In his earliest writings, Mao seemed to portray himself more as a Nietzschean superman, or a tiger:. The great actions of the hero are his own, are the expression of his motive power, lofty and cleansing, relying on no precedent. All obstacles dissolve before him.
In his early 20s, roaming the countryside of Hunan Province with a friend, Mao convinced his companion that he saw himself in the tradition of the peasant founders of Chinese dynasties, in particular Liu Bang, founder of the first great Chinese Empire, the Han. By the time he was 42, shortly after the bedraggled survivors of the epic Long March had reached safety in northwest China, Mao went as far as to look down upon all the great emperors of the past. Has made countless heroes bow in homage. But alas! Qin Shihuang and Han Wudi. Were lacking in literary grace,. Had little poetry in their souls;.
Knew only shooting eagles, bow outstretched. On the eve of his coming out as a Marxist at age 27, he was an unsophisticated provincial nationalist. He gloomily dismissed the chances of the new Chinese republic surviving, wondered about Hunan becoming an American state and advocated that all of the Chinese provinces should become separate countries.
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It was only in November that he admitted defeat: The Hunanese did not have the vision to appreciate his ideas. He wrote to his activist friends in the provincial capital to say that he would henceforth be a socialist. He was just in time. Communist cells had been organized in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities, and in mid, the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held. Mao, who had quickly organized a Communist group in Hunan, achieved the cachet of being one of only 12 delegates to attend.
He was thus an early tiger.
Rise Of Communism In China
The Soviet agents who funded and masterminded the organization of the early C. With memories of defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of , and competing with Japan for influence in Manchuria, the Soviets needed a strong China as an ally against Japanese expansionism. The fledgling C. The Soviets decided to bolster the well known revolutionary who had helped bring down the Manchu dynasty but had then been pushed aside by warlords: Sun Yat-sen. They provided him with funds, reorganized his Nationalist party, known as the K. The plan was for the C.
Most of the C.
But the piper called the tune, and they joined the K. Two events set Mao off on a new, career-shaping course.
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Communist leaders scattered in flight. After the death of their parents, Mao and his two brothers owned a valuable property back in their home village that had been built up by their father. The family had made the transition from poor to rich peasants. And though he had grown up surrounded by the miseries of rural life, as a fledgling Communist, Mao had been focusing on the urban proletariat until Moscow, realizing that China was different, ordered more attention be paid to the peasantry.
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Mao became active in peasant affairs, and his transformative experience was witnessing and chronicling an uprising in his native Hunan. In a famous passage, he rejected allegations that the peasants had gone too far:.
A revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner or writing an essay or painting a picture or embroidering a flower; it cannot be anything so refined, so calm and gentle. Witnessing the bloodshed in the Hunanese countryside, Mao was discovering his other persona. Mao would be the monkey king to lead that destruction. In the early s, when the C. A thunderstorm burst over the earth,. So a devil rose from a heap of white bones.
The deluded monk was not beyond the light,. But the malignant demon must wreak havoc. The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel. The particular manner in which the political crisis was "resolved" was in turn shaped by the new class dynamics that arose out of the reforms. Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff have already examined in this journal the class and political dynamics that led to the widespread urban support for the student-led movement in Tiananmen.
However, few have discussed the lack of moral support for the prodemocracy movement. In this paper we intend to address this very issue by analyzing the post-Mao era's effect on rural China in explicitly class terms. In particular, we argue that the reforms have contributed to a significant growth in the ancient fundamental and subsumed class processes in China and that this growth in self-exploitation Gabriel , provides a necessary, thou gh not sufficient condition for the Chinese government 5 crackdown on urban dissent, and that the economic and political importance of the growing ancient class, coupled with the alienation of large portions of the urban intelligentsia from the party, has created the context for a unique, ancient-centered strategy for building socialism in China.
