L'existence de l'impérialisme ne sera plus bien longue. (The days of imperialism are numbered.)
Les impérialistes ont commis tous les méfaits possibles, les peuples opprimés du monde entier ne pourront absolument pas leur pardonner. (The imperialists have committed all manner of evils and all the oppressed peoples of the whole world will never forgive them.)Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, [c.1968] Stock Code: 149399
A compelling example of Chinese Cultural Revolution propaganda in French, printed in comparatively small numbers. The quote encapsulates the strong anti-imperialist tone of Chinese propaganda in the 1960s as Beijing looked to paint both the United States and the Soviet Union as two aggressors antithetical to world progress.
Originally published in Chairman Mao Tse-tung's Important Talks with Guests from Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Foreign Languages Press, 1960) but not included in the "Little Red Book", this quote is a classic example of Mao's belief in the inevitable direction of world affairs. Uttered in a 1959 meeting with delegates from Iraq, Iran and Cyprus, Mao's words can only have appeared more prescient as anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and decolonizing liberation movements grew in intensity during the 1960s.
By distributing posters such as the present item, Peking Foreign Languages Press deepened China's ideological offensive abroad with the twin goal of stoking opposition to America and drowning out the Soviet Union's rival brand of communism. Beginning in the late 1950s, private and then public cracks appeared in the socialist world, with Mao's China becoming increasing opposed to the policy direction of the Soviet Union. In particular, China's leaders privately and then openly expressed opposition to Moscow's interventions in Eastern Europe in the 1950s to prop up the Soviet bloc and stamp out calls for self-determination. Geopolitical tensions between Moscow and Beijing, combined with China's increasing military strength, eventually overflowed into public exchanges of vitriolic criticism and diplomatic ruptures, with Soviet diplomats expelled from China after the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. In this climate, Chinese propaganda focused as much on attacking the Soviet Union as it did on lambasting the United States. Having already disseminated the "Little Red Book" widely, more ephemeral items such as posters could take their place at French rallies, in schools, and on the walls of other organisations. Posters such as this example therefore aimed to win over converts to China's ideological side of the communist world and simultaneously weaken what Mao called Moscow's "revisionist" and "imperialist" distortion of Marxism-Leninism.
France was a natural target when it came to exporting Maoism and the Maoist language of anti-imperialism abroad. On the one hand, several members of the Chinese Communist Party's leadership hierarchy had cut their Marxist teeth in France in the early 20th century, and the Cultural Revolution drew inspiration from the Paris Commune. On the other hand, the mass politics of the Cultural Revolution dovetailed with the counter-cultural left-wing activism that permeated France in the 1960s. By 1967, the French Left was much taken with developments in China and, in Paris, "signs of Maoism's popularity abounded" (Wolin, p. 114). Clothing boutiques sold copious Mao suits - "les cols Maos" - and booksellers experienced runs on copies of the "Little Red Book" translated into French. In elite intellectual circles, Louis Althusser's students at the Ecole normale supérieure "were planning trips to China, copiously citing the Little Red Book, and praising the virtues of a "war of position" against the bourgeois enemy" (ibid., p. 118). Beijing hoped that in an environment of such fervour, Maoism could take root and blossom.
Poster (380 x 530 mm), with a three-quarter portrait of Mao and quotation printed in red on a yellow panel with a gold border.
Edges faintly toned, mild creasing and one small closed tear to margins not affecting printed material, light vertical crease at the centre, a couple of negligible marks, colours and text sharp and bright. In excellent condition.
Richard Wolin, The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s, Princeton University Press, 2010.
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