Perspectives chinoises has been officially recognized by the French Agency for the evaluation of scientific research (AERES) as an authoritative academic journal in both political sciences and sociology/demography.
20/F Wanchai Central Building
CEFC - Taipei branch
Room B111, Research Center For
Xu Youyu, or How to Write the History of the Cultural Revolution so as to Set China on the Right Future Path
At a time when China, after twenty years of reforms, is preparing for the fourth generation of Communist Party leaders to take power and sees itself increasingly acknowledged as a force in international diplomatic and commercial relations, a few voices are being raised in the interior of the country to recall, in the wake of Ba Jin((1), that the Cultural Revolution is a page of history that has never been turned. How could it be, when those events, over which the Party asserted its control in 1981 during the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee((2), remain a blank page, still devoid of meaning, in the collective memory? Chinese society has never been permitted to speak about this episode of its recent history, an episode that was both the hope and the tragedy of a whole generation and on the altar of which were sacrificed the lives and the destinies of millions. And for what, exactly? In the period following the Cultural Revolution, the Party rebuilt its power by reaffirming its control over history and memory: this was a fundamental element in its domination, preventing any political opposition from taking shape, while Deng Xiaoping recalled the regimes unchanging foundations by setting out his Four Principles theory (1979)((3). It looked as though the Cultural Revolution, sinking into oblivion at the very moment when the social consequences of modernisation are investing the Maoist experience with renewed prestige, could be repeated.
That is what motivates the intervention of Xu Youyu, whose writing we are examining here. He was born in Chengdu in 1947 and has lived through all the upheavals that have punctuated the history of the Peoples Republic and, in particular, the Cultural Revolution, in which he took part as a faction leader among the Red Guard rebels. During the back-to-the-countryside movement, Xu lived for three years in a village in northern Sichuan, and then returned to Chengdu where he worked as a labourer for six years. In 1977, he passed the first university entrance exam to be set since the end of the Cultural Revolution, and the following year he joined the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Peking where he now occupies a research post in philosophy. Along with many young people who, having being sent to the countryside, opted subsequently for careers as intellectuals, Xu Youyu embraced the cause of liberalism after reflecting on his experience of the Cultural Revolution. Thus, during the 1980s, he took part successively in the thought liberation movement and the New Enlightenment movement((4) as a member of one of the best-known editorial committees, Culture: China and the World. Xu Youyus writing((5) is remarkable both as evidence of his systematic and long-term struggle to set down a non-official history of the Cultural Revolution and also for the special emphasis it puts on the role of memory and history in offering guidance to modern China and building a political opposition able to draw lessons from the past.
Writing history as a way out of totalitarianism and to prevent a repetition of the Cultural Revolution
Those in power have closed the Maoist period with the announcement that what Mao did contained 70% positive elements and 30% negative elements. The percentages make little sense other than to condemn completely (chedi fouding) the Cultural Revolution in order to rebuild the regime without attacking its charismatic leader, so that his successors should appear legitimate to the people. This total condemnation, which is at the heart of the resolution passed during the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee((6), is aimed not so much at doing justice to the victims among the people or at challenging the regimes foundations as at reaffirming these while taking leave of the theory that there remain contradictions within the people under a socialist regime, which had enabled Mao to justify his resort to mass movements. Yet, the campaigns against spiritual pollution that recurred throughout the 1980s and the recent campaign against anti-scientific superstitions that was aimed at the Falungong are evidence that those in power have not totally given up such movements. Conversely, a people that has not learned from the past is not prepared to oppose it. Xu Youyu notes, indeed, that some former Red Guards have retained a false, mythic conception of the Cultural Revolution, in other words, a conception analogous to the discourse of the leaders of those times((7). By seeing themselves as a generation of teenage students who voluntarily gave up their schooling to share the peasant life to the greater glory of their country, they lay claim to have been hardened in the fire of an invaluable experience.
