INSIDE THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION by Jack Chen

INSIDE THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Chen was born in Trinidad and went to China for the first time in 1927 to help his father, Sun Yat-sen's foreign minister. He traveled back and forth thereafter and almost stayed for good in 1950. Here he gives a favorable recapitulation of the Cultural Revolution, written in a mixture of dry academese and Maoist jargon. First, one must know that the ""Better 'Left' than Right"" movement during the Great Leap Forward was really ""petty-bourgeois ultraleft adventurism."" Soon ""revisionism"" got a grip on China; Liu Shao-chi gained sway and infected the nation with free-market ideas; a certain reckless Yang Hsien-chen even disparaged peasant communes as ""beggars' Communism."" Happily, Mao's wife appeared to crush revisionism in the fine arts while Mao decreed the return to the peasantry. Chen himself lived on a Hunan farm in the 1960's (A Year in Upper Felicity, 1973) where no bugs or fleas existed, only a ""few anemic flies."" Along with admirable Red Guards and Thought Propaganda Teams, there arose a faction called the ""5-1-6 ultraleftists,"" a conspiracy Chen says was made up of ""young scoundrels. . . sociopaths, arrogant and self-confident."" Some deviants went so far as to browse ""flashy foreign magazines"" and dream of ""well-stocked refrigerators."" Chen himself used his British passport to leave Mao's kingdom in 1971 and retire to Cornell University, where he remains, commending the Cultural Revolution's blow against ""consumerism"" and ""regimentation."" Predictable and disappointing.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Macmillan