September 23, 2013
The Maoist Irony of Bo Xilai’s Downfall

When President Xi Jinping was preparing the ground for the trial and conviction of his princeling rival, Bo Xilai, sentenced to life in prison yesterday, he called China’s entire leadership together to launch a “rectification campaign.”  Xi promised to save degenerate cadres and the Party itself by “vigorously” mobilizing the political machinery in a process of criticism, self-criticism and self-purification. He dubbed it the “Party Mass Line Education and Practice Movement,” to be overseen by a specially-convened small leadership group of the same name. The aim was to “cure the illness and save the patient,” said Xi, adding that the “life and death” of the Party was at stake.
The language, aims and structure of Xi’s ongoing rectification campaign are directly borrowed from Chairman Mao Zedong’s efforts to instill discipline and consolidate personal power at Yan’an, then the Communist Party base, in the early 1940s. Mao’s success hinged on having tight personal control of the internal security and propaganda apparatus, giving him the capacity to create an atmosphere of fear and panic and forcefully extract confessions.  He used “special case groups” to root out and intimidate the patronage networks of perceived rivals until his power was unchallengeable.
These, ironically, were the techniques that Bo Xilai revived to transform the Communist Party in Chongqing and build a formidable personal power base there, striking terror inside the Party in ways that are still not widely understood. Now, Xi is applying the same underlying political logic to revitalize and impose his will over the world’s largest and most powerful political party, with some important innovations. And he is doing it by purging Bo.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

The Maoist Irony of Bo Xilai’s Downfall

When President Xi Jinping was preparing the ground for the trial and conviction of his princeling rival, Bo Xilai, sentenced to life in prison yesterday, he called China’s entire leadership together to launch a “rectification campaign.”  Xi promised to save degenerate cadres and the Party itself by “vigorously” mobilizing the political machinery in a process of criticism, self-criticism and self-purification. He dubbed it the “Party Mass Line Education and Practice Movement,” to be overseen by a specially-convened small leadership group of the same name. The aim was to “cure the illness and save the patient,” said Xi, adding that the “life and death” of the Party was at stake.

The language, aims and structure of Xi’s ongoing rectification campaign are directly borrowed from Chairman Mao Zedong’s efforts to instill discipline and consolidate personal power at Yan’an, then the Communist Party base, in the early 1940s. Mao’s success hinged on having tight personal control of the internal security and propaganda apparatus, giving him the capacity to create an atmosphere of fear and panic and forcefully extract confessions.  He used “special case groups” to root out and intimidate the patronage networks of perceived rivals until his power was unchallengeable.

These, ironically, were the techniques that Bo Xilai revived to transform the Communist Party in Chongqing and build a formidable personal power base there, striking terror inside the Party in ways that are still not widely understood. Now, Xi is applying the same underlying political logic to revitalize and impose his will over the world’s largest and most powerful political party, with some important innovations. And he is doing it by purging Bo.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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