In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2019. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 273–290.

Over the last four decades in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), millions of peasants have lost their land every year, giving way to a new working class. This article discusses whether Marx’s concept of “primitive accumulation” is useful in understanding the PRC’s social transformation. Marx claimed that the separation of producers from the means of production would be necessary for the development of capitalist labor relations. Based on the Chinese case, this essay argues against scholars in New Labor Studies and Feminist Studies who have recently argued that “free wage labor” is a Eurocentric concept with little relevance for the Third World. The essay also shows that the Chinese state was deeply involved in “land grabbing”. Private ownership of land does not exist in the PRC, but the government supports the commercialization of land user rights. Capitalist labor relations in agriculture are introduced by promoting large-scale industrial agriculture. The long-term goal is to abolish the “small peasant economy.” Marx’s theory about the development of capitalism should not be easily condemned as Eurocentric.


Über den Autor

Felix Wemheuer, Dr., geb. 1977. Sinologe und Autor mehrerer Bücher zur Mao-Ära. Seit 2014 Professor für Moderne China-Studien an der Universität zu Köln. Studium der ostasiatischen Politik an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum und von 2000 bis 2002 in »Geschichte der Kommunistischen Partei Chinas« an der Volksuniversität in Peking. Promotion zu Erinnerungen an die große Hungersnot (1958–1961) an der Universität Wien. Zwischen 2008 und 2010 Gastwissenschaftler am Fairbank Center of Chinese Studies an der Harvard Universität. Neuere Veröffentlichungen u. a.: A Social History of China, Cambridge 2019; Marx und der globale Süden, Köln 2016 (Sammelband); Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union, New Haven/London 2014 (chinesische Übersetzung: Hongkong 2017).