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OPEN UNIVERSITY SEPTEMBER 1, 2006

The New School

Today's NYT report that high-school students in China will no longer need
to learn about the details of the Communist Revolution or the words and
deeds of Mao Zedong raises a number of intriguing questions: Has any other
powerful nation, especially one with an authoritarian government, ever
made a similar move to de-emphasize nationalist renderings of history? Now
that Chinese schoolchildren will be guided by the thoughts of Braudel,
rather than those of Marx or Mao, will they view more cynically their
government's periodic attempts to whip up resentment against Japan and the
United States for past wrongs? With transnational perspectives also
gaining influence among historians in the U.S. and Europe, does the
Chinese move portend a grand intellectual convergence, with a spillover
effect, over time, on international relations? Or perhaps it's just
another sign that the true ideology of the Chinese Communist Party is
Market-Leninism, with Bill Gates taking the place once occupied by the Great Helmsman who still gazes over Tienamen Square.

--Michael Kazin

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