A Place in the Sun: Marxism and Fascism in China's Long Revolution

A Place in the Sun: Marxism and Fascism in China's Long Revolution

A Place in the Sun: Marxism and Fascism in China's Long Revolution

A Place in the Sun: Marxism and Fascism in China's Long Revolution

Excerpt

This work attempts an alternative interpretation of the respective roles played by Marxism and fascism in the complex sequence of events that characterizes the long history of China's revolution. The standard treatment of these subjects involves, at times, loose judgments concerning the "fascist" and "reactionary" character of republican China and the subsequent "Marxist" and "progressive" character of the Maoist regime. At times, such notions, often implicit, provide background for detailed histories. They serve as unacknowledged sorting criteria for the material that enters into historical narrative. The purpose of the present treatment is to review such explicit and implicit judgments -- since they do color some China studies.

In general, the discussion that follows remains true to the conviction I have held for most of a lifetime -- that there was very little Marxism in the Chinese revolution and that whatever fascism there was, was misunderstood. Time, I think, has demonstrated the merit of those convictions. That so many students of China, for so long, imagined that Marxism had something substantial to do with the long Chinese revolution is the proper object of neither acrimony nor dismay. It could easily have been anticipated. There had been talk of Marxism in China since the turn of the twentieth century, introduced in the waves of European literature that inundated Asia after the incursions of Western imperialism.

Chinese intellectuals did toy with Marxist ideas early in the twentieth century, and after the Bolshevik revolution its themes were common fare in political circles. For a variety of reasons "Marxist theory" became a fad among radical students and university revolutionaries. As a consequence, many imagined it actually had something to do with events.

Whatever the case, very little of classical Marxism could demonstrate any relevance to the critical issues that beset the China of the period. Sun Yat-sen rejected Marxism in its entirety because he saw it as having little of any significance to say about the problems with which the revolution was compelled to contend. At the close of the twentieth century all the evidence indicates that he was right.

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