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The Compelling IdealThought Reform and the Prison in China, 1901-1956$
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Jan Kiely

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300185942

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300185942.001.0001

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Revolutionary Thought Reform: The Communist Version, 1946–1956

Revolutionary Thought Reform: The Communist Version, 1946–1956

(p.255) 7 Revolutionary Thought Reform: The Communist Version, 1946–1956
The Compelling Ideal

Jan Kiely

Yale University Press

Beginning with an account of the accelerated expansion of the penal reformation and thought reform systems under Kuomintang and Communist authorities amid the late 1940s civil war, this chapter argues that the Communist version that became a core instrument in their process of revolutionary advance, conquest and transformation of society was an ultimate extension of the wartime mode of the system. It also presents a dynamic sense of the culminating moment when the thought reform regime proliferated across China as an integral mechanism critical to the disciplining of a rapidly expanding party and military apparatus, a mushrooming prison labor camp system, and campaigns of revolutionary social-political transformation in the early 1950s. Much of the Communist system of thought reform resembled its predecessors and revealed its debts to the foundations laid in the previous decades. Yet it also featured certain distinctive modes and methods unlike those of its predecessors not just in its vast scale, but also in the experience of its disciplinary process. The Communist thought reform regime regularly inverted a disciplinary mode long designed and still often pursued in highly moralistic terms into forms requiring an amoral commitment to absolute loyalty.

Keywords:   Chinese Civil War (1946–1950), early 1950s People's Republic of China, penal reformation, thought reform, prison labor camps, political indoctrination, Chinese Communist revolution

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