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New Left Review I/89, January-February 1975


Gilbert Padoul

China 1974 Problems not Models

Deep down, French public opinion is still anti-Chinese. For example, l’Aurore and Paris Match do not hesitate to play on ignorant and quasi-racist fears of the ‘yellow peril’. Consequently, the pro-Chinese sentiments which travellers and leftists have combined over the past few years to disseminate should be seen first and foremost as a great step forward. Thanks to these individuals, some progress has been made towards recognizing both the grandeur of Chinese civilization and the significance of the political experiment in which the People’s Republic of China is engaged. Unfortunately, though, the Paris intellectuals have painted a one-sided picture. Many of them have been induced by compelling (and very understandable) political preoccupations to pass beyond the necessary stage of anthropological generosity. The result has been that they have idealized People’s China and constructed Chinese ‘models’, trapped out with massive ideological superstructures. It is at this point that an intervention becomes imperative; right objectives cannot be realized if wrong models are used.

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