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Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village

William Hinton
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 672
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    More than forty years after its initial publication, William Hinton's Fanshen continues to be the essential volume for those fascinated with China's revolutionary process of rural reform and social change. A pioneering work, Fanshan is a marvelous and revealing look into life in the Chinese countryside, where tradition and modernity have had both a complimentary and caustic relationship in the years since the Chinese Communist Party first came to power. It is a rare, concrete record of social struggle and transformation, as witnessed by a participant. Fanshen continues to offer profound insight into the lives of peasants and China's complex social processes. Rediscover this classic volume, which includes a new preface by Fred Magdoff.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-385-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Fanshen after Forty Years
    (pp. vii-xix)
    Fred Magdoff

    Why publish a new edition of Bill Hinton’sFanshenin 2008? This is certainly a legitimate question considering the numerous changes and reversals of priorities that have occurred in China in the four decades since it was originally published and some sixty years after the events described in the book. Clearly unanticipated at the time of writingFanshen,China is now well along the “capitalist road” under the leadership and control of the Communist Party. The short answer to the question of why republishFanshenis that it is a remarkable book that has relevance today not only for China...

  3. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
    William Hinton
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xxxi-2)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. 3-14)

    All through the spring season the earth’s canted axis swings ever closer into line with the sun. Each day more heat is concentrated on the crust of the northern hemisphere until, with the arrival of the summer solstice, the full force of the solar fire is turned on the seas and mountains, the deserts and the plains of the temperate zone. This heat bakes the rocks until they flake, sets forest and tundra steaming, vaporizes the surface of the lakes and oceans. In the vast turbulence the atmosphere thus created, gigantic mushrooms of hot air push skyward from the heart...

  7. Part I Sowing the Wind

    • 1 Long Bow Village
      (pp. 17-25)

      Long bow village lies in the southeast quarter of Shansi Province on the high plateau country that butts against the back of the Taihang Mountains. It is 400 miles southwest of Peking and 100 miles from the gap in the mountains directly to the south, through which the Yellow River flows out onto the North China plain.

      The South Shansi plateau, known as the Shangtang (associated with heaven) because of its elevation, is itself creased with barren mountains, but between the ranges are wide valleys containing considerable areas of fertile soil. In the heart of one of these valleys lies...

    • 2 Can the Sun Rise in the West?
      (pp. 26-36)

      Long bow village shared in the turbulent history of feudal China.* Over the centuries the Empire was many times invaded and twice conquered from without. From within the body politic was rocked by violent rebellion no less than 18 times. Province-wide and county-wide revolts were too numerous to record. But neither conquest nor rebellion altered the basic contours of society. The invaders were pastoral nomads who grafted themselves onto the apex of the country’s power structure without modifying its base. The rebels were most of them peasants. Even though these peasants several times brought dynasties low they proved historically unable...

    • 3 Eating Bitterness
      (pp. 37-45)

      The gentry of Long Bow—the landlords, the rich peasants, the clan elders, the overseers of temple property and the managers of religious societies—would not have been considered well off in any Western land. Their lives were luxurious only in contrast to the absolute poverty and near starvation of the great mass of the people. They did not live in palaces. They enjoyed none of the conveniences modern life. In most cases, the only difference between their homes and those of the rest of the population was in the construction materials used. The prosperous built with brick, the poor...

    • 4 Three Pillars of Heaven
      (pp. 46-57)

      Drowning men are prone to violence.

      With so many of Long Bow’s peasants on the verge of ruin, how a handful of landlord and rich peasant families maintain their system of exploitation? How did they enforce the payment of rent interest through years of famine and war? How did they protect their hoarded wealth from looting and seizure by their tenants and hired laborers who, after all, needed only to join together to bring whole system down?

      To answer this question one would have to examine the whole superstructure of China—political, military, religious, and cultural—beyond that, the policies...

    • 5 The Teaching of the Lord of Heaven
      (pp. 58-68)

      In 1916 the outward calm of Long Bow Village was disrupted by unprecedented activity. Long lines of carts hauled grey bricks from in many parts of the county and unloaded them in the village square. Local contractors hired masons from as far away as Wuan Hantan, at the edge of the Hopei plain, to lay the brick. Slowly, the very center of the community, a large Gothic-style church arose—the first architectural innovation in a thousand years. A’tall, tower that thrust above every other structure in the neighborhood topped the church and served as a landmark that could be seen...

    • 6 Invasion
      (pp. 69-72)

      Suddenly all the dogs in Long Bow began to bark.

      The fierce cacophony startled the young mother Hu Hsueh-chen. sat in the dilapidated shed where her husband had abandoned her wondered where she could go that day to beg enough food for herself and her two children.

      “Why do the dogs make such a row?” Hsueh-chen called out to neighbor, Ch’ou-har’s wife.

