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Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do Hardcover – Oct 4 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609803418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609803414
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 15.4 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #343,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Ian Robertson TOP 100 REVIEWER on Oct. 26 2012
Format: Hardcover
Maonomics would be more appropriately titled "Unbreakable China; Broken English" because it focuses on the wonderful attributes of China (including why Tiananmen Square was necessary) and the many, many faults of the West (including our lack of press freedom compared to China's). In fact the majority of the book is spent on the West's faults, and to the extent China's economic model is discussed, it is decidedly not Mao's but rather Deng's that is exalted. Maonomics has a better ring to it than Dengomics, but unfortunately the poor title choice is just one symptom of a poorly executed and unfocused work.
While Napoleoni makes many good points, and may even be basing them on sound theory, the book as a whole is unfocussed and unsatisfying. The central problem is that Napoleoni's thesis is preconceived and then supported with disparate ideas, selectively drawn from an extremely wide range of facts and unsubstantiated opinions. The result is quite different from a thesis borne out of intimate knowledge of the data and a keen mind for synthesizing the information into cogent arguments. Maonomics is more like a very long undergraduate essay than a finely honed work drawn from a lifetime of experience and research, such as Professor Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel.
Still, there are bright spots.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
What can we learn from the Chinese economic miracle? Oct. 4 2011
By Hubert Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book can arouse deliberate concern about political and economic struggle between China and its western counterparts for hegemony in a phantasmagorical and fraught epoch. Nowadays politicians from the EU and Washington have been painstakingly mitigating the risk of double-dip recession due to sovereign debt crisis and sagging labor market. However, China economy continues to grow rapidly and since wealth is power, the global political paradigm is likely to shift and as US tumbles and China ascends, this raises a very unsettling question to politicians from the western world: How can the EU and US shields their people from detrimental effects of economic failure and rebuild their omnipotent power in the world?

Napoleoni maintains that lessons to be learnt from the Chinese economic miracle can be a universally applicable panacea to maladies in the western world. In this book, she tries to convince readers not to pass the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) off as a totalitarian regime with hostile and chronic transgression of environmental protection and violation of human rights and people's vital interest. Instead the three-decade economic reform has helped Chinese people to escape from extreme destitution and the regime has been becoming open to public criticism. Moreover, the fulcrum of demand-side economic philosophy underscores omnipresence of the government in choreographing investment activities in infrastructure and other public services for economic well-being of the people. To Napoleoni, Chinese politicians are devout Marxist and Confucian advocates and they behave ethically "like a father" (P.152) to protect economic well-being of their people. Nor do they malignantly belligerent and hegemonic when exploiting natural resources in African nations (P.271).

A blizzard of criticism with extreme invective and strays from factual accuracy of Machiavellian thought (P.149), neo-liberalism (P.81) and supply-side economic philosophy (P.215) teems in this book. Napoleoni maintains that they are inevitable causes of economic downturn in the western world. Politicians from the EU (i.e. Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi) and US (i.e. Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Alan Greenspan, Barack Obama) are blamed for the deregulation of risky financial activities and the abuse of media to propagate their beguiling mantras at the expense of people's vital interests. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to swallow the truth that politicians and the moneyed titans who take advantage of politics for their personal interest play havoc with democracy.

The author fails to give a fair assessment of political and economic policies in China. What might confound readers is the author's view on 1989 Tiananmen massacre. According to her, the massacre of innocent Chinese students by the CCP is for the best interest of China so that it could aptly "modernize following its own path" (P.98). Extant research and news on China have also highlighted chronic violation of human rights and suppression of investigative journalism in major scandals in China (i.e. clampdown on dissident and rights activist Ai Weiwei in Mar, high speed rail crash reporting in July, and sex slave crime reporting in Sept 2011). The author's superficial understanding of China and its political culture (i.e. guanxi) becomes a fatal defect to make a fair assessment of what has happened there.

Nonetheless, the success of China's economic reform is something politicians from the western world can look at. Things to be learnt from China's politics, however, should barely be emblematic to cure maladies of western democracy.

