High Culture Fever

Many have speculated about the influence of Western futurology on
post-Mao China’s obsession with evolutionism. Listed as one of the
thirty-three books that changed post-Mao China, Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave
, whose Chinese translation appeared in 1983, told intellectuals both
within and outside the Party apparatus a story of “tremendous hope and
prospect.”[8] It was Toffler’s critique of the pessimism underlying The Limits of Growth
that instilled in the Chinese intellectual leadership a renewed sense
of “urgency and responsibility"—the urgency to start a new technological
revolution depicted in The Third Wave and the responsibility to achieve "socialist modernization” and to march toward the “world and the future.”[9]
Eventually some even credited Toffler for the Party’s Great Awakening
to the importance of knowledge and intellectuals in the new era. Thus
although Bill Brugger and David Kelly detect a “dystopian aspect” of the
Chinese futurological research, the future that Chinese intellectuals
faced in 1985 was nonetheless unambivalently bright and triumphant.[10

Jing Wang

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