      Through the doorless aperture that was the only entrance to her home, the answer came clearly back.

      “The Japanese devils have come!”

      Hsueh-chen ran to the courtyard gate to see if the alley was still If so, she...

    • 7 Collaborators
      (pp. 73-81)

      When the Japanese army drove into the rural districts of the hinterland, the most conspicuous men in every community were, of course, the leading gentry who headed the village administrations ran the economic, social, and religious institutions. The Japanese took it for granted that these people would not resist, and for most part they were not disappointed. After all, the leading gentry had the most property to lose in any annihilation campaign. They dared not mobilize and arm the peasantry for fear that these armies would someday turn against them. When the chips were down, when they were forced to...

    • 8 Seeds of Change
      (pp. 82-95)

      Shang Shih-t’ou, the figurehead of the puppet administration, did not sleep easily at night. In spite of the hundred-strong Japanese garrison so close at hand, in spite of the expanded Peace Preservation Corps pledged to support his regime, in spite of the efficient police work of his henchman Kuo Fu-kuei, he was afraid of the people. Someone in the village— he had no idea who— was in touch with the resistance forces in the mountains. Every so often Shang Shih-t'ou found a stone lying in his courtyard with a letter wrapped around it. The letter described everything he had done...

    • 9 The Whirlwind
      (pp. 96-100)

      The emperor of Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 10, 1945.

      Long Bow Village was liberated by the Eighth Route Army and the People’s Militia of Lucheng County on August 14, 1945, after three days of fighting.

      Why, if the war was over on August 10th, should there have been a bitter battle for Long Bow that lasted until the 14th? Research into this question throws considerable light on subsequent. events in China.

      The local resistance forces had to fight their way into Long Bow Village because, within a few hours after the Japanese surrender, Chang Kai-shek issued two...

  8. Part II Sunrise in the West:: The Year of Expropriation

    • 10 Which Road?
      (pp. 103-106)

      In long bow, the eight-year-long Anti-Japanese War had come to sudden end. With the surrender of the Fourth Column not only the Japanese occupation but centuries of landlord rule were also terminated. The end of an era carried in its wake the end of a millennium. It happened so quickly that neither the new forces nor the old were to grasp the profound significance of the change. It was to take least three years before the shift wrought in the course of one night battle could be consolidated by popular action, before a new pattern life based on the equal...

    • 11 Beat the Dog’s Leg
      (pp. 107-117)

      The victory celebrations that followed the surrender of the Fourth lasted several days and nights. They had hardly subsided the peasants of Long Bow in their huts and hovels, on their brickk’angs,and in their packed earth courtyards, on streets in alleys made muddy by the monsoon rains, and even in the laden fields far beyond the last adobe walls that marked the settlement, heard a strange sound that many at first mistook for the braying of a donkey. It came, so it seemed, from the heavens. upward all eyes were drawn to the highest point around them, square...

    • 12 Find the Leaders
      (pp. 118-127)

      The death of the two most notorious puppet leaders of the Fifth District dispersed some of the fear that still hung over the village. Victories on the battlefront dissipated it further. The Eighth Route Army took Changchih early in September and drove the front back another 30 miles. The offensive launched by Yen Hsi-shan toward Hsiangyuan, Tungliu, and Lucheng later in the month was also smashed. With an army made up of some 38,000 Japanese, former puppet and regular Nationalist troops, Yen tried to subdue the Shangtang plateau and seize the autumn harvest. But in October this whole force was...

    • 13 Dig Out the Rotten Root of Feudalism
      (pp. 128-138)

      Out of the confusion and near anarchy of the tempestuous Anti-Traitor Movement that followed the Japanese surrender came an assault on the land system itself. From chaotic revenge against collaborators, the young men of the resistance were led by the district Communist Party to a conscious planned attack on the landlords as class. With this shift in emphasis, China’s 20-year-old land revolution, temporarily suspended by the war, began again in earnest and rapidly gathered a momentum too great to be checked by any political party or leader.

      The campaign in the Fifth District of Lucheng County started with famous meeting...

    • 14 Wang Lai-hsun Is Next
      (pp. 139-146)

      Wang ch’ung-lai’s wife returned to Long Bow late in 1945. Driven out by the family that bought her as a child wife and forced into beggary, she and her husband had lived in another village for 20 years. When they heard that the landlords would be brought to account and old debts repaid, they hurried home only to be met by a stone wall of hostility from the local cadres. T’ien-ming, Fu-yuan, Kuei-ts’ai, and Cheng-k’uan had never heard of the couple. They were reluctant to let them join the struggle for they didn't want to share the “fruits” with outsiders....

    • 15 The Fruits of Struggle
      (pp. 147-156)

      March came in cold and clear. The sun moved in brilliant splendor across a cloudless sky but cast so little heat upon the earth that did not even begin to melt the light mantle of snow that had fallen the night. The glistening snow miraculously transformed the dusty, crumbling, adobe village and turned it into a fairyland of black white, as pure and clean as the day the world was born.

      In the reflected brightness of the open street that ran past the gate South Temple stood two militamen. As they shuffled their benumbed cloth-shod feet and blew on their...

    • 16 Half of China
      (pp. 157-160)

      While the dramatic, violent, and often macabre scenes of the “settlement of accounts” and the exuberant, lively, often humorous incidents of the “distribution of the fruits” unfolded like the intricate plot of some day-long Chinese opera, another struggle began whose object was the liberation of women from the oppression of their husbands and from domestic seclusion.

      A few poor peasant women in Long Bow, the wives of leading revolutionary cadres, early organized a Women’s Association where brave wives and daughters-in-law, untrammeled by the presence of their menfolk, could voice their own bitterness against the traitors, encourage their poor sisters to...

    • 17 Counter Measures
      (pp. 161-167)

      The reaction of the gentry to the devastating blows of the Settling Accounts Movement was as drastic as those who remained behind could make it. As far as the privileged classes were concerned, permanent expropriation was unthinkable. If the peasants enforce the confiscation of land and property or even “double reduction,” then life was not worth living. Therefore, even though sword— the local Peace Preservation Corps— had been broken, their shield— the provincial and central armies of the Kuomintang— had been cast out, the landlords, the rich peasants, and their dog’s legs” inside the Liberated Areas desperately contested the Those...

    • 18 Founding the Village Communist Party Branch
      (pp. 168-178)

      One night in April, T’ien-ming, the former underground worker now in charge of public security, and Kuei-ts’ai, the vice-leader of the village, stood guard together on the road that led south out of Long Bow toward the walled town of Changchih. Under the soft light of a full moon they walked up and down in silence. Several times during the first hour T'ien-ming slowed down his pace and turned toward Kuei-ts’ai as if prepared to say something, but apparently he thought better of it and walked on as briskly as before. Finally, he did speak.

      “Comrade,” he said, looking Kuei-ts’ai...

    • 19 Peasants or Workers?
      (pp. 179-187)

      “At all times and on all questions, a Communist Party member should take into account the interests of the Party as a whole, and place the Party’s interests above his personal problems and interests,” wrote Liu Shao-ch’i in 1943. He went on to say:

      If a Party member has only the interests and aims of the Party and Communism in his ideology, if he has no personal aims and considerations independent of the Party’s interests, and if he really is unbiased and unselfish, then he can show loyalty and ardent love for all his comrades, revolutionaries and working people, help...

    • 20 Contradictions, Internal and External
      (pp. 188-197)

      To lead successfully the struggle against the gentry, the Communist Party in Long Bow had to combat not only the splitting tactics of the enemy, but also the centrifugal tendencies constantly generated among the people, the landless, the land-poor, and the middle peasants. Combating enemy disruption proved to be the easier of the two tasks. Once the Party members realized just what the gentry was doing and why, they were usually able to neutralize its effects by education among the people or by a change in policy.

      When the question of “air raid shelters” became serious, District Leader Liang, who...

    • 21 All Out War—Retreat
      (pp. 198-209)

      In the summer of 1946, the fragile truce between the Communist Party of China and the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kaishek broke down completely. The Truce agreed upon on January 13th was for six months only. It officially expired June 30th. Although both sides acted to extend it pending further talks, spreading battles in July made this impossible. Civil War began in earnest during that month.

      Both sides blamed the other for the breakdown of the truce. General Marshall, in his report to President Truman, tried to apportion the blame equally between the two Chinese parties and thus absolve himself...

    • 22 Organizing Production
      (pp. 210-221)

      Splashed on a Long Bow wall in whitewashed ideographs larger than a man was the slogan, “The Battle for Production Is As Vital As The Battle at the Front.”

      In a courtyard behind these words four women wound the warp on a loom. From a nearby doorway came the peristent hum of spinning wheels in motion. The sound was created by a mother, two daughters and a small son sitting cross-legged on grass mats and spinning as if their very lives depended on it. An older woman in the same room threw a shuttle back and forth over a clacking...

    • 23 Abuses of Power
      (pp. 222-231)

      One autumn evening when the “Beat Down the Drowning Dog” campaign was at its height, the poor peasant Kuo Yuan-lung worked until after sunset on a plot of land in the middle of the fertile flat southwest of Long Bow. This was the first piece of earth the lean young man had ever owned and he spent every spare minute it. On this particular evening he was busy pulling the stubble left behind from a crop of millet that had already been harvested. After uprooting the stubble clusters from the ground, he shook the dirt from the roots and piled...

