Gu Zhun

Philosopher, Deceased Person

1915 – 1974


Who was Gu Zhun?

Gu Zhun was an intellectual, economist and pioneer of post-Marxist Chinese liberalism. A victim of "anti-Rightist" purges he spent his later life in prisons and reeducation centres.

The recovery and publication of Gu's prison diaries and theoretical writings caused a sensation in intellectual circles when published in the mid 1990s. Having spent his life as a highly trained economist with Marxist convictions and heroic career as a revolutionary, his fall from grace and savage punishment led him to develop an authentic and deeply personal conversion to the values of liberal democracy. Cut off from the mainstream of 20th century Western thought, he in a sense "reinvented the wheel" of liberal theory. While certain critics have disparaged his ideas as "laughable if translated into English," from a Chinese liberal perspective he represents a rare case of authentic invention of liberalism, relatively free of suspect foreign influences.

Gu was an accountancy expert in his youth, joining the underground Communist Party in Shanghai in the late 1930s, and later appointed to leading roles in the post-Liberation Shanghai tax administration. However, having given outspoken and unwelcome advice to senior cadres, he was in 1952 charged with counter-revolutionary tendencies, demoted and sentenced to "remoulding."

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  • China

on July 23, 2013


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