Survival tactics within Cold War ideologies : Post-Mao artists on the tides of globalization

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Postsocialism in Central and Eastern Europe, as Uros Cvoro points out, did not end with 1989 - it is still in a state of transition with the continuation of socialist ideology despite its incongruencies with the current market economy. Due to its hybrid and often contradictory nature, the system is sometimes referred to as “neoliberal postsocialism,” for which postsocialist China is another notable example. Since Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform in 1978, the Chinese Communist Party similarly maintained the socialist ideology in their governance but adopted neoliberalism as the economic policy to create a hybrid system. Deng’s economic policy allows some private ownership in business and property. The completion of various property laws since the reform era has also encouraged the purchase of real estate (although legally one can “rent” the land from the government for up to 70 years), whereby the government was able to boost the economy by selling, or temporarily “renting out,” properties and encouraging foreign investment. In the new economy that depends on surplus value, capitalism exploited cheap labor, which proved effective for China’s rising GDP. The result was the removal of lifelong positions for unit workers at national enterprises, and their replacement by migrant workers that receive fewer benefits. There is no longer a guarantee of jobs and economic equality comparable to that before the reform era. In this hybrid system and with rising social inequality, the government embraced privatization of businesses but never stopped meddling in the market. David Harvey describes this worldwide phenomenon since the late 1970s as "accumulation by dispossession," meaning a peculiar freedom that exploits others for inordinate gains. Such accelerated capitalism was then globalized, and the artists in this chapter benefited from the booming art market that arose with China’s turn to neoliberal postsocialism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVisual Representations of the Cold War and Postcolonial Struggles : Art in East and Southeast Asia
EditorsMidori YAMAMURA, Yu-Chieh LI
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISBN (Electronic)9781000405859
ISBN (Print)9780367615291
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2021


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