Accepted paper:

What socialism with Chinese characteristics could be: China's Wenchuan earthquake revelation

Authors:

Yi Hu

Paper short abstract:

Chinese socialism is at critical crossroad. The State has deepened privatization and market policies in ways that undermine the hallmarks of socialism. I examine these contradictions based on the Wenchuan earthquake relief project to show how Chinese struggle for values of equity, justice and social cooperation.

Paper long abstract:

Chinese socialism is at critical crossroad. The State has deepened privatization and market policies in ways that undermine the hallmarks of socialism. I will examine these contradictions based on the Wenchuan earthquake relief project. This project presented an image of Chinese society as collectively united to selflessly assist the earthquake-stricken area. Resources, money, and medical supplies flooded into the disaster areas. The cause seemed to be supported by everyone from high-ranking officials, movie stars, “nobles,” and ordinary citizens. “One in trouble, all to help,” a common phrase during the revolutionary days of Mao suddenly came into vogue again. The media attacked a well-known real estate company for insufficiently contributing to the national cause. A comparison of this with the public reaction to the 1998 Yangtze River big flood indicates that reforms in recent decades have led to a conception of social responsibility. Rather than thinking that the government should promote this operation, Chinese citizens came to think it was their personal responsibility. Interestingly, the Wenchuan earthquake provided an opportunity to express a public desire for equity, justice and social cooperation. These concepts, rooted in Chinese communist ideology, are seen by many as the ideal of Chinese socialism. Although this ideal had been very absolute, a famous saying that “we would rather prefer grass in socialism than vegetable in capitalism” fully embodied the egalitarianism of the Mao Zedong era. Chinese struggle for policies that represent the values of equity, justice and social cooperation, which remains the key question of Chinese socialism.

panel P022
Reconsidering anthropologies of neoliberalism and globalization: historical conjuncture and narratives of rupture (Commission on Global Transformations and Marxian Anthropology)