Re: Great Leap Forward texts?

From "Matthew Rothwell" <>
Date Thu, 1 Mar 2007 12:14:13 -0400
Cc <>
References <>

Is the title (or alternate title) of Bramall's 1993 book Legacies of Maoist Economic Development in Sichuan? That is all I can find for him for that year from Oxford.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Brian Turner" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: Great Leap Forward texts?

--- Daniel Frederick Vukovich <>

The best piece that I know of is by Utsa Patnaik...

Her GLF commentaries suffer from the glaring and foolish error of taking PRC vital stats from the GLF period at face value when every China focusing demographer knows stats from that period severely understate deaths. While the general point that Indian poverty was much more deadly over the long run than Maoism is valid, I see no reason go to her work when British economist Chris Bramall makes more or less the same argument, but is much more knowledgable about the stats and the proper way to intepret them.

I particularly have in mind his excellent chapter on
the GLF in his book _In Praise of Maoist Economic
Planning_ (1993) Oxford Univ. Press, but it was
mentioned in other articles of his as well, and maybe
his more recent book focusing heavily on the Mao era
roots of reform era growth too, not sure.

I also believe it's very unfair to say Judith Banister
"abused" the famine figures.  Her figures have been
abused by others, but never by her as far as I know.
For example, you'll never find "30 million starved to
death" in any of her writings, that's Jasper Becker,
Jung Chang et al's spin.  And it is Banister's work
that provides credible figures supporting Bramall's
arguments about huge numbers of saved lives via social
welfare achievements in other years. I also know of no
abuse of figures by Coale either, though can't say for
sure in his case.

Lastly, there is no reason to refer to Banister's
figures as "inflated" as there has been no critiques
of her methods or results as far as I know, and micro
evidence from village studies, as well as Bramall's
extensive analysis of Sichuan (worst famine province)
support her figures.  It's the misuse of her sensible
research (_China's Changing Population_ 1987) that is
the problem, and the deliberate obfuscation of long
term hunger vital stat trends in favor of exclusive
focus on the famine.

To Alex:

Besides the aforementiond Chris Bramall chapter, on
the causes of the famine, the best articles I know of

Bernstein, Thomas (1984)  "Stalinism and Chinese
Peasants:  Grain Procurement During the Great Leap
Forward", Theory and Society.  May 3

Bernstein, Thomas (2006) "Mao Zedong and the Famine of
1959-60: A Study in Wilfulness", China Quarterly. No.
186, June.

An, Mark Yuying, Wei Li, Dennis Tao Yang (2001) "Great
Leap Forward or Backward?  Anatomy of a Central
Planning Disaster" Journal of Economic Literature.


For what was happening at the micro level, only one
person has tried in book form -- Jasper Becker
(_Hungry Ghosts_) -- but his book is rubbish because
he used self-selected interviews, thus he was
guaranteed to hear only the worst horror stories plus
some ax grinders surely.  This is what he was after,
so for him it was no problem.

So, for now the village studies, some 2 dozen by now,
will have to suffice.  For example, Han Dongping's
book mentions what happened during the famine in
Shandong, a hard hit province, and more details appear
in his unpublished paper on the absence of rural
democracy during the GLF and its presence (in
Shandong) during the CR.

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