China’s New Left calls for a social alternative – Pankaj Mishra
In the International Herald Tribune, Pankaj Mishra writes:
One day earlier this year I met Wang Hui at the Thinker’s Cafe near Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he teaches. A small, compact man with streaks of gray in his short hair and a pleasant face that always seems ready to break into a smile, he arrived, as he would to all our subsequent meetings, on an old-fashioned bicycle, dressed in dark corduroys, a suede jacket and a black turtleneck.
Co-editor of China’s leading intellectual journal, Dushu (Reading), and the author of a four-volume history of Chinese thought, Wang, still in his mid- 40s, has emerged as a central figure among a group of writers and academics known collectively as the New Left.
New Left intellectuals advocate a “Chinese alternative” to the neoliberal market economy, one that will guarantee the welfare of the country’s 800 million peasants left behind by recent changes. And unlike much of China’s dissident class, which grew out of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and consists largely of human rights and pro-democracy activists, Wang and the New Left view the Communist leadership as a likely force for change. [Full text]