Chuang is a collective of communists who consider the “China question” to be of central relevance to the contradictions of the world’s economic system and the potentials for its overcoming. Our goal is to formulate a body of clear-headed theory capable of understanding contemporary China and its potential trajectories. In this first issue, we outline our basic conceptual framework and illustrate the current state of class conflict in China. We also include translated reports and interviews with the proletarians engaged in these struggles, pairing our theory with primary sources drawn from class dynamics that might otherwise remain abstract.
The selection below comes from our centerpiece article on the socialist era, “Sorghum and Steel: The Socialist Developmental Regime and the Forging of China,” the first in a three part economic history of China. The full first issue including this article will be released in print and online in a few months. To read more, including a sample article from the issue, visit our website.
Chuang Issue 1 is now available to purchase from AK distro, here.
In Chapter 4 of A Life Beyond Boundaries, Benedict Anderson reflects on the increasingly comparative direction his work began to take in the 1970s and '80s.
In my early days at Cornell, use of the concept of 'comparison' was still somewhat limited. I do not mean that comparisons were never made; they were made all the time, both consciously and (more often) unconsciously, but invariably in a practical way and on a small scale...
Historians, anthropologists, economists, and sociologists rarely thought systematically about comparison at all. The political science department was a partial exception, since it had a subsection called 'comparative government,' to which I belonged. But the comparisons my classmates and I studied were primarily focused on Western Europe...
For me, the odd thing was that comparative government did not cover the US itself, which was the preserve of a different subsection called American government..
One of the central myths of American nationalism has long been 'exceptionalism' — the idea that US history, culture and political life are by definition incomparable. The US is not like Europe, not like Latin America, and absolutely not like Asia. Needless to say, this fancy is absurd. In different ways, the US is perfectly comparable, especially with Europe, South America, Japan and the British Dominions of the Empire (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and so on.)
Below is one of Anderson's comparative engagements with US history; a consideration of national monuments, the primary coordinates of which are the United States and the Philippines, adapted for The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World from an essay first published in a 1993 issue of Qui Parle.
“There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument,” wrote Robert Musil