A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘cultural revolution

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait reports on the black hole collisions recently identified in a retrospective analysis of data from gravitational-wave detector LIGO, while Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel also writes about the LIGO black hole collision discoveries.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that a slowing rate of star formation might be necessary for a galaxy to support life like ours.
  • Crooked Timber reports on the outcome of a sort of live-action philosophy experiment, recruiting people to decide on what would be a utopia.
  • The Crux reports on the challenges facing developers of a HIV vaccine.
  • D-Brief notes the circumstances in which men can pass on mitochondrial DNA to their children.
  • Far Outliers notes the fates of some well-placed Korean-Japanese POWs in India.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing wonders if the existential questions about human life raised by genetic engineering can even be addressed by the liberal-democratic order.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on the worrying possibility of a Bernie Sanders presidential run in 2020.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the art and the politics of Chinese provocateur Ai Weiwei.
  • Language Hat looks at the smart ways in which the film adaptation of My Brilliant Friend has made use of Neapolitan dialect, as a marker of identity and more.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at what a new Chinese blockbuster film, Operation Red Sea, does and does not say about how Chinese think they could manage the international order.
  • Geoffrey Pullum at Lingua Franca considers the logical paradox behind the idea of a webpage that has links to all other webpages which do not link to themselves.
  • Anna Badhken at the NYR Daily uses Olga Tokarczuk’s new novel Flights and her own experience as an airline passenger to consider the perspectives offered and lost by lofty flight.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Jason Davis notes the successful launch of a Soyuz spacecraft two months after October’s abort, carrying with it (among others) Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques.
  • Strange Company notes the 1736 Porteous riot in Edinburgh, an event that began with a hanging of a smuggler and ended with a lynching.
  • Towleroad notes that André Aciman is working on a sequel to his novel Call Me By Your Name.
  • Daniel Little at Understanding Society takes a look at the organizational issues involved with governments exercising their will.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy makes a good case as to why a second referendum on Brexit would be perfectly legitimate.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests expanding Russian-language instruction in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has more to deal with the needs of labour migrants.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell responds to Feng Jicai’s book on the Cultural Revolution, Ten Years of Madness.
  • Arnold Zwicky reports on Swiss food, starting with the McRaclette.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Business Insider looks at the sad state of a project to build a Chinese bullet train in Venezuela.
  • Bloomberg notes the profound unconstitutionality of Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US national debt might be renounced, looks at the needs of the Brazilian economy, and suggests Poland’s economic nationalism is viable.
  • CBC reports that Sinéad O’Connor is safe in Chicago.
  • National Geographic shares hidden pictures of the Cultural Revolution.
  • The National Post notes the discovery of what might be the ruins of an old fort at Lunenburg.
  • Open Democracy suggests that Brexit, by separating the City of London from the European Union, could trigger the end of globalization, also taking a look at the popularity of populism.
  • Reuters notes the softening of the terms of a Chinese-Venezuelan loan arrangement.
  • The Washington Post notes the migration of some Ethiopian-Americans to a booming Ethiopia.
  • Wired looks at how natural gas will be used to move beyond the Haber-Bosch process which has created fertilizer for a century.

[LINK] “Bo Xilai and neo-Maoism in China”

Jamie Kenny’s analysis at New Left Review of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai’s career, what it meant in a Chinese context, and why his career was ultimately destroyed, is a must-read. Alexander Harrowell? If Bo really was developing a public persona that would have risked destabilizing the post-Mao system in China, it’s no wonder he was crushed.

[W]hat Bo might actually have done is not necessarily central to his removal. What the seriousness of the charges, against Gu Kailai in particular, tells us is that the Communist Party very badly wanted to dispose of him. The question is therefore why.

For some, it’s a matter of policy. In a conversation with journalists shortly after Bo’s March dismissal, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao warned of the prospect of a new Cultural Revolution. This was seen widely as an attack on Bo and his leftist tendencies and a warning that if he had been allowed to stay in power the whole course of China’s political and economic reforms would be rolled back. Some reports even said that Wen had himself orchestrated Bo’s fall, partly as revenge for the purging in the 1980s of his old patron Hu Yaobang in which Bo’s father, Bo Yibo, played a prominent part, and partly to clear the way for greater political and economic freedom – the latter being understood in the classical free market sense.

[. . . W]en’s remarks about the Cultural Revolution are significant. Their implication is not so much that Bo’s leftism threatened reform, but that his pseudo-Maoism and demagoguery threatened to unravel the basic structure the Communist Party had adopted in the post Mao era. In other words, Bo’s departure was necessary not to ensure change but to maintain the status quo.

It’s difficult to over-state the psychological effect the Cultural Revolution had on the CPC. Many members still alive now were targeted for punishment, torture and humiliation during that time. Most of the actual ruling group were Red Guards, later sent down to the countryside to ‘learn from the peasants’. In political science terms, China has shifted from tyranny to oligarchy and it is plausible to explain this shift as an attempt to ensure that nothing like the ‘ten years of chaos’ ever happens again.

[. . .]

All of this requires a constant balancing of various factions and interests within the Party. Jiang Zemin and his Premier Zhu Rongji were both part of the ‘Shanghai gang’ brought in by Deng to stabilise the country after the suppression of the 1989 uprisings. Hu Jintao rose through the Party’s China Youth League or ‘populist’ faction. His accession to the top job came at the price of accepting Wen Jiabao, a protégé of Zhu, as premier. Hu’s anointed successor Xi Jinping is not from his faction, but the next premier, Li Keqiang, is. This process goes on at all levels within the Chinese power structure, a stately waltz intended to ensure that everything is predictable and that no one, as they used to say on the quiz shows, goes away empty handed.

The threat Bo’s antics posed to such arrangements can be shown by the story of the gingko trees, as related by Chongqing native Xujun Eberlein on her blog. Bo had once said that he liked gingko trees, so his underlings decided to make him a present of them while he was away on business. In the space of a couple of days, they scoured southern China for the variety and planted thousands of them all over the city. Bo approved of the gesture when he returned: “Planting trees never makes mistakes” he said. “Using the rhetoric reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s, when “you committed mistakes” were the most terrifying words in frequent political campaigns” added Eberlein.

Even if Bo hadn’t intended to play the boss here, he had triggered a kind of lust for servility among his officials that, if replicated elsewhere, threatened to radically destabilize the post-Mao Party consensus, just as his supporters among the neo-Maoists resembled the personal claque of a tyrant-in-waiting rather than the supporters of the Party as a communal enterprise.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm