the madman of the cultural revolution

Michael Luftmensch MLuftmensch at
Sun Jun 16 20:51:27 MDT 1996

the madman of the cultural revolution

In the story that follows, Ch'en Li-ning's madness is (finally)
established by  his irreverance toward Mao.  Along the way,
it sheds some light on the ins and outs of inter-maoist warfare.

-Michael Luftmensch


Sometime in the late spring, Rittenberg told some of us in the regiment
that a remarkable new star named Ch'en Li-ning had arisen in the
Chinese political skies. This man, it seemed, had been committed to a
mental institution for his political beliefs after it had been discovered
by the revisionist Party apparatus that he was making a political
study of the works of Liu Shao-ch'i, systematically analyzing their
incorrect content, and carefully recording all his findings in a series
of notebooks. Our immediate reaction was that this was shocking
confirmation of the parellels between the methods of Liu Shao-ch'i
and those of his Soviet counterparts. Ch'en Li-ning, we were told,
was not a madman but a political genius who had been discovered
only when the Cultural Revolution  had liberated him and allowed
his voice to be heard. He was now speaking all over Peking and was
eagerly sought as a star performer at various rallies...

Clealy, to the Chinese, he represented something rather different
>from the Soviet parallel which came to the minds of so many foreigners.
In fact, there is no evidence in China of political incarceration  in
mental institutions, either before or after the Cultural Revolution.
Perhaps in the minds many who heard him, something echoed from
the depths of Chinese history when political dissidents had sometimes
feigned madness as a shield for their opposition. When it was revealed
several months later that not only had Ch'en corrected the works of
Liu Shao-ch'i, but had critically annotated the entire corpus of
Mao's works as well, the public fury was at a pitch we had seldom
encountered in those years of outrageous events. The people had
been defaruded in a manner which enraged them by one whose
title "The Madman of the New Age" was an audacious attempt to
purloin the most honorable of litarary symbols, Lu-Hsun's
madman, a revolutionary dissident. Ch'en Li-ning was officially
denounced as a fraud and linked to the May 16 organization, later
declared counterrevolutionary.


The Wind Will Not Subside:
Years in Revolutionary China -1964-1969
by Nancy Milton & David Milton


     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list