China Study Group

The Asian Sixties
by Christopher Connery, et al. | originally published in: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 1 dec 06
Special issue of IACS

Table of Contents

Editorial introduction: "The Asian Sixties: an unfinished project" by Christopher CONNERY

"The Left and Indonesia's 1960s: the politics of remembering and forgetting" by Vedi R. HADIZ

"The impact of the Thai Sixties on the Peoples Movement today" by Giles Ji UNGPAKORN

"From maoism to postcolonialism?: the Indian sixties, and beyond" by Sanjay SETH

"Political aesthetics: activism, everyday life, and art's object in 1960s Japan" by William MAROTTI

"The great upsurge of South Korea's social movements in the 60s" by KIM Dong-Choon

"The left-wing movement in Malaya, Singapore and Borneo in the 1960s: 'an era of hope or devil's decade'?" by CHEAH Boon Kheng

"Seeing the Communist past through the lens of a CIA consultant: Guy J. Pauker on the Indonesian Communist Party before and after the '1965 Affair'" by BUDIAWAN

Visual Essays by Manit SRIWANICHPOOM & Vasan Sitthiket

"A Cultural Revolution Dossier: How to translate Cultural Revolution" by Alessandro RUSSO

"Depoliticized politics, multiple components of hegemony, and the eclipse of the Sixties" by WANG Hui (Translated by Christopher CONNERY)

"International Center for the Study of the Cultural Revolution: elements of a project" by Alain BADIOU and Alessandro RUSSO

Book Reviews

"Interpreting the Cultural Revolution politically" by Alexander DAY

"Thai democracy and the October (1973-1976) events" by Sudarat MUSIKAWONG

Editor's introduction

This collection grew out of a double-panel session at the Centennial Conference on "Asian Horizons: Cities, States and Societies” sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, held in Singapore in early August 2005. I had been interested for some time in organizing a special issue of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies on the Asian 60s, and so was very grateful when Chua Beng-huat and Chen Kuan-hsing took the initiative in suggesting this conference as a venue for work on this topic. This issue would not have been possible without their efforts, not only in getting the support of the conference organizers for our panels and securing funding, but in suggesting several contributors and panel members. About half of the essays here were presented as papers in Singapore, and others were recruited or submitted at or after the conference. This double panel, and this issue, represent the first collection devoted specifically to the Asian Sixties. In the U.S. and Europe, of course, what we might properly term the "Western Sixties” are known simply as "the Sixties.” Despite the worldwide salience of the war in Vietnam and of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in any consideration of the sixties as a global phenomenon, in much of the world the Sixties are still imagined as a western event-- many would nominate Paris or Berkeley as the Capital of the World Sixties. Part of the impetus behind this collection was to remedy that perception, to suggest the centrality of Asia in any general consideration of the sixties, and to put the Asian sixties on the imaginative map. This has political resonance, of course, and we conceived this special issue as complementing the journal's Bandung/Third Worldism special issue, edited by Hee-Yeon Cho and Kuan-hsing Chen and published in December 2005. That issue, while recognizing the historical specificity of Bandung and the Third World concept, also looked to that era for inspiration in guiding new regional imaginaries and new counter-hegemonic movements.

There are many reasons, even beyond China and Vietnam, for more global attention to Asia's sixties. Only in Asia did student movements succeed in toppling governments (Thailand and South Korea). In the Asian sixties, ethnicization or communalization of radical politics was an early issue, becoming central to state formation in Malaysia and Singapore. Asia saw the first internationalization of a new kind of marxism—that of Maoist China—and in parts of Asia (the Philippines, India, and Nepal) the Maoist-inflected struggles that began in the sixties continue to this day. Many characteristics of the world sixties were found in Asia, often in stronger forms: national liberation movements against colonialism and imperialism; new extra-party and extra –trade union organizational forms and new forms of political subjectivity; radical critiques of capitalism, in politics, activism, cultural production, and life; and radical forms of experimentation in everyday life. Sadly, and this is something it holds in common with much of the world, Asia today knows a neo-liberal market-ideological hegemony that has been formed in large part by a repudiation of the sixties. The post-sixties character of our world characterizes Asia as well. That post-ness has multiple dimensions. The anti-sixties reaction has been particularly salient in the formation of the Indonesian and post-Mao Chinese states, and the complicated issue of coöptation of radical impulses has particular salience in contemporary Thailand and South Korea. And yet, the move from the national to the regional scale is a difficult one. The national focus of all of our papers reflects the fact that politics in the period was dominated by the nation-state. What, then, beyond the necessary corrective to Western-centrism, does the concept of the Asian Sixties provide?