    • 24 The Blackmail of Wang Yu-lai
      (pp. 232-240)

      Ironically, it was Wang Yu-lai, vice-chairman of the Peasants’ Association, who was responsible for the worst abuses of power— abuses which were of a very different order from the petty transgressions and excesses of a Man-hsi or a Yu-hsing, however crude these might be. The ex-bandit, ex-Catholic Yu-lai developed a system all his own for gradually extending his power and influence until became the most hated man in liberated Long Bow. His method as old as politics— the witch hunt. Even though T’ien-ming, chairman of the Party branch and director of public security, was responsible for all anti-agent work and...

  9. Part III The Search for the Poor and Hired

    • 25 Cosmic Wei Ch’i
      (pp. 243-250)

      Winter in North China is a radiant season. Clear skies often follow one another in unbroken succession for weeks at a time. Day after day the sun, no bigger than a ten-dollar gold piece, slides across translucent sky and bedazzles all the visible world with light so bright that one has the feeling of living at a great height, of existing a high plateau from the edge of which one can well look down on the less-favored, nether regions of the universe. Adding substance this feeling is the barrenness of the landscape. Surely, only on moon are such vast expanses...

    • 26 To the Village
      (pp. 251-258)

      On the March day in 1948 that Ch’i Yun and I first set off for Long Bow, the weather was far from auspicious. Two inches of snow had fallen in the night, completely obliterating the promise of spring which had so stirred me during the New Year celebrations of the previous week. Instead of puffs of white in an azure sky, an unbroken overcast pressed down on all the visible world. So dark was the underlining of this cloud mass that the new snow seemed to have lost all its whiteness and to have absorbed the dark, near-black of the...

    • 27 The Work Team
      (pp. 259-268)

      There were no higher cadres, no leading Communists, no persons with long revolutionary experience as organizers and propagandists among the people sent to Long Bow to help put the Draft Agrarian Law into effect. The team consisted in part of peasant leaders from Lucheng County who had only recently been promoted full-time work outside their own villages; the other part of the was composed of students and teachers from Northern University, many of whom were getting their first experience of village Altogether some 15 people joined in the work. However, the number actively engaged on the team varied from time...

    • 28 Those With Merit Will Get Some Those Without Merit Will Get Some
      (pp. 269-274)

      A new starting point for the work of the team was provided by an announcement explaining the meaning of the Draft Agrarian Law which was sent out by the Party Bureau of the Shansi-Hopei-Honan-Shantung Border Region and printed simultaneously in all the newspapers of that vast area. The announcement was couched in simple terms and outlined, in a few short paragraphs, just what the new law meant for peasants who, in spite of years of effort, had not yetfanshened.

      Little Li, vice leader of the work team and a surprisingly accomplished orator, introduced the document to Long Bow Village...

    • 29 Self Report, Public Appraisal
      (pp. 275-279)

      “There are seven in my family. Last year, before the marriage of son I had six.”

      So spoke Wang Kuei-pao. He was a heavy-set man perhaps 40 years old. Crow’s-feet spread from the corners of his eyes. On his weathered face grew a ragged stubble of hair that had never matured into a beard.

      “Why speak of last year? Speak of the way it is now. Soon you will have a grandson and that will make eight,” said a wit from across the room. He was pressed against the side wall of the hut by the crush of people at...

    • 30 Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggarman, Thief
      (pp. 280-287)

      Chang ch’i-ts’ai, one of the poorest individuals in the whole village, provided the first stumbling block to that nucleus of poor peasants who set out to classify the whole village in March.

      The group had little trouble just so long as they dealt with typical cases. Heads of families had only to make the briefest kind of report before they were unanimously declared to be poor peasants or middle peasants. Consequently, during the first two or three days of the proceedings some 40 families were classed without controversy and most those who were declared to be poor were invited to...

    • 31 The Revolutionary Heat
      (pp. 288-296)

      The classification meetings continued for days. Hour after hour sat in the ice-cold adobe dwellings of the poor and listened as discussion followed report and report followed discussion. We were when the press of people was such that padded limbs and torsos leaned against us from all sides. In such close quarters the heat generated by each participant helped to keep his neighbor warm. When crush was great enough, body heat even took the chill off the in the room. Unknown to me this close contact made inevitable form of heat that continued to warm all participants long after meeting...

    • 32 Brothers
      (pp. 297-302)

      To thresh the wheat from the chaff, to separate the kernel of truth the husk of falsehood sometimes taxed the collective wisdom of whole Provisional League. This was particularly so when families prosperous enough to hire labor came up for review. From below came tremendous pressure to push them over the line into the rich peasant category. From the more prosperous came intense counter pressure. The cadres of the work team, whose role it was to guard objectivity of the proceedings and to see to it that the law was followed both in letter and spirit, were pushed now one...

