Dictatorship by Degrees: Xi Jinping in China traces the totalitarian elements that linger in China’s governing policies and practices, such as extra-legal Anti-Corruption Campaign, great concentration of power in one man, increasing intolerance, increasing propaganda, increasing indoctrination, increasing self-criticism inside the Party, expansion of Party cells across society, increasing censorship, cult of personality, and mass incarceration in Xinjiang. Steven P. Feldman develops a concept of pre-totalitarianism to explore these developments through extensive field data, including interviews with business executives, professors, lawyers, and non-profit executives, and observations of daily life. Feldman argues that Chinese political culture, based on the core principle of small group loyalties is inherently unstable, resulting in an ongoing tendency for leaders to concentrate power to survive and accomplish their goals. Under communist dictatorial political organization, totalitarian domination is always a temptation and risk.
Steven P. Feldman is professor emeritus of business ethics at Case Western Reserve University.
Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1: Pre-Totalitarianism: Gateway to the Supersense
Chapter 2: The Chinese Political System: A Literature Review
Part II: Field Data Analysis
Chapter 3: Patterns in Chinese Politics
Chapter 4: Management and Governance
Chapter 5: Censorship
Chapter 6: Vicissitudes in Dictatorial Control
Chapter 7: Political Change
Chapter 8: Mao and the Cultural Revolution as Models
Chapter 9: Factions Today
Chapter 10: Parade, Party, and President Xi
Drawing on classic models of totalitarianism and fieldwork, Steven P. Feldman re-interprets political trends under Xi Jinping, arguing that Xi has propelled China toward a return to the radicalism of the Cultural Revolution. Professor Feldman’s analysis provides a highly provocative, and no doubt controversial, reading of the evolution of contemporary Chinese politics and society.
In the post-pandemic world, as Western governments and business executives consider how to recalibrate relationships with China, Steven P. Feldman's, Dictatorship by Degrees: Xi Jinping in China, arrives with impeccable timing. Based on extensive empirical research conducted on the ground in China and on keen intellectual insights drawn from anthropology, psychology, and history, this brilliant book offers unparalleled insight into the leadership style of China's enigmatic leader Xi Xingping, the hidden jockeying for power among rival political factions, and the traumatic experiences of ordinary Chinese citizens in the age of high tech political control and manipulation. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand what's next in China.
This solidly-researched and provocative book builds on Hannah Arendt's notion of ‘pre-totalitarianism’ to explore China in the Xi Jinping era. Its analysis of such wide-ranging themes as political structure, censorship, factions, and the vexed role of memory and fear offers something for everyone in an engaging and thoughtful manner. This is highly recommended reading.
In Dictatorship by Degrees, Feldman develops an original concept of pre-totalitarianism to show how far Xi Jinping has turned China back to the total control regime under Mao. I strongly recommend this fresh and fascinating study to all who are interested in the political developments in contemporary China.