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Traditional Chinese Social Structure, c. 1949. Land and labor Village and clan. Why was land reform such a crucial question for the revolutionaries?. Why was it so difficult?. Example: Gao village, (Hunan) 1949:. 280 mu (46 acres) for 20 households 1 landlord, 45 mu (7.4 ac.)

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Traditional Chinese Social Structure, c. 1949

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Traditional chinese social structure c 1949 l.jpg

Traditional Chinese Social Structure, c. 1949

Land and labor

Village and clan

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Why was land reform such a crucial question for the revolutionaries?

Why was it so difficult?

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Example: Gao village, (Hunan) 1949:

  • 280 mu (46 acres) for 20 households

  • 1 landlord, 45 mu (7.4 ac.)

  • 1 rich peasant, 33 mu (5.4 ac.)

  • Average middle peasant: 13.8 mu (2.3 ac.)

  • Average poor peasant: 6 mu (1 ac.)

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“Dig out the rotten root of feudalism”

  • Who depends upon whom for a living?

  • Why are the poor poor and the rich rich?

  • Should rent be paid to the landlords?

    (issues raised at organizing meetings for land reform; Hinton, 1966: 128)

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Why were these questions so difficult?

  • Land and labor linked to clan system

  • Clan structure shaped village life

  • Relative autonomy of clan/village created basis of solidarity vs. outsiders, other clans and villages

  • Religious ideology (esp. ancestor worship and Confucianism) supported clan structure

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Clan power

  • Small Gao village could unite with larger Gao village nearby

  • Within clan, dominant branch or family could control more land

  • “Feudal” exploitation obscured by religious ideology (Gao’s landlord taught Confucianism)

  • Dilemma for communists: how to weaken this structure while maintaining peasant support

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The People’s Republic

“We have stood up.”

Mao Zedong to the Political Consultative Congress, Sept. 11, 1949

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What was the structure of the new state?

  • “people’s democratic dictatorship”– (“New Democracy”)

  • Control of key industries (like social democracy-style socialism)

  • Democratic centralism in CCP

  • Democratic centralism in National People’s Congress

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State structure

  • Party structure (Atlas, #21)

  • State structure (Atlas, #19)

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State structure (simplified by Shafer)

Chinese Communist Party

People’s Liberation Army

State Council

National Peoples Congress



People (in mass organizations, social institutions)

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CPPCC org chart

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Cadre system

  • Inherited from Republic, which revised imperial structure

  • Li: “state technocrats” (37)

  • Even more power under Jiang Jieshi

  • Includes (Li: 48):

    • government officials

    • military officers

    • managers of state-owned or even large private corporations

    • intellectuals

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Immediate tasks:

  • Land reform

  • Marriage law

  • “Resist America, Aid Korea”

  • Suppression of counterrevolutionaries

  • Thought reform

  • Three-Anti’s and Five-Anti’s (anti-corruption)

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Why these campaigns?

How were they carried out?

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What was the “deep contradiction”?

  • Dietrich: institutional development vs. revolutionary transformation

    • Bureaucracy vs. mass mobilization

    • Rationalization (development) vs. emotion (revolutionary romanticism)

  • Benson: nationalism and socialism

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1953: Stalin dies

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Socialist transition: First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957)

  • Bourgeois stage “abruptly terminated”? (Meisner, p. 108)

  • Soviet “aid”—with strings; loans with interest (Cf. Dietrich, p. 85, 87)

  • Negative lessons from USSR collectivization

  • Maoist “peasant socialism”: first, mutual aid teams, then “lower” Agricultural Producers Cooperatives (APCs), then…

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First five-year plan

  • Soviet aid actually minimal; 3% of total investment

  • But “a drive based on the wholesale adoption of Stalinist methods” (Meisner: 109)

  • Growth impressive; 1952-57 18% rate higher than goal (14.7%) (Meisner: 112-113)

  • “a significant and stable modern industrial base” (ibid)

  • But social and economic costs to peasants

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Contradictions in First Five-Year Plan

  • Two line struggle: Mao vs. “handwringers;” collectivization vs. “deep” private property concept; “old revolutionaries” vs. “new cadres”

  • “one-man management” vs. socialist “new man”

  • Bureaucratization vs. revolutionary transformation

  • Also reflected in education: “indoctrination” vs. bureaucratic elitism (examination system)

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High Tide

  • 1955: caution prevails in Politburo, APCs dissolved

  • Mao goes to masses and lower levels, predicts “imminent” mass movement for socialism

  • Cadres investigate, enthusiastic villages held up as examples

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Relations vs. forces

  • Mao: revolutionize relations of production first

  • Forces of production will follow

  • Opponents argue forces first

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Ideas, ideology, institutions

Social reproduction

New superstructure

Class struggle


Social forces of production

Relations of production

Means of production

New forces of production

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Socialist transition: High Tide

  • Campaign turns to industry; even more complete reorganization

  • By 1956, almost entire country in socialist transition

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Socialist transition: Hundred Flowers

  • Khruschev’s criticism of Stalin opens new possibilities in Third International

  • Mao, holding firmly to mass line, advocates “big democracy”—let one hundred flowers bloom

  • “On the correct handling..“

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Why the hundred flowers campaign?

  • “A vast and routinized bureaucratic apparatus…” (Meisner, 170)

  • Note the role of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping in the Party at that moment

  • Who does Mao turn to, to counter that?

  • Contradiction between leadership and the led

  • Mao: “…question whether socialism or capitalism will win is still not settled.”

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One Hundred Flowers

Who turned the flowers into poisonous weeds?

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