When and where were the Asian Sixties?[1]

Considering the sixties in a world frame, we refer roughly to the period 1954-1976: from Dien Bien Phu to the death of Mao, from Bandung to the oil shocks.[2] Beginnings are of course hard to pinpoint, and our identification of the new will not only refer to new formations—Third Worldism, for example—but to new conjunctures. National-liberation struggles pre-date the sixties, of course, but take a different form when they are coterminous with the full Cold War, or the Cultural Revolution. As for endings, it is easy to argue for an historical break marked by the confluence, in the space of a few years, of the end of the Vietnam War, the death of Mao and the repudiation of the Cultural Revolution, the collapse of Euro-communism, and the end, in oil shock and recession, of the long run of postwar economic prosperity in the overdeveloped world. With the Sino-Vietnamese war of 1979, the region had definitively left behind the geopolitical dynamics of the early period. The Asian sixties, as here delineated, encompasses the Vietnam War, the Korean overthrow of Singhman Ree, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the births of Malaysia and Singapore, the Naxalbari Rebellion, Indonesia's Year of Living Dangerously, the Japanese anti-war movement, and the Thai protest movements from 1973-1976. Some have argued that the differences between nations are most significant: what connects the liberal reform movement to overthrow Rhee in South Korea, the Cultural Revolution in China, and armed struggle in Malaysia? Although the material connections between many movements and struggles in the region are indeed important, they do not wholly account for the concept. The Asian sixties are of course a part of the world sixties, where revolution, politicization, mass social movements, new organizational forms, and rapid changes in the spheres of culture and subjectivity were unmistakable, and global in scope. This global character is not only a matter of influence—although the new media of the postwar period greatly facilitated the spread of ideas, styles, activities, and subjectivities , and there were many transnational networks and organizations on the left—but of the multiple responses to a shared objective situation: Cold War, a new era of capitalist economic, social, political, and cultural expansion led by the US, and the emergence of a new form of communist state. A reconsideration of the sixties, as Wang Hui reminds us in his essay, is a return to a politicized period, in a time of widespread depoliticization, which, as a process, has explicitly targeted the sixties itself. And what of the Asian sixties?

Asia is of course a constructed category, and we cannot resort to some level of empirical geographical truth to firmly establish its limits, or to judge whether Japan could actually "leave Asia” or Australia could join it. As most scholars within the growing field of new regionalism would agree, no region, sub-national or supra-national, can be wholly self-evident. I would suggest, though, that, to paraphrase Fredric Jameson, we cannot not regionalize. Relationality and aggregation will be part of all spatial imaginaries—no nation-state can be imagined in isolation. This relationality—whatever its material or geopolitical dimension or determination--will always have an ideological character. The term Central Europe can serve to hive off the more "civilized” former Soviet-bloc nations, excluding history's left-behinds. "East” Asia can at various times represent a dynamism lacking in "South” or "Southeast” Asia. The spaces of relationality in the geo-imaginary need not even be contiguous. The communist international is the most salient example of non-contiguous relationality, but there are many others. The "new” nations that grew out of the Ottoman or Hapsburg empire were once important components of post-imperial China's new national, republican imaginary. And, whatever its political or conceptual defects, there has been no spatial imaginary with more powerful counter-hegemonic valence than the Third World.

