Chinese communism is of importance for several reasons. First, it marks the second major try to accept the creed of Marx. Second, the Chinese interpretation of Marxism has some ideological characteristics of its own that differ from the Soviet version. Lastly, the People’s Republic of China, instead of strengthening the world-wide Communist movement by becoming a partner of the Soviet Union, as first seemed likely, has accentuated divisions in the Communist world by following policies of its own and attacking the Soviets as bitterly as any capitalist power charge against the Soviets was that of deviating from the principles of Marxist Leninism.
History of Chinese Communism
The Chinese Communists, through their leader Mao Zedong (1893-1976), have emphasized the revolutionary doctrines of Marx rather than the philosophical and economic aspects of his philosophy. Since China is a developing country, Mao based his revolutionary techniques on the peasants rather than the proletariat, which was virtually nonexistent in China. Since 1949, great efforts have been made to develop a proletariat through industrialization. Probably the most important contribution of Mao to Communist ideology is the theory of guerrilla warfare as both a military and political principle.
The military principle emphasizes attacking isolated enemy forces, winning rural areas and small cities first and big cities later, mobile warfare, and making use of the periods be-tween campaigns to consolidate the revolutionary forces. To retain the revolutionary army, a strong territorial base is necessary. This requires control of an area where there is a revolutionary peasant government that has redistributed land. By following the above tactics, the Chinese Communists were able to defeat the forces of the Chinese Nationalist Government headed by Chiang Kai-shek between the end of World War II in 1945 and 1949.
The tactics of the Chinese Communists following their victory in the mainland in 1949 were to apply the principles of Mao’s pamphlet On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship. A coalition government was formed, which originally included non-Communist elements. Agrarian reforms were introduced. To carry out these changes landlords, as well as other “counterrevolutionary’s individuals, were public-ly executed. In 1953 the first five-year plan to nationalize most of the economic structure was introduced. By 1956 most Chinese farmers were organized into cooperative farms. In 1966 China launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Young students, organized into Red Guards, were used to bring about an extensive cultural revolution and political purge of party members guilty of “bourgeois” thinking. For a while the revolutionary movement got out of control and Chinese society approached a condition of anarchy until the army restored order. According to Thomas L. Thor-son, the apparent purpose of the Cultural Revolution was to preserve Chinese society from the threat of destruction by industrialization and excessive bureaucratization of life.’