Revolution #198, April 07, 2010

Letter from Dennis Loo Opposing Harvard Crimson Ban on Raymond Lotta Open Letter

Dear Peter Zhu:

I write to you as a former Crim (Photo) Editor (1969-1973). I understand that Raymond Lotta’s letter to Dr. Rodrick MacFarquhar, which was to run as a paid ad in the Crimson, has been rejected by you as “too controversial.”

I also write to you as someone who has written about China during the post-1949 revolutionary period, including about the Cultural Revolution and the Spring Uprising of 1989. I did my Masters Essay on China on the way to my Ph.D. in sociology. In the process of preparing my Master Essay on China “Exorcising the Ghost of Mass Political Activism: Deng Xiaoping, Workers, Peasants and the 1989 Spring Uprising,” and of preparing one of my three Field Statement areas for my doctoral orals exam on the post-1949 Chinese period, I read the post-1949 scholarly literature in great depth and breadth. MacFarquhar’s work was part of this research. I also write you as someone who has read Raymond Lotta’s work extensively, both his work and talks on China and his works on political economy, including his book America in Decline and his book And Mao Makes Five. I have met him in person and regard him as an exceptional individual, of tremendous integrity and intellectual rigor. He is painstaking in his research.

I find your decision to reject Raymond’s letter as too controversial to be itself controversial. I ask that you reconsider your decision. The actual nature of the events in China are far too important to be left untilled by someone as knowledgeable as Lotta. The China scholarship is unfortunately riddled with inaccuracies and misstatements of material facts. Even if you don’t agree with that assessment, I ask that you consider my credentials on this and also that if the positions that either MacFarquhar or Lotta takes are wrong either in part or in whole, that they and people’s knowledge about China and socialism will both benefit from the debate. It does not serve the pursuit of truth and academic freedom to suppress debate and inquiry, even from those we disagree with, especially from those we disagree with.

Please do live up to the Crimson’s high standards of letting debate flourish.


Dennis Loo, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Harvard BA cum laude 1973 (Government)

(PS, if you are interested, you can find an Internet version of my masters essay here:

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