Mussolini Redux

Becker, Jasper
June 2003
New Republic;6/23/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 24, p16
With clenched fists raised high, the rows of students in red neckties stood solemnly amid the baroque ruins of the great Qing Emperor Qianlong's Garden of Perfect Splendor and swore an oath of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Amid this tangible symbol of how the West humiliated China--British and French troops burned down the garden in 1860--they vowed to sacrifice their lives to the nation and affirmed their belief that only the CCP can restore China to its former glory. The CCP has abandoned even its pretenses of being a communist organization. Yet this jettisoning of communism is hardly reason to celebrate. As the militaristic garden rite suggests, China today is replacing communism with something at least as bad: It is becoming a nationalistic right-wing fascist state eerily similar to 1920s Italy. At the sixteenth CCP Congress last November, where Jiang Zemin handed over the reins to Hu Jintao, the CCP cut its last links to its past as a revolutionary Marxist organization. And, just as the press under Benito Mussolini played up foreigners' invasions and humiliations of Italy, endless articles in China's state-controlled press remind the Chinese of the West's dominance of Chinese politics and economics before World War II and of Japan's invasion of China in the '30s.


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