    • 33 A Curved Road
      (pp. 303-311)

      By the end of March all the families in the village had been classified. Many difficult cases had come up, and with each case a story—a traitor who had been expropriated even though he was bare poor; a nine-year-old orphan who held twice the average landholding in the village but had nothing else to his name, not even a bowl or a pair of chopsticks; a spendthrift who had sold all his land before the liberation to buy food, had squandered his share of the fruits since, and then contracted a debt that already amounted to three hundredweight of...

    • 40 Drama in the Fields
      (pp. 312-316)

      Toward the end of March, Ch’i Yun and I received permission to move to the village to live. Thereafter, instead of staying at the University to teach and visiting Long Bow daily, we stayed in Long Bow and visited the University two or three times a week for classes.

      The move to the village made us a more integral part of its life. By spending our leisure as well as our working hours there, we soon became much more widely acquainted and genuinely accepted than before. Although for our own safety we were not allowed to board out in peasant...

  10. Part IV Who Will Educate the Educators?

    • 35 Confrontation at the Gate
      (pp. 319-331)

      On April 10, 1948, under a morning sky that stretched grey and unbroken from horizon to horizon, a group of delegates elected by the poor and hired peasants gathered in Long Bow's gully-like main street. They had come together to launch the campaign for the reorganization and purification of the ranks of the Communist Party that had so long been promised by the work team.

      Sensing the importance of this campaign, a large part of the population of the village turned out to give moral support. As the crowd milled about, a conclave of middle peasants, hastily called together, elected...

    • 36 The Village Leader Bows His Head
      (pp. 332-340)

      As chang ch’un-hsi stood up, a hush settled over the room and soon spread even to the rowdy crowd outside. The formalities, the speeches, the explanations were now over. The actual struggle to purify the Party had begun. Nobody wanted to miss a single word.

      Ch’un-hsi helped to extend the silence by speaking very softly, so softly that we had to strain to hear him. As he spoke, wrinkles furrowed his forehead and he looked somewhere over our heads toward a spot on the wall behind us. I was struck by his youth and his good looks. Like Hsin-fa, the...

    • 37 “I Dare Not Say I Have Finished”
      (pp. 341-349)

      “Travel passes abolished” “loyang liberated again” read the headlines in the People’s Daily of April llth. Before the second day's proceedings began, Comrade Hou read both announcements and postponed his opening remarks long enough to give everyone a chance to discuss them.

      The first news item concerned a step as important to the development of democracy in the villages of this area as was open Party membership. It was living proof, if proof were still needed, that the Communist Party and the Border Region Government really meant business. The right to withhold or grant permission to travel had put enormous...

    • 38 Days and Nights
      (pp. 350-359)

      More dramatic than any stage play, the Party consolidation meetings inevitably became the center of all village activity. All day long the 33 delegates stood guard at the gate. In the evening they met with their respective sectional groups and reported what had happened. The hundreds of rank-and-file peasants who came to these meetings evaluated each day’s events and recommended appropriate action in regard to those Communists who had been heard. Then they went on to make accusations and register complaints against those who would be heard on the morrow.

      All the grievances of three tumultuous years came to light....

    • 39 A Summing Up
      (pp. 360-366)

      The first phase of the campaign to reorganize and purify the Communist Party branch in Long Bow Village concluded with the tearful confrontation between K’uan-hsin and Li Hsin-ai on April 17, 1948. In the course of the unprecedented hearings 26 persons had come before thegate.Twenty-two of them had been accepted by the delegates and four rejected. On the afternoon of the last day Comrade Hou Pao-pei gave a brief report in which he summed up the immediate results of the movement. In the process he cleared up a number of important misconceptions about the local Party branch.


    • 40 The Lucheng Road
      (pp. 367-372)

      Bright sunshine flooded the whole valley. A cool breeze caressed the earth. It rippled the winter wheat that shone emerald green on plot after plot. It stirred the young leaves that made feathery wands out of the village aspens. It scattered the blossoms that emblazoned the fruit trees. Everywhere peasants moved on the land spreading manure, sowing millet, planting peas, and hoeing wheat.

      I hardly noticed these signs of burgeoning spring. The encounter with the mad student still engaged my mind and made me feel depressed. Had his colleagues been too hard on him? Had they tried to remake him...

    • 41 In the Dragon Hall
      (pp. 373-377)

      In the heart of theYamenarea a large temple, unharmed by vandalism, stood solid and imposing amidst the ruins. It had been converted into a hall by emptying it of all trappings and idols. Thus stripped down the building displayed an awe-inspiring symmetry. Two great beams 25 feet in length and three feet thick supported the center of a heavy tiled roof. This roof swept up and out at the four corners as if poised for flight, while across its ridge pole four enormous dragons in colored tile battled each other for supremacy in the sky.

      The deep tones...

