A Documentary History of Communism

By Robert V. Daniels | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight: Communism in the Far East

The history of communism in the Far East is largely the story of the most successful Asian Communist movement in the continent's most populous country, China. From the early 1920's Russia, the Communist International and the Chinese Communist Party were important factors in Chinese politics, whereas elsewhere in Asia communism was a negligible force until World War II. Chinese communism matured over more than two decades of regional rule and struggle with the nationalist government, until successive gains in the anti-Japanese war and the civil war brought it to power as a disciplined totalitarian movement.

The Chinese Communist victory was anomalous from the Marxist standpoint because it was not based on the working class and lacked a definite class struggle. The pattern, which the other Far-Eastern Communist movements have copied, was to bring all available social groups into a movement controlled by the disciplined Communist Party; to capitalize on nationalistic and anti-imperialist emotion; and to develop the "proletarian" base of the movement not by social selection but by intellectual "remolding" or conversion on the basis of Marxist-Leninist ideology (irrelevant as it was). It is in the Far East that communism comes closest to being a religion-- with salvation, one might say, based on faith.

The successes of communism in the Far East have had a major effect on the nature of the movement as a whole. It is no longer centered on one nation, but has become bi-polar; in political and ideological influence China is nearly on a par with the USSR, and may be expected to play an increasingly powerful role.

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