Vive La Pensée-Maotsétoung

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Vive La Pensée-Maotsétoung French Intellectual Maoists and Their Readings of China's Cultural Revolution
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Parks, Alison
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: French Maoism, China
Cultural Revolution
May 1968
Tel Quel
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: In 1966, Mao Zedong initiated the decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Mao's final campaign tore through China, leaving devastation in its wake as he worked to spread Communist ideology and consolidate his power. Meanwhile, in France, mounting political and social tensions led to the eruption of street riots led by university students in May 1968. It was around this time that a fringe group of university students, frustrated with the situation in their own country, looked outward for inspiration and found Maoism. Their blind yet faithful identification with Maoism and the Cultural Revolution's Red Guards creates the basis for a meaningful comparison between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the events of May 1968, which the first chapter of this thesis explores. Several years later, Tel Quel, an influential intellectual review, praised Maoism as the new in-vogue political ideology, and in 1974 the publication's main contributors traveled to China. The second chapter of this thesis analyzes the group's writings on China from before and after the trip and reveals the dangers of adopting an ideology outside of its intended context. This thesis examines a brief but significant moment in France's historical relations with China and sheds light on perceptions of Maoism and the Cultural Revolution in the Western imagination.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alison Parks
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Van Tuyl, Jocelyn

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 P2
System ID: NCFE004647:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Vive La Pensée-Maotsétoung French Intellectual Maoists and Their Readings of China's Cultural Revolution
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Parks, Alison
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: French Maoism, China
Cultural Revolution
May 1968
Tel Quel
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: In 1966, Mao Zedong initiated the decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Mao's final campaign tore through China, leaving devastation in its wake as he worked to spread Communist ideology and consolidate his power. Meanwhile, in France, mounting political and social tensions led to the eruption of street riots led by university students in May 1968. It was around this time that a fringe group of university students, frustrated with the situation in their own country, looked outward for inspiration and found Maoism. Their blind yet faithful identification with Maoism and the Cultural Revolution's Red Guards creates the basis for a meaningful comparison between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the events of May 1968, which the first chapter of this thesis explores. Several years later, Tel Quel, an influential intellectual review, praised Maoism as the new in-vogue political ideology, and in 1974 the publication's main contributors traveled to China. The second chapter of this thesis analyzes the group's writings on China from before and after the trip and reveals the dangers of adopting an ideology outside of its intended context. This thesis examines a brief but significant moment in France's historical relations with China and sheds light on perceptions of Maoism and the Cultural Revolution in the Western imagination.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alison Parks
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Van Tuyl, Jocelyn

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 P2
System ID: NCFE004647:00001

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


VIVE LA PENSE MAOTSTOUNG : FRENCH INTELLECTUAL MAOISTS AND BY ALISON PARKS A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements f or the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Jocelyn Van Tuyl Sarasota, Florida May 201 2


ii Acknowledgements First and foremost I have to thank my thesis sponsor Professor Jocelyn Van Tuyl who helped me take a bunch of see mingly random interests and shape them into a meaningful project. Her guidance and enthusiasm throughout my time at New College, and especially during the thesis process, have pushed me to always produce my best work and to take pride in my ideas. I al so have to thank my committee members. Professors Barbara Hicks, Amy Reid, and Aijun Zhu have been there for me since my first year and each one has contributed a great deal to my New College experience. I am very grateful that they all agreed to be a pa rt of this project and to be here with me during the final stage of my undergraduate career. Furthermore, I would like to thank Professor Gayle Zachmann from the University of Florida who during my year in Paris encouraged me to question everything and provided me with the means to explore my intellectual curiosity to its fullest extent. It was also Dr. Zachmann who first introduced me to the writings of the Telquelians and who first opened my eyes to the history of relations between France and China. Finally, I must thank my parents who have nurtured my intellectual development from day one and have taught me the value of being an independent thinker. I could not have made it this far without you.


iii Table of Contents Acknowle Chapter 1: Comparing the Chinese Cultural Revolution a of 1968 2 Chapter 2: Tel Quel 3 7 ...9 6


iv VIVE LA PENSE MAOTSTOUNG : FRENCH INTELLECUTAL MAOISTS AND THEIR Alison Parks New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT In 1966, Mao Zedong initiated the decade long Great Proleta rian Cultural Revolution. spread Communist ideology and consolidate his power. Meanwhile, in France, mounting political and social tensions led to the eruption of st reet riots led by university students in May 1968. It was around this time that a fringe group of university students, frustrated with the situation in their own country, looked outward for inspiration and found Maoism. Their blind yet faithful identifi creates the basis for a meaningful comparison between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the events of May 1968, which the first chapter of this thesis explores. Several years later, Tel Quel a n influential intellectual review, praised Maoism as the new in vogue political trip and reveals the dangers of adopting an ideology outside of its intended context. This thesis light on perceptions of Maoism and the Cultural Revolution in the Western imagination. Dr. Jocelyn Van Tuyl Division of Humanities


v List of Acronyms CCP Chinese Communist Party GP Gauche Proltarienne (Proletarian L eft) PCF Parti communiste franais (F rench Communist Party) PCMLF Parti communi ste marxiste lniniste de France (Marxist Leninist Communist Party of France) PLA PRC hina UCFML Union des communistes de France marxistes lninistes (Union of Marxist Leninist Commun ists of France Marxist Leninist) UEC Union des tudiants communistes (Union of Communist Students) UJCml Union des jeunesses communistes marxistes lninistes (Union of Marxist Leninst Communist Youth)


1 Introduction From 1966 until his death in 1976, Mao Zedong orchestrated the Chinese Cultural Chinese Communist Party. Mean while, in France, students were simmering in an unrest that culminated in May of 1968 when violent protests broke out against the bureaucratic and hierarchical nature of the French government and its education system. During the late sixties, some French groups began looking to the Chinese Cultural Revolution as a comparable social movement; for some, it became the inspiration for social changes needed in France. Maoist offshoots of the French Communist Party even began to appear. French students conjure d up images of Chinese students fighting against injustice and some attempted to emulate it with a fervor that director Jean Luc Goddard captures in his 1967 film La Chinoise This disillusioned sp i rit of revolutionary camaraderie piqued the French intell Stemming from this fascination with the Cultural Revolution came a focus on China in fiction, journalistic literatur e and theoretical analyses among members of the French intellectual left who were curio us to explore this despite being very much on t heir radar, remained a mystery. Before examining the intricacies of these relationships, it is necessary to understand how


2 China from 1949 to the Cultural Rev olution Guominda ng (the Chines e Nationalist Party) after a civil war that had torn the country apart for many years. At this time, Mao was the leader of the party and on 1 October he proclaimed the p arty state by the CCP. After having suffered through such a devastating and long lasting civil war, the China inherited by Mao had a number of problems looming ahead of it that the chairman felt he could eliminate through strategic reforms. First, the ne w ruling party faced the challenge of building up a new state with a strong economy from Second, the CCP, like many groups that come to power through force, faced the c sys the above goal would require a mobilization of the masses, which Mao felt could not be achieved without an ideological shift among the people. deology require special attention. First is the idea a concerted way virtu


3 Voluntarism was the driving forward behind disastrous results. Second, Mao believed that struggle was necessary to building a new society. This not ion was contrary to the Confucian ideal of harmony that formerly dom inated societal values in China. Instead of maintaining a rigid social hierarchy where themselves (Lieberthal 69). Presumably, Mao felt that ongoing class struggle would require a constant need for government intervention and help to clearly distinguish who was loyal to the party. I nstead, it created an unstable society that was difficult to rule and in which there was little accountability. In addition to encouraging class struggle, Maoist ideology also called for a state of perpetual revolution. In an internal document to senior CCP After a victory, we must at once put forward a new task. In this way, cadres and the (qtd. in Spence 547). Mao felt that if the masses were constantly pushed forward, mobilization could eventually lead to modernization. What this fails to take into consideration are the ways in which constant revolution take toll on a country: its popula tion and its natural recourses become exhausted before they have a chance to renew themselves which can lead to devastation as in the cases of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution Mao was furthermore an advocate of egalitarianism which sho wed in his mass line policies. The mass line was an attempt to ensure that the party never lost touch with the needs of its people by creating a hierarchical system that required certain party officials keep in direct contact with the populace to determine its needs. These officials would


4 dissent among the masses also led him to develop an ant i intellectual stance. Mao drew the cores of these principles from several influences and was largely impacted by how the Communist Party came to power The greatest influence on the legacies would impact how the newly instated Communist Party would function as head of state. Skocpol cites the rev olution in China as the result of three factors: the breakdown of the c entral state and the military, widespread peasant rebellions, and po litical movements among t meant that a great deal of support for the Party came from rural and illiterate members of society. It also explains how the t deal of power within the party and rule with a dictatorial style. Also growing out of the revolution and influencing the newly empowered headquarters during the later years of the ci vil war after the armies of the Guomindang drove the CCP forces there during the Long March. Sequestered in a small town, the was characteriz ed by four major components The se components are: a habit of preference for non specialized officials, and the egalitarian idea that party officials should l com plex would later manifest itself through a


5 decentralized state run by regional officials, the mass line, and numerous reform campaigns. Soviet Communism also influenced the CCP. Although Mao was at times critical of the Soviet style, its influence was u nmistakable in the government set up in The formal government structure was designed so that i t mirrored the hierarchic al structure of the Party, a feature which was borrowed from the Soviets This setup usually meant that those on top in the Party were on top in the government. Integral to the new governing structure were regional governments th experiences during the civil war. There were six regional governments, each with its own of the central government itself: a government cha irman, a first party secretary, a military attempts at h andling the conflicts were often done in vain government was meant to help the Communists meet three main goals: to ensure that the etermine the national domestic agenda; to keeping a top position within the Party for h imself. He thus did everything in his power


6 to maintain his control and to modernize China on social, ideological, and economic levels regardless of the cost. contradictions within society (Mao 265 was organized to su ppress counter revolutionaries who m he feared would revolt against the new Party (Spence 44). His idea of how to handle the counter revolutionaries was to were the Three An ti Campaign and the Five Anti Campaign. The Three Anti Campaign lasted from August 1951 until June 1 952 and focused on eliminating corruption, waste, and bureaucratism within the party. The targets of the Five Anti Campaign, which lasted from January to June 1952, were businessmen. The goal was to prevent corruption and to stop private businessmen from going against state regulations (Spence 44). Furthermore, intellectual stance, intellectuals often found themselves to be the targe ts of reeducation campaigns, which consisted of thought control exercis es and manual labor camps. The prolonged crackdown on intellectuals led to a lack of innovation and a want of specialists with the expertise needed to bring about the modernization for which Mao hoped. To fill the gap in innovation he organized the Hundred Flowers Campaign in the spring of 1957. In a January 1957 speech, Mao stated contend is desig ned to promote the flourishing of arts and the process of science; it is


7 response from intellectuals was largely critical of the system Mao had set up and the Hundred Fl owers Campaign was swiftly replaced with an Anti Rightist Campaign to campaign before the Cultural Revolution was the Great Leap Forward that started in 1958. The Great Lea providing China with aid and advice on economic planning (Lieberthal 103). The Great Leap pushed fo r extremely high levels of production to be reached in underdeveloped, rural areas without the aid of state resources. It also called for the complete collectivization of agriculture and a weakened military hierarchy. The goals were (Lieberthal 104). The result was inefficiency, famine, and the eventual development of a 110). This inequali ty would become one of the impetuses for the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The French Communist Party While China was experiencing its Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s, those on the intellectual and political left in France were beginning to feel unh appy with the current social climate. Their displeasure culminated with the events of May 1968, which were intended to spur a social revolution. Many of the intellectuals who ended up visiting and writing on China during the early 1970s were part of the M ay 1968 movement. Also very active and vocal in this movement were members of the Parti communiste franais (PCF). Among its members were those who sympathized or identified with the Chinese,


8 including some who went so far as to declare themselves Maoists increased visibility and activity after World War II is useful in understanding how a pro Chinese Maoist movement was able to splinter off from the party. During World War II, the French Communists contributed to the anti German res able to gain positions in office until 1947 (Lottman 249 50). During the post war period, the Communist Party also became of interest to intellectuals who had contributed to the resistance. The support from intellectuals gave the party credibility as it started to gain popularity with its numerous publications, including several not able periodicals such as Les Lettres Franaises, La Nouvelle Critique, and (250 1). During this time, the PCF also participated in international Communist events organized by the Soviet Union and held firmly to Soviet style Communism with Part y leaders taking their orders of the increasing awareness of conditions in the So viet Union under Stalin. By the 1960s, the mainstream communist mov ement had begun leaning toward a more parliamentary road to socialism (Seidman 24). The initial ideology made the party vulnerable to fr agmentation. Sure enough, by the mid 1960s, several splinter groups had b roken away from the party. Notable splinter groups include student factions such as the Union des tudiants communistes ( Union of Communist Students UEC) who felt alienated by the more moderate position taken up by the main Party leaders.


9 Also by the early 1960s, the Maoist cells that had formed within the PCF began to break away from the Party. The first of these groups was the Parti C ommuniste M arxiste L niniste de France ( Ma rxist Leninist Communist Party of France PCMLF), which was officially recognized by the Chinese Communist Party (Fields 152). Seidman notes that those most receptive to Maoist thought were the revolutionaries who were of the 25). Fragmentation also occur red splinter groups. For example, in 1964 six hundred young Maoists formed the Union des jeunesses communistes marxistes ln inistes (UJCml) after being ex pelled from the UEC were also learning from the Cultural en masse discussed in more detail later on, it will suffice t o say that the PCMLF did recognize that (Fields 153). By May 1968, the Maoists in France were divided not only over the generational gap, but also over questions on how t o evolve French Maoism. Nevertheless they participated actively in the organizing of the several years afterward.


