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7 - The Double Nature of Realistic Revolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2019

Els van Dongen
Affiliation:
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
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Summary

Chapter 7 concludes by revisiting the theme of realistic revolution from the perspective of the three main tensions in the debates: that between radicalism as a criticism of change that was made in the service of modernization; that between the quest for a more “objective” scholarship and the continued inherent moralism; and that between the self-proclaimed role of “scholars” and the remaining public concerns of intellectuals. It further evaluates the meaning and implications of the unmaking of radicalism. The debates, in spite of their limitations, questioned the merits of violent and permanent revolution, reflected a new divide among intellectuals with respect to the meaning of reform, and signified a crucial step in the transformation of Chinese academic discourse from the uncritical embrace of modernization in the 1980s to the more thorough criticism of Chinese modernity after the mid-1990s. The conclusion further engages critically with the field of Chinese intellectual history as an exercise in moral evaluation and offers some reflections on the role of history in Chinese intellectual debates. The chapter ends with a brief overview of intellectual developments after the mid-1990s and some final thoughts on the debates from the angle of developments in global intellectual history.
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Chapter
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Realistic Revolution
Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989
, pp. 196 - 217
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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