Li Minqi speaking on Subversive Festival (2009)
World Systems Theory
|Institutions||University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Utah
|Alma mater||Beijing University
University of Massachusetts Amherst
|Known for||Chinese New Left
Minqi Li is a Chinese political economist, world-systems analyst, and historical social scientist, currently an associate professor of Economics at the University of Utah. Li is known as an advocate of the Chinese New Left and a Marxian economist.
Li was a student at the Economic Management Department of Beijing University during the period 1987–90. There he studied and became convinced of neoliberal 'Chicago School' economics. He engaged in many protests of the existing economic system, and engaged in much activism after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Li was arrested after advocating free market principles in 1990, and made a vast switch to become a Marxist after extensive reading of the works of Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, and others while a political prisoner until his release in 1992. Li spent the next two years traveling in China, debating with remaining liberal dissident activists and conducting his own research into political,economic, and social development in modern China, using fake identification to visit provincial and city libraries. His view became one opposed to the mainstream, being that Mao Zedong's influence was a "revolutionary legacy rather than a historical burden for future socialist revolutionaries."
In 1994, he authored the book Capitalist Development and Class Struggle in China, which consisted of an analysis of the economic development of China in the Maoist era and the 1980s, as well as a Marxist analysis of the 1989 “democratic movement”, arguing that it was not a popular democratic movement and was abandoned by the liberal intellectuals, led to the physical and ideological slaughter of the urban working class, and led to a victory of the bureaucratic capitalists. He attempted to show that this paved the way for China's transition to Capitalism. He criticized neoliberal economics and its relation to economic rationality, inherent contradictions between democracy and capitalism, and the social and material conditions that had led to China's rise with a conclusion focusing on a criticism of state-capitalism and advocating democratic socialism.
After firmly completing a political and intellectual break with the mainstream Chinese liberal tradition and their political counterparts, he established himself as a revolutionary Marxist. Li arrived in the United States on December 25, 1994 and became a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Since then, he has been among the foremost promoters of the Chinese "New Left."
In 2001 Li's focus shifted to World Capitalist Systems, and the work of Immanuel Wallerstein in particular. Inspired by Wallerstein's arguments, he wrote a Chinese article, “Reading Wallerstein’s Capitalist World-Economy—And the China Question in the First Half of the 21st Century,” being the first economist to link the "rise of China" to the demise of capitalism. The article gained popularity among the New Left in China without his knowledge, and was published in Currents of Thought: China’s New Left and Its Influences which he found by surprise while browsing in a Chinese bookstore in Philadelphia. In late 2001 he expanded his study of China in relation to World-Systems in a critique of Jiang Zemin's theory of Chinese social strata (a refutation of Marxist social relations from a Chinese perspective, arguing that China is moving towards a "middle-class society"), in his “China’s Class Structure from the World-System’s Perspective.” Li argued that China’s economic rise would in fact greatly destabilize the capitalist world-economy in various ways and contribute to its final demise. Building upon his previous two papers, he wrote “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy: Historical Possibilities of the 21st Century.”  He then incorporated these and several other papers into his book "The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy"  in 2009, in which he argued, based upon an analysis of environmental data in relation to the Capitalist world economy, that the only way to avoid the inevitable collapse of civilization is to adopt a socialist world government by the middle of the 21st century.
From 2003 to 2006, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses on political economy at York University in Toronto, Canada, and then went on to teach at the University of Utah, where he currently teaches.
- The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy. London: Pluto Press; New York: Monthly Review Press (November 2008 / January 2009).
- Three Essays on China’s State Owned Enterprises: Towards An Alternative to Privatization. Hamburg: VDM Verlag (October 2008).
- Quanli yu Ziben (Power and Capital, Author: Ernest Mandel), translation from English into Chinese. Beijing: Zhongyang Bianyi Chubanshe (The CCP Central Committee Compilation and Translation Press 2002). (with Meng Jie)
- ‘China und der globale Klassenkampf – Passagen der Revolution? (China and the Global Class Struggle – Passages of Revolution?,” in Ingo Schmidt, ed., Spielarten des Neoliberalismus (Varieties of Neoliberalism) (Hamburg: VSA-Verlag, VSA-Publishers, 2008), pp. 191–212.