10 French Intellectuals Writing on China French student Maoists were not the only ones taking an interest in China during the Cultural Revolution. Many writers and young intellectuals in France at the time, after witnessing and reflecting upon the events of May 1968, became interested in the idea of mobilizing the masses against an oppressive sta te and saw China as an examp le of this phenomenon. The Telq uelians were one group with such an interest in China. Tel Quel was an avant garde publication. While it was mainly a literary review, it also published articles concerning politics, philosophy, a nd science. Tel Quel published two issues on Kristeva, Roland Barthes, and Marcelin Pleynet) voyaged to China. This trip prompted another China focused issue of Tel Qu el in the autumn of 1974 and several other writings that will be examined in this thesis. Sollers contributed several articles that offered political and social commentary of China under Mao. Kristeva published a social commentary on the state of Chinese women Des Chinoises Kristeva, Barthes, and Pleynet also published more personalized accounts of their time spent in China. For Les Samouras Barthes published his Carnets du voyage en Chine and Pleynet pu blished Le voyage en Chine : chronique du journal ordinaire, 11 avril 3 mai 1974 : extrai t s Thesis Structure The first chapter of this thesis will provide a comparison between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the May 1968 movem ent in France. Aspects to be compared


11 Chinese and French governments, respectively, and the position of students within each of the revolutions. The next chapter wi ll focus on the Telquelians who published on China during the period of the Cultural Revolution and what their perceptions of China were at the time. It will also explore their motivations for writing on China; for example, to what extent was their fascin ation with China formed or shaped by their experiences in France of the late 1960s? In addition, were they trying to accomplish anything in France by bringing attention to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and if so, what? Were certain genres more effecti ve at accomplishing certain goals? Finally, a conclusion will examine it in a more macro context.


12 Chapter 1: 1 968 The aim of this chapter is to compare the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China that occurred between 1966 and 1976 and the social movements that occurred in France during 1968. While on a most superficial level similarities exist between t he actions that took place in France and China during the late 1960s, a deeper look reveals two very different scenes. In China, the Cultural Revolution was orchestrated from the top down by a dictator bent on promoting his ideology as the only acceptable ideology for the people. Politics at the time were extremely volatile and there was widespread targets. In France social unrest resulted in the now infamous events of May 1968. Left wing students and intellectuals took the streets to protest the oppressive bureaucracy of the French education system and to revolt again those in authority. There was violence and there was destruction of property, but not nearly to th e extent that occurred in China. Though May 1968 is sometimes popularly referred to as a student revolution, whether the students produced enough social change to have actually achieved a revolution is debatable. This chapter will start with an analytic al description of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Special attention will be paid to the Red Guard phase of the Revolution as the Red Guards were those emulated by the students in France hoping to stage their own revolution. The next section will d eal with France dur ing the period around May 1968.


1 3 It will highligh t the actions of French Maoists who identified with the cause of the Chinese Red Guards. A final section will regard critically the two revolutions to determine to what extent the compari sons drawn between them were realistic and to what extent the French students at the time were simply disillusioned; moreover, it will hypothesize about what allowed for such similarities to be concocted when, in hindsight, the events were clearly very dif ferent in purpose and magnitude. The Chinese Cultural Revolution Purpose of the Cultural Revolution and the Conditions that made it Possible As the introduction of this thesis makes clear, Mao Zedong held onto a very grandiose vision of the China he wou ld create and wholly believed that he alone held the power to orchestrate the changes needed to mold China and the Chinese people to fit his vision. Between 1961 and 1966, still reeling from the devastating effects and inequalities left by the Great Leap Forward, the Chinese were subject to several more campaigns that culminated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Similar to the campaigns discussed in the introduction, Mao enacted the Cultural Revolution partially as a response to the threats to his power after the failure of previous campaigns. Since it was influential officials and members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who harbored Party members. Mao also intended for there to be a revolution of the masses with the purpose of preparing the population of China for a pure ly socialist state. This section will cover the goals of the Cultural Revolution, what made it (and its continuation)


14 possible, t he main phases of the Revolution and th eir respective impacts on its trajectory, the Red Guards, and finally, the lasting impact left by the Cultural Revolution. The main purpose of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was to purge the Party and the country of those who were August 1966 and published the following day in the newspaper), the CC the anti Party, anti socialist Rightists to be th e main targets of a new revolution (39) The Rightists were viewed as revisionists who promoted capitalism and wanted to lead China astray from the Socialist path. The Party leaders viewed them as members of an up and coming bourgeois class that harbored 154). Their presence tarnished the vision of the new society. The official stance of the CCP Central Committee aimed to h younger members would so easily be riled up and drawn to the cause. It could als o explain why things would eventually become extremely violent. The goals behind removing these new elites from their positions in the Party were reducing inequality and materialistic incentives and an erasure of the distinctions between rural and urban w orkers. Mao was also invested in upholding and felt that the goal of educational work should be a greater understanding of his ideology. Mao saw pure intellectualism as useless (presumably because intellectuals we re the ones who in the past had most heavily criticized his rule) and believed that the goal of


15 education should be itary affairs well as revolutionary struggle (40). The heart, then, of education reforms during the historically the acquisition of cultural capital was an option o nly for the most wealthy and well revolution, the phenomenon of our schools being domina ted by bourgeois intellectuals be explained in further detail later, came to mean under mined, violently attacked, and torn down. The military was another state institution that faced reform during the Revolution as Mao also wished to eliminate the hierarchy within it and do away with t deal of power and influence within the Communist Party, it seems logical that Mao would wish to do away with high ranking officers as they could potentially pose a threat to his own authority. ith an increasingly factionalized CCP are just two conditions that made it possible for an event like the Cultural Revolution to occur. Mao worried that factions within the Party would lead to those with divergent opinions gaining influence and attempting to take over his position. Due to his constant state of fear, Mao ordered radical policies to be put in place to eliminate any potential opponents. The main split that had emerged by 1966 was between a conservative group led by a veteran party leader n amed Peng Zhen who was


16 and Deng Xiaoping, who both later become targets of the Cultura l Revolution for their Party and a nti he split between the two groups heated up over the handling of how to c socialist poisonous occupy the positions in literature and art, the bourgeoisie certainly will. This struggle is 72). Indeed it was, as shortly after this proclamation the turmoil began brewing among the public. was still ideology and subsequently the Chinese population in addition to the heroic role he played during the Chinese Communist Revolution created a cult of persona lity around him. The argument could be made that having a leader whose authority rested in his charismatic nature is another condition that primed China for the Cultural Revolution. As in the past with previous campaigns, Mao used his power to pass refor ms and promote initiatives that he could count on being carried out enthusiastically by Party members and the Chinese public. This argument is supported by the fervor of the Red Guards who


17 re his image and heralded him as the savior of the students, workers, and peasants. It is also supported by documents produced by the Party during the early stages of the Cultural Revolution. niversity Red Guard and that is to measure everything against Mao Zedong Thought. Whatever accords with d by the CCP Central achieve brilliant victory under the leadership of the Central Comm ittee of the Party not having an official role in the Chinese government, has the personal authority to rule the country explains how Mao was able to take his idea for a C ultural Revolution and bring it into full fruition. It should be noted that while these statements may be biased as they were produced by Party members who risked their positions if they questioned Mao Zedong Thought, their intensity is very telling and t he cult of personality surrounding Mao is undeniable as a central condition that allowed for the Cultural Revolution to penetrate seemingly every aspect of Chinese life. encompassing sphere o f influence, there were several societal conditions that made the Cultural Revolution possible to the great extent that it was. First of all, there was a generation of youths anxious to take a revolutionary cause and engage in the struggle constantly prom oted by Chairman Mao. Th e mounting excitement for a revolution combined with


18 the frustration that social mobility was nearly impossible made for the perfect storm when Mao called for a revolution that would, theoretically, remove all of the barriers to so cial mobilization 1 previous campaigns, which definitely impacted how easily Cultural Revolution policies involv relationships, and the idea that there was nowhere to escape from the revolution (White 30 7). Thus, under the powerful and charismatic leadership of Mao Zedong, the already vulnerable Chinese population was subject to the hold of the Cultural Revolution that lasted for what would become ten of the most defining years in Chinese history. Cours e of Events The most iconic images of the Cultural Revolution come from its first stage: the mobilization of the Red Guards. Though this stage was brief, about one year, it was responsible for much of the violence and destruction that occurred during the Revolution. Because the Red Guards were such a crucial part of the Cultural Revolution and because it was the Red Guards that earned the most attention among the young French Leftists, the next section will deal exclusively with the Red Guards, their form ation, mobilization, their suppression, and their legacy. For now, it should suffice to say that the Red Guard 1 Realistically, even if the Cultural Revolu participants because Mao had no intention of eliminating single party rule or decreasing the power and privilege of the Party. Therefore, social mobility would still be available only to those who had strong connections in the Party.


19 stage lasted from spring 1966 (the inception of the Cultural Revolution) until early 1967 when the next phase of the revolution, that of the mil itary revolution, began. Since the early 1960s, Lin Biao, an influential leader of the PLA, had been instructing the army in Maoist Thought. By 1965 he took an extreme leftist step of abolishing ranks and in signia in the military so that officers and me n would be in distinguishable from each other. important role in the Cultural Revolution (Spence 570). The PLA first enter ed onto the scene in 1967 when it was mobilized to take back Shanghai from a group of students who had occupied the city offices (578). For the next year the PLA, which, thanks to Lin, was well versed in Maoist ideology, began intervening wherever the Red Guards got out of hand. Naturally there was a great deal of violence between the Red Guards and the PLA and there was very little civil order in the cities until mid 1968. The mobilization of the PLA against the Red Guards is interesting because, unlike the majority of student rebellion groups, the Red Guards were mobilized by the Party in a top down fashion and suppressed by the same type of top down initiative that mobilize d them just goes to students, he was unable to rei n them back in with ideology; violence was the only answer. Occurring simultaneously during the military revolution was the Campaign to P urify Class Ranks, Thought Propaganda Teams to investigate ence 582). These


20 described as hard labor and indoctrination camps. It would be interesting to know whether or not there was international knowledge at the time of what actual ly happened wing intellectuals to China in the 1970s, questions about the camps came up and there was a desire among some members of the group to visit them. Such demands were barely taken into consi deration by the The final stage of the Cultural Revolution was mainly political and revolved around who was going to succeed Mao after his death. At firs t, Lin Biao, a military officer who had shown his loyalty to Mao when h e indoctrinated the military in Maoist Little Red Book was considered next in line to be Chairman of the CCP. Mao, however, worried that Lin would try to preemptively seize power and therefore, w ithin the course of about a year, Lin went from being a well respected leader of the Army to a personal target of Mao. Lin was publically discredited and put through the ringer politically so that he was not able to climb up to a higher position He ended up d ying in a plane crash in late 1971. Today, it is popularly suspected that his plane crash was not accident, but rather a way for Mao to eliminate a potential rival. The death of the heir apparent led to a succession battle that would make up the last years o role during the mobilization phases of the Cultural Revolution, and Zhou Enlai It was a battle between radicals and mod erates, split along the same line that fragmented the Party prior to the beginning of the Revolution. The influence of each group waxed or waned


21 depending on the year, and when Mao Zedong died in 1976, his chosen successor, Hua Guofeng, previously a polit ical nobody, took his position even though his only claim to the arrest of the Gang of Four a radical group within the CCP who orchestrated some of the more violent mobilizations of the Revolution and who se members included Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen symbolized the end of the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards The Red Guards were students mobilized during the Cultural Revolution to carry ves against threats to the new Socialist order. Mao had previously shown an enthusiastic desire to introduce a new generation to revolutionary campaigns and struggle, so when the students in Beijing began displaying signs of dissatisfaction and unrest Ma o acted proactively. In 1966, Nie Yuanzi, a radical philosophy professor at Peking University, hung a large character poster on the walls of the university attacking its administration, which she claimed was cont rolled by the bourgeoisie. After this, stu dents began protesting and the turmoil even spread to the high schools. Some of the moderates like Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi wanted to send in teams to squelch these movements, but Mao, under the guidance of the Gang of Four, decided instead to use t hem as his tool, issuing the m arm bands and declaring them officially to a pseudo army that was eager to tear down authority figures and [that] was young and in experienced enough to blindly follow his authority and ideology. The Red Guards


22 began as the perfect solution to the question of how Mao was going to orchestrate his revolution. The first stage of the Red Guard mobilization involved the shutting down of schools and universities so that students would have time to plan out the revolution and study Maoist ideology. The students were seemingly happy to have a break from their normal coursework. As a Red Flag (a publication of the CCP) commentator at The c laim stretch of the truth but the idea that they carried around his teachings with them is supported by the images and pictures that are considered representative of the Cultural Revolution period. Noticing their eagerness, Mao ordered the Red Guards to reclaim their school s and take down any teacher or administrator guilty of showing any sign of bourgeois oppression. The Red Guards were also zealous in their pursuit of destroying prob lems in Chinese society. During the first stages of their mobilization, the activities of the Red Guards seemed fairly common as far as student demonstrations go. They demonstrated and participated in the distribution of Maoist propaganda and posted la rge character posters around their schools to show their distrust of authority. Some posters featured images of students gathering around Mao with their Little Red Books. There were also images that idealized the hardworking peasant farmer in the pristine countryside. At first the students


23 xposed, criticized, and repudiated the Red Flag Commentator 44). Mao even issued a set of regulations th r ough the PLA General Staff and General Political Department in August 1966 which forbade the PLA and the police from inte army should not become involved when student s clash with other students or with the 49). However, charged with th e task of demolishing the old and seemingly invincible to any consequence, the Red Guards quickly let the ir power get to their heads and they began seizing control in the places where they had displaced began to question his original August 1966 stance. The last straw for Mao came in 1967 when the Red Guard students seized the Shanghai city offices. Shanghai was too large and influential a city to be in the hands of in the conflicts between the student Red Guards and the worker Red G uards and the PLA whenever the students caused disorder and in the summer of 1967 a group of radical Red Guard leaders was arrested. The destruction and demolition carrie d out by the Red Guards was no longer seen as making way for a new society, but rather as civil disturbances. By October 1968, the highest authorities of the Communist Party were t Chairman


24 ended. At the time, revolutionaries praised the Red Guards and said th Red Flag Commentator 43). In a sense this assertion is true as the Red Guards phase is the best remembered stage of the Cultural Revolution and the phase most valorized by stu dents in other countries (like France) who hoped to stage their own social revolutions. Lasting Impact on the Cultural Revolution The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a devastating event that shook up the country for ten years. The memory and lessons of that period have had a great impact on Chinese society. The first of these impacts was political. The Cultural Revolution nearly tore apart the Communist Party impending death demonstrated that the Party desperately needed a system for succession. After witnessing the mishandling of certain Cultural Revolution events and the disorganized succession battle the population of China became more critical of the one party system and more aware of its failures. There also started to be an increased reliance on guanxi or personal relationships, in politics because people did not know whom they could trust outside of their circles and sometimes the only way to get by was to secure favors through personal connect ions with Party members. There were also deeper societal impacts. For example, an experience as traumatic as the Cultural Revolution requires a long recovery period. Thurston, in a study done f the Cultural Revolution


