Thought reform in China

Last updated

Thought reform in China (Chinese :思想改造; pinyin :sīxiǎng gǎizào, also known as ideological remolding or ideological reform) was a campaign of the Communist Party of China to reform the thinking of Chinese citizens into accepting Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought (Maoism) from 1951 to 1952. [1] Techniques employed included indoctrination, "struggle sessions", propaganda, criticism and self-criticism, and a variety of other techniques. [2]

Contents

Terminology

The Chinese term sīxiǎng gǎizào (思想改造, lit. "thought reform") "ideological remolding" compounds the words sīxiǎng (思想) "thought; thinking; idea; ideology" and gǎizào 改造 "transform; reform; remold; remake; correct". [3]

The related term sīxiǎng gōngzuò (思想工作, lit. "thought work"; also translated as thought-work or thoughtwork) "ideological education", with gōngzuò (工作) "work; job". [4] [5] In modern CCP usage, sīxiǎng gōngzuò "thought work" is a more inconspicuous term for sīxiǎng gǎizào "thought reform". [6]

History

The Thought Reform Movement first began in September 1951, following a speech by premier Zhou Enlai calling for intellectuals to reform their thought. The People's Daily called for teachers and college staff to "arm oneself with the thought of Marxism-Leninism" and "throw away the vulgar perspectives of individualism and liberalism, and the cultural thought of European-American reactionary bourgeoisie". [7]

Intellectuals who studied overseas were forced to confess to their role as "implementers of the imperialist cultural invasion", while writers across the country were ordered to study Mao's speech "Talk at Yan'an Forum on Literature and Arts" and engage in self-criticism. During the movement, many school curricula were restructured, with science and engineering adapting the Soviet models, while courses seen as "pseudo-bourgeoisie", such as sociology, political science, and economics, were abolished. [7]

Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns

The Thought Reform Movement ended by 1952 and it was merged with the Three-anti/five-anti campaigns. As a result, the Central Committee Department of Propaganda has taken ideological control of China's cultural and educations systems. [8]

According to Robert Jay Lifton, the CPC's program of thought reform emerged as one of the most powerful efforts at propaganda ever undertaken, and included imposed doctrines, ideological purges, and mass conversion movements carried out in an organized and comprehensive way. [9] The thought reform program was applied in universities, schools, special "revolutionary colleges", prisons, businesses and government offices, and peasant organisations. It brought significant personal upheaval to the individuals affected. [9]

The Socialist "New Man"

According to a 1969 thesis by Theodore Chen, an important concept in thought reform is that of the "New Socialist Man", based on the idea that communist revolution is predicated on "new men with new minds, new ideas, new emotions, and new attitudes". Thus, before the new way of life can prevail, the old must be abolished. In China both the old and new generations were to be remolded according to communist ideology, so the making and remaking of "new men" became a fundamental task of the communist revolution and the main aim of education. [10]

Chen reports that the CPC selected "model citizens" from various walks of life, including laborers, peasants, women, and youth to popularize the attributes of the concept. [10] From the virtues put forth in indoctrination and propaganda, and from the various "models" selected to promote desired behaviors, Theodore Chen writes that it is possible to discern a few major characteristics of the model man envisioned by communist planners. These include: absolute selflessness; obedience to the Communist Party; class consciousness; ideological study; participation in labor and production; versatility; and being a "Red expert". [10]

The Chinese notion of the "new man" was significantly influenced by its Soviet predecessor. [11] In psychology, it was linked to Ivan Pavlov's theory of higher nervous activity and the method of conditioning, which were taken up by Chinese revolutionaries to promise the possibility of the "new man" to be created. [12]

Thought reform of intellectuals

The thought reform project on Chinese intellectuals is indicative of the nationwide program, according to Lifton. The most intensive of the thought reform programs for intellectuals were conducted in "revolutionary colleges", set up all over China immediately after the communist revolution. They were most active between 1948 and 1952, when they represented an ideological hard core for the entire thought reform movement, and an extreme model for reform efforts throughout the population. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Maoism, or Mao Zedong Thought, is a variety of Marxism–Leninism that Mao Zedong developed for realising a socialist revolution in the agricultural, pre-industrial society of the Republic of China and later the People's Republic of China. The philosophical difference between Maoism and Marxism–Leninism is that the peasantry are the revolutionary vanguard in pre-industrial societies rather than the proletariat. This updating and adaptation of Marxism–Leninism to Chinese conditions in which revolutionary praxis is primary and ideological orthodoxy is secondary represents urban Marxism–Leninism adapted to pre-industrial China. The claim that Mao Zedong had adapted Marxism–Leninism to Chinese conditions evolved into the idea that he had updated it in a fundamental way applying to the world as a whole.

May Fourth Movement

The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919.

