Peasant Society and Marxist Intellectuals in China: Fang Zhimin and the Origin of a Revolutionary Movement in the Xinjiang Region

Peasant Society and Marxist Intellectuals in China: Fang Zhimin and the Origin of a Revolutionary Movement in the Xinjiang Region

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 283
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    Peasant Society and Marxist Intellectuals in China: Fang Zhimin and the Origin of a Revolutionary Movement in the Xinjiang Region
    Book Description:

    Whereas most writing on the Communist Revolution in China has concentrated on the influence of intellectual leaders, this book examines the role of peasants in the upheaval, viewing them not as a malleable mass but as a dynamic social force interacting with the radical intelligentsia. Focusing on the Xinjiang region, Kamal Sheel traces the historical roots of the early twentieth-century agrarian crisis that led to a large-scale revolution in the late 1920s, one of the most successful peasant movements organized by the Chinese Communists. A fresh analysis emerges of the remarkable Marxist intellectual Fang Zhimin, who used his deeply entrenched rural connections to organize the movement through a creative synthesis of traditional folk concepts with modern Marxist thought. This history begins with the impact of the Taiping Rebellion and proceeds to document the rapid disintegration of the small peasant economy under the pressures of world economics, a "state in crisis," and a qualitatively different landed upper class. It discusses exploitation, protest, and rural uprisings in the context of the "crisis of paternalism," marked by a progressive deterioration in the social relationships in rural areas. Integrating this investigation of rural upheaval with recent social science theories on peasant movements, the study ultimately explores the growth of the Xinjiang revolutionary movement.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6042-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Chapter One The Xinjiang Region
    (pp. 3-21)

    Site of a highly successful peasant movement and one of the largest and most famous soviets in China, the Xinjiang region lies in the northeast of Jiangxi province.¹ Strictly speaking, it consists of the valley of the Xin River (Xin jiang), from which its name was derived. Originating from high ranges of the Huaiyu Mountains on the boundary of Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces, the river flows westward and merges with Lake Poyang, the recipient of all rivers in Jiangxi. Administratively, most of the areas of this region belonged to Guangxin and Raozhou prefectures, with a majority of district towns located...

  6. Chapter Two Impact of the Taiping Rebellion on Rural Areas in the Xinjiang Region
    (pp. 22-41)

    Taiping rebels wandered frequently in the Xinjiang region during their short ascendancy. But neither the rebels nor their ideology fundamentally altered the rural social, political, and economic structure. In fact, setting out with a belief in a millenarian type of rural egalitarianism, the rebels had no success in implementing any of their revolutionary ideas, let alone in molding the rural reality according to their anachronistic visions. The decade-long civil war between the Taipings and the monarchists, however, considerably devastated the larger Xinjiang region. Its restoration significantly altered the pre-Taiping land-man ratio as well as the land tenure patterns. Consequently, the...

  7. Chapter Three New Pressures on Small Rural Cultivators: Imperialism, the State, and the Small-Peasant Economy
    (pp. 42-65)

    After the Taiping Rebellion, the small rural cultivator predominated in rural areas of the Xinjiang region. This consequently stimulated a reassertion of the small-peasant economy. The post-Taiping cultivators, as indicated by Rawski and others, were free to indulge in such agricultural innovations and economic rationalizations as related to the selection, rotation, and production of crops as well as to the accumulation of capital through independent participation in regional and international markets.¹ This freedom, however, did not turn them into “autonomous simple commodity producers.” In reality, their socioeconomic survival and mobility depended to a large extent upon the nature of their...

  8. Chapter Four The Landed Upper Class and the Crisis of Paternalism
    (pp. 66-90)

    Harassed and disarrayed by external socioeconomic forces, small rural cultivators naturally expected intervention from landed elites to support them in their attempt to maintain the security of subsistence. The landlords, after all, had customarily performed traditional paternalistic tasks as leaders of the clan, patrons of local socioreligious organizations, and representatives of the village in mediation with the state. But, in reading the local histories of the growth of the Xinjiang peasant movement, what strikes one most is not the numerous accounts of the landlords’ closer linkages with the state and their easy and frequent employment of repression and violence but...

  9. Chapter Five Exploitation, Protests, and Uprisings
    (pp. 91-135)

    The crisis of paternalism signified decay of the past order, traditional relationships, and old values in the rural society in China. The failure of the landed upper classes to maintain their paternalistic obligation to peasants turned them into landlord-merchant-moneylenders. In the eyes of peasants, the landed upper class lost their raison d’être. The peasants began to characterize their landlords as “cannibals,” “murderers,” “robbers,” “hardfisted,” or “iron-hearted”; and one must not ignore the sudden burgeoning of such phrases in the literary sources and folk songs of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in an analysis of the agrarian crisis. It...

  10. Chapter Six Fang Zhimin: The Rise of a Revolutionary Peasant Leader
    (pp. 136-171)

    A new era in the history of the peasants’ struggle in Jiangxi begins with the origin of the Xinjiang peasant movement in 1924. Unlike earlier movements, this was not aimed at the defense of paternalism. Instead, it challenged the domination of the landed upper class over rural areas and aimed to build a socialist society. Its ideological break from the past originally came less from peasants themselves than from the leadership of a young Communist intellectual, Fang Zhimin.¹

    An outstanding peasant leader, Fang Zhimin stands in line with such illustrious Chinese revolutionaries as Li Dazhao, Peng Pai, and Mao Zedong,...

  11. Chapter Seven The United Front in Jiangxi: Urban Forces and the Organization of the Peasant Association Movement, 1924–1927
    (pp. 172-192)

    On January 24, 1924, the day Lenin died, the First National Congress of the Guomindang and its ally, the Chinese Communist Party, included peasants in its strategy for the national liberation movement. The road to alliance between the GMD and the CCP was paved by the famous Sun-Joffe declaration, which categorically stated that China was not ready for communism and that priority had to be given to the struggle for reunification of the nation and its full independence. The declaration brought both parties to a common platform for a National United Front program under the guidance of a Russian adviser,...

  12. Chapter Eight From Peasant Movement to Communist Revolution: Revolutionary Intellectuals and Peasants in the Xinjiang Region
    (pp. 193-230)

    A belief in folk culture, populism, or the revolutionary energies of the masses does not by itself bring about a revolution in the countryside. Intellectuals cannot gain the support of the peasants by simply delving into the past or by finding coherent elements in their culture to correspond to a revolutionary ideology. They must move to the countryside and coalesce with the peasants. They must, as an ideologue of African revolution aptly remarks, “work and fight with the same rhythm as the people to construct the future and to prepare the ground where vigorous shoots are already springing up.”¹ To...

  13. Chapter Nine Conclusion
    (pp. 231-242)

    Summing up the prerevolutionary situation in the Yiyang-Hengfeng area, Fang Zhimin once remarked that this birthplace of the Xinjiang peasant movement “was… a powder keg and, frankly speaking, I was the one who ignited the fuse setting off an immediate revolutionary uprising.”¹ This metaphor captures the major issues addressed and the broad conclusion reached in this study, which has analyzed the historical development of those socioeconomic conditions in the countryside which afforded opportunities to Marxist intellectuals to regenerate the rural world through a revolution. This process has confirmed the material basis for the growth of this region, to continue Fang’s...

  14. References
    (pp. 243-254)
  15. Index
    (pp. 255-265)