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1 - Goodbye Radicalism

The Early 1990s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2019

Els van Dongen
Affiliation:
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
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Summary

Chapter 1 situates the unmaking of radicalism in Chinese political, historical, and cultural discourse after 1989 within the context of the end of the Cold War, Tiananmen, and renewed economic reform in China. Mainland Chinese intellectuals, influenced by interactions with scholars in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the United States, questioned the necessity of violent revolution and the notion of radical change that had characterized Chinese socialist modernity and the May Fourth Movement. Radicalism in this context was, in the words of the conceptual historian Reinhart Koselleck, a “counter-concept,” whereas conservatism, long denounced in China as signifying opposition to progress, obtained positive meaning. “Realistic revolution” refers to the emphasis on pragmatism and commonsense approaches to change after the utopianism of the Mao era, but also to the challenges to official narratives that criticisms of radicalism posed. Finally, it also refers to the juxtaposition of the “French” and “English” revolutionary “models,” with the Glorious Revolution now being designated as the only “realistic” revolution. The introduction further outlines the three dimensions of “realistic revolution”: that of the projection of gradual change into the future; that of the crisis of the Chinese intellectual; and that of the quest for an objective scholarship.
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Chapter
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Realistic Revolution
Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989
, pp. 1 - 33
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Goodbye Radicalism
  • Els van Dongen, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Book: Realistic Revolution
  • Online publication: 04 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108367783.001
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  • Goodbye Radicalism
  • Els van Dongen, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Book: Realistic Revolution
  • Online publication: 04 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108367783.001
Available formats
×

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To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Goodbye Radicalism
  • Els van Dongen, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Book: Realistic Revolution
  • Online publication: 04 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108367783.001
Available formats
×