Political and Social Change in China since 1978

Political and Social Change in China since 1978

Political and Social Change in China since 1978

Political and Social Change in China since 1978

Synopsis

Burton challenges standard interpretations of contemporary China in this major new investigation. The post-Mao agenda, in which the notion of class struggle as the "key link" was explicitly repudiated, formed the foundation for China's post-1978 modernization program. Burton describes this program as "post-socialist," arguing that socialism as a definitive category has become irrelevant. He contends that demands for the reform of China's system of economic organization were the direct result of the failure of the Party's post-revolutionary political agenda and that subsequent economic improvements led to calls for modernization of the nation's structure of political authority.

Excerpt

China's "new period" ideological reorientation is rooted in recent Chinese history and political culture. It is best understood in context against the background of the postrevolutionary doctrinal emphasis now being repudiated. This post-Mao ideological reorientation has been shaped by the conditions that have led to the rejection of the Chinese Communist Party's postrevolutionary theoretical line that guided the party's economic and social policies up to 1978. That is, the "new period" ideology is a response to the political and social outcome of the party's previous economic and social policies. Chinese political evolution over the past decade has been a continuous process of accommodating social demands for change. in this sense there is a high degree of continuity in recent Chinese politics. the transforming relationship of progressive economic reform, political democratization, and social value change must be a gradual and balanced process lest China suffer from economic disorder and political and social instability. This chapter will examine the later (post-1957) Maoist emphasis on class struggle, the popular response to it revealed through the Tiananmen Incident of 1976, and the party's assessment of that incident, which set the stage for the dramatic reorientation of the Chinese Communist Party's political program that followed starting in 1978.

Class Struggle

Within less than a decade after the Chinese Communist Party's victory in 1949, successful implementation of its rural land reform program and nationalization of China's major industrial enterprises meant that class exploitation, at least as originally . . .

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