Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview
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however, fallen with an enormous weight on the literary, artistic and cultural spheres and perhaps on all non-vocational areas of social life, while the cult of Mao has been raised to unprecedented heights, it is still not clear whether it has again been allowed to affect the strategy of modernisation, particularly in the economic sphere. In fact, one may speculate that in the areas of highest priority—such as nuclear development—the Maoist vision has never been allowed to interfere with the requirements of technology. As far as one can judge at the present, experts are now expected to be diffused with redness even while devoting a maximum of attention to expertise and the system of higher education is more oriented than ever to the production of experts. Yet all this may change. It would certainly be the gravest of errors to assume that because the 1960 economic strategy has proven fairly successful, economic considerations will necessarily override the concern with the "succession to the revolutionary heritage."

The leadership's concern is probably justified. It is difficult to believe that the vision will survive at least in its present extreme form. It is difficult to believe not only, or even primarily, because in some of its aspects it runs counter to the requirements of modernisation. Even more immediately, it involves such a constricted and terribly simplified view of human life that one is inclined to doubt whether it is humanly viable. In terms of modernisation, however, it is difficult to believe that the vision will be allowed in the long run to interfere particularly with those aspects of modernisation most relevant to the achievement of national power. While the vision may retreat, however, we are in no position to foresee the extent of the retreat or to predict what will remain. Modernisation may not be fully compatible with the Maoist vision but neither has it been fully compatible with Jeffersonian democracy. China may depart from the Maoist vision yet still move into a future uniquely its own. As long as Mao and those close to him remain at the helm, we may expect them to be as much concerned with the vision as with any of the other goals of the régime.

Peking Review, "Fighting Task of Workers in Philosophy and Social Science," January 3, 1964.
"Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People," Bowie and Fairbank, Communist China 1955-59 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), p. 289.
Lu Ting-yi, "Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom; Let a Hundred Schools Contend," Bowie and Fairbank, op. cit., p. 154.
Whatever may have been the discontents revealed in 1956-1957, the peasants had, after all, been collectivised without producing anything resembling the effects of collectivisation in the Soviet Union.
"Report on the Work of the Government," Peking Review, January 1, 1965.

The Logic of One-Party Rule

Richard Lowenthal

To what extent are the political decisions of the Soviet leadership influenced by its belief in an official ideology—and to what extent are they empirical responses to specific conflicts of interest, expressed in ideological terms merely for purposes of justification? The phrasing of the question at issue suggests the two extreme answers that are prima facie con‐

ceivable—on the one hand, that ideology provides the Kremlin with a ready-made book of rules to be looked up in any situation; on the other, that its response to reality takes place without any reference to ideology. Yet any clear formulation of this vital issue will show that both extremes are meaningless nonsense.

A ready-made book of rules for any and every situation—an unvarying road map to the goal of Communism, which the Soviet leaders must predictably follow—cannot possibly exist, both because the situations to be met by them are not sufficiently

From Richard Lowenthal, "The Logic of One-Party Rule," in Abraham Brumberg, ed., Russia under Khrushchev: An Anthology from Problems of Communism (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1962), pp. 27-32, 35-37, 42-45. Reprinted by permission of Frederick A. Praeger and Methuen & Company Ltd., London.


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Political Sociology: A Reader
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