郭建:Politics of Othering and Postmodernization of the Cultural Revolution

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郭建 (进入专栏)  

I. China as “Other’s Other”

The year 1989 marked a turning point in modern Chinese history. While the country’s economic reform stayed its course and continued into the 1990s, a decade of cultural reflection in search of China’s democratic modernity in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution came to a tragic end with the government’s suppression of the democracy movement in June of that year. A new decade was inaugurated by the crackdown, but it did not have a name until a few years later when a small group of Beijing-based academics appropriated contemporary Western critical theory and set going a “postist” trend.[1] Grafting postmodern/postcolonial discourse in Chinese soil, they coined the term “Post-New Era” for the Chinese 1990s and characterized the decade as one of disillusionment as well as liberation in which China was finally free from the spell of a Western myth called “modernity.”[2] Postists also traced the brief history of the Post-New Era to its beginning and post-marked the event of 1989 as “a farewell, a baptism, an abrupt rupture, a symbolic landmark,” apparently with no qualms about the government’s hand in the baptismal ceremony on the eve of June Fourth.[3]

For Chinese postists, 1989 not only signified the end of the post-Cultural Revolution New Era; it also left behind that stage of Chinese history dominated by a hegemonic power called “Western knowledge of China.” This power, they argue, had posited the modernity discourse of European Enlightenment as a frame of reference, assigned China a humiliating position as the West’s “backward” and “exotic” Other, and effectively rewritten China’s cultural identity for the Chinese. Under the influence of this power, Chinese intellectuals accepted Western ideas of reason, justice, democracy, and individual rights as universals and led China on a course of modernization in the past 150 years designed to catch up with the West. But, according to postists, such a development was simply a process of “self-otherization,” conforming to the “China image” in the “Western cultural imaginary.” The project finally reached its breaking point and went bankrupt in 1989. In the 1990s, postists argue, China was pregnant with a new consciousness: the awakening of the self synonymous with the dawning awareness of China’s colonized identity as an “Other” of the West. The task of cultural critics, then, is to deconstruct Western knowledge of China and at the same time to explore various possibilities to reconstruct China’s own cultural identity and national subjectivity.[4]

Ironically, however, to deliver China out of its supposed imprisonment by one Western discourse, postists have to domesticate another. Upon dismissing the image of China reflected in Western modernity discourse, they still cannot see China except through a window framed by Western postmodern/postcolonial discourse. Some leading Post-New theorists refer to their appropriation of contemporary Western theory as a critical practice to “transcend China’s Otherization,” to reconstruct the cultural identity of China by revisioning or repositioning it as “Other’s Other.”[5] As one of the two basic components of Post-New theory, postcolonial criticism centers on a simple dichotomy between China and the West as the colonized and the colonizer. This postcolonial rewriting of history never seriously confronts the fact that China has never been a completely colonized country and that the major oppressive forces affecting the everyday life of the Chinese have mostly been domestic rather than foreign. Following its own logic, Chinese postcolonial criticism overlooks China’s socialist revolution as a direct challenge to both colonialism and imperialism, obscures real social conflicts in contemporary China, and typically ignores Chinese forms of oppression such as “proletarian” or “mass” dictatorship that ran rampant during the Cultural Revolution. The postmodern component in Chinese Post-New theory, on the other hand, argues for the currency of a “cultural dominant” for both the West and China: postists insist that the globalization of late capitalism has dragged developing countries like China into the postmodern age and that Enlightenment modernity as a mystification of power relations has already deconstructed itself in the West and in China as well. With the premises of Western postmodernism as a point of departure, postists are not willing to entertain the possibilities of universally shared normative values. Nor are they willing to confront the most poignant question underlying the cultural discussion of the 1980s: could concepts of Enlightenment such as reason, justice, democracy, and individual rights mean something positive and even radical and revolutionary in China after all, considering the widespread inhumanity, irrationality, injustice, and tyranny that the Cultural Revolution brought about in the name of struggle against so-called bourgeois ideology?

Indeed, this is a question central to any serious assessment of China’s post-Cultural Revolution cultural debate. Needless to say, as we assess Chinese cultural discourse, we must ground our judgement on Chinese reality; without a reference to the specific Chinese context, the question whether basic components of a discourse are of foreign origin--be it European Enlightenment or Western postmodernism and postcolonialism--would be empty and meaningless. Since the acute interest of the Chinese 1980s in borrowed ideas of liberal humanism needs to be understood first of all in relation to the Cultural Revolution, then the validity of postists’ charge against the intellectuals for being “madly infatuated” with and “unconditionally subjugated” to a Western discourse must also be tested with the Cultural Revolution as a necessary point of reference.[6] However, the question of the Cultural Revolution is singularly absent, as if taboo, in postists’ analyses of Chinese politics. When, on rare occasions, they do respond to the issue, their argument is usually based on half-truths and riddled with inconsistencies.

In the following pages I shall assess the Chinese Post-New discourse in light of its ambiguous stand on the issue of the Cultural Revolution. I shall demonstrate that the Post-New reconstruction of the pre-1989 modern Chinese history as a single process of “otherization” in pursuit of Western modernity fails to account for the essentially anti-modernist orientation of the Cultural Revolution and hence obscures the pressing issues in the ongoing debate over Chinese modernity. Furthermore, since this reconstruction of history results directly from a hasty appropriation of a Western theory that is entangled with the ideology of the Cultural Revolution itself, Post-New theorists could not follow their own logic through without confronting a brave new image of the Chinese 60s in their master Western theory--an inevitable and embarrassing encounter that largely accounts for postists’ silence on the Cultural Revolution. In the meantime, as postists’ counterparts and close allies abroad, a small number of Chinese scholars in the U.S. have formed a New Left front and embraced exactly this Western myth of the Cultural Revolution in their reconstruction of a socialist model of “alternative modernity” outside the Western system.[7] While its awkward dislocation from both Chinese reality and Western theory dooms the Post-New discourse to a brief, transient existence, the spectre of China’s own recent past in the guise of an imported intellectual high fashion is yet to be confronted. I propose that while a genuine critique of the Cultural Revolution continues to evolve, a careful examination of contemporary Western theory’s historical “Chinese connection” must be in order as well; for, although the Western left may have borrowed fire from China to enliven its own cultural revolt during the 1960s and to energize a struggle for a more humane society, an uncritical reception of the post-1968 Western theory in contemporary China would lead to something worse than mere amnesia of the Cultural Revolution.

