A reconsideration of “grand democracy” of the CR, theory and practice
The party line has put a lid on any meaningful research of Mao and the Cultural Revolution for the sake of stability. The CCP has kept silence not only on Mao’s anniversaries but also in the face of significant historical misinformation and distortion occurred in a widely publicized book on Mao by Zhang Rong and his husband, even though the book has been widely publicized in the world, even though the world’s well-known China scholars on the subject have pointed out the book’s serious flaws. However, the issue is still probably among the most inflammable, hotly contended (in private or on Internet), bitterly dividing people of all walks today. The often debated political topics such as the legitimacy of the regime or the political reform and path to democracy would invariably boil done to or evolve into the question of how to view the legacy of Mao and CR. We simply cannot avoid this subject forever if the country is to move forward despite the party’s expedient policy of shutting up all opinions and the painful memories of the time under Mao preserved by too many. It makes the open and fair study of the subject even more imperative as today more and more people, the downtrodden in particular, have had a strong nostalgic feeling toward Mao and his time (we often ignore that their experiences of and attitude toward Mao years and CR tend to be dramatically different from that of the intellectual elites and the privileged few whose sufferings and opinions have been successfully voiced in Chinese fictions, movies, TV dramas, and best-selling books in English in past three decades).
The prevailing views on the subject of Mao and CR have been either condemnation or blind exaltation. The article by Cui I recommended here is an unusually cool minded, balanced and well researched study. Not a simplistic negation or affirmation, it provides convincing and controversially inspiring and provocative analysis and arguments to thoughtful questions: What’s the real motivation and reason for Mao to mobilize the entire population in a cultural revolution against his own comrades inside the party establishment? Why did millions of people answer his call and enjoy their rights in the time of Grant Democracy with genuine enthusiasm and passion? Where did it go wrong in the process? What’s the relationship between Mao’s theory of CR (and other issues of Chinese revolution) and the orthodox Marxist doctrine? And more significantly perhaps, is it possible for us, in a dialectic process of creative appropriation, to learn something from the Grant Democracy of CR, a genuine and spectacular democratic practice evolving into a colloquial tragedy, to benefit China’s democratization in the 21st century? The author argues that the failure of the Grand Democracy practiced by the millions during the CR under Mao does not mean that the people do not deserve a democracy at this magnitude, vigor and intensity. He must have all the burning and appalling issues in mind, such as the injustice done to the miners, migrant workers, peasants, and ordinary people intensified in past decades due to lack of effective democracy and public monitoring system. It’s really tempting to think that, if properly managed, the “four big” (大鸣, 大放, 大辩论, 大字报) may well be useful tools for the voiceless and powerless to protect their rights and deal with the long ingrained problems of corruption, bureaucracy and all forms of abusive of power inside the ruling class in China.
I am not sure if the readers of FM are ready for the subject of Mao and CR (I remember once Buxi ruminated on the possibility of a thread on Mao sometime). We may not agree with Cui, but he certainly makes the gain and loss of Mao and his theory of the CR a strong case and and thus deserves our attention.
Admin’s note: snow’s original title includes A good article to recommend: On the Gain and Loss of Mao’s Theory of Cultural Revolution and the Rebuilding of “Modernity” . It refers to this Chinese article 崔之元：毛泽东文革理论的得失与“现代性”的重建（旧文）. It’s too long so I removed it and put a copy of this article in the Chinese section.
There are currently no comments highlighted.