Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945

By Elizabeth J. Perry | Go to book overview

6. Rebels Meet Revolutionaries: The Communist Movement in Huai-pei

When Communist cadres first penetrated the Huai-pei area, they encountered a peasantry well schooled in the art of collective violence. Banditry was rife, underground religious sects plentiful, and memories of massive rebellions fresh and vivid. Brigands and sectarians alike were skilled practitioners of collective warfare, tempered by the hard-won wisdom of generations of peasant rebels before them. Clearly, however, the underlying motivation for this impressive experience in peasant protest was pragmatic and parochially specific. How then would these battle-wise peasants, masterly in fighting for their own local interests, greet the advent of outside revolutionaries? How too would the revolutionaries, for their part, choose to deal with the myriad of armed and organized units that predated their arrival? Would existing patterns of rural violence constitute building blocks or barriers to revolutionary change?

The answers to these questions, we will discover, are complex. In the first place, there were of course two distinct strategies of peasant violence in Huai-pei, each with its own rationale, organization, and limitations. Furthermore, the Chinese Communist revolution itself passed through a series of distinct phases: from peasant movement, to soviets, to war of resistance, to civil war. Each period was marked by somewhat different problems and priorities, calling for changing relations with both types of local rebels.

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Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • 1. Introduction 1
  • 2. Prelude to Protest: the Huai-Pei Environment 10
  • 3. Strategies of Peasant Survival in Huai-Pei 48
  • Conclusion 94
  • 4. Predators Turn Rebels: the Case of the Nien 96
  • Conclusion 148
  • 5. Protectors Turn Rebels: the Case of the Red Spears 152
  • Conclusion 205
  • 6. Rebels Meet Revolutionaries: the Communist Movement in Huai-Pei 208
  • Conclusion 245
  • 7. Conclusion 248
  • Reference Matter 263
  • Appendix A Confession of Chang Lo-hsing 265
  • Appendix B Red Spear Code 267
  • Appendix C North China Protective Societies Contemporary with the Red Spears 269
  • Notes 274
  • Bibliography 294
  • Character List 312
  • Index 317
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