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Propaganda and Culture in Mao's China$

Timothy Cheek

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198290667

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198290667.001.0001

Conclusion: Broken Jade

(p.307) Conclusion: Broken Jade
Propaganda and Culture in Mao's China

Timothy Cheek

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

In honouring Deng Tuo, his colleagues refer to him as ‘broken jade’. Educated counsellors to the ruler, whom today would generally be considered as intellectuals, have long been referred to as jade in China. Not only the man but his career as a scholar-cadre in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is ‘broken jade’. Deng Tuo's charismatic role in the public arena was struck down in the Cultural Revolution and with it the priestly vocation of the Maoist cadre. Finally, the ideological system Deng Tuo served, Maoism, has shattered. In truth, Maoism was as precious as jade to Deng Tuo, and to many who served with him. It is with the pieces of Deng Tuo's life, vocation, and beliefs that his successors must fashion their future and China's.

Keywords:   Deng Tuo, broken jade, Chinese Communist Party, CCP, Cultural Revolution, Maoism

Better to be broken jade than unbroken crockery.

(Yuan Ying, writing on Deng Tuo, People’s Daily, 6 May 19861)

Deng’s colleagues remember him, as the epigram above suggests, in terms of ‘broken jade’. Jade is one of the ancient talismans of political power in China. Educated counsellors to the ruler, whom we today would generally consider intellectuals, have long been referred to as jade in China. When loyal ministers are unjustly dismissed or executed, then jade is broken. Like Qu Yuan, Deng Tuo was a loyal minister; he was driven to ritual suicide by those he served. In honouring Deng Tuo his colleagues refer to him as broken jade. The metaphor can serve us further. Not only the man but his career as a scholar-cadre in the CCP is ‘broken jade’. Deng Tuo’s charismatic role in the public arena was struck down in the Cultural Revolution and with it the priestly vocation of the Maoist cadre. Finally, the ideological system Deng Tuo served, Maoism, has shattered. Maoism is broken jade and not even Deng Xiaoping can put it back together again. While referring to Maoism— the cause of massive famine and personal brutality in the 1960s—as jade may seem a sickening absurdity, in truth Maoism was as precious as jade to Deng Tuo, and to many who served with him. It is with the pieces of Deng Tuo’s life, vocation, and beliefs that his successors must fashion their future and China’s.

This story is first and foremost about the life and death of a man. We set three broad questions about Deng Tuo’s life and his service to Maoism in the introduction: why was such service attractive? what was it like? and, what went wrong?

A Life

Marxism-Leninism and later, Maoism were attractive to this son of the Confucian literati. As the child of an imperial official, Deng Tuo’s early (p.308) life and education were markedly Confucian. From this Deng imbibed the traditional ethos of Chinese intellectuals for state service. Furthermore, his father was not averse to new trends coming out of the New Culture Movement. Deng Tuo was able to read radical journals such as New Youth at home. Revolutionary solutions to China’s problems did not require of Deng a break with or rejection of his family or his inherited values. He thus found Marxism-Leninism a novel solution to old problems. It did not pose for him what Joseph Levenson depicted as the tension between ‘history and value’ which plagued Liang Qichao and many earlier revolutionaries. The CCP, despite its disarray in the early 1930s, provided an adequate organizational form for participation in state administration for this young literatus. Deng had live alternatives which other members of his family took. He could have joined the KMT, become an apolitical scientist, or withdrawn from politics into the religious life. That Deng Tuo chose the CCP under these circumstances means he thought it was the best of several alternatives for fulfilling his vocation as a Chinese intellectual. Although Deng joined the Party in 1930, his own arrest and the decimation of the Shanghai Party limited his participation. When the Party was not functional Deng Tuo stayed away. When the Party regained organizational and policy coherence after 1936, Deng returned to the fold.

Intellectual service to Maoism was for Deng Tuo an honourable vocation. Particularly during the Anti-Japanese War years (1937–45), it was exciting and deeply satisfying work. Deng felt it put noble ideas into practice. The system Deng worked in was the emerging propaganda system (xitong) of the CCP Party-State. It included the all-inclusive work unit, such as the Jin Cha Ji Daily, and came to include all aspects of public information and political feedback in the PRC. Deng’s research in the Policy Research Office, as well as his work in journalism, served this system in the decade after 1946. This was a ‘directed public sphere’ in which the Party set the terms and selected the context of public discourse in order to educate and mobilize the public. In Deng Tuo’s eyes, propaganda work was a wonderful and serious responsibility. He laboured to perfect and develop the propaganda system. We have seen in particular what this service meant to him in his detailed essays from the 1950s on how to run a socialist newspaper and especially how to compose leading editorials for People’s Daily.

Deng Tuo saw his role in the propaganda xitong as a savant and culture-bearing cadre. He saw no inherent contradiction between scholarly integrity and political service. When he experienced such contradictions, they were a violation of the norms. When senior officials forced him to publish their articles in the People’s Daily or when Mao hauled (p.309) him in for his cautious editorial policies, Deng Tuo was outraged. He was, however, a prudent man. As he wrote in ‘The Politics of Simpletons’, bureaucratism was unavoidable but ‘we should strive to minimize it’. Culture for Deng Tuo was comfortably both centuries-old Chinese and socialist. He lived a two-track cultural policy in which the masses received socialist culture and elite cadres such as himself enjoyed and continued China’s elite arts. He professed the desire to share that beautiful traditional culture, to ‘critically inherit it’ in socialist terms for the masses. In practice, however, Deng maintained the paternalistic attitude of his Confucian forebears. He recognized that only a few of the common people would reach his level. His job in practice was to transform the masses through education (jiaohua). And he did it in nearly one hundred essays not only on ideological and political topics but also on art history, local culture, lessons from China’s history, practical reflections on daily life, and on and on. He wrote beautifully in a clear and vigorous prose that equally eschewed Party jargon and aesthetic trills. He loved his job.

What went wrong? Deng Tuo was effectively fired by Mao in June 1957 and formally left the People’s Daily in February 1959. His demotion reveals how Maoism divided under the pressures of state administration and economic development. Deng thought he was doing a good job; Mao thought he was a ‘pedant editor’. In the years that followed, Deng wrestled with what to do. He supported the Great Leap avidly, but was horrified at the results and deeply self-critical of the Party’s role in the disaster. Yet he could not, even in his most caustic Evening Chats, fundamentally criticize Mao. Deng’s response to the Leap clarifies the genesis and characteristics of the fight that squandered the symbolic capital of Yan’an Maoism. By 1965 he was helping Peng Zhen stack meetings against equally conniving Leftists. There was precious little idealism in the organization of the ‘Hai Rui Dismissed’ debate, either among Deng Tuo’s colleagues or Yao Wenyuan’s.

What made it impossible for Deng Tuo to maintain his two-track organizational life as both Party functionary and political savant was Mao. And Mao could do it because of his position. However, the divided loyalties in Leninism, as Jowitt has articulated, ultimately undid Maoism. The previously incompatible authority styles of charisma and routine in Maoism were reflected in social reality in the example of two roles for intellectuals and Party cadres: as cogs and screws in the revolutionary machine and as culture-bearing cadres claiming an amount of independent action in the name of revolutionary goals. The ultimate leader was, of course, Mao. The organizational strength of the Party was, naturally, its established institutions. The social experience of Mao the supreme (p.310) leader inevitably came to clash with that of the bureaucracy. The ideology of the day was crucial to the outcome of this structural tension between leader and administration. Unlike Confucian bureaucrats, Deng Tuo did not have an identity separate from the regime. He tried to create one in his scholarly style after 1959 in which his literati identity became a basis for loyal criticism, but his own loyalty betrayed him. He could not stop Mao without killing Maoism. And that was literally unthinkable to Deng Tuo and most of his generation. It is thinkable in China today. For that reason Deng Tuo’s rehabilitation is highly problematic. We shall turn to such legacies in the last section of this conclusion.

