Julia Lovell on Frank Dikotter's The Cultural Revolution

Julia Lovell*1 “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History 1962-1976 by Frank Dikotter – review” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/11/cultural-revolution-peoples-history-frank-dikotter-review

さて、 Frank Dikotter氏*3 The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History 1962-1976が上梓され、Julia Lovellさんによる書評。少し切り抜いておく。

Since its publication a decade ago, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals’s Mao’s Last Revolution has provided the most authoritative, comprehensive single-volume account of the Cultural Revolution in English. Its coolly analytical narrative exposed the unedifying mix of high-flown ideology and sordid factional wrangles. Now comes Frank Dikötter’s The Cultural Revolution, the last in his trilogy of works on the Mao era.

It importantly extends MacFarquhar and Schoenhals’s impressive work in two ways. First, Dikötter makes more intensive use of evidence drawn from China’s local archives, where historians (both Chinese and non-Chinese) have been able to uncover abundant research materials on the Mao era for the past decade and a half. Second, he excavates the unintended socioeconomic consequences of the Cultural Revolution, arguing that a purge launched to preserve the anti-capitalist “purity” of Mao’s revolution had the opposite effect.

Dikötter describes both persecutors and persecuted at the top echelons of the CCP as repugnant: in turn vindictive, bullying, treacherous and cowardly. Like MacFarquhar and Schoenhals before him, Dikötter illuminates how high-level victims of the Cultural Revolution (such as Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping) helped build the culture of political violence that brought them down after 1966. Occasionally, the characterisation threatens to elide psychological complexity. Dikötter unwaveringly represents Mao as a scheming megalomaniac, “deliberately turning society upside down and stoking the violence of millions to retain his position at the centre”. There is a good deal of truth in this portrait, but Mao was also an ideologue, who genuinely believed in his political mission as the architect of world revolution. Peng Zhen*4, the mayor of Beijing who became the first target of the Cultural Revolution, is described both as an anti-intellectual hatchet man and, a few pages later, the friend and protector of one of China’s most respected writers.

Elsewhere, though, the book fully acknowledges the contradictory intricacies of the revolution. The campaign as a whole was justified by an appeal to mass government (“Trust the masses … [Let] the masses … expose all the monsters and demons”), yet was dominated by top-down manipulation. One of the many tragedies is that through it Mao pledged greater political transparency and responsiveness to China’s dispossessed, without any idea of the mechanics or implications of providing it; grotesquely bloody civil war ensued. This failure notwithstanding, Dikötter also points out instances where ordinary people tried to make good the liberatory promises of revolution rhetoric, denouncing the inequalities and inequities of life under communist rule. In the archives, Dikötter encountered striking examples of individual rebellion: a man who swore to resist “re-education” however many years the party made him sit through it; a family who dreamed of liberation by foreign invasion.

Dikötter is best on the growth of a private economy during China’s reddest decade. By the early 70s, some rural communist cadres – perhaps exhausted by the caprices of central party directives – allowed local farmers to distance themselves from the tyrannies of central socialist planning. Free-wheelers carved off private plots from communes, sowed non-staple crops that were highly profitable in a growing black market, and returned to sidelines (animal rearing, handicrafts) that had been condemned as “capitalist” since the mid-50s. In south China, goods supposedly controlled by government monopoly were openly sold privately; gangs of entrepreneurs roamed the coastline “going all the way to Shanghai to trade in prohibited goods”.

Rana Mitter*5 “A new chapter in Chinese historyhttps://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jul/15/new-chapter-chinese-history

上で言及されているRoderick MacFarquharとMichael Schoenhalsの Mao’s Last RevolutionやFrank Dikotter氏のMao's Great Famineへの論及あり。
ところで、 Dikotter氏の編著The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japanをかつて香港で購入し、半分くらいまで読み進めていたのだけど、或る日忽然と行方不明になってしまったということがある。今も実家の何処かで眠っている筈だ。

The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan

The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan