The dialectics of “iron hook” and “tofu”: the shifts in Liang Shuming’s thinking in the 1950s and the “duality” of Chinese socialist practices
Zhen ZHANG, Jia’en PAN, Huiyu ZHANG, Shixuan LUO, and Tiejun WEN
ABSTRACT Starting with the metaphor “iron hook and tofu” proposed by Liang Shuming, the Chinese thinker and leader of the rural reconstruction movement in the twentieth century, this article retraces the debate between Liang and Mao Zedong in 1953 under the historical context of the early 1950s and the shifts in Liang’s thinking from the 1920s to the 1950s. The dialectical relationship between “iron hook” and “tofu” was an important issue throughout Liang’s lifelong thinking. Centering on this metaphor, the article presents a deeper understanding of the dynamics and tensions in Liang’s thoughts, the ideaistic shifts that resulted in his similarity to and divergence from Mao, and the inherent “duality” of Chinese socialist practices. The metaphor “iron hook and tofu” will also provide a reference for rethinking the complex relationship between rural revolution and rural reconstruction, and between radicalism and reformism.
KEYWORDS: Liang Shuming; rural reconstruction movement; urban-rural relationship; Chinese socialist practices
Notes on the contributors
Zhen Zhang obtained his MA at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Chongqing University, and is now a Ph.D. student at the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His researches have focused on Liang Shuming and modern Chinese intellectual history.
Jia’en Pan obtained his Ph.D. at the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, and is now an associate professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Chongqing University. His research interests include the history of the Chinese rural reconstruction movement and contemporary Chinese rural culture.
Huiyu Zhang is an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication in Peking University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Peking University. His researches have focused on cultural studies and cultural communication. He is the author of 视觉现代性：20世纪中国的主体呈现 [The Visual Modernity: The Representation of Subjectivity in the 20th Century China] (Renmin Press, 2012); 打开锈住的记忆：影视文化与历史想象 [Unpack the Blocked Memory: The Film and TV Culture and the Historical Imagination] (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2014); and 当代中国的文化想象与历史重构 [The Cultural Imagination and Social Reconstruction in the Contemporary China] (Sun Yat-Sen University Press, 2014).
Shixuan Luo obtained his MA at the School of Marxism Studies, Renmin University, and now is a Ph.D. student at the School of Agriculture Economics and Rural Development, Renmin University. His researches interests include China’s rural development and governance, and particularly interested in studying the realization the value of rural ecological resources.
Tiejun Wen is a professor at the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University. His researches have focused on the Chinese rural reconstruction movement, agrarian problems in China, and the comparative study of developing countries.