Introduction to the Economic History of China

By E. Stuart Kirby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHINESE
HISTORY

Marxism, having secured (as described in the last chapter) quite a strong position in China in the early 1930's, in that field of thought which comprises sociology and social history, proceeded thereafter to extend its influence into various other spheres of intellectual endeavour. This period--the middle 1930's--was that of the Communists' special reliance on the 'United Front' tactic, when they subscribed to every possible group or sect, claiming that they had common cause with all 'progressive' movements.

There were indeed many new and progressive movements in China at that time, which could be utilised for this policy. In a country so long riven with local and factional differences, dissensions and civil war, the call of 'unity' had a strong appeal; often, the instinctive response was too hasty and powerful to allow the hearer much pause for logical or critical reflection.

Ready-made answers and easy catchwords had a quick success. Nevertheless, though some of the support won by the new movement was thus shallow in nature, and even adventitious, it would be unjust and misleading to represent the situation entirely in this light. There did occur a thoroughly honest and well-considered attempt to draw together the results and findings of all the previous work of scholarship, from all the diverse fields of Sinological research and study. It was a cause of grave concern, to serious students, that conclusions from the field of social and general history (for instance) appeared to point in a different direction from those drawn from philology, while archaeology or ethnography seemed to indicate still other conclusions.

Consciousness of the need for a synthesis of the results of work in all the social sciences, and between their separate subjects, and co-ordination of future work on the basis of a community of understanding and purposes between them all, has been the deep and growing conviction of the great majority of

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