Wild Lily, Prairie Fire
Gregor Benton and Alan Hunter provide here a source book of documents of democratic dissent under Chinese Communism, most of them previously untranslated and difficult to find in the West. Ranging from eye-witness accounts of a massacre to theoretical critiques of Chinese Marxist thought, these essays are among the most powerful and important works of Chinese dissident literature written in this century. An extensive introduction maintains that the documents reveal a tradition of democratic thought and practice that traces its descent to the New Culture Movement of the 1910s and the founding generation of the Chinese Communist Party. Far from being a late twentieth-century import (along with capitalist economics) from Europe, Japan, and the United States, this tradition of dissent is deeply embedded in the experience of China's revolutionary movements.
The story of Chinese Communism has often been reduced to uniformity not only by political bureaucrats in China but by Western scholarship derived from official Chinese histories. Wild Lily, Prairie Fire paints a far richer picture. The book calls into question many of the usual beliefs about the relation between democracy and communism, at least in the Chinese case, which may now be seen to depart from the Soviet model in yet another crucial respect.
to seek consensus with sections of the political establishment than to contest it wholesale. Until 1989 they were closely allied to reformers in the Party, and indeed some of them were former advisers to Zhao Ziyang and beneficiaries of his policies. One reason for this connection is that the Chinese Communist Party, being perennially divided, offers a wider political choice than the old Eastern European Communist Parties. Another is that China’s experiment in economic reform (which outside
Russia-returned leader, Wang Ming, and so for the further strengthening of Mao’s own position as Party Chief. The dissident writers were at first heartened by Mao’s attacks on bureaucracy. They enthusiastically repeated his criticisms and added some of their own. Wang Shiwei saw the Rectification Campaign as a struggle between Mao’s “orthodox” group, which he supported, and the “unorthodox” faction.10 He may even have hoped that Mao would back his libertarian manifesto. He was to be rudely
fact is a mortal threat to the bourgeoisie, who fear workers holding guns. Out of spontaneous hatred for the bureaucrats who tried to snatch the fruit of victory, the revolutionary people shouted a resounding revolutionary slogan: “Giving up our guns amounts to suicide.” Moreover, they formed a spontaneous, nationwide mass “arms concealment movement” for the armed overthrow of the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie. The August gun-seizing movement was great. It was not only unprecedented in capitalist
affront his dignity will never receive legal protection! If we do not oppose this feudal principle of the “system of rites,” can we really implement the rule by law of the dictatorship of the proletariat which emphasizes “suppressing the enemies; protecting the people”? This is a great contradiction. On the one hand, the Party’s centralized leadership must never be shaken, while, on the other, “the emphasis of the movement is to rectify the capitalist-roaders in the Party.” But these
similar to that in the Soviet Union? This is the fundamental theoretical question determining the nature of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It must be pointed out immediately that most of our Party members are good or comparatively good. However, this privileged stratum is an objective fact that is generated out of our country’s socioeconomic conditions and cannot be changed according to men’s will. Why is there such corruption in today’s society? Why are resources squandered, why do