Tuesday, February 03, 2009

# Posted 10:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IN DEFENSE OF THE MAOIST: My esteemed colleague Mr. Polansky is displeased with Bill Kristol's suggestion that the time has come to Let 1,000 Republican Flowers Bloom. David writes that Kristol's essay is a "pedestrian call for greater diversity and creativity in formulating new Republican strategies." But I think Kristol has a point that is hardly self-evident.

Kristol notes that a lot of Republicans want the party to have a clear message, a clear strategy and a unified leadership that can mount the best possible defense against an overwhelming Democratic majority. With good reason, a lot of Republicans are happy about the GOP House delegation refusing to cast a single vote for the stimulus package. But unity shouldn't come at the price of suppressing internal discussion. The real driver of unity and success is a compelling vision, not discipline for its own sake.

David is also displeased with Kristol because the title of his essay is an example of
"hackish, cliched writing, recasting a political catchphrase that has already been appropriated to death. Second, it betokens a callousness (hardly limited to Kristol) to other peoples’ historical horrors: I can’t imagine him calling for a journalistic 'night of the long knives'."
It's not the most original title ever, but I think it gets the point across. As for the history, the Hundred Flowers Campaign represented a brief moment of optimism when Mao gave China hope that freedom of thought and conscience would be part of the revolution. As David points out, this was a false hope, since the Campaign was a trap to lure dissidents into the open. Yet Mao's hypocrisy doesn't undermine the ideal he cynically invoked. China is still waiting for what Mao once promised. Thus, I consider the metaphor of one hundred (or one thousand) flowers as more of a tribute to that ideal than a callous disregard for the consequences of Mao's betrayal.
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