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New Left Review I/30, March-April 1965

NLR Editorials

Introduction to ‘A Chinese Village’

A Chinese Village

Exaggeration is easy. Privation is one thing, poverty to the point of wretchedness—‘la misére’—another. A sturdy self-reliant stock may grow in a stony soil. But, when due allowance has been made for the inevitable misconceptions, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that a large proportion of Chinese peasants are constantly on the brink of actual destitution. They are, so to say, a propertied proletariat, which is saved—when it is saved—partly by its own admirable ingenuity and fortitude, partly by the communism of the Chinese family, partly by reducing its consumption of necessaries and thus using up its physical capital. . .

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