Arts and Culture
In the efforts of “periodizing the 60s” (Fredric Jameson), a Chinese perspective has long been curiously and uncannily missing. I propose a Maoist perspective in order to demonstrate that the Chinese 60s embodied an internationalism in its own terms. Firstly, my paper will draw attention to the fact that the launching of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 overlapped with an international congress of Asian and African writers held in China, indicating a third-world dimension. Secondly, I will trace China’s engagements with Southeast Asian communism, the anti-war movements in the US, the French May 68, and Prague Spring, delineating the connection/contradiction between such responses and the rapprochement with the USA in 1972. I will give a close reading of the Shanghai Communiqué signed during Nixon’s historic visit, a text featuring the peculiar following passage: “The Chinese side stated: …Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution.” Maoist China exposed the tension between its reentry into the capitalist world system and its commitment to anti-hegemonic third-worldism. Finally, I will discuss the end of the Cultural Revolution as an overdue “closure” of the 60s, by highlighting two important texts. One is Joris Ivens’ long documentary film, Comment Yukong déplaça les montagnes (1976), which has been stigmatized as the last major Western “propaganda” for Maoism; the other is Alain Badiou’s Theorie du sujet (1982), in which his theory of the subjectivity of fidelity redefined Maoism and its vanishing: “Cependant c’est la veille” (Rimbaud, cited by Badiou).