    • 42 When Poverty Outranked Heaven
      (pp. 378-387)

      When the Long Bow cadres gathered on the bricks under the bell tower to review their work, the local men, Hou and Little Li, Han, Liang, Li Wen-chung, and Chang-ch’uer were in an angry, bitter mood. If it was wrong to arrest the four cadres, then Secretary Ch’en must share the blame, they thought. After all, the Secretary himself had approved the arrests at the time and the county police had ordered Team Leader Hou to drop everything for an investigation into the crime. As for the district cadres who had been held for questioning about the village accounts, they...

    • 43 Unity Through Struggle
      (pp. 388-395)

      The human consciousness may be compared to an artichoke. Its tender core is enclosed in layer upon layer of defenses, excuses, rationalizations, approximations. These must be peeled off if one is to discover the true complex of motives driving any individual. Such a process would hardly be possible if an individual's acts, as distinct from his words, did not reveal in a multitude of unconscious ways something of the core of his thought. Even then, with acts serving as guides to motivation, no progress can be made unless the individual is willing to co-operate. What made self-revelation possible for the...

    • 44 When I Get My Share
      (pp. 396-399)

      A conference, like a drama, a party, a lecture, or a love affair is greatly enhanced by a change of pace. Ebb and flow, introversion and extroversion serve to keep the participants alert. Such a change was provided on April 29th by a special discussion on the problems of women. Switching attention sharply away from internal Party affairs, Secretary Ch’en asked every team to report on the mobilization of the peasant women in their respective villages.

      “Even if you haven’t done anything, tell us about that and state the reason why,” he said. It was his way of keeping the...

    • 45 Unite Real Friends, Attack Real Enemies
      (pp. 400-416)

      As the conference progressed toward a conclusion, two questions emerged with increasing frequency: What constituted adequatefanshen?And what constituted a correct policy toward middle peasants? The questions were, of course, linked. As long asfanshenwas taken to mean the achievement of middle peasant status for all the remaining poor, the more prosperous middle peasants sensed a threat to their position. Since the worldly goods required for morefanshencould only come from those who still possessed a little surplus, no amount of reassurance concerning the middle peasants’ status as allies could allay this group's gnawing fear that its...

  11. Part V Recapitulation

    • 46 The Native’s Return
      (pp. 419-427)

      The sharp-tongued old woman, Ch’ou-har’s wife, was preparing supper one April evening. The sun had already set, and the light in the sky was fading fast. In the courtyards of Long Bow dusk blurred vision even though, in the open fields, one could still see far into the distance. Ch’ou-har's wife, impetuous by nature, fanned the straw fire in her stove a little too vigorously. Her fanning propelled a cloud of cinders and ashes up into her face. One hot ember found its way to her eye. She jumped to her feet and rushed for the door, rubbing her eyes...

    • 47 Both Ends Sun Unseen
      (pp. 428-433)

      One morning in May I was awakened long before dawn by the sound of iron-clad wheels clattering down the street on the far side of the mission compound wall. In courtyards throughout the village, cocks were crowing. I rolled out of bed in the semi-darkness and groped my way to the gate. In front of Old Lady Wang’s privy the middle peasant Li P’an-ming had already parked his donkey-drawn cart. He and his son were busy scooping “black gold” from the street side cistern where it had been fermenting all winter. By the time they had filled the large barrel-like...

    • 48 Class Differentiation Repeated
      (pp. 434-441)


      Rain fell heavily in the middle of May. Each succeeding downpour came as a blessing. Rain blessed the young shoots and the seeds in the ground. It brought moisture enough to insure lusty growth well into the summer season. Rain blessed the toil-exhausted peasants. It gave them time to rest. Rain also blessed the work team. It provided the cadres with a chance to call meetings and push ahead with the program offanshenwhich had already been delayed far too long.

      Nobody went outdoors while the rain was falling because nobody had any protective covering. Very few had...

    • 49 It Is Too Slow!
      (pp. 442-445)

      Despite real or imagined shortcomings, the class list, as posted, served as a basis for the next step—the formation of a Provisional Peasants’ Association. This Provisional Association was finally established on May 28, 1948, after several days of discussion, a review of the qualifications of all poor and middle peasant families, and another round of elections—this time with written ballots. The minority who could write wrote their own. The majority, who could not read or write, went to certain mutually acceptable ballot writers and told them for whom they wanted to vote.

      Most of the Poor Peasants’ League...

    • 50 Who Dares Man the Second Gate?
      (pp. 446-453)

      We have met with great difficulty in carrying out the second round of Party purification in our village. Now we send you this report to let you know of the situation and our discussion and wait for your instructions.

      After Wang Yu-lai, Wang Wen-te, Li Hung-er and Wang Hsi-yu returned from the county jail their attitude was very bad. Thech’i yen(air and smoke) atmosphere they created made the villagers afraid. They threatened the masses, saying, “We were arrested by the county for more than 40 days, but the county police could do nothing to us. What can you...

