. But if he is perfunctory and often undiscerning in his political interpretations, Mr. Gluckstein’s analysis of the economic aspects of Chinese communism is both exhaustive in scope and at the same time deeply penetrating, carefully reasoned, and well supported with facts, figures, and almost over-abundant documentation.
One political aspect of Chinese communism which gets especially close attention from Tang and only the sketchiest treatment by Gluckstein is the whole moot question of the orientation of the Chinese Communist leadership and the nature of “Maoism.” Tang probes into Mao’s youthful background to discover the clues to an “enigmatic personality” combining contradictory traits of “rebelliousness” and “conservatism.” This innate duality of character, in the author’s view, shaped Mao’s individual response to the Communist philosophy and thus imparted to Chinese communism its distinctive qualities. On the one hand, Mao’s “rebel strain” impelled him to reject the traditional forms of Chinese society and to embrace the alien Communist ideology because of its “revolutionary thoroughness.” On the other hand, the “conservative” side of his personality “led him to accept and mold to his own purposes the dominant realities of the society he was rebelling against,” and hence to insist on “adapting the ideology to local conditions and limiting factors.’ This analysis may perhaps provide a clue to the apparent tendency of Chinese communism to shed its revolutionary characteristics with relative rapidity and become a conservative bureaucratic force.
Tang, however, vigorously disputes the view that the Maoist adaptations were such as to involve substantive revisions of Leninist-Stalinist doctrine. According to his analysis, Mao made only two theoretical contributions of purely secondary importance, one having to do with “the peasant aspect of the Communist revolution” and the other with the tactics of armed struggle (guerrilla warfare); and both these merely developed and applied to Chinese conditions Leninist and Stalinist revolutionary techniques. The author bolsters his argument by citing— at face value—Mao’s own modest public professions of ideological indebtedness to the oracles of Soviet communism, as well as the statements of Ch’en Po-ta, leading popular expositor of “the thought of Mao,” to the effect that the guiding spirit of Maoism “is precisely the spirit of Lenin and Stalin.” 1
Thus, argues Tang, Maoism is acknowledged by the Chinese Communists themselves to be “merely an ideological extension of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism rather than a challenge to it.” Even while admitting the basic validity of his thesis, however, one wonders if the author has not oversimplified the issues. More specifically, his treatment seems to skirt around perhaps the most crucial question, namely whether Mao’s unilateral assumption of the right to interpret and “adapt” Communist doctrine for China did not, in itself, negate what was a cardinal principle of Soviet Communist orthodoxy at least up until the Twentieth CPSU Congress’ recognition of “separate paths to socialism.” The Congress action may be said to have eliminated this past sore point, but one still may question whether the “separate paths” doctrine will not open the door to more, rather than less, ideological divergence between the two partners in the future.
Nor is Tang altogether convincing when he discusses the complex question of the relationship between Maoism, Titoism and “national communism.” The author bases his whole analysis on a postulated definition of national communism as “presumably” signifying “a type of regime in which the national leaders would be concerned only with building up communism in their own country, irrespective of the fate of the movement in other countries.” Under this definition, of course, he can reasonably argue that not even Tito was ever a “national Communist,” let alone Mao or, for that matter, Gomulka. On the other hand, if one defines the term more normally, i.e., as a viewpoint which insists upon the right of each Communist country to forge its own independent path toward socialism, free from Soviet interference, then it would seem hard to deny that both Mao and Tito, in varying degrees, have been guilty of national Communist heresy.
Tang’s chapters on the internal structure and policies of the regime show that Communist China, though still in the first, or “people’s democratic dictatorship” stage of its socialist revolution, is following essentially in the footsteps of Soviet totalitarianism. He also sees a close communion between the two partners in all phases of international policy and rejects the likelihood of any serious threat to their unity as a result of frictions between them. The author examines several frequently broached sources of possible discord, such as rivalry for leadership of the lesser Asian Communist parties, conflicts of interest in the Sino-Soviet border regions, and the inadequacy of Soviet aid to the Chinese industrialization program. However, in his opinion, all these are far outweighed by the two Powers’ wholehearted dedication, and subordination of their particularistic interests, “to a common ideology which stresses above all the goal of achieving world communism.”