II. The Post-New Era: Renunciation of Modernity and Erasure of the Cultural Revolution

What distinguishes the Post-New Era from the New Era that precedes it? This is a question generated by Post-New theorists themselves, which they are always eager to answer. Their various responses converge on one point, which echoes the way some Western critics formulate the distinctions between modernism and postmodernism: the ideology of European Enlightenment as a single, central, totalizing discourse dominates the New Era, while in the Post-New Era, the “myth of modernity” goes bankrupt, the center no longer holds, and, consequently, many contending discourses coexist. Zhang Yiwu, a leading Chinese proponent of postmodernism and postcolonialism whose popularity among Post-New critics has earned him the title of “Post-Master,” joins two of his colleagues in defining the New Era in a characteristically Post-New idiom: China’s 1980s, they say, is an era of “complete otherization, taking the meta-discourse of its Western ‘Other’ for its own.”[8] The 1990s, on the other hand, is an era of freedom, in which China shakes off the yoke of “Western cultural hegemony” and “seems to have become an untamable ‘Other’.”[9]

Quite a few terms used here, especially tazhe (other) and tazhehua (otherization), are direct translations of trendy English jargon. They not only sound foreign to the Chinese ear; as signifiers, they remain foreign and do not translate into the social and political context of the Chinese 1980s. For the New Era refers to a time period in which China was conscious of its own radical departure from the dark era of the Cultural Revolution and started anew on its own. The Chinese proponents of postmodernism and postcolonialism coined the term “Post-New Era” to indicate a rupture from the spirit of the New Era, but without seriously considering what is new about the Chinese New Era while embracing Western post-theory as an interpretive framework for China, they “otherize” themselves in the first place. What, then, is new about the New Era?

In the late 1970s, the end of the Cultural Revolution marked a beginning of a new stage in modern Chinese history. This stage was officially named “New Era” to indicate China’s break with ultra leftist, ideology-centered politics and to signify the government’s determination to push for economic reform and to achieve the essentially economic and technological “Four Modernizations.” Also new was an officially endorsed campaign called “Liberation of Thinking.” The movement aimed to promote Deng Xiaoping’s dictum, “facts as the sole criteria for truth,” to disperse the lingering influence of Cultural Revolution dogma that had been blocking the way of economic reform. New developments in unofficial, public spheres, especially in intellectual circles, were quite another story. There the focus was cultural and political rather than economic, and virtually all major literary trends, theoretical currents, and cultural waves of the 1980s, including scar literature, literature of reflection, exposé-oriented reportage literature, the discovery of the humanism of the young Marx, the debate over socialist alienation, and the culture fever of the mid-1980s, originated and developed as a reaction to, as well as a critique of, the disastrous Cultural Revolution. The government, however, had regarded these cultural trends and movements with deep suspicion from the very beginning and deemed them to be potential threat to the status quo. When strict regulations could no longer keep these movements within officially defined limits, an iron hand would follow, causing a periodic pressure known as the “spring chill” in the Chinese political climate.[10]

This was the time when Enlightenment ideas like man, reason, justice, individual rights, and human dignity became of particular interest to Chinese intellectuals. These ideas were introduced as critical and normative concepts in the reflections on the Cultural Revolution and became basic tenets of a Chinese formulation of modernity as distinguished from the official formulation of essentially economy- and technology-oriented modernization. There should be no question that these concepts were welcomed in China in the 1980s not because they were Western, or “Other,” as they were to be perceived by Post-New theorists, but because they were useful and valuable in a contemporary critique of the Cultural Revolution. In fact, they had been among the main targets of the so-called mass criticism during the Cultural Revolution itself. The post-Cultural Revolution regime typically dismissed the concepts of modernity as spiritual pollutants floating from the West, China’s “Other.” Ironically, the government denounced the Cultural Revolution as “ten years of chaos” but was far from willing to allow open discussion of the issues repressed during the “chaos” itself.

From the vantage point of the 1990s, one finds that Chinese intellectuals’ search for modernity in the 1980s followed a difficult path and that this search had its moments of blindness, uncertainty, and “fever.” However, to assess the 1980s’ discourse of modernity and put both its achievements and limitations in proper perspective, one needs to take into consideration the damaging impact of the country’s years of isolation and the long-time domination of Cultural Revolution dogma on Chinese consciousness. One also needs to examine this discourse, first and foremost, in relation to the Cultural Revolution to which it reacted. Yet, it is just this crucial relation that Chinese postists prefer not to discuss at all. Consequently, their ambitious periodizing project not only excludes the distinguishing characteristic of the New Era and reads China out of its native context but also provides a rationale as well as an apology for the government’s repressive measures against “spiritual pollution” from the West.

Zhang Yiwu’s article “The Fiction of the New Era and Modernity” is a case in point. This is a Chinese essay crowded with heavily Europeanized syntax, inflated superlatives, and half-digested foreign jargon, in which Zhang Yiwu writes about his discovery in Chinese literature of “a set of grand narratives about ‘man’ consisting of myths of “individual subjectivity’.” “The search for ‘man’,” Zhang says, “had always been the most clear orientation of the fiction of the ‘New Era’ and also the most remarkable ‘distinguishing characteristic’ of the ‘New Era’ as a discourse.” Specifically, Zhang tells us, this “vast transcendental utopia and ideology” manifests itself in two fronts in the fiction of the New Era, including all the stories and novels about the Cultural Revolution. First, it endorses “sanctity of private space” and “autonomy of public space” and “demands that the whole society’s operation and knowledge/power discourse no longer regard the individual as of little importance, but rather, see it as the standard of the highest value.” Second, it “calls for the fulfillment of the ‘individual’ and the freedom of the soul . . . [and] aims to reconstruct the absolute, the ultimate, and the transcendent (identity) of the individual and offer a choice of value centered on ‘man’ rather than on community.” “Apparently,” Zhang concludes, “the fiction of the New Era takes the Western discourse of ‘modernity’ to be the basic discourse for interpreting ‘China’, which results in a cultural situation of self-‘otherization’. As this discourse engages in self-reflection and investigation and performs the writing and coding of China’s cultural practice, it takes Western discourse as its point of departure as well as its destination.”[11]