    • 51 Young Bride Leads the Way
      (pp. 454-460)

      June 5th dawned hot and humid. A haze that blurred but by no means obscured the sun hung over the village and veiled the gaunt hills on both its flanks. This haze was a product of the approaching summer solstice. Over the Shangtang plateau the concentrated summer sunlight heated up a land surface sodden with rain and converted the air into an invisible blotter that sucked up water in superb defiance of the law of gravity. Suck as it would, the air could not dry out the land in a few hours. A thousand puddles still lay on the roads,...

    • 52 The Gate in the Church
      (pp. 461-472)

      I did not sleep well that night. Ch’i Yun and Hsieh Hung had both worried so much about the impending confrontation that they had succeeded in communicating to me their deep anxiety. I was half afraid to see the morning come lest the work team and the villagers prove to be unprepared for the crisis it was sure to bring.

      Though I woke at the first cock crow, Hsieh-Hung was already up. He had gone to see his “big guns” — Hsien-e, Hei-hsiao, Ch’ou-har, and Old Lady Wang. If they dared speak out, others must surely follow and the meeting would...

    • 53 Upgrading
      (pp. 473-476)

      On June 12th, the sectional groups of the Peasants’ Association met to classify the village once more. This time there was no need to review the status of every family. Only those families about whom some question had been raised were placed on the list for consideration. By the evening of June 14, all such cases had been considered by the small groups. A mass meeting was therefore called for the purpose of making a final review. It was held outdoors on the grounds of the mission compound.

      All the peasants were tired after long hours spent hoeing corn and...

  12. Part VI Drastic Reappraisal

    • 54 On the Eve of Victory
      (pp. 479-487)

      Several times in the late spring of 1948 the peasants of Long Bow awoke to find the main thoroughfare of their village clogged with soldiers. The soldiers filed in so quietly that few people even heard them arrive. They rested awhile, refreshed themselves with boiled water and then moved on, walking, not marching, toward their destination.

      These troops bore no outward sign of formidable fighting prowess. Their uniforms, made of homespun cotton and colored with a yellow brown dye that bleached quickly under the sun, seemed more like the costumes hastily issued to a company of stage warriors than the...

    • 55 We Tried to Be God!
      (pp. 488-494)

      Mao’s shansi-suiyuan speech, as it came to be called, was published in the People’s Daily early in June 1948. It had a decisive effect on the whole land reform movement in North China. During the previous fall and winter the extensive ideological preparations made for carrying out the Draft Agrarian Law had all emphasized the harm done by Right opportunist” tendencies, by half-hearted measures, by compromise with the gentry, by fear of head-on conflict and all-out war. They were based on estimates that the land reform had been less than thoroughgoing. They called on all cadres to take a clear...

    • 56 Who Is to Blame?
      (pp. 495-508)

      Secretary ch’ens speech jarred all the cadres loose from their familiar ideological moorings and set them to examining and questioning on a scale hitherto unknown. Never had these rubble-strewn yards and temples-turned-dormitory seen such dedicated, concerted debate and argument. The work teams first met where they would; then they met together with the other teams and production cadres from their respective districts in assigned courtyards. Finally they meten massein the great central hall where the dragons fighting each other across the ridgepole aptly symbolized the mental struggle going on below. Such meetings, alternating in the order described, continued...

  13. Part VII Untying the Knot

    • 57 Disaster
      (pp. 511-517)

      A strange thing happened in the sky. It was several days before the end of the county conference. The cadres of the various work teams were scattered throughout the courtyards discussing one of Ch’en’s reports. I was sitting, as usual, with the team from Long Bow. Suddenly the afternoon sun faded. We looked up to see an enormous dark thunderhead rushing toward us from the west. Lightning flashed inside it. Great cauldrons of vapor rose and turned as thunder rumbled from its dark center. As we watched this drama in the sky, a furious wind tore at the courtyard, whirled...

    • 58 Revolutionary Steeling
      (pp. 518-527)

      Ts’ai Chin began work in Long Bow with an effort to find out what really lay behind the collapse of Party morale. He took it for granted that the Party was the key to the situation. As long as the Communists themselves remained passive and sullen, little could be accomplished. If he could get the Party moving again, its members would swing the rest of the village into action.

      Ts’ai’s colleagues on the work team soon traced part of the trouble to the status of the three Long Bow men who had been working as full-time district cadres. Fu-yuan, T’ien-ming,...

