The Mandate of Heaven: Marx and Mao in modern China (IS Books)

The Mandate of Heaven: Marx and Mao in modern China (IS Books)

Nigel Harris

Language: English

Pages: 307

ISBN: 1608464652

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For radicals in Europe and North America, the anti-imperialist—and Chinese—revolutions continued the great task of 1789, 1848, and 1870, the “bourgeois revolution” in Marx’s terms, and the creation of nations that would release the energies and unity of purpose to create new worlds of prosperity and freedom. The nationalist focus led to an emphasis on autarkic development—the nation, it was said, already possessed within its own boundaries all the requirements and resources to match the accomplishments of global civilization.

The overthrow of empire in the 1950s and 1960s—of which the coming to power of the Chinese Communist party in 1949 was a important part—seemed to augur a new era in world history, one in which the majority of the world’s population secured liberation. There was perhaps a sense in which this was true, but the reality for the majority was far removed from this giddy hope. And in the case of the ordinary Chinese, the newly “liberated” regime proved far more brutal and exacting than those that it had replaced (which also attained high standards of brutality and injustice). In China the great famine of 1958–62 was only the most spectacularly cruel and gratuitous product of that new order.

For the former inhabitants of the old empires, national liberation turned out to be not liberation of all, but the creation of a new national ruling class, as often as not exploiting its position at home to make fortunes then smuggled abroad.





















long-term performance is because the soil is relatively exhausted, afflicted by salination and alkalinization as the result of intensive cropping of a small cultivated area for many hundreds of years. Others have been impressed by the use of organic fertilizer which raises the total fertilizer applied per hectare closer to the South Korean figure, but also means that output is already near the maximum to be expected under present conditions. Imports have been used to ease scarcities of grain,

and the conquest of political power became so tortuous few could identify it. For politics in the Party had now become identified with the interests of the Russian State, not the struggle for workers’ power. The material basis of “Marxism-Leninism”—the defence of the national interests of the Russian ruling class—was in contradiction to its supposed principles, the international emancipation of the oppressed. Without the Sino-Soviet split, it is possible, for example, that the new Left in the

24.  On the correct handling of contradictions among the people, Beijing, 1964, p.4. 25.  On new democracy, 1940, in SW II, pp.361-2. 26.  Ibid., p.348. 27.  All citations from: Albert Soboul, The Parisian sans-culottes and the French Revolution, Oxford, 1964, p.5. 28.  Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787-1799, vol.2, London, 1974, p.342. 29.  A characterization of economic romanticism, in CW 2, p.229. Retrospect We have endeavoured to trace the course of the “class politics” of

were being merged into 1,500 (each containing an average of 2,000 households). In July, Mao confessed that no one in the central leadership had foreseen this beginning of the commune movement.30 By August, Henan claimed to be setting up “People’s Public Associations” or Communes, and by November 26,000 had been created, covering ninety-eight per cent of the farm population (each including thirty co-operatives, between forty and one hundred villages, and an average of 25,000 people). The communes

schools), party organs, administrative and mass organizations, must be led with the participation of the PLA...Where there are not enough PLA representatives, these positions should better be left vacant temporarily.”88 The task was to implement Mao’s latest thought: “Economize on consumption and carry on revolution. Protect the property of the country.”89 In the din, very little could be heard of what Mao actually proposed. So great was the “upsurge of bitterness” at the years of the party’s

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