Moreover, a gulf has opened up between the generation that lived through the Cultural Revolution and the one that did not. To write history is to fill the memory gap that separates them by lessening the feeling of foreignness that they feel towards each other. Those who lived through the Revolution feel themselves misunderstood by those who, coming along behind, take absolutely no interest in that period. Xu Youyu evokes memory as a symbolic filiation: Where do we come from? What came before us? Recalling his own expectations from an old gentleman of Hu Fengs generation((8), Xu draws the following conclusion: if the Red Guards generation do not write their own history, the coming generations will hold it against them((9). The question of identity is coupled with what is at stake politically. What is needed is a structured and structuring memory((10), one that allows readers to draw lessons from history. Young people must be helped not to fall into the same traps as their elders, and to think and act in response to the past. The leaderships control over history and the collective memory has prevented the different democratic movements, having scanned the history of the Peoples Republic, from capitalising on their experience((11): it is true that common demands were made by the Hundred Flowers movement of 1957, the rebel movement of radical Red Guards, the Peking Springs of 1976 and 1979, and the 1989 democratic movement, yet no movement made any reference to those that had preceded it((12). Being unaware of its place in a continuing process, each movement is condemned to start again from scratch((13). Thus, Xu Youyu points out that the students in 1989 reproduced the same mistakes as the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution: in both cases, the students referred to the official ideology, as well as to the constitution and to the regimes laws, in order to make proposals to the leadersand they were suppressed. In both cases, they based their actions on the belief that the CP represented the peoples rights; in both cases they submitted themselves to the state authority so as not to be classed as counter-revolutionaries; then, and only secondly, did they challenge the supremacy of the Party((14).
If it is an urgent task to write this history, this is also because the blank space created in peoples memories, combined with the resentment felt by the section of the population paying the price for modernising the country, is likely to make the Chinese particularly receptive to the discourse of new anti-establishment intellectualsknown as the New Leftwho, looking back nostalgically to the Maoist period and particularly to the Cultural Revolution, hope to revive their positive aspects. The aspiration to democracy and to greater social justice must be prevented from taking the form, once again, of revolutionary utopia; and they must be given the means to engender a real opposition to the regime. Lastly, writing this history is a weapon that Xu is using to fight the political cynicism that, with the authorities encouragement, is gaining ground among the population and among intellectuals styling themselves as neo-authoritarian or neo-conservative((15). Indeed, the disenchantment is manifest, whether it be among the generation of the Cultural Revolution who have passed from extreme belief to extreme disbelief((16) or among the playful generation((17) that followed it, deliberately turning away from any political commitment and giving itself instead to a form of individualistic self-indulgence. Xu points out that in China today the words politics, history, home affairs (guojia dashi), or ideal meet with sniggers and contempt((18). Conversely, they arouse fear and doubt among some intellectuals favouring a form of modernisation that is exclusively economic, driven by a strong state and opposed to the exercise of any individual rightsall in the name of that sacrosanct demand for stability that is assumed by the pursuit of the reforms.
How can the Chinese people be brought to understand that such words are not always deceptive, manipulative, loaded with ideology or portending chaos, but stand for issues that are fundamental for China? The answer is by giving new meanings to these terms, that is to say, by creating a non-official history and drawing the people into taking part in an effort of memory.
Building up a method: giving society a chance to speak out against the state authority
Because the historical truth is here played out in opposition to the official interpretation, Xu bases his analysis of the Cultural Revolution on society: what were the causes and the nature of the Red Guards rebellion? What were its consequences for Chinese society within the development of its mentality, its thinking?
The originality of the writers approach lies in his perspective on the Cultural Revolutionhow to understand this revolt that drew in all Chinas young people within a totalitarian regime?and in the method that it leads to. When Xu challenges the Partys monopoly on history, he does it right from the start by the standpoint from which he speaks. As a historian, he takes his stand with the international scientific community: he has read its writings on the Cultural Revolution, having benefited from two study vacations in the UK and from the support of Hong Kongs Chinese University, which allowed him access to documents unavailable in mainland China. As a passionate campaigner for the opening of the countrys archivesand after a hard-fought struggleXu has also acquired the right to consult some publications by the various Red Guard factions((19). But above all, the historian is informed by his own Red Guard experience, by his own effort of memory (a task he had carried out beforehand in publishing his autobiography((20)) and by the 131 interviews he conducted throughout the provinces of Chinaincluding their townships, villages and national minority regionswith former Red Guards. He took account of every educational age-group in 1966: from those in their final year at university to those in their first year of secondary school, a spread of ten years. To that he added the pupils at technical colleges and those who started in secondary school in 1967. He was determined that all factions within the Red Guards should be represented, from the former teenage students (lao zhiqing)((21) to the most radical rebels. In other words, the survey takes account of people from different social origins, who did not have the same status at school before or during the Cultural Revolution, whose opinions have evolved in divergent directions and who occupy different positions in present-day Chinese society. By rediscovering the Chinese tradition of oral history, while deploying it with full sociological rigour, Xu Youyus intention is to give society its chance to speak out against those in power.
