Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century; A Concise History.
(Professor Rebecca. E Karl s’ book)
Professor Rebecca. E Karl gives a panoramic glimpse of Mao Zedong s’ revolutionary struggle in China. The way he turned a backward & traditional agrarian society into a revolutionary China!
The roller coaster of this revolutionary struggle & the related mistakes & blunders closely associated with such a great mass political of the last century was aptly & synoptically covered by Pro. Rebecca in her book, Mao Zedong and China in Twentieth-Century World; A concise History (Duke, 2010).
Anyone keen to know about Mao, Mao s China and how it changed after Mao Zedong must read this book.
Here I have tried to bring out some important points of each chapter for you. Read and analyse how China and Chinese society have gone through different changes, both visible and invisible!
China in the World in Mao’s Youth.
1. Mao Zedong was born in the small village of Shaoshan in the province of Hunan on December 25, 1893.
2. The territorial integrity of China was challenged by British and its allies in the middle of 19th century with their imposed Opium wars is on China then ruled by the last Imperial Qing dynasty.
3. The increasing trade deficit between China and Britain as a result of South American wars and the growing demand for China tea in the Britain was the main reason for these Opium wars.
3. The Chinese Emperor, Dao Guang, crack downed on the smuggled Opium to China by the British from their Indian colony for balancing this trade deficit with China.
3. The British Navy on the decree of Queen Victoria attacked China and they were forced to sign new the humiliating treaty of Nanjing (1842) highly in favour of Britain.
4. Later on other European Powers i.e. France, Prussia, Russia, Italy and USA also snatched more concessions for themselves. This was the start of the Century of Humiliation for China.
5. The local Chinese war lords and power holders got more concessions for themselves from Emperor. The influx of foreign missionaries, the railways system, and the industrial and educational development caused much unrest in traditional Chinese society.
6. The Sino-Japanese war and treaty (1895) was another demoralizing factor for China. Many rebellions broke out in China. The most famous was the Boxer Rebellion, joined by the Emperor as a popular move to gain some popularity and respect in Chinese.
7. The Eight foreign Powers invaded China to quell the rebellions and got full control over China.
8. Mao’s parents had four sons and two daughters. Of which only their four sons survived. Mao did not remember his father in good words who was an authoritarian and profit mongering. In contrast, Mao had deep respect and reverence for his mother who was compassionate and loving.
9. The traditional education of Confucianism had no appeal for Mao. Instead Sun Yatsen Republican faction and its’ activities charmed him.
10. At the age of sixteen (1909), he got admission in a modern western style school in Xiantgan district where for the first time he knew and read about the outside World beyond China and it’s economic and social philosophies.
Points to Ponder…
a.. This brief historical description of the events at the time of Mao’s birth.
b.. The social, political and economic factors both domestic and international level at that time. How they were affecting China.
c.. Mao’s parents, childhood, and their influence upon him.
From Liberals to Communist, 1912-1921.
1. As a revolutionary soldier Mao cut his long hair as a symbolic unity to Revolution of 1911. After this brief stint of soldier ship, he got admission in the First Provincial School, previously called the First Provincial Normal School.
2… There his lifelong mentoring teacher Yang Changji, had great influence on his thought-structuring.
3. 1918 Mao went to Beijing University also called Beida then, on the invitation his mentor and teacher Yang Changji who was now a professor in Beijing University. Mao got a clerical job in University library.
4. Very soon the Beijing University became the seat of hot talk and agitations. As in the treaty of Versailles the German-Chinese territories was handed over Japan, not to China.
5. It was a total betrayal to China who allied themselves with the Allies and one hundred Chinese labourer dig trenches in France for their defence against German invasion.
6. Mao was observing all these development and betrayal to China and wrote about them in his Xiang River Review in Chengsha.
7. Miss Zhao suicide and the resultant Mao’s articles on it shows his views about people and specially woman status in the then Chinese society.
8. Henrik Ibsen play, A Doll’s House heroine Nora, became a symbol of feminism in China then translated and staged in Shanghai.
9. Of whom a critique was given by the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun and it’s role and place as a revolutionary feminist symbol, Nora- Zhao for Chinese woman.