25 Chinese suffered from what seemed to resemble a sort of collective post traumatic stress disorder (6). Those who were of student age during the C ultural Revolution also suffered. They were pulled out of school, torn from their families, sent around the country, and encouraged to engage in revolutionary violence. When the ten years of the Cultural Revolution had passed, so had their main formative generation that grew into adulthood during a time of chaos. Political and Social Atmosphere in France prior to May 1968 France during 1950s and early 1960s was recovering from the devastation it experie nced during the Second World War while at the same time adjusting to a new regime. The social and political atmosphere of the Fifth Republic, established in 1958 after the French faced a crisis in the Algerian war for independence, created the prime condi tions for unrest. The events of May 1968 resulted from the combination of those conditions and the growing dissatisfaction of the youth. Charles de Gaulle, a military general and a prominent historical figure in French politics, founded the Fifth Republi c ; when writing its constitution he created an extremely powerful executive posit ion which he himself would fill until 1969. While de Gaulle cannot be held solely responsible for te were the centralized presidential position weakened parliament and removed the intermediaries essential to the checks and balance systems in place in other Western democ racies


26 (Singer 28). The French citizens believed, rightly so, that this position put too much power into the hands of a single person. Due to the glorification the revolution of 1789 that first overthrew monarchical rule in France and the constant remind ers of the consequences of a few overly authoritative individuals who had come in and out of power since then, many far reaching influences of Gaullism with scorn. In addition to these str uctural changes in the government, de Gaulle pushed for structural changes in the economy. During this time France became more dependent on foreign trade and industry grew q uickly and became more concentrated (Singer 28). While the dependence on foreign trade made concentration of industry led to shifting employment patterns, France was ultimately becoming richer and a more influential player in international markets as per plans. But as Singer points out, was little consolation for poor Frenchm en that their country was rich 39). polls when de Gaulle was up for reelection. Fran cois Mitterrand, a left wing candidate, wingers and other anti Gaullists prevented de Gaulle from winning an absolute majority in the first round of voting Even though de Gaul le ended up earning the majority of votes in the second round of elections and ultimately winning the race, the fact that he did not win the first round as expected was a sign that political expectations were starting to change. Wit office drawing to an end during the late 1960s and a new election on the horizon for 1969, the new frenzy of political preoccupation led many to


27 overlook some of the social changes that were happening during this time, particularly the social changes affec ting the university system. Entrance to French universities has been predicated on the belief that if a high school student in his or her final year successfully passed the baccalaureate exams, they would be able to gain admittance into a school in the Fr ench public university system. The g randes coles far more selective universities outside the system, were also an option for students coming from more elite backgrounds who had connections with the schools and a certain degree of financial well being to make themselves competitive candidates. Since attendance at a grande cole granted a student certain privileges, like more hope for success in the job market, this section will focus primarily on the uprisings in schools within the public university syst em. The first factor impacting the French university system was the post World War II baby boom. By the mid sixties, this upsurge in population led to an increase in the number of college aged students who faced overcrowding in universities without enoug h room to accommodate the increasing number of students. Furthermore, reforms, such as the Fouchet Plan proposed by de Gaulle, which outlined plans to divide higher education into cycles (opening up to the and abolishing the free university system, made it more and more clear to students that class distinctions defined the structure of the French higher education system (Singer 46 49). This perception of an oppressive, class biased system combined with the higher set of critical thinking skills that normally come with being a university student, made for a student body that was not only aware of a problem, but conscious of how to go about correcting the problem. The higher education system; the goal of the


28 less centralized authority, less bu reaucracy, increased interaction between students and professors, and a re evaluation of the traditional lecture style courses that discouraged student discourse. Unsurprisingly, student complaints extended beyond just the academic sphere as the students system, which was rigidly hierarchical. In short, the political and social atmosphere of France during the Gaullist years left France in such a state that the outbreak of some popular movem ent seemed nearly inevitable. Maturation and Growth of French Student Maoism As the influence and popularity of leftist and anti Gaullist movements grew, so did their polarization over a variety of issues. As mentioned in the introduction, one group b ecoming increasingly factionalized was the French Communist Party (PCF). Since the PCF had been doing well in office, the leaders were becoming increasingly willing to lean to whichever side allowed it to maintain the approval of the public. PCF leaders were remaining, for the most part, staunchly Stalinist despite more information being made available about the Soviet Union under Stalin. This factionalization and strict Stalinist leaning led some French communists to search for alternative sources of in spiration for the communist cause and various splinter groups started branching out and forming their own organizations. This phenomenon was not unique to the main party. Marginalized members of the Union des tudiants communistes (UEC) also began to br anch out and form their own groups, including the Maoist leaning Union des jeunesses


29 communistes marxistes lninistes ( Union of Marxist Leninist Communist Youth UJCml ), which was formed in 1966 with one hundred members (Bourg 485). The first stirrings of this radical Maoist student group began in the 1960s among students at the cole Normale Suprieure particularly among students of Louis Althusser. Althusser, a member of the PCF since 1948 and political and economic revolution was not necessarily accompanied by ideological revolution and that development proceeded unevenly He felt that France could learn more from the C hinese than from the Soviets, who he felt lacked certain subtleties (Bourg 480). Althusser began teaching his students about the complexities of Maoism as a new way to interpret the Marxist Leninist line and they quickly became enthralled. Asp ects of Maoism that students found particularly enticing were its emphasis on revolutionary violence and investigations During the Cultural Revolution, bureaucratic messages and the appeals he mad e to youth to take action (Singer 57). Initially, in attempts to emulate Althusser, who despite his Maoist tendencies refused to break with the PCF, the French student Maoists attempted to remain within the UEC under the delusion that they could conquer t he Communist Party from the inside (Bourg 482). Since their numbers were so few, the Maoists, who called themselves the Cercle d found themselves marginalized within the UEC and the first major rift occurred when the lm published an issue of Les Cahiers marxistes lninistes (The Marxist Leninist Revue) devoted to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution


30 (Chateigner 67). The official break occurred shortly after when on 16 December 1966 the UJCml was formed. The me mbers of the newly formed UJCml were very en thusiastic about their ideology, and popularity spread rather quickly among university and high workers living in t Red Guards out into the Chinese countryside to live among the peasants so that they could learn about their grievances and use this information to create upheavals in the villages. From 1966 through 1968, the members of the UJCml travelled to areas of rural France on enqutes their perceived equivalent of Red Guard investigations. During these enqu tes the French Maoist students would leave the confines of their elite bubble to travel to places where they could live alongside farmers and workers. Through these investigations, the students aimed to acquire a better understanding of class difference so that they could better articulate the grievances of the proletarian class (Bourg From Revolution 26 7) students whose backgrounds allowed them to avoid any sort of manual labor, it did not have the same effect as the Chinese investigations. Conditions in rural France were not nearly as bad as those in rural China and there was n ot a party chairman forcing the students to be there and closely supervising their every move. In August 196 7, several of the UJCml


31 ut forward the idea that France needed its own proletarian revolution. The revolutionary fervor of this group is well captured in Jean La Chinoise (1967), a fictional representation of five radical members of a student Maoist Group. Tho ugh it is not explicitly stated, it is implied that the characters represent students from the in the UJCml The film takes place entirely inside one apartment and there are only very brief appearances by actors besides the main five, which e mphasizes just how small and isolated the movement was. The majority of the scenes feature the students arguing about political and social theory, organizing events, iewers who know the history of both movements, the film becomes a rather funny caricature of the students that highlights their navet and lack of focus. One of the characters who best emphasizes this is Vronique, the child of two bankers who never witn essed hardship until she looked around the slums surrounding her university. She remarks on her enqute as a pleasant trip to the countryside where she picked peaches, c Her declaration makes it clear that no matter how much she or the other students who with the exception of one are members of the elite socio economic class, th ey will never be able to comprehend the lives of the lower class. Their understanding of class inequalities and hardship come s only from their books which they study in their elite La Chinoise in a 1967 i nterview with Le Monde Godard defended his film by stating:


32 Because everywhere people are speaking about China What distinguishes the Chinese Revolution and is also emblematic of the Cultural Revolution is Youth : the moral and scientific question, free from but this unprecedented cultural fact demands a minimum of att ention, respect, and friendship. (qtd. in Wolin 115) Today, the irony of the film makes it nearly comedic at some points, but at the time it Wolin 116). The reactions to this film actually represent to a great extent the perceptions of the whole Maoist movement of the 1960s in France. At the time, Maoism and student radica lism the disillusionment of the Maoist students on the fringe is extremely obvious. Another example of how fleeting th e fringe Maoist movement was is its virtual disa ppearance after the end of the Cultural Revolution at which time the horrors of the era were made evident to the international community. A notable exception to the trend of disavowing Ma oism after 1976 is Alain Badiou, who is worthy of a mention for his continued defense of Maoist identification 2 Badiou, a former normalien and student of Althusser, identified with the cause of the Cultural Revolution and pledged his dual allegiance to the Chinese Cultural Revolution and to the M ay 1968 movement For B Marxism Leninism ( Bosteels 577), which explain s why his political rhetoric at the time 2 In a 1997 lecture on the Cultural Revolution, Badiou still referred to himself as a present bold declaration for a movement that at least in France died out nearly thirty years prior (Bosteels 579).


33 denounced other French communists and even some of the ear lier Maoist groups like t he UCJml and the Gauche Proltarienne (Proletarian Left GP ) Follo wing the dissolution of the UJCml by the French government, Badiou formed his own Maoist organization called the Union des communistes de France marxistes lninistes ( Union of Communists of France Marxist Leninist UCFML) that like other Maoist splinter groups believed in the principles of the enqute and the (579). Together, these principles promoted the notion that building class cons ciousness and understanding the history of its development through struggle were the only ways to bring about political and cultural changes. Badiou and the UCFML also took the GP to task for its ouvririsme nate or y moralizing and paternalistic UCFML could be seen as true r than other French Mao sims since the ultimate target of the Cultural Revolution was never complete political autonomy for the workers. Badiou, as a political theorist, likely understoo d the complexities of the party politics behind the campaign better than his Maoist contempo raries even before information on the Cultural Revolution became widely available. The reason s why Badiou, despite not fitting into the other forms of French Maoism discussed in this thesis, deserves mention are the unique way in which he interpreted Mao ism for the French and the way he illustrates the lasting effect of such movements. When the Cultural Revolution came to an end, the majority of French Maoists denounced the campaign and the movement died out almost as quickly as it had


34 come to life. Ba diou on the other hand, recognized (as well as those of May 1968) and attributed them to part of a greater revolutionary learning experience (Wolin 161). Just because one attempt at a Maoist revolution had failed did not mean that the ideology had no merit. Rather, Maoism would have to evolve and expand in order to the 1970s still references the Maoist principles of inquiry, procedure, and investigati on; however, the works no longer present Maoism as their principal ideology In this sense, he half forgotten and half repressed lessons of Maoism (581). The fact that a term like post Maoism exists demonstrates the lasting legacy of political fringe movements as more than just random groups of overzealous idealists. T heir successes and failur es provide useful lessons for those who succeed them and their grievances, while perhaps poorly expressed, often reflect actual shortcomings of the systems against which they protest. Understanding the peculiarities of French Maoist groups and the develop ment of their ideology will be useful in the subsequent sections of this chapter that discuss the trajectory of the events of May 1968 and Maoist involvement with the movement The Events of May 1968 In the months preceding May 1968 students in the area s surrounding Paris began slowly to start demonstrating their discontent with the system through protests and various forms of resistance; it would only be a matter of time before the students in Paris joined in. The students in the capital, ready to set an example and be the center of


35 attention, orchestrated a movement that would come to set the precedent for many of the social movements that have stirred in Paris since. What could have been dismissed as a general youth rebellion against an out of touch de Gaulle was intensified by the radicalization of students outraged at the inequalities between the universities and the grandes coles In his chronology of events, Seidman lists the 3 May student occupation of the Sorbonne as the first rebellious act i n Paris followed shortly after on 10 May by the erection of barricades (287). Protests and riots took place around the city, concentrated especially in popular student areas like the Latin Quarter where the Sorbonne University is located. The violence o f these early events is immortalized in photos from the time that feature rioting students, forceful police officers, the hurling of paving stones and the general destruction of university property. Numerous students were arrested during these riots. It should be noted that while these events were seemingly spontaneous, student leaders actually spent a fair amount of time inciting, organizing, orchestrating, and planning out their tactics, sometimes with references to other great social movements in Fren ch history such as the French Revolution. One part May of 1968 that was rather unexpected was the introduction of workers into the movement and how students and workers simultaneously seemed to take up each o the radical student groups who, citing with the workers mainly because it gave credibility to their movement (Seidman 217) Rioting students building barricades an d occupying their schools combined with the striking workers essentially managed to shut down normal operations in Paris. De Gaulle had been unsure of how to react to this chaos, but he finally addressed the nation on 30


36 May. In his speech he announced that the National Assembly had been dissolved and new legislative elections would be held. He also announced a crackdown on the students the right to work and to end the occupations of assembly which was the first time right wingers had come out in full to show their opposition to the gauchistes (left w ing intellectuals). Throughout the month of June, policymakers negotiated with workers about the conditions under which they would return to work, and occupying students were being forcibly removed from their locations. Behind the events of 1968 there a re many complexities that are beyond the scope of this thesis. However, knowing some of the basic social and political concerns afflicting France at the time makes it easier to justify, or at least to understand, the actions of the protesters. The extent to which the events of 1968 actually constituted a revolution as the students claimed is debatable. Regarding the workers, many of their demands were met, including a shorter work week, as the de Gaulle administration was willing to do whatever it took to end the strikes that were paralyzing the nation. In terms of the university and education system, the students were unable to revolutionize anything and the fundamental inequality between the state university system and the grandes coles still exists to day. What it did do, however, was establish a new norm for public discourse in France. In Paris today, teachers and workers frequently go on strike and it is considered quite normal for students, when angered, to turn to the example of the May inspiration. The French government has also become more responsive to this


37 presumably to avoid another May 1968. Student Beyond This se ction will now take a step back and take a more focused look at the actions of the student Maoists during the period surrounding May 1968. During the time leading up to May 1968, Maoist student groups like the UJCml had been clamoring for a revolution. T hey began occupying and demonstrating with students as early as March, and ideology and develop tactics to fight back against conservatives (Seidman 97). Inspired by the C ultural Revolution, the Maoist students fixated primarily on how to initiate class struggle (103). When students and some other gauchistes organized the first Night of Barricades on 10 May, however, the UJCml did not participate. They considered this so rt of student revolt below them y felt that the students should be deserting to the cause of workers and the proletariat. Another factor that explains their hesitanc y to participate in the revolts a factor they would h ave been less likely to admit is the fact that the one of the main co mplaints of the Parisian university students was the inequality between the grandes coles and the public universities. This would be problematic for the UJCml members because the majority of them were from the cole Normale Suprieure, an elite grande c ole that produces the future professors and academics of France. Attending this school meant that they were


