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Publication Details

Whitehouse, David (2006) Chinese workers and peasants in three phases of accumulation. Centre for Civil Society  Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-7.

I want to sketch three periods of capital accumulation in China since the revolutionary seizure of power in 1949. In the process, Iíll put a spotlight on the attempts of the state in each period to maintain a segmentation of the workforce into groups that have different rights. The main division is between workers and peasants, but there are divisions into smaller subgroups. All of these divisions have functioned to maximize the extraction of a social surplus for reinvestment by the state or, later, by the state and private corporations.

Iíll be drawing some comparisons to South Africaís apartheid system, not because I think the analogy is perfect but because itís revealing. Many ruling classes in developing countries have approached broadly similar problems of labor regulation by adopting some strikingly similar measures to divide the workforce, even if the apartheid ruling class was unique in finding its particular racial solution to the problem of controlling its labor force.

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 Relevant Publications
 The Accumulation of Capital. Chapter 27: THE STRUGGLE AGAINST NATURAL ECONOMY: Rosa Luxemburg 
 Capitalism & cheap labour power in South Africa: Harold Wolpe 
 Labour Market Discrimination and its Aftermath in Southern Africa Guy Mhone 

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