POLI 422 - Goldman & MacFarquhar: The Emergence of Politially Independent Intellectuals

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19 Mar 2012
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Goldman & MacFarquhar – The Emergence of Politically Independent
Intellectuals
Three groups:
1) Older intellectuals
Were most persecuted under Mao, but quickly responded to Deng Xiaoping's call for
help. Resembled more their literati ancestors under Imperial China than modern
day counterparts.
2) Younger intellectuals
Too young to have experienced the Cultural Revolution; set out to absorb
international intellectual and cultural trends; studied abroad. Also sought to offer
advice to the government.
3) Middle-generation intellectuals
This was the generation most active during the Cultural Revolution, and whose
members were in their thirties and forties in the post-Mao era; resembled East
European counterparts. Have engaged in more independent political activity than
either of the other two generations.
All three generations share the attitude that only intellectuals can bring about
political change.
Similarities with the Confucian Literati
In the Dengist era, similar to most of Chinese history, a de facto intellectual
autonomy has developed in academia, arts and popular culture. Individuals in these
fields could be left alone, as long as they remained within the limits of their fields
and did not oppose the government's authority directly.
Like Confucian literati, post-Mao intellectuals regard themselves as responsible for
defining and maintaining moral norms for the political leadership as well as for the
population at large” (284).
These intellectuals have been appointed to high positions in government,
academia, media and the cultural sphere. They have also assumed leadership of
important policy-making institutes and heralded professional institutions.
The premodern style of cooperation between government and intellectuals, which
was severed in the Mao era, was restored under Deng and Jiang.
Political-intellectual alliances have been held together for the most part by shared
political views and values that have woven a variety of informal intellectual/political
networks rather than by purely organizational ties.
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