Thus, rather than ideology, rather than any pre-established explanatory pattern including that of historical determinism, Xu brings to bear the memory of individuals and an empirical approach((22). He is scrupulous in tracking the failings of memory and in countering the dominant discourse of the Cultural Revolution((23), which still mark peoples ways of thinking, while making use of his own work of recollection as well as Western historiography. The writer quotes from Anita Chan((24), Jonathan Unger((25), Stanley Rosen((26) and Roderick MacFarquar((27), who have the merit, in his eyes, of having restored the study of the Cultural Revolution to the analysis of the political regime in the Peoples Republic. That may seem obvious to Western readers, but we should not lose sight of the context in which Xu is expressing himself: there exists no political history of the Peoples Republic; personal memoirstoned down and drained of any political dimensionare only just beginning to be published; and historians do not have access to Western publications. Holding such historians up as an example, particularly where their methods are concerned, Xu adopts a pedagogic approach towards them. He reproaches them for bowing to the imperial historiographic tradition, which consisted in looking at history through its leading personalities, and thus failing to study the issues, whether political, economic or social. This method is in fact the one adopted by Yan Jiaqi and Gao Gao in what was the first attempt to write an independent and personal history of the Cultural Revolution, but which approaches it top down, from Peking and the struggles between the various personalities in power((28). Without actually quoting it, it is clear that Xu has in mind this book. It was published in Hong Kong in 1986 and, at the end of that year, briefly distributed in China in an expurgated version. Even so, it found a wide readership and played an important role in raising questions about the Maoist period among intellectuals. Xu, on the other hand, takes his stand on the analysis of social contradictions favoured by Western historians in order to rebut the dominant thesis in China, which is that what principally motivated the Red Guards was the revolutionary ideal. This thesis (which Xu observes to have contaminated the memories of those people he interviewed), by imparting a heroic, disinterested and altruistic dimension to the Cultural Revolution, is likely to contribute towards its rehabilitation, in a context of crazed individualism and official indifference towards the suffering of the poorest people.
While placing himself in the tradition of Western historiography, Xu insists equally that the Chinese people must make their voices heard. Indeed, it is up to the Chinese themselves to say what their history was, and to pass it on to future generations. On this point, we can only support the writer, so true is it that, in acquiring political consciousness, an important step is to retake possession of ones own history. Above all, however, Xu seeks to bring a new dimension to this shared enterprise. His interest in the Red Guard movement is mainly from the point of view of the history of mentalities. He introduces the subjective dimensionoften absent from Western studiesand offers a personal insight (that outside observers can inevitably not provide) into the Red Guards deepest motivation, the way they saw their own political attitudes and actions, and the meaning that they attached to them at the time((29). Also, alongside social and political parameters, Xu brings into his work psychological parameters((30) provided by interviews that benefit from an empathy based on shared experience. Lastly, this historiographic contribution claims to correct certain errors. Indeed, in Xus eyes, several Western historians are guilty of having created a false interpretation of the Cultural Revolution that is eagerly snatched up by those who feel nostalgic for the Maoist period: this was a time, such historians suggest, when society enjoyed a democratic truce and really confronted those in power to win its autonomy((31).
The commitment to liberalism as against the historians objectivity
Unlike those who liken the Cultural Revolution to a real democratic experiment, whether to condemn it or to associate themselves with it, Xu Youyu seeks to show that the period was revolutionary only in name: it represented, on the contrary, the climax of the totalitarian regime. The official interpretation, as expressed in the resolution approved during the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee in 1981, likens the Cultural Revolution to an anarchic experiment arising among the people outside Party channels or the mass organisations. Later on, the leadership concluded from this experiment that Western democracy was unsuited to Chinas situation. This interpretation is taken up by the neo-authoritarians, who consider that the Chinese people are not yet mature enough for democratisation and that any concession in that direction would plunge China into chaos. According to the New Left, on the contrary, the Cultural Revolution was a successful experiment in direct democracy: it was part of those innovations introduced by Mao to Chinas political system (zhidu changxin)((32) that ought to be restored so as to combat the regimes drift towards inequality, as attested by the rise to power of a capitalist bureaucratic class((33).
As suggested by the sub-title of All Sorts of Rebellions: Formation and Transformation of the Red Guards Spirit, if Xu favours the longer historical period (his study extends from the start of the 1950s to the late 1970s), it is to show from the earliest point how much the Red Guards revolt owes to the totalitarian regime, its ideology and its institutions; and, from the final stages, to present the rustication movement as a moment of reflection that enabled many young people to escape from ideology.
First of all, Xus entire argument is aimed at illustrating the thesis that the Red Guards were totally manipulated: Given that the Cultural Revolution takes place under the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is a mass movement controlled by the communist leaders and not a spontaneous revolution.((34) While we go along with Xu in this assertion (which seems obvious to us but, doubtless, is not obvious to the uninformed readers that are his compatriots), his analysis of the insurrectionary period, properly speaking, which was between June 1966 and July 1967, seems to us more questionable. Xu, who is concerned with analysing the regimes institutions, denies that society enjoyed any form of autonomy vis-à-vis the state authorities: since the Sixteen Points((35) had never been given any institutional guarantee, there existed at that time neither freedom of opinion, nor freedom of expression, nor freedom of association. Xu declares that the actions and thoughts of the Red Guards had no value: their theoretical output could be nothing more than the exact replica of the official ideology. This was not just because the system of education, propaganda and mass organisations that had fashioned them since childhood prevented them from developing an autonomous capacity for thought, but also because while there were at that time people ready to form organisations that might have a real impact, they were arrested one after another((36). In this perspective, the Red Guard factions are reduced to mass organisations, nothing more, whereas Xu considers that people or groups who achieved an independent thoughtsuch as Yang Xiguang((37), Yu Luoke((38) or the members of the Li Yizhi((39) collectivewere not Red Guards: they grasped the opportunity offered by the Cultural Revolution to express their points of view((40). Furthermore, even if their writing did have great influence [over the rebels], virtually no group dared to make it the guiding principle of its policy or theory. On the contrary, in order to demonstrate that their policies were in line with those of the Centre and so as not to be classed among the losers in the struggle between the factions, most of the groups issued critical attacks on these writings((41). To strengthen his manipulation argument, the historian seeks to establish that the various Red Guard factions were completely in step with corresponding factions in the leadership. He shows in particular that, in a context where no individual or civic rights were guaranteed, political ideas quickly gave way before the necessity of protecting ones personal interests, or those of ones faction, or quite simply ones life, with the help of political support. Thus, each Red Guard faction represented the position of a faction in the leadership, and received support from it in return: the conservatives supported Liu Shaoqis position, the moderates backed Zhou Enlai, and the radical rebels lined up with Mao.
The second part of the study is devoted to the rustication movement. Xu shows how the Red Guards, helped by furtive reading and faced with the poverty and harshness of peasant life, harboured the feeling of having been deceived and began to question the regime as well as the ideology that sustained it. He analyses the evolution in attitudes prompted by the move to the farms; and he highlights the conditions under which the thought liberation movement and the new enlightenment movement appeared; such movements embodied the flight from ideology and laid the foundations of liberal thinking in the 1980s.
From a historical point of view, Xus thesis is questionable: many studies have shown that there was a real power vacuum during the insurrectionary period of the Revolution, that a certain number of organisations had developed the most radical lines of thinking and really endangered the Central Group of the Cultural Revolution and, lastly, that the Red Guards had manipulated the local cadres against whom they were able skilfully to turn the leaderships rhetoric, just as much as they were manipulated by that leadership((42). But it is from a political point of view that the thesis takes on its full meaningwhen directed against the New Left. Their adherents present the Cultural Revolution as a democratic advance that improved peoples well being, and they revive the myth of a united people, of a unified and homogeneous society, at a time of growing social inequalities and injustices. Xus answer to them is that the people did not have the freedom to speak out, and draws attention to the complete destruction of social ties. His analyses support those of Claude Lefort: while denouncing the illusion of a unified totality, the historian sheds light on the paradox that lies at the heart of modernity: it is only when the individual is recognised and respected that social ties can be maintained((43). This historical work is still aimed at rebutting the argument that there were two Cultural Revolutions: one controlled by the authorities (zhuliu de, guanfang de wenge) and a popular one in which the masses acquired a certain degree of autonomy and freedom vis-à-vis those in power. This thesis, a heresy that arises from Western historiography((44), is current among some liberal intellectuals who see in the Cultural Revolution the premises for democracy and for the formation of a civic conscience((45). By contrast, in the political context of present-day China, Xu Youyu is determined to strip the Cultural Revolution of any power of seduction: it represents the climax of the totalitarian regime and the liberal position must be based on total condemnation (chedi fouding), and in particular on the appeal for the separation of Party, state and society by creating a parliamentary and pluralist democracy, and for the guarantee of individual and civic rights. Lastly, if the writer applies himself so obstinately to denying, as he puts it, any value in the action of the most radical rebels, it is in order, addressing his compatriots, to put himself in a position to draw the lessons from history: the state authority has always hijacked any revolt, whether in the 1960s or in 1989, and been strengthened by it. Xus historical analysis bears the stamp of the liberal reformer who considers that change can only be driven from above.