Often, a regional narrative can serve important functions in disrupting national or global narratives. The authoritative history of the twentieth century, Eric Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes, while recognizing the economic dynamism in East Asia in the eighties and into the nineties, still characterizes the post-1973 period of world capitalism as "the landslide,” writing that "[t]he history of the twenty years after 1973 is that of a world which lost its bearings and slid into instability and crisis” (Hobsbawm 1996: 403). Several critics have pointed to the difficulty of fitting Asia into Hobsbawm's periodization scheme: whose landslide, precisely, is it? In the seventies and eighties, a US-based phenomenon I termed "Pacific Rim discourse” posited a new center for global capitalism, in an arc from Japan to California. This was, in the U.S., the era of "learning from Japan” and the "Asian tigers.” When Japan and several of the tigers met financial crisis in the nineties—a phenomenon from which only China was exempt—"Asian capitalism” lost some of its luster in the global imaginary. Now the Chinese century is everywhere proclaimed, a faddish orientation which must also give pause.

China has, of course, been a primary determinant in the region throughout history. Its centrality to today's regional economy, and the impact of its growth on economic and political strategies throughout the region, is unmistakable. Curiously, the nature of Chinese hegemony, and its role as regional dominant, is still unclear. The PRC leadership has successfully dictated regional policy on Taiwan, and there are occasional signs of tensions with Japan that suggest an older form of intra-regional competition. Still, there is no reason to think that China's role in the region will be a simple repetition of other regional hegemonic forms. As Wang Hui and others have documented, there are historical models that diverge from the character of regional power as the world has experienced it in the last century or more. And although China could very well be far more fragile, and its continued growth far less assured, than is commonly assumed, part of the search among oppositional energies for a new regional dynamic will require a new mode of articulation with China. Here, a consideration of the Asian sixties, and of the mutations in China's Asian character in the sixties and beyond, would be instructive. This, however, remains a topic for much more empirical work, of the most basic kind, about the nature of China's support for opposition movements throughout the region during the sixties. The multiple character of China's regional role during the period, the frequent disconnect or temporal lag between ideology, politics, and strategies, the distortions introduced by intra-communist rivalries and hostilities, will all complicate the analytical task.

Many of the communist parties in the region had close relations were China, and were often ideologically close to Maoism. The Chinese connection, however, was rarely clear-cut in its effects. The relations of the Malaysian and Indonesian Communist Parties to China—many details of which await further documentation—became part of the ethnicization of politics, a process tracked by Cheah Boon-Keng's article, and borne out in other ways in the Indonesian massacres, treated by Budiawan and Vedi Hadiz. Giles Ji Ungpakorn, in his article, ascribes some of the immediate post-1976 difficulties of the Communist Party of Thailand to its Maoist line, which led to an excessive focus on rural Thailand and neglect of the urban. The CPT would suffer a devastating blow, of course, as a consequence of the war between China and Vietnam. The CPT's alliance with China destroyed its relations with Vietnam, the CPT's powerful communist neighbor, and when China concluded an alliance with the Thai government against Vietnam, the CPT was left hanging. Geopolitics—particularly the overdetermined character of Sino-Soviet rivalry-- led to disastrous and politically retrograde alliance patterns between China and many other Third World nations and movements, especially in the years marking the end of the long sixties. Although Chinese alliances were politically quite varied, and included strategic alliances with oppressive regimes, it would be a mistake to ignore the region-wide importance and influence of Chinese sixties radicalism, or to view Chinese regional policy as having always been motivated by cynical self-interest.

The antidote to the Western-centrism of Hobsbawm vision above is not, then, a re-centering of world history on China or on Asia, as some scholars have attempted. This journal's founding editorial statement acknowledges the journal's birth within a resurgent "rise of Asia” discourse, and it resolved to interrogate and critique both "rise” and "Asia,” in the hope of strengthening new and critical anti-colonial and anti-imperialist regional networks. This is an approach suggested in the "Asia as method” discourse, beginning with Takeuchi Yoshimi's important and influential article by that name (Takeuchi 2005), and developed by Chen Kuan-hsing and others associated with this journal.[3] In the journal's vision, "Asia” is an unfinished project, whose truth is not in a new and emergent dominant, but in the end of the very logic of domination.