Zhang Yiwu’s overall assessment of the Chinese 1980s, which I have just outlined, mimics the logic of a Western postmodernist attack on modernism, but his argument is essentially false in the Chinese context. Since the question that should justify Zhang’s inquiry in the first place--the question why concepts of modernity, such as “man” and “individual” in Zhang’s argument, suddenly received so much attention in China--is never asked, his discussion of China’s “otherization” can hardly be meaningful. To make sense of what Zhang says, then, one has to look into what he does not say, and translate his trendy terms into familiar Chinese ideas. For instance, Zhang considers the “sanctity of private space” and the “autonomy of public space” (both terms are in fact imports by advocates of postmodern/postcolonial theory) to be symptomatic of “otherization” that transforms the “public spheres that used to be fully supported and managed by society and nation-state.” To see what is missing or misrepresented, one needs to convert Zhang’s description of “public spheres” as they used to be into old Cultural Revolution political jargon such as “the dictatorship of the proletariat” and “the unity of thought.” Then one begins to see what the transformation of such “public spheres” really means in the Chinese context and how Zhang’s judgement that “to a certain degree society ‘pays back’ the individual some private space” obscures China’s radical departure from the politics of the Cultural Revolution.[12] Similarly, in regard to Zhang’s attack on the literature of the 1980s for absolutizing the values of “man”--that is, the individual--and abandoning the values of the “community,” one needs first to translate Zhang’s abstract terminology into concrete reality of the Cultural Revolution in which human dignity was brutally trampled in the name of class struggle and the rights and identity of each specific person surrendered to the “will of the masses,’ and then one realizes how empty, unwarranted, and even ominous, Zhang’s charge is. What would one call this mystification of Chinese reality with foreign jargon but a fantastic performance of “writing and coding of China’s cultural practice” with a “Western discourse as its point of departure as well as its destination”?

Since a large portion of the 1980s fiction consists of Cultural Revolution narratives often classified under “scar literature” and “literature of reflection,” Zhang Yiwu is obliged to comment on them. The “writing and coding” of China according to its Western image, Zhang tells us, appears in two “allegorical” forms: the spatial allegory which characterizes China as a production of a “non-temporal,” “ambiguous,” and “static” culture on an “exotic” locale, and the temporal allegory which emphasizes the confinement of Chinese culture in a “chronologically backward state.” “Scar literature” and “literature of reflection” are especially guilty of temporally allegorizing China. This kind of narrative, Zhang says, takes the important historical events such as the Cultural Revolution as “special markers of time. The desire to express time dictates the operation of the text, in which ‘China,’ along with its culture, is depicted as a region lagging behind in time, eager to ‘catch up,’ and anxiety-ridden.”[13] Of particular note in this brief passage are two heavily loaded terms, “China” and “anxiety.” First, for Zhang Yiwu there is no China except in interpretation and in discourse; outside writing/coding and rewriting/recoding--and, literally, outside quotation marks in Zhang’s text--China hardly exists. Second, Zhang believes that a Western hegemonic power called “knowledge of China” has caused “anxiety,” especially for Chinese intellectuals, about how to “interpret ‘China’.” This is the only motivation he finds for the recent debate among Chinese scholars over Chinese modernity and political implications of postmodernism in China.[14] And this, as we see in the quoted passage above, is the motivation he sees behind anyone’s writing about the Cultural Revolution as well. Clearly, questions about truth--say, can one interpretation be better than another because it is more truthful about China?--do not concern him at all. The single question against which he tests any interpretation is simply this: Does it differ in any way from the Western image of China? (One notices that for Zhang Yiwu there seems to be only one Western image of China, and it is the one that he himself has summarized.) Such preoccupation not only informs Zhang Yiwu’s judgement on the 1980s fiction, especially narratives about the Cultural Revolution, but, as we shall see below, also inspires Zhang Yiwu and two of his colleagues’ interpretation of the Cultural Revolution itself.

In a Chinese article ambitiously titled “From ‘Modernity’ to ‘Chineseness’: In Search of a New Mode of Knowledge,” Zhang Fa, Zhang Yiwu, and Wang Yichuan characterize China’s development from 1840 to 1989 with two interchangeable terms: “centerization” and “otherization.” China’s pursuit of modernity is a process of “centerization” because, the authors argue, after the Opium War destroyed China’s self-image as the world’s center, the nation embarked on a reconstruction project in the next 150 years to reclaim the Middle Kingdom’s “central authority.” It is a process of “otherization” because defeat by the powerful West forced China to design this project “with Western modernity as its frame of reference” and caused an “unconscious infiltration of the ‘other’ into the ‘self’.”[15] Of the five consecutive stages of this process the authors delineate in the essay, the fourth stage is of particular relevance to the argument I am making. This stage covers a 45-year period from 1931 (the year Japanese army invaded China’s northeastern provinces) through 1976 (the end of the Cultural Revolution) and is said to be most distinct for an overriding concern about “the sovereignty of the state.” The sovereignty issue that was foregrounded with the Japanese invasion continued to dominate the national consciousness even after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 because, the authors argue, the exclusion of China from the rank of world’s central powers by the “two polar ‘Other’,” the United States and the Soviet Union, made “people realize that there would be no real sovereignty of state without a status of being the center.” A “theory of ‘struggle’,” then, resulted from the “anxiety over ‘centerization’ or ‘otherization’,” and struggle, targeting “imperialism, revisionism, and reactionaries” from the outside and the “five kinds of (bad) elements, right-wingers, and capitalist-roaders” from the inside, “became a primary ‘magic weapon’ to ensure China’s restoration of its sovereignty and return to the center.” The Cultural Revolution, the authors say, “simply manifests an inflation of this theory of ‘struggle’.” With no mention of Mao’s Cultural Revolution theory nor of any significant events of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the authors of “From ‘Modernity’ to ‘Chineseness’” opt for a wild interpretation of the propaganda literature of the time to support their own theory of “otherization/centerization.” Enemy characters, they write, “seem to be displacements of the ferocious ‘Other’ that has violated China’s sovereignty and destroyed China’s center position. The fiction of the struggle against and the victory over the (displaced) ‘Other’ could offer people a symbolic relief from the extreme anxiety over ‘otherization’ or ‘centerization’ for the moment.”[16]

This sweeping generalization of a “sovereignty-dominated” fourth stage of modern Chinese history tells us very little about China; rather, as a perfect showcase of the authors’ ignorance of history and willfulness of judgement, it epitomizes the postists’ broad postmodernist and postcolonialist project to reconstruct China as “Other’s Other.” It is true that China had a conflict with the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, during the Cold War. But to confuse this conflict with China’s resistance against the Japanese invasion during the 1930s and 1940s is to ignore the very existence of the Chinese socialist revolution whose 1949 victory signifies the country’s definitive break from its previous history and the beginning of radical transformation of Chinese society. It could be argued that China’s Cultural Revolution was dictated by a “theory of ‘struggle’,” but this theory certainly does not derive from China’s struggle against foreign invaders or even the two superpowers and cannot be explained in terms of conflict among nations. Rather, it is first of all a theory of struggle against “class enemies” inside China and has to be understood in terms of Marxist radical reconfiguration of history as a series of conflicts between economic and social classes across nations. And last but not least, China’s socialist revolution, its Cultural Revolution stage in particular, is conscious of itself as a direct challenge to Western modernity rather than a development within it. One may, of course, argue the opposite. Yet, without engaging the discourse of Chinese socialism, the theory of class struggle, and the Maoist critique of modernity in the argument, any attempt to reconstruct the Cultural Revolution, and for that matter, post-1949 Chinese history, would be futile and groundless.

