China & Inner Asia: Table of Contents
Organizer: Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr., Brandeis University
Chair: Kevin OBrien, University of California, Berkeley
Discussants: Ashraf Ghani, Johns Hopkins University; Vivienne Shue, Cornell University
This panel explores the origins and continuing development of the deep structure of the crisis of Communist Party legitimacy in Contemporary Rural China. The emphasis is on the politics contributing to the inability of the CCP to govern the countryside, on how the process of reform has, in some instances, strengthened or weakened party power and authority, and on the implications of the Hobbesian relationship that has emerged between villagers and the local "state above the village" for party legitimacy and state governance.
Dongping Han, Brandeis University
Han shows that hidden educational reforms, carried out at the sub-county level, during the years 196676, empowered villagers in ways that helped prepare the ground for some of the economic successes later attributed to the Deng Xiaoping reformist government. The Deng-led state actually neglected, and in some cases, dissolved the very educational structures that helped engender the economic take-off in the countryside in the 1980s. The resulting crisis is discussed.
Ignatius W. Wibisono, STF Driyarkara
Wibisono addresses the question of whether the party secretary has been able to re-establish the credibility of the party in the villages, achieving a newly appreciated version of protection, service, and "nominal encapsulation." The focus in on the successes and failures of party secretaries in restoring village autonomy and leading villagers to prosperity and in repositioning the state in ways that bring its local authority in line with values that are fundamentally popular and community based. Wibisono analyzes the attempt of the Communist Party to move from the clientilism of collectivization to a form of authority that empowers village people but that, ironically, mitigates peasant resistance.
Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr., Brandeis University
Thaxton examines an important but understudied theme of contemporary Chinese politics: "The Power of the Black Market Peasantry Under Collectivization, and the Continuing Popular Struggle for the Market in the Era of Post-Mao-Deng Reformor Why the Household Responsibility System Never Really Mattered in Some Parts of Rural China." This paper traces the long-term, hidden peasant struggle to hold on to the market, showing how local people habitually maneuvered to stay in the market during the Maoist era of collectivization, when the party-state launched attacks on the market, and also showing why, in some rural places, the market, and not the household responsibility system, was central to peasant survival and to the economic take-off and material uplifting that often is correlated with elite reforms from above. The paper also analyzes the renewed, mid-1990s attempt of district level government to close down the market of a village that preserved its market access into the 1990s. It argues that the state-society battle over who has the market and who benefits from the market is far from over. The battle, moreover, is far more contentious than is assumed in much of the literature precisely because the market is an important political arena.