China and Historical Capitalism

With Gregory Blue
Only recently has it been recognized in the West that the historical experience of the world has been as much the history of China as of the West. The primary subject of this book is the historical relationship that has arisen between the concept of capitalism and the idea of China. The concept of capitalism was formulated by European intellectuals to identify the social formation in which they found themselves. Portraying it as either an ideal system or as its necessary prelude, they regarded capitalism as unique to Europe and as an organic outgrowth of Western civilization. In the process, they rejected China as a model of civilization, considering it merely despotic, feudal, or stagnant. This Eurocentric judgment has hung over all subsequent thinking about China, even influencing Chinese perceptions of their own history. The aim of this collaborative project is to examine how the experience of capitalism as a European social formation and as a world-system has shaped knowledge of China. In addition the volume aims to establish new foundations on which a theory of Chinese society might be built, in order to perceive and understand China’s historical trajectory in less Eurocentric terms.

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