Although Gluckstein, too, in his final conclusions, discounts the prospects of Axis disintegration, he pictures the Moscow-Peiping relationship as a far more complex, cold-blooded, and basically unstable affair than the firm association of ideological comrades-in-arms painted by Tang. The two authors’ views are, indeed, a striking lesson in the flexibility of historical evidence. As against Tang’s version of a “Soviet-oriented” Mao long since accepted into the Kremlin’s confidence, Gluckstein offers contrary evidence purporting to show a strong mutual distrust and animosity between Mao and Stalin, and asserts that “Mao rose in spite of Moscow, and not thanks to her.” He also specifically rejects the view (of Tang and others) that the Chinese Communists benefited from Soviet assistance in their post-war takeover of Manchuria, and points to further evidence that Soviet policy remained anchored to Chiang until the very eve of the Communists’ final victory.
Dealing with present as well as potential frictions, Gluckstein again sees much more of a real competition between Peiping and Moscow for hegemony over the Asian Communist movement than does Tang. The latter favors the thesis of a friendly understanding whereby Peiping is allowed by Moscow to play the outwardly leading role in Asia, but actually serves as a mere transmitting agent for directives from the Kremlin; Gluckstein, on the contrary, holds that the Chinese Communist leadership need take no such orders and has forged ahead on its own to the point where its influence eclipses that of Moscow in all the Asian countries except, perhaps, in India and North Korea. The author also views rival Sino-Soviet ambitions in the long-contested border regions as very much alive, though held in leash for the present because of more urgent considerations of economic and political self-interest.
Thus, states Gluckstein categorically, “If China is in the orbit of Moscow, it can only be because her own needs constrain her in that direction.” These needs, according to his analysis, are primarily economic, the decisive factor being China’s total dependence upon the Soviet Union for the capital equipment demanded by the Chinese industrialization program. Since industrialization will require a long time—the author hazards the guess that it will take China until 1980 to reach the Soviet economic level of 1950—there will be no early end to this dependence, and Peiping will perforce have to remain faithful to its alliance with the USSR, as well as content itself with the role of “junior partner.” Gluckstein further speculates that, while Soviet willingness and ability to continue aiding Chinese economic construction will thus be an “overriding” determinant of the future of the alliance, Moscow, for its part, is unlikely to risk jeopardizing the partnership—both because of its positive value to the USSR in the context of the “world struggle of the powers,” and because of the negative fear that Mao’s China, if alienated, “would be a much greater menace to Moscow than Kuomintang China could ever have been.”
Gluckstein’s tendency to explain everything in terms of economic causes with little or no regard for ideological and other socio-political factors is also quite apparent in his analysis of the internal features of the Chinese Communist regime. Thus, he seems to consider Maoist totalitarianism as a phenomenon divorced from its base in Communist doctrine, and to view its many brutal features as the product primarily, if not exclusively, of basic economic facts and drives. According to his reasoning, the fundamental fact is that the Mao regime inherited a weak, predominantly agricultural economy even more backward than was the Russian in 1917; yet, on these weak foundations, it is determined to transform China into a modern industrial power and to accomplish its leap into the “supersonic age” regardless of the cost in human life and social values.
The greatest obstacle in the path of the regime’s industrialization goal is the problem of accumulating capital savings. Here, Gluckstein points out, China finds herself “in the clutches of a vicious circle”.
Her national income is too low to provide for significant capital accumulation. But without such accumulation, her national income cannot grow rapidly. The possibility of breaching this circle, and the way of doing so, are crucial for Mao Tse-tung’s plans for the economic development of China.
The author explains that the regime must necessarily rely upon agriculture as its main source of capital accumulation; but with population pressure sharply mounting, agriculture is incapable of producing the necessary surpluses. Moreover, although agricultural output might be expanded through the reclamation of wastelands (all arable, and even marginal land already being cultivated) and by the use of fertilizers, these measures themselves require capital investment and hence prior accumulation. Consequently, the regime finds in forcible collectivization its only effective means of breaching the vicious circle and extracting the “savings” it requires.
While Moscow’s extension of credits for the purchase of Soviet capital equipment helps ease China’s immediate difficulties in this direction, Gluckstein points out that the credits are “niggardly” relative to China’s needs; moreover, they do not overcome the basic problem since the loans, as well as other forms of Soviet economic aid, must eventually be repaid by Chinese exports to the USSR. Here again, he finds, Peiping suffers from the sharp trading practices of its partner, being obliged to pay exorbitant prices for imported Soviet machinery while receiving such low prices for Chinese agricultural exports to the USSR that the latter can and does make handsome profits by reselling them on the world market at less than world market prices! China, however, must submit to these harsh terms because of her extreme economic dependence upon the Soviet Union.