Just as the postists’ monolithic approach to modern Chinese history yields nothing but a fantasy, so their attempt to construct China’s future cultural identity, or “Chineseness,” following the same logic of China-West antagonism only results in a dream of nationalist expansionism and cultural imperialism. In “From ‘Modernity’ to ‘Chineseness’,” the authors envision a 21st-century formation of a quadruple-tiered “rim of Chinese culture (zhonghuaquan), with mainland China as its center, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao as its second tier, all overseas Chinese as its third tier, and East Asian and Southeast Asian nations under the influence of Chinese culture as its fourth tier.” To form a basis of the “new mode of knowledge”--that is, an alternative of the old “Western knowledge of China,” they also argue for a “necessary consensus” within the rim in language, aesthetics, ethics, and even on a “trans-structural mode of thinking.”[17] This ambitiously constructed “rim” theory is not only reminiscent of the traditional Chinese system of tributary relations, as one critic points out, but also evokes the old fascist Japanese dream of a “rim of East-Asian Commonwealth” (dongya gongrongquan, which virtually translates the authors’ alternate term for the “rim”: dongya gongtongti).[18]

At this point, the China rim theory has gone well beyond the limits of nativism and cultural essentialism that could derive from a postcolonialist logic. Searching for a China as “other’s other,” the postists finally grope their way back to the self-image of the ancient Middle Kingdom. Their endeavor to transcend “China’s otherization” in light of a Western theory turns out to be nothing but a refashioning of what they call “China’s centerization complex.”

III. The Predicament of Deconstruction: Hanging Up Truth to Expose Fiction

The nationalistic vision we have just seen in “From ‘Modernity’ to ‘Chineseness’” gained considerable currency in the mid-1990s partly because it echoed similar tendencies in academic schools like Neo-Confucian scholarship and new Chinese studies and partly because it provided a rationale for the then popular nationalist sentiment and xenophobia that would soon find a loud voice in the best-selling China Can Say No. But, within the camp of Post-New theory, not everyone shared this wish-fulfilling ecstasy. For instance, Chen Xiaoming, who shares the crown of “Post-Master” with Zhang Yiwu, is not at all optimistic about China’s deliverance from the bondage of Western cultural hegemony. While Zhang is singularly dogmatic and non-self-reflexive in his analyses of post-Cultural Revolution Chinese culture, Chen, a more sensitive critic, is more conscious of his own self-contradictions and quite honest about his discomfort with a theory alien to his idealistic impulse. Chen describes himself as a seeker of a “true sense of history” despairing at finding none, an intellectual aspiring to humanist ideals yet “eagerly awaiting the bankruptcy of the great myth.”[19] Finally, frustrations of his idealism lead him to a fatalistic conclusion that the “economic and cultural domination of advanced capitalism” is total and that Chinese culture has entered a “post-orientalist” phase in which everything is dislocated and deconstructed such that neither orientalism, nor nativism, nor any other alternative construct, can escape the shadow of Western cultural hegemony.[20] In this helpless situation, Post-New critics--”spiritually homeless,” and even “postcolonialized” themselves, in Chen’s view--can do nothing but perform the feat of relentless deconstruction at the “crossroads of discourses,” “cutting through the net of cultural expansion” and exposing “the false, the valueless, and the meaningless,” with no illusion about finding a true sense of history.[21]

Chen Xiaoming’s commentary on two Chinese films about the Cultural Revolution in his article “The Mysterious Other: Postpolitics in Chinese Film” exemplifies this practice of discourse-exclusive, thoroughgoing deconstruction. To illustrate his idea that in films concerned with the image of Chinese culture, “politics serves as the very identity of China, without which all the stories about human beings would lose their exotic appeal as representing an absolute Other,” Chen writes,

It is not surprising that even in 1994, Tian Zhuangzhuang produced Blue Kite, a film that rehearses the political hardships during the Antirightist Campaign and the Cultural Revolution in the 1950s and 1960s. The film reiterates the thematics of the “scar literature” of the late 1970s, which portrays political persecution and fear. To be sure, this particular historical period may have left an indelible impression in Tian’s mind, and his film indeed serves as a reminder of the unforgettable era. However, Tian’s reconstruction of the outmoded Fourth Generation films yields little more than a well-conceived reproduction of the “China image” in the Western cultural imaginary.[22]

The other film, Jiang Wen’s Bright Sunny Days, which receives a more extensive treatment in Chen’s article, represents an opposing perspective on the Cultural Revolution. It is about “a carefree, reckless gang who experience the Cultural Revolution only as playful, carnivalesque ‘bright sunny days,’ not as gloomy, disastrous nightmares.” In a conclusive statement about Jiang’s film, Chen says,

The sentimentality of private nostalgia has significantly diluted the political colors of the Cultural Revolution. Ironically, however, the Sixth Generation’s infatuation with libidinal impulses is inevitably embedded in the sociopolitical subtext. . . . The more he pays attention to issues of libidinal wish fulfillment, the more his narrative is entangled in the political current of canon rewriting. In the Heat of the Sun (or Bright Sunny Days), for instance, won international acclaim for its repugnance of the traditional political codes--the cultural identity of China. In some sense, politics, as the external subtext and internal context, maintains its mysterious omnipotence in Chinese film.[23]

Obviously, in both analyses, Chen tries to demonstrate how text operates and becomes meaningful in relation to its subtext and its context. By showing the reader that both films exploit the West-assigned cultural identity of China (external subtext) as well as China’s own canon rewriting (internal context), Chen apparently intends to prove his thesis that “[s]uch a manipulation of political codes can be labeled ‘postpolitics’ in Chinese film, where everything is political and nothing is political at one and the same time.”[24] Ironically, however, this thesis about omnipotence of politics excludes a most important issue of Chinese politics; that is, it ignores the Cultural Revolution as a political reality in itself and shows no concern about what meaning such a reality has for the Chinese--a meaning that is independent of both Western perception and Chinese official interpretation. Since the Cultural Revolution, or historical reality in general as it is experienced, appears to Chen to have no significance of its own, he never feels the need to ask a very basic yet crucial question of cultural criticism: how does text relate, in the first place, to the very political reality it represents and interprets?