38 much more likely to have come from a wealthy background and have plans to become members of the elite class. On 13 May, the PCF called for a gene ral strike of the workers (Wolin 95). This turned out to be the opportunity the UJCml had been waiting for to join in on the eois domination as essential to the creation of straightforward than those of the students, but the Maoists preferred to make fights ideological. The main themes of their struggle those groups which had previously existed only at the margins (Wolin 99). This quote which Wolin lifts from a manifesto o f student goals demonstrates just how blindly the students were willing to adopt the Maoist cause since, clearly, the dismantling of democracy in France was not a tangible goal. The student Maoists fought alongside the workers and rallied for their caus e, even though, for the most part, they had no way of identifying with the arduous life of lower class laborers and most often belonged to the very bourgeois cl ass they were fighting against ntellectual work informed by an ethnographic methodology, guilt over class position, and a search for populist France demands met, members of the UJCml did not consider May 1968 to be a successful revolution. They partially blamed themselves for this failure because they had ignored


39 own local political and cultural situations (Bourg, From Revolution 53). Mao himself even advised against the blind adoption of Maoism. After beating themselves up over the perceived failure of May 1968 and struggling with self criticism, the UJCml event ually disbanded in October of 1968. After the disbandment of the UJCml, a handful of students formed the GP a group much more radical than the UJCml ever was that emphasized the necessity of violence to achieve change. Their position, which they publishe d in December 1968, stated: We are actually in a period of intense class struggl e we must not neglect the constructive role of violent struggle against repression: if its principal aspect is to protect the masses and th e communists who work among the m its secondary aspect is to accelerate political work. (qtd. in Bourg, From Revolution 54) Aside from a few instances that ended in the arrest of several of its members, the GP never had much success inciting violence in the French countryside or am ong the workers. The most interesting part about the GP taking up this position so late in 1968 is that by this time the Red Guard phase of the Cultural Revolution had already ended: Mao had started using the army to take down student movements in China b y the end of 1967 and by the summer 1968, civil order in China had essentially been restored. Overall, the similarities between the French student Maoists in the UCJml and the GP and the Red Guards in China appear only on the most superficial levels. F or example, both groups relied heavily on propaganda posters to promote their cause. A large character poster hung up by a professor in a Chinese University is what first incited the


40 Red Guard. The students of May 1968 also were fond of hanging propagand a posters in their universities. cultural legacy anism, internationalism, antifascism, anti i mperialism, and anti capitalism line philosophy into practice with their visits to the countryside and factories, although one group was officially mandated to do so while the o ther voluntarily took up the task for its own self enrichment. Furthermore, both groups wreaked havoc on their own universities to combat the bureaucracy inherent in their respective education systems and to demolish classist traditions. However, below t he surface, the two were fundamentally different. Whereas the Red Guard movement was a massive force orchestrated from the top down by the Chinese state, the French Maoist movements were made up of small groups of students choosing to incite their own rio ts without backing from any official political party and fueled by their own intellectual zeal. Comparisons and Conclusions In explaining both the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the French demonstrations of May 1968, this chapter mainly highlights the e xtreme differences bet ween these two social movements will discuss whether any of the comparisons drawn by the French between the two movements had any basis in reality, as well as the extent to which Fre nch students were disillusioned by Chinese Maoism.


41 The first factor that allows for comparison between the Cultural Revolution, movements that occurred in the late 1960s th at were propelled by students. On the surface, it even looked as though the students had the same targets in mind, namely university officials, traditional professors, and elite bureaucrats. Today it is quite clear that the French students missed out on the realization that Mao was urging attacks and the destruction of the bureaucracy as a means to eliminate any positions that posed a threat to him and to consolidate his own power when they attached themselves to his antibureaucratic stance. However, som e excuse can be made for the students since the top Chinese Communist Party officials tightly controlled what information about the Cultural Revolution was made available to the public, both internationally and within followed the Cultural Revolution would have listened to messages prepared by the Chinese state and those who visited China would have been kept on extremely short leashes, unable to speak Chinese themselves, and entirely dependent on their Party approved g uides. Another major difference between the two revolutions is how they were grounded in their respective societies. For example, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution came after a series of rigorous campaigns that the state imposed upon the entire p opulation. The measures imposed were often very drastic and any citizens caught not participating as expected faced extreme consequences, which meant that once the Cultural Revolution was declared, everyone was forced into action. Also, since the Cultura l Revolution was orchestrated by the state, it inherently had the potential to bring about actual change. Meanwhile, France historically has had its share of uprisings, but they were usually popular movements built from the ground up by


42 members of societ y who wished to protest something being done by the elite class. This made them more vulnerable when the state decided to crack down. It also meant that the movements occurred on a much smaller scale than those witnessed in China. At the time of both mo vements, the relationship drawn between the Red Guards and groups like the UJCml and the GP was created by restless students who were disillusioned by their place in the Parisian status quo and who were only exposed to Maoism in the sterile setting of the i r elite Parisian schools The students also witnessed respected French intellectuals like Althusser, Jean Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir taking up the Maoist cause, which likely contributed to its allure and its legitimacy. It seems as though the cu lt of personality surrounding Mao that swept over China during the Cultural Revolution had also spread to France. La pense de Mao appealed to French students who had been searching for a new ideology that would distinguish them from French interpretations of the Cultural Revolution mainly focused on what the French could see through the lens of their own revolutionary past. These include picking out things like the power of a revolutionar y spirit, the generational divide, the manifestation of societal inequalities, and the coming together of workers and students as one unified force. As it will be seen in the next chapter, the French perspective greatly influenced the works produced by th e French writers who traveled to China during the pick up on nuances in the writing and a ffects how their writings will be judged.


43 Chapter 2: Tel Quel Maoist Years For Left Bank intellectuals in Paris, there was always a certain degree of discourse In France it is not unusual for intellectuals to become public celebrities or to openly promote certain political, cultural, and social causes. This chapter will focus on a group of intellectuals, collectively referred to here as the Telquelians, who published the review Tel Quel from 1960 until 1982 and who represented what was considered to be the intellectual avant garde of their time. I will begin with an overview of the group and their politics and a discussion about their relevance to this thesis as well as an explanation of why I chose them over other French sinophiles wr iting during the Cultural Revolution. The next section will be a look at the writings on China published in Tel Quel in the spring and summer issues of 1972 and then in the autumn issue of 1974. The latter issue was written following a visit made by four China in spring 1974. Following this section I will examine selected writings from Marcelin Pleynet, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva, all influential affiliates of the review who participated in the voyage to China and who returned to France to publish works independently that dealt with their feelings regarding China after making the trip. The conclusion of the chapter will address the limitations of Western intellectualism in critically discussing the China of the C ultural Revolution and the lessons the Telquelians teach regarding this limitation.


44 Who and what was Tel Quel? Tel Quel was a scholarly, avant garde periodical that was esteemed as the pinnacle of intellectual thought in France during the 1960s and 19 7 0s for its coverage and reviews of the latest trends in literature, philosophy, science and, eventually, politics. Founded by Philippe Sollers and a group of his friends (all of whom left the publication within a few years) in the spring of 1960, Tel Quel would go on to produce ninety three issues through the Seuil publishing house before dissolving in 1982. During its twenty noteworthy and provocative in French intellectual t hought and writing Pleynet, Kris teva, and Barthes (Marx Scouras 5). The founding Telquelians, as well a educations. Their backgrounds created a certain irony wh en, during the later years of the publication, these writers took an explicitly anti bourgeois stance that heralded the working class as the leaders of an impending social revolution. The general writing style of the magazine also reflects the contributo qtd. in Marx Scouras those who were educated en ough to understand it and therefore served to ensure that Tel Quel was seen as always being at the forefront of elite intellectual talk It would also mean that any philosophical flights of fancy on the part of the editors had the ability to set the tre nds for the Left Bank as well as for international intellectuals who occasionally followed their lead.


45 In the beginning, Tel Quel attempted to maintain an apolitical stance a position that went against the status quo of politically active public intel lectuals. Intellectual involvement in politics had become popular after World War II and during the 50s when intellectuals began to debate what role they should play in shaping political opinions and whether or not they had certain obligations to contribu te. Simone de Beauvoir, for example, posed this question in her 1954 novel Les Mandarins She also made a highly politicized trip to China in 1955 based on which she wrote The Long March: An Account of Modern China The tome examines issues including t he status of China as a pariah state, female emancipation, and the educational programs imposed on Chinese peasants by the state. Others, like Louis Althusser and Jean Paul Sartre, aligned themselves with various left wing political organizations such as the Parti Communiste Franais (PCF). However, the apoliticism of the Telquelians could itself be seen as a very political critique of the current state of intellectual affairs. Some of the more liberal intellectual critics at the time accused the Telquel ians of being complicit with the dirty politics of the right because they chose not to engage in any politics (Marx Scouras 24). What was seen as complicity was actually an attempt by the Telquelians to bring back the idea of art for of literature. In a declaration of purpose in their first issue, Tel Quel 1 (Spring 1960), Bettina Knapp laid out their hope that literature once again be taken parting of the ways took place; let us be permitted to focus upon expression itself, its Scouras 24). The idea that it was possible to entirely disengage literature from politics may have been the result of id ealistic navet on the part of Tel Quel


46 fatigue they must have felt after dealing with the politics of the post World War II period, the Cold War, and the Algerian War of Independence, their desire to try was und erstandable. Instead of basing their review on lived experiences, the Telquelians focused on analyzing the writing and writers of the nouveau roman movement, which questioned the workings of language and undermined the formal structures of preceding liter ary genres. The ground breaking nouveau roman seemed to be a good analogy for Tel Quel oal of defining the next generation of French intellectualism. The fondness for the nouveau roman however, was short lived. A few years later Tel Quel redefined itself and officially ended its ties with the nouveau roman to embrace structuralism, which subsequently became the most in vogue literary trend. This new trend attracted many French students of the Latin Quarter to Tel Quel which expanded the publicatio readership and succeeded in bringing about record sales (Wolin 245). This structuralist phase ended up being a defining moment for the Telquelians, for it seemed as though they had finally found their niche. Tel Quel had become the publication for al maudits who, to the editors of Tel Quel represented the values of the avant garde. Publication in the review served to popularize the work of these writers among the topmost echelons of Fre Tel Quel through which French intellectuals analyzed literature and their society. Furthermore, it was during this time that Kristeva joined Tel Quel group and coined the term inte rtextuality The concept of intertextuality quickly gained popularity and even today will inevitably be brought up by scholars discussing French literature. Tel Quel also began taking an interest in the social issues of its time, or as Wolin states it, t he


47 ethods of intellectual training the quintessentially French doctrine of explication de texte This critical analysis of the world at large accordingly led to the discover y of its ills and subsequently to many theories about how best to correct them. This led to the realization that disengagement from politics was no longer an option for Tel Quel future Despite being accused of harboring Rightist tendencies when it w as first starting out, Tel Quel always defined its enterprise of cultural renewal in relation to the French Scouras (9); so when it decided to take an official political stance it chose the party that had been attracting left lean ing intellectuals for years: the PCF. The editors of the publication officially announced Tel Quel politicization must become right will not be published in the political party in the French system to have Telquelians felt that aligning themselves with the PCF would give them a platform through which they could promote thei r own ideas for social and cultural change. The Marx Scouras 142). Two years later during May 1968, the Telquelians chose not to support the protesting student branches of the PCF because they felt that the movement did not present enough forme thorique avan ce (advanced theoretical form). They


48 publicly dismissed the moveme nt that summer in a declaration, signed by all the members of the editorial board, that accused the May 1968 events of being nothing more activits individuelles et faiblement politiques so us des dnominations clectiques ou sentimentales (under eclectic or sentimental designations 3 ) ( Tel Quel bourgeois upbringing of the students would impede their ability to truly represent the socialist cause and that it was only the working class who could bring about a successful revolution. Tel Quel commentary of contemporary Maoist groups on the movements as well as those of present day historians who have been able to, in hindsight, highlight the flaws that next major interest was China and the publication became, for a time, a supporter of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. This was prob lematic because it was also around this time the early 1970s that scholars and journalists coming back from China began to publish books and articles that aimed to erase misconceptions about what was of the most prominent works, The was published in Paris in 1971 by the well known Belgian cept the name, and nothing cultural from China with positive interpretations of the situation. In fact, it was the praise of 3 All translations mine unless otherwise indicated.