The campaign for a Museum of the Cultural Revolution: the effort of memory and the appeal to public responsibility
While one of the main lines of reflection for the historian is to ask himself how the barbarity of the Red Guards could have been possible and to throw light on the totalitarian mechanisms that spawned this foul beast (yeshou), the liberal intellectual appeals to the people to make an effort of memory and to take public responsibility. Explaining is not the same as being proved innocent. In June 2000, Xu Youyu published in the well-known weekly Southern Weekend((46) an article entitled: The Act of Repentance is Absolutely Necessary. Taking upon himself the mission undertaken by Ba Jin in the mid 1980s, Not to allow history to repeat itself((47), Xu calls on the Chinese people to face up to their history. Even now when the reforms are in full swing, when China has recovered its pride, and has entered the modern era, there is no guarantee that the Cultural Revolution could not be reproduced so long as no effort of memory has been undertaken. Xu reminds people also of their duty to the victims: repentance is the only form in which justice can be offered them. Indeed, no legal proceedings have ever been initiated against their executioners. If they do not repent, Chinese people will have admitted that the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution was nothing more than a farce, a comedy. As the writer points out in his article, repenting is ceasing to pose as a victim: it is considering oneself also as guilty, that is to say, as responsible. In our view, that appeal to public responsibility is significant in two important respects. On the one hand, it is a way of recognising the individual as partly autonomous vis-à-vis the state, that is, as morally free and responsible for his or her acts. The appeal to repentance is an appeal to the individual conscience. On the other hand, it may help to rebuild the social ties that, as Xu has shown, were systematically broken during the Cultural Revolution. How can this social link be repaired? In part by making forgiveness possible, and in part by bridging the memory gap between the generation that has lived through those times and the one that has not.
In support of Ba Jin, Xu Youyu calls for a Museum of the Cultural Revolution to be founded, as a repository for memories and for acts of repentance; its purpose would be to prevent any idealising myth from being created. The individual memory is to be used against the official memory so as to help create a collective memory. Xu seeks to create this monument out of the accumulation of his writings, in which his memories and those of former Red Guards are set down. He had planned to publish Oral Histories of the Cultural Revolution, which was banned((48). For the thirtieth anniversary of the start of the Revolution in 1996, a special issue of the magazine Focus((49) devoted a special feature to the effort of memory, mainly composed of interviews conducted by Xu with former Red Guards. That edition was also banned as it came out. On the other hand, thanks to official support within the Research Group on the Party History of the Central Committee, the writer was enabled to bring out in the same year a collection of writings under his editorship, entitled 1966: The Memories of our Generation((50). Xu continues to collaborate with other intellectuals, Li Hui and Ding Dong among them, who are dedicated to the same cause as he. The fruit of this collaboration is a book such as Maimed Shutters: Red Guards in History((51), which brings together about sixty contributions and is divided into two parts; one is devoted to historical reflections, and the other to personal accounts, which are striking scenes((52) compelling the reader not to forget what is past, and to struggle against the feeling that it is all over((53).
One can only be struck by the link between the approach of Ba Jin and Xu Youyu on the one hand, and on the other that of Vaclav Havel, whose political writing has proved never to be purely speculative or abstract, but always intimately related to personal experience((54). As to our writer, one understands that the personal accounts collected in this way reintroduce the individuality, the plurality and the heterogeneousness attached to subjective consciences; furthermore, they make the past believable. The museums function is to vouch for the fact that this past really did exist, and that it concerned individuals who think, suffer and act. So it restores a place for the individual conscience and the personal feelings that are banned under totalitarian regimes and it may constitute a first step towards the development of a civic conscience.
