This paints Wang Huning like the Svengali of successive CCP leaders
A fascinating account of Wang and with insightful analysis of his influence on CCP theory, but the conclusion - that “common prosperity” is a desperate intervention - misses the point
The point being - ad the article highlights this well - that CCP under Xi is focused on creation of citizens for the powerful nation built by his predecessors
There’s been not only a massive expansion of propaganda under Xi, but also a sophistication of propaganda
That sophistication is in recognition of exactly the concerns attributed to Wang in this article: the permeation of Chinese society and institutions with a set of shared and commonly-understood values
But consumerism isn’t a threat to this vision - it is arguably the most important weapon in the CCPs arsenal for negotiating consent to the values underpinning their state-building projects
And, crucially, for eradicating competing narratives and the potential for dissent
The sophistication at the heart of propaganda campaigns is not necessarily the texts themselves - though that is clearly evident
It is in the realisation that indoctrination is useful in the realm of coercion. It still used, but by the repressive apparatus of the judiciary and penal system.
The sophistication of propaganda as a tool for consensus building is in its deployment as through the ideological state apparatus
Capturing cultural industries and consumerism alongside media, schools, universities, NGOs, charities is the objective of these legislative moves
They are not sites of indoctrination.
They are sites of *interpellation*
Civic spaces where people encounter, experience values and internalise them.
My own research initially looked at state-building and the role of Higher Education - my PhD submitted in Oct 2012 a month before Xi’s “China Dream” speech at the 18th PC
The shift in emphasis in CCP policy from that point onwards - away from economic devt and industrial capability to morality, ethics, identity, citizenship and consensus - was profound.
This article is fascinating as it identifies a key proponent of this shift and contextualises the transformation in his attitudes to China’s devt path
But I find it difficult to accept that “common prosperity” is a desperate intervention to arrest decline and reverse regrettable unintended consequences of post-reform devt
It’s entirely consistent with shifts over the last 10yrs, and is an acceleration of policy moves designed to capture institutions as sites for interpellation.
Moreover, fits the usual pattern of acceleration and aggressive implementation of policy in the run up to a Party Congress
At 18th PC maybe after Xi installed - with anti-corruption campaign
Pre-19th PC it was arguably installation of Chen Quanguo in August 2016 and XJ
This time round, it’s the reining in of private capital and the subordination of commerce and consumerism in service of state-building and discourse control
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