- ‘Capitalism with Zero Profit Rate? Limits to Growth and the Law of the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall,” in Growth and Crisis: Social Structure of Accumulation Theory and Analysis (2006, E-book: http://www.cisc.ie/documents/00024ciscwp.pdf).
- ‘China: Hyper-Development and Environmental Crisis,’ in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds., Coming to Terms with Nature (Socialist Register 2007) (London: The Merlin Press 2006), pp. 130–146. (with Dale Wen)
- ‘The Past, the Present, and the Future of the Capitalist World-Economy,’ in Li Shenming, ed., 2005 Nian Shijie Shehuizhuyi Genzong Yanjiu Baogao (2005: World Socialism Yellowbook) (Beijing: Shehue Kexue Wenxian Chubanshe or Social Science Literature Press), pp. 378–412. (with Zhu Andong)
- ‘A Dialogue on the Future of China,’ in Chaohua Wang, ed., One China, Many Paths (London: Verso 2003), pp. 313–358. (with Wang Dan and Wang Chaohua)
- ‘Reading Wallerstein’s “The Capitalist World-Economy” with a Discussion on the China Question in the First Half of the 21st Century,’ in Gong Yang, ed., Si Chao (Intellectual Currents, Beijing: China Social Science Press 2003), pp. 89-109.
- ‘One Hundred Million Jobs for the Chinese Workers!: Why China’s Current Model of Development Is Unsustainable and How *A Progressive Economic Program Can Help the Chinese Workers, the Chinese Economy, and China’s Environment,’ Review of Radical Political Economics (forthcoming) (with Chiara Piovani).
- ‘Socialism, Capitalism, and Class Struggle: the Political Economy of Modern China,’ Economic and Political Weekly, XLIII(52): 77-96, December 27, 2008 – January 2, 2009.
- ‘Climate Change, Limits to Growth, and the Imperative for Socialism,’ Monthly Review, 60:3 (July–August 2008), pp. 51–67.
- ‘An Age of Transition: The United States, China, Peak Oil, and the Demise of Neoliberalism,’ Monthly Review, 59:11 (April 2008), pp. 20–34.
- ‘Long Waves, Institutional Changes, and Historical Trends: A Study of the Long-Term Movement of the Profit Rate in the Capitalist World-Economy,’ Journal of World-Systems Research, XIII:1 (December 2007), pp. 33–54 (with Feng Xiao and Andong Zhu). Website:
- ‘Peak Oil, the Rise of China and India, and the Global Energy Crisis,’ Journal of Contemporary Asia, 37:4 (November 2007), pp. 449–471.
- China – Energie, Nahrungsmittel, Klimawandel (‘Energy, Food, Climate Change, and the Rise of China: Scenarios of Global Crisis’), Zeitschrift Marxistische Erneuerung, 71 (September 2007), pp. 86–99.
- Der Ausfstieg Chinas und das Zeitalter des übergangs (‘The Rise of China and the Age of Transition’), Das Argument, 268 (2006), pp. 105–111.
- ‘Secular Trends, Long Waves, and the Cost of the State: Evidence from the Long-Term Movement of the Profit Rate in the US Economy 1869-2000,’ Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Studies of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, XXIX:1 (2006), pp. 87–114. (with Adam Hanieh)
- ‘The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy: Exploring the Historical Possibilities in the 21st Century,’ Science & Society, 69:3 (2005), pp. 420–448.
- ‘Workers’ Participation in Management and Firm Performance: Evidence for Large and Medium-Sized Chinese Industrial Enterprises,’ Review of Radical Political Economics, 36:3 (2004), pp. 358-380.
- ‘Aggregate Demand, Productivity, and “Disguised Unemployment” in the Chinese Industrial Sector,’ World Development, 32:3 (2004), pp. 409-425.
- ‘After Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism?,’ Monthly Review, 55:8 (2004), pp. 21–36.
- ‘China’s Social Structure within the Purview of the World System,’ Shi Jie (Horizons), 11 (2003).
- ‘Reading Wallerstein’s “The Capitalist World-Economy” with a Discussion of the China Question in the First Half of the 21st Century,’ Shi Jie (Horizons), 8 (2000).
- ‘The Marketization of the Chinese Economy and the Role of the Public Sector,’ Zhanlue yu Guanli (Strategy and Management), March–April 2000.
- ‘The U.S. New Economy and the Contradictions of Modern Capitalism,’ Du Shu (Reading), November 1999.