A System

Deng Tuo became ‘broken jade’. The Party repaid his loyal service as scholar-cadre by turning the propaganda machine he had helped develop against him. His death was a tragedy. His Chinese colleagues see this as a Chinese tragedy, with overtones of inevitability and moral righteousness. I see it as a Greek tragedy, with the hero’s tragic flaw contributing to his own destruction. His flaw was hubris, the presumption that he could determine—through the ideological science of dialectical materialism and aesthetic training in painting, calligraphy, and poetry— what was best for China’s masses. It was the hubris of ‘directed culture’ throughout the socialist world.2

The key agent of Deng’s presumption and destruction was Mao. Mao was the ultimate patron, the guarantor of Deng Tuo’s privileged status as social engineer. Mao was the symbol of the political style of the culture-bearing cadre. Mao was Deng Tuo, and a thousand other establishment intellectuals, writ large. Deng and the entire establishment that rose under Mao’s leadership from the 1945 Seventh Party Congress contributed to Mao’s apotheosis, but their quasi-imperial legitimator proved impossible to domesticate, or control Unlike a Qing dynasty Emperor, Mao’s charisma and ideology were something new. In particular, they partook of modem society by directly connecting the masses to political participation. With the volatile general public at his beck and call, Mao became a terrible Frankenstein monster who turned upon his bureaucratic supporters. Mao rejected the ideological method Deng Tuo and his colleagues intended to use for themselves and replaced it with faith in his own intuition to be applied by the faithful masses using his Little Red Book.

Deng Tuo’s intellectual service, the role of the scholar-cadre as transformational (p.311) bureaucrat, thus became broken jade. When Mao attacked the establishment, its members discovered they had provided themselves with no protection, not even a safe exit. Deng Tuo was but one of thousands thrown into the flames of the Cultural Revolution. What is stunning is that neither he nor his colleagues effectively resisted their demise. In his final actions in May 1966 Deng Tuo seemed resigned to his fate. With all that cultural capital—from scholarly prestige to administrative experience and bureaucratic connections—why did he not try to oppose the emerging craziness of the Cultural Revolution? Deng Tuo’s inaction directly parallels the acquiescence of the Central Committee to Mao’s new revolution. Frederick Teiwes has thoughtfully illuminated the senior Party officials’ tragic complicity in their own demise.3 What he found for top leaders applies to Deng Tuo: they identified with Mao too strongly to oppose him so fundamentally. Their personal hubris as transformational bureaucrats was justified by the infallible Mao. When push came to shove, Deng Tuo’s generation deferred to their charismatic leader. Even in the face of certain destruction. Such was their faith. This was the fatal flaw in the jade for Deng Tuo, for intellectual service to the Party, and for Maoism.

Maoism, the numinous jade-like gift that had brought order to the realm, also shattered during Deng Tuo’s life. From the days in Jin Cha Ji we have seen the twin tendencies inside Maoism of faith in the charisma of the leader and reliance on the predictable functioning of ideology as a bureaucratic method. In the Yan’an period they existed, as Jowitt has suggested for Leninism in general, in a dynamic tension. In the context of brutal war and national dependency this amalgam created, as Apter and Saich have shown, the ‘symbolic capital’ of Yan’an Maoism. It worked. Then. The changed social circumstances of the new Party-State blew that amalgam apart. For those in the administration, the needs of bureaucratic predictability contributed to a refinement and extension of the bureaucratic side of Maoism. They sought to strengthen the institutional charisma of the Party—its committees, its rales, its cadres. They found much to appreciate in the Soviet model For the supreme leader, now lionized by all the need to maintain authority over a recalcitrant bureaucracy drove Mao to ever more daring applications of faith Maoism. He found much to emulate from Stalin’s leadership. The two sides rehearsed this fight from the 1955 mini-Leap until Mao delivered the knock-out blow in 1966. While the founding generation of establishment intellectuals debated the proper balance of ‘red and expert’, youth found in the Party something less unified. Educated Chinese eager to enjoy stable careers serving the nation were drawn to bureaucratic Maoism, not a few without cynicism or pro forma attitudes. (p.312) Those on the out—from elders who lost out on top positions to youth with less education or bureaucratic connections—were drawn to faith Maoism, again not a few without opportunism or self-aggrandizing attitudes.