The so-called Democracy Movement demanded the adoption of a multiparty, liberal-democratic political environment, an end to high-level corruption, and a return to more e galitarian "iron rice bowl" economic policies. Ancient producers, in both the rural and urban areas, may have supported the call for an end to high-level corruption but were not so keen on returning to the iron rice bowl policies of Mao, particularly since such policies were associa ted with the communes and centralized economic control.
As for the call for political reforms, these ancient producers were probably more indifferent than anything else. After all, under the current system they had been successful at getting a large part of what they wanted from the central and provincial governments.
Ancient producers had not only acquired rights to land and other means of production and the right to first receipt of their own surplus product, but owing to reduced social demands upon the ir surplus in the form of taxes particularly given the dismantling of the communes , they enjoyed control over a relatively large surplus product with the attendant increase in their individual social influence.
Thus, the existing political system was, f rom the standpoint of many ancient producers, doing just fine. Having seen their standard of living rise rapidly over the period of the reforms, ancient producers had found themselves in the enviable position of simultaneously controlling a larger surplus product and enjoying an increasing necessar y product. Indeed, the growth of relative wealth among many ancient producers, both rural and urban, had intensified the concern of the "liberals" that economic reform was fostering economic inequality.
This concern was often expressed in comparisons of t he growth in incomes for ancient producers with the falling relative standard of living for college professors, professionals, and managers in state enterprises. Such comparisons, fuel for the Democracy Movement's call for a return to iron rice bowl redis tributionary economic policies, only pushed ancient producers more to the side of the pragmatist leadership in the government.
Thus, it should not be surprising to find that large numbers of rural residents and urban ancient producers have accepted the official government account of the political crisis, including the government's description of the students as "hooligans" engaging in counter-revolutionary agitation and propaganda. One should not, therefore, assume that reports of support for the government's policy are simply the outcome of fear and coercion, as the Western press likes to imply.
In the wake of Tiananmen, it has been implied in the Western press that the current pragmatist leadership of the Chinese government will eventually have to give way to more political reform-minded leaders. This belief is consistent with the notion that economic reforms leading to more decentralized decision-making must necessarily lead to decentralized political mechanisms, and that the Tiananmen incident will simply speed up this "natural" process of political liberalization. Insofar as the reforms implemented after have simultaneously resulted in the growth in ancient producers and support by such ancient producers of the central government, it is not so clear that the recent political crisis and the r esultant Tiananmen massacre should necessarily result in the downfall of the current Chinese leadership.
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So long as the government maintains support among the ancient class, it may be able to successfully weather this political storm and continue on its c urrent ancient-led path of economic development. It may do this without reforming the political process, in the sense of decentralizing political decision-making.
In other words, the decentralized economy, with self-exploitation prevailing, may be fostere d by a centralized political structure. Indeed, there may be a symbiotic relationship between the reproduction of a highly centralized bureaucracy led by the pragmatists in the Communist party and the reproduction and expansion in self-exploitation. However, this situation of needing the ancient producers more than ever may be a two-edged sword for the politicians. It is not clear that the leaders of the Communist party ever intended to promote ancient production for any sustained period, but rather that they wanted to foster a means of increasing the social surplus available for investment in industrial expansion and modernization.
But for the central government to tap this ancient surplus, they must implement means for drawing it out of the hands of ancient producers and of other secondary ancient subsumed class claimants into government coffers. If these measures are tried, however, the government risks alienating an increasingly crucial group of supporters. Given the recent unrest and continued disenchantment on the part of large segme nts of the urban population, including industrial workers who have seen their relative income lag behind that of rural ancient producers.
The current leadership may not be in a position to alienate what has become its strongest base of support. Thus, the Communist party may be forced to choose between abandoning its communist goal of a gradual shift of class processes towards communal production and appropriation or devising a new strategy for moving towards communism, a strat egy that is based upon self-exploitation as the bridge between the old society and the new. In this paper, we examine the possibility that the ancient fundamental and subsumed class processes might be the basis for a unique path to a communist China.
