The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh

The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh

The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh

The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh

Excerpt

Historians of the present are peculiarly fallible. They are circumscribed not only by the unavailability of many facts of varying degrees of relevance but also by the difficulties in the way of achieving a three- dimensional stereoscopic view of the facts falling within their field of vision. Yet it is already safe to assert that the Chinese Revolution of 1949 is one of the crucial turning points of the twentieth century, ranking with the October Revolution and the defeat of fascism in World War II in world-historical importance. It has profoundly if not decisively affected the balance of forces between the socialist and non. socialist parts of the world. It has dealt a mortal blow to imperialism in Asia and probably in Africa. It has conclusively shown that a social revolution can be successfully carried through in an economically backward country with only a small modern industrial base and urban proletariat.

Life is richer than any theory, however subtle and complex. The Chinese Communists are Marxists, not Hegelians. When it became clear that the Chinese Revolution could not be contained in the accepted Marxist formulas, they did not say, "So much the worse for the Chinese facts." In the midst of their struggle for survival they proceeded to evolve a more flexible and sophisticated theory which enriched Marxism by reflecting and absorbing the stubborn realities of the Chinese scene.

We do not have to await the verdict of future historians to decide that, as far as China was concerned, the Chinese Communists were better Marxists than their foreign mentors, whether Russian, German, French, or Anglo-Saxon. It was one of the paradoxical legacies of imperialism that, because of the prestige attaching to anything foreign--including foreign revolutionaries--in an economically backward country, the Chinese Communist Party had time and again to pay for mistakes for which its foreign advisers were to a considerable, if still undetermined extent responsible. Some of these mistakes, as in the periods immediately preceding the counter-revolutions in Shanghai and Hankow in 1927 . . .

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