Even many Asian scholars of the sixties view events of the time through wholly national lenses, and it must be emphasized here that the concept of the Asian 60s is not a generalized one. And yet it should be, more than ever at this time of a re-emergent regionalism in the political, economic, cultural, social-movement, and other spheres—a process whose critical character this journal has done much to track. When, in the dominant global imaginary, Asia's emergence is read as having been wholly determined by its successful incorporation into the capitalist economy, when every cultural and ideological shift is read in relation to that dynamic, it is important and useful, at a number of registers, to recall the recent and interconnected history of Asian radicalism, to focus on Asia's central role, in the Asian Sixties, in bringing new politics and new political formations into the world.

Year Zero

The perils of periodizing are well known, but, along with Fredric Jameson and others, I would argue that periodization is unavoidable: it is the narrative category within which history is understood. It is a mode particularly suited to the ontogenics of the nation state, but it structures our understanding of global forces as well, as in the marxian phases of pre-capitalism and capitalism, not to mention the modern itself. Modernization theory provided the dominant template for temporal organization: nations arrayed in order of achieved modernization, their "distance” from each other marked in years—"nation X is thirty years behind the USA”, or "we'll bomb them back to the Stone Age.” A range of interventions has successfully argued against this "denial of co-evalness,” as Johannes Fabian put it (Fabian 1983). Periodizing the sixties, at the regional, global, and national levels, allows a coeval anti-modernization story to be told, and it is no coincidence that the theoretical and political challenges to modernization theory arose in the context of sixties-era movements in Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. The particular temporal politics of the sixties gave the period much of its character.

When the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh in 1975, they proclaimed Year Zero. Time would start anew. The re-starting of time is a common revolutionary gesture, and, notwithstanding its disastrous consequences in Cambodia, the politics of time are central to the sixties. Sanjay Seth's essay in this issue brings to the forefront the temporal politics of the Naxalite rebellion in sixties India. What was being established was not only new organizational forms, outside the labor unions and peasant associations, but a new relationship to hegemonic temporality: the rural, as well as the urban manifestations of the rebellion were not only against the givenness of modernity as such, but also against a particular elite construction of the proper relationship to India's past. In tracing the arc from the Naxalite rebellion to postcolonial theory, Seth identifies consistencies in a politics of temporal reorganization.

In one of the first analyses of the new temporality, Clifford Geertz identifies two poles of new nations' orientations toward the temporal--the "epochalist”—an orientation toward the new, the future, and the political, and "essentialist”—an orientation toward tradition, the longer duree, and history (Geertz 1973). Geertz was more focused on the period "after the revolution” than he was on revolution as such, but he saw clearly and correctly the primacy and the explicitness of the temporal dimension of ideological politics. The temporal politics of the sixties, as we are conceiving it here, centered on the future. Nowhere was this more explicit than in China, during the Cultural Revolution, with its explicit programmatic of breaking with old ideas, its campaigns against the "four olds,” and its project of skipping the traditional Marxist developmentalist stages and take an immediatist route to communism. But a new time was necessarily also on the agenda in state and anti-state projects, from Sukarno's Indonesia to the Naxalites.

If we are, following Walter Benjamin, to search past moments for nodes of irruption of many possible futures, and find there records of the existence of futurity itself, we must avoid the strategy of containment whereby the present becomes the only telos of futures past. Too many narratives that trace the movement from the sixties to the present accomplish that, ending in judgments of failure, coöptation, or descent into madness. There is indeed empirical evidence for narratives of cooptation, in China, South Korea, Thailand, and elsewhere. Yet, as Giles Ji Ungpakorn and other authors in this issue point out, coöptation was not the only possible outcome to sixties radicalism, nor was it a necessary one. And, as Alessandro Russo's and Wang Hui's essays show, while the Cultural Revolution did in fact descend into a depoliticizing factionalism, why should that, rather than an earlier, more genuinely moment, be held as the "truth” of the Cultural Revolution? While it is necessary, as I have argued above, to periodize the sixties, to point to a time by when one can say that the sixties had ended, the judgment that the sixties failed is not a logical corollary. Constructive analyses of failure and defeat are necessary and instructive. Trotsky's Lessons of October and, more recently, Pierre Broué's The German Revolution: 1917-1923 are models of clear, sober, yet radical examination of the course of failed revolutions. It may be too early to tell, though, whether the sixties failed or not, and central to the politics of a reconsideration of the sixties is an engagement with sixties temporality—the temporality of newness, futurity, and possibility.

