The Mandate of Heaven: Marx and Mao in modern China (IS Books)
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The overthrow of empire in the 1950s and 1960s—of which the coming to power of the Chinese Communist party in 1949 was a important part—seemed to augur a new era in world history, one in which the majority of the world’s population secured liberation. There was perhaps a sense in which this was true, but the reality for the majority was far removed from this giddy hope. And in the case of the ordinary Chinese, the newly “liberated” regime proved far more brutal and exacting than those that it had replaced (which also attained high standards of brutality and injustice). In China the great famine of 1958–62 was only the most spectacularly cruel and gratuitous product of that new order.
For the former inhabitants of the old empires, national liberation turned out to be not liberation of all, but the creation of a new national ruling class, as often as not exploiting its position at home to make fortunes then smuggled abroad.
slower pace. By contrast with the interwar years, a long-term boom—quite unexpected for the ruling classes of the advanced countries—pushed the world economy into unprecedented growth from 1948. The elaborate State controls were dissolved under the acid of a revival in private capitalism; autarchy faded before a new “liberalization”. But the State did not entirely relinquish its position in the civil economy. In the military sphere, in the face of greater rivalries than ever before, expansion
nineteenth century, what Marx called “Utopian Socialism” repeated themes which recur in contemporary China—the hostility to the cities (usually by members of the urban middle class), the demand that the urban working class should return to the land, forming self-sufficient agrarian-industrial communities which, it was thought, would prevent the growth of hierarchical organization, bureaucracy and a specialized division of labour, and ensure all-round educational development in manual labour. Marx
basic peasant masses for resistance to Japan, but the reductions should not be too great.”45 Or again, and more bluntly: “Recognize that most of the landlords are anti-Japanese, that some of the enlightened gentry also favour democratic reforms. Accordingly, the policy of the party is only to help the peasants in reducing feudal exploitation but not liquidate feudal exploitation entirely, much less to attack the enlightened gentry who support democratic reforms...The policy of liquidating feudal
picture is therefore extremely varied—between brigades or teams working in intensive farming, horticulture or export crops, in well-watered fertile areas on the outskirts of a big city (with a large market), with outside work easily available for some family members or for cultivators in the off season; and villages in the barren hill areas, remote from the cities, with little trade and no important local markets. The range is between incomes well above those received by the mass of the city
arrested because they carried handbills which read: ‘Welcome, Chiang Kai-shek, gallant commander of the Cantonese’. They were found guilty and executed on the spot.”12 On 20 March, forward Kuomintang troops reached Lunghua on the edge of the city and halted to negotiate with the warlord troops in occupation. On 21 March, the General Labour Union again called a general strike. This time, between half and three-quarters of a million people responded, protected by a 5,000-man militia armed with