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Mummifying the Working Class: The Cultural Revolution and the Fates of the Political Parties of the 20th Century

  • Alessandro Russo (a1)

A number of prolonged political experiments in Chinese factories during the Cultural Revolution proved that, despite any alleged “historical” connection between the Communist Party and the “working class,” the role of the workers, lacking a deep political reinvention, was framed by a regime of subordination that was ultimately not dissimilar from that under capitalist command. This paper argues that one key point of Deng Xiaoping's reforms derived from taking these experimental results into account accurately but redirecting them towards the opposite aim, an even more stringent disciplining of wage labour. The outcome so far is a governmental discourse which plays an important role in upholding the term “working class” among the emblems of power, while at the same time nailing the workers to an unconditional obedience. The paper discusses the assumption that, while this stratagem is one factor behind the stabilization of the Chinese Communist Party, it has nonetheless affected the decline of the party systems inherited from the 20th century.

文化大革命期间, 在许多中国工厂里, 一系列持续的政治实验表明: 即便共产党与 “工人阶级” 之间存在所谓的 “历史性” 连接, 但是由于缺乏深层次的政治再造, 在社会主义, 工人的角色被框定成惟上是从, 跟资本主义对工人的掌控甚少差别。文章认为, 邓小平的改革的一个关键点是精准考量上述实验结果, 纵然将其推向相反方向, 即更加严格地规训雇佣工人。到目前为止, 这种做法的结果是缔造出一种国家话语, 在以 “工人阶级” 的名义的权杖维续中, 它起到了重要作用, 同时将工人 “钉” 于无条件服从的境地。本文讨论的假设是, 虽然这个策略是中国共产党保持稳定的因素之一, 但它也影响 20 世纪政党制度的衰落。

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The China Quarterly
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