Radio Free Asia | China Perspective
June 15, 2023
Moderator: Dr. Chen Kuide
Panelist: Professor Song Yongyi, professor emeritus of California State University, Los Angeles, organizer of the “Brainwashing” Conference
I. The Origin and Background of the Symposium on “Brainwashing: Mao Zedong and China and the World in the Post-Mao Era”
From May 29 to June 1, 2023, an academic seminar entitled “Brainwashing: Mao Zedong and China and the World in the Post-Mao Era” was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference was sponsored by City University of New York, Laogai Jointly organized by the Research Foundation, the University of Washington East Asian Library, and the California Center for Modern China Studies, more than 20 scholars and experts participated. The meeting was a success, with ample research discussions and debates surrounding the topic of brainwashing.
1) The original intention of holding the “brainwashing” seminar: theoretical and practical motivations
In the current special historical situation of China and the international community, totalitarianism is under siege, internal and external difficulties. One of its two pillars—brainwashing—has become the most critical element in maintaining totalitarianism. In view of this, the research and revelation of brainwashing has become one of the most urgent issues for the Chinese and the world.
2) Profile of participating scholars: About 25 well-known scholars in the field of China Studies attended the conference.
II. Main content and results of the “Brainwashing” Conference
1) Review of Brainwashing: Origin and Spiritual Tracing
In his opening speech, Professor Perry Lin talked about the common phenomenon of schizophrenia and multiple consciousness structures in the brainwashed society of China, and put forward his interesting observations on the phenomenon of Chinese “brainwashing” and “mouthwashing”.
Professor Xia Ming’s “Research on Brainwashing Theory: Inception, Evolution and New Horizons” summarizes the evolution of brainwashing in history, especially in the past hundred years, and can be summarized into three different models: 1. Classical brainwashing: from ancient times and medieval times to our We all saw the use of violence and torture to achieve the purpose of changing people’s thoughts and beliefs. Remnants of this method can still be seen today (such as the persecution of dissidents by the Chinese government, brainwashing coupled with torture in Xinjiang and Tibet, etc.). 2. Modern brainwashing: mainly through controlling people’s environment (away from family and relatives, isolation, concentration camps, study groups, social mobilization, propaganda, monitoring, etc.) to change people’s psychology, personality and behavior patterns, forcing individuals or groups to obey and accept Totalitarian ideology or totalitarian regimes. 3. Brainwashing under high technology brought about by breakthroughs in information science, computer technology, brain neuroscience, and biomedical chemistry in the 21st century. The CCP is trying to export its high-tech totalitarian model to brainwash the world.
Dr. Zhou Zehao is the translator of Edward Hunter’s famous monograph “Brainwashing in Red China: The Planned Destruction of the Human Mind”, which the author is famous for referring to “brainwashing” for the first time in a newspaper in 1950. This neologism is famous as well as the first use of the term “brainwashing” in the book. Dr. Zhou pointed out that Hunter’s unique contribution is to establish a direct relationship between brainwashing and the communist red regime.
Dr. Chen Kuide’s “Brainwashing: Tracing a History of Thought” discussed the etymological definition and spiritual origin of brainwashing from the perspective of political philosophy and intellectual history, and pointed out that the word “brainwashing” did not have a long etymological origin. It originated from the communist China. However, the spiritual and ideological origin of “brainwashing” can be traced back far. In addition to Marx, he mainly sorted out the influence of German philosopher Nietzsche, Italian philosopher Gramsci’s cultural hegemony theory, and French philosopher Foucault’s “authoritarianism” on brainwashing.
He pointed out that there is a contemporary pan-brainwashing tendency that attributes all human discourse and communication to “brainwashing”, which regards all language and writing activities as “brainwashing”. This kind of pan-brainwashing will obliterate all differences between right and wrong, good and evil, true and false… and create a world of value confusion, the world of “1984”.
Strictly speaking, brainwashing is a special product of the 20th century, a product of a highly closed totalitarian society supported by violence. An open society with freedom of speech and thought is a disinfectant for brainwashing.
