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Firstfruits of the Cultural Revolution

What, to you, were the consequences of China's so-called "Great Cultural Revolution" (文化大革命 or wen2 hua4 da4 ge2 ming4)?

I'll tell you in a running edit why I ask, but first, I'd like to hear some impressions, opinions, and responses, please.

--
Banazîr

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
yodge
Apr. 13th, 2004 07:17 am (UTC)
People realized that Mao maybe wasn't the smartest d00d. Adn that yew cannot maek steel by melting your wok. Adn that you can live on a spoonful of lard a day for quite a while (one of my lecturer's fathers did this.) Oh, and that even leadership can be freakin stewpit.

-yoj
banazir
Apr. 13th, 2004 09:40 am (UTC)
Chinese foibles
People realized that Mao maybe wasn't the smartest d00d.
I'm completely disgusted with how long that's taken.

Adn that yew cannot maek steel by melting your wok.
Which is as much to say:
(Other) people realized that Chinese maybe aren't always the smartest d00ds either.

Adn that you can live on a spoonful of lard a day for quite a while (one of my lecturer's fathers did this.)
Wlel, doesn't Wang Long live on a bowl of the Goond Urf and some tree bark and grass fro a coupla days too?
(And lard is healthier than butter, as yew discouvert.)

Oh, and that even leadership can be freakin stewpit.
Yes.
That was actually one of my points, and the crux of this discussion: why are people so apt to follow anyway? Social inertia? Threat of reprisal? Why accept totalitarian reprisal as a society when the imperium has no particular technological or strategic advantage over the subject peoples? When even the ability to kill or imprison individual dissidents is limited?

You probably know how the Chinese Communists held some prisoners' children captive to get them to serve as suicide bombers (this is really documented in a few cases; and I'm not saying anyone else didn't do this, but that's another story). My dad's other (non-Chinese) American friends claim that Westerners would not kowtow to such oppressionTM (a blanket assertion I've learned to be chary of).

My dad didn't quite agree with this, but he asserted that the threshold of tolerance (before the victim would turn around and forfeit both his own life and his children's in order to strike back at the oppressor) is probably higher for Chinese than for North Americans. I actually think this might be true, or at least was true c. 1949.

Now, the thing is, we Chinese people have been herded like sheep throughout much of our history. Stories of two Japanese slaughtering entire villages of 500+ Chinese people (who were at least armed with kitchen knives, cleavers, hoes, etc.) with machetes, because the peasants just would not band together, abound.

Whenever I quote Napoleon's remark that China is a sleeping giant that will wake the world when (not if) it awakes, my folks are apt to point out that (a) the remark is about two centuries old; (b) Sun Yat-Sen remarked over a century later that Chinese are a pan of loose sand, lacking unity. Oh, wlel.

I don't know that I fully buy either "sound bite" any more.
It varies person-by-person, ataleast among us cllo Straits Chonese, nesupasu? :-)

--
Banazir
borgseawolf
Apr. 14th, 2004 02:59 am (UTC)
Re: Chinese foibles
That was actually one of my points, and the crux of this discussion: why are people so apt to follow anyway? Social inertia? Threat of reprisal? Why accept totalitarian reprisal as a society when the imperium has no particular technological or strategic advantage over the subject peoples? When even the ability to kill or imprison individual dissidents is limited?

That's acos ppl are stewpit.

More precisely, they always think it will be the OTHERS who will be repressed, themselves gettink all the good stuff. ("They have arrested every other inhabitant of my house. Serves them well, they must've deserved it. Now I will finally have peace!"

American friends claim that Westerners would not kowtow to such oppressionTM (a blanket assertion I've learned to be chary of).

YR. A proper mixture of authority and brute force is enough to break everybody but the strongest individuals, everywhere. I say there's a slave in everyone, you just have to take him out using right tools.

Now, the thing is, we Chinese people have been herded like sheep throughout much of our history.

Who hasn't? Take european peasants. There've been some peasant revolts, but not any more often than in China. And IIRC, didn't the Chinese revolt 'regularly' to overthrow an overdespotic emperor and establish a new one (usually even more despotic)? I don't think many european countries can claim getting their ruler established through a popular revolt. Wasn't Mao's revolution just another of the long sequence of popular revolutions in China's history, gone horribly wrong?
celandineb
Apr. 13th, 2004 08:56 am (UTC)
Ermmm... I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. My impression is that it led to the loss of a lot of good intellects, one way or another - and that rather than promoting or preserving culture, it destroyed it.

But I'm speaking from having taught one very general world history survey, and having taken one undergrad class on modern Asia (also quite general, and many years ago now).
banazir
Apr. 13th, 2004 09:43 am (UTC)
Impressions
Ermmm... I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. My impression is that it led to the loss of a lot of good intellects, one way or another - and that rather than promoting or preserving culture, it destroyed it.

Well, I for one agree, not that I am qualified to answer either, for all I have read and heard quite a bit about it.

Have you worked with enough Chinese people aged 25-40, who grew up in the shadow of the CR, to form an impression of its aftereffects?

But I'm speaking from having taught one very general world history survey, and having taken one undergrad class on modern Asia (also quite general, and many years ago now).

Well, that's more than I have!

--
Banazir
celandineb
Apr. 13th, 2004 07:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Impressions
Have you worked with enough Chinese people aged 25-40, who grew up in the shadow of the CR, to form an impression of its aftereffects?

No, I'm afraid not. This is all just shadowy impression and from one or two published autobiographies.

and having taken one undergrad class on modern Asia

Well, that's more than I have!


And I'd wanted to take a course on medieval India, which got canceled, hence modern Asia. So I wasn't especially interested in the course and its content hasn't stuck too much in my mind. Though I must say teaching world history taught me a heck of a lot of random factoids along with a general notion of the overall course of human history.

Cel
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