For 800 Million People, It Was a Huge Bang

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Capitalism in the Countryside
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When people say there was no big bang in China I don't know what they mean. For 800 million people, it was a huge bang.

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<p>I don't have all the figures in my head but, of course, people are factory owners and shop owners, China is a private economy. In fact, it has a higher level of private ownership than most European countries, it's not that much lower than the United States, rather, quite comparable. So, yes. It's a capitalist China. And they got there, I wouldn't say gradually, but over time. It happened in different places and in different dimensions, let's say. But, the changes were extremely radical. In 1983, they walk away from the communes. I mean, that's unbelievable! The end. No more commune, no more brigade, no more team. You're on your own. I'm actually dumbfounded when people say, &quot;There was no big bang in China.&quot; I don't know what they mean. For 800 million people, it was a huge bang and, nationally, it only took two years. And, in certain communities, it was six weeks. The commune's there, the commune's gone. Now, every single household is going to contract to the state for their grain. Instantly, eight hundred million tenant farmers. Wow, that's huge! And that's why I emphasize this self-reliance, as well as strong family, that was the foundation on which this growth is built. They didn't lose a harvest. Immediately, productivity was higher. Until the economic reform changes in urban China, in '86, the urban-rural [income] gap was falling. The people in the countryside were quick to figure out how capitalism was going to work for them. So, I think that was a huge bang and we see it. And then, of course, there were other bangs, but that one was the most dramatic.</p>
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Deborah Davis talks about China's rapid transition from a communal, socialist society to a largely capitalist, private ownership-based society.