Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

Kevin J. O'Brien

Language: English

Pages: 200

ISBN: 0521678528

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


How can the poor and weak 'work' a political system to their advantage? Drawing mainly on interviews and surveys in rural China, Kevin O'Brien and Lianjiang Li show that popular action often hinges on locating and exploiting divisions within the state. Otherwise powerless people use the rhetoric and commitments of the central government to try to fight misconduct by local officials, open up clogged channels of participation, and push back the frontiers of the permissible. This 'rightful resistance' has far-reaching implications for our understanding of contentious politics. As O'Brien and Li explore the origins, dynamics, and consequences of rightful resistance, they highlight similarities between collective action in places as varied as China, the former East Germany, and the United States, while suggesting how Chinese experiences speak to issues such as opportunities to protest, claims radicalization, tactical innovation, and the outcomes of contention.

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depend on tilling the land for a living, though they also obtain income from marketfocused petty trade and, increasingly, from urban-based construction work – we will encounter them as migrant workers in the next volume. As in imperial and Republican times, this remote place is barely on the political map of central government officials, if at all. Nonetheless, Da Fo played a role in the rise of the Chinese Communist Party in the pre-1949 period, just as it played a part in Mao’s attempt to design

tax in grain, whereas Kuomintang officials had insisted it be paid in silver, thus encouraging the trade of grain for volatile currency.60 Affluent farmers holding twenty to fifty mu and Da Fo’s four big landholders now had to shoulder far more of the tax burden than before. While shifting the burden of taxation to wealthy households with more than fifty mu of land, however, the heli fudan system did not seriously jeopardize the tax position of Da Fo’s big landowners and richer farmers, although the

with the fate of the people of Da Fo and Dongle County. Waltham, MA March 1, 2008 xvi P1: SFK 9780521897495pre CUUS130/Thaxton 0 521 86131 4 March 17, 2008 19:1 Cast of Characters DA FO VILLAGE (GREAT BUDDHA), 1920–1993 Communist Party Secretary Bao Zhilong and His Network of Clients Bao Zhilong: Uneducated leader of the Communist Party–led militia in 1938 and head of the militia during and after World War II. Da Fo Communist Party secretary in the early 1950s, vice-director of Liangmen

2007) and Alfred L. Chan (May 20, 2007). Still, the basic starting points for this interpretation are in the works of Tsou, “Revolution, Reintegration, and Crisis,” 307; MacFarquhar, Origins of the Cultural Revolution, 2:333, 3:275–83; and Chan, Mao’s Crusade, 15. P1: KAE 9780521897495int CUUS130/Thaxton 0 521 86131 4 March 15, 2008 22:27 Introduction of famine and flood disaster, so he was accustomed to massive human suffering. After seizing national power, Mao convinced himself that he

this kind of punishment, Da Fo’s party secretary and his inner-party allies insisted that villagers meet the labor demands and procurement targets of the commune leadership. In this village, as in many others, the Communist Party secretary was a subwarden of a communal penal colony 101 102 103 104 Zheng Yunxiang, interview, September 19, 1995. Bao Yuming, interview, June 21, 2001. Bao Dongzhi, interview, June 24, 2001. Zheng Jintian, interview, September 15, 1993. 146 P1: KAE 9780521897495c04

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