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The Roots of Communist China


To say that the Chinese Communist revolution is a
non-Western revolution is more than a clich,. That
revolution has been primarily directed, not like the French
Revolution but against alien Western influences that
approached the level of domination and drastically altered
China's traditional relationship with the world. Hence the
Chinese Communist attitude toward China's traditional past
is selectively critical, but by no means totally hostile.
The Chinese Communist revolution, and the foreign policy of
the regime to which it has given rise, have several roots,
each of which is embedded in the past more deeply than one
would tend to expect of a movement seemingly so convulsive.
 The Chinese superiority complex institutionalized in their
tributary system was justified by any standards less
advanced or efficient than those of the modern West. China
developed an elaborate and effective political system
resting on a remarkable cultural unity, the latter in turn
being due mainly to the general acceptance of a common,
although difficult, written language and a common set of
ethical and social values, known as Confucianism.
Traditional china had neither the knowledge nor the power
that would have been necessary to cope with the superior
science, technology, economic organization, and military
force that expanding West brought to bear on it. The
general sense of national weakness and humiliation was
rendered still keener by a unique phenomenon, the
modernization of Japan and its rise to great power status.
Japan's success threw China's failure into sharp remission.
 The Japanese performance contributed to the discrediting
and collapse of China's imperial system, but it did little
to make things easier for the subsequent successor. The
Republic was never able to achieve territorial and national
unity in the face of bad communications and the widespread
diffusion of modern arms throughout the country. Lacking
internal authority, it did not carry much weight in its
foreign relations. As it struggled awkwardly, there arose
two more radical political forces, the relatively powerful
Kuomintang of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and the
younger and weaker Communist Party of China (CPC ). With
indispensable support from the CPC and the Third
International, the Kuomintang achieved sufficient success
so it felt justified in proclaiming a new government,
controlled by itself, for the whole of China. For a time
the Kuomintang made a valiant effort to tackle China's
numerous and colossal problems, including those that had
distribution of arms. It also took a strongly anti-Western
course in its foreign relations, with some success. It is
impossible to say whether the Kuomintang's regime would
ultimately have proven viable and successful if it had not
been ruined by an external enemy, as the Republic had been
by its internal opponents. The more the Japanese exerted
preemptive pressures on China, the more the people tended
to look on the Kuomintang as the only force that prevent
china from being dominated by Japan. During the Sino-
Japanese war of 1937, the Kuomintang immediately suffered
major military defeats and lost control of eastern China.
It was only saved from total hopelessness or defeat by
Japan's suicidal decision to attack the United States and
invasion of Southeastern Asia. But military rescue from
Japan brought no significant improvement in the
Kuomintang's domestic performance in the political and
economic fields, which if anything to get worse. Clearly
the pre-Communist history of Modern China has been
essentially one of weakness, humiliation, and failure. This
is the atmosphere in which the CPC developed its leadership
and growth in. The result has been a strong determination
on the part of that leadership to eliminate foreign
influence within China, to modernize their country, and to
eliminate Western influence from eastern Asia, which
included the Soviet Union. China was changing and even
developing, but its overwhelming marks were still poverty
and weakness. During their rise to power the Chinese
Communists, like most politically conscious Chinese, were
aware of these conditions and anxious to eliminate them.
Mao Tse-tung envisioned a mixed economy under Communist
control, such as had existed in the Soviet Union during the
period of the New Economic Policy. The stress was more upon
social justice, and public ownership of the "commanding
heights" of the economy than upon development. In 1945, Mao
was talking more candidly about development, still within
the framework of a mixed economy under Communist control,
and stressing the need for more heavy industry; I believe
because he had been impressed by the role of heavy industry
in determine the outcome of World War II. In his selected
works he said "that the necessary capital would come mainly
from the accumulated wealth of the Chinese people" but
latter added "that China would appreciate foreign aid and
even private foreign investment, under non exploitative
 After Chiang Kai-shek broke away from the CPC they found
themselves in a condition that they were not accustom to,
they had no armed forces or territorial bases of its own.
It had no program of strategy other than the one that
Stalin had compromised, who from the Sixth World Congress
of the Comintern in 1928 to the Seventh in 1935 insisted,
largely because the disaster he had suffered in China that
Communist Parties everywhere must promote world revolution
in a time of depression. The CPC was ridden with
factionalism; the successful effort to replace this
situation with one of relative "bolshevization" or in
layman's term this means imposed unity, which was
ultimately made by Mao Tse-tung, and not by Stalin.
 Parallel with the Comintern-dominated central apparatus of
the CPC in Shanghai, there arose a half dozen Communist-led
base areas, each with a guerrilla army, in Central and
South China. These bases existed mainly by virtue of the
efforts of the local Communist leadership to satisfy the
serious economic and social grievances of the local
civilians, often violently, through such means as
redistribution of land at the expense of landlords and the
reduction of interest rates at the expense of moneylenders.
