Jiang Zemin’s Discourse on Intellectuals: The Political Use of Formalised Language and the Conundrum of Stability

Maurizio Marinelli


This article focuses on the specific forms of power that are embodied in the properties and functions of formalised language, as it was used by Jiang Zemin in crucial political documents on the Party’s policy towards intellectuals. This inquiry illuminates various possibilities for the normalisation and inculcation of formalised language in the understudied decade of the 1990s, when the mantra “without stability, nothing can be achieved” became a tautology. The internal constitution of the selected texts is examined with an eye to the dialogic interaction with the production and reception of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping’s political discourses on intellectuals (Mao 1942; Deng 1978). The analysis of language practices and discursive formations in a comparative per-spective sheds light on the respective socio-political and historical contexts. It also reveals the extreme involution-devolution of formalised language in the Jiang Zemin era, when “preserving stability” was reaffirmed as a crucial concern of the Party leadership with the ultimate aim of preserving its monopoly of power.

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