The Deng Xiaoping Era: An Inquiry Into the Fate of Chinese Socialism, 1978-1994

Maurice J. Meisner, Author
Maurice J. Meisner, Author Hill & Wang $30 (500p) ISBN 978-0-8090-7815-8
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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Deng Xiaoping came to power in China in 1978, promising to democratize the People's Republic and revitalize socialism. Instead, his market reforms unleashed frenzied capitalist development. And as this incisive study documents, Deng vengefully and methodically purged his political opponents, while orchestrating the ruthless suppression of the fledgling democracy movement of 1979-1980--a prelude to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. A history professor at the University of Wisconsin, Meisner explains how the dictatorial Deng regime, under the ideological cover of communism, dismantled collectivized agriculture, stripped urban workers of lifetime job guarantees and ended a welfare benefit system that once provided secure pensions, medical care and promises of income. For the average citizen, the result, says Meisner, is ever more intensive labor exploitation by a corrupt new bourgeois elite, as well as widespread apathy, spiritual impoverishment, disillusionment and nihilism. A provocative, skeptical look at China's new market society. (Sept.)
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