Afterlives of Chinese Communism

Afterlives of Chinese Communism includes essays from over 50 scholars in the China field from different disciplines and continents. It provides an indispensable guide for understanding how the intellectual legacies of the Mao era shape Chinese politics today. Each chapter discusses a concept or practice from the Mao era, what it meant in its historical context, and what has become of it since. The authors respond to the legacy of Maoism each in their own way, to consider what lessons Chinese communism offers today and whether there is a future for the egalitarian politics that communism once promised.

Available for free download at ANU Press and for purchase at Verso Books.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Christian SORACE, Ivan FRANCESCHINI, and Nicholas LOUBERE

1. Aesthetics – Christian SORACE
2. Blood Lineage – YI Xiaocuo
3. Class Feeling – Haiyan LEE
4. Class Struggle – Alessandro RUSSO
5. Collectivism – GAO Mobo
6. Contradiction – Carlos ROJAS
7. Culture – DAI Jinhua
8. Cultural Revolution – Patricia M. THORNTON
9. Datong and Xiaokang – Craig A. SMITH
10. Dialectical Materialism – PANG Laikwan
11. Dignity of Labour – WANG Ban
12. Formalism – Roy CHAN
13. Friend and Enemy – Michael DUTTON
14. Global Maoism – Fabio LANZA
15. Immortality – Gloria DAVIES
16. Justice – William J. HURST
17. Labour – Covell MEYSKENS
18. Large and Communitarian – Luigi TOMBA
19. Line Struggle – Yoshihiro ISHIKAWA and Craig A. SMITH
20. Mass Line – LIN Chun
21. Mass Supervision – Joel ANDREAS
22. Mobilisation – LI Zhiyu
23. Museum – Denise Y. HO
24. Nationality – Urdayn E. BULAG
25. New Democracy – Marc BLECHER
26. Paper Tiger – Judith BALSO
27. Peasant – Alexander F. DAY
28. People’s War – GUAN Kai
29. Permanent Revolution – Matthew GALWAY
30. Poetry – Claudia POZZANA
31. Practice – Aminda SMITH
32. Primitive Accumulation – Jane HAYWARD
33. Rectification – Andrew MERTHA
34. Red and Expert – Sigrid SCHMALZER
35. Removing Mountains and Draining Seas – Anna LORA-WAINWRIGHT
36. Revolution – CAI Xiang
37. Self-reliance – YANG Long
38. Semifeudalism, Semicolonialism – Tani BARLOW
39. Sending Films to the Countryside – Tong LAM
40. Serve the People – Rebecca E. KARL
41. Socialist Law – Susan TREVASKES
42. Speaking Bitterness – Jeffrey JAVED
43. Sugarcoated Bullets – Benjamin KINDLER
44. Superstition – John WILLIAMS
45. Surpass – William A. CALLAHAN
46. Third World – TENG Wei
47. Thought Reform – Timothy CHEEK
48. Trade Union – Ivan FRANCESCHINI
49. United Front – Laura DE GIORGI
50. Utopia – OU Ning
51. Women’s Liberation – WANG Lingzhen
52. Work Team – Elizabeth J. PERRY
53. Work Unit – Kevin LIN
Afterword – Jodi DEAN


‘Whether Maoist China was a “cunning of reason” to achieve nationalism through a communist strategy, or the reverse, is certainly one of the few enigmas whose resolution is truly decisive if we want to know where we stand now, in the global age of absolute capitalism and its looming crisis. It is hotly disputed. This book, to put it in Spinozian terms, does not deride or idealize: it seeks to understand. Which makes it invaluable.’
– Etienne Balibar, author of The Philosophy of Marx and Race, Nation, Class (with Immanuel Wallerstein)

Afterlives of Chinese Communism explores the key concepts of revolutionary China and how they have been repurposed in the post-socialist present. This masterful ensemble of essays challenges us to learn from China’s socialist past— its visions, accomplishments, and mistakes—as we contemplate our possible futures.’
– Gail Hershatter, University of California–Santa Cruz

Afterlives of Chinese Communism is an incredible political and historical resource as well as being an unquestionable achievement of accessible and engaged scholarship. This volume dispels the fog of Cold War infused denunciation and Western countercultural idealization of Maoism and Chinese Communism: the collective nature of its labors makes itself felt in the cross-referenced, dialogic quality of the contributions. A rigorous historiography from the Left, the authors, who range from graduate students and activists to the most accomplished scholars in the field, remain unstintingly objective, while being faithful to the political horizons of Communism on its own terms. Each contribution historicizes the CCP’s political struggles without reducing them to theoretical clichés. The volume will offer every reader a sobering, yet inspiring vision of what can be accomplished in the name of Leftism and class-based mass politics.’
– Catherine Liu, University of California–Irvine

‘This is a varied and valuable collection of short essays on words and concepts. The editors have brought together an admirably diverse set of contributors, allowing them to showcase work done in a wide range of locales and disciplines, and the result is a book that works well as both a text to read straight through and as a resource to dip into when trying to make sense of an issue, a document, or an event associated with the Mao era.’
– Jeffrey Wasserstrom, editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

‘Complete, authoritative, and clear, this masterfully selected volume should become the indispensable resource not only for scholars of modern China but also anyone interested in the global history of radical politics in the tumultuous twentieth century.’
– Yiching Wu, University of Toronto

Available for free download at ANU Press and for purchase at Verso Books.

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