Chronicles of a revolution (1)

The origin of the development of revolutionary consciousness ... by the young Mao Zedong

Shaping the consciousness of those who once choose for revolution, learning of the concrete practical struggle of those to whom the revolutionaries decided TO BE PART OF... 

Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Revolution”, Han Suyin ( http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890  ):

The times were of change. In peasant Shaoshan ensconced in its green valley, seemingly sleepy, the incipient disturbed the elders. The 1900 uprising of the Righteous Fists against massive foreign exploitation was essentially a peasant revolt[1]. It had opened a new era of resistance, although this was not noticeable at the time. It had dealt a death blow to the odious and idiotic tyranny of the Manchu dynasty, already bankrupt under the burden of foreign debt imposed by the Western powers and Japan. It was a violent demonstration against the pillage of China. This revolt was a landmark in China's contemporary history, precursor of the revolution to come, but it was put down by the combined forces of the European powers and Japan[2].

When Mao was ten years old there were foreign garrisons in every main city, including Changsha, the capital of Hunan province; gunboats (British and American) patrolled the lakes and waterways of Middle China, sailed down the Hsiang river, or rode the high waters of the Yangtze up to Szechuan, deep in the interior.
Foreign power protected and supported the captive Manchu imperial government, now become the main safeguard of foreign interests against seething popular revolt. Mao Tsetung's grandfather, who lived till 1908, was incensed at the thought of a British garrison in Changsha, and was aware of the humiliating indemnities and concessions imposed upon China by the victorious Western powers. The old man was no revolutionary, but he was a patriot.
Educational reforms were proclaimed in 1901 and 1902, and in 1906 a programme of 'new' primary schools and modern institutions of higher learning was drawn up by the Manchu imperial dynasty, but little was done. However, schools of 'new learning'[3] were organized, and subsidized chiefly by merchants' guilds, overseas Chinese and landlords. Mercantile society wanted reforms in education for its children. The Chinese have always excelled at promoting schemes for the self-interest of a guild, clan or other association based on local or provincial membership, and now clans, guilds and societies took over when the Manchu empire crumbled. Through the schools were ostensibly government-supported, most were run on private contribution. This practice was prevalent in Hunan, Hupei and the coastal provinces, where the influence of the merchant class and intellectuals 'newly returned' from abroad, especially Japan[4], was strong. Thus, very quickly, institutions grew up which became training grounds for dissent and rebellion. Hunan's capital, Changsha, was such a focus. (....)
In 1906 occurred an event which was to mark Mao Tsetung deeply. Famine, one of the great recurrent famines of China, due to floods, stalked the provinces of Hupei and Hunan, coincident with the Russo-Japanese war (1904-5), which was fought on Chinese soil, in Manchuria. The war helped to fire patriotism among Chinese students in Japan. It was due to the designs both the Czarist and Nippon empires had on Manchuria, and it was the first time Mao's generation saw a white and predatory power beaten by an Asian one, similarly predatory. At the same time