The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity
Challenging both the bureaucratic one-party regime and the Western neoliberal paradigm, China’s leading critic shatters the myth of progress and reflects upon the inheritance of a revolutionary past. In this original and wide-ranging study, Wang Hui examines the roots of China’s social and political problems, and traces the reforms and struggles that have led to the current state of mass depoliticization.
Arguing that China’s revolutionary history and its current liberalization are part of the same discourse of modernity, Wang Hui calls for alternatives to both its capitalist trajectory and its authoritarian past.
From the May Fourth Movement to Tiananmen Square, The End of the Revolution offers a broad discussion of Chinese intellectual history and society, in the hope of forging a new path for China’s future.
supervision; yet this led to contradictions between the state and the creatures of its own creation: the localities and departmental special interest groups.9 Even as this period of reform had a number of successes, it also produced certain new conditions that, in different ways, reflected new social inequalities. These became motivating factors for the eruption of the 1989 social movement. First, the two-track system and the marketization of power brought about both inequalities in distribution
2007. The publication of each essay incited different scales and levels of discussion, though I have never had the chance to formulate systematic responses to any of them. In order to grasp better this period of upheaval, I had to pursue several different paths simultaneously, both tracking short-term leads and making long-term observations, reﬂecting on what had happened at a theoretical level as well as becoming concretely involved. My explorations are far from complete; yet, in editing this
life in a number of ways—for instance, in the social domain, in the guarantee of a space under civil law within which one can pursue one’s own rational beneﬁt. In the political domain, it appears in the formation of political will through participation and equal rights in formulating public policy. In the private sphere, it appears in ethical freedom and self-realization. In the public sphere, it can appear in the process of the rationalization of social and political power. The Enlightenment
therefore contains the contradictions between progression and reoccurrence, movement and stasis. In 1907, Zhang Taiyan published a series of very important essays, including “Jufen Jinghualun” (“Two-Way Evolution”), in which he presented a scathing critique of the evolutionary conception of history and Hegel’s teleology. In the same year, his student Lu Xun published “Wenhua Pianzhilun” (“On Cultural Paranoia”), which presented a harsh critique of various projects of modernity, including the
their value judgments, and attempted thereby 362g_The End of the Revolution.indd 150 18/11/2009 11:02:26 Scientiﬁc Worldview, Culture and Knowledge 151 to inﬂuence social and state practices. The community of scientists regarded themselves as subjects that were distinct from general social subjects, as a group of people who engaged in classiﬁed and specialized intellectual institutions. They had cognitive objects, used objective methods, had specialized training, and conducted professional