After Consumption and Management was published, several hundred of the media made related reports at different times. In less than a year, the reaction in society was beyond my expectation. Many readers found it time-consuming to finish the three volumes of Consumption and Management, nearly 1,500,000 words, so an abridged version was required. Some professionals also think the abridged On Consumption has a positive meaning for readers to get the whole contents of the book in a relatively short time. I took advice and created a bridged version. Meanwhile, when reprinting, I added two articles: ‘Financial Crisis and Theorists’ Responsibility’, delivered in People’s Forum, and ‘New Ages Calling New Theory’, delivered in People’s Forum and China Daily by Honorary Researcher and Professor Dai Yuanchen with China Academy of Social Sciences.
The abbreviated version changed ‘Economic Science of Consumption Society’ in the original into ‘Systematic Theories on Consumption Science’, and On Consumption into General Theory of Consumption. In addition, some contents in some chapters of the original version are slightly revised, added to, and refined.
My research on consumption theory began from the initial stages of reform and opening up in China. My first work was Consumption and Economic Laws, in 1982. In my research, I have found living consumption, social consumption, and production consumption, the three important consumptions, are the natural law for economic development.
The economic base determines targets of production and gives birth to basic economic laws. National interference on the market free adjusting law of merchandise exchange gives birth to macro adjusting market economic laws. Interference of the socialist state-owned economic base on the market free adjusting law of merchandise exchange gives birth to socialist macro-adjusting market economic laws. It is the basic content of my research on consumption theories. In 1984, I wrote Consumption is the Traction Force of Market Competition and Consumption and Surplus Value Law. Then I wrote articles like ‘Several Thoughts on Accelerating Development of Consumption Social Productivity’ and ‘The Target of Reform is to Develop Consumption Social Productivity’ and posted them to state leaders and related departments with the hope of supplying some references for their work. These articles were later published by Chinese Economy Publishing House and Central Party School Publishing House in 1995 and 1997. Afterwards, I suspended writing due to busy work.
In December 1996, I finished the first draft of Consumption and Management in 22 parts during the period I was in hospital in Beijing. The draft comprehensively analyzed the law of how human consumption affects economic circle spiral development; the relationship between consumption and the progress of social civilization; the relationship between consumption and social wealth; the relationship between nature, productivity, production relations, research and production; the relationship between consumption creating demands and demands reacting to consumption, and so on. This article was published in the first volume of Economic Macrocosm in 1997 and was included in my anthology. At that time, my research on consumption theories moved into a new phase. In the new century, I began systematically to research the primary structure of Consumption and Management and arrange articles about my learning and working practices guided by consumption theories for many years.
From September 2006 to March 2008, I spent one and a half years completely modifying the entire book and complementing it with some new materials such as the spirits of the Seventeenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China and some new conclusions from recent academic research.
My research mainly follows the principle theories of philosophy, economy, sociology, and management. I used mainly used social statistics methods, literature comparison methods, probability sampling methods, case-study approaches, and interview and computer analysis. Therefore, no matter what the basic theories or methodology, this book is not only an economic work but also a synthesis of many subjects. It is the reason why I locate it as consumption social economics.
Many friends have offered sincere support and help during the formation of Consumption and Management. Several times, Professor Liu Haifan organized a panel of experts to discuss my theories, offering affirmative support and encouragement; having read my Collections of Thesis, Honorary Researcher and Professor Dai Yuanchen with China Academy of Social Sciences suggested I publish a book and write the preface personally; Researcher and Professor Li Xinsheng with China Academy of Social Sciences in Shandong and his colleagues edited and trimmed this book greatly, adding flavor to my theoretical works. The following comrades have offered lots of valuable suggestions and comments during my theoretical creation: Professor Zhao Jinghua, Dean of School of Government Management of Central University of Finance & Economics; Professor Wang Jifu, Dean of School of Business Administration of US Houston University; and Lifelong Professor Ms Linda, Director of Economics Study Room of School of Business Administration of US Houston University.