10. Soviet-led Comintern (Communist International) decided to launch a communist party in China in 1920.
11. In July 1921, twelve delegates under the direction of Dutch Comintern agent, Maring (Hans Sneevielt) secretly met in Shanghai to form the Communist Party of China.
Point to Ponder…
a. Mao interests in politics and social issues especially of woman’s status.
b. His job in Beijing University and mentoring by his teacher, Yang Changji.
c. Second World war and China.
d. The formation of Communist Party of China.
Towards the Peasants Revolution, 1921-1927.
1. China was an agrarian country in general. Immediately after the CCP formation in 1921, the theoretical and practical dilemma that Party faced was how to work for and implement a proletariat revolution in an agrarian society as envisaged by Marx.
2. The coastal areas of China was in the control of Japan and other Western powers having their industrial set-ups there. The mainland China was in the grip of Chinese warlords and feudales who controlled it.
3. The question was how to revolutionize such a diverse and divided society on Marxist paradigm?
4. Knowing this, Mao started organizing the coal- miners in Anyuan in 1921 as they were the proletarian class of Marx for a revolution.
5. His wife Yang Kaihui, his teacher-cum-mentor daughter and his two brothers, Zemin and Zetan, also joined him in organizing these coal-miners. There were 23 major trade unions with 23000 workers as members in Hunan by 1923.
6. The social, political and economic set up made by Mao became a hallmark of the Labour Movement later on. The CPP chairman Chen Duxius was so pleased with Mao’s work that he was given the membership of Central Committee in CPP in Shanghai.
7. The February Seventh Massacre (1923) of the Chinese railway workers by Wu Peifu shattered the very fragile labour movement in Hunan, made by Mao and his family’s hard work.
8. Mao realized the importance of a large and organized political party with a strong social base. This was reason for joining hand with Dr Sun Yatsen Republican Revolutionary Movement off-spring, Kuomintang (GMD), on the advices of Comintern agents present in both parties.
9. “The bloc within” technique allowed the much smaller CCP to work within the much larger GMD. Though this was not liked by many on both sides.
10. GMD approach was capitalist-centric while that of CCP was of socialist one. Their
One commonality was the unification of the country. However, disagreeing over the future system of the country.
12. Mao joined the GMD in 1923 retaining his central executive committee membership of CPP.
13. His wife Yang Kaihui, goaded him to stay with her and their two sons in Chengsha as CCP members and supporters were targeted and killed by the local warlords and feudales.
14. Mao went to GMD headquarters in Shanghai but quickly returned to his home disillusioned with Dr Sun Yatsen deal with local warlords.
15. Meanwhile many peasant unions emerged due to worsening economic, political and social conditions.
16. The May 30th Incident at Shanghai (1925) and killing of 40 protestors by Japanese troops at Beijing (March 18, 1926) further embroiled the situation.
17. Movement of peasants and others revolutionary activities energized CCP and GMD to launch their Northern Expedition to eliminate the warlords. Their first step Nanjing and Chiang Kaishek their military commander.
18. The CCP agent would motivate peasants to organize themselves and assist the GMD Army in overthrowing warlords.
19. Mao’s CCP comrades and leaders believed that their social base for a socialist revolution is in urban areas instead of rural peasants having no solid foundation. Mao thought differently advocating these peasants are the real force for a socialist revolution.
20. The successful Northern Expedition smashed the power and strength of local warlords yet GMD saw the peasant and mass movements (1925-1927) with suspicion.
21. The radicalization and mobilization of masses and peasants challenged the very old legacy of subservience and obedience to capitalists, militarists and feudales.
22. Chiang Kaishek “White Terror” (1927) killed at least one million peasants who had contributed to GMD success previously. This extermination nearly obliterated CCP, even Soviet Comintern agents fled from China leaving their Chinese comrades at the mercy of GMD.
Point to Ponder.
a.. The issue of launching a proletariat revolution in an agrarian China.
b.. Mao and his family’s work to organize coal workers.
c..The February Seventh Massacre and alliancing with GMD on Comintern advice.
d.. The CCP members targeting and the Northern Expedition.
e.. Mao’s belief peasants as revolutionaries.
f.. The White Terror.