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China and its Past: Return, Reinvention, Forgetting

The “Active Rightists” of 1957 and Their Legacy: “Right-wing Intellectuals,” Revisionists, and Rights Defenders  

Zeming Chen

Abstract

In this article, Chen Ziming makes use of recent publications and many first-hand witness accounts to bring a new perspective to the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957. The first part draws a distinction between “active rightists” (zhudong youpai) and “passive rightists” (beidong youpai)and further divides the former category into three groups: “right-wing intellectuals”, “revisionists” and “rights defenders, analysing the specificities of and differences between these groups. While the “right-wing intellectuals” consisted of democratic personalities influential prior to 1949, particularly Zhang Bojun and Luo Longji, who advocated “changing the constitution and the mode of government,” the “revisionists” encompassed intellectuals within the Party (Li Shenzhi and Liu Binyan) as well as students raised “under the red flag” (Lin Xiling and Tan Tianrong). Influenced by recent developments within the communist camp, they denounced the personality cult and the excesses of the system and called for a change of political and ideological line in favour of a “great democracy.” The “rights defenders” referred to the constitution of the People’s Republic of China to denounce violations of political rights (in particular during political campaigns), and of individual freedoms, economic and social rights, as well as the absence of liberty in the scientific, cultural, and artistic spheres (epitomized by the suppression of entire academic fields such as law, political science, and sociology). The last part of the article highlights the legacy of the movement, and describes how its ideas have been taken further by various forces campaigning for a democratisation of China. For this issue of China Perspectives, we have chosen to publish a full translation of the part of Chen Ziming’s essay that deals with the first group of rightists, the “right-wing intellectuals,” as well as substantial extracts from the last part. (Editor’s note)

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References

Electronic reference

Zeming Chen, « The “Active Rightists” of 1957 and Their Legacy: “Right-wing Intellectuals,” Revisionists, and Rights Defenders   », China Perspectives [Online], 2007/4 | 2007, Online since 30 December 2010, connection on 01 May 2017. URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/2553

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About the author

Zeming Chen

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