Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ideology resurgent

A couple New York Times reporters have picked up the theme in China of using ideology to substitute for rule of law in the political culture. The task is made more difficult by another theme: change and growth.

Maoists in China, Given New Life, Attack Dissent
They pounce on bloggers who dare mock their beloved Chairman Mao. They scour the nation’s classrooms and newspapers for strains of Western-inspired liberal heresies. And they have taken down professors, journalists and others deemed disloyal to Communist Party orthodoxy.

China’s Maoist ideologues are resurgent after languishing in the political desert, buoyed by President Xi Jinping’s traditionalist tilt and emboldened by internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red…

Two years into a sweeping offensive against dissent, Mr. Xi has been intensifying his focus on perceived ideological opponents…

In instructions published last week, Mr. Xi urged universities to “enhance guidance over thinking and keep a tight grip on leading ideological work in higher education,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported.

In internal decrees, he has been blunter, attacking liberal thinking as a pernicious threat that has contaminated the Communist Party’s ranks, and calling on officials to purge the nation of ideas that run counter to modern China’s Marxist-Leninist foundations…

The latter-day Maoists, whose influence had faltered before Mr. Xi came to power, have also been encouraged by another internal document, Document No. 30, which reinforces warnings that Western-inspired notions of media independence, “universal values” and criticism of Mao threaten the party’s survival…

China’s old guard leftists are a loose network of officials and former officials, sons and daughters of party veterans, and ardently anti-Western academics and journalists… [W]hile their direct influence on the party leadership has been circumscribed, they have served as the party’s eager ideological inquisitors.

Analysts say it is unlikely Mr. Xi wants to take China back to Mao’s puritanical era, but doctrinaire Communists see him as a useful ally, and his directives as a license to attack liberal critics of the party...


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