Armas No. 10 — In one lifetime.
Bridging generational change, in history and society.
Reflecting upon Armas No. 9, on historical memory and experience set against discontinuity with present-day perceptions — in that case, in the Korean context — I wrote at the end that this was characteristic of many societies in many eras. The modern-era exemplar of the phenomenon is probably not Korea, but China, which effectively endured not one but two extended-generation transformational changes. The first was the era c.1840-c.1920, which began with the shock of European ascendancy over the Qing imperium, and closed with the fall of that empire and the incursion of European ideas into domination of the Chinese civic space. It still contends with that domination.
On this point, there is a lot of discussion of the extent to which Chinese Communism is best understood as a classically Chinese restorative project — I told a UT-Austin MBA class exactly this at a seminar in 2018 — and though that aspect is present to a tremendous degree, those of us who thought it singular and determinative were probably wrong. John Garnaut’s “Engineers of the Soul” address in 2019, arguing that Chinese governance is still first and foremost Marxist, is deeply persuasive, and remains so four years later. If you haven’t read it, take the time.
Or, on a lighter — but still strange and grim — note, watch the trailer for the anime series on young Karl Marx promulgated in PRC media for the bicentennial of his birth in 2018.
This is a classically Soviet party operating according to Soviet mechanisms: enduring Chinese strategic imperatives are overlaid upon it, not vice versa.
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