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Book Report
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Was China a Capitalist Society before the Mongol Invasion? (Book Report Sample)


For this reading report, you will need to give a definition of "capitalist society" as you make your argument about whether pre-1300 China can be characterized as a capitalist society. One possible source of such a definition is the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. http://go(dot)galegroup(dot)com(dot)gate(dot)lib(dot)buffalo(dot)edu/ps/|9780028661179&v=2.1&u=sunybuff_main&it=etoc&p=GVRL&sw=w&authCount=1 (this is the link that you can search for the resource)


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Was China a Capitalist Society before the Mongol Invasion?
A capitalist society refers to a community governed by an economic and political system where means of production are privately owned, the majority of the members of the population cannot exist unless it sells its labor, and most individuals exercise acquisitive and maximizing behaviors (Hunt 4). From this definition, two important entities emerge; the capitalist class and the worker. In a capitalist society, therefore, the worker is forced to sell his or her labor power in order to sustain his or her life. The commodities created are of greater value than the materials, equipment, and the labor utilized. The capitalist is thus driven by the profit motive (Swanson 129). As informed by Hunt, a major defining factor of capitalism is the right given to private individuals by the society to control tools, raw materials, and machinery for production (5). This means that in such society, there is minimal interference of the state in the practices of the capitalist class.
The above features of a capitalist society can help in determining whether pre-1300-China can be categorized as a capitalist society or not. Prior to the Mongol invasion, China was ruled by a number of powerful dynasties. While there are some little instances and incidences that may suggest that pre-1300 China was a capitalist society, the control of the state on major activities show that capitalism was not in existence. The economic practices were largely controlled by the state, meaning that little private ownership and control of resources occurred.
There are little instances capitalist practices that happened in the Chinese society before the Mongol invasion. Murphy quotes a poem by Li Bo, which suggests that the pre-1300 China may have experienced some elements of capitalism (135). The poem contains the lines; “The world is like a great empty dream, why should one toil away one's life?

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