Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Chinese Revolution as one of the most audacious events of the 20th century

Not the Chinese Revolution as seen through the eyes of the RCP, who emphasize the Cultural Revolution and many of the more authoritarian aspects for reasons that I don't completely understand, but the Chinese Revolution as seen by the folks organizing for and fighting for it during the pre-World War II period, the period during the second world war, and immediately after, when they actually won the thing. This would be before Mao was Mao with a big 'M'.

When I first started reading about it from a general as opposed to an ideological basis I was extraordinarily surprised at the level of thought and analysis that had gone into the problems of making a socialist revolution in a country that was one of the model examples of feudalism. One of the classical examples. A country that had had a reputation for being one of the most conservative on the planet with regards to reform and to social change. Instead of doctrinairily applying Stalinist analysis they created a point of view that took into account the relations that had developed between China and the outside world since the mid 19th century, the reasons for the fall of the Imperial system, in what ways capitalism could be said to have developed in China, the interplay between colonialism and the development of capitalism, lots and lots of stuff. Extensive. Enough of an analysis to effectively carry out a Revolution.

The idea of liberating people in a country where human life was as cheap as could be, where people were condemned to hard, slave like labor based on where they were born, with no hope of change, while the Emperor and the high members of the social system enjoyed riches and benefits that would put any European despot to shame, that idea the idea that it would possibly, and that people should work for it, surely ranks as one of the most insanely audacious in all of the 20th century.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I’ve just finished reading an amazing biography by Yuan-Tsung Chen called Return to Middle Kingdom, which spans three generations of her family living in China where they endured three separate revolutions, one of which is the one you have written about here.

It’s an epic story of adventure, romance and war that spans over 150 years of one families fight for change in their homeland. It’s one of those sagas that will no doubt be brought to the big screen at some stage, it just has all the elements that make up a gripping movie. I hope they do as that way the story will reach more people who will then in turn want to read about the "real" story. If you’re at all interested in the inner workings of Chinese politics in the last century and a half and the history of those who sought to overturn a corrupt and ruthless oppressor then this book is an indispensable read.