Deng Tuo first articulated the bureaucratic side of Maoism in Jin Cha Ji and developed it in the 1946–56 decade. Yet, because Deng’s Maoism was full Maoism—including his faith in Mao—bureaucratic Maoism proved unequal to the tasks that faced it. It could not prevent the Great Leap Forward. After the shock of the Leap it became virtually its own form of Maoism, Bureaucratic Maoism. Yet, Bureaucratic Maoism could not halt its own immolation in the Cultural Revolution. Faith Maoism proved equally insufficient to China’s needs. Its developmental model in the Great Leap killed some thirty million citizens, Mao explicitly set his Maoism up against the Party’s in the Cultural Revolution. The revived millenarianism of Faith Maoism in the Cultural Revolution betrayed its noble goals to factionalism and murder. The obtuse polemics and harsh dictatorship of the mid-1970s were a sad conclusion to Mao’s Republic.

Deng Tuo’s life has enabled us to see the genesis of this great divorce. In particular, it has shown that the split between the two tendencies in Maoism came during the aftermath of the Great Leap. It began as an attempt to win Mao to each side. This we saw in Lin Biao’s and Deng Tuo’s competing exegeses of volume 4 of Mao’s Selected Works. Although less attention has been given here to the Faith Maoist writers in the early 1960s, their ideas show, as do the actions of their patrons, a fraternal competition with Bureaucratic Maoist proponents for the Revolutionary Father’s ear. It did not become a murderous fight until Mao let it be so. The actors and issues at the heart of Maoism remain today, with the crucial absence of Mao himself. So far, however, the current leadership has been unable to put the ideological pieces back together again.

Intellectuals: Types; Roles, and Spheres of Activity

Deng Tuo’s story suggests we change the way we look at China’s intelligentsia in the twentieth century and particularly intellectual participation in the Chinese Communist movement. The dominant model in Western studies, based on Party attacks on left-wing writers in Yan’an and on an almost biennial basis throughout the PRC, posits a fundamental divergence of interests between intellectuals and the Party-State. This picture is incomplete. Neither is it a false picture. Contented (p.313) service, troubled compliance, craven servitude, loyal criticism, passive resistance, defiant opposition—all these characterize the experience of different groups of intellectuals under the CCP. Thus, we need to disaggregate our picture of Chinese intellectuals. Further case studies of different intellectuals are needed to complement the present study. Much as local studies in anthropology and history have enriched our study of Chinese society in north, south, coastal, and interior China, we need thoughtful full biographies of leftist Party intellectuals, such as Zhang Chunqiao, and Marxian economists, like Sun Yefang. One model for intellectual-state relations and for the role of intellectuals in the PRC will no longer do.

What image of intellectual activity in the public arena might help us understand better the role of intellectuals and their relationship with the state in China? Over the past twenty years there has been a cottage industry devoted to typologies of Chinese intellectuals— Radicals (Maoists) vs. Liberals (and later Reform Radicals), Marxian-Confucians vs. Establishment Radicals, Establishment Intellectuals vs. Maoists, and more broadly, typologies such as inquisitors, technocrats, critical intellectuals, and dissidents.4 Our inability as a field to comprehend fully the role of China’s intellectuals in the popular movement of 1989, much less to predict events before, during, and since, highlights the weaknesses in our current understanding of intellectual activity in China today. It may be more fruitful to think of various Chinese intellectuals not in terms of types, but in terms of their roles, and furthermore in terms of spheres of activity.

Many of the intellectual types identified by scholars can more usefully be seen as roles individual intellectuals may occupy serially or concurrently. In 1987 Merle Goldman and I suggested three such roles: as ideological speakers for the State, a role which dominated the career of the Party theoretician Ai Siqi, for example; as academic and professional elites, roles a number of Chinese intellectuals have endeavoured (with mixed success) to separate from political life in the PRC; and as critical intellectuals, that dangerous modern role of Confucian censor and May Fourth iconoclast.5 The focus on roles was an improvement over static ‘types’, but our categories only focused on the overtly political activities of Chinese intellectuals.