Xu Youyus approach places him within the tradition of those who, from Michnick to Ba Jin, from Solzenitsyn to Havel, have shown how vain are the efforts made by totalitarian regimes to abolish memory and to falsify history. Writing history is an act of resistance to totalitarianism, the pinnacle of this history is represented by the Cultural Revolution in China. Allowing the people access to understanding amounts to a first step towards the demise of this regime: The power of those without power [begins] with a reflection on the nature of the power in which [they] are acting, Havel has written((55). And if for him,((56) as for Xu, the source of history is personal experience above all else, it is because this individual dimension is denied by totalitarian regimes. The Museum of the Cultural Revolution, by restoring the right to speak to those who do not enjoy it, enables individual memories, coming out against the lies of the leadership, to express themselves in the public domain. But it is equally important to challenge the hegemonic position of Westerners in the interpretation of the Cultural Revolution: it is up to the Chinese to say what their history was, for it is in retaking possession of it that they become conscious participants capable of directing the future in accordance with the lessons of the past. The aim the writer has set himselfsometimes even at the cost of historical distortionis to structure memory so as to allow the emergence of a political opposition capable of proposing a modernisation project that, unlike that of the New Left, would not repeat the mistakes of the Maoist period. Admittedly, one may reproach Xu for the fact that his approach might seem to contradict the aim he has set himself. His wish to lend weight to the thesis that the Red Guards were totally manipulateddespite the subtleties and the complexity of the historical realityis also a form of manipulation; it cannot be justified from the scientific point of view, a view that the writer claims to respect. But we should remember that, in the Chinese context, there is no freedom of speech or of publication, no established scientific communityat least in those most sensitive disciplines of contemporary history and political scienceand no opposition, in other words, that would enable the people to assert their subjective autonomy. Faced with the urgent need to fight the New Left, perhaps the historian has no choice other than to adopt a resolutely partisan stance?
Translated from the French original by Philip Liddell
1. See Pa Kin, Pour un musée de la Révolution culturelle, Au fil de la plume, texts selected, translated, notated and presented by Angel Pinot, Paris, Bleu de Chine, 1996.
2. See Guanyu jianguo yilai dang de ruogan lishi wenti de jueyi (Resolution on certain questions about the history of the Party since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China), chapter Wenhua dageming de shi nian (The ten years of the Cultural Revolution), in Tan Hecheng and Jian Shan eds., 1895-1995 Shiji dangan (Archives of the Century), Peking, Dangan Zhongguo chubanshe, 1995, pp. 571-578.
3. Socialism, Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Marxism-Leninism, the Thoughts of Mao Tse-Tung and the Leading Role of the Party.
4. On these movements, see in particular Jean-Philippe Béja, Regards sur les salons chinois, Revue française de science politique, February 1992; Cheng Yingxiang, Les nouveaux intellectuels chinois, témoignages et introspection, Le Débat, No. 63, January-February 1991; Chloé Froissart, La renaissance du libéralisme chinois dans les années 1990, Esprit, No. 12, December 2001.
5. His principal work, Xingxingsese de zaofan (All Kinds of Rebellions), the result of a study carried out between 1992 and 1996, was published in 1999 in Hong Kong, Zhongwen daxue chubanshe, 1999. The writer takes up certain conclusions from this work in essays published in the Peoples Republic, see Zhimian lishi (Confronting History), Peking, Zhongguo wenlian chubanshe, 1999; Ziyou de yanshuo, (Free Speech), Changchun, Changchun chubanshe, 1999, Lishi yanjiu bu neng liuxia kongbai, guanyu hongweibing yu wenge (Historical Research Cannot Leave a Blank Space on the Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution), in Li Hui and Ying Hong, Shiji zhi wen (Questions of the Century), Zhengzhou, Daxiang chubanshe, 1999, pp. 229-258.
6. See Guanyu jiangguo yilai dang de ruogan wenti de jueyi, op. cit.
7. Shiji zhi wen, op. cit., pp. 232-233 ; Zhimian lishi, op. cit., pp. 97-104.
8. Disciple of Lu Xun, Hu Feng symbolises the struggle of the intellectuals for the independence of literature on ideology. In spring 1955, a campaign against the counter-revolutionary clique of Hu Feng was launched to bring the intellectuals to heel.
9. Zhimian lishi, op. cit., pp. 69-70.
10. Jean-Philippe Béja, Michel Bonnin and Alain Peyraube, Le tremblement de terre de Pékin, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Au vif du sujet, 1991, p. 23.
11. Any publication on the Cultural Revolution is almost systematically banned, the archives are closed and it is impossible to make any reference to the democratic movements in the press or publications.