The possibilities unleashed in that period may have a long and varied afterlife. On a Tuesday afternoon in 2002, and every Tuesday afternoon into 2003, Thai artist Manit Sriwanichpoom photographed political protest in front of the government center in Bangkok. In his year of photography—some photos from his PROTEST series appear in this issue, and one photograph, "I'll Spit Shit in their Faces,” is on the cover—he recorded a vigorous culture of citizen activism and political protest. This since led to a crisis in the Thaksin government, and while contemporary indications suggest a restoration, the resurgence of Thai political activism to its strongest levels since the Asian sixties (or Thai seventies) is an important indication of that period's afterlife, disputed though it is, as Sudarat Musikawong's review article makes clear. The Thai seventies, Sriwanichpoom maintains, made contemporary Thai political activism possible.

Aside from Thailand, only in South Korea did student protests succeed in overthrowing a government. As Kim Dong-Choon points out in his article, that earlier success provided an impetus, and a resource, for waves of activism to follow. Kim's piece focuses largely on the limitations of the April 19 movement, particularly its inability to make a break in the hard pro-U.S. and anti-communist consensus. After the fall of the military regime in 1987 and the opening of South Korean politics, veterans of that earlier movement, beginning with Kim Dae-jung, gained power through the electoral process. Although Kim's essay stresses the constraints placed on South Korean politics by the nature of its integration into global capitalism, and alludes to the disappointment that many on the left have felt since the opposition gained power, South Korea is the one country in Asia where anti-imperialist and counter-hegemonic forces are strongest, and it is probably safe to say that this is one of the legacies of the Asian sixties, and that some of the seeds sown in that earlier time lie dormant still, and may grow in unexpected ways.

The politics of discourse on the sixties vary greatly across the region. In Thailand and Korea, the movements and their legacies are widely analyzed and debated. In Malaysia and Singapore the situation is more complex. The collapse of communism worldwide—leading to a peace treaty with the Communist Party of Malaysia in 1989-- has permitted more open discussion of earlier revolutionary moments, such as the very important 2003 publication of CPM leader Chin Peng's English-language memoirs (Chin 2003). Those discussions have tended to be fairly academic, and their political import remains somewhat undetermined. As Cheah Boon Keng points out in his essay, a different political dynamic, one centered on ethnicity, overtook the socialist movements in Malaysia, and those dynamics appear far from exhausted worldwide. In both Indonesia and China, as Vedi Hadiz and Wang Hui show, the sixties remain largely a taboo topic. Budiawan's essay is an important illustration of some reasons for this, and the extent to which received knowledge of the Indonesian sixties has been shaped by those intimately involved in the suppression of the Indonesian Communist Party itself. The relative silence around the topic ever since, as Vedi Hadiz documents, has not only obliterated memories and knowledge of what now seem like political fantasies—the important Muslim/Communist alliances personified in people like Haji Misbach—but also has been a part and a product of a now decades-long suppression of the left in Indonesia-which once had one of the largest Communist Parties in the world-- with devastating consequences for Indonesian politics, even in periods of relative openness such as the present. In both Indonesia and China, as Hadiz and Wang show, this state-enforced forgetting of the sixties has had a profoundly depoliticizing effect. The turn to the sixties is a turn, then, to the heart of politics itself.

