A Western journalist traveling in China in 1967 gave the following description of a performance of revolutionary skits in Shanghai's Great World entertainment complex (formerly the epicenter of semicolonial decadence during the Republican era):

I have never seen in China an audience as totally engrossed as this one. They did not applaud much, but it seemed as if they thought they shouldn't interrupt. They stared fixedly at the stage with faces completely rapt; each new scene creased their brows, wiped them smooth, furrowed them again more deeply, all in unison. Heads stretched forward so that not a single detail would escape their eyes.1

Coming as it does from a reporter in lockstep with Cold War-era Western ideology, it is not surprising that this account provides a stereotypical representation of the Maoist masses as...

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