Today's world is one marked by the signs of digital capitalism and global capitalist expansion, and China is increasingly being integrated into this global system of production and consumption. As a result, China's immediate material impact is now felt almost everywhere in the world; however, the significance and process of this integration is far from understood. This study shows how the a priori categories of statistical reasoning came to be re-born and re-lived in the People's Republic – as essential conditions for the possibility of a new mode of knowledge and governance. From the ruins of the Maoist revolution China has risen through a mode of quantitative self-objectification.
As the author argues, an epistemological rift has separated the Maoist years from the present age of the People's Republic, which appears on the global stage as a mirage. This study is an ethnographic investigation of concepts – of the conceptual forces that have produced and been produced by – two forms of knowledge, life, and governance. As the author shows, the world of China, contrary to the common view, is not the Chinese world; it is a symptomatic moment of our world at the present time.