Xi Jinping's Anti-Corruption Campaign : The Politics of Revenge book cover
1st Edition

Xi Jinping's Anti-Corruption Campaign
The Politics of Revenge

  • Available for pre-order on April 14, 2023. Item will ship after May 5, 2023
ISBN 9781032362694
May 5, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages

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Book Description

Through empirical analysis and conceptual development, this book analyses the political psychology of Xi Jinping's Anti-Corruption Campaign and its role in the Chinese political system.

Using Nietzsche’s concept of ressentiment and data collected from direct fieldwork, the book analyses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship, revealing that it is prone to extremes, through ideology or corruption, and highlights how the party’s attempts to address one extreme only leads to the rise of another. In turn it examines the Anti-Corruption Campaign in multiple ways including its use to increase the role of ideology in Chinese society, how it functions to concentrate Xi's power, its cultural form as a status reversal ritual, and its continuity with previous communist campaigns and ancient Chinese political traditions. Through each of these analyses the book identifies crucial mechanisms through which the CCP maintains power through interrelated policies, actions, and their emotional effects.

Providing a vital understanding of the CCP, this book will be an invaluable resource to students and scholars of Chinese politics as well as diplomats and policy makers on China.

Table of Contents

1. The Theory of Ressentiment  2. Literature Review on "Anticorruption" Campaigns  3. Corruption and Ressentiment  4. Ideology and Corruption  5. Power and Anticorruption  6. Campaign as Ritual  7. The Good Emperor and the Campaign  8. Why an Anticorruption Campaign and Not the Rule of Law?

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Steven P. Feldman is Professor Emeritus of Business Ethics, Case Western Reserve University, USA. His previous books on China are Dictatorship by Degrees: Xi Jinping in China (2021) and Trouble in the Middle: American-Chinese Business Relations Conflict, Culture, and Ethics (2013).


‘The anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping has been one of the most ambitious and striking aspects of China​'s domestic politics in the last decade. In this lucidly argued and written study, based on extensive in-country field research, Steven Feldman gets under the skin of a complex and sometimes confusing phenomenon. He shows that by dexterous use of feelings of resentment and anger, the Chinese public has been invited to turn against Communist Party officials, but made the most senior of these, Xi himself, paradoxically even more powerful.’
Kerry Brown, Professor, Kings College London, UK

‘Dictatorships such as China face a dilemma that has not been resolved either theoretically or practically: their built-in mechanism encourages corruption, yet the dictator must maintain legitimacy. Steven Feldman's book addresses this issue from a novel perspective. He argues that Xi’s anticorruption campaign is a status reversal ritual that takes advantage of fantasies of revenge in everyday people, who suffer under widespread corruption. Feldman reveals that Xi's anticorruption campaign helped make him the "good emperor" by attacking corruption, but by replacing corruption with ideology, Xi further represses Party and society.’
Shaomin Li, Professor, Old Dominion University, USA

‘In this carefully-researched work, Steven Feldman puts Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign into the historical context of Chinese Communist Party leaders’ use of anti-crime and anti-corruption campaigns both as weapons against their rivals within the Party and as tools for building popular support for the Party. In doing so, Feldman contributes both to our understanding of Xi Jinping’s success as Communist Party leader and to the ongoing debate about the Communist Party regime’s sources of legitimacy.’
Harold M. Tanner, Professor, University of North Texas, USA

‘Steven Feldman's book makes an important contribution to understanding Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, utilizing Max Scheler's work on ressentiment. Beyond attacking corruption, the anti-corruption campaign serves to establish unity between the leader and the people in a particular way. Mitigating the population’s ressentiment by attacking the humiliating corruption, Xi appears to raise the status of the population. His gain in power, however, leaves the population even more repressed. The book is a "must read" for anyone interested in the functioning of the Chinese political system or the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.’
Thomas Heberer, Professor, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany