Puppets, Compatriots, and Souls in Heaven: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Chiang Kai-shek’s Early Wartime Rhetoric

Lutgard Lams, Wei-lun Lu


The study adopts a critical discourse analysis approach to Chiang Kai-shek’s (CKS) internal nationalist propaganda and authoritarian discourse practices, investigating his New Year and National Day speeches in the 1950s. Authoritarian characteristics are evident in strategies such as legitimation, reification, or myth-making, in the antagonist categorisation of Self versus Other, in Self-glorification and the idolisation of the dead, in the hegemonic creation of commonality and unity, and in the metaphorical conceptualisation of reality. Patterns of idolising the dead serve to impose and legitimise CKS’s worldview among his citizens. Another pattern is CKS’s invention of imaginary compatriots within the “enslaved China” waiting for the best time to overthrow the “bandits’” rule. Reference to these imaginary agents indirectly presents to his audience a false but better impression of the Self, and a dimmer view of the communist bandits. A third pattern is CKS’s metaphorical use of language, such as references to communist China as a puppet regime of Russia.

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