After the death of Mao, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party embarked on a series of ambitious political reforms. Barrett L. McCormick develops a theory of Leninist states to explore the prospects for these reforms. He finds that, although the Chinese people have made significant economic and political gains, the basic contours of the state remain unchanged, and as events in June 1989 clearly showed, reform has not diminished the state’s ability to impose its prerogatives on society.
Drawing on Weber’s political sociology, McCormick argues that patronage and corruption are integral aspects of Leninist rulership. Reformers have attempted to promote democracy and law and to fight corruption, but when they attempt to implement their programs through traditional hierarchical Leninist institutions, lower-level cadres have been able to utilize patronage networks to blunt the impact of reform and protect their personal agendas. In his case studies of the legal system, the people’s congress, and party rectification, McCormick points up these obstacles to progressive change and assesses the extent to which reformers’ goals have been realized. He shows that, despite the often radical nature of the reform movements, the principal dimensions of the Leninist system—one party rule, state domination of the economy, a confining ideology—remain largely intact. These findings will be of interest to China specialists as well as students of comparative communism and Leninist states. This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1990.