As we have seen in Deng Tuo’s life, the previous concern of Western scholars with his political views and activities blots out large sections of his life. In addition to seeing such politically active intellectuals in terms of their political roles, it is necessary to attempt to account for all their activities, not just their overtly political ones.6 A focus on key realms or spheres of intellectual activity—such as the circles of Deng Tuo’s (p.314) activities pictured in Chapter 3—may help us to understand the various roles intellectuals play in Chinese politics. This focus produces a more inductive study of intellectual behaviour, demanding that a researcher gather information on all domains of public activity (and private, if possible) in order to frame the significance of the political portion of an intellectual’s career. Colleagues researching other Party intellectuals, such as Mary Mazur on Wu Han, are doing just this.7

We are a long way from a complete picture of these circles of activities in the lives of leading intellectuals, not to mention statistical data on the intelligentsia. Nevertheless, we can still identify important areas of public activity generally undertaken in greater or lesser degree by all Chinese intellectuals.8 Like Deng Tuo, China’s establishment intellectuals were and continue to be more than purely ‘professional’. They have sought to speak to public issues directly, most often through advice or service to the State. However, from the perspective of Deng Tuo’s life and death we can see that the social experience of the Cultural Revolution has changed both the system and the intellectuals in it. The Propaganda State has not so much dissolved as it has—to borrow David Kelly’s term for post-Mao ideology—become dismembered.9 Functioning bits of the system are floating about in the public arena, no longer held in systematic relation. The intellectuals’ experiences of the Cultural Revolution have produced doubt and anxiety and the new conditions of ‘market socialism’ since the early 1980s have brought a broader range of possible responses for intellectuals than was available to Deng Tuo, as well as a greater alienation from bureaucratic and ideological influence.

Intellectual Identity: From Priests to Professionals

In a broader perspective Deng Tuo’s life presents us with a transitional role for China’s intellectuals in mid-century, between the priestly vocation of the Confucian scholar-official and the politically independent professional of bourgeois society. In the modernization of China, Deng Tuo gives an example of the changing role of the educated elite in public affairs. Part of Deng Tuo’s life does not seem revolutionary in terms of China’s culture and its traditional social structure. It seems obvious that revolutions must build on what is. Deng Tuo was a scholar-official. He was conscious of the parallels with Confucian literati in the dynasties and wrote about this. Deng Tuo saw no essential contradiction between his role as cadre and as literatus. He was a revolutionary, no longer maintaining (p.315) the precepts of Confucian state ideology. Yet, he felt one could ‘critically inherit’ most of the elite, as well as popular or folk, cultural products of Chinese civilization. Indeed, like his colleagues, such as Wu Han with whom he wrote in Notes from a Three Family Village, he felt there was no other way ‘to build the new’.

I have coined the term ‘culture bearer’ as a tag to describe one key aspect of Deng Tuo’s service in Mao’s China. The closest term used by a Chinese is Deng’s own ‘theoretical worker’ (lilun gongzuozhe) or his biographer Wang Bisheng’s ‘theoretician’ (sixiang jia).10 My term and Deng Tuo’s traditional scholarly style might seem contradictory to the revolutionary social engineering expected of Party leaders. The point of Deng Tuo’s career is that they were not. Culture, since Dong Zhongshu articulated its political role for Emperor Han Wudi in the second century BCE, was meant to engineer society on behalf of the ‘science’ (my term, but equivalent to its Chinese Marxist usage) of Han cosmology—the State was to manipulate culture to bring everyone in harmony with the dao. To say the State and its intellectual servants in the 1950s share fundamental elements of political culture with their predecessors two thousand years ago is not to argue that China is unchanging any more than a recognition of the centrality of law, a personal God, and Platonic ideal types in current Western politics and society means that the contemporary West has not changed from Roman times. The point of dwelling on Deng Tuo’s culture-bearing role is just the reverse: to understand change in Chinese culture. It is to identify specifically some of the ‘forms’ of political culture in Chinese civilization which have allowed Marxism-Leninism, to ‘fit’ under the conditions of the early and mid-twentieth century. Because fit it did. ‘Fit’, however, does not mean repetition without development. It simply describes the mechanism of cross-cultural influence as Chinese actors used foreign ideas to answer (and, sadly, to create) indigenous problems.11