The structure of the paper is as follows: First, we explore the class and nonclass processes that have historically contributed to the development of the pro-ancient reforms and the similarities of these reforms to the New Economic Policy carried out i n the early years of the Soviet Union. Further, we explore the ways in which these reforms and the growth in self-exploitation affect the politics of the Tiananmen massacre and its aftermath.
Second, we examine how the Chinese reforms have led to the dimi nution in communal forms of surplus appropriation and the rapid expansion in self-exploitation, including the ways in which self-exploitation has persisted over time, even during the period when the communes predominated in rural China. Third, we examine the specific policy measures embodied in the da bao gan or "big contract system," a subset of the overall nongye shengchan zeren zhi or "agricultural production responsibility system" reforms, which have provided conditions for the expansion of self-exploitation as the prevalent form of exploitation in rural China.
Fourth, we discuss recent modifications in the economic reforms that have strengthened self-exploitation, as well as economic policies that attempt to solve problems generated by the earlier reforms. Finally, we argue that it is possible for the pro-ancient economic reforms to be compatible with socialism and the construction of a unique ancient road to communism.
China's Reforms and the Soviet Union's NEP In making sense of the rural reforms, it is important to establish the connection between them and historic struggles in the postrevolutionary Chinese countryside over issues of class.
It is common in both the Marxian and non-Marxia n literatures on postrevolutionary China to either ignore the issue of class for example, Hsiung and Putterman or to assume that struggle occurs only in certain sites, such as within the Chinese Communist Party or within the state bureaucracy for example, McFarlane Our argument is that direct producers in the countryside have played a significant and decisive role in the struggles over class in China, and that these struggles have shaped and continue to shape Chinese economic and political development.
In particular, it is our contention that support for self-exploitation has been and continues to be very strong among the rural population. As a result, the rural population's support for self-exploitation has led to its rapid growth an d stability since In making this argument, it must be recognized that we do not intend to make any normative statement about the relative social worth of ancient, capitalist, or communist class processes, but merely seek to make sense of the interna l dynamic of struggles over class within China.
The subset of the overall economic reforms that is most relevant to our analysis of the growth in self-exploitation are those referred to as the nongye shengchan zeren zhi, or the "agricultural production responsibility system" Hama The nongye shengchan zeren zhi reforms are particularly relevant to understanding the rapid expansion of self-exploitation in the post-Mao period.
The nongye shengchan zeren zhi reforms bear a close resemblance to certain aspects of the New Economic Policy NEP in the early years of the Soviet Union. In particular, both the Chinese reforms and the NEP were designed in part , to promote the creation of an increased social surplus from agriculture and other related rural production processes to finance the rapid "modernization" of the industrial sector.
These expectations were based on a set of assumptions concerning the resp onse of the rural population to the reforms. Among the assumptions shared by the Chinese and Soviet officials was the belief that rural direct producers allowed to engage in self-exploitation would work more intensively and extensively to create a larger relative and absolute surp lus product. It should be understood that this anticipated increased productivity was not based upon "technical" changes in production but upon changes in class processes. Both the Chinese and Soviet leaders understood the interaction of class and product ivity.
They understood that the particular manner in which surplus labor was performed and appropriated would affect the aggregate magnitude of new wealth created in the society. By manipulating the form of exploitation in their respective societies, they hoped to create the conditions for economic growth. Further, it was assumed that economic growth was a precondition for achieving other goals, including the socialist goal of creating a communist society.
In both the NEP and the Chinese responsibility system, the respective national governments reduced their percentage claims on agriculturally produced surplus products to further encourage newly self-exploiting producers to expand output. By reducing the in-kind tax rate on agricultural production, both governments reduced their percentage share of surplus output and yet reaped the benefits of increased total supplies of food and other agricultural products.
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Indeed, the gro wth in total output made it feasible for both governments to receive larger absolute tax receipts with a smaller percentage tax rate. Thus, although the Laffer curve has been for the most part discredited as a theoretical tool for explaining the interacti on of tax receipts and output growth in advanced capitalist societies such as the United States, it may be of some analytical use in explaining such an interaction in the case of self-exploitation.
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