There was nothing we could bring back to France from China.
January 6, 2019 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Our Idol Mao Zedong: Europeans and the Cultural Revolution (42½ min. video, alt link, direct .mp4 link) is a 2018 Deutsche Welle documentary depicting the early eras of the People's Republic of China through contemporary film clips, still photography, and interviews with Europeans who lived in and visited the mainland during the mid-to-late Twentieth Century.
posted by XMLicious (6 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you've read or have been planning to read Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem, this may provide context to the opening historical scenes of the novel.
posted by XMLicious at 12:32 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I was quite gobsmacked the first time I heard a contemporary intellectual - I think it was Badiou - identify as a "Maoist". I guess this was naive of me, but I had thought this was well into "you know, Hitler had some pretty good ideas" territory.
posted by thelonius at 11:13 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Oh this sounds amazing. Looking forward to watching it.
posted by The Toad at 12:02 PM on January 6


Excellent - thanks for posting.
posted by Rash at 2:08 PM on January 6


One of the phenomena this displays which I find quite fascinating is that it seems as though, in the same way that in the early TwenCen Communists outside the Soviet Union projected their hopes and dreams onto that country and ignored warning signs and saw it through rose-colored glasses, in the mid-Twentieth-Century Communists from Eastern Europe who had already been proximate to or living under Soviet Communism did the same sort of thing with the PRC. Grass is always greener, I guess.

Of related interest: Mike Wallace's 1957 interview with David Hawkins, a U.S. Korean War POW who defected to China then returned to the U.S. (Warning: extremely loud, obnoxious 1950s cigarette commercials. Here's the index of the available The Mike Wallace Interview episodes, most of which I found intriguing as someone born decades afterwards.)
posted by XMLicious at 4:51 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I was quite gobsmacked the first time I heard a contemporary intellectual - I think it was Badiou - identify as a "Maoist". I guess this was naive of me, but I had thought this was well into "you know, Hitler had some pretty good ideas" territory.

It doesn't seem all that unusual for some prominent leftists back then to have kept the fire burning for marginal characters far longer than would have been advisable. Occasionally they held on for an embarrassingly long time. Despite the lack of information that was available to the West about places like China or the Soviet Union back then, there was still enough that you'd think most people would give a serious side eye to some of these regimes one might theoretically be sympathetic to.

We see it in the movie, people who remain dedicated even after spending a couple years in prison for their supposed counterrevolutionary ways. Naivete? Brainwashing? Who knows? What I do know is that such dedication did much damage to the state of politics, particularly in the US, creating a heightened sense of politics as theater, where lines are better when clearly drawn and defended. It's a dynamic that exists to this day. Thankfully, I think the left has gotten much better at policing itself and rejecting bad actors as needed. Unfortunately, the right has gone in a different direction and is incapable of admitting such mistakes, and as a result, will embrace the shittiest of the shit in order to draw lines that appear clear and unequivocal.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:02 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


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