49 Party member Maria Cultural Revolution (Wolin 269). From the point of the view of Tel Quel the Cultural Revolution was seen as achieving what May 1968 did not: a true revolution of the by assuming that the Mao was encouraging a public embrace of culture that would bring artists, writers, and intellec tuals to the forefront of society and essentially create an avant ga rde playground. Their Maoist, p ro China, stance was made official in issue 47 of Tel Quel (Autumn 1971), where they the corrupt bour geoisie Long live revolutionary China! Long live the thought of Mao Mouvement de juin 1971 (The Movement of June 1971). Their enthusiasm was strong and spurre d a short lived Mouvement de juin 1971 publication, several special editions of Tel Quel a group trip to China, and several individual publications describing the follo wing sections, but for now it suffices to say that this trip to China began to shake the Telquelians from their Maoist enchantment and by 1976 they had abandoned their Maoism in exchange for an interest in the United States. A few more fleeting movements would come and go after this until the publication shut down in 1982 and became China in Collective Publications During its Maoist phase, the editors of Tel Quel produced three separate issues of the review that were dedicated ent irely to China. The Telquelians published two issue s, Chine and Chine 2 before their voyage to China The first was a double issue (number


50 48 / 49) published in spring 1972 and the second issue (number 50) was published in the summer of that same year. Th ey named the third issue En Chine (number 59) and it appeared in the fall of 1974 These issues on China helped to expand the re adership of the publication and in fact, the issues Chine and Chine 2 had the highest sales of any other two year s of existence ( Hourmant Tel Quel section will analyze the issues Tel Quel published on China before and after their travels there to support the argument that it was blind intellectual cur iosity about China, which itself stemmed from a fairly privileged standpoint, that Telquelians were not shy about making public. After the visit to China, however, even though they were n ot ready to completely relinquish their Maoist affiliations, the Telquelians found themselves questioning the motives behind their alignment with the cause. The writing also began to acknowledge the potential biases in their perceptions of China and Chine se culture. This shift i s represented by the differences presented between the pre and post travel special issues. The first subsection of this discussion will examine the issues from 1972 and 1974 in terms of goals, content, and tone respectively T hen, following a brief interlude to describe I will analyze the changes between the issues to better understand how the attitudes of the Telquelians chan ged and how to account for the changes. 1972: Chine and Chine 2 Tel Quel first China issues covered a broad range of subjects with texts written by a diverse group of writers. Issue 48/49 includes collective works, a piece by


51 China), a tract wri tten by a cell of Maoist students from the cole Normale Suprieure de Saint Cloud and pieces by noted Telquelians such as Sollers, Kristeva, and Pleynet, in addition to works from various French and international intellectuals. Issue 50 covered slightly different topics and many of the articles tended to have a more scientific leaning. For example, the issue included a survey of Chinese laboratories and an article on the Chinese practice of acupuncture as anesthesia. It also relied more on contribution s from writers outside of Tel Quel group and will therefore receive less attention in this thesis. A noted exception to this is a collective piece written by the Tel Quel team which addresses the readers of the main newspaper of the PCF. Wi th the publication of Chine and Chine 2 the Telquelians clearly hope d to achieve certain goals, some of which were more explicit than others The first and most obvious of these goals was to share their knowledge a nd expertise on China and to clarify the ir position on the Cultural R evolution. In the opening article of Chine a collective Les textes runis dans ce numro aideront connatre mieux, nous philosophie chinoises, pour mieux suivre et comprendre les transformations politiques sociales et culturelles que produit et manifeste (7) The texts assembled in this issue will help to better understand, we hope, the particularities of Chinese language, literature, art, and philosophy, in order to better follow and understand the political, social and cultural


52 transformations that are produced and manifested in the revolutionary China o f today. This goal was partially meant to serve the self interest of the group sin ce this issue was published near the beginning of their Maoist journey when they would have had a very limited knowledge of the reality of the Cultural Revolution. It gave the Telquelians the chance to learn from the outside contributors they published in these issues as well as the opportunity to assert themselves as experts on China. In addition to putting their expertise on display, these initial issues gave them the op portunity t o clearly articulate their view on the Cultural Revolution, which is best summed up by the end of their vritable avant garde! Vive la pense maotstoung live the true avant Mouvement de juin 1971 190). This declaration exemplifies how French Maoists would adapt the Chinese cause and give it a distinctly French flavor. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao had made it his end goal to abolish the Four Olds (old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas) as he felt they were plaguing China and inhib iting its progress towards a true socialist state. The Telquelians behind the Movement of June 1971 adopted this Maoist language, but altered th e four olds to suit their needs. They defined the Four Olds of French intellectualism as : dogmatism, empirici sm, opportunism, and revisionism. B y g live the avant ve priority to the intellectuals as the leaders of a new movement to establish a purely socialist state in France. I n China, on the other hand, Mao vie wed intellectu als as a hindrance for the way they held onto the


53 Four Olds and therefore The Telquelians give little indication that they were aware of at the time Chine and Chine 2 were published ; furthermore, the availability and amount of information so crucial to them remain questionable space for other French Maoists to state their positions on China and the Cultural Revolution and to examine the use of Maoist practices in France. For example, they published the tract from the students of the cole Normale Suprieure de Saint Cloud who identified themselves as ( Friends of Chin a an d the Maoists of the School ). In this tract, Les amis praised the C ultural R evolution for developing productive forces in society and pushing for the polit ical mobilization of the masses. I t was the people, they believed, who held the key to a co economic development as well as its societal transformation because the masses were the only ones who could overturn the old class relations of production ( 191). The majority of the of the Maoist student groups had fizzled out by 1970 after an unimpres sive show in the May 1968 events and their largely unsuccessful enqutes to the activity to publish in a journal like Tel Quel This issue also gives voice to mo re intellectually mature Maoists such as Michelle Loi. Loi was a Maoist who had by the time of the issue s publication already travelled to China (a visit which is referenced in her article for Tel Quel ) and who held on to her Maoist beliefs longer than most of her intellectual contemporaries who had abandoned understood by


54 the international community. However, Loi seemed to have a deeper understanding of the nu ances of Maoism that contrasted with t ideology and its causes. She wrote two pieces for the Chine issue, but this awareness is Tel Quel rs of Tel Quel prise de position she outlines a list of pointers that she feels are neces sary to embracing Maoism in France (111). These pointers both critique Tel Quel t trajectory thus far and give advice on how the group should proceed wit h its fut ure involvement in the movement First, she informs the does not always Critical readers of Tel Quel could regard this statement as an allusion to the publication s history of flighty alignments with various intellectual, litera ry, artistic, and political trends. How can a group fully commit to gaining expertise on a subject when its affection will be predictably fleeting, only to be replaced with a new interest? In another stand out point, Loi states : Cette thorie [maoste] rappelle imprativement que toute littrat ure est un instrument de classe qui crit pour sa chapelle et, la limite, pour lui seul, est confisque en sa faveur


55 (112) This [Maoist] imperatively reminds us that all literatu re is an instrument of class writer who writes for his own coterie and, in extreme cases for himself alone, is really at the service of the bourgeoisie since he confiscates for himself the weapon that could carry the combat, the fire that should ignite the struggle. With this po int, Loi is clearly taking a stab at the Telquelians whose penchant for elevated language and coverage of obscure subjects narrowed their readership to intellectuals and higher level university students interested in keeping up with the status quo For Lo i, it d id not matter all that much that Tel Quel was working to deepen their understanding of Maoism and the China of the Cultural Revolution because to her, all of their work w as self serving. If the Telquelians want ed their Chinese studies not to be in vain, they would first have had to ascertain how to apply Chinese theory to the French situation and then bring it to the masses, because only the masses can effect change. Despite this criticism, Loi ends on a more optimistic note stating her belief th at Tel Quel has more potential than some other publications to ultimately choose the right path ( 113 ). An additional goal of i ssue 48/49 ( Chine ) was to situate avant gardistes like the Tel Quel group within the revolutionary movement. Despite Loi argument that the Telquelian s privilege obscured any actual effect their writings could h ave in advancing the fight, the group believed that the avant garde was indeed important because from its vantage point at the vanguard of society, it could see what others could not. B ecause of


56 this unique point of view the Telquelians believed it was their respon sibility to stand up and to employ the dialectic al relationship between politics, philosophy, and the sciences in order the people in the struggle for a communist Tel Quel e 3). From this statement it appears as though the Telquelians felt they were laying out a French interpretation of Maoism that simply needed to be put into practice. The problem r emained however that they themselves were doing little to actively engage in the fight and that those in whom they placed the Le dogmatisme la rescousse du rvisionnisme, Mouvement d e juin 1971 separate themselves from the members of the intellectual community who serve the bourgeois ie and promise that they instead will (mouvements ou partis) existant ou venir qui expriment, dfendent, et organisent les dclencher et encourager la future movements and experimental parties defend and organize for 190). This is an inspiring thought; however, there were not at this time any pushes for a large scale prole tarian revolution in France because the conditions for such a movement simply did not exist class in France was far better off than that of China or other less developed countries. Furthermore, a couple of these goals d o not fit with the others. Fighting censorship and supporting the rights of special interest groups, for example, are worthwhile and practical causes whereas encouraging widespread and perpetual class struggle as stipulated by


57 Mao, is not necessarily app ropriate in the French context These remarks also further demonstrate a lack of understanding of Cultural Revolution practices. Not only did Mao heavily censor creative and intellectual material, he also used struggle as a means of preventing anyone fro m gaining enough political power to threaten his position. Authors like Leys had by the early 1970s, already started hinting that such might be the true dynamics of the Cultural Revolution, but the Chinese state still succeeded in keeping a great many tr access to information is one excuse for their adopting such a problematic stance, it is interesting that a group with a distinguished ability for critical thinking would fail to questio n the true implications of the statements they were making. In many ways, the against thei r better judgment. In cementing their theoretical place in the coming communist revolution, the Telquelians also took the opportunity to criticize dissenters and assert their position as authorities on the Cultural Revolution. This position is made most ne sont en rien, comme voudraient le faire croire les idologues bourgeois ou Cultural Revolution, the current philosophic struggle in China are not at all, as the bourgeois ideologues or revisionists would like us to believe, a palace La lutte 132). The iron y of this statement is that while he and his Tel Quel comrades may have had a slightly more informed view of the Chinese Cultural


58 Revolution, Sollers was still very much idealizing it and seeing in it only what served his own purposes. Ultimately, the rea lity of the Cultural Revolution was not at al l as the Telquelians would have liked to believe a truth they would learn in a few years time when they made their collective voyage to China. The tone of these issues, particularly of Chine came across as ve ry radical in that it was proposing drastic political, social, and economic change. The radical language was most evident in the Telquelians enthusiastic praise of the Cultural Revolution and in their calls to action The rhetoric used in this issue gre aspects of the revolution and is meant to dru m up support for Maoist China. The strongest language t hroughout the issue is employed in the articles signed by Tel Quel as a collective. These pieces make b road claims about b oth the scope and the nature of the revolution. The group writes for example that the Chinese experience provides a valuable example for any and all revolutionary movements worldwide ( Tel Quel, declaration, one senses the same c onviction held by the student Maoists of 1968 6 9 that Ma oism was universally applicable. O nce again this belief went against warnings from the Chairman himself that Maoism, as it was created for the Chinese context, could not be blindly applied universal ly. Signing the most radical because it suggests that there is a collective agreement on all of the issues. Furthermore, since the Telquelians played an influential role in setting the intellectual trends of the time, the collective signature suggested Tel Quel tactic was unsuccessful, however: intellectuals were curious about China, definitely, but


59 there was no resurgence of the Maoist movement that had almost completely died down by 1969. No one was more assertive in the attempt to stir up fervor for the Maoist movement than Sollers. Sollers directly addresses the bour geoisie and the revisionists and asserts that the Great Proletari an Cultural Revolution, whether they want ed to hear it or not, ha d made possible a critique of the Stalinist left a goal which they had been trying to achieve ( 108). It is remarkable that after witnessing the disaster of the Stalinist revol ution, Sollers failed to notice any similarities in the Maoist revolution that might have indicated its eventual failure Finally, Sollers most boldly sets the tone of the the espoir et confirmation pour les rvolutionnaires du monde entier 132). thusiasm came across as more confident and aggressive. Furthermore, as the figurehead of the was likely a key contributor to them. ina This section will very briefly outline the Telquelian s 1974 trip to China that served as the inspiration for issue number 50: En Chine (Fall 1974). The group that traveled to China consisted of Philippe Sollers, Marcelin Pleynet, and Julia Kristeva, all of whom belonged to Tel Quel closely associated with the Telquelians and who occasionally collaborated with them or


60 appeared in their review, accompanied them as did Franois Wahl who worked f or Tel Quel travelled to China with the Telquelians Wahl does not receive attention in this thesis because he was not closely affiliated with the magazi ne publish ing only two articles in the e run and he did not publish on the subject of China. The trip lasted three weeks during April and of such as Beijing, Shanghai, a nd Nanking, but more important are the type s of places to which th ey were taken in these cities. The Telquelians, under the watchful eyes of state appointed handlers, were escorted to factories, h (schools designed to indoctrinate cadres and intellectuals with Maoist ideology), and models of popular Le retour idealized curiosity and a desire to learn were exposed to a sterilized, artificial version of China that was carefully constructed to fulfill exactly what they des ired and expected to see in Maoist China. Y et despite the obvious care taken by the state to ensure the which caused them to begin questioning, however slightly, their Ma oist allegiances. This is evident in the shift that occurred between the 1972 and 1974 China centric issues of Tel Quel. 1974: En Chin e Tel Quel travel issue, En Chine covered a narrower range of subjects than the previous China issues. The iss ue concerns itself with analysis rather than activism or promotion of a certain idealized China and there are more theory based articles. The


61 issue heavily features the writings of the travelling members of the group (Sollers, Kristeva, and Pleynet), whil e the contributions from outsiders are far fewer than they were in Chine and Chine 2. It is curious that Barthes did not have any articles published in this issue of the review since he had a long history of publishing in the review and would continue to publish articles in future issues After reading the En Chine issue it becomes quite clear that the Telquelians had based on their recent trip there ; and (2) to pro vide theoretical justification and reasoning for the Cultural Revolution in order to dispel some of the myths surround ing it. Regarding the insights, it is notable that the three primary Telquelians chose very different topics to highlight in their post t ravel articles. tend to exhibit a focus that blends concrete observations with abstract visions of positive revolutionary forces at work or on display. The concrete observations serve the purpose of describing the physical nature of Chin a by pointing out things that were unexpected to him. For example, he remarks that while there were there were also new architectural structures 5). His tone in this sentence suggests that he is trying to convince his readers that China is improving, and that it is (or should be) the ambition of all modernizing nations. Further on in the issue, in a separate article, Sollers ed to not see in the streets the poster


62 be fair to claim that his shock at not seeing large character posters in Beijing was a result of his unfamiliarity with the co ur se of the Cultural Revolution in Beijing where by 1974 it had largely become a power struggle among the top ranking state offi cials. Sollers also makes less literal observations based on the political and cul tural environment that surrounded him in Chin a that often come across as exaggerate d praise for revolutionary China For example, he writes that China is the only serious enemy of those who use a religious or idealistic world vision as a tool to exploit others because China sets the example for any potential revolutionaries who have realized the exploitative nature of such a vision and wish to fight against it Although here he is clearly criticizing the Western world vision of democracy and capitalism for all, this argument could ea sily be turned around and used against the Cultural Revolution. Mao ha d an extremely idealistic world vision that catered to his own ambitions and was using the Cultural Revolution as a means to exploit the Chinese people and force them to carry out his d ream. Since due to the nature of the Revolution, dissent from within was nearly impossible, it was up to the international community to piece together and realize the true nature of the Revolution and fight against it. Sollers, ironically, rather than re alizing the exploitative nature of the revolution and working to raise awareness against it, promotes it as an example. He also writes: (I was struck by this in China: the ability to perform 18). This statement refers to the manner by which the Chinese Communist Party ( CCP ) redefined Chinese history according to the Communist past in order to serve the purpose s