Of these base areas, or soviets, the most important was the
one led by Mao Tse-tung and centered in the southeastern
city of Kiangsi. Correspondingly, in return for such
service Mao was elected chairman of a Central Soviet
Government, who supposedly controlled all the Communist
base areas in 1931. Before I tell about Mao Tse-tung, I
will tell you about Maoism. By Maoism or "the thought of
Mao Tse-tung" as the CPC would put it is the entire
evolving complex of patterns of official thought and
behavior that CPC has developed while under Mao's
leadership. It was very difficult to unscramble Mao's
individual contribution while not confusing it with other
thinkers of this time period as many have done and are
still doing to this date. It is also difficult to separate
the pre-1949 and the post-1949 aspects and the domestic
from the international aspects. The first basic and most
important characteristic that I believe is a deep and
sincere nationalism that has been merged with the strictly
Communist elements. Then closely resembling nationalism was
his populism approach so full of strain that the CPC saw
itself not merely as the Vanguard of the common people,
plus as the progressive side of the middle class, but as
representative of the people. This was important as it
played the opposite position of the " three big mountains"
(imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism) and
still yet accept the passively the leadership CPC. Maoism
still possessed two other points that are significant in
understanding this ideology, it recognizes the decisive
importance in history of conscious, voluntary activity and
of subjective forces in more detail than the sometimes
compared Leninism which was opposed to deterministic,
objective forces. The last point it brings out is that
Maoism stresses contradictions and struggle, or what might
be called the power of negative thinking, to the point
where it invents enemies of all types and comments on their
size and calls them "paper tiger" as he did in a speech in
1950. Mao Tse-tung On December 26th 1893 in a small
village about twenty-eight miles to the west of Hsiangt'an,
Hunan in Shaoshanch'ung, Mao Tse-tung was born. He was born
during a time of widespread suffrage, his father Mao
Shun-sheng had left his family to join the army hoping to
return and be able to take care of his family. He soon
returned with ample funds to purchase land and livestock,
so was the background of his childhood and one of the
reasons why he cared so much about the agricultural growth
of his people and the need to end their suffering..His
mother was a modest individual who cared about the less
fortunate and believed heavily in prayer to gods for
guidance and best wishes to the needy. Since he started
working at the early age of five he learned and developed
his tendency for thoroughness, paying close attention to
what and how his father operated the farmland. His father
eventually brought him a tutor to teach the business side
of life and learned to read and write also. Learning to
read opened his mind to books such as, The Water Margin,
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and The Monkey, but the
first book was his most favorite. Because it told of a
rebels desire and the spirit of rebellion, what a symbolic
meaning that would play in his future. He would eventually
go to school in Ch'angsha the Capital city where his life
took a path he would never be able to leave from again. The
Empire was full of discontent with the leaders role in the
political realm. China was in political chaos and the
leaders new of nothing that could save them. During these
times many disasters would take place such as the
Russo-Japanese war, and the Boxer Rebellion which directed
the Chinese government to construct a shaky, but
 authoritative constitution to hope these problems would
not destroy their monarchy. At this time Mao had been in
school learning as much as he could about the political
agenda and about the revolution that was going on. He read
many books about the causes of the revolution and the many
theories that authors portrayed that could end this revolt.
He himself started to write his feelings down into what
would be his "life works" on what he believed could halt
the problem or really give the Republic back to the people.
This is one of the reasons why China is now called THE
PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA. From this point of his
educational advance, he would be in close contact with
future leaders of the revolution, his classmates. He helped
them take papers and documents around the city that told of
plans of attacking the government. With the help of his
classmates the formed a student society that was a front
for the revolution to reach the students, where they read
works and newspapers such as Hsiang River Weekly, this
paper would subsequently print some of his beliefs. This
paper was eventually snubbed by the present leader Chang
Ching- yao. This is when his name became familiar with the
government and they wanted him stopped and suppressed. He
would soon leave to go Peking where he started to issue his
views statements about the current government. This is
where he started to learn more about Marxism and read the
book the Communist Manifesto. When he returned he learned
of the Hunan Armies seizures of citizens who they believed
where threats to the society. From this point on, Mao new
it would be his job and role in life to take charge and
assert the necessary precautions to see that his people
were treated the way that they needed to be treated. 

 1. Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing
House, 1948, Translated By Stuart Gelder. 
 2. Jerome Chen, Mao and the Chinese Revolution, Oxford
University Press, 1965. 
 3. Stuart & Schram, Mao Tse- tung, Simon and Shuster -
New York, 1966. 
Cf. Conrad Brandt, Stalin's Failure in China, 1924-1927,
Harvard University Press, 1958.
Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing House,
1948, p. 336. Translated by Stuart 

Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing House,
1948, p. 428. Translated by Stuart 

Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing House,
1948, p. 104. Translated by Stuart 



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