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History, tradition and the China dream: socialist modernization in the world of great harmony

Callahan, William A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6103-0586 (2015) History, tradition and the China dream: socialist modernization in the world of great harmony. Journal of Contemporary China, 24 (96). pp. 983-1001. ISSN 1067-0564

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Identification Number: 10.1080/10670564.2015.1030915


How will China influence world politics in the twenty-first century? Many people answer this question by looking to Chinese history, and particularly to traditional models of Chinese world order. This essay seeks to complicate this question by asking which history, and which tradition? While it is common to look at China's pre-modern history as ‘tradition’, this essay argues that we also need to appreciate how ‘socialism’ is treated as a tradition alongside Chinese civilization. It does this by examining how China's public intellectuals appeal to two seemingly odd sources: Mao Zedong's 1956 speech ‘Strengthen Party Unity and Carry Forward Party Traditions’, and the ‘Great Harmony’ passage from the two millennia-old Book of Rites. It will argue that these two passages are employed as a way of salvaging socialism; the ideological transition thus is not from communism to nationalism, but to a curious combination of socialism and Chinese civilization. This new socialist/civilization dynamic integrates equality and hierarchy into a new form of statism, which is involved in a global competition of social models. Or to put it another way, what these two passages have in common is not necessarily a positive ideal, but a common enemy: liberalism, the West and the United States.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2015 16:21
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 07:54

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