Hu Shih Chinese philosopher

Hu Shih (Chinese: 胡適; pinyin: Hú Shì; Wade–Giles: Hu2 Shih4; 17 December 1891 – 24 February 1962), also known as Hu Suh in early references, was a famous thinker, Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomat. Hu is widely recognized today as a key contributor to Chinese liberalism and language reform in his advocacy for the use of written vernacular Chinese. He was influential in the May Fourth Movement, one of the leaders of China's New Culture Movement, was a president of Peking University, and in 1939 was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature. He had a wide range of interests such as literature, philosophy, history, textual criticism, and pedagogy. He was also an influential redology scholar and held the famous Jiaxu manuscript (甲戌本; Jiǎxū běn) for many years until his death.

<i>New Youth</i>

La Jeunesse was a Chinese magazine in the 1910s and 1920s that played an important role in initiating the New Culture Movement and spreading the influence of the May Fourth Movement. According to the Mingwei, "The ideal of national rejuvenation was first clearly presented by the late Qing reformer Liang Qichao[梁启超] (1873-1929) in his groundbreaking' Shaonian Zhongguo shuo' [少年中国说], which happened to be published in the first month of China's first lunar year of the twentieth century". New Youth was the most important periodical emerging from China’s New Culture Movement (1915-19),which waged a totalistic cultural war on Chinese tradition and aimed at a radical reform of Chinese society.Founded by Chen Duxiu during the early Republic of China period, the publication was both an instrument of and witness to the revolutionary changes that swept through China during the era. Over its history, the magazine became increasingly aligned with the Chinese Communist Party, eventually becoming its official theoretical journal. It was shut down by the ruling Nationalist government in 1926. "New Youth" magazine not only played an active role in the dissemination of young ideas, but also the May Fourth New Culture One of the most important publications in the history of sports and modern Chinese literature and cultural thought. Later, many famous Chinese writers and thinkers joined, such as Hu Shi, Lu Xun, Li Dazhao, and Chen Hengzhe. Many scholars believe that China's backwardness is not only a political factor, but cultural and ideological factors are also crucial. According to Mingwei, "Perhaps it is the words of a conservative intellectual like Zhang Shizhao [章士钊](1881-1973) that can best demonstrate the absolute authority endowed in youth. He saw the New Culture Movement as a sprint in which everyone, including the by-then veteran literature Liang Qichao, participated. Those who did not would be declared ‘backward,’ ‘reactionary,’ or ‘dead’: ‘when thousands [(]of youth[)] point their fingers at those [(]who do not run with them [)], those will drop dead immediately’ 千人所指,不疾自僵."

Bourgeois liberalization

Bourgeois liberalization refers to either parliamentary democracy or Western popular culture. The late 1980s saw the first major usage of the term when a number of campaigns against bourgeois liberalism were initiated lasting till the early 1990s. The term is in active use in Chinese politics, with the Communist Party's Constitution stating party objectives include "combat[ing] bourgeois liberalization" in line with the four cardinal principles. According to the Communist Party of China, the concept of bourgeois liberalization was first proposed by Deng Xiaoping, then paramount leader of China, in early 1980s.

A thought-terminating cliché is a form of loaded language, commonly used to quell cognitive dissonance. Depending on context in which a phrase is used, it may actually be valid and not qualify as thought-terminating; it does qualify as such when its application intends to dismiss dissent or justify fallacious logic. Its only function is to stop an argument from proceeding further, in other words "end the debate with a cliche... not a point." The term was popularized by Robert Jay Lifton in his 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, who called the use of the cliché, along with "loading the language", as "The language of Non-thought".

Four Olds Elements of Chinese culture purged during Maos Cultural Revolution

The Four Olds or the Four Old Things was a term used during the Cultural Revolution by the Red Guards in the People's Republic of China in reference to the pre-communist elements of Chinese culture they attempted to destroy. The Four Olds were: Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Customs. The campaign to destroy the Four Olds began in Beijing on August 19, 1966, shortly after the launch of the Cultural Revolution.

Li Dazhao

Li Dazhao or Li Ta-chao was a Chinese intellectual who participated in the New Cultural Movement in the early years of the Republic of China, established in 1912. He co-founded the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Chen Duxiu in July 1921. He helped build a united front between the CPC and Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist Party in early 1924. During the Northern Expedition, Li was arrested and then executed by the warlord Zhang Zuolin in Beijing in 1927.

Liang Qichao

Liang Qichao was a Chinese historian, journalist, philosopher, and politician who lived during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China. His thought had significant influence in Modern China. He inspired Chinese scholars with his writings and reform movements.

Propaganda in China

Propaganda in China refers to the use of propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or the Kuomintang (KMT) to sway domestic and international opinion in favor of its policies. Domestically, this includes censorship of proscribed views and an active promotion of views that favor the government. Propaganda is considered central to the operation of the CCP government. The term xuanchuan can have either a neutral connotation in official government contexts or a pejorative connotation in informal contexts. Some xuanchuan collocations usually refer to "propaganda", others to "publicity", and still others are ambiguous.

Shunsuke Tsurumi was a Japanese philosopher, historian, and sociologist.

Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party

The Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, or commonly called the Propaganda Department, is an internal division of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in charge of ideology-related work, as well as its information dissemination system. The department is one of many entities that enforces media censorship and control in the People's Republic of China.

