Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945

By Elizabeth J. Perry | Go to book overview

ficial, Yang led mass attacks on railway lines in protest against the Kuomintang's early antisuperstition campaign. 102

Such variation among the many component units of the Red Spear movement is not surprising. Form and practice differed in accordance with the needs and tastes of particular villages and regions. Nevertheless, certain common characteristics can be identified. Although the movement opened the door to scattered millenarian cults, the dominant pattern was clearly not that of a coordinated sectarian rebellion against the state. Instead, the picture that emerges is of a series of village defense associations formed around preexisting social structures. Leadership authority was vested in the hands of local notables, and membership was recruited on the basis of residence.


CONCLUSION

In one sense, the rural violence Huai-pei experienced in the Republican period was strikingly similar to that of the mid- nineteenth century. Bandits and defense societies thrived in fierce competition with one another, responding to the acute natural and social crises of the time. In another sense, however, peasant protest had been transformed. Whereas the Nien had evidenced the rebel potential of predators, the Red Spears represented a distinct shift toward protective rebellion. The organizational foundation for such protest had, of course, been laid with the fortification construction and militia development that flourished in opposition to the Nien. The redirection of these defensive energies from opposition to banditry to rebellion against the state was, however, due less to any qualitative changes within Huai-pei itself than to the transformation of the larger political scene and its new impact upon local society. The Republican government's effort to extract more resources, coupled with its blatant incapacity to provide security, moved rural power holders to take administrative control into their own hands.

The process by which Red Spear associations reached the

-205-

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Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • 1. Introduction 1
  • 2. Prelude to Protest: the Huai-Pei Environment 10
  • 3. Strategies of Peasant Survival in Huai-Pei 48
  • Conclusion 94
  • 4. Predators Turn Rebels: the Case of the Nien 96
  • Conclusion 148
  • 5. Protectors Turn Rebels: the Case of the Red Spears 152
  • Conclusion 205
  • 6. Rebels Meet Revolutionaries: the Communist Movement in Huai-Pei 208
  • Conclusion 245
  • 7. Conclusion 248
  • Reference Matter 263
  • Appendix A Confession of Chang Lo-hsing 265
  • Appendix B Red Spear Code 267
  • Appendix C North China Protective Societies Contemporary with the Red Spears 269
  • Notes 274
  • Bibliography 294
  • Character List 312
  • Index 317
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