The Three-Body Problem, by Chinese scifi novelist Cixin Liu, opens with a scene depicting a "struggle session" from the Cultural Revolution. His vivid writing personalizes the experiences I've seen in overview in historical documentaries, and read and heard about at the Rewi Alley memorial in Springfield.

Can we, as netizens, learn from the bitter experience of the Cultural Revolution, and shift from mass denunciation to cooperative problem-solving?
Have we all been mistakenly using the net - and social media in particular - as the exercise ground for never-ending struggle sessions? I've always tried to explain why I disagree with people, while implicitly upholding their right to hold and express their ideas. But I'm sure there are plenty of times when I've failed at that.

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BTW this dark period in China's recent history was not, as historically ignorant anticommunists tend to imply, the actual communist revolution. That began before WW2 and ended not long after the Red Army defeated the invading Japanese, while the Cultural Revolution began almost 2 decades later, in 1966. It seems, in hindsight, that in his declining years, Mao created a monster, a revolutionist cult that even he couldn't control, although it pretty much fizzled out after his death in 1976.

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The only Chinese fiction I've read so far, other than Liu, is 'Imaginary Planets', a book of short stories by a few different Chinese authors.

It also includes non-fiction essays about Chinese scifi, by a few of the authors with stories in the collection.

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@strypey "never ending struggle sessions" is definitely how I would characterize some of the more purity spiralling sections of the internet left, and it's been noted as a weakness to be used and exploited by their adversaries for a long time

Mob denunciation is hardly unique to the left, online or otherwise.

BTW this is brilliant and I'm 100% on board with it:
position: )

... although I've never been part of chan culture myself. Although of course I would say that ... ;)

@strypey Yeah I was basically fully invested in chan culture throughout most of my adolescence (beyond that, 8chan in specific). It's left an indeliable mark on me although I'll be darned if I can figure out how in any depth (Also the reason I called out the internet left specifically is because it's a *very* common tactic there and that therefore it's an exploitable weakness. I was a fellow traveller in far-right circles for a long time and still am to some extent so it's something I don't hesitate to note to anyone who is trying to develop a response to this along political lines within the left, especially when engaging with outsiders)


The "monster" is a fundamental problem with violent revolutions. Can't speak about Maoism but the need for violent revolution was the distinguishing feature of Marxism and then even more so of Leninism and Stalinism.

In short, the violent revolution results in negative selection by eradicating reasonable supporters and promoting those ready for indiscriminate violence.

Bertrand Russell perfectly noted that among Bolsheviks already in 1920:


Another distinguishing feature of the revolutionary movements in 20th century was the cult of personality, which was definitely the case with both Bolshevik and Maoist revolutions (and even modern Russia). When the cult takes over, it becomes self-accelerating because the only way to show loyalty is to show more cult. Eventually even "the personality" cannot do much to moderate it, because that would negatively impact social position of thousands of supporters.


Have you read Koestler's "Darkness at noon"? The plot seems very similar, just that Koestler writes about stalinist culture.

Yes! A fantastic book. All the authors approach scifi in very different ways from the anglophone scifi I'm used to, which was both refreshing and intriguing. I want to read more by these authors, and more scifi from Asia in general. I'm really enjoying getting started on Three Body.

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