The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity
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Challenging both the bureaucratic one-party regime and the Western neoliberal paradigm, China’s leading critic shatters the myth of progress and reflects upon the inheritance of a revolutionary past. In this original and wide-ranging study, Wang Hui examines the roots of China’s social and political problems, and traces the reforms and struggles that have led to the current state of mass depoliticization.
Arguing that China’s revolutionary history and its current liberalization are part of the same discourse of modernity, Wang Hui calls for alternatives to both its capitalist trajectory and its authoritarian past.
From the May Fourth Movement to Tiananmen Square, The End of the Revolution offers a broad discussion of Chinese intellectual history and society, in the hope of forging a new path for China’s future.
center of capitalist activity, from a Third World anti-imperialist nation to one of imperialism’s “strategic partners.” Today, the most powerful counter to any attempts at critical analysis of China’s problems—the crisis in agricultural society, the widening gap between rural and urban sectors, institutionalized corruption—is: “So, do you want to return to the days of the Cultural Revolution?” The eclipse of the Sixties is a product of this depoliticization; the process of “radical negation” has
the particular characteristics and historical conditions of each culture or civilization, yet these characteristics and conditions are certainly not ossiﬁed, nor are they singular in form. Asia’s process of modernization is like this, as is Europe’s as well. We can clearly see, from this kind of perspective on history, that the critiques of Eurocentrism involve some very complex intellectual and historical questions. It is hardly a case of being “anti-West,” as some people have intentionally
right and of overcoming the differences between different “isms,” but in reality each individual is faced with a choice, which in turn contains an implied choice concerning theoretical position. But what I must emphasize is that, without insight into historical and practical relations, including the relation between theory and practice, the theoretical struggles between liberalism, socialism, and other “isms” are unlikely to reach any conclusions or even lead to genuine discussions. The reason is
the modern concept of “culture” was produced, we can see how deeply it is connected to modern state systems, social systems, and the rationalization of knowledge. We now have ministries of culture, cultural policy, cultural anthropology, cultural vanguards, and cultural conﬂicts; yet these terms only began gradually to make their way during the late nineteenth century. They are also intimately connected to the construction of modern states. For instance, our cultural categories from that time
form of nationalism. The Japanese concept of kokka shugi was also translated into the Western phrase “nationalism,” so that their descriptions of Song Confucianism were developed within the intellectual context of contemporary nationalism. Even more importantly, however, Ko-nan Naitoand Ishisata Miyazaki carried out studies of economic history, among which the most important concerned the currency system, long-distance trade, and urban economies. On the subject of the currency system, and the use