connections were an important starting point. To cooperate successfully, members had to share certain emotional bonds (kan- ch'ing) most commonly found among kinsmen. Often the first mutual aid groups were formed by converting preexisting loan societies to a new purpose. When a group was able to demonstrate concrete results, however, other households might be inclined to apply for admission. An effort was always made to include the most experienced and productive laborers, so that others might learn from their example.
Once the group had shown a capacity for raising agricultural output, it was encouraged to innovate in cropping patterns as well. In late 1944, mutual aid groups in some Huai-pei villages were instrumental in converting part of their farmland to cotton cultivation. The switch provided extra work for domestic textile manufacturers and allowed the villages to become self-sufficient in clothing. Since the price of cotton had risen with the wartime disruption of marketing, local production of clothing permitted a significant saving for participating villages. The program was conducted at the initiative of the border region government, which provided technical advice to groups willing to undertake the innovation. 71
Although the implementation of mutual aid was a slow, painstaking process, its small but significant successes gradually established the feasibility of cooperative productive effort. Just as competition for scarce resources had engendered persisting patterns of violence in Huai-pei, so cooperation in the development of new resources would reduce the appeal of such traditional behavior.
The Communist way was the way of neither the bandit nor the sectarian. Unlike many previous peasant uprisings in Huai-pei, this revolution was no parochial response to scarcity and insecurity that assumed national proportions almost by historical accident. To the extent that the Communists transformed peasant