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China and the New Maoists

China and the New Maoists

Kerry Brown | Simone van Nieuwenhuizen


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Forty years after his death, Mao remains a totemic, if divisive, figure in contemporary China. Though he retains an immense symbolic importance within China’s national mythology, the rise of a capitalist economy has seen the ruling class become increasingly ambivalent towards him. And while he continues to be a highly visible and contentious presence in Chinese public life, Mao's enduring influence has been little understood in the West.

In China and the New Maoists, Kerry Brown and Simone van Nieuwenhuizen look at the increasingly vocal elements who claim to be the true ideological heirs to Mao, ranging from academics to cyberactivists, as well as at the state's efforts to draw on Mao’s image as a source of legitimacy. This is a fascinating portrait of a country undergoing dramatic upheavals while still struggling to come to terms with its past.

'A must-read for those looking to get a better understanding of China’s recent history and its internal politics.'
LSE Review of Books

'Informative, varied and engaging.'
The East Asia Book Review

‘The resurgence of neo-Maoism in China is by turns fascinating, puzzling, and disturbing. China and the New Maoists is a lucid and absorbing account of the Party’s fumbling attempts, in the authors’ words, to “extricate itself from the quagmire of neo-Maoism”.’
Andrew G. Walder, author of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

‘An extraordinarily concise, informative and insightful account of the legacies of Mao Zedong for contemporary China. Brown and van Nieuwenhuizen approach this complex andcontentious subject with enviable clarity and range, moving fluently and authoritatively between first-hand testimony and erudite analysis. They have written an essential guide to one of the key political, cultural, social and economic conundrums of China today.’
Julia Lovell, author of The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China

‘An engaging and revealing look at how the battles over Mao's legacy have shaped politics in China for the better part of a century – and could define its future.’
Philip Pan, author of Out of Mao's Shadow and Asia editor of The New York Times

Kerry Brown is the professor of Chinese studies and the director of the Lau China Institute,at King’s College, London. He is an associate at the Asia Programme at Chatham House, London, and the author of eleven books on modern China, the latest of which is CEO China: The Rise of Xi Jinping.

Simone van Nieuwenhuizen is based at the University of Sydney. This is her first book.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Asian Arguments i
About the Authors ii
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Dedication v
Contents vii
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction 1
Terminology: Maoism and Leftism 12
The Religion of Maoism 17
The Question of Charisma 19
1. The Tale of the Victim, Zhang Zhixin\r 21
Sources 38
2. The Chairman’s Life After Death\r 39
Mao 2.0 45
Mao and the Fifth Generation Leaders 47
Having Your Cake and Eating It: Mao and Contradiction 50
Twilight of Harmonious China 54
Mao Overboard: Maoism in the Outside World 57
3. Defender of the Faith: Deng Liqun and Leftism 60
The Life of a Leftist 62
What Influences Post-Mao Leftists? 69
The Fight for the Right Path: 1980s Reforms and the Rise of Chinese Capitalism 77
Existential Crisis: 1989, the Fall of the Soviet Union and the ‘End of History’ 80
Deng contra Deng: The Final Showdown\r 83
Sources 88
4. Maoism in Motion: The Red Campaign of Bo Xilai in Chongqing 89
Aristocratic Roots 91
The Roots of the Chongqing Model 94
The Divine Right of the Party to Rule? 97
Seeing Red, Singing Mao 99
Demise of a Good Maoist 101
5. Blurred Lines: Mao, the CPC and Chinese Society Today\r 106
Red Tourism 107
Xi Jinping on Mao 110
Revolutionary Martyrs and the Party’s Fight Against Historical Nihilism 112
Mao as Saviour: The Case of Cairo Declaration 116
6. Mad About Mao 120
Modern Mao Fever 122
What Is Communism Anyway? 122
Searching for Utopia in Cyberspace 125
The Online Language of the Maoists 128
Mao Was No Softie 131
Bi Fujian: The Cost of Mocking Mao 135
Spring and Autumn Annals: The Cost of Disrespecting Martyrs 138
Capitalism and Charity 143
Crazy About Collectives 145
Intellectuals and the Leftist Critique of Modern China 149
A Maoist Abroad: Li Minqi 151
Conclusion: Mao’s Second Coming 156
Who Is Mao? 158
Echt Mao 160
A Failure in Life, a Success in Death 161
Tomorrow’s Mao 166
Selected Reading 168
Notes 172
Index 183