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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

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 land reform such a crucial question for the revolutionaries?

Why was it so difficult?

example gao village hunan 1949
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.)
dig out the rotten root of feudalism
“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)

why were these questions so difficult
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
clan power
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
the people s republic

The People’s Republic

“We have stood up.”

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

what was the structure of the new state
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
state structure
State structure
  • Party structure (Atlas, #21)
  • State structure (Atlas, #19)
state structure simplified by shafer
State structure (simplified by Shafer)

Chinese Communist Party

People’s Liberation Army

State Council

National Peoples Congress



People (in mass organizations, social institutions)

cadre system
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
immediate tasks
Immediate tasks:
  • Land reform
  • Marriage law
  • “Resist America, Aid Korea”
  • Suppression of counterrevolutionaries
  • Thought reform
  • Three-Anti’s and Five-Anti’s (anti-corruption)
why these campaigns

Why these campaigns?

How were they carried out?

what was the deep contradiction
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
socialist transition first five year plan 1953 1957
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…
first five year plan
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
contradictions in first five year plan
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)
high tide
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
relations vs forces
Relations vs. forces
  • Mao: revolutionize relations of production first
  • Forces of production will follow
  • Opponents argue forces first
base superstructure


Ideas, ideology, institutions

Social reproduction

New superstructure

Class struggle


Social forces of production

Relations of production

Means of production

New forces of production

socialist transition high tide
Socialist transition: High Tide
  • Campaign turns to industry; even more complete reorganization
  • By 1956, almost entire country in socialist transition
socialist transition hundred flowers
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..“
why the hundred flowers campaign
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.”
one hundred flowers

One Hundred Flowers

Who turned the flowers into poisonous weeds?