Put politics in command

The question today is the question of politics: where are politics? what is politics accomplishing? what does it mean to "be political”? is the political over? The contemporary landscape offers a range of interpretations. Since the sixties, the world has witnessed large-scale class warfare wage on the poor and working class. In the overdeveloped world and in the Global South, elites have accumulated an ever-increasing share of global wealth, in many cases without struggle and without significant resistance. The organizations, formal and informal, that had once served to protect working class or popular interests—labor unions, peasant organizations, communist, socialist, social-democratic, or other political parties-- have been weakened, dismantled, or fundamentally altered in character. With rare exceptions, the powerful global tide of inequality has been uncontested, and many of the working and colonized peoples gains in the first two thirds of the twentieth century have been stymied or reversed. With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and China's turn to a capitalist economy, market capitalism has become so naturalized that systemic alternatives on a large scale have become almost unimaginable. The historical defeat suffered by socialism and the left may have led to a juncture where, as Perry Anderson has written, " if the human energies for a change of system are ever released again, it will be from within the metabolism of capitalism itself” (Anderson 2000:16-17). On the other hand, the energies in the "movement of movements” orientation, and in bodies such as the World Social Forum, as well as in networks of local activists, NGOs, anti-WTO, black bloc, anarchist, or DIY drop-outs are said to constitute a new politics, an emergent post-national, post-class, new multitude. This orientation, whose theorists are often fond of distinguishing from sixties movement, is a manifestation of the contemporary question of the political, and the difficulty of determining the nature of political subjectivity, or the social grounds for anti-systemic change. Here, too, a theoretically focused examination of the sixties—even its politically questionable sides is useful.

The essays in this volume are not uniform in their evaluation of the trajectory from the sixties to the present. Seth's linkage of the Naxalite rebellion and postcolonial theory is provocative and convincing, but is somewhat at odds with Ungpakorn's also convincing narrative of a political decline from the Thai seventies to the currents in Thai politics that he identifies with postmodernism and autonomism. Kim's fairly pessimistic essay suggests that the foundations for a genuine left opposition in South Korea been so thoroughly razed that the possibilities for real societal change were foreclosed from the start. In Cheah's essay, it is difficult to locate the "real” political—communist and socialist movements in Malaysia are overtaken by, subverted by, or undermined by communal politics. Does this reveal something inexorable about communal politics, or does this represent an avoidable outcome produced by the CPM's flawed strategy? Similarly, Wang Hui's analysis of identitarian discourse in the Cultural Revolution suggests the power of these ties. The politics of identification and communal ties remain crucial questions for the contemporary period. One recent scene of depoliticization has been post-martial-law Taiwan, where a lively and experimental political scene, over the course of a few years, became largely depoliticized through a gradually more conservative and unreflective ethnicization. This did not exactly repeat the process traced in Cheah's essay. Still, if a new politics is to be built on new social or group dynamics, this will depend on further analysis of the logic of the group and its relation to larger political-economic forces, and of group identification mechanisms and their alterations over time. The sixties, birth of so many of the new subjectivities, will be a focus in that analysis.

The reframing of the question of politics was of course a salient feature of the global sixties, a period which gave the world, for better or for worse, a range of new political subjects, new tactics and strategies, new modalities of group identification, and new organizational forms. Marotti's essay could be read on one level as the retreat of radicalism to the culturalist sphere. But his essay also underscores the importance of examining new arenas of the political, which reflect or contest postwar capitalist expansion into the terrain of the everyday. Alain Badiou and Alessandro Russo hold the political—and their sense of the political is probably the most restricted of all the thinkers in this collection-- to be rare, limited, and difficult to achieve. In their analysis, the Cultural Revolution, as what may have been the final moment in the long revolutionary sequence, is in especial need of study and reconsideration. Wang Hui, who is largely in accord with Russo, has what may be a more expansive sense of the political, but also underscores the role the repression of the Cultural Revolution has played in contemporary China's depoliticization, whose disempowering consequences his essay illuminates so well. As Alexander Day's review essay illustrates, contemporary work on the Cultural Revolution is itself unavoidably political, although Day's sense of the political also differs from Russo and Badiou's. Uniting the varied conceptions of the political found in most of the essays collected here is the conviction that the sixties were a genuine political era, that the decade shaped the conception and range of the political itself..

The essays also suggest, some more forcefully than others, that the route towards repoliticization, better politics, simple social justice, or simply a deeper understanding of the political, demands an engagement with the sixties. The intention would not be to complete the sixties' political project, but to rescue the sixties from the present, to allow the region, and the world, to better imagine the new, again. That engagement will demand more than this collection, itself an unfinished project, and it is my hope that a planned book of essays based on those collected here can also include work on and from Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, and other countries, as well as more reflections on international and regional currents during the period. What kind of region will Asia be in the coming era, and what will be its role in the world? The answers will depend, to some extent, on the nature of the region's relationship to the Asian Sixties.

