Monday, January 16, 2006

A Quote on China

One China, Many Paths is an amazingly refreshing book that consists of interviews with a host of Chinese mainland intellectuals and represents a kaleidoscopic view of the debates in China in the light of its over two decades of economic liberalization (while continuing with political authoritarianism).

Since China started the "reform" process much earlier than India, the book is of much interest to those in India who are sensitive to the social ramifications of economic liberalism.

I particularly liked the telling and incisive quote by Wang Anyi in the following passage:
...there is little doubt that, in aggregate, the female condition improved more than the male under Mao, if the pre- revolutionary situation of each is taken as a benchmark... Wang Anyi, China's best known woman novelist whose memoir of her mother makes clear the origins of her own independence and loyalty to what was best in the Liberation. The ironic eye she casts of matters of gender and class in the euphoria of the 'second reform period' is conveyed by her dry remark that 'we are rushing towards bourgeios society with all the enthusiasm of a proletarian revolution'.
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kamesh said...

I don't get how the aggregate female condition improved during the reign of Mao. Though prostitution was banned (except for himself), foot binding was banned (well people say that it was banned even much before him), new divorce laws came into force but the womens condition generally remained appalling I would say.

Mao was in favor of women's independence (in his words) but the reason was he saw women as labour/slave/Hard labour to work in the fields and factories. He said that women can do hard labour equal to men which is obviously not true.

Almost 38 million chinese died of starvation (overall 70 million died) and that too in peacetime. He even said that almost half of china may well have to die to carry out his policies.


bhupinder singh said...

By Western standards specifically and those of the early 21st century in general, perhaps you right.

But one does have to grant Wang Anyi's mother who lived through the Liberation, her own opinion, which is what I quoted from the book.