    • 59 Mutual Aid
      (pp. 528-534)

      Wheat, foster child of winter and sparse by-product of an autumn harvest economy, played a role in village life disproportionately large in relation to the tonnage it yielded. For many families the wheat crop alone put an end to “spring hunger” and provided the primary nourishment for the heavy labor demanded by the summer season. Without wheat these families could not hope to survive until the corn and millet ripened in September, nor could they possibly mobilize the energy necessary for the repeated hoeing, side dressings, and thinning that made the major crops grow. Hence, although the wheat never yielded...

    • 60 The Village People’s Congress
      (pp. 535-547)

      What was a village People’s Congress? What was the difference between the People’s Congress that the work team proposed for Long Bow and the other mass organizations that already existed in the village? These were questions which the people had been asking ever since the idea of a Congress had been suggested. There was no need to speculate about the answers. Village People’s Congresses already existed in many communities that had been liberated before 1945. Many full-time district cadres knew about such Congresses either from first-hand experience or from study and discussion. When they told the Long Bow peasants what...

    • 61 A Final Determination
      (pp. 548-550)

      On july 23, 1948, the newly elected People’s Congress met to make a final determination of the class status of every family in the community. The new appraisal of thefanshensituation which the work team brought back from the second County Conference had a very definite influence on the proceedings. The Congress delegates accepted the view that feudal property had, in the main, been expropriated, and that the poor peasants had, in the main,fanshened.They were therefore very strict in once again judging every family previously classed as poor. This trend, which first developed during the second classification...

    • 62 The Midnight Raid
      (pp. 551-559)

      In rural China, night possesses an absolute quality long absent in the industrialized West. This, as least, was the case before the transformation of the Chinese countryside by co-operatives and communes. At night everyone went early indoors. If they lit any lamp at all, it was but a twist of cotton in a cup of vegetable oil. The wavering flame thus created pushed back the darkness only a few feet. The glow could hardly be detected beyond the paper windows; and since all windows opened on courtyards that were in turn surrounded by walls, no light at all was visible...

    • 63 Hsueh-chen Dissents
      (pp. 560-565)

      That the first decisive act of the new Congress should have been the expropriation of a rich peasant may seem to be an extraordinary perversion of policy. Had not the County Conference and the final classification made clear that all of Long Bow’s most serious current problems stemmed from the excessive attacks and confiscations of the past? Was not the crucial question of 1948 the repayment and resettlement of families who had been wronged?

      Yes. All this was certainly true, but just because it was so true, the campaign against Yu Pu-ho took on extra significance, both subjectively and objectively....

    • 64 “Illegal Fruits” Returned
      (pp. 566-577)

      The only other surplus property still left in the village consisted of those items which the village Communists and cadres, when questioned at thegate,had promised to give up. Since the Congress was empowered to receive these goods, promises had now to be transformed into deeds. This process proved almost as difficult as the expropriation of Yu Pu-ho.

      The nub of the problem lay in the fact that most of the Communists and cadres felt that they had been treated unfairly. Under the influence of an erroneous line that had first characterized thefanshenin Long Bow as incomplete...

    • 65 Arrests and Restitutions
      (pp. 578-592)

      One day just as the Congress assembled in the mission yard, an old man ran in. He was smeared with mud from head to foot. The right side of his face was so swollen that he could not open his eye. Panting and weeping simultaneously, he described the terrible beating he had received from his son Po-t’ai. He even got down on his knees, laid his head on the ground, knocked his forehead against the bricks of the court and beat and kicked himself to show that he had been attacked while he lay prostrate and helpless.

      The Congress Committee...

    • 66 “Self Report, Public Appraisal” Solves the Tax Question
      (pp. 593-600)

      During the first few days of August the heat was intense. Since it had rained enough in the latter part of July to soak the ground thoroughly, the heat worked miracles with the crops. Corn grew luxuriantly. There were no signs at all that it had ever been damaged by hail. Other crops also burgeoned with unexpected vigor. When the mutual-aid teams went out to hoe, they disappeared completely in the green foliage. One could tell that men were at work only by the snatches of song and conversation that rose from the matted jungle on the land.

      The hot,...

    • 67 Long Bow Tsai Chien
      (pp. 601-614)

      On August 24, 1948, Ch’i Yun, Hsieh Hung, and I left Long Bow. The contrast between our departure and our arrival six months before could hardly have been more striking. The day was warm but not excessively so, and a golden sun shone down like an old friend on a village at peace. Not a biting wind but a refreshing morning breeze, not a menacing overcast but a blue eternity, not a frozen lifeless street but the warm salutations of many friends greeted us as we emerged for the last time from the gate of the district compound. Tall Hsin-fa,...

  14. Appendix A: Basic Program on Chinese Agrarian Law
    (pp. 615-618)
  15. Appendix B: Supplementary Measures for Carrying Out the Basic Program on Agrarian Law
    (pp. 619-622)
  16. Appendix C: How to Analyze Class Status in the Countryside Index
    (pp. 623-626)
  17. Index
    (pp. 627-637)