“In a fascinating and eye-opening book, Jude Blanchette reveals the neo-Maoist movement that never was entirely eradicated by the reformers after Mao died and has now moved from the margins to the center of political power under current leader Xi Jinping. Essential reading for anyone trying to understand Xi’s mind-set and his strategy for shoring up Chinese Communist Party rule.” −Susan L. Shirk, Chair, 21st Century China Center, University of California-San Diego
EVER SINCE DENG XIAOPING effectively de-radicalized China in the 1980s, there have been many debates about which path China would follow. Would it democratize? Would it embrace capitalism? Would the Communist Party’s rule be able to withstand the adoption and spread of the Internet? One debate that did not occur in any serious way, however, was whether Mao Zedong would make a political comeback.
As Jude Blanchette details in China’s New Red Guards, contemporary China is undergoing a revival of an unapologetic embrace of extreme authoritarianism that draws direct inspiration from the Mao era. Under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping, state control over the economy is increasing, civil society is under sustained attack, and the CCP is expanding its reach in unprecedented new ways.As Xi declared in late 2017, “Government, military, society and schools, north, south, east and west—the party is the leader of all.”
But this trend is reinforced by a bottom-up revolt against Western ideas of modernity, including political pluralism, the rule of law, and the free market economy. Centered around a cast of nationalist intellectuals and activists who have helped unleash a wave of populist enthusiasm for the Great Helmsman’s policies, China’s New Red Guards not only will reshape our understanding of the political forces driving contemporary China, it will also demonstrate how ideologies can survive and prosper despite pervasive rumors of their demise.
Advance Praise for China’s New Red Guards
“You can’t understand the era of Xi Jinping without recognizing this vibrant band on China’s political spectrum. Jude Blanchette was deeply immersed in China’s nationalist revival long before others knew to pay attention, and he has unearthed its story in rich, lively, humane detail. Much as Tea Party activists reflected a crucial turn in American conservatism, Blanchette’s neo-Maoists capture the populist undercurrents in Chinese politics.” −Evan Osnos, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
“Jude Blanchette has immersed himself in the arcane world of neo-Maoism to a greater extent than any other international scholar and in doing so he sheds light on one of the most important trends in modern China. Readers of this timely book will gain a far better understanding of the complex forces shaping modern China. This is an important work from a thoughtful and very thorough author.” −Jamil Anderlini, Asia Editor, Financial Times
"Jude Blanchette's book brilliantly pierces the underbelly of Chinese political debate. Instead of replaying the endless self-regarding foreign debates about market reform, Blanchette looks in the opposite direction, tracking the dogmatic idealists who yearn for the old days of Maoist control and state ownership. They regard themselves as the true heirs of the communist revolution, and their voices are getting louder." Richard McGregor, Senior Fellow, The Lowy Institute and author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers
“China’s New Red Guards is not only a very impressive work of research, but a spellbinding story. In it Jude Blanchette helps us understand just how enduring the legacy of Mao’s tectonic revolution has been in China so that even a half a century later, leaders like Xi Jinping still find themselves in the thrall of neo-Maoism.” −Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, The Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society