Battlepanda: China's new court intellectuals?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

China's new court intellectuals?

This NYT magazine profile on Wang Hui, an intellectual described as a member of the 'new left', sheds some light on the Chinese government's new lurch towards labor-friendly policies:
New Left intellectuals advocate a “Chinese alternative” to the neoliberal market economy, one that will guarantee the welfare of the country’s 800 million peasants left behind by recent reforms. And unlike much of China’s dissident class, which grew out of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and consists largely of human rights and pro-democracy activists, Wang and the New Left view the Communist leadership as a likely force for change.
Reading through this article, it's hard not to wonder if Wang has a touch of the ol' Stockholm syndrome: He was sent to the countryside for the tail end of the cultural revolution, he was there when the CCP plowed tanks into Tiananmen, he was interrogated for months and sent to the countryside for 're-education' for participating in the protests, yet somehow he still sees the CCP as a likely force for change? On the other hand, he managed to gain some acceptance for his ideas by working within the government-approved framework, something he would not have likely achieved if he simply agitated for change.

Commenter Nausicaa at the Peking Duck
classifies Wang as the modern-day equivalent of the court intelligensia in the China of yore. The description is apt.

Cui Zhiyuan is a fellow member of the 'new left':
Cui does not regard the Communist regime as a “totality.” There were, he said, many different aspects of it, at both the local and central levels. “Almost every day,” Cui said, “The New York Times carries reports of peasants agitating against the Communist government, but if you listen to what the peasants are saying, they are telling the central government that the local government has violated their rights. So even the peasants can see the different aspects of the state, who supports them and who doesn’t.”
From the outside looking in, it's all too easy to see the CCP as the very epitome of "totality". Unlike in a democracy where the government evolve quickly as the fittest survive through elections, the pace of change in an authoritarian regime is mostly glacial, with only occasional quakes as factions realign.

Are we seeing an interesting realignment right now?