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Cultural politics in modern China

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  1. Introduction
  2. Principles of popular democracy
  3. Mao and people's republic
  4. The cultural revolution
  5. Impact of the emergence of the internet
  6. The emergence of the cyberspace society
  7. Political authority in China
  8. White-collar stratum
  9. Cyclical development of higher levels of consciousness and economic progress
  10. Intellectuals of Chinese cultural and political history
  11. Feng Chen's view
  12. Conclusion

In 1966, 72 year old Mao Tse-tung staged a revolutionary drama, stimulating a cataclysmic upheaval that he termed ?The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution?. Decades after the fact and controversies over the nature and results of the Cultural Revolution continue to rage today. According to Meisner, it will be many years because the full history of the event can be written with any reasonable degree of degree of accuracy and understanding. Inevitably, any attempt to write even a brief preliminary account of the revolution is a formidable task as there exists a host of political passion and historical dilemmas in light of the event. Notwithstanding, what is evident to academics and other scholars alike is that the Cultural Revolution had a number of goals in mind at its onset.

[...] In this regard, the Great Leap may have started as a reactionary agenda to pressing social and economic issues, but it morphed into a coherent social narrative that proved to be a way forward for China into the mid twentieth century and beyond. Gordon White, Dan Lynch and Feng Chen are all pessimistic about the possibility of the CCP successfully rebuilding its normative authority around a re-invented ideology, but they differ in their analysis of which factors are most important. [...]

[...] A number of China observers suggest that ?consumerism' is subversive of political authority in China. Based on Rosen's (The Victory of Materialism) analysis, do you agree? Support your answer as concretely as possible. While I would be inclined to say that most things are subversive to political authority in the state of China, I would not go as far as to say that the global cultural idea of consumerism is one of them. Indeed, even in the strict political system of the communist state we are beginning to see the emergence of a trend that is both individually centered and capitalist in nature. [...]

[...] Ultimately, we are cautioned that if the communist party increasingly embraces money-making elite without harnessing the focus on materialist values in a new and acceptable discourse, China could ultimately witness a political meltdown. Meisner describes the ?Great Leap Forward? as the product of a ?social vision?. He later describes it as a response to series of concrete social and economic problems affecting China at the end of the Five Year Plan. Which was it? How can these two views of the Great Leap be reconciled, if at all? [...]

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