The Reformer Intellectual: Yan Jiaqi
Yan Jiaqi’s thought has not only influenced the Chinese intellectual circles but also the state apparatus. His idea of democracy is also influential among dissident thinkers inside and outside China. Nathan (1992) says, ‘Yan’s representativeness as a Chinese democratic thinker makes him important for an international readership.’ As one of the most prominent political scientists in the post-Mao era, Yan Jiaqi and the formation of his idea of democracy is the first case study we shall consider. Although Yan’s writing on democracy began back in the late 1970s, he had already begun in the 1960s to examine the problems arising from the socio-political system (see Yan, 1988). In the late 1960s, his confrontation with the despotic rule had already made him sceptical of monolithic rule under an autocratic ruler (Yan, 1988, p. 11). Philosophical debates on the relationship between ‘ideas’ and ‘matter’ in the 1960s made Yan begin to question the ‘truth’ of Maoist thought and even to move a step further, by querying the existing socio-political system. More significantly, his reading of banned books in the fields of Western political thought, world history and biography, and pre-1949 Chinese history provided Yan with further grounds for questioning the theory and practice of Communism.
KeywordsCultural Revolution Political Reform Social Location Democratic System Political Idea
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