The regime encounters another dilemma in its industrialization policies. As Gluckstein points out, the realization of the ruling clique’s ambitions to make China “an independent economic-military power” demands the concerted expansion of heavy industry. This, in turn, dictates raising the living standards of the city workers so as to stimulate production enthusiasm, but the only way to do this would be to divert capital investment to light industry and thus provide more consumer goods. The regime’s refusal to sacrifice its ambitions underlies the extreme severity of its labor policies, which impose rigid discipline and prohibit strikes, reduce the trade unions to mere state agencies for boosting production, and enforce a 12-hour workday with all kinds of Stakhanovite “emulation” drives. Despite this, Gluckstein cites Chinese Communist press reports of absenteeism, tardiness, defective work, and slow-downs, which testify to the workers’ apathy and resistance. The same process, he indicates, extends to the system as a whole:
The greater the pressure of industrial advance and the greater the emphasis on heavy industry, the stronger becomes the resistance of the people—especially the peasantry—to the regime. Also the greater the international, economic, political and military tensions, the more insistent is the need for heavy industry, the more totalitarian becomes the regime, and the more extreme the means it uses to control the populace.
Perhaps Mr. Gluckstein’s most interesting chapter is that in which he discerns the emergence, less than ten years after the birth of Mao’s supposedly egalitarian regime, of a new elite, a new class stratification. W. W. Rostow and others have viewed the status of the Chinese Communist bureaucracy as much closer to that of the Soviet bureaucracy of the 1920′s than of its highly-privileged successors of today.2 Mr. Gluckstein, however, sees a strong tendency in the Maoist bureaucracy to revert to the traditions of the Imperial Mandarinate and maintains that the economic gulf between the ruling elite and the masses—though differences in income are still relatively small—is widening much more rapidly than it did in the corresponding period of Soviet development. The differences, he finds, are thus much greater in Communist China today than they were in Russia ten years after the revolution.
Just as a new class of “rich peasants” is emerging in the countryside, so in the cities the “new privileged” comprise party and government officials, industrial managers and technicians, university professors and intellectuals who hew to the party line, and “model workers.” There are even salary differences between urban and rural party cadres, and signs of stratification are also apparent in the army where, in the days of revolutionary struggle, distinctions of rank and privilege were almost non-existent.
In conclusion, the author puts forward some highly interesting speculations concerning the attitudes of Moscow and Peiping toward the advance of communism in Asia—attitudes which he views as “rent with deep contradictions.” For Moscow, a Communist-dominated Asia would bring certain advantages in its drive for world domination—notably bloc control of more than half the world’s oil resources, virtually all its natural rubber, and vast quantities of other strategic materials — but, on the other hand, it could also “heighten the tensions within the Russian system to the breaking-point” by swelling the number of under-developed countries demanding Soviet capital equipment, thus aggravating the Soviet “crisis of under-production” and intra-bloc dissension. The latter considerations, Gluckstein believes, may impel Moscow to stick to its present tactics of trying to disengage the neutral Asian countries from the West by means of economic aid much smaller than it would have to give them as full-fledged members of the Soviet bloc.
Similarly, for China, the spread of communism in Asia would bring increased power and prestige to Peiping as its center; but the Peiping leadership must also consider the danger that its industrialization program would suffer from a partial diversion of Soviet and East European capital resources to the communized Asian countries. Also, since Communist expansion in Asia would sharpen international tension, China as well as the Soviet Union would have to devote still more of their industrial resources and efforts to armaments—for China especially, an already onerous burden.
1. Although Gluckstein makes no comparable analysis of Maoist ideology, it is curious that he quotes from the same Ch’en Po-ta in support of the statement that Mao “gained little ideological inspiration from Stalin.”
2. See, e.g., W. W. Rostow, “Russia and China under Communism,” World Politics, Vol. VII, No. 4, 1955, p. 519.”
8. “Hydraulic Society” by Walter Z. Laqueur in Encounter October 1957 pp. 83-84.
“Mr. Gluckstein’s book is essentially a competent study of contemporary economic and political trends in China. It owes much to Professor Wittfogel and acknowledges the debt. But it is too much on the descriptive side, there is far too much raw material–hundreds of excerpts from the Chinese press and radio. It was not really the innate laziness of this reader which makes him wish that this enormous mass of quotations had been better digested and integrated.
Mr. Gluckstein does not share the optimism of some Westerners who have been greatly impressed by recent gestures and speeches which could be interpreted as pointing the way to a greater measure of liberalism and democracy in China. It is his opinion that China, because of its backwardness, will remain the strongest and most impregnable citadel of Stalinism, that if not affected by revolutionary events elsewhere “the present regime in China will probably make its Russian Stalinist precursor seem mild by comparison.”
9. Ardath W. Burks (Rutgers University) in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Volume 316 pp. 167-168.
“Ygael Gluckstein, a British economist, is the author of Stalin’s Satellites in Europe as well as numerous articles; he is a man who has long been researching European Communist regimes. He is not, strictly speaking, a specialist on China. The result, in the case of this book, is yet another detailed and valuable work of reference, with perhaps an overemphasis on content analysis of what the Chinese Communists themselves report.
The fault is not, of course, entirely the author’s. “Students of Chinese affairsmust rely almost entirely on official documents” (p. 7). Like the previous works of Walker and Rostow in this country, Gluckstein’s book thus synthesizes a vast amount of material and offers a style which is not easy reading.
Reliance on official documents leads to another, perhaps unavoidable, weakness. With painstaking care, the author com- pares official statistics and lays bare the doubtful nature of Peking’s claims. And yet the profile of Communist China is cut mainly from these same official releases. Maximum emphasis is placed on the Communist line; minimum attention is paid to the equally important Chinese scene, which has so greatly shaped the strategy of Maoism.
Part I, dealing with China’s economic heritage and general problems of development, is a significant exception to this criticism. China, writes the author, is in a vicious circle. “Her national income is too low to provide for significant capital accumulation. But without such accumulation her national income cannot grow rapidly” (p. 31). Faced with this problem, the regime nevertheless reveals a com- pulsive bias for heavy industry, whose twin brother is forced collectivization of agriculture.
Part II deals with the countryside under Mao. One of the most interesting sections (Chapter 9) is titled “Mao and the Peasantry: Historical Perspective.” With regard to both origins and results, “The Chinese Communist Party was certainly a movement of peasants, but it was not a peasant movement” (p. 183).
Part III deals with the towns: state capitalism, trade unions, living standards, forced labor, and bureaucratic mismanagement. The “New Privileged” (Chapter 18) refers to the state, party, and army bureaucracies, managers, technicians, and the like. In- deed, this chapter shows more imagination than all of Part IV which deals with the state, police, propaganda, and state power.
The concluding chapters (Part V) deal with China, Russia, and the West. Here the most controversial section (Chapter 28, “Did Stalin Help Mao Come to Power?”) subscribes to the thesis that Mao rose in spite of, not thanks to, Moscow. The author’s argument seems convincing: al- though past misunderstandings have little influence on the admittedly tight Moscow- Peking axis, nevertheless, “. . Sino-Soviet relations are those of allies, not of master and servant” (p. 414).”
“The author of this book appears to have spent considerable time in collecting his data, but most of his highly selective descriptions are quite disappointing to those who look for a balanced and analytical work. A writer is entitled to his opinions, but a book needs to be more than a piling up of quotations from mainland Chinese sources which report on specific, albeit often isolated, cases of errors and shortcomings in the programs being carried out in China. Many tendentious remarks, made without qualifications, are not in accordance with known facts. Thus the author (p. 30) claims that “China today has had, to date, only an infinitesimal rate of accumulation” and rules out the possibility that Peking would be able to save the equivalent of 8 billion dollars a year for investment. But as reported in the 1957 annual U.N. Economic Survey of Asia and the Far East (p. 107) the rate of capital formation in mainland China in 1956 was about i9 per cent, out of an estimated national income equivalent to 38 billion US dollars, one of the highest rates of saving in an industrializing country, past or present. The author’s evaluation is the more puzzling as he writes, in the very next chapter (p. 50), that “the gross capital investment made . . . 22.8 per cent of the national income in 1956″ and “this rate is very high.” He is correct, however, in pointing out that on a per capita basis, China’s investment level is low in absolute terms. It should be mentioned here that the rate of growth in the national income of China between 1952 and 1956 has been reported at 9.8 per cent per annum. As a result of the great under-estimation of China’s national income, the author erroneously asserts (p. 56) that the proportion of defense expenditures in the Chinese national income between 1952 and 1955 was, respectively, I8.I, I5.9, I5.2, and 16.2 per cent. Actually the percentages should be, for these four years, 7.2, 8.5, 7.2, and 7.3, these figures being based on national income estimates in Yang Po, “A study of distribution of national income in China,” Ching-chi yen-chiu (Economic Research), Peking, No. 6, Dec. 17, 1957, pp. I-II.
The author correctly points out that there has been excessive construction of buildings of a non-productive nature in many areas in China, that some cadres are holding too many concurrent jobs, and that the local governments are too limited in their administrative power or flexibility. Several observations made in the volume are quite illuminating, including the remark in the final chapter that “Sino-Soviet relations are those of allies, and China, the greatest and oldest nation in the world, cannot become a satellite of any foreign power” (p. 414).
Many basic developments and problems in mainland China are treated either cursorily or not at all. The reader is entitled to expect some critical and objective discussion of questions such as the following: equilibrium among the major economic sectors, supply of key materials, bottlenecks in the ambitious economic plans, fiscal and monetary policies, production and productivity of major crops, effects of collectivization, effects of the 8th National Congress of the CCP, impact of social, cultural, and educational pro- grams, and policies of Peking toward the non-Communist world. The inadequate coverage of the volume may be partly due to insufficient knowledge of the primary sources. Although the author is said to be “thoroughly familiar with the Chinese Communist literature,” a number of significant sources including the Hsin-hua pan-yueh-kan (New China Semi-Monthly), Ching- chi yen-chiu (Economic Research), and Chi-hua ching-chi (Planned Economy) are not utilized at all.
Whether one regards mainland China as a potential friend or foe, a one-sided presentation of one of the most momentous events of our times will do more harm to the world than to the object of attack. The surprise that is in store for those who choose to ignore a dispassionate approach in assessing the development in mainland China is reflected in an amazingly contradictory statement in the concluding section of this book. After striving hard to prove that most reports of achievements in China are mere propaganda, the author unmercifully writes that “Mao has united China and is turning her into an economic and military power far surpassing anything her past has been” (p. 415). Yet this is what every patriotic Chinese has prayed for in the past hundred years; and without grasping this point, no writer can accurately evaluate the situation in mainland China today.”
11. Audrey G. Donnithorne in International Affairs Volume 34 Number 1 January 1958 pp. 125-126.
“Mr. Gluckstein has written a useful introduction to the study of contemporary China based on material from official Chinese Communist documents and articles in the Chinese Communist press. After a general survey of economic developments in China, he deals in turn with the fortunes of the countryside and of the towns under the Communist regime. This is followed by a section on the structure of the State and the Party and on methods of police control. The final chapters of the book treat of relations between China and Russia.
The industrial and the rural policies of the Chinese Government are intimately linked. On the Stalinist pattern, priority is given to the development of heavy industry, although economic advantages would seem to lie with first expanding light consumer industries. The emphasis on the production of capital equipment means that for long years there must be a dearth of consumer goods for which the peasants would be willing to exchange their produce, with the result that ‘agricultural surpluses have to be extracted by other means, above all via the collective farm. Thus the twin brother of a bias towards heavy industry is the forced collectivization of agriculture’ (p. 4I). ‘The present regime in China if she is kept in isolation’, the author concludes, ‘will probably make its Russian Stalinist precursor seem mild by comparison’ (p. 422).”
12. “Recent Books on International Relations” by Henry L. Roberts in Foreign Affairs Volume 36 Number 4 July 1958 p. 699.
“The author of “Stalin’s Satellites in Europe” here turns to the Asian side of the Communist world. The greater part of the book is concerned with economic issues, though there is a section on the State and on Chinese-Russian relations. On the whole the author anticipates that Communist China will remain “the strongest and most impregnable citadel of Stalinism.”
13. “Red China Up to Date” by George E. Taylor (University of Washington) in The New Leader Volume 40 Issue 51 (December 1957) p. 22.
This is review is not reproduced here. Ian Birchall (2011) recorded that:
“George E. Taylor, Professor of Chinese History at the University of Washington, despite some reservations, judged that “few writers on Chinese Communist economics have made Communist statistics reveal so much that they were intended to conceal.””
14. “The New China: Review of Books by Cressy, Gluckstein and Tang” by Richard L. Walker in The Yale Review Volume XLVII (47) (1957-1958) p. 458.
This composite review of three different books on China is not reproduced here.