In This Review

From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China
From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China
By Merle Goldman
Harvard University Press, 2005, 304 pp
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Goldman has devoted her career to studying the role of intellectuals in modern China, always with an eye to spotting "seeds of democracy." She distinguishes between "establishment intellectuals" and "disestablished intellectuals," who, as dissidents, have expanded the domain for civil society and thus helped to create a new consciousness of citizenship. This detailed narrative account begins with the Democracy Wall movement and goes on to report on the establishment of independent political organizations in the 1980s, culminating in the astonishing emergence of some 90 million Chinese who have used their access to cyberspace to define new concepts of citizenship. Although the harsh realities of state repression are not overlooked, Goldman presents a positive vision of China's prospects, based not on wishful thinking or abstract generalizations, but on documented facts and the stories of individuals. Anyone interested in China's prospects for political reform should turn to this solidly researched but very readable book.