Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, February 23, 2013

History intrudes on politics

If you're looking to offer some background to today's politics in China, there's a current trial that might offer some lessons. And, the BBC offers the story of a BBC employee who grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution.

China Cultural Revolution murder trial sparks debate
The trial in China of an elderly man accused of murder during the Cultural Revolution has sparked online debate.

The man, reportedly in his 80s and surnamed Qiu, is accused of killing a doctor he believed was a spy…

Ordinary citizens - particularly the young - were encouraged to challenge the privileged, resulting in the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people who were considered intellectuals or otherwise enemies of the state.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai says the topic of what went on during the Cultural Revolution remains highly sensitive in China and public discussion of it is limited, but that the trial has caused fierce debate online…

The state-run China Youth Daily published an outspoken editorial comparing the excesses of the period to the Nazi atrocities in Europe.

"The most shocking thing about the Cultural Revolution was the assault on human dignity. Insults, abuse, maltreatment and homicide were common. The social order was in chaos," it said.

It suggested that unless the period was finally allowed to be openly reviewed there was a danger of the chaos and violence returning, warning that many people harbour nostalgic views of it.

Poster titled "Proletarian revolutionary rebels unite"
Growing up a foreigner during Mao's Cultural Revolution
Paul Crook's Communist parents met in China in 1940 and brought up their three sons in Beijing. In the 1960s, Paul was caught up in the Cultural Revolution, a chaotic attempt to root out elements seen as hostile to Communist rule…

Mobilised by Chairman Mao, millions of young people became Red Guards.

They hounded anyone who they thought was sabotaging the Communist Revolution, many of them highly placed members of the Communist Party…

After I left school, I worked in a farm implements factory, and later an automobile repair plant…

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