Introduction to the Economic History of China

By E. Stuart Kirby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE DEEP ROOTS OF CHINESE MARXISM

It may be asserted that, in the field of intellectual endeavour, the fate of China was decided--as between Communism and Nationalism--not just recently, but about twenty years ago. It was in the early 1930's that Kuomintang Nationalism failed, in the judgment of educated and active Chinese, to give ideological satisfaction or mental stimulation. From that time, its fall was only deferred by increasing the strictness of its political 'tutelage'; and by the circumstances of the Japanese aggression, which brought about a national rally and some efforts at internal peace. Meanwhile, the opposing, Marxist, party was thoroughly and systematically working, not only to gain organisational control in every political and social field, but also to cultivate the impression that it could supply the intellectual and cultural deficiency, that it could offer a full, satisfactory and progressive explanation of Chinese society and its prospects.

It is precisely the study of this field of Chinese history, into which we are now inquiring, that Chinese Communism used as a chief means to its end, on the intellectual and educational plane. Here it was able to establish its own interpretations and conceptions, almost in vacuo, largely by default of effective opposition. The Nationalist Government paid little attention in the early period of the 1930's to historical and theoretical work, even at times when it had the sharpest eyes for 'dangerous thoughts' in present-day or practical matters. Meanwhile Chinese Marxism built itself up, to a large extent, in such domains as archaeology, ethnology, philology and other fields of antiquarian study and research. In this field the left wing secured the active or passive support of a large and increasing portion of the educated middle classes. From these classes were furnished the membership of those student movements, and the like, which are still today the source of the Communist 'cadres', far more than are the 'proletariat' or the peasantry.

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