Neo-Maoism and Mao Fever


Neo-Maoism and Mao Fever
The Tiananmen crisis and collapse of the Soviet bloc prompted a leftist resurgence within the Chinese government in the early 1990s. The apparent vindication of Mao’s concerns about capitalist restoration received extensive attention, and terms like ‘class struggle’ and ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ resurfaced in speeches and editorials. Hardliners like Deng Liqun asserted that economic liberalization and Open Door policies were creating a new class of private entrepreneurs and cadre capitalists in Chinese society. Reaffirmation of reform by the Fourteenth Party Congress (1992) dealt a setback to leftists in the Party and government. However, widespread dissatisfaction with rising inequality, official corruption and declining social mores elicited a new nostalgia for the Mao era among a younger generation of intellectuals and the public. Mao’s revolutionary vision and leadership were favourably reassessed by academics. In the popular imagination, Mao’s incorruptible and non-nepotistic image posed a stark contrast to the self-serving bureaucrats of the reform era. ‘Mao Fever’ was manifested in a lucrative market for Mao memorabilia and the popularity of Maoist themes for restaurants and business establishments.
The fad waned subsequently, but rising nationalist sentiment through the decade contributed to enhanced appreciation of Mao as a ‘great patriot and national hero’ who had liberated China from backwardness and imperialism.
See also: political icons (and art); Political Pop
Barmé, Geremie R. (1996). Shades of Mao: The Posthumous Cult of the Great Leader. Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe.
Friedman, Edward (1994). ‘Democracy and “Mao Fever”’. Journal of Contemporary China 6 (Summer): 84–95.
Hitchcock, Peter (2001). ‘Mao to the Market’. In Zhang Xudong (ed.), Whither China? Intellectual Politics in Contemporary China. Durham: Duke University Press, 263–84.
Misra, Kalpana (2001). ‘Curing the Sickness and Saving the Party: Neo-Maoism and Neo Conservatism in the 1990s’. In S.Hua(ed.), Chinese Political Culture. Armonk: M.E.Sharpe.
KALPANA MISRA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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