Saturday, 14 May 2011


This weekend was supposed to be devoted to a spirited defence of that Information Bad Boy Julian Assange after throwing down the gauntlet to JustRecently here. However, on every Long March Towards Sino-Wisdom, one needs to regroup and consolidate in terms of both political perspective and concepts deployed.

Now, while JR rightly notes that economic policy and economic development in China is a profoundly political affair, I'm a crude Althusserian and take the view that the economy is always determinant in the last instance. Again, how the economy, employment creation, housing, wages and inflation will be the determining factors, in line with with Althusser's incomprehensible argument on Contradiction and Overdetermination here, and please spare me the wife strangling jokes.

After a serious breakfast fit for any internet warrior, was ready to give JR his comeuppance by defending out latest recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize. Okay. Okay. This was a bit of a reach with Nelson Mandela and the Dalia Lama as peace recipient companeros, but Assange does get the KT Award for Sartorial Elegance. This award is a slap in the face for the Federal Government for its extremely submissive female position re: US diplomatic pressures and piss-weak consular representation provided to Assange, not to forget the fact that Federal Labor is home to a number of traitorous previous 18 May post.

To further muddy the waters in this reply to JR, I was going to rabbit on about individual digital rights and data retention as argued by here by the Europeon Digital Rights Advocacy umbrella group.Other points were to include the now defunct and infamous British govt D notices. Most importantly, I would have 'fessed up to being a great lover of that delightful German condition schadenfreude. An existential fact in my psychic bedrock, but it was not to be, due to the following accidental link-find.


Cutting to the chase, the link in question is The Browser/Writing Worth Reading and its interviews with a number of China experts who each in turn go on to recommend their five best Sino reads.

It is hard to aggregate all the authors in one comprehensive link, so I will list the Sino-smarties and provide individual links.

Lets begin with the usual suspects:

>Evan Osnos here.
Jeffery Wasserstrom here.

My favourite Victor Shih here. I particularly like his including Wang Xiaulo's Analysing Chinese Grey Economy, of which you can read more about here by Minxin Pei. The role of grey cash is an area which should be getting a lot more attention, particularly in relation to under-the-radar Mainland-Hong Kong business financing arrangements. (Additional link to be provided.)

Richard Baum on Obstacles to Political Reform here.

The environment, and in particular one of my hobby horses - China's disappearing aquifers - is covered by Isabel Hilton here.

Another great Australian Richard McGregor on the CCP here.

Thirty book reviews, most worth digesting, and a good litmus test for us commenters knowledge bank.

Finally, drawing your attention to the space where serious Sino futurising begins:

As formulated most famously by Barrington Moore, modernisation theory predicts that the historical emergence of an affluent, self-confident urban commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, rising to challenge the traditional power exercised by a strongly conservative landed rural aristocracy, comprises a potent force for democratisation. As Moore famously put it, ‘no bourgeoisie, no democracy’.

Taken from within Richard Baum's link above and the point of departure for your comments. Certainly now a highly discredited proposition, even minus the existence of any rural aristocracy, but it opens on to a number of potentialities ranging from future millinerian movements to extreme nationalism and outright military conflict.

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