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Julian Guriev
Julian Guriev

The Palace Of Illusions Pdf File

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The Palace Of Illusions Pdf File

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It is perhaps the most impressive representation of state power in the world: the imperial palace in Beijing. The palace complex dates back to the fifteenth century. A straight road several kilometers long starts in the south far outside the palace and passes by ever more elaborate buildings to the center of the empire and of power, the imperial throne. Just as the layout is constructed around the emperor as the center, in the Chinese view, the whole empire, even the whole world, is oriented toward the palace complex.

Imperial China belongs to the past. But the complex lives on; only today, a transformation is inscribed in it. Since 1977, the mausoleum of Mao Zedong stands in front of the palace, placed exactly on the axis of the long road. The mausoleum intersects this line and at the same time dominates it. Here, the symbolism shows the founding of a new state that simultaneously made itself the heir and successor of the old state. Mao, as the founder, arrests the flow on the path to the center. Yet he does not divert it, but rather makes himself the master over it. In the end, the symbolism emphasizes the unity and the continuity of the state, as the palace and the entire complex had already served to do in the past. China's history of the last two millennia can be read as a succession of dynasties. Each dynasty fell after a shorter or longer period and left behind a splintered empire, which was then re-united under a new dynasty.

I do not mean to embody the illusions of Tonio Kröger, whose dreams of uniting a chaste north to a passionate south were exalted here, fifty-three years ago, by Thomas Mann. But I do believe that those clear-sighted Europeans who struggle, here as well, for a more just and humane homeland, could help us far better if they reconsidered their way of seeing us. Solidarity with our dreams will not make us feel less alone, as long as it is not translated into concrete acts of legitimate support for all the peoples that assume the illusion of having a life of their own in the distribution of the world.


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