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Historias de la Historia china

Florentino Rodao

 

Para aniquilar un país, antes debes erradicar su historia.

Muy interesante articulo, con algunos parecidos a los debates carpetobetónicos, incluidos los tweets de concejales madrileños.

 

Nihil sine Xi

 

 

China is struggling to keep control over its version of the past

 

A battle is raging in the realm of historiography

 

Oct 29th 2016 | BEIJING | From the print edition

 

 

The Chinese Communist Party likes to describe threats to its grip on power in barely comprehensible terms. Over the past three decades, it has struggled against the menace of “bourgeois liberalisation” (leaving many wondering whether there is an acceptable proletarian kind) and fought against “peaceful evolution” (exceedingly dangerous, for some reason, unlike “reform and opening up”). Now Xi Jinping, China’s president, is waging war against “historical nihilism”, a peril as arcane-sounding as it is, to his mind, grave. As a state news agency recently warned, there is a “seething undercurrent” of it in China. Failure to stamp it out, officials say, could lead to Soviet-style collapse.

 
Days before the party’s 350 or so most senior officials gathered in Beijing this week for a secretive conclave (as they normally do in the autumn), a party website published a compendium of Mr Xi’s public remarks on the nihilist problem (intriguingly headlined: “Xi Jinping: There Can Be No Nothingness in History”). People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, marked the start of the meeting with a commentary laced with references to the lessons of history, including the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.

 

 

In party-speak, historical nihilism means denying the “inevitability” of China’s march towards socialism (the country is currently deemed only to be in the early stages of it). It is a term that came into vogue among party officials after the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Jiang Zemin, who was then party chief, declared that historical nihilism was one of several ideological vices that had “seriously eroded” the party. Other, more obvious ones, included yearnings for freedom and democracy. By reviving Mr Jiang’s rhetoric on nihilism, Mr Xi is signalling that the party could again face regime-threatening danger unless it tightens its grip on the way history is told.

 

 

Against the flow

 

So what are the nihilists doing that so troubles China’s leaders? Mr Jiang’s main concern was a television series broadcast in 1988 called “River Elegy”, which had portrayed China as a country weighed down by a long history of backwardness and inward-looking conservatism. The documentary programmes had prompted energetic debate among intellectuals about how to reform China that helped foment the following year’s unrest.

 
No reflection on history has stirred the public in recent years as much as “River Elegy” did in the build-up to Tiananmen. But there has been a steady stream of articles chipping away at the party’s account of history. Some have appeared in officially published journals; the more revelatory ones have circulated in samizdat form in print and online. They have included a Chinese journalist’s investigation of the famine of 1958-1962 during which tens of millions died, and accounts of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

 
Mr Xi sees such writings as a challenge to the legitimacy of party rule. Already in 2013 the party issued secret orders (subsequently leaked) that its members must be on guard against historical nihilism. The following year Mr Xi said an important reason for the Soviet party’s collapse had been historical nihilism, including attacks on Lenin and Stalin. Mr Xi sees Mao’s legacy as being under similar assault.

 
A journal specialising in historical critiques, Yanhuang Chunqiu, recently became the most prominent victim so far of Mr Xi’s campaign. To the horror of its liberal fans, the magazine was taken over in July by hardliners; its feisty staff resigned. In 2014 Yanhuang Chunqiuhad published articles that daringly disputed the party line on historical nihilism. One of them said the party should focus on fighting those trying to reawaken the “old dreams of the Cultural Revolution”—in other words, take on diehard Maoists instead.

 
Mr Xi has enlisted the judiciary to help him. On October 19th the supreme court called a press conference to give its views on recent legal cases that state media have linked with historical nihilism. In one case a historian, Hong Zhenkuai, was told by a court to apologise for challenging the party’s story of how five Communist soldiers had jumped off a cliff during the second world war rather than surrender to the Japanese. Mr Hong said two of them may simply have slipped. Another case involved little more than black humour: JDB Group, a beverage-maker, and Sun Jie, a blogger, were ordered by a court in September to apologise for their tweets referring to a war hero who burned to death during the Korean war. Mr Sun had called him “barbecued meat”. JDB had jokingly offered to provide free drinks at Mr Sun’s barbecue restaurant, should he open one. At the press conference, a supreme-court official said those guilty had attempted to “unravel core socialist values”.

 
There have been other examples, too: a blogger who was detained for several days in 2013 for retweeting a claim that the cliff-leaping soldiers had bullied local civilians; four others who were hauled in that year for questioning the frugality of Lei Feng, another model soldier (two of them were later jailed for publishing these and other online “rumours”); and a television anchor, Bi Fujian, who was fired for poking fun at Mao at a private party.

 
Mr Xi has justified his vigilance by quoting the words of a Chinese reformist in the 19th century: “To annihilate a country, you must first eradicate its history”. Mr Xi takes that as a warning that rewriting history can cause catastrophe. When it comes to wiping out history, however, the party itself has been trying dangerously hard.

 

 

 

This article appeared in the Print Edition with the headline: Nihil sine Xi

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