torsdag 19. januar 2023

A tragedy pushed to the shadows: the truth about China’s Cultural Revolution

For the most part, the authorities today do not speak of the Cultural Revolution. The exile of the educated youth is the one aspect that is remembered in official discourse, even celebrated. Among their number was Xi Jinping: now China’s most powerful leader since Mao, but at that time, the adolescent son of a disgraced senior official, Xi Zhongxun. 

Propaganda has stressed how the leader grew and matured through his years in the countryside, but in truth the lessons he took from his family’s suffering appear more complex and ambiguous. When Xi Zhongxun and other party elders were rehabilitated after Mao’s death, they attempted to ensure that strongman rule could never return. They institutionalised and collectivised power: pursuing consensus and adopting unwritten rules such as term limits. Yet his son has dismantled the very changes designed to safeguard the party and country against a repeat of Maoism’s disasters.