Here is an article criticizing public intellectuals from the November 25 People’s Daily after first appearing in Liberation Daily ten days earlier. The South China Morning Post also reported last week that the Propaganda Bureau had banned news reports about “public intellectuals.”
David Cowhig summarized the recent People’s Daily article in English:
“The very concept public intellectual, which came to China by Chinese media aping a foreign publication, drives a wedge between the intellectuals and the Party and in the relationship of the intellectuals to the masses. The notion calls up the idea of independence — but the intellectuals are not independent, they belong to the working class, and are part of the people, and are a group under the leadership of the Communist Party. The economic foundation determines the superstructure and so the ‘opinions’ of the intellectuals are determined by their socio-economic interests. [As Chairman Mao used to say], ‘if there is no hide, then where will the hairs settle?’ But the value of the intellectuals is that they serve socialism and serve the masses of the people. The intellectuals reach their full potential and historic role when they walk together with the Party. All this talk about the intellectuals speaking up for the downtrodden is ridiculous and smacks of the ‘hero’ or ‘elite’ view of history. But the main characters in history are not the intellectuals but the broad masses of the people. All this static we are hearing about the ‘public intellectuals’ will not become mainstream but even so we shouldn’t take it lightly. In this polycentric situation we need to be clear-headed and stand firmly for the guiding role of Marxism and not get confused by being swept away by some currents of thought.”
Comments from the translator:
It reads like a blast from the past but with an important difference. It concludes with a reference to the guiding role of Marxism and not Marxist-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought Deng Xiaoping Theory Jiang Zemin Shuofa. The increasing references to Marx and especially to the early Marx over the past few years are interesting. Perhaps even as the Party reacts reflexively to a perceived threat from intellectuals, it still has not reversed the gradual shift of intellectual framework away from Marxist-Leninism and towards Marxism. Now I don’t imagine that there is really a Swedish social democrat struggling to get out of a Chinese communist body like in the movie Alien or something, but still…..