PSCI 247
Political Power in Contemporary China Spring 2019
Division II
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Class Details

The People’s Republic of China presents us with two grand political narratives: socialism and democracy. In the Maoist era, a distinctive understanding of socialism, which claimed to be a more genuine democracy, brought hope and, ultimately, tragedy to hundreds of millions of people. In the post-Mao era, Chinese politics has been driven by the need to redefine socialism in the wake of the world-historic calamities of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and, more recently, the end of the Cold War. The state cannot simply give up the socialist myth because without it the rationale for Communist Party hegemony evaporates. But China’s rulers cannot avoid political reform, both ideological and institutional, because to do so heightens the legitimacy crisis born of Maoist failures. Within this context has emerged the contemporary Chinese democracy movement which, in all of its complexity, looks to both socialist discourse and Western practice to create a new politics that checks tyrannical abuses of state power and engenders a civil society. What is Chinese democracy now? What are its prospects and what is its relationship to the ideas of socialism?
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 35
Expected: 35
Class#: 3564
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two short papers and a final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science and Asian Studies majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: GBST East Asian Studies Electives
POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses
PSCI Comparative Politics Courses

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