2) The practice of “brainwashing” in the CCP’s political campaigns
This session mainly discusses the CCP’s practice in various stages and fields of brainwashing: the Yan’an period, the transformation of intellectuals in the early days of the government, the Anti-rightist Movement in 1957, the 1958 Heart-to-Party Movement, the Cultural Revolution, and so on.
Dr. Pei Yiran’s “From “Baptism” to “Brainwashing”—Historical Positioning of the Yan’an Rectification Movement” specifically discusses the evolution of the Yan’an Rectification Movement-style brainwashing movement.
Professor Song Yongyi spoke under title of “Why can the brainwashing of intellectuals in the ‘Thought Remolding Movement’ be successful?”, which is a chapter in his monograph “Mao Zedong and the New China”. He believes that the CCP’s policy on intellectuals, “transforming” its thinking should be one of its most basic policies, and it has three parts: 1 ) Indoctrination-style political learning of Marxism-Leninism; 2) Criticism-review-accounting under the model of mass fighting against the masses; 3) Movement-type confession for Chinese intellectuals and organizational clean-up.
In the early days of the founding of the Communist Party of China, there was a first wave of self-examination by well-known Chinese liberal intellectuals such as Zhu Guangqian, Chen Yuan, Feng Youlan, Fei Xiaotong and others. The reason for this phenomenon is not only the “obedience without understanding” attitude of intellectuals who mistook the CCP’s military victory for an ideological victory, but also the strong traditional Chinese pursuit of fame and fame at the time of regime change.
Professor Li Xiexi gave a speech on “Faith and Rebellion: The Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement in the Mao Zedong Period”. Professor Li’s speech provided a convincing answer to a question that many people have been asking. Why in China, compared with other fields, why is the resistance of Christians so decisive and thorough? The rock-like resistance of faith in anti-brainwashing.
Dr. Ding Shu’s report “Conscious Brainwashing: The 1958 Heart-to-Heart Movement to the Party” unraveled the little-known inside story of the 1958 Heart-to-Heart Movement in China’s intellectual circles. In a sense, Dr. Ding can be said to have filled a gap in the academic world.
3) Surveillance and brainwashing everywhere
This session mainly discusses some basic methods of brainwashing by the CCP.
Professor Li Youtan from Taiwan provided an “Analysis of China’s “Subjective Theory” in Taiwan’s Cognitive War.” The situation of people’s brainwashing is very instructive.
In his speech “From Brainwashing to Cognitive Warfare: A Trial Analysis of the CCP’s Propaganda Grand Strategy”, Professor Wu Guoguang from Stanford used his usual humorous way to distinguish three differences in the historical development of the CCP’s grand propaganda strategy The stages are the Mao era, the post-Mao era, and the so-called Xi Jinping era formed in the last ten years. Namely: brainwashing in the Mao era, sophisticated propaganda in the post-Mao era, and cognitive warfare in the Xi Jinping era. He discussed the respective characteristics and commonalities of the CCP’s propaganda strategy at the above-mentioned stages, and outlined a picture of the historical evolution of the CCP’s propaganda strategy, and analyzed the reasons for this evolution and the unchanging context behind it.
Dr. Minxin Pei, a chair professor from Claremont McKenna College, “dissected the CCP’s surveillance system” in a rigorous manner, which is so meticulous and detailed that it is amazing.
4) Totalitarianism and brainwashing from an international perspective
In this session, the examination of brainwashing on an international scale was carried out.
Professor Cheng Yinghong, who is famous for his research on international left-wing forces and their trends of thought, did a comparative study on “Fascist Newcomers and Communist Newcomers: A New Perspective on Thought Remolding”, which is refreshing.
Professor Zhang Weiqi and Professor Quan Junze described and analyzed North Korea’s young dictator “Idolized Kim Jong-un” in the seminar, allowing us to see another side of the Kim family dynasty.
Professor Guo Jian from the University of Wisconsin talked about “Conspiracy Theory and Awakening Culture: American Bipolar Politics with Different Routes to the Same Goal” with his unique vision. harm.