Chen Xiaoming’s critique of the films about the Cultural Revolution, and his “postpolitical” theory in general, appears to me to be quite “Other” in at least two aspects. First, his perspective embraces a lately imported fashionable historiography that emphasizes ruptures, breaks, paradigm shifts, and discontinuity of history. Chen, along with other Chinese postists, unabashedly promotes a fallacy of the all-important and exclusive present upon a “deconstruction of time” and insists that the Post-New Era--their era--has definitively broken away from anything before it.[25] Therefore, Chen’s “postpolitics” implies that any politics before the Post-New Era, including that of the Cultural Revolution, no longer has any significance unless it is embedded and reconstructed in Post-New discourse. That is why the fact that “even in 1994,” someone still wrote in some “outmoded form” something that “rehearses the political hardships of . . . the 1950s and 1960s” is for him a problem in itself. As I have pointed out earlier, in their assessment of the Chinese 1980s, postists refuse to evaluate the modernity discourse of the New Era in relation to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Now they further deny that reflections upon the Cultural Revolution have any relevance in their own times.

The second unmistakable element of otherness in Chen’s analysis is a trendy philosophical skepticism. According to this philosophy, everything is constructed, and nothing exists but in discourse. Philosophers and critics, then, become, in Chen’s words, “on-lookers at the crossroads of discourses” playing the game of deconstruction. However, Chen adds, “we deconstruct, not because we enjoy the pleasure of deconstruction, but because we aim to destroy the fictionality of culture. Truth, in the meantime, is hung up.”[26] Yet, one cannot help but ask whether exposure of the fictionality of, say, the Cultural Revolution “in the Western cultural imaginary” or what Chen sees as a reproduction of the West’s “China image” by a Chinese artist, can lead to anything significant, even make any sense at all, without the truth or reality of the Cultural Revolution as a necessary frame of reference. Each individual may have a uniquely personal view of the Cultural Revolution. But this does not mean “anything goes and all is true,” nor “nothing is true.” To ensure that the horror of history will not repeat itself, one needs the courage to accept the truth of the Cultural Revolution--accept it as existential--and participate in the ongoing process of collective remembrance and reflection in which this truth further evolves. Chen Xiaoming’s postpolitical critique, however, is serenely detached from this effort. Shying away from social conflicts of primary significance, the existence of his version of Post-New discourse becomes virtually parasitic, feeding on the crumbs of the West’s self-critique.

Unfortunately, the way Chen carries out his postpolitical critique deconstructs itself by its own logic: avoidance of Chinese politics is in itself political. As needs for a persistent Cultural Revolution critique have become so urgent in the face of fading memory, the proposal of the “discourse on-lookers” to turn away from the past and to hang up truth means in the political context of contemporary China nothing less than an invitation to historical amnesia. Or, perhaps, it invites something more troubling than mere forgetfulness: if to Chen Xiaoming a portrayal of the “political persecution and fear” during the Cultural Revolution simply reproduces the West’s “China image”--that is, fiction or fantasy--and needs to be repudiated, then what, in Chen’s view, would the untold, hung-up truth of the Cultural Revolution be?

IV. The Brave New Myth of China and the Cultural Revolution Complex

As I have been trying to demonstrate all along, politics of othering is the motivating force of China’s Post-New theory. This theory understands itself as a reaction and challenge to the discourse of modernity that “controls” China with a special kind of knowledge/power: a perception of China as the West’s “backward,” “exotic,” “static” Other in Zhang Yiwu’s words, or an “invisible, but omnipresent, nexus of absolute power and totalitarianism [which is] fundamentally timeless,” as Chen Xiaoming puts it.[27] To Chinese postists, this image of the Other is the Western image of China. However, apparently with little regard for the complexities of Western Orientalism which, as quite a few historians and critics have convincingly argued, is never a single, monolithic narrative and cannot simply be identified as an expression of Western imperialism, Chinese postists simply see what they prefer to see.[28] They identify only a part of Western perception of China as the “master narrative” for the convenience of their own argument. Among various Western constructs of the East they manage to keep out of sight is a brave new image of China--and the China of the Cultural Revolution in particular--as the West’s revolutionary Other. In almost every way, this new Western myth of China directly contradicts the Post-New version of the Western “China image”: rather than “backward” and “lagging behind the West,” China appears in its new image as far ahead of the West on its socialist highway; no longer an old Oriental kingdom trapped in its static, cyclical non-development, the China of the Cultural Revolution becomes a site of the most radical social transformation; and, finally, leaving the shadow of despotism--stigma on the old “Orientalist” China--far behind, China is said to be engaged in a collective experiment with a mass democracy. Whether Orientalist or not, the myth of revolutionary China is certainly no less fantastic than any old Orientalist lore.

Of this brave new image of China postists can hardly claim innocence, since it radiates from the writing of quite a few leading postmodern thinkers in contemporary West, including Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and particularly Fredric Jameson, whose enormous influence on Chinese postmodernism has been widely acknowledged.[29] The spectre of the Cultural Revolution that lurks behind both the crude China myth and certain ultraleftist agendas in contemporary Western theory should have alerted Chinese postists to the dubious political implications of postmodern/postcolonial discourse in post-Cultural Revolution China. However, just as they refuse to acknowledge Chinese liberal humanism as part of a Cultural Revolution critique while attacking the New Era for its “infatuation” with a myth of modernity, so they choose to ignore the connection between the Cultural Revolution and the contemporary Western theory they are embracing. In the first Chinese translation of Fredric Jameson’s seminal essay “Postmodernism, or, Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” for instance, the author’s rhapsody about the Cultural Revolution as an “immense, unfinished social experiment of the New China--unparalleled in world history” is omitted along with the middle part of the essay, and there is no comment from either the translator or the editor on Jameson’s embrace of Cultural Revolution ideology manifested briefly in this essay and more extensively and systematically in his Political Unconscious and “Periodizing the 60s.”[30] When exactly this issue of Western theory’s Chinese connection was raised, Zhang Yiwu refused to confront it; instead, he dismissed the call for a critical assessment of Western theory in a Chinese context as an argument based on an “extremely ludicrous logic,” “as if the Chinese had only mainstream Western ideology to choose aside from the Cultural Revolution.”[31] What, then, would one say about the logic of postists in charging others for conforming to Western knowledge of China while they themselves opt for Western post-theory that contains just another kind of China knowledge? What would one make of their embracing a Western theory only to ignore the very Chinese element in it? And how would one interpret their enigmatic forgetfulness, evasiveness, lapse of logic, and even mere silence, on the question of the Cultural Revolution both in relation to the liberal humanism of the Chinese 1980s and to contemporary Western theoretical discourse?