63 of the Cultural Revolution, which in some ways is similar to the manner in which Sollers was taking the Cultural Revolution and reinterpreting it so that it made sense in the context of a French Communist struggle. Kristeva focused her attention on the wome n of China whom she observed and with whom she, to a very slight extent, interacted. Like Sollers, she reflects the current state of affairs rather favorably. est aussi une histoire de libration While valid to some extent this statement is also an oversimplification of the situation. It can be argued that the idea of achieving a purel y socialist state woul d improve by erasing the differences between the sexes and replacing them with a uniform worker identity, which theoretically leads to everyone being treated as equals. In the Chinese case, while there were som e wom en in top Party positions, most of the campaigns of the Cultural Revolution were orchestrated by male officials Nevertheless there was an attempt by the CCP guides to present women as having a significant role to play in the movement As Kristeva writ s hros: ce sont des hrones single h by sayin g that while in China she also witnessed real life Chinese women as rebels and as essential force s in 28). impro knowledge that Kristeva was a feminist scholar and that they aimed for their country to


64 Krist eva still recognized that there was still a great deal which still needed to be done to achieve equality With this in mind, she also comes to the important realization regarding the vast differences between the feminist movement in France and that in w hich the Chinese impossible de prendre leurs problmes pour les ntres impossible to take their (28). This declaration can be interpreted to me an that because Western women experienced an entirely separate set of struggles than the Chinese women, it would be impossible for them to understand and engage in the same kind of fight. Kristeva would go on to expand on the role of Chinese women in her 1 975, book length publication Des Chinoises ( About Chinese Women ) which will be discussed later in this chapter. Pleynet was less i ntent in making observations tha n he was on reflecting on his own experience in Chin a and questioning the Westerner s goa l s in visiting in China as well as the accuracy of any accounts he might write on the Cultural Revolution. He notes his hesitancy to assert anything about the state of China and attribute s it to the fact that l incontestablement lie la question de la langue the minimum unde rstanding that one with the enormous complexity of the co ntemporary C hinese reality, is incontestably linked in mind, Pleynet goes through China wary of accepting his own interpretations of what he


65 sees and hears knowing that it has all been filtered through a state censor or translator. He writes that h is motivation for going to China was th e necessity to fight against dogma and question the preconceived notions the French had about China 31) The awareness exhibited by Pleynet suggests that, unlike his Tel Quel colleagues, he was not expecting China to affirm beliefs that he had already established. Rather, he was open to being challenged by what he saw and less willing to draw decisive conclusions from the artificiall y constructed China to which he had gained access. The En Chine issue also tries to provide theoretical justifications and reasoning for the Cultural Revolution in order to dispel some of the myths surrounding it. The Telquelians saw China as working t oward a fully develo ped form of Marxism that could not be achieved without struggle and even go on to boldly state that Tel Quel worth as a theoretician. They un derstandably emphasize that fact that it is impossible to understand from a Western academic point of view all of the difficulties faced by the Mao contre Con fucius Cult ural Revolution is a valid movement because of the ways in which it promotes the study of history and dialectic as in all its forms) (12). It is ir creating a purely socialist China that fell completely under his control was in and of itself a completely unrealistic dream Sollers maintains howe ver for he believed that a struggle against Confuc ianism


66 could only be met with violent resistance. Putting down this violent re sistance was and to avoid the rise of a new bourgeoisie 3). The majority of the intellectuals writing for Tel Quel at this time came from bourgeois backgrounds so their overwhelming support of a proletaria n revolution that would bring down the bourgeois once again comes across as sounding quite nave and contradictory The tone of this issue is much more personal than Chine or Chine 2 as well as significantly less radical The first person je (I) is used throughout by all of the writers and this ends up making the articles seem less assertive and more aware of their own biases and oversights. While critiquing a 1974 article about China that appeared in Le Monde for example, the Telquelians wonder Connat il le contexte? Sans oes he know the context? Probably as imperfectly as we do Sollers, admission to t he fact that as much as they thought they had prepared themselves, once they arrived in China they realized that the Chinese reality was not how they believed it to be and that perhaps their studies had mislead them The Tel Quel group also had to com e to terms with the fact that the more they learned about the Cultural Revolution, the less certain their understanding of it became Au fond, Mao et le parti chinois sont en train de donner la rvolution culturelle une ampleur beaucoup plus In reality, Mao and the CCP are in the process of giving the Cultural Revolution a much more ambitious scope than we had thought faith that an event like the Cu ltural Revolution could bring about the changes they sought for French society was also dim inished. Prior to


67 their trip to China the Telquelians seemed to believe that a movement of such great magnitude could usher in a new French society where the prol et ariat reigned and intellectuals thrived in a realm of absolute freedom; however, upon their return, they began to doubt that this was feasible or even desirable. K risteva expresses this doubt when she writes that et rien ne garantit qu e les efforts actuels ne seront pas engloutis sous la mare du rvisionnisme encore prsent ou par un retour au syst m e bourgeois has yet been played out, and nothing guarantees that the current efforts will not be swallowed up under the ever pr esent tide of revisionism or by a return to the outcome that had yet to materialize. Examining the issues of Tel Quel published on the subject of China and the Cultural Rev olution provide s a good example of the collective nature of their Maoist movement and reflects the image of the Telquelians that would have been projected to their contemporary audience The habit of the pieces in En Chine to blend the personal with the t heoretical would be echoed in the individual works by Barthes, Pleynet, and Kristeva, which spanned several genres and appeared over the years following the China in the Individual Publications of Telquelians The works covere d in this section come from several genres including journals, theory, and fiction. Writing these individual pieces gave the members of Tel Quel the chance to focus on and expand upon their own personal interests W hile Tel Quel did not always adhere str ictly to the prescribed format of the review, there was a certain decorum


68 of style that had to be maintained By publishing independent works, the Telquelians were able to experiment with styles like the travel journal and the novel. In addition to styli stic freedom, these works allow ed their writers to write honestly without having to worry about may not have been popular with the rest of the group as well as even critiques of t heir Telquelian colleagues. These works also allow readers to better contextualize the changes of opinion that occurred between the 1972 and 1974 issues of Tel Quel by providing a detailed look at the China experience d by the Telquelians. Those that were written or edited for publication years after the fact also provide the authors a chance to explain and come to terms with their own changes of opinion and to reflect upon that period of their life in order to determine their motivations and make judgment s on their former selves. This section will begin with an in dept h look at the respective travel journals of Roland Barthes and Marcelin Pleynet and discuss their objectives, their tones, and to what degree they were aware of their biases as Western intel lectuals observing a completely foreign culture. I will then orks concerning her China experience T he first is a nonfiction work titled Des Chinoises and the second book, Les Samouras is a roman clef in which the protag onist, Olga (based on Kristeva), at one point travels to China during the Cultural Revolution with a group of fellow writers After noting the differences and some of the similarities, between two works, I will also discuss the implications of publishing fiction versus publishing nonfiction.


69 The Travel Journals of Roland Barthes and Marcelin Pleynet Roland Barthes, a literary theorist best known for his work on structuralism, was a friend of Sollers and a frequent contributor to Tel Quel th roughout twenty year run. He kep t a detailed journal o f the 1974 trip he took to China with Tel Quel This journal was later published in an edition that reproduced the journal true to its original format It often co ntains sentence fragments that Barthes jotted down without commentary and also includes several rough sketches he drew of some of the things he observed but could not describe in words Carnets du voyage en Chine adheres to the diary format in w hich it was written and its main objective is to provide a detailed and, for the most part, objective Carnets reads as though it was s trip and gives little indication that it was intended for publication or extensively edited beforehand To achieve a faithful account of his time in China Barthes made sure to make record of events as they happened in the moment. He also provides a gr eat deal of specific information about dates, times, places, the types of tea he drank, and verbatim transcriptions of presentations he attended. He t akes note of the beauty of calligraphy written on the walls of almost every official building the T elquelians visited (39) and of the large banners that announce the Telquelians amis franais and welcome them in various locations (37, 42). In r eading these entries it every surface was clearly done with the propagandistic intent of infiltrating thoughts at every moment, but to a foreigner visiting China at time who could not read


70 the text, the characters were simply stylistically intriguing. F urthermore, knowing the hostile perception th at many Westerners held towards their country the Chinese officials who organized Tel Quel to counter any possible negative preconceptions in the h opes of being positively represented It seems only fair to give Barthes the benefit of the doubt that he was able to see through much of this charade, but he makes no mention of it in his journal. Barthes critical nature also shows through in his narrative and at times he uses his journal as a place to provide a commentary that he cannot speak aloud during his visit because of the handlers present These passages are normally designated by brack ets and vary in content from hypothetical musings to theoretical realizations. While attending an Camarades Peintres Painters moment from recording the presentation to observe their handlers. He w dans ces visites, les accompagnateurs prennent des notes. Peut during these visits, the guides from the place or the Agency take notes. Perhaps [this reflects] 9 ). His use of the word enqute is interesting because it is the French word used to indicate the Red Guard investigations into the Ch inese countrys ide during the earliest stages of the Cultural Revolution. It was also a term adopted by the French students in 1968 9 who tried to re only to realize they were impossible and altogeth er useless In many ways, the Telquelians, by traveling to China, were engaged in their own sort of cultural enqute However, the


71 them. Barthes clearly picks up on thi s in his journal, and this sense of feeling will be also be noted b y Pleynet and Kristeva in their publica tions. This feeling also forces Barthes to think critically about the question of China and how it is viewed as the in the West. H Le bon regard est un regard qui louche The first part translates most literally loucher tr eyed. Using the first sense of the word, to squint, the phrase could be taken to mean that a proper picture of China cannot be obtained without concentrating and focusing sharply on the small details. The second sense of looking at China through a cross eyed gaze is perhaps more interesting and seems to imply that a for eigner is most likely to see an accurate representation of China if he is willing to distort his vision and look through a lens that refuses to see present things as they appear literally. I would argue for the second translation given that the idea of squinting suggests receiving a very narrow and limited perspective whereas the c ross eyed look suggests removing the Western albeit uncomfortable, vantage point. Carnets when he is not merely recording the highlights of his excursions often comes across as judgmental and diagnostic. The state of women and sexuality in China are two subjects on which he passes judgment. During a presentation on the life of women before the Cultural Revolution it was stat ed that under the Confucian mindset a higher degree of importance was placed on the man than on the


72 woman, but that thanks to the Cultural Revolution, woman have been liberated. Barthes Femmes toutes gales aux hommes generalizat ion essentializes the situation of women in China and does not allow for any further investigation. This lack of desire to further investigate or question the claims made about the situation was likely the response the Party auth orities giving the presen tation intended to evoke in their audience. Given the critical tone taken up elsewhere in the article, it may be possible that Barthes was being tongue in cheek by unquestioningly declaring and accepting the intended message of the presentation but the lack of further context makes it impossible to draw conclusions He does not discuss women or femininity any further except to later il y trop de filles dans ce pays. Elles sont partout this country. They are eve (163). Barthes also makes speculations about sexuality in China, which is a subject that, obviously, was never discussed by their Que fait il dans la journe? Comment est sa chambre? Que pense t il? What is his bedroom like ? What does he think? Wh This speculation, along with his annoyance at the abundance of homosexuality. Sexuality was clearly a taboo subject in China during the Cultural Revolution When Barthes does t ry to bring up the issue of sexual tension among the young people active ly worki ng together in the revolutionary campaigns he is told that the young people are oriented so diligently toward hard work, their studies and healthy lifestyles, that the


73 idea of sexual liberty before marriage is considered immoral and is unacceptable to yo ung people (49). In addition to women and sexuality, Barthes also attempts to pass judgment on industry and production, critiquing the homogeneity of the wor kers and taking down statistics as they are recited to him. U ltimately however, the subject of pr oductivity levels before and after the Cultural Revolution bores him and he chooses ins tead to focus his attention for rest of that particular factory visit on admiring and describing the decor (57 58). Carnets du voyage en Chine do es give the impression that Barthes was of the fact that his position as a French person was influencing his view and perception of things. He discusses, for instance, the fac t that he is, at all times, viewing China on three separate levels of perception. First is the phenomenological level based on his first manire occidentale ngs. Second ly is the structural level that attempts to answer or explain how everything works and the nature of the functioning state apparatus. The third level is political and involves studying the struggle between the various political lines and analy zing the Revolution ( or asking if there even is one ) (Barthes 78). While Barthes does not decisively state which level of perception is best or most accurate his journal seems to be based mainly on the first, which perhaps as an outsider from the West wi th only a superficial view of China and the Cultural Revolution is all he is capable of doing Evidence of his knowingly being perceived as such an outsider is provided in a passage about a visit to a zoo where he remarks that he and his companions


74 personnes nous regardent ly travel narrative is interesting for the way in which it gives the reader an u ncensored glimpse of his thoughts and creates for the reader The journal of Marcelin Pleynet on the other hand, is much less candid as he ad mits to rewriting it based on the notes that he took while he was in China in order to make it more readable. Pleynet was a writer who served as Tel Quel the duration of its publication Le Voyage en Chine: chroniques du journal ordinaire, 11 avril 3 mai 1974: extraits was published in 1980 with an introduction by Pleynet that provided background on t he trip as well as what he hoped to express through his text. U nlike the un edited nature of Ba age in is more thoughtful and very reflective of his being a poet. The journal is more concerned with providing testimony to what he witnessed in China than with providing an exact account of the trip. In his introduction, Pleynet writ Les pages qui suivent When reading any text, a reader must be aware that any information to which they have acc ess is provided at the discretion of the author, which always leads to concern about what is being left out I n this case, Pleynet explicitly tells the readers that what they are reading is only what he deemed essential, which implies that things have be en cut. T he reasoning behind these omissions and their significance are up for speculation. He cites an internal conflict about the value of an interpretations of the Cultural Revolution as his reason for not publishing the journal sooner, but ultimately decides to publish to simply answer the question: je


75 donc vu et vcu en Chine ? Nevertheless, this direct ly stated goal does not totally relieve his uncertainty because he finds hims Les micro vnements ici rapports rvolutionnent ils quoi que ce soit et mritent Are t he micro events recounted here revolutionary and do they merit publication Once again, a value judgment must be made by both the writers and the readers. Clearly, in the end, Pleynet decided that these events did indeed merit publication and for the reader who is familiar with cademic work and his articles on China in the Tel Quel issues, the publicati on certainly has worth because it illustrates a learning process and highlights the thoughtfulness with which one must approach the study of certain topics. not stop Ple ynet from occasionally theorizing about the Chinese society that surrounds him or about the Cultural Revolution. For example, Pleynet recounts a conversation he has one night with Kristeva and Sollers on the sexual repression of the Chinese people with wh om they had interact ed While we saw that Barthes was clearly occupied with sur le fait que that, based on what he has been able to see, there are still Confucia n morals at play which the bureaucra tic revolutionary apparatus uses to its advantage to direct the easily influenced young people toward activities that it deem more suitable (i.e., revolutionary rather than sexual activity) (33). Another theory he prese nts also stems from a discussion among the Telquelians and concerns the struggles of the Cultural Revolution and why it has not moved forward as anticipated. He writes that the internal struggle between two lines of thought within the overall struggle, wh ich he describes as