Yanan Rectification Movement

The Yan'an Rectification Movement, also known as Zhengfeng or Cheng Feng, was the first ideological mass movement initiated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), going from 1942 to 1945. The movement took place at the communist base at Yan'an, a remote and isolated mountainous area in northern Shaanxi, after the communists' Long March. Though it was during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the CCP was experiencing a time of relative peace when they could focus on internal affairs.

<i>Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism</i>

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China is a non-fiction book by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton on the psychology of mind control.

Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign

The Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign was a political campaign spearheaded by left-wing conservative factions within the Communist Party of China that lasted from October 1983 to December 1983. In general, its advocates wanted to curb Western-inspired liberal ideas among the Chinese populace, a by-product of nascent economic reforms which began in 1978.

The Central Leading Group for Propaganda and Ideological Work is the agency under the Politburo of the Communist Party of China responsible for nationwide propaganda and information.

Ho Chi Minh Thought, or Ho Chi Minh Ideology, is a political philosophy that builds upon Marxism–Leninism and the ideology of Ho Chi Minh. It was first formalised by the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1991. Ho Chi Minh Thought is a broad term for political theories and policies that are seen by their proponents as representing Marxism–Leninism adapted to Vietnamese circumstances and specific time periods. The ideology includes views on the basic issues of the Vietnamese Revolution, specifically the application and development of Marxism-Leninism to the material conditions of Vietnam. The contents of Ho Chi Minh Thought was codified and developed by the Communist Party of Vietnam. The Communist Party of Vietnam defines Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought as a guideline for all actions and victories of the Vietnamese revolution. Ho Chi Minh Thought, while named after the Vietnamese revolutionary and President, does not necessarily reflect the ideology of Ho Chi Minh, rather Ho Chi Minh Thought refers to the official ideology of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Deng Liqun

Deng Liqun was a Chinese politician and theorist who was one of the leading figures of the Communist Party of China during the 1980s, most well known for his involvement with the party's propaganda work. Deng was born in Guidong County, Hunan province, and joined the Communist Party in 1936. He came from an intellectual family and joined the party out of intellectual commitment. He was often referred to as "Little Deng", to be distinguished from Deng Xiaoping, the "Old Deng".

Zheng Guanying

Zheng Guanying or Cheng Kuan-ying was a Chinese reformist active in the late Qing Dynasty. He was a proponent of fighting economic dominance by Western countries of China through economic nationalism, of parliamentary representative democracy, and of women's rights.

Toward the Future Series, also translated into English as Walking Towards The Future Series or Toward the Future Book Series or Moving Toward the Future Series, is a set of books created in 1984 by Jin Guantao (金观涛), Bao Zunxin, and others, and first published and printed by the Sichuan People's Publishing House in early 1984. In the late 1980s, Wang Qishan served as an editorial board member of the book series.

References

  1. Lifton, Robert Jay (1953). Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN   978-0-8078-8288-7. OCLC   769189698.
  2. Williams, Philip F.; Wu, Yenna (2004). The Great Wall of Confinement: The Chinese Prison Camp through Contemporary Fiction and Reportage (1 ed.). University of California Press. p. 6. ISBN   978-0-520-22779-8. JSTOR   10.1525/j.ctt1pnrnr.
  3. DeFrancis, John (2003). ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary . Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 893, 893, 284. ISBN   0-8248-2766-X. OCLC   51607147.
  4. DeFrancis (2003), pp. 893, 311.
  5. Brady, Anne-Marie (2008). Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   978-0-7425-4057-6. OCLC   968245349.
  6. Bislev, Ane; Thøgersen, Stig (2012). Organizing Rural China, Rural China Organizing. Lexington Books. p. 53. ISBN   978-0-7391-7009-0. OCLC   802495081.
  7. 1 2 Fu, Zhengyuan "Autocratic tradition and Chinese politics", Cambridge University Press, 1993. p. 275
  8. Fu 1993, p. 275
  9. 1 2 Lifton (1962), p. 4-5
  10. 1 2 3 Chen, Theodore Hsi-en (1969). "The New Socialist Man". Comparative Education Review. 13 (1): 88–95. doi:10.1086/445389. ISSN   0010-4086. JSTOR   1186949.
  11. Cheng, Yinghong (October 2009). "Creating the "New Man": From Enlightenment Ideals to Socialist Realities". The American Historical Review. University of Hawai'i Press. 114 (4): 1046–1047. doi:10.1086/ahr.114.4.1046. ISSN   0002-8762. JSTOR   j.ctt6wqzq7.
  12. Gao, Zhipeng (March 2015). "Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era". History of Science. 53 (1): 57–85. doi:10.1177/0073275314567436. hdl: 10315/33009 . ISSN   0073-2753. S2CID   146989176.
  13. Lifton, Robert J. (November 1956). "Thought Reform of Chinese Intellectuals: A Psychiatric Evaluation". The Journal of Asian Studies. 16 (1): 75–88. doi:10.2307/2941547. ISSN   0021-9118. JSTOR   2941547.