ABSTRACT

While ruling groups throughout Central Europe renounced socialism, entered the maelstrom of multi-party politics, and began to chart capitalist futures following the 1989–90 overthrow of Communist Party rule and the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, China’s Communist Party reaffirmed socialist goals and vigorously asserted its political monopoly. Yet, ironically, continuities with the collective regime are far greater in large parts of the former Soviet Union, where collectives and state farms remain the centerpiece of the rural economy, than in China, where the Communist Party has presided over and promoted decollectivization and the restoration of family farms, a booming market, and proliferating rural small-scale enterprises under diverse ownership forms. The paradox is all the greater when we recall the substantially greater earlier success of Chinese collective agriculture, whether measured by high long-term growth rates, levels of national self-sufficiency in food, or rates of accumulation.