12. The Tiananmen Square students in 1989 did not know that, ten years earlier, the dazibao of Wei Jingsheng, The Fifth Modernisation (democracy), had already set out the main part of their claims, while the protagonists of the 1979 Spring did not know Lin Xiling, the leading figure in the Hundred Flowers movement.
13. Jean-Philippe Béja, Forbidden Memory, Unwritten History, The Difficulty in Structuring an Opposition Movement in the PRC, an unpublished article that was the subject of an intervention at Berkeley University in March 2001.
14. Xingxingsese de zaofan, op. cit., p. 180.
15. For a comparison of the positions of the liberals, the New Left and the Neo-Conservatives, see Chloé Froissart, La Renaissance du libéralisme chinois dans les années 1990, op. cit.
16. Joël Thoraval, Enfants et patriarches, politique des générations dans la Chine des années 1980, Les Temps modernes, No. 46, January 1991, p. 102.
17. The expression is from Liu Xiaofeng, Guanyu Wusi yidai yu Siwu yidai de shehuixue sikao zaji (Notes for a sociological reflection on the May Fourth and April Fifth generation) in Wusi: duoyuan de fansi (May Fourth: a plural reflection), 1989, Hong Kong, see J. Thoraval, op. cit.
18. Zhimian lishi, op. cit., pp. 79-80.
19. For an outline of the comings and goings between institutions that enabled Xu Youyu to win access to certain archives, consult Chloé Froissart, Tirer des leçons de la Révolution culturelle pour orienter la modernité de la Chine: Xu Youyu, une figure du libéralisme chinois contemporain, DEA memoir, Institut dEtudes Politiques de Paris, 2001.
20. Mouran hui shou (Sudden Look Back at the Past), Zhengzhou, Henan renmin chubanshe, coll. Cangsang wenzhong, 1999.
21. The former teenage students, 1,250,000 of them, correspond to the young people that set off for the countryside, more or less voluntarily, between 1955 and 1966 to develop agriculture.
22. From the 1970s onwards, at the time when he himself was beginning a critical reflection on the ideology of the Cultural Revolution, Xu Youyu read Husserl and History of Western Philosophy by Russel. From it he learned that a priori knowledge is an illusion from which springs ideology, and that all human knowledge derives entirely, directly or indirectly, from sensory experience. See Free Speech , op. cit., p. 21.
23. Baituo zhuliu wenge huayu: this expression is used several times by Xu Youyu in his writing, in particular in Zhimian lishi, op. cit., see also Ziyou de yanshuo, op. cit., p. 206.
24. The Children of Mao: Personality Development and Political Activism in the Red Guard Generation, London, MacMillan Press & Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1985.
25. Education under Mao: Class and Competition in Canton Schools, 1960-1980, New York, Columbia University Press, 1982.
26. Red Guard Factionalism and the Cultural Revolution in Guangzhou, Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1982.
27. The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1997, three volumes.
28. See Yan Jiaqi and Gao Gao, Turbulent Decade, A History of the Cultural Revolution, Shaps, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1996.
29. However, certain books published in the West also take account of this subjective dimension to historical figures; they are the work of writers who have based their study directly upon interviews with refugees from mainland China to Hong Kong in the late 1970s, such as Jean-Jacques Michel and Huang He, Avoir 20 ans en Chine à la campagne, Seuil, coll. LHistoire immédiate, 1978 and Anita Chan, Children of Mao , op. cit.; or writers of Chinese origin who have become researchers abroad, such as Hua Linshan, Les Années rouges, Paris, Seuil, coll. LHistoire immédiate, 1987.
30. Xingxing sese, op. cit., p. 10.
31. Although Xu Youyu does not quote these writers directly, one may refer to Elisabeth J. Perry, Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution, Boulder, Colorado, Westview, 1997; or to Hua Linshan, Les Années rouges, op. cit. which also takes this direction.
32. See for example Cui Zhiyuans article published on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution: Fanhui wenge zhong de heli yinsu (Exposé of the rational aspects of the Cultural Revolution), Yazhou zhoukan (Asia Week), May 26th 1996.
33. For convenience, we employ the name New Left which is in reality a labelrejected by those intellectuals concernedcoined by their political adversaries: the liberals. This name has the disadvantage of blurring the complexity and the heterogeneousness of a current that derives in a very diverse way from Maoism, but that allows liberals to condemn this grouping indiscriminately with the excuse of drawing lessons from history.