Coda: in 2065[4]

In 2065, at the annual meeting of the Council of the Afro-Eurasian-Bolivaran-American Soviets (CAEBAS), Hata Li, a professor of Christian American Studies, reported on Where Eagles Soar, a widely-read alternative history graphic novel by Dick Phillips that a number of dissident refugees from the Christian States of Middle North America had brought with them for the amusement of the soviets, The novel described a world where the then United States had won the war in Vietnam; where the Chinese Communist Party had endured as an authoritarian plutocracy, led by the very capitalist roaders who had been defeated in the 1960s; where the USSR's transformation had not been toward the soviets, but toward predatory capitalism; where the Japanese, Malay, Indonesian, Thai, Filipino, and other revolutions had not taken place; and where the capitalists' reaction to the mid-seventies capitalist crisis had been successful and sustained class warfare on the world's poor. It was a world with nation-states, but without soviets, without democratic control of socio-economic life, a world where city and countryside were separate spheres, marked by a rigid inequality that pervaded all aspects of the socius. Urban areas, beyond a large elite core and secure suburban enclaves, were sprawling slums of squalor and ugliness, and only the wealthy could afford clean air and water. These elites lived lives of fantastic luxury, but most people in that world actually had to toil in order to simply survive. Li announced, to some interest, a forthcoming annotated translation into the 900 CAEBAS languages. The council had more pressing items on its agenda: setting the annual target of food aid to the CSMNA, reviewing plans for extension of the rail and ocean lines for the children's annual da chuanlian (Great Link-up), and choosing next year's suggested authors for the twentieth-century study groups, now that the Brecht/Toer seminars were coming to a close…



[1] . This alludes to the opening paragraph of Alain Badiou (2005: 9-10).

[2] . See my essay, 'The World Sixties' (Connery forthcoming 2007). A shorter version of the essay appears in Gramma: Comparative Literature and Global Studies (2005). My periodization of the sixties derives from Fredric Jameson, "Periodizing the Sixties” (1988).

[3]. Chen Kuan-hsing's essay by that name is forthcoming.

[4] With inspiration from E. Preobrazhensky, From N.E.P. to Socialism: A Glance into the Future of Russia and Europe (1973), and from Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (1962).


Anderson, Perry (2000) 'Renewals', New Left Review, new series 1. January-February.

Badiou, Alain (2005) Le Siecle. Paris: Seuil.

Connery, Chris (forthcoming 2007) 'The World Sixties'. In Christopher Connery and Rob Wilson (eds.) Worldings: World Literature, Field Imaginaries, Future Practices—Doing Cultural Studies Inside the U.S. War-Machine, Santa Cruz: New Pacific Press. A shorter version of the essay appears in Gramma: Comparative Literature and Global Studies (2005) vol. 13: 23-48.

Chin, Peng (2003) My Side of History, as told to Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor, Singapore: Media Masters.

Dick, Philip K. (1962) The Man in the High Castle, New York: Putnam.

Fabian, Johannes (1983) Time and the Other. New York: Columbia University Press.

Geertz, Clifford (1973) 'After the Revolution: The Fate of Nationalism in the New States', The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, New York: Basic, 234-254.

Hobsbawm, Eric (1996) The Age of Extremes: History of the World, 1914-1991, New York: Vintage.

Jameson, Fredric (1988) 'Periodizing the Sixties', The Ideologies of Theory, vol. 1, Minnesota: 178-210.

Preobrazhensky, E. (1973) From N.E.P. to Socialism: A Glance into the Future of Russia and Europe. (Russian original, 1922) Brian Bearce (trans.), London: New Park Publications.

Takeuchi, Yoshimi (2005) What is Modernity? : Writings of Takeuchi Yoshimi, Richard F. Calichman (ed.) and (trans.) New York: Columbia University Press.

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