Perhaps the most important unresolved dichotomy in the West today is not the male-female divide but the urban-rural divide. The #MeToo Movement is making advances towards better gender equality a direct result of the election of US President Donald Trump but city and country remain locked in a most ungratifying combat.
In the US this is known as the "red state-blue state" socio-political war, which essentially pits liberal metropolitan areas against allegedly-backwards conservative rural areas; in the UK it's sovereignty-demanding Leavers versus allegedly more intelligent anti-Brexiteers; in France it is the Yellow Vest movement engaging in civil disobedience on the Champs-Elyse'es due to the dismissive neglect and icy snobbery of those who can afford to live in the major centre-villes.
This is all explains why I feel that studying China's Cultural Revolution (CR) is more important than ever: no modern nation has made such sincere and drastic efforts to correct this rural-urban imbalance, an imbalance which exists in all nations and which is as fundamental to human existence as female/male or yin/yang.
However, especially for developing countries, in places like India, Africa and Latin America, where rural farming is still often done in a manner similar to pre-21st century China, the incredible rural gains economically, politically and culturally which were the explicit goal of the CR are not just important but staggeringly inspirational. This article will quickly prove why that is not hyperbole, because the facts of these "incredible rural gains" will get a rare unveiling instead of another heaping of obfuscating capitalist-imperialist propaganda.
Unfortunately, most Westerners are as uninterested in China's CR as they are in their own rural areas. I am certain this is true, because as a journalist I am 100% aware of my field's failures in reporting on, from, or about rural areas. What's worse, Western journalism has exacerbated their urban-rural divide by reporting from a starting point that rural areas are not morally equal to urban areas. This is a major shift from previous times: for example, during the US Revolution the farmer-citizen was Thomas Jefferson's ideal man, and their Electoral College was created in part to ensure rural voices are not drowned out by city-slickers.
Let me give a personal anecdote which exemplifies modern journalism's endemic failure on modern China and the Cultural Revolution:
Just prior to writing this series I was at a social function where I was introduced to an Anglophone journalist from a top international news organization (which I will not name). He had spent 10+ years based in China, spoke Chinese, and he was told I was publishing a book on China (more on this later ). I told him the book is more about "Chinese socialism" than "China" per se, and he was very surprised that my goals were to rebut the vilification of Mao, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, etc. This journalist pounced firstly on my defense of the CR, and said that their media had him interview many people in China about the horrors of the CR he couldn't imagine that I would want to defend it? I didn't start defending it to him I simply asked: "The people you interviewed what class were they from?" He evaded the question in order to stress the CR's horrors and failures, so I repeated, "From what class?" The reason I did this was because contrary to Western belief class still matters, and the view of the CR changes drastically in China depending on one's class. At this point the person looked to our mutual acquaintance in mock horror and said, "What have you gotten me into with this guy?!" LOL".
Clearly, the lens of "class" never even came into this Western mainstream journalist's mind, and just bringing up the concept created shock and disbelief. This journalist is not atypical of his class.
Furthermore, I am certain he (or she) did not go into China's rural areas and dig out the truth of the CR because" I myself never go outside of Paris to do journalism for PressTV. The reality is that city journalists just don't have the monetary resources, the time and often the inclination, and their editors do not care / can't get more funding.
We have new research and new journalism on the Cultural Revolution so" please buy our books!
That's why The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village by Dongping Han is such an important book. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my new book, and I have written this series to popularize and discuss his far, far more important book on Chinese socialism.
My book, incidentally, has just been published by Badak Merah Publishing house, which publishes the indispensable, inspirational and unrepentantly leftist journalism of Andre Vltchek, Jeff J. Brown, and others. It is titled, I'll Ruin Everything you Are: Ending Western Propaganda in Red China, and is now available on Amazon in English, and very soon in Mandarin Chinese as well. I hope you can buy a copy for yourself and your 300 closest friends.
My book is not bad, but I think that Han's book is incredibly necessary, and for an obvious reason: that mainstream journalist did not venture into rural areas to discover the opinions of rural Chinese on the CR, whereas Han did.
Han, who is now a professor in the United States, grew up in Jimo County, China. It's a place with over 1,000 villages, 30 townships and 1.1 million people today, located along the eastern seaboard and in Shangdong Province. In yet more proof that it's a small world, my cousin married a woman from rural Shangdong Province. The county seat, Jimo, has a population of just 61,237" which should indicate that this is a highly rural area. It is also historically a poor area: Jimo ranked the 16th-poorest in (the former) 17-county Yantai Prefecture.