Deng Tuo used Marxist economic analysis and Leninist political organization in just this transitional manner. Maoism and the role of Party intellectual provided Deng and a generation of Chinese intellectuals with a role recognizable to the Confucian literati but more able to deal with the realities of the twentieth century. Still an elite ministering to ‘the people’. Party intellectuals had the benefit of an ideology committed to economic development, a coherent organization, a strong leadership, a powerful military, and an influential international patron. This transitional role fell apart with the general divorce within Maoism. For establishment intellectuals in particular, their lack of protection from arbitrary power, their inability to exit the public stage (having no (p.316) family property to which to return and no legitimate excuse for resigning office), and their disinclination to form horizontal alliances all contributed to their fall from grace.

The demise of Deng Tuo and his cohort represents the shattering of that neo-traditional role for the educated as functionally diffuse ‘priests’ staffing the totalistic social ‘church’. This is the shift from ‘vocation’ to ‘profession’ as the fundamental self-image and public role of intellectuals. Intellectuals in China today are grappling with an emerging social structure—made up of institutions, behaviour patterns, and beliefs—which might offer them roles as specialists in professions. From such a social position they could contend in a less ‘directed’ public sphere.12 That would be a profound revolution in the public life of China’s educated elite and would spell the end of ideologists, such as Deng Tuo.


What light does Deng Tuo’s story throw on the likely future of Chinese intellectuals and the State? Perhaps the ‘blood and tears’ of Deng Tuo’s life and death which Hu Jiwei honoured in his memorial poem have, as Merle Goldman hopes, ‘watered the seeds of democracy’. Certainly, Deng’s surviving colleagues, former subordinates, and others draw lessons from his career. Elders in the CCP, such as Deng’s old patron, Peng Zhen, see the man as a fallen hero. He was smart and he was loyal For them, Deng Tuo is best used as a sort of intellectual Lei Feng, a role model to encourage today’s intellectuals to do the same. It is fairly clear that no one is listening to that story.

Deng’s former subordinates present a range of responses. These are ‘the generation of propagandists Deng Tuo trained’ for which Nie Rongzhen is so grateful Three are relatively well-known: Hu Jiwei, Liu Binyan, and Wang Ruoshui. Hu Jiwei, the only one of the three who remained in China continuously, appears the most similar to Deng Tuo. He has little interest in foreigners. He’s cautious with current Party leaders. But lie has been indefatigable in his campaign for press reform and propaganda liberalization. Hu works within the system, but he pushes it as far as it can be made to go.13 He has spoken on Deng Tuo: xianshi, my late teacher. Liu Binyan carries on Deng’s idealism and hopes for the role of socialist journalism in the political process. Rudolf Wagner has described Liu’s reporting as ‘being a scout for the Party’.14 Liu’s post-Mao exposés, particularly ‘Between People and Monsters’, electrified China in the late 1970s. Through the 1980s his pursuit of a (p.317) ‘second kind of loyalty’ paralleled Deng Tuo’s turn to the scholarly style: an attempt to find a point from which to deal with the CCP in order to improve it. Liu tried to build a sort of ‘public’ within the propaganda state that would attend to his muckraking. His efforts at creating a preliminary public sphere faltered with the orthodox backlash of 1987 (in which Liu lost his Party membership) and collapsed with the general crisis of 1989. Yet, even in exile in the early 1990s Liu did not immediately reject the Party.15 Wang Ruoshui, Deng’s junior editor who caught Mao’s eye in the late 1950s, speaks to the moral issues that animated Deng Tuo. Wang, however, greatly extends the explicit examination of Marxian humanism beyond Deng’s faith that Maoism would not only make life better but make individuals better. Wang took most to heart the lesson of Deng Tuo’s death: a system that can do that is not a good system. He has tried to argue loyally in Marxian discourse from first principles—Marx’s lost goal of ending human alienation—in order to find the sort of Marxist government suitable to China.16 John Israel rightly suggested that Deng Tuo himself was a ‘Mozartian commissar’. However, parts of his vocation live vibrantly in the contested world of Chinese intellectuals today.

