Redefining Revolution


How is this a redefinition of revolution your might ask?  well, embedding an icon of capitalism into a communist system is pretty revolutionary I think.  Marx would be rolling in his grave.

China’s (Deng Xiaoping’s) desire to modernize in agriculture and industry etc.  saw them get in bed with the United States, and Coca-Cola and Boeing, and then attack a communist nation (Vietnam) in part because of its leanings towards Socialist country #1 the USSR!  Seems like crazy stuff.

What’s really crazy stuff is that Mao was right 70% of the time.  Claims like that make me think of “Lost in Translation” because I find pronouncements like that sort of funny, yet in China I know it was taken with the greatest seriousnesses.

Several fairly radical things are unrolled here. At a meeting in December 1978 Mao is denounced as a supporter of the gang of four, the protests of 1976 are declared properly revolutionary and everyone back to the 1957 anti-rightist movement who had been publicly persecuted, is let off the hook.  Amazing.

Its interesting to me how Spence’s treatment of the four economic zones is different from film’s.  Spence notes they were not immediately successful and required vast government investment.  Its also interesting how he uses the exact same poem used in the film at the end of the democracy wall movement.  You should trace the footnote on the poem. It leads to what looks like an interesting book.

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8 Responses to “Redefining Revolution”

  1. Jordan Oliver says:

    I practically died at the fact that people tried to negotiate Mao’s “scientific value” with the statistic that he was right 70% of the time and wrong 30% of the time. What!
    I was also interested in the case of Fu Yuehua, the woman who was considered to be exhibiting disruptive, revutuonary behavior (supposedly). The nature of the case itself shows how little women were valued in China, considering she was nearly raped by her boss, dismissed, and then denied any kind of appeal or reconsideration. Not only that, but if you read the footnote for her, she was never even technically released from prison but just sent to a labor camp/:

  2. Greg Maginn says:

    I talked about this chapter and this whole unit with my Dad, who visits China a lot for business, one of the most interesting things he mentioned was the city of about 40,000 people that transformed into one of the biggest trading centers in the world, and grew to contain millions of people. Additionally the original residents of this town and their families are some of the richest people in the world right now. Deng allowed the Chinese people to trade and the side-work caused them to want to work harder and have motivation. Finally, he mentioned a famous Deng Xiaopeng quote that went along the lines of “Time is money, but efficency is life”
    Moving on to the chapter, I thought the table that showed what Chinese students were studying abroad was very interesting because it showed what the Chinese government valued in creating a better future. The emphasis on Mathematics and Engineering was very apparent, I think this showed how China wanted to be at the forefront of electronics and manufacturing.
    Another concept in this chapter that caught my attention was how much the Chinese government changed its mind. From it’s opinion on Confucious, to the view of the Tienamin Square protests, to the 100 flowers movement, and many other things. I feel like living in a soceity like this would cause citizens to always be uneasy.
    Finally, I wanted to touch on something that confused me, because the British were leased Hong Kong for 100 years (1897-1997) Why were Thatcher and Xiaopeng negotiating over it 15 years prior to the end of the lease?

  3. Pierluca Dallarda says:

    I thought a specific statement in this chapter was interesting. Spence states that Deng Xiaoping had done exactly what Mao had done during the One Hundred Flowers movement. I didn’t really think about that at first, but it is true that they basically did the same thing. Deng supported the Democracy Wall until it turned against him. Mao supported the One Hundred Flowers movement until it got out of control. Almost the same thing. Except that Deng was using the Democracy wall to ridicule his political competitors whereas Mao used the One Hundred Flowers movement to try and improve the flaws of his party.
    Another thing I thought was interesting was the Fifth Modernization. Democracy? You’d think that rather being called a Modernization it would be called a revolution. I guess that’s what Deng Xiaoping thought when he saw that… what does anyone else think about this?

  4. Olivia Martinez says:

    I also noticed that the description of the zones seemed different betweent the film and Spence. In the movie they make it seem as making these economic zones was an easy and quick task. However Spense states that it was the opposite of quick and easy: “investors did respond, but not as quickly as the Chinese had hoped, nor with the commitment of advanced technology that had been expected”. According to Spence this made the process long and cumbersome.

  5. Elias Atienza says:

    This chapter showed how the Chinese people responded to the reforms. They loved them and how the Communist government saved themselves without resorting to destroy their economy and their ideology. The Soviet Union tried the same thing; but with openness. The CCP said, look, we’ll give economic liberty but not social liberty. Deng was smart in doing so. His example saved Asian communism (except for North Korea but they’re bunch of assholes anyway). If you want to know why China is as oppressive and brutal as it is today, blame Deng and the economic liberalization of China.

  6. Nicolas Irving says:

    I would first like to comment on the poem by Bei Dao, i found it quit beautiful. I also found it interesting how Spence takes notice of Wei’s view on democracy. Since his view on democracy was such a fresh view and opposing view to that of Mao and Lenin it gots peoples attention. It just seems interesting that it came as such a shock to people. It is like my comment before. The chinese were opressed and shaded of the outside world. They were led to believe that everything is a rareity and that everything other than what Mao and Lenin believed was wrong. They were finally somewhat led into a light, at least for now.

  7. John Harris says:

    What I think really set the Chinese population behind the other world power despite the size was the fact that the citizens of China were told to participate in many different schools of thinking. This constantly shifting viewpoint of national identity caused many people to be wrongfully afraid of their own government. A prime example of this was the reaction to 100 Flowers Movement and the protests like the wall of democracy. These two movement in particular caused unrest among the Chinese peasants. It was truly testing for the Chinese after the death of Mao and the change in leadership. Perhaps the only saving grace of the new culture was the new sense of national pride that emerged under the rule of Deng.

  8. Ida Khachaturyants says:

    The interesting thing about this chapter is how closely it follows the documentary closely, it’s great to be able to see two different interpretations. What is amusing is that Spence doesn’t mention the fun things Deng did in an amusing way. i found the poems to be quite beautiful. Also China was getting economically rightist and technically stayed socially rightist

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