The apparent irrationality of Chinese postism seems to me at least partially explicable as a case of a Cultural Revolution complex, a subconscious repression of political memory that results from an embarrassing encounter with China’s past in a hastily borrowed Western theory. Perhaps, after all, Chen Xiaoming’s willingness to “hang up truth” is more symptomatic of this Cultural Revolution complex than of a thoroughgoing philosophical skepticism. He does not deny the existence of truth, but he does not lay out truth--his perception of it--in the open either. Rather, it lurks in a repressed narrative; one feels its presence in Chen’s cautious, ambiguous tone, in his enigmatic, seemingly uncommitted reference to the Cultural Revolution critique merely as an “anti-Cultural Revolution historical narrative,” and his frequent association of this narrative with such heavily loaded terms as “classical accounts” and “standard accounts.”[32] The ambiguity and suggestiveness of Chen’s writing make one wonder whether he will eventually confront the new Western image of China that directly challenges the “classical accounts” of the Cultural Revolution, and how he, along with other postists, will take this image in regard to truth.

In fact, a small group of Chinese scholars abroad have already modeled on this image their effort to reconstruct the Cultural Revolution. This “New Left” front overseas rose concurrently with Chinese postmodernism and postcolonialism, and so far New Leftists abroad have been close allies of Post-New theorists at home. New Leftists find postcolonial theory useful insofar as it helps deconstruct the China myth in old colonial and Orientalist discourse and its contemporary version--the “demonization of China,” as Liu Kang, a leading figure on the New Left front, calls it--in post-Cold War Western cultural imaginary.[33] They consider postmodernist discourse to be of a certain value as long as it helps dismantle the ideological structure of Western modernity. However, this is as far as they are willing to go with Chinese postists. For, in their judgement, postcolonial theory as the West’s self-critique is mainly concerned with how Western cultural institutions and systems have colonized non-Western culture. To understand the non-West, it searches for the West’s Other in colonized cultures, only to find its way back to the system of the West itself. In other words, the issue of postcolonialism is essentially a cultural issue of the West, with little regard to the self-development of Third World nations.[34] Similarly, postmodern critique operates within the confines of Western culture and reacts to problems of both its modern institutions and the globalization of late capitalism; it is not capable of offering a model for “alternative modernity” outside the Western system.[35] China’s socialist revolution, on the other hand, effectively resisted Western colonialism and imperialism and at the same time pioneered a path of “alternative modernity.”[36] However, as New Leftists attempt to reconstruct a socialist model of “alternative modernity,” they do not want to look back to a comparatively peaceful, and in some ways quite successful, period of Chinese socialism--namely, the early 1950s, of which older generations of Chinese bear fond memories. Rather, they follow closely a line of thought in contemporary Western neo-Marxism toward an imagined construction site, which is none other than the total ruins of the Cultural Revolution.

While totally ignoring the horrifying reality of the late 1960s and early 1970s in China, New Leftists argue that the theory of Cultural Revolution crystallizes Mao Zedong’s creative “sinification of Marxism.” To defend this theory, New Leftists take pains to highlight a certain currency of Maoism in the contemporary West. Liu Kang, for instance, has been trying to outline a “genealogy of theory” from Gramsci, Althusser, Foucault, to Fredric Jameson, with Maoism as both the frame of reference and the original source of influence.[37] Such an effort as part of what Liu Kang calls a “left-wing critique of the Cultural Revolution” barely sustains itself by a kind of self-referential theorization that manages to keep out specific Chinese reality.[38] Once New Leftists touch upon anything specific, however, the ludicrous logic and the astonishing neglect, if not total ignorance, of basic facts in their propositions and arguments become immediately apparent. Cui Zhiyuan, for instance, calls for “reconstitution and reconstruction of reasonable elements of the Cultural Revolution under new circumstances.” One of these elements is Mao’s call to “repeat the Cultural Revolution every seven to eight years.” “Today,” Cui proposes, “we should institutionalize [Mao’s directive] into periodical national elections, and this is the real essence of the ‘dictatorship of the people democracy’ or the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”[39] Liu Kang, on the other hand, finds “a collective, carnivalesque atmosphere of dancing and singing” during the Cultural Revolution to be expressly indicative of China’s “culture of the masses” and offers an astonishingly superficial and fantastic reading of how part of this “revolutionary legacy” assumes “new forms” in China today. Liu tells us that even though the commercial popular culture of the 90s is “generally devoid of any revolutionary spirit,” the “collective spirit” shaped by the revolutionary tradition persists and “still imparts a cohesiveness to the population”: “Hundreds of millions of people of all ages danced loyalty dances to the Great Leader in public squares daily during the Cultural Revolution, and it is this atmosphere that is curiously recaptured in the present-day ballroom dances held in public parks and streets and in the karaoke parties and contests.”[40] Those words hardly make any sense, since nothing, not even the magic of deconstruction, can deliver such utterly transparent signifiers as “continuous revolution” and “loyalty dance” out of the confinement of their concrete, definitive meanings in the context of the Cultural Revolution and turn them into something they are meant to oppose. Here one hears nothing but the authors’ intention, loud and clear: the Cultural Revolution, whatever it is, must be at least partially “reasonable” and therefore must be defended.

Apparently, the New Left’s reconstruction of the Cultural Revolution implies a strong critique of Chinese postists’ fantasy of pre-1989 modern Chinese history as a process of “self-otherization.” So does the New Left’s formulation of revolutionary “alternative modernity” directly challenge the Post-New vision of the “rim of Chinese culture.” However, despite these sharp differences, China’s Post-New theorists and the overseas New Leftists have been strange bedfellows all along. On the one hand, they have formed an alliance mutually supporting each other and slandering their critics as being notoriously “pro-capitalist,” “anti-communist,” and even “anti-China.”[41] On the other hand, they attempt to characterize their differences as two paths in the same direction. According to Liu Kang, the differences simply mean that Zhang Yiwu, Chen Xiaoming, and others are more concerned with the issues of the 1990s, while he focuses more on history, particularly “the connection of the Cultural Revolution and critical theory” and “the genealogy of Althusser, Foucault, and Mao.” Meanwhile, both he and Chinese postists, Liu says, “value critical theory.”[42] Zhang Yiwu, on the other hand, is apparently skeptical of Liu Kang’s “alternative modernity.” Nevertheless, he writes, “the division between Liu Kang’s ‘alternative modernity for China’ and China’s ‘postmodernism’ and ‘postcolonialism’ is not impassable. The two to a great extent refer to the same issue. As ‘alternative modernity for China’ has already gone bankrupt and becomes ineffective, I do not think one can effectively distinguish ‘alternative modernity for China’ from ‘postmodernism’ and ‘postcolonialism’.”[43]