- ‘China: Six Years after Tiananmen,’ Monthly Review, 47:8 (1996), pp. 1–13.
- ‘Peak Energy and the Limits to China’s Economic Growth: Prospect of Energy Supply from Now to 2050,’ The Political Economy Research Institute of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Working Paper 189 (December 2008). Website: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_151-200/WP189.pdf.
- ‘U.S., China, and the Unraveling of Global Imbalances,’ The Political Economy Research Institute of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Working Paper 146 (October 2007). Website: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_101-150/WP146.pdf.
- ‘Capitalism with Zero Profit Rate? Limits to Growth and the Law of the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall,’ Department of Economics Working Paper Series No. 2007-05. Website:
- ‘Neoliberalism, Global Imbalances, and Stages of Capitalist Development,’ The Political Economy Research Institute of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Working Paper 110 (August 2005). Website: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_101-150/WP110.pdf (with Andong Zhu)
- ‘Global Chaos? Global Governance? – The Capitalist World Economy Series IV,’ Gaoxiao Lilun Zhanxian (Higher Education Theoretical Forum), July 2005. (with Zhu Andong)
- ‘Neoliberalism and Global Economic Crisis – The Capitalist World Economy Series III,’ Gaoxiao Lilun Zhanxian (Higher Education Theoretical Forum), June 2005. (with Zhu Andong)
- ‘From Colonialism to the Golden Age – The Capitalist World Economy Series II,’ Gaoxiao Lilun Zhanxian (Higher Education Theoretical Forum), May 2005. (with Zhu Andong)
- ‘The Current World Historical Conjuncture – The Capitalist World Economy Series I,’ Gaoxiao Lilun Zhanxian (Higher Education Theoretical Forum), April 2005. (with Zhu Andong)
- ‘The Past, the Present, and the Future of the Capitalist World-Economy,’ Book-Length Special Issue of the World Socialism Research Center, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (December 2004). (with Zhu Andong).
- ‘China’s Public Services Privatization and Poverty Reduction: Health Care and Education Reform in China and the Impact on Poverty,’ United Nations Development Programme Policy Brief, Summer 2004. (with Andong Zhu)
- ‘China’s Urban Unemployment: “Disguised Unemployment” or Insufficient Aggregate Demand?,’ The Political Economy *Research Institute of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Working Paper 22 (2001). Website: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_1-50/WP22.pdf.
- ‘A Harmony of Capitalism and Socialism?,’ Science & Society, 73(2) (2008), pp. 214–219.
- Review of The Transformation of Chinese Socialism (Lin Chun, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press 2006), Science & Society, 72:4 (October 2008), pp. 489–491.
- Review of Economic Growth, Transition, and Globalization in China (Yanrui Wu ed., Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar 2006), Journal of Contemporary Asia, August 2008.
- ‘China: Hyper-Development and Environmental Crisis,’ in Kikan Pipuruzu
- Puran (People's Plan Quarterly), Japanese Translation, February 2008 (with Dale Wen).
- ‘Global Capitalism in Danger,’ Monthly Review Webzine, August 19, 2005. Website: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/li190805.html.
- ‘Socialism is Dead in China, Long Live the Chinese Socialism! – A Review of China and Socialism,’ Pipan yu Sikao (Criticisms and Rethinking, Taiwan), March 2005.
- ‘A Dialogue on the Future of China,’ New Left Review, 235 (1999). (with Wang Dan and Wang Chaohua)
- ‘Response to Lau’s “China: Labour Reform and the Challenge Facing the Working Class”,’ Capital and Class, 65 (1998).
- Grassroots political reform in contemporary China. Elizabeth J. Perry, Merle Goldman
- Preface: My 1989 to: Li, Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy. Monthly Review Press, 2009. Print.
- Page xvi, Li, Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy. Monthly Review Press, 2009. Print.
- Li, Minqi. "CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT AND CLASS STRUGGLES IN CHINA." 1993-1996. 6 Aug 2009 <http://www.econ.utah.edu/~mli/Capitalism%20in%20China/Index.htm>.
- Page xvii, Li, Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy. Monthly Review Press, 2009. Print.
- Page xviii, Li, Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy. Monthly Review Press, 2009. Print.
- ‘The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy: Exploring the Historical Possibilities in the 21st Century,’ Science & Society, 69:3 (2005), pp. 420-448.