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  • The Birth of a Classification

    Eddy U

    Chapter from the book: U, E. 2019. Creating the Intellectual: Chinese Communism and the Rise of a Classification.


    This chapter illustrates the emergence of “the intellectual” as a classification of people under the Chinese Communist Party. After dispelling misconceptions of the origins of the term zhishifenzi, the chapter focuses on a debate during the early 1920s that centered on an alleged lack of courage and integrity of members of “the intellectual class” (zhishi jieji). Together with Marxist thought, the ontological assumptions, ethical assessments, and political sentiments underlying the criticism would become foundations on which the party elites conceptualized the intellectual. The chapter describes why leaders of the party, though well educated, considered themselves genuine proletarian revolutionaries and condemned the rest of the educated population as ideological enemies of the Chinese socialist revolution. It emphasizes that under the party, the intellectual as a classification was destined to be associated with an inferior political subject.

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    How to cite this chapter
    U, E. 2019. The Birth of a Classification. In: U, E, Creating the Intellectual. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.68.b

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on April 30, 2019