76 being two sided and dogmatic, prevents unification and therefore prevents any mouvement rel a way for him to reference the disparities between Tel Quel despite th e fact that the group usually presented a collective stance on the issues it took up Pleynet, for example, distanced him self to some extent from the group never embracing it as enthusiastically as say Sollers, but also participated i n the Maoist Mouvement de juin 1971 and its offshoot publications. At t he end of his journal which includes a short entry written a few days after he arrived back in France from China Pleynet admits that, based on what he witnessed, comparisons between France and China no longer seem relevant: Au retour, et plus particulirement ce matin au cours de cette promenade dans la return ing and most particularly this mornin g over the course of this walk in the French had this revelation back in 1974, the journal was not published until 19 80, by which time Tel Quel ha d abandoned its Maoist l eanings. This could be an indication of the caution Pleynet employed when publishing assertions that perhaps went against the collective current stance for in 1974 some members of the publication were still trying to make Maoism work for the French Pl Le Voyage had a much more literary tone than Barthe s journal did and he admits to not following the traditional structure of a travel journal. He purposely La tradition du voyage en Chine pas ici [dans ce journal] respecte radition of the voyage to China and of the informative


77 and scholarly manuals that report on that voyage is not respected here [in this journ al] (13). By not following the tradition of his predecessors Pleynet is able to give a more personalized and subjective account of China. However, his poetic language sometimes le a d s to an exoticization of China that is quite characteristic of Western travel narratives This exotic representation is most blatantly demonstrated when he writes about the first time that he really felt like he was seeing China. He gives the following description of the place where the waters of the Huangpu River run int des deux fleuves, rencontre des eaux que traversent des jonques brunes sous un ciel o ( the color of the two rivers, the meeting of the waters traversed by brown junks under a sky in which a fe (52). With this description he essentially becomes another tourist interested in the exotic calm of the Chinese countryside a role he had been trying hard to avoid Finally, even though Pleynet prepared his manuscript before publi shing it, it still carries the tone of a personal diary that was not intended for publication. This confessional tone is illustrated by passages beginning ce qui me touche la Chi ne est pour moi riche en emotions de toutes sortes (China is, for me, rich in emotions of all kind s The emotional responses that China evokes in him provide further evidence of the fact that although Pleynet aimed to distinguish his journal from other personal accounts of China, he allowed himself to be hypnotized by the exotic nature of the foreign. Despite the fact that Pleynet sometimes slips into the role of nave tourist that he claims to resist actively he is clearly aware of the biased ga ze through which he, as a Frenchman and complete outsider, viewed China. He also seems aware that his writings


78 will not reflect an entirely true vision of China because he and the Telquelians were only being exposed to an artificially sterile China approve d by the CCP He notes frequently that the Telquelians were under constant surveillance and how even when they were given moments to themselves they felt the need to keep their guard up. The travel journals of Barthes and Pleynet, though quite different do provide useful insights into how French Maoists traveling to China during the Cultural Revolution perceived their surroundings. Though journals are often considered valuable for the fact that they are written in such close proximity to an event (Mar x Scouras 14), those of Barthes and Pleynet are useful because, while they were written from as close as they could have physically gotten to the Cultural Revolution, in every other sense they were written from a distance too great to cross by airplane. T his distance illustrates not only the great lengths that the CCP took to ensure that the true extent of their campaign were founded on an illusion that had to be sha ttered before any true understanding of the situation could be developed. Hourmant argues that the journals of Barthes and Pleynet invitation au voyage ) offered by China, which at the time (and to some extent at the present) the Western world saw as shrouded in mystery ( 71). In their own ways, the journals of Barthes and Pleynet both dispe lled myths and created new ones. The vision of China described in each work differ s from the trad itional, idealistic visions of China represented by previous travel writers and overly idealistic French Maoists, yet both of their narratives leave a great deal to the imagination. They both force their readers to wonder : what was behind the cleverly con structed veneer created by the CCP officials who served as their guides?


79 Julia Kristeva: Between Theory and Fiction Julia Kristeva is a feminist theorist, philosopher, and psychoanalyst who joined French intellectual circles in the late 1960s after movi ng to Paris from Bulgaria She quickly became an integral member of these circles and joined forces with Sollers and Tel Quel early on. She is best known for her work in feminism and semiotics and remains extremely popular today thanks to her key role in the development of French feminism along with Hlne Cixous and Luce Irigaray in the 1970s Also, among all the Telquelians, it is her writing on China particularly the nonfiction work, Des Chinoises that is the most often discussed and sometimes criti cized for the ways in which it portrays China and the Chinese population Marx Scouras makes note of several scho larly complaints that have been made against Des Chinoises which include trying to portray China as simply a mirror to the West, feminizing C hina negative other, and through its positive investments in China (106 8). Rather than join the accusers, this thesis presents Des Chinoises as more of a learning experience for Kristeva and a sort of tr avel journal by proxy. It will be analyzed in relation to Les Samouras a novel that was published in 1990 and includes a chapter in which the protagonist takes a trip to China during the Cultural Revolution. Des Chinoises is organized into two parts. The first half De ce ct ci Femmes de Chine attempts to analyze the condition of women in China and to study gender relations there By writing ba sed on her experience in the country, Kristeva attempts to portray the women of China without making it all about Western Liberal thought. Kristeva clearly understood that there was a breach between Chinese and


80 Western cultures that had been previousl y ig nored by Westerners writing on the China. She felt that they wrote about China as it conformed to their own Western ideology and comme like contre against Des Chinoises work attempted, by being thoroughly aware of this bias, to provide as accurate a representation as possible. Kristeva writes that ) ( Des Chinoises 15 16; About 12) and while her eyes may have been nave, they were certainly open and ready to engage with their surroundings rather than passively observe. Furthermore, while the book clearly attempts to provide an accurate representation of Chinese women vrits plus ou moins concluantes sur la vie et le dveloppement de la famille et de la femme chinoise en ce moment mme ( ) ( Des Chinoises 180; About 159 ). This admission makes it evident that even though she was in the country, the same distan ce that separated Barthes and Pleynet from their subjects prevented Kristeva from forming a clear picture of all the implications of the Cultural Revolution on gender relations. Such clear pictures can, essentially, only be created in hindsight. Throug hout Des Chinoises Kristeva displays a high level of self awareness, privy to all of the complexities that affect the lives of Chinese women. Moreover, as a write r, she is limited by what her words are able and unable to express. For instance, she voix de Chinoises: basses j


81 dans la conversation, vibrant es veloutes dans la poitrine et le ventre ( the voices of Chinese women: vibrant, velvety [in the chest and the belly] so low as to be almost ) nor can she write their faces, bodies, or laughter ( Des Chinoises 178; About 158 ). The written word merely serves as a symbol of these the voices of the women to whom they belong Chinese women is presented as a concern of Kristeva her attempts at describ ing that which she cannot write end up portraying the Chinese women as a symbol of the exotic by pointing out the ways in which they are different and unique. Kristeva goes so far as to imply that Chinese women are the ones responsible for the hope in Chi encore possible e ( ) ( Des Chinoises 1 80; About 160 ). Despite this othering representatio n of Chinese women, Kristeva appears to have good intentions and acknowledges The main conclusion of Des Chinoises echoes the statement Kristeva made in the En Chine issue of Tel Quel about Westerners to take on t he problems of Chinese women as their own. She states that problmes often I have the impression that the ) and that th ey arise from complete ly different cultural bases: feudalism and Confucianism in China versus monotheism and capital ism in the West ( Des Chinoises 223; About 197). Nonetheless, Kristeva remarks on the similarities in the reaction s of women in both countri es to the ir respective problems. The reactions include seeking legitimacy from a paternal function,


82 ), and the ) ( Des Chinoises 224; About 197). This description relies heavily on the language of French psychoanalysis and is a ve ry Western interpretation of the China with her background in feminist theory, Freud, a nd psychoanalysis. Les Samouras as a work of fiction, presents very differently than the wo rks previously discussed in this thesis It tells the story of Olga, herself a young woman who moves from Eastern Europe to Paris w here she meets Herv rvolte permanente regard themselves as modern samurais. In 1974, Olga, along with a group of associates from the p ublication Maintenant ( Now) travels to China a country that she regards with fascination for its absolute strangeness in the form of a giant as civilized as it is outmoded 6). Olga believes be more at ease in China and therefore able to understand it better than her cohorts been her China: a country of exile goes forward optimistically with the trip to China. That the narrative which follows is a fictionalized account published many years after Tel Quel


83 Cultural Revolution has several implications, the first being that the passage of time leads to a loss of certain memories and the gaining of hindsight. Kristeva is distanced by several years from the memories she recounts in the book, which means that they inevitably have lost some of their intensity and accuracy. Knowing the outcome of the Cultural Revolution would also impact the course of the narrative allowing it to be more definitive in its statements than th e works written during or immediately the trip. Moreover, writing Les Samouras as a novel allows Kristeva a certain freedom to voice unpopular or negative views becaus e it can be defended as fiction. This represents another way, in addition to the passa ge of time, that Kristeva is distanced from the text. Kristeva uses Olga to represent herself as young student and writes of the protagonist hopeful navet with hints of nostaglia Based on the experiences and sincere musings that are described in Des Chinoises Kristeva seems to be portraying herself fairly accura tely through Olga accepting all that sh e sees at face value Alors que les Chinois nous signifient quoi, exactement? Que tout est dans les app That everything is in appearances and that elsewhere ther 6 ). Th e phrase mirrors the sentiment reflected in all the of previously discussed tra vel pieces and in that the Telquelians were seeing nothing but a surface image of China that had been polished and p erfected by the Party officials. Furthermore the impntrable language and cultural nuances. Olga also tends to repeat the actions Kristeva describes in


84 Des Chinoises such as admiring the Chinese people she sees for their otherness Of a group of Chinese children, for example Olga exclaims: chose. Beaux: ovale, parfait, joues mimosa, deux fentes penches la place des yeux, et des p ( something else. Handsome: oval, perfect, mimosa cheeks, two slants in place of eyes, and the little mouths filled with singing and an exoticized po rtrayal of the Chinese is clearly expressed, yet dismissed as simply taking a positive interest in the people. Kristeva also describes a few of her Tel quelian colleagues, most notably Sollers nthu siasm for all things China does not come across as too uncharacteristic of Sollers who wholeheartedly embraced the Maoist movement for France as was evidenced by his Tel Quel pieces reflects journal. Moreover, this personality trait that showed through in Barthes when he decided that wallpaper was more interesting than a presentation appears again when the group from Maite nant arrives at the pavillion de la Stle which h ouses the tombs of the Ming emperor s and Brhal one sees better of the Telquelians is noteworthy, because after one has read the nonfiction works they wrote on about their trip, the personalities of the characters in Les Samouras seem to come alive with a complexity that would not necessarily be evident to a casual r eader of the novel.


85 Conclusion aligning themselves with leftist political movements. It also could be seen as er, which grew out of its imperialist history in Africa and Indochina. However, as the readings presented in this chapter suggest, accepting political movements from abroad simply for their novelty is highly problematic. Though the Telquelians never trie d to put their Maoist philosophy into practice, their earlier pieces on the movement from the 1972 issues of Tel Quel essentialized not only Maoism, but also the experience of Chinese citizens living through the Cultural Revolution. In an attempt to reinf orce their pro China position with some experience, the group travelled to China to gain knowledge about the mechanics of the revolution so that they could bring it back and apply it France. Thanks to a cadre of CCP officials who served as their guides, t he harsh realities of the Chinese Cultural Revolution were never exposed to the Telquelians outright. However, their collective experience there enlightened them to the limitations imposed on them as foreigners in the country. Just as the historical and cultural context from which Maoism and the Cultural Revolution developed could never be conceived of in France, the mindset of the Telquelians, shaped by their own experiences and backgrounds in French theory, could reveal only a partial, superficial versi on of the Chinese reality. Yet it was through the writing processes that took place during their trip to China (in the travel journals), shortly after the trip (in the En Chine issue of Tel Quel Des Chinoises ), and many years after the trip (in Les Samouras) that the Telquelians were able acknowledge and identify their limitations and approach the situation from new angles and new


86 perspectives they had never previously considered. Therefore, by forcing them to take a step back from thems elves, the writings produced by Sollers, Pleynet, Kristeva, and Barthes helped them develop a deeper understanding of the Chinese situation than they ever could have from their Chinese studies or their trip to China alone.


87 Conclusion A social or political movement is not created within a vacuum, no r is the ideology which propels it. It exists, rather, in relation not only to the historical past of its country of origin, but also to members of the global community, each o f whom will regard and interpret the movement based on their own historical, social, and cultural norms The two events discussed in the first chapter of this thesis demonstrate the interplay that can occur between two entirely different mov ements occurring in vastly different contents. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China was a massive project through which Mao mobilized the Chinese nation in the hopes of creating a new, purely socialist state ruled by the Chine se Communist Party (CCP). The state tightly censored information revolution and of the optimistic revolutionary spirit to be disseminated internationally. Though the state kept the population of China isolated in a bubble of propaganda and control, the Cultural Revolution quickly attracted attention from international journal i s ts and scholars who had never witnessed such a campaign coming from a country as novel to th em as China. Meanwhile, a shaky political climate in France combined with social unrest created the perfect atmosphere for the eruption of multiple social movements in May 1968. The French students behind the movements undoubtedly drew inspiration from F and revolts, most particularly from the Revolution of 1789. Some also looked to the Cultural Revolution, which according to the CCP controlled reports to which they would have had access, seemed to be a perfect model to emulate. This le d groups of disillusioned cells of Maoist students in France to promote a


88 cause that was completely disconnected from their reality. Fortunately, the extent to which these Maoist student groups were able to mobili ze was minimal enough that there existed no real danger of their effecting any real change. However, their actions were notable for the enthusiasm for and misguided knowledge of the foreign ideology that inspired them. It w as not just heated university students who took up the Maoist cause in France during this time. In 1972 when the Telquelians became vocal supporters of the Cultural Revolution, French Maoism had become more of an intellectual proclivity than an a ctivist cause. Instead of trying to incite violence and protests in the countryside, French intellectuals at this time studied China and the Cultural Revolution, which led to their dabbling in Maoism. China was seen as an interesting country of study bo th for its unique political situation and its culture that was completely other to them. The secular and social structures were entirely different from those with which the French intellectuals were fam iliar and France had a long history of exoticizing East Asian countries. For the Tel Quel group, it took travelling to C hina and leaving their haven of French academia to understand the real implications of supporting Maoism and the Cultural Revolutio n out of its intended context. These implications were illustrated through the evolution of the Tel Quel review pre and post travels and the critical observations offered in the individual publications of Marcelin Pleynet, Roland Barthes, and Julia Krist eva.