34. Ziyou de yanshuo, op. cit., p. 61.
35. This 16-point directive gave the masses the right to express themselves freely, to found independent organisations while adopting an election system analogous to that of the Paris Commune (the election of leaders from below, and the possibility of sacking them at any time), to unmask capitalists with the help of the four great liberties: that of having divergent opinions, that of expressing them, that of posting dazibao and that of debating in public, see Hua Linshan, op. cit., pp. 86-87.
36. Shiji zhi wen, op. cit., p. 242.
37. Leader of the radical organisation Shengwulian in Hunan, writer of the essay Where is China going?
38. Writer of the well-known essay On Family Origins, he was the first to denounce the perversion of the Marxist theory of class war by the Maoist doctrine of class origins. Whereas the former refers to the antagonism of socio-economic groups as determined by production relationships at a given moment in history, the latter holds an individuals birth against him or her, and ends up by establishing a caste system. See Chushen lun (On Family Origins) in Xu Xiao, Ding Dong, Xu Youyu, Yu Luoke: yizuo yu huiyi (Yu Luoke: posthumous publications and memoirs), Peking, Zhongguo wenlian chubanshe, 1999, pp. 3-22.
39. The collective Li Yizhian acronym for Li Zhengtian, Chen Yiyang and Wang Xizhipublished in Canton in November 1974 a dazibao entitled About social democracy and the legal system which recommended going beyond factional struggles to create a democratic government and a socialist legal system that would guarantee individual rights. See Li Yizhi, Chinese People, If You Knew , Paris, Christian Bourgois, Coll. 10/18, 1976.
40. Interview with the writer, July 14th 2001.
41. Xingxing sese de zaofan, op. cit., p. 114.
42. See for example H. Madarès, G. Wang, E. Redon, K. Nguyen, X. Xuanwu, Révo. cul. dans la Chine pop., Anthologie de la presse des gardes rouges, Union générale déditions, coll.10/18, Bibliothèque asiatique, 1974; Hua Linshan, Les Années rouges, op.cit.; Song Yongyi, The End of Innocence, Heterodox Thought on Human Rights and Political Reform during the Cultural Revolution, in Human Rights Forum, Spring 2001, pp. 18-22; Wang Shaoguang, Qunzhong yu Wenhua dageming (The Masses and the Great Cultural Revolution), in Li Shaomin, Dalu zhishifenzi lun zhengzhi, shehui, jingji (The intellectuals of mainland China speak on politics, society and economics), Taipei, Guiguan tushu gufen youxian gongsi, 1991, pp. 90-94.
43. Xu illustrates (starting from the Chinese case, in particular through the analysis of the social consequences of the theory of heredity) Leforts thesis, according to which Man finds himself, under this [totalitarian] regime, dissociated from other men and separated from the collectivity as he never was before in the past because his individuality should merge into a good political body, the Soviet people or the Party, LInvention démocratique, Paris, Fayard, 1994, p. 53.
44. Interview with Xu Youyu, July 14th 2001
45. See for example, Zhu Xueqin, Gongmin yishi: Zhongguo de kunnan yu quzhe (The Civic Conscience: Chinas difficulties and the tortuous path forward), in Shuzhai li de geming (The revolution in the Literatus study), Changchun, Changchun chubanshe, 1999, pp. 363-379.
46. Nanfang zhoumo, June 2nd 2000.
47. Ba Jin, Pour un musée de la Révolution culturelle, op. cit., p. 10.
48. Shuiji zhi wen, op. cit., p. 232.
49. Jiaodian, No. 15, July 1996.
50. Xu Youyu éd., 1966 nian: women na yi dai de huiyi, Peking, Zhongguo wenlian gongsi, 1996.
51. Li Hui ed., Canjue de chuanlanban, lishizhong de hongwei-bing, Shenzhen, Haitian chubanshe, 1998.
52. Ba Jin, Pour un musée de la Révolution culturelle, op. cit., p. 10.
53. Xu Youyu, Zhimian lishi, op. cit., p. 65.
54. Moreover, Xu Youyu falls explicitly in line with Havel by dedicating to him an essay: Lijie Haweier (Understanding Havel), followed by Wuquanzhe de quanli he fanzhengzhi de zhengzhi (The Power of those without Power and the policy that is opposed to policy), in Ziyou , op. cit., pp. 387-400.
55. Vaclav Havel, Essais politiques, Paris, Seuil, coll. Points politique, 1990, p. 68.
56. Ibidem, foreword, p. 1.