Ms. Guo Yiping, an independent scholar, put forward her point of view on “the important role played by ideological factors in the failure of post-Soviet Russia’s democratic transition”, which triggered some useful debates.
5) From Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping: The new development of the CCP’s “brainwashing”
This session discusses the evolution of the CCP’s brainwashing from various fields and time periods. The speakers included not only senior professors and editors, but also scholars who were directly persecuted by the CCP’s prisons, telling and analyzing the brainwashing methods of the CCP’s prisons for political prisoners.
As a publisher, Dr. Qiao Suihua analyzed the CCP’s “Brainwashing, Propaganda, and Movies: From the Perspective of Communication Studies and Text Mining”.
Professor Hao Zhidong shared with us his historical narrative “Changes in the Brainwashing Methods of Primary and Secondary School Textbooks after 1949”.
Professor Xu Ben, an enlightening writer and free thinker who is popular both inside and outside of mainland China, gave a speech on “Expert Propaganda and Brainwashing in China’s Post-Truth Society”.
Mr. Yang Zili, a political prisoner in the CCP prison and one of the Four Gentlemen of “New Youth”, made a report on “Reform through Labor: The Brainwashing Project of Prisoners in CCP Prisons”, which is embarrassing.
The meeting also invited two special guests to give special speeches. They are Professor Yu Maochun, Professor of the US Naval Academy and Director of the China Center of the Hudson Institute, and Mr. Hu Ping, Honorary Editor-in-Chief of Beijing Spring.
6) Professor Yu Maochun gave a keynote speech on “The CCP’s Brainwashing Propaganda in International Diplomacy”
Since he served as the chief China policy and planning advisor to former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his speech aroused widespread interest among the participants, and at the same time gave them a sense of the evolution of US-China relations. Of particular interest, for example, he points out:
- The Chinese government paid a lot of money to let a research center of Harvard University conduct so-called polls in China. This poll solemnly concluded that 93% of the Chinese people recognize and support the leadership of the Communist Party. This Harvard University poll has become a talisman for the Chinese government to deceive the Chinese people and the people of the world for many years. In fact, this is a classic example of deception. The so-called polls conducted by the research center of Harvard University in China were not conducted by themselves. The truth is that the Harvard University Research Center, which has received a lot of donations from China, entrusted the “Horizon Research Consultancy Group” (Horizon Research Consultancy Group) headquartered in Beijing, registered in China, to do it as a ghostwriter.
He also cited many examples and disclosed:
- China uses translation in international communication to carry out ideological transformation to the whole world. This is a very complex question, but also a very important one. The CCP’s training of translators is systematic and has strong policy guidance, and it is definitely not just about learning “faithful and elegant” language translation skills. All the official translators of the CCP I have come into contact with have a very strong party spirit and are able to grasp the size of the policy in the translation process. According to the will of the party, they will translate the key words and concepts that should be translated and should not be translated. Just miss it or blatantly miss it.
7) Mr. Hu Ping, a famous democratic movement theorist, gave a keynote speech on “From ‘Thought Remolding’ to ‘No Arrogant Discussion'”
Hu Ping pointed out: The CCP’s ideological remolding campaign is “brainwashing” or “human domestication.” From a certain perspective, the history of the rise and fall of the Communist Party’s rule is the history of human domestication, avoidance and rebellion. Brainwashing, in the words of today’s Xi Jinping authorities, is called “no false discussion”. Today, the idea of thought remolding has long since been abandoned, but political studies have been strengthened again, and the cult of personality has revived. The most important point that the CCP has ordered the people of the country is “no false comments.” This is in the same strain as the thought reform of that year.
• This conference on “Brainwashing” theoretically confirmed that the theory of “brainwashing” can be used as an important tool for studying China’s problems.
• The meeting carried out a historical review and in-depth analysis of the Chinese Communist Party as a patented brainwashing political movement.
• The meeting issued a solemn warning about the past and possible future harm of “brainwashing” to the world and China.