China's Satellite Parties

China's Satellite Parties

China's Satellite Parties

China's Satellite Parties

Excerpt

In the People's Republic of China there exist a number of anomalous organizations known as minzhu dang-pai. This term literally means "democratic parties and groups," an English rendering that, whether or not appropriate, will be used in this book.

The groups were founded between the late 1920s and the early 1940s. They sought to be a middle force and a liberalizing influence, but they had no hope of competing for power against China's two great party-armies. Incorporated into the Communist order after 1949, they valiantly sought to be heard in 1957 but were then suppressed. After nearly dying out during the Cultural Revolution, the DPGs were resuscitated around 1980, and it is thus appropriate to reexamine the subject.

Much has changed since the 1950s, and the reincarnated democratic parties are hardly recognizable versions of their earlier selves. To understand the new DPGs, it was necessary to go to China and examine them firsthand. This I did during the winter of 1984-85. My intention was to ferret out subjects as randomly as possible and learn what DPG membership meant to them. Of course, in China no sampling can really take place randomly, but at least the interviewees were not preselected, and the sessions were not audited by representatives of officialdom. Actually, the research was not sanctioned by the authorities, and indeed I was unable to arrange for an institution to serve as a base or "unit." Nonetheless, no further obstacles were placed in my way. No help was sought or received from government or Communist Party authorities.

Altogether more than a dozen DPG members from almost as many branches were interviewed. This sample is so small that the findings may be termed anecdotal. Nonetheless, if one allows for certain biases in the sample, the results ought to be meaningful. The main problem is the likelihood that the typical . . .

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