The trial of Cultural Revolution leaders, including Mao's widow and her Gang of Four, was the signal event in China's post-Mao transition. In its wake, Chinese socialism emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution to create the China that we know today. This spectacular show trial was a curious example of transitional justice, marking a break from the trauma of the past, a shift to the present era of reform, and a blueprint for building a better future. In this groundbreaking reconstruction of the most famous trial in Chinese history, Alex Cook shows how the event laid the cornerstone for a new model of socialist justice; at the same time, a comparison of official political and legal sources with works of popular literature reveals the conflicted cultural dimensions of this justice. The result, Cook argues, saved Chinese socialism as ruling ideology, but at the cost of its revolutionary soul.
This postmodern study of the Chinese Cultural Revolution examines the inner mechanism of the mass movement. Utilizing methodologies of cultural anthropology, linguistics, acting theory, and literary criticism, it reveals how people’s performances of their everyday lives functioned as mechanisms of social control.
In the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, political persecutions, violation of rights, deprivation of freedom, violence and brutality were daily occurrences. Especially striking is the huge number of ordinary civilians who were involved in inflicting pain and suffering on their comrades, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and even family members. The large-scale and systematic form of violence and injustice that was witnessed differs from that in countries like Chile under military rule or South Africa during apartheid in that such acts were largely committed by ordinary people instead of officials in uniforms. Mok asks how we should assess the moral responsibility of these wrongdoers, if any, for the harm they did both voluntarily and involuntarily. After the death of Chairman Mao, there was a trial of the Gang of Four, who were condemned as the chief perpetrators of the Cultural Revolution. Besides, tens of millions of officials and cadres who were wrongly accused and unfairly treated were subsequently cleared and reinstated under the new leadership. However, justice has not yet been fully done because no legal or political mechanism has ever been established for the massive number of civilian perpetrators to answer for all sorts of violence inflicted on other civilians, to make peace with their victims, and to make amends. The numerous civilians who participated need to come to terms with the people they wronged in those turbulent years. Justice in general and transitional justice in particular may still be pursued by taking the first steps to clarify and identify the moral burden and responsibility that may legitimately be ascribed to the various types of participant. This book will be of interest to anyone who studies the Cultural Revolution of China, especially those who are concerned with the ethical dimension.
Prepared in dictionary format, this volume reexamines the uses of political trials. Through the conduct and context of key trials throughout history, the reader is made to understand an aspect of public life too easily misconstrued, although never neglected: the political side of litigation. Most of the trials in this volume were significant enough to continue to shape our interpretation of the law long after the court made its judgment and all appeals were completed. The dialogue they initiated may last for decades, even for centuries. Such trials provide us with an insight into the vital aspects of our public life, the civilizing capacity of politics.
China's decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution shook the politics of China and the world. Even as we approach its fiftieth anniversary, the movement remains so contentious that the Chinese Communist Party still forbids fully open investigation of its origins, development, and conclusion. Drawing upon a vital trove of scholarship, memoirs, and popular culture, this Very Short Introduction illuminates this complex, often obscure, and still controversial movement. Moving beyond the figure of Mao Zedong, Richard Curt Kraus links Beijing's elite politics to broader aspects of society and culture, highlighting many changes in daily life, employment, and the economy. Kraus also situates this very nationalist outburst of Chinese radicalism within a global context, showing that the Cultural Revolution was mirrored in the radical youth movement that swept much of the world, and that had imagined or emotional links to China's red guards. Yet it was also during the Cultural Revolution that China and the United States tempered their long hostility, one of the innovations in this period that sowed the seeds for China's subsequent decades of spectacular economic growth.
China has, since 1976, been enmeshed in an extraordinary program of renewal and reform. The obvious changes—the T-shirts, blue jeans, makeup and jewelry worn by Chinese youth; the disco music blaring from radios and loudspeakers on Chinese streets; the television antennas mushrooming from both urban apartment complexes and suburban peasant housing; the bustling free markets selling meat, vegetables and clothing in China's major cities—reflect a fundamental shift in the government's policy toward the economy and political life. Although doubts about the long-term commitment to reform arose after the student protests in December 1986 and the dismissal of Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang in January 1987, the scope of reform has been so broad and the pace of change so rapid, that the post-Mao era fully warrants Den Xiaoping's description of it as the "second revolution" undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party.