The title of this book "Maonomics" should be changed to "Dengnomics" (Deng introduced market economy and economic reform) or "Hunomics" (Hu emphasizes social harmony). Mao is the key founder of the CCP but he has made no significant influence and contribution to China's economic reform after 1978. To date Mao remains a far controversial figure because his rule from 1949 to 1976 is believed to have caused severe starvation and mass suicide as a result of numerous political and economic campaigns.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Full of Lying May 2 2013
By Wei Jin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book is full of lying and fabulous imagination which seems about another paralleled universe. It's not China AT ALL.
I lived in China and I think I am knowing this country much better than author.
I need to point out,
1. None of any government official will resign publicly, no matter what kind of disaster they caused. They can be removed from office. But nobody will take the responsibility by himself. Generally speaking the big boss will find a scapegoat and grant some compensation in few years, for instance, give him another, even better job.
2. The bank system is a part of government. These years people are suffering an obvious currency inflation caused by the bank. And in this spot, the winners are the government officials, bankers and real estate developers.
3. These years, we heard of that quite a lot lawyers and reporters were put into jail because of muckracking.
Only an unquestioning believer could write this June 15 2014
By Wyatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms Napoleoni has some interesting thoughts (hence three stars) - I was hoping from a friend's recommendation that Maonomics would convincingly explain why China appears so dynamic and the West (Europe more than the US actually) seems so moribund but it didn't work. All too often she makes the facts fit the predetermined story rather than the other way around, and where it suits her case she either uses or overlooks the inconvenient facts as the need indicates (hence only three stars).
12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Up with China, down with the West Nov. 24 2011
By Mercator - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Napo is part of a generation of educated Italians who grew up admiring the PCI, whose Marxist ideology held the key to a bright future for all. The collapse of the soviet union was a shock and left millions of believers in italy puzzled and looking for explanations. Napo has a simple one: communism is very successful, but in its Chinese version, which is completely different from the mistaken Soviet interpretation, and it is rapidly modernizing China, which will soon overtake the evil West. At this point most people will say: you've got to be kidding! China's ideology has undergone tremendous change, it can hardly be described today as Mao-nomics or even Deng-nomics; leaders as well as ordinary Chinese hardly ever refer to marxist concepts nowadays. Napo understands that, but it does not stop her; writing in a breezy, fast moving style (well translated from the Italian by S. Twilley) she makes her case boldly and then moves forward as in a James Bond movie, where the quick changes in the plot entertain the reader and hide the preposterousness of the underlying premises. A former newspaperwoman with no scholarly pretensions, she has read widely about China and world affairs generally, and she ransacks her reading list for interesting anecdotes to fit to her ideological frame: up with China, down with the West.

A quick summary. Iceland, guided by a neoliberal ideology sank into disaster, while China's economy following the opposite principles (really?) soared to new heights. Reagan and Thatcher badly damaged their economies, while Deng sent China on an upward path by forcing millions of people to work hard for very low wages (hey, to make an omlet you have to break some eggs). Marx would have been in favor of globalization, seeing it as a way to raise the conditions of the working class (the Chinese working class, at any rate). Napo highlights many shortcomings in China, such as hideous factory conditions, pollution, lack of rights. While not condoning these, she sees them as inevitable in a rapidly developing country and having some parallels with the early stages of the West's industrial revolution. For Napo, Deng's repression of TienAnMen was well justified: if Chinese had been granted full democratic freedoms in 1989 hundreds of millions of them would have flooded to the West bringing chaos in their wake (in this imaginative Western centric perspective, she takes for granted that they would have been admitted by western countries). In any case mistakes by Chinese leaders made in the name of the people are excusable, when western leaders are corrupt and care only about themselves. Western leaders bail out banks with taxpayer money, while China where necessary recapitalizes state banks that have non-performing loans so they can keep lending (see the difference?).

We also learn: p.67 Chinese ships under admiral Cheng He discovered America in 1421 (!), p.108 JP Morgan used TARP funds to acquire Bear Stearns in the Spring of 2008 (wasn't TARP approved in the Fall of 2008?). p.127 The Fed followed an aggressive disinflation policy which resulted in the financial crisis (weren't Fed rates held very low from 2000 to 2005?), p.204 oil was the fuel that made the Industrial Revolution possible (I thought it was coal?), p. 284 in China's DNA the business gene has replaced the colonization gene (whatever that means). But the emphasis is on the big picture, not the specifics.

I found the book entertaining, but ultimately superficial. What is the point? Nowhere does she suggest specific policies that would improve the situation, she just revels in the good guys' successes (China) and in the bad guys' comeuppance (the neoliberal west), even winking at AlQaida for its daring. There are far better books on the financial crisis (Rajan, Nocera, etc.), on chinese policies and China's opening (Kissinger's is the latest), on China's role in Africa (such as Brautigam), on what the US can learn from its competition with China (Ann Lee) and the many other subjects briefly touched in this book.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do Sept. 7 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A really fabulous read from an economist who doesn't have the blinkers of the US to misguide her thoughts, like her other books immensely readable and sensible.

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