It seems to me that neither Liu Kang nor Zhang Yiwu provides an accurate account of the ways Chinese postism and overseas New Leftism relate to each other. Rather than traveling on different paths toward a converging point, the two schools in fact share a common point of departure and then go their separate ways. First, they both assume that Enlightenment modernity is not only universally outmoded but is a lie in the first place. Consequently, they both dismiss liberal humanist ideals of reason, democracy, and individual rights as a myth of Western capitalism, the last thing China needs. Second, they both opt for Western theory as an interpretive framework for China, and yet, as it turns out, each actually embraces a different yet equally outmoded trend in Chinese history that directly or obliquely mirrors a certain perspective of contemporary Western theory. The orientation toward nativism and cultural relativism in Western postmodern/postcolonial discourse leads Chinese postists to an appropriation of what they call the “classical centerization complex of the Chinese nation” and its current manifestation in an irrepressible nationalistic impulse to reconstruct “Chineseness.” The ultraleft dogma in Western neo-Marxism, on the other hand, inspires the New Left’s apology for the Cultural Revolution. Apparently, with the help of neo-Marxism that is closely associated with the ideology of the Cultural Revolution, New Leftists have already freed themselves from the tyranny of the Cultural Revolution complex, while Chinese Post-New theorists are still struggling with it. Whether the latter would eventually confront the brave new image of China in contemporary Western theory and how they would cope with the irresolvable conflict between this image and China’s own renunciation of the Cultural Revolution are yet to be seen.

To conclude my analysis of Other-oriented Chinese post-theory, I would like to reiterate my belief, which is implied all along in this essay, that remembrance and critique of the Cultural Revolution remains one of the most urgent tasks for China. Central to this effort is an important question that emerged upon the complete failure of the Cultural Revolution but was brushed aside by the current Chinese regime and ignored by both Post-New theorists and New Leftists: Are democratic modernity--call it liberal humanism or “bourgeois” ideology--and socialism diametrically opposed to each other and mutually exclusive? Mao’s answer was an absolute “Yes,” which underlay his decision to start a Proletarian Cultural Revolution against the ideology of the bourgeoisie. If we take, as we should, the Cultural Revolution as a point of reference in the current debate over Chinese modernity, we may just as well proceed with a series of closely related questions to challenge Mao’s dualistic logic: Does recognition of the values of liberal humanism simply mean a surrender to Western cultural hegemony and a call for “restoration of capitalism”? Does repudiation of capitalism necessarily entail a total rejection of such normative ideals as reason, justice, democracy, and individual rights? Does a thoroughgoing critique of ultraleftism logically lead to a debunking of socialism itself? And finally, what can we learn about China’s future possibilities from both the miserable failure of the Cultural Revolution rejecting modernity and the success of some Western democracies in integrating certain socialist measures into their own social and political system? Apparently without seriously considering the grave lessons of the Cultural Revolution, the current Chinese regime fails to imagine beyond Mao’s dualistic logic and consequently opt for a “socialism with Chinese characteristics” that combines political repression and full-scale economic capitalization. Chinese postists and New Leftists, on the other hand, are either helplessly trapped in Mao’s original dualism or simply ignorant of it, while following Mao’s rejection of democratic modernity all the way. What, then, would their “interpretation of ‘china’” or “left-wing critique” mean but obstruction and confusion to an urgent critique of the Cultural Revolution from which China’s progress toward modernity has to begin?

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[1]. Zhao Yiheng coined the term “post-ism” as a broad reference to the “trinity” of poststructuralism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism in his “‘Houxue’ yu zhongguo xinbaoshouzhuyi” (“Post-ism” and Chinese New Conservatism), Ershiyi Shiji (Twenty-First Century), 27, February 1995: 4-15. Since then the term has been widely used by Chinese critics as a more specific reference to a Chinese version of Western postmodernism and postcolonialism.

[2]. For an initial debate over “Post-New Era” as a periodizing concept, see Zhang Yiwu, “Houxinshiqi wenxue: xin de wenhua kongjian” (Literature of the Post-New Era: a new cultural space), Zhao Yiheng, “Erzhong dangdaiwenxue” (Two kinds of contemporary literature), and Wang Ning, “Jicheng yu duanlie: zouxiang houxinshiqi wenxue” (Legacy and rupture: towards the literature of the Post-New Era), in Wenyi Zhengming (Debate in Literature and Art), No. 6, 1992: 9-12. For an extensive discussion of the periodization issue, see Xu Ben, Wenhuapiping wang hechu qu--yijiubajiunianhou de zhongguo wenhuataolun (Whither cultural criticism: Chinese cultural discussion after 1989), Hong Kong: Cosmos Books, 1998. 226-246.

[3]. Zhang Fa, Zhang Yiwu, and Wang Yichuan, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’--xinzhishixing de tanxun” (From “modernity” to “Chineseness”: in search of a new mode of knowledge), Wenyi Zhengming, No. 2, 1994: 14.

[4]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 10-20.

[5]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 13-14; Zhang Yiwu, “Chanshi ‘zhongguo’ de jiaolü” (The anxiety of interpreting “China”), Ershiyi Shiji, 28, April 1995: 134.

[6]. Zhang Yiwu, “Chanshi ‘zhongguo’ de jiaolü,” 132.

[7] See Liu Kang, “Quanqiuhua ‘beilun’ yu xiandaixing ‘qitu’” (Global paradox and alternatives of modernity), Dushu (Reading), 196, July 1995: 98‑105; Cui Zhiyuan, “Fahui wenge zhong de heli yinsu” (Bring into play the reasonable elements of the Cultural Revolution), Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), May 26, 1996: 47.

[8]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 13.

[9]. Zhang Yiwu, “Chanshi ‘zhongguo’ de jiaolü,” 128.

[10]. Quite a few promising literary and theoretical trends of the 1980s came to a premature end due to official interference. Long before “scar literature” was able to develop its full potential to tackle the invisible power of the Cultural Revolution ideology, the root cause for psychological wounds in both the victims and the victimizers, it was outlawed by the government with a ban on Bai Hua’s film An Unrequited Love (also known as The Sun and Man, a more pungent title that suggests the true political import of the film). The official suppression of the reportage writing of Liu Binyan (whose “Another Kind of Loyalty” is particularly poignant as a critique of the irrational dogma of the Cultural Revolution in relation to age-old imperial worship) made it sufficiently clear to writers how far their exposé was permitted to go. Wang Ruoshui, just to cite one more example, was ousted as Editor-in-Chief of the People’s Daily because of his theoretical probing into the internal cause of the Cultural Revolution. The government’s harsh sanction against the Marxist theorist ended the debate over “socialist alienation” once for all.

[11]. Zhang Yiwu, “Xinshiqi xiaoshuo yu ‘xiandaixing’” (Fiction of the New Era and “modernity”), Wenxue Pinglun (Literary Criticism), No. 5, 1995: 34-41.

