Party-army-and-masses-in-china-1050st
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Party, Army and Masses in China
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Paperback
374 pages / / 9781786631497

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The bulk of contemporary literature on China has hitherto either been written from the standpoint of official Cold War ideology, or from that of uncritical apology for the regime symbolized by Mao Tse Tung. Party, Army and Masses in China, written by an eminent Italian political scientist, seeks by contrast to present an independent Marxist evaluation of the turbulent and contradictory development of China over the last decade. It is an assessment that is sympathetic towards the Chinese Revolution, yet critical of the State and Party that have presided over it. Maitan's book provides the first coherent narrative account of the sequence of zigzag vicissitudes from the unleashing of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to the disgrace of Lin Piao in 1971, and the re-emergence of such fallen leaders as Teng Hsiao Ping in 1974 - with the accompanying shifts from 'left' to 'right' in Chinese foreign policy.

The theme of Maitan's book is that China's immensely popular revolution was paradoxically made by a Communist Party and Red Army whose structures were themselves essentially commandist and authoritarian. After the Liberation, popular support for the new regime was thus never permitted to develop into a socialist democracy in which the masses could check and control the leaders of Party and State. Some of the most typical features of Maoism - the rhetoric of the 'mass line', the notion of the 'hundred flowers', the slogans stressing the 'right to rebel' - are thus seen by Maitan as attempts to find a substitute for revolutionary democracy within China, that would counter specific abuses of bureaucracy without impairing the political monopoly of the dominant group. The cult of Mao, the rectification campaigns, the slander of political opponents, and the perverse conformity imposed on the mass of workers, peasants and intellectuals, have all combined - he argues - to vitiate the formal objectives of such movements as the 'Cultural Revolution' and the negate the real popular upsurges which have often accompanied them.

Balanced and cool in tone, Party, Army and Masses in China will be an essential pole of reference for discussion of the nature and significance of the Chinese Revolution.

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