[Marxism] What spectre is haunting the Chinese academy?

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 9 00:52:01 MST 2016


The above article in the Guardian deal with Xi Jinping's speech about the
need for ideological control of the academy.  I snipped the following

"Carl Minzner, an expert in Chinese law and politics from Fordham
University in New York, said Xi’s speech appeared to signal the next phase
of a decade-long campaign to wrest back control of areas it feared were
“getting out of control” such as the media, public interest law and
academia.  “What you are seeing is a reassertion of ideological control
because they feel that colleges and schools are the hotbeds for ideas that
potentially could be problematic; ideas of constitutionalism, ideas of

Are the spectre of constitutionalism and liberalism haunting the Chinese
Academy?  Are Chinese students different from student elsewhere, who are
moving into opposition to neoliberalism?
I taught at a provincial Chinese University for the whole of 1990 and
traveled reasonably widely at that time.  I have often remarked that I
never encountered a single Marxist.: Many members of the CCP but never a

In my classes on literature there was clearly articulated opposition to
discussing the social or political context of the literary work.  I
interpreted that as a backlash against Maoist aesthetic tyranny.

But I would say that the dominant political note was not a longing for
constitutionalism or liberalism or pragmatism but an abiding hatred of the
CCP hierarchy in the post Tienanmen Square  climate. The university
establishment countered with a pro-Confucian campaign. But I did not
perceive any great impact among my students. There was evidence of Maoist
nostalgia outside the academy.

Of course all that is long ago and it is 24 years since I have been to
China.  But I like to hope that maybe, just maybe, the youth of China will
find their way to assert the traditional desire of the young for autonomy
and social justice in a way that is not based on liberalism and



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