Translated by Michael Huang, from China Elections & Governance:
The New Culture Movement (NCM) in the early 20th century was an important part of contemporary China’s democratic revolution against feudalism and despotism. By replacing classical Chinese with vernacular Chinese, its contribution to the spread of literacy and knowledge was beyond measure. However, advanced aspects of Western culture such as science and democracy promoted by the NCM have had great difficulty developing in China. The educational spirit “to abide by the principle of freedom of thought and adopt an all-embracing doctrine” advocated by Cai Yuanpei had its glorious period, but after the devastating educational reform of the early 1950s and the Cultural Revolution, it has now fallen into obscurity. Thoughts like individualism and liberalism have continuously been subject to severe criticism for the last half-century. These facts indicated that the main mission of the NCM against feudalism and despotism has heretofore not been accomplished; we are still faced at the present stage with the task of a democratic revolution against feudalism and despotism. We must learn from the lessons of the NCM to launch a new enlightenment movement across China in order to accomplish this historical task of a democratic revolution.