Wild Lily, Prairie Fire
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Gregor Benton and Alan Hunter provide here a source book of documents of democratic dissent under Chinese Communism, most of them previously untranslated and difficult to find in the West. Ranging from eye-witness accounts of a massacre to theoretical critiques of Chinese Marxist thought, these essays are among the most powerful and important works of Chinese dissident literature written in this century. An extensive introduction maintains that the documents reveal a tradition of democratic thought and practice that traces its descent to the New Culture Movement of the 1910s and the founding generation of the Chinese Communist Party. Far from being a late twentieth-century import (along with capitalist economics) from Europe, Japan, and the United States, this tradition of dissent is deeply embedded in the experience of China's revolutionary movements.
The story of Chinese Communism has often been reduced to uniformity not only by political bureaucrats in China but by Western scholarship derived from official Chinese histories. Wild Lily, Prairie Fire paints a far richer picture. The book calls into question many of the usual beliefs about the relation between democracy and communism, at least in the Chinese case, which may now be seen to depart from the Soviet model in yet another crucial respect.
China’s modernization, though the democracy necessary for “emancipating the mind” was never meant to go so far as to challenge the Party’s monopoly on political power. They promised a system that was stable, predictable, remunerative, and relatively clement. They are still more prepared than the conservatives to let the market modify central planning, 40 INTRODUCTION but within stricter limits than before. Their decision to repress the people’s movement has done little or nothing to resolve
feminist,” is remarkable for the light it throws on relations between men and women in Yan’an. Like Wang Shiwei, Ding Ling had been active in the revolution since the mid-1920s. After the execution of her husband by the Guomindang in 1931 she spent three years behind bars. She achieved early renown as a revolutionary writer, and was one of modern China’s best-known women authors. She and the other writers, unlike Wang, quickly gave in to party pressure in 1942 and disavowed their heresies, so
proletariat would have retreated to its grave. Therefore, without waiting for the establishment of all the revolutionary committees, the Central Cultural Revolution Group [Jiang Qing and her clique] gave orders at the end of March to launch a counteroffensive. From then on, the great August Storm began to brew. In the struggle to hit back at the February Adverse Current, the important sign that the revolution had entered into a higher stage was that the problem of the army really began to
by the rule of Marxism-Leninism, are Centrists. It was the case with Stalin himself— during the over twenty years of his absolute rule, he sometimes jumped to the left and sometimes to the right, but at the same time, he remained a Centrist. The Chinese Communist Party, which has long been dominated by Stalinism, was naturally affected by this “jumping back and forth.” Every jump would correspond with an internal change in the Chinese Commu- CULTURAL REVOLUTION, 1966–1976 153 nist Party and
revolution, the question arose of what to do with the professional revolutionaries. Lenin died before he could answer this question adequately. But it is well known that Lenin wanted elections along the lines of the Paris Commune, so that no one would be allowed to occupy a post permanently, however great his or her contribution to the revolution. If this principle is not followed, there is nothing to distinguish a Communist revolution from a peasant one. Unfortunately, under Stalin’s influence