[12]. Zhang Yiwu, “Xinshiqi xiaoshuo,” 36.

[13]. Zhang Yiwu, “Xinshiqi xiaoshuo,” 39-40.

[14]. See Zhang Yiwu, “Chanshi ‘zhongguo’ de jiaolü,” 128‑135; “Zaishuo ‘chanshi zhongguo’ de jiaolü” (Further Thoughts on the anxiety of “interpreting China”), Ershiyi Shiji, 34, April 1996: 121‑126. For the recent debate among Chinese scholars over Chinese postism, see Wang Hui and Yu Guoliang, eds., Jiushi niandai de “houxue” lunzheng (Post‑ism in the Nineties), Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1998.

[15]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 10-11.

[16]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 12-13.

[17]. Zhang, Zhang, and Wang, “Cong ‘xiandaixing’ dao ‘zhonghuaxing’,” 18-19.

[18]. Xu Ben, “‘From Modernity to Chineseness’: The Rise of Nativist Cultural Theory in Post-1989 China,” Positions, Vol. 6, No. 1, spring 1998: 218.

[19]. Chen Xiaoming, “Wenhua kuibai shidai de kuizeng” (The gift form an era of cultural defeat), Wenyi Guangjiao (Wide Angle of Literature and Art), No. 3, 1993: 11-12.

[20]. Chen Xiaoming, “‘Houdongfang’ shidian: chuanyue biaoxiang yu cuojue” (A “post-Orientalist” point of view: cutting through representation and illusion), Wenyi Zhengming, No. 2, 1994: 30-31.

[21]. Chen Xiaoming, “‘Houdongfang’ shidian,” 31; Chen Xiaoming, Zhang Yiwu, Liu Kang, Wang Yichuan, and Sun Jin, “Houxiandai: wenhua de kuozhang yu cuowei” (Postmodernism: cultural expansion and dislocation), Shanghai Wenxue (Shanghai Literature), No. 3, 1994: 69.

[22]. Chen Xiaoming, “The Mysterious Other: Postpolitics in Chinese Film,” Boundary 2, Vol.24, No. 3, fall 1997: 132.

[23]. Chen Xiaoming, “The Mysterious Other,” 135-136.

[24]. Chen Xiaoming, “The Mysterious Other,” 124.

[25] Chen, Zhang, Liu, Wang, and Sun, “Houxiandai,” 66-69; Zhang Yiwu, “Postmodernism and Chinese Novels of the Nineties,” Boundary 2, Vol. 24, No. 3, fall 1997: 257.

[26]. Chen, Zhang, Liu, Wang, and Sun, “Houxiandai,” 69.

[27]. Chen Xiaoming, “The Mysterious Other,” 130.

[28]. See J. J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought, New York: Routledge, 1997; C. Breckenridge and P. van der Veer, eds., Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament, Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1993; L. Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

[29]. In their introduction to a Boundary 2 special issue (Vol. 24, No. 3, fall 1997) on postmodernism and China, Arif Dirlik and Zhang Xudong note that the Chinese translation of the lectures Fredric Jameson gave at Beijing University during the fall semester in 1985 “remain[s] to this day the most widely read and quoted work in Chinese discussions of postmodernism.” For a more detailed discussion of Jameson’s influence on Chinese Post-New theory, see Xu Ben, “‘From Modernity to Chineseness’: The Rise of Nativist Cultural Theory in Post-1989 China,” Positions, Vol. 6, No. 1, spring 1998: 233-234.

[30]. Jameson’s article was first published in New Left Review 146 (July-August, 1984), 53-92, before it was revised and reprinted as the first chapter of Postmodernism, or, Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991). For the first Chinese translation of this article see Wang Yuechuan and Shang Shui, eds., Houxiandaizhuyi wenhua yu meixue (Postmodern culture and aesthetics), Beijing University Press, 1992: pp. 73-89. “Periodizing the 60s” appears in The 60s without Apology, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984, 178-209.

[31]. Zhang Yiwu, “Miandui quanqiuhua de tiaozhan” (In face of the challenge of globalization), Ershiyi Shiji, No. 38, December 1996: 139‑140.

[32]. Chen Xiaoming, “The Mysterious Other,” 124-125, 135-136.

[33]. See Liu Kang, et. al., Yaomohuazhongguo de beihou (Behind demonization of China), Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe (China Social Sciences Press), 1996.

[34]. Liu Kang and Jin Hengshan, “Houzhiminzhuyi piping: cong xifang dao zhongguo” (Postcolonial criticism: from the West to China), Wenxue Pinglun, No. 1, 1998: 149-159.

[35]. Liu Kang, “Quanqiuhua ‘beilun’,” 98‑105.

[36]. Liu Kang, “Quanqiuhua ‘beilun’,” 98‑105; “Quanqiuhua yu zhongguo xiandaihua de butong xuanze” (Globalization and alternative paths of Chinese modernization). Ershiyi Shiji, No. 37, October 1996: 140‑146.

[37]. See Liu Kang, “Politics, Critical Paradigms: Reflections on Modern Chinese Literature Studies,” Modern China, Vol. 19, January 1993: 13‑40; “The Problematics of Mao and Althusser: Alternative Modernity and Cultural Revolution,” Rethinking Marxism, Vol. 8, fall 1995: 1‑25; “Hegemony and Cultural Revolution,” New Literary History, Vol. 28, winter 1997: 69‑86. For a critical response to Liu Kang’s genealogy of theory see Zhang Longxi, "Out of the Cultural Ghetto: Theory, Politics, and the Study of Chinese Literature." Modern China, Vol. 19, January 1993: 71-101. Also see my “Resisting Modernity in Contemporary China: The Cultural Revolution and Postmodernism,” forthcoming in Modern China.

[38]. Liu Kang, “The Problematics of Mao and Althusser,” 9.

[39]. Cui, Zhiyuan, “Zhiduchuangxin yu di’erci sixiangjiefang” (Institutional innovation and a second liberation of thoughts), Ershiyi Shiji, No. 24, August 1994: 7; “Fahui wenge zhong de heli yinsu,” 47.

[40]. Liu Kang, “Popular Culture and the Culture of the Masses in Contemporary China,” Boundary 2, Vol. 24, No. 3, fall 1997: 108-114.

[41]. Zhang Yiwu, “Miandui quanqiuhua de tiaozhan,” 139; Liu Kang, “Quanqiuhua yu zhongguo xiandaihua de butong xuanze,” 143.

[42]. Liu Kang, “Quanqiuhua yu zhongguo xiandaihua de butong xuanze,” 144.

[43]. Zhang Yiwu, “Miandui quanqiuhua de tiaozhan,” 142.

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