Cui Zhiyuan

Cui Zhiyuan
b. 1963, Beijing
Political economist, intellectual
A political economist trained at the University of Chicago and based overseas, Cui is among the most influential expatriate scholars in China. Although his work is constituted in the mode of Western social sciences, his views are read and debated in Chinese intellectual circles. Of particular impact upon recent Chinese thought is his thesis on ‘institutional innovation and the second intellectual liberation’ which marked the arrival of the New Left.
The first intellectual liberation led to the post-Mao economic reforms. Its basic assumptions about central planning versus the free market, Cui argues, have evolved into a new dogmatism that involves the wholesale repudiation of socialism in favour of absolute capitalism. This dogmatism was most forcefully pursued in Eastern Europe and the former USSR with catastrophic consequences, and China was dangerously moving in this direction. Given these circumstances, Cui’s intervention has been timely.
Cui sets out to demystify the free market by highlighting recent legal and political changes in the United States that have strengthened the state regulation of corporations and the protection of stakeholders and community interests, thus undermining the very sources of the free-market fantasy. He further connects American innovations in workplace democracy and economic justice to his constructive revaluation of some Maoist experiments and to the success stories of collective rural and township enterprises in China. Cui’s intervention is dialectical, simultaneously uncovering egalitarian elements in the unlikely system of American capitalism and unpacking a similarly monolithic image of Chinese socialism in order to transcend reductive dichotomies and establish a new-leftist politics.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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