From Enlightenment Ideals to Socialist Realities

The idea of eliminating undesirable traits from human temperament to create a “new man” has been part of moral and political thinking worldwide for millennia. During the Enlightenment, European philosophers sought to construct an ideological framework for reshaping human nature. But it was only among the communist regimes of the twentieth century that such ideas were actually put into practice on a nationwide scale. In Creating the “New Man”: From Enlightenment Ideals to Socialist Realities, Yinghong Cheng examines three culturally diverse sociopolitical experiments—the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, China under Mao, and Cuba under Castro—in an attempt to better understand the origins and development of the “new man.”

“There is no comparative study of the critically important and remarkably similar ‘new man’ creation programs of China and Cuba that is comparable in insights to this one. But this book speaks to still wider audiences, from students of the Marxist and other dogmatic, utopian ideologies that have so often consumed the resources and lives of people worldwide throughout the history of mankind, to analysts of development and anti-development experiences in general.” —William Ratliff, Stanford University

Perspectives on the Global Past
January 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3074-8 / $60.00 (CLOTH)