The Intellectual and the State: Social Dynamics of Intellectual Autonomy During the Post-Mao Era
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 February 2009
The relationship between the Chinese intellectual and the communist state experienced some significant changes during the 1980s, although some of the basic patterns established since the 1930s and 1940s were not altered. This contrast is in line with the overall impact of Deng Xiaoping's limited reforms, which gave more room, and more weight, to society vis-à-vis the state, while the basic structures of the latter were left untouched. Social change was the new element which allowed the intellectuals to enjoy more autonomy in organizing their associations and in articulating new ideas. The intellectual with an autonomous base in a more autonomous society emerged from the prevalent pattern of technocratic intellectuals operating within the state framework, a state whose totalitarian scope had deprived them of any social base.
- Research Article
- The China Quarterly , Volume 127 , September 1991 , pp. 569 - 593
- Copyright © The China Quarterly 1991
1. Our information was mainly gathered from personal interviews with participants contacted mostly outside China after Tiananmen. In some cases, interviewees are deliberately not identified. We do not claim, of course, that the contents of the interviews and the actual social position of the interviewees are representative of the Chinese intelligentsia in general in the 1980s. As is made clear in the article, the decade saw a continuum of change, and we are dealing only with the more marked developments at one end of the spectrum. These developments became clearer at the end of the decade. We believe the sample is representative within these limits.
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16. It should be noted, however, that no declared organization was totally free of any institutional link, since each one needed a “tutelage unit” (guakao danwei) to be registered. In some cases, however, this tutelage was purely formal, because, firstly, the minjian organization was completely independent financially, and, secondly, the leaders of the protecting unit accepted from the beginning to serve only as a “shop sign” (paizi). This was the case for our main example of a category I organization, the Beijing Research Institute for Sociology and Economics, whose guakao danwei was the Centre for Expertise communication (Rencai jiaoliu zhongxin) under the State Commission for Science and Technology; interview of ZL, 28 April 1991, Paris.
17. Each of the first meetings was the occasion for Hu Ping to present a part of the long article he was writing on “Freedom of speech,” which was to become one of the most influential expressions of dissident thinking in the 1980s; interviews with ZY, 19 November and 11 December 1990.
18. Interviews with YS, 16 June 1990 and with ZG, 14 January 1991.
19. Interviews in Shanghai, March 1989, and in Paris, December 1990, February 1991.
21. Interview with CC, 11 December 1990.
22. Two issues published post-Tiananmen, in August and September. The latter was claimed as making up for no. 2 that had not been published; interview with HS, 23 April 1991.
23. We leave aside the interesting problem of the cultural connotation of this transfer in the Chinese tradition, from Legalism (government is meant to increase the power of the state) to Confucianism (government is meant to increase the moral quality of the people).
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30. Interview with ZY, 19 November 1990, Paris.
31. Interviews in Beijing, February 1988.
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36. The managers in state enterprise under the factory director responsibility system implemented since 1984 have been the targets of similar charges levelled against them by local bureaucrats who were trying to defend their vested interests; see Chevrier, “Managers and micropolitics”.
37. China Daily, 1 November 1989.
38. Interviews with WR and ZY, 26 November 1990, and with ZL, 22 April 1991, Paris.
39. Interviews in Shanghai, March 1989.
40. Seen. 18.
43. Interview with Wang Runsheng, November 1990, Paris.
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46. Interview with WR, 19 November 1990.
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