By Elizabeth J. Perry
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Additional info for Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition
Although the ultimate aim of revolution is a radical break with tradition and a wholesale reconfiguration of the political and social landscape, its objectives must be conveyed in terms sufficiently intelligible and attractive to engage a mass following. When the blueprint for revolution is borrowed from abroad, the difficulty in communicating the new message is especially daunting. Impressed by the Russian Revolution though the founders of the Chinese Communist Party were, they recognized from the outset that their own revolution would demand a degree of adaptation and alteration of the Soviet model in order to garner widespread allegiance among their fellow countrymen.
In order to be convincing, cultural positioning demands intimate familiarity with prevailing norms and habits as well as a keen eye for the possibilities of meaningful invention within tradition. Social protests (and protest leaders) vary considerably in their success at meeting this common challenge. Although the “cultural turn” in the social sciences has been underway for over a generation, it is often conducted as discourse analysis in which writings, speeches, films, festivals, and other communicative materials are treated for the most part as disembodied texts whose meaning emerges through the process of scholarly deconstruction.
But military victory in the civil war did not mark the end of the revolutionary process; Chairman Mao’s call to “continue the revolution” found expression in a series of tumultuous mass campaigns stretching from the Land Reform and Marriage Law of the early 1950s through the turbulent decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 76). Still incomplete at the time of his death in 1976, yet hardly insignificant in its impact, was Mao’s lifelong attempt to invent and instill a new revolutionary culture.
Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition by Elizabeth J. Perry