89 Relation to the Present Even today, nearly forty years since the conclusion of these events both the Cultural Revolution and the events of May 1968 remain relevant. Each has had a very deep though very different, impact on the society in which it too k place. In France, the myth of May 1968 represents a period of time that is celebrated and still embedded in national collective memory. May 1968 has become shorthand for a now idealiz ed period of rebellion. To invoke that narrative has very specific connotations which are clearly understood by everyone familiar with the time period. The Cultural Revolution, on the other hand, remains a taboo topic in China. Those who lived throug h the period are still affected by the traumatic memories and younger generations who have no direct connection to the Cultural Revolution see no reason to bring up such a horrific time period. Dwelling on this past serves only to bring up old dissentions and reopen healing wounds It also represents a past to which China does not wish to return as it moves forward in its development. That being said, much as Godard used La Chinoise to portray critically the movements of the Maoist Frenc h students, so have a number of Chinese directors tried to portray the period of the Cultural Revolution through film. During the Cultural Revolution, filmmaking, like all forms of creative expression, was extremely censored by the state. Films produced during this time tended to praise the Cultural Revolution and idolize the Red Guards. Today, the propagandistic nature of these films is quite obvious. However, about a decade after the end of the Cultural th 5). These films portray the experiences of the


90 volution and serve as mechanisms to help them cope with a traumatic time period. A couple notable films that fit this description are Farewell my Concubine (dir. Chen Kaige, 1993) and China, My Sorrow (dir. Dai Sijie, 1998). It is notable that these late r films do not try to mythologize or celebrate the Cultural Revolution the way that the films that portray the events of May 1968 tend to do. The making of such critical films about the Cultural Revolution represent the eagerness of the Chinese population to move past the authoritarian politics of the Maoist era. Today in France, Maoism is no longer viewed as being a relevant political ideology. A few intellectuals, like Alain Badiou, still vaguely hold on to their former beliefs, but they remain marginal The Telquelians, like the French Maoists before them, abandoned their Maoists ideologies and went on to become intellectual celebrities. However some of them, like Philippe Sollers and Julia Kristeva, continued to be influenced by their former Chinese studies. Kristeva even made a return trip to China in 2009. During this trip Kristeva delivered a lecture at the Tong Ji University of Shanghai In her lecture Kristeva states that during her initial tr ip to China, she felt discouraged by the persistence of the Soviet model th ought. Further on in the speech, she describes how she noticed the remarkable differences between the present day China she was visiting and the China she visited in 1974 She praises the noticeable globalization, skyscrapers, entrepreneurial spirit, and a lack of Une Europenne However, she recognizes that the high degree of state control is still troubling. In 2010, Kristeva awarded the Prix Simone de Beauvoir pour la libert des femmes ( Simone de Beauvoir Prize for the Liberty of Women ) to two Chinese


91 During a lecture given at a con ference relating to the prize, Kristeva remark ed that acknowledgement that the French must viter aussi de ngliger la diversit chinoise comme le font ceux qui tentent d'imposer de l'extrieur nos conceptions de la dmocratie et des droits des hommes et des femmes ( also avoid neglecting the diversity of the Chinese as do those who attempt to impose from outside our conceptions of democracy and the rights of men and of women ) five years ago, prior to her first visit to China, Kristeva might not have acknowledged such a fact. This change demonstrates more informed understandin g about the true nature of France China relations. The research in my thesis contributes to the growing field of research on the French Maoists o verlooked splinter group. It also provides a unique comparative analysis between two seemingly unrelated events: the Cultural Revolution and the French student movements of May 1968. However, the French student Maoists, by invok ing the Cultural R evolution and the Red Guards during their campaigns, brought together the two events and created a foundation for meaningful comparison. The thesis also provides a more in depth look at a time in Tel Quel is not often examined critically. Marx littrateurs who


92 admi and who igno re or dismiss that period in their studies of the group (109). T he Cultural Revolution era represents only a brief period of interaction between France and China. However, a chronologically expanded version of this project could go on to fur ther investigate relations with China. A historical perspective would benefit from tracing the history of French imperialism in Indochina and examining the ways i n wh ich the accounts written by French travelers and colonizers led to the exoticizati on of the region. These early depictions of the region paved the way for more contemporary French sinophiles who were raised on images of China as a mysteriou the end the Cultural Revolution and the reforms of Deng Xiaoping China steadily became an increasingly important player in the international sphere. Today, interactions with China tend to form out of diplomatic or economic concerns just as they do with other developed nations global power, French nostalgia for a China of the past has not entirely sub sided. The scope of the project could also be broadened to explore the seeds of Maoist development abroad, outside of the French context in a comparative perspective. One possible course of study could examine the conditions that made Maoist develop ment popular in France but not in a place like the United States, a fellow liberal democracy with whom France ha s had relatively cooperative relations. This research would focus on a few fundamental differences between the two countries. Firs t, the United States does American opinions on communism as a political ideology differ significantly. In France,


93 the Parti Communiste Franais (PCF) ha s been around since the 1920s and is considered to be a valid party option for political candidates. Many French intellectuals, such as the ones discussed in this thesis, have also supported the party at one time or another. Today, it is still common for the PCF to put forward candidates during elections Meanwhile, politi cs in the United States has always been very suspicious of communism. The aggressive nature of the Red Scare and McCarthyism during the 1940s and 50s officially branded communism as a threat to democracy that had no place in American politics. In any present day election a Communist candidate would not be taken seriously and would likely fall victim to discursive marginalization by both major parties as well as public interest media. The U.S. distrust of the Soviet model and of communism would have made it extremely unlikely that Maoism would ever be viewed as more than an extremist movement that belonged in China where it was developed. Finally, the tight knit nature of Left Bank intellectualism in France made the dissemination of radical ideas among the French elite fairly easy, whereas in the United States this sort of phenomenon did not occur and the figure of the public intellectual was much more elusive. Fringe Maoist groups certainly existed in the United States and other Western countries, but French Maoism is unique for the backing it received from major intellectual figures. Concluding Remarks This thesis highlights the limitations of situation. Making value judgments about a foreign experience without the proper social, historical, cultural, and linguistic context can be, as the Telquelians learned, quite problematic. While taking a step back and approaching it with a macro lens is certainly


94 valuable with an event like the Cultural Revolution, to do so as a foreigner requires careful consideration. The critical observer must acknowledge his or her own background as a source for bias as well a s the possibility of misinterpreting certain elements. The Telquelians experienced this revelation when they returned home from Paris and realized that they could not necessarily apply their Western academic traditions and theories to what they had witnes sed in China. Additionally, this thesis demonstrate s what occurs when, despite these limitations, a foreign group chooses to blindly adopt an ideology, like Maoism, that was not intended for export. While the French cross cultural experimentation left n o lasting damage, looking back at the various Maoist cells, their navet was clear. The French Maoists adopted an ideology that had yet to be proven effective in its own country, and adapted it to fit their own needs. They haphazardly employed in Franc e the strategies that Chairman Mao developed specifically to usher in his vision of a new China to bring about their vision of a new state structures, these active student Maoist cells were mainly ignored by the general population and their actions led to little more than small scale violence and a few arrests. However, in a less developed country w here conditions are less stable, a handful of small, radical cells could quickly gain momentum and cause widespread, negative consequences. For example, insurgent Maoists cells in India and Nepal have managed to garner quite a bit of attention in recent years. In both cases, the Maoist groups employ violence in attempt to gain political momentum and have become security threats to the governm ents of their respective countries (Mahadevan; Poudyal, Jimba, and Wakai). T h e s e g r o u p s h a v e b e e n c r i t i c i z e d f o r t h e i r s o c a l l e d M a o i s t i d e o l o g i e s b y C h i n e s e o f f i c i a l s w h o

PAGE 100

95 believe t h a t t h e i r a c t i o n s d o n o t h o l d t r u e t o t h e o r i g i n a l i d e o l o g y O n c e a g a i n t h e w a r n i n g t h a t M a o i s m i s a n i d e o l o g y unintended f o r e x p o r t s e e m s a p p l i c a b l e T h e r e f o r e i n t o d a y s world where information sharing is nearly effortless th e French affair with Maoism serves as a lesson in fact checking and self awareness to any contemporary scholar s or activist s w h o a r e e n g a g i n g w i t h foreign i d e o l o g i e s

PAGE 101

96 Works Cited Amis Les Chine Spec. issue of Tel Quel 48/9 (Spring 1972): 191 2. Print. Theory and Society Vol. 31, No. 4 (August 2002): 463 519. J STOR. Web. 19 January 2011. Barthes, Roland. Carnets du Voyage en Chine. Ed. Anne Herschberg Pierrot. Paris: Christian Bourgois diteur/IMEC, 2009. Print. Positions Vol. 13, No. 3 (Winter 2005): 57 5 634. Duke University Press. Web. 1 September 2011. Bourg, Julian. From Revolution to Ethics: May 1968 and Contemporary French Thought. Montreal: McGill History of European Ideas 31 (2005) 472 490. WorldCat. Web. 26 March 2011. CCP Center, State Council, Central Military C ommission, and Central Cultural Revolution Revolution Cultural Revolution, 1966 1969: Not a Dinner Party. Ed. Michael Schoenhals. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996. 76 77. Print. the Great Proletari an Cultural 1969: Not a Dinner Party. Ed. Michael Schoenhals. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996. 33 43. Print.

PAGE 102

97 Chateigner Frdric. Cahiers marxistes lninistes Prochinois et maosm e en France (et dans les espaces francophones), Dissidences, no. 8 Ed. Jean Guillaume Lanuque & Georges Ubbiali. Lormont, France : Bord de l'eau, 2010. 66 80. Print. Chesneaux, Jean. 1976 Trans. Paul Auster and Lydia Davis. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979. Print. Encyclopedia of Chinese Film Ed. Yingjin Zhang and Zhiwei Xiao. London: Routledge, 1998. 134 135. Google Books. Web. 1 May 2012. Social Text No. 9/10, Th (Spring Summer, 1984): 148 177. JSTOR. Web. 19 January 2011. Godard, Jean Luc, d ir. La Chinoise. Hugo Films, 1967. Film. Hourmant, Francois. politi co Mots No. 29 (December 1991) : 71 89. Perse. Web. 10 January 2012 Tel Quel et ses volte face politiques (1968 Vingtime Sicle. Revue No. 51 (July September 1996): 112 128. JSTOR. Web. 19 January 2011. K risteva, Julia. About Chinese Women Trans. An ita Barrows. New York : Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd., 1986. Print. Des Chinoises Paris: ditions des femmes, 1974. Print. En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Qu el 59 (Autumn1974): 26 9. Print.

PAGE 103

98 Une Europenne en Chine. Centre Culturel Franais de Pkin Beijing. 24 February 2009. Conference Presentation. Julia Kristeva, site officiel. Web. 17 November 2011. En Chi ne. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 19 25. Print. The Portable Kristeva Second Edition. Ed. Kelly Oliver. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. 3 21. Print. Prix Simone de Beauvoir pour la libert des femmes L'Universit Paris Diderot Paris 7, Paris. Conference Introduction. Julia Kristeva, s ite officiel. Web. 17 November 2011. Les Samouras Paris: Gallimard, 1990. Print Leys, Simon. es: Mao and the Cultural Revolution Trans. Carol Print. Lieberthal, Kenneth. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform 2 nd Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004. Print. Loi, Michelle. Chine Spec. issue of Tel Quel 48/9 (Spring 1972): 109 13. Print. Lottman, Herbert. The Left Bank: Writers, Artists, and Politics fro m the Popular Front to the Cold War. Chic ago: Chicago University Press, 1998. Print. Mahadevan, Prem. Small Wars and Insurgencies Vol. 23, No. 2 (2012): 203 220. Web. Google Scholar. 1 May 2012.

PAGE 104

99 Mao Zedong. Mao Tse tu ng: An Anthology of His Writings. Ed. Anne Fremantle. New York: Mentor Books, 1971. 264 97. Print. Marx Scouras, Danielle. The Cultural Politics of Tel Quel: Literature and the Left in the Wake of En University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Google Books. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. Chine Spec. issue of Tel Quel 48/9 (Spring 1972): 175 190. Print. PL Cultural Revolution, 1966 1969: Not a Dinner Party. Ed. Michael Schoenhals. Armonk, NY: M.E. Shar pe, 1996. 33 43. Print. Pleynet, Marcelin. En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 30 9. Print. Le Voyage en Chine: Chroniques du journal ordinaire 11 avril 3 mai 1974 extraits. Paris: Hachette, 1980. Print. Poudyal, A Canadian Medical Association Journal Vol. 172, No. 13 (June 2005): 1663. Google Scholar. Web. 1 May 2012. Red Flag Commentator. 1966 1969: Not a Dinner Party. Ed. Michael Schoenhals. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996. 43 47. Print.

PAGE 105

100 Saich, Tony. Governance and Politics of China 3 rd Ed. New York: Westview Press, 2011. Print. Skocpol, The da. Social Revolutions in the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print. Seidman, Michael. The Imaginary Revolution. New York: Bergham Books, 2004. Print. Singer, Daniel. Prelude to Revolution: France in May 1968. New York: Hill and Wang, 1970. Print. Le Monde 15 En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 5 11. Print. En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 12 4. Print. De la Chine by Maria Antoinetta Macciochi. Chine Spec. issue of Tel Quel 48/9 (Spring 1972): 107 8. Print. Chine Spec. issue of Tel Qu el 48/9 (Spring 1972): 124 132. Print. En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 15 8. Print. Spence, Jonathan. The Search for Modern China. Second Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990. Print. Tel Qu En Chine. Spec. issue of Tel Quel 59 (Autumn 1974): 3 4. Print. Chine Spec. issue of Tel Quel 48/9 (Spring 1972): 3 7. Print.

PAGE 106

101 Tel Quel 34 (Summer 1968). Pileface Web. 12 January 2012. Thurston, Anne 27. JSTOR. Web. 15 September 2011. W hite, Lynn T. Policies of Chaos: The Organizationa l Causes of V Cultural Revolution Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. Print Wolin, Richard The Wind from the East: French Intellec tuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 2010. Print. Revolution, 1966 1969: Not a Dinner Party. Ed. Michael Schoenhals. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996. 27. Print.