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Increasing Open Conflict In The Ideological Sphere (1988–1989)

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Chapter Summary

Tension in the intellectual community increased when voices demanding democracy grew louder in the latter half of the 1980s. The group of intellectuals associated with Hu Yaobang’s network had put forward proposals for change. Although Su Shaozhi had been purged during the Campaign against Bourgeois Liberalization, he soon reappeared in debates on the Party doctrine of ‘the first stage of socialism’. On several occasions, from late 1988 to spring 1989, a tightening of ideological control caused disillusionment and resentment among intellectual proponents of political reforms: they were becoming incapable of continuing their self-assigned role as mediators between the Party and the People. It was also in this period that ‘neo-authoritarianism’ became central in debates on political reform between supporters of those who regarded democracy as a condition for China’s modernization and those who believed that democracy could only be introduced effectively after a period of authoritarian rule.

Keywords: democracy; ideological control; intellectual community; neo-authoritarianism; political reform; socialism



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