The system is nearly as dead as the man. The comments of legal expert and publisher Yu Haocheng (1927–) capture the crisis now engulfing the ‘propaganda state’ in China. The lesson he draws from Deng Tuo’s life is the insufficiency of traditional Party methods of rule. ‘How many masterful article writers like Deng Tuo and Wu Han…have died miserably under the sword of the executioner?’ Yu’s solution: an independent press and judicial guarantee of the current PRC constitution. ‘Why must newspaper offices and publishing houses be run only by Party committees and government organs,’ Yu asks,‘…and why can they not be managed independently in compliance with pertinent laws and regulations?’17 That question never occurred to Deng Tuo, because the answer is the end of the propaganda state. For Yu Haocheng, Deng’s life and death are precisely what raise that paradigm-shifting question for China.

Nothing certain has come to replace Deng Tuo’s shattered role for China’s intellectuals. Deng Tuo’s life serves as a reminder, however, that problems for China’s intellectuals do not stem only from the very real abuses of the CCP. The approach to public life and the priestly presumptions to minister to the public which China’s educated elite have inherited and which enlivened Deng Tuo’s career actually support the authority patterns which maintain the now-troubled CCP in power. Indeed, as David Kelly notes, the tragedy of China’s intellectuals in the PRC today is that they ‘remain, as a stratum, an artifact of the system (p.318) they oppose’.18 To rid themselves of Party dictatorship, China’s intellectuals will likely have to renounce the priestly vocation of their ancestors and of scholar-cadres of the Mao period. Perhaps they will secularize their talents as specialists in various professions and help guide the development of an open society in China as advocates in a free public arena. Changes in Chinese society brought on by the reform period make any other choice appear impractical. The lesson of this history is clear, however: any effort to renew the scholar-cadre vocation under the CCP in China today will carry the risk of Deng Tuo’s fate once again.



(1.) Yuan Ying (1986).

(2.) See Haraszti (1987: introd.).

(3.) Teiwes (1984: ch. 2), and MacFarquhar (1983).

(4.) In order, types put forward by: Goldman (1981); Moody (1977); Hamrin and Cheek (1986); and a thoughtful paper by Frederic Wakeman, Jr. (1993).

(5.) Goldman. Cheek, and Hamrin (1987: 3–10).

(6.) This has been the case in several fine studies of non-CCP intellectuals. See Alitto (1979) and Hay ford (1990).

(7.) Mary Mazur’s study of Wu Han’s life can be found in her University of Chicago Ph.D. thesis (Mazur 1994). See also Mazur (1990).

(8.) I explore this in terms of the three realms of intellectual activity suggested by Tu Wei-ming in Cheek (1992: 135–9)—zheng (politics), xue (learning or study), and dao (normally translated as ‘way’ but here meaning the search for transcendence).

(9.) Kelly (1991).

(10.) See l960f and Wang Bisheng (1986: 182).

(11.) This view is suggested in Kuhn’s (1977) seminal study, esp. the last three pages, and is elaborated in Kuhn (1991).

(12.) These issues are addressed in Brugger and Kelly (1990), which follows Marxist humanists; Goldman (1994), which explores a ‘democratic elite’; and Ding (1994), which analyses four categories of ‘counterelite’.

(13.) Polumbaum (1994).

(14.) Wagner (1987: 202).

(15.) Liu Binyan (1990).

(16.) Kelly (1987).

(17.) Cited in Goldman (1994: 71–2), drawing from Yu Haocheng (1981).

(18.) Kelly (1990: 46–7).