- Year of publication: 2015
- Source: Show
- Pages: 3-6
- DOI Address: -
Changing attitudes towards Mao Zedong in the PRC and his religious cults
The paper outlines changing attitudes towards Mao since 1976 up to 2015, as an important part of political and ideological transformations in the PRC. The study is based on the author’s personal talks with numerous Chinese of different social standing during these years. Some essential party documents, interesting research by other scholars and internet sources have been employed here as well. The point of departure constitutes a comparison of Mao and Stalin and their political and social roles respectively in the PRC and in the Soviet Union. The author puts an emphasis on cultural differences between the two societies.
The author points out that the political and ideological cult of Mao as a Great Helmsman and Great Teacher started to fade away before his death (September 9, 1976). The turning point constituted the death of Zhou Enlai in January 1976. Then, during mass celebrations commemorating him at the Tiananmen Square, Maoist “revolutionary” policy had been criticised in public for the first time and the new myth of the Prime Minister as “great patriot taking care of the state and of the people” was born. The new nationalistic spirit was manifested in opposition to “internationally minded” revolutionary policy, which caused suffering of the Chinese people.
Immediately after the funeral of Mao, in the beginning of October, the radical Maoists, who predominated at that time, were arrested in a particular coup d’etat, and the so-called Gang of Four lost power. The moderate Maoists, who ruled the country, tried to preserve the cult of Mao, but within the ruling elite and the society critical attitudes to the Maoist policy were on the rise. It was combined with increasing nationalism and the cult of Zhou at the grass root level.
In 1978, a new period started; both the people and the cadres on the grass root level initiated reforms, even those dismantling of the Maoist system (including the people’s communes at the countryside). The “walls of democracy” appeared in the cities, and the critical evaluation of the past concerned the Maoist heritage. The new leaders including Deng Xiaoping led a “silent de-maoisation”: the destruction of Mao monuments, his quotations in public places, etc. Moreover, they presented Mao as a great politician, who committed serious mistakes, and whose heritage could be analysed and criticised under the heading “Mao was a man not a god”. On the other hand, they struggled against “excessive criticism” towards Mao as harmful to the state and destabilising the society.
At the end of the 1980s, new tendencies started to appear. The new market economy already changed life of the ordinary Chinese. On the one hand, new super-rich, and on the other the “new poor” appeared side by side with sharp economic differences between cities, villages, and regions. The new “money first” mentality prevailed, whereas moral values and human attitudes faded away. Under the new system of “wild capitalism”, the interest in the Maoist heritage could be seen among the older people and youngsters as well in opposition to the new official “market and motherland” ideology. Mao at this stage had been imagined first of all as a great “national leader”.
The paper also analyses the evolution of Mao Zedong Mausoleum towards an “Ancestral Hall of Revolution”. The author analyses various religious and mystical aspects of the cults of Mao in the framework of the “folk religion”, starting with his veneration as a God of Safe Travel up to the Tutelary God Granting Prosperity to the Nation and Tranquillity to the People.
Chinese authorities have to take under consideration such phenomena and adapt their policies to new social expectations. In this field, one could see the fundamental contradiction between the ruling elite educated in the tradition of the Western Enlightenment and the Chinese people much more bounded by their civilisation.
Yiguandao and the cult of the Unborn Mother
Yiguandao is one of the Chinese “syncretic sects” active mainly in Taiwan and among the Chinese diaspora in Asia. It was formed in Mainland China in the first years of the Republic, but was banned from the PRC in the early 1950s. It claims to contain and surpass teachings of all other religions as it is supposed to possess and teach the entirety of the Dao. Its central deity, the Unborn Mother (Wusheng Laomu), who resides in the Heaven of Principle, is the personification of the Dao itself and the source of the teaching brought to people by powerful Buddhas reigning over three periods of time. We are now living in the final period called the White Yang and the entirety of the teaching was brought to the world by Maitreia, and two other Buddhas who appeared in the world as the last “patriarchs” (or in fact the founders) of the Yiguandao. This teaching (the Dao) has to be spread among the people so they can be saved from the final apocalypse which will end this universe. The saved souls will return to the Heaven of Principle and reunite with the Unborn Mother. This article brings the outline of the cosmology and eschatology of the Yiguandao as based on some of the sect’s scriptures and it describes its symbols as well as terminology.
Cult of personality and the question of creating «revolutionary identity» during the Cultural Revolution
The paper aims to answer the question whether during the Cultural Revolution China had its own ‘revolutionary identity’ or if this issue was rather a matter of internal struggle on power. Providing an in-depth analysis of ‘Renmin Ribao’, ‘Hongqi’ and ‘Peking Review’, the paper describes twists and turns in the picture of the outside world in China’s propaganda. This example illustrates the importance of foreign countries, mainly the United States (capitalist state) and the Soviet Union (revisionist state) in shaping China’s ‘revolutionary identity’. On the other hand, the described internal struggle on power and factionalism tends to support the thesis that ‘revolutionary identity’ falls the victim to the relationship between major policy makers of this time: Mao Zedong, Zhao Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and Chen Yi.
Contemporarys syncretic cults among the Manchus
The last few decades of the Manchu studies have brought a significant revision of the common among the sinologists thesis on the complete Sinification of the descendants of the bannerman. In this paper, this aspect will be discussed referring to religious practices and beliefs, which can be connected to the construction of distinctiveness of the Manchus from other ethnic groups, especially the Han Chinese. What seems to be rarely noticed is that specific cults of the various communities might become an element of identification for a distinct nationality. For this reason, the description of religious practices will be preceded with the outline of the formation of the Manchurian social structure. A draft description of selected traditional beliefs will present a point of reference for contemporary Manchurian syncretic cults. The most important ritual practice in the context of identity formation seems to be the cult of emperors, which was combined with the Qing imperialism and ancient believes of the Northern nationalities. As the mythological dragon power was used as the source of rise of the empire, the Manchuria became the place of origin of the Army of Eight Banners. Although today’s Manchus do not necessarily share all these beliefs with their ancestors, many of them seem to have preserved these ideas in their way of thinking. Some of them even perform many types of rites referring to historical and mythological concepts.
The cult of money in contemporary China: traditional magical practices promising wealth
The article is devoted to the new China’s riches, who are practicing the traditional magic in order to achieve and maintain wealth. It the first paragraph, I describe the Chinese riches and compare them to the western riches. In the second paragraph, I describe the irrational factors in the Chinese business. Irrational factors in the Chinese business are related to the following issues: the creation of company and product names (the structure and meaning of names as well as the translations into Chinese are analysed here); the consequences of believing in lucky (e.g. eight) and unlucky (e.g. four) numbers; hiring new employees and the practice of “face-reading” (mianxian); the placement and design of the company or institution and the meaning of the feng shui art; business decision-making and crisis management on the basis on the feng shui art, divination and other magical practices. The analysis is supported by the newest research in the China’s business and business.
Gu Hongming – the forgotten sage of the East
The article discusses the biography and thought of Gu Hongming. Gu Hongming was a Chinese thinker who won recognition in European academic circles. Still, he was not popular in China. When he lived and studied in Europe on his young years, he acquired broad knowledge on European culture and literature. Afterwards, he became the adviser to Zhang Zhidong, an eminent Chinese politician during the late Qing dynasty who was the promoter of moderate reforms. After his death and the birth of the republican China, Gu Hongming was active as a publicist and teacher in Beijing University. During that time he was often labelled as backward and conservative by his Chinese contemporaries.
The article provides the analysis of complexity of his views that cannot be easily labelled as it was done by many from his contemporary thinkers. His attitude towards China and Western civilization was quite complicated and it should be understood in the background of European conservative thought, romanticism, and the Confucian worldview.
The perception of Japanese anime culture in the contemporary Chinese youth environment
Anime culture entered the Chinese market after the introduction of the Economic Reform and it has immediately filled in the gap in the cultural creation for young people. In the course of the development of the global market for anime, it has become obvious that products of this kind not only bring significant financial benefits, but they also carry deep social and cultural meaning. On the one hand, fascination with foreign anime and the formation of corresponding groups in the youth subculture environment can be seen as a reflection of the problems associated with the spiritual quest of contemporary youth. On the other hand, anime can be considered as a tool for transmission of certain values. This article reveals the origins of the popularity of this trend, characterizes the perception of Japanese anime culture in the Chinese setting, especially among the young people, and also describes its interaction with the dominant culture and the influence of anime on the value system of the Chinese youth.
The difficult process of reviving Japanese national pride
According to the public opinion poll conducted by the Dentsū Agency in 2000, in terms of national pride, the Japanese placed themselves at a distant 57th position in the world. “The love of the fatherland” was declared by approximately 54% of respondents. The survey report published by the Cabinet Office of Japan in January 2015 shows a similar level of social attitudes (55%). The attempts to revive the spirit of patriotism, including the restoration of ethics classes in schools, respect for state symbols, as well as the revision of the constitution imposed on Japan during the occupation, have been taken-up by the authorities since the 50s. However, they have met with strong opposition from the left-wing parties, the teachers’ unions and the pacifist-inclined groups within Japanese society. Economic successes have significantly contributed to the sense of national pride. The decreasing tendency is associated with a prolonged crisis, as well as the inability of Japan to pursue, despite the end of the Cold War, a foreign policy less dependent on the United States, or to adopt a more assertive stance towards China. Moreover, the media proclaims the “second loss” of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe emphasizes that the current crisis is largely the result of the moving away from traditional values. It has been indicated that one of essential conditions for the recovery of national pride, in addition to the need to form a new constitution reflecting the national character (kunigara), is the revision of the Japanese historical consciousness distorted by the Tokyo Trial. However, steps in this direction are perceived as an attempt to revive the cult of the state and they are considered militaristically ambitious. The aim of the presented paper is to answer the question of whether the allegations formulated by Asian neighbours, as well as in Japan, can be considered well-founded.
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