PROBING CHINA'S SOUL by Julia Ching

PROBING CHINA'S SOUL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A withering critique of Communist rule in China and a sober examination of the alternatives. Ching (Univ. of Toronto) analyzes the critical influence of Confucianism on the path Communism has taken in China, on the societal sacrifices the people have been willing to make, and on the nature of the current dissent. Some of the costly errors she attributes to the bureaucracy may be seen as a reaction against the hierarchical values of Confucianism, although to achieve their purposes, she finds, China's modern rulers have exploited the historic moral code of obedience, duty, and respect for authority. In this light, the persecution of the intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution appears as the reverse side of the historically high regard for the scholarly class--and a failed and despotic effort to make them equal to the rest of society. But Ching points out that, despite the persistent dissent of the intellectuals and the open rebellion of the students, the clamor has been for reform of the Party, not for revolution; and that socialist ideals--joyfully embraced by the people with the overthrow of the dynasty--have not been abandoned. ""There appears to be a common conviction that one may yet return to the original inspiration of Marxism and that the Party may yet be reformed."" That change is coming is certain, as the old guard dies out; its direction, however, is not. Ching feels that ""a western-style elective government"" is not the aim of the dissenters. For one thing, she argues, given the large number of illiterate peasants, it would not be suitable. Although she believes that the Scandinavian model would be ideal for China, she concludes that the Indian form of democratic socialism is more feasible. By examining modern China down to its Confucian roots, Chins offers a provocative analysis brimming with insights.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row