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Communist China and Mao Tse-tung
"A look into it's introduction to Communism and the Man who led them"
HISTORY OF THE FAR EAST
MAY 3rd 1996
The Roots of Communist China
To say that the Chinese Communist revolution is a non-Western revolution is more
than a clichÃ¢â‚¬Å¡. That revolution has been primarily directed, not like the French
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
totally hostile. The Chinese Communist revolution, and the foreign policy of the
which it has given rise, have several roots, each of which is embedded in the past
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.
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,
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
been necessary to cope with the superior science, technology, economic
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
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.
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
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
including those that had ruined its predecessor : poor communications and the wide
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
preemptive pressures on China, the more the people tended to look on the
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
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
But military rescue from Japan brought no significant improvement in the
domestic performance in the political and economic fields, which if anything to get
Clearly the pre-Communist history of Modern China has been essentially one of
humiliation, and failure. This is the atmosphere in which the CPC developed its
and growth in. The result has been a strong determination on the part of that
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.
Tse-tung envisioned a mixed economy under Communist control, such as had
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
than upon development. In 1945, Mao was talking more candidly about development,
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
"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 conditions."
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
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
everywhere must promote world revolution in a time of depression. The CPC was
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
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
civilians, often violently, through such means as redistribution of land at the expense
landlords and the reduction of interest rates at the expense of moneylenders. Of these
areas, or soviets, the most important was the one led by Mao Tse-tung and centered
southeastern city of Kiangsi. Correspondingly, in return for such service Mao was
chairman of a Central Soviet Government, who supposedly controlled all the
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
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
to this date. It is also difficult to separate the pre-1949 and the post-1949 aspects and
domestic from the international aspects. The first basic and most important
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
full of strain that the CPC saw itself not merely as the Vanguard of the common
plus as the progressive side of the middle class, but as representative of the people.
was important as it played the opposite position of the " three big mountains"
(imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism) and still yet accept the passively
leadership CPC. Maoism still possessed two other points that are significant in
understanding this ideology, it recognizes the decisive importance in history of
voluntary activity and of subjective forces in more detail than the sometimes
Leninism which was opposed to deterministic, objective forces. The last point it brings
is that Maoism stresses contradictions and struggle, or what might be called the
negative thinking, to the point where it invents enemies of all types and comments on
size and calls them "paper tiger" as he did in a speech in 1950.
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
time of widespread suffrage, his father Mao Shun-sheng had left his family to join the
hoping to return and be able to take care of his family. He soon returned with ample
to purchase land and livestock, so was the background of his childhood and one of
reasons why he cared so much about the agricultural growth of his people and the
end their suffering..His mother was a modest individual who cared about the less
and believed heavily in prayer to gods for guidance and best wishes to the needy.
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
His father eventually brought him a tutor to teach the business side of life and learned
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
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
again. The Empire was full of discontent with the leaders role in the political realm.
was in political chaos and the leaders new of nothing that could save them. During
times many disasters would take place such as the Russo-Japanese war, and the
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
and about the revolution that was going on. He read many books about the causes of
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
believed could halt the problem or really give the Republic back to the people. This is
of the reasons why China is now called THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA.
this point of his educational advance, he would be in close contact with future leaders
the revolution, his classmates. He helped them take papers and documents around
that told of plans of attacking the government. With the help of his classmates the
a student society that was a front for the revolution to reach the students, where they
works and newspapers such as Hsiang River Weekly, this paper would subsequently
some of his beliefs. This paper was eventually snubbed by the present leader Chang
yao. This is when his name became familiar with the government and they wanted
stopped and suppressed. He would soon leave to go Peking where he started to
views statements about the current government. This is where he started to learn
about Marxism and read the book the Communist Manifesto. When he returned he
of the Hunan Armies seizures of citizens who they believed where threats to the
From this point on, Mao new it would be his job and role in life to take charge and
the necessary precautions to see that his people were treated the way that they
1. Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing House, 1948, Translated By
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,
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