The great educationalist Han Yu in the Tang Dynasty said: ‘Since no one is born omniscient, who can claim to have no doubts? If one has doubts and is not willing to learn from a teacher, his doubts will never be resolved.’ He advocated, ‘Where there is the doctrine, there is my teacher.’ Actually, where there is doctrine, there is a teacher. During the course of writing this book, I saw everyone who gave me enlightenment as my teacher. Not only scholars mentioned above are my teachers, but also authors of works, papers, and articles I have read are my teachers. My superiors are my teachers; my underlings are my teachers; my relatives, including my juniors are my teacher; even competitors I have met in the market are my teachers as well. Their knowledge, opinions, and good qualities in certain aspects bring to me enlightenment on conducting myself, on working and researching. For many years, I encouraged myself in the spirit, ‘One should be fond of learning and not feel ashamed to ask and learn of his inferiors.’ If I have some improvement in 30 years, it has a certain relationship to the tuition the teachers above gave me. In the future, I still will make virtuous people my teachers to persevere in cultivating my morality and researching.
I am grateful for my diceased wife Song Xiechen here. She was great. When I began to study consumption theories at the juncture of 1970s and 1980s, I was crazily addicted to it, even someone jokingly calling me ‘Neuropathy’. She undertook all the housework, which offered me enough time to learn and create. When I abruptly delivered some articles regarded as radical at that time, she still stood by me and always supported me without any regret. The pressure that ordinary people cannot imagine overwhelmed her body and took away her health.
Of course, here I will express my special thanks to my current wife Feng Shuqin. She is both a virtuous wife and a competent assistant in my work. With her participation, I re-lighted my passion to create since I stopped writing ten years ago, which opened a new milestone stage of my theory research. With her wonderful grammatical knowledge, she did many important editions and adaptation for my theory. Study and discussion became an important part of our life. Without her, Consumption and Management couldn’t be brought out at the time of my seventieth birthday. It is the child of both of us and also a gift for the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up of China.
Although I am 73 years old, my gumption does not decline. The sentence ‘people who are 70 years old are rare from ancientness’ should go into a historical museum. This sentence was written by famous poet Du Fu in Tang Dynasty in 798, when the average age of people only was 48. A thousand years have passed, living conditions for human beings have had enormous changes, and 70 years old is no longer the symbol of life’s limitation. The World Health Organization proposes a new concept called healthy horizon to analyze the life phases of human beings: youth is life’s preparatory phase; middle age is life’s protecting phase; agedness is life’s quality phase. It is said that life is like a long river, from a streamlet in its upper reaches to the turbulent waves of its middle reaches to capacious oceans. The upper reaches are beautiful childhood; the middle reaches are ponderous middle age; the lower reaches are massive agedness. For aged people, they are peaceful, tolerated, and erudite, with a great extent of knowledge and accumulated experience. It can be seen that it is a great time for researching.
I consider that happiness in life does not come entirely from purpose and results, but from the course of struggling. For everybody, the most important thing is not to enjoy ready-made results but to mobilize their power to exploit and pursue for the future. I set 70 as a new starting point for me to keep the first power by using strong will and to mobilize the second power by using sense and intelligence. So I need to say here that Consumption and Management is not the end of my study, but a beginning of a more meaningful, difficult, and challenging new journey.
When I stopped writing, the rays of the morning sunshine had just appeared on Qianfo Mountain outside my window. In the season from cold to return a warm of chilly spring, I feel a little warm and relaxed in my heart. I suddenly remember a quatrain of Mr. Zang Kejia, whose title is ‘Old Cattle’: ‘There is water and mud in every farmland, spading husbandry from east to west. Old cattle also understand the preciousness of a goodly period; it will be hard work without scourging.’ I seem like the old cattle ceaselessly cultivating on farmland. ‘Working hard without scourging’ is the real thought in my mind.