Friday, February 11, 2011

China: "There was no morality after 1989"

Michael Anti explains how China's attitude toward development changed after 1989:

It's a brief clip, but I I'd note two important things about it. First, Anti clearly has a sense of the way any economy is embedded in and posterior to a particular moral order. And while he is circumspect about why "1989" was a turning point, it's clear that 1989 represented a radical moral shift, and that in his view, this moral shift is anterior to and the basis for the mode of development which China has been pursuing ever since. (As an aside, this perspective is also interesting from a periodization perspective, since most people tend to date the definitive break point in China's economic development to the "opening up" that Deng Xiaoping promulgated from 1978-79 - though scholars like Arne Westad have argued that even this rupture was based on economic lessons learned earlier, during the Cultural Revolution.)

Second, Anti is clearly a man whose intellectual armature has been forged by a deep engagement with Marxian and Hegelian thinking. The two minute discussion is a textbook example of the dialectical imagination in action: the "one the one hand, on the other hand" turns; the sense for historical dynamics being driven by systemic contradictions; the underlying assumption that capitalism fundamentally involves melting all that is solid and profaning all that is holy; and finally, the unspoken sense that the task of the analyst is to face the realities of capitalism with sober senses, to realize what capitalism does to man's real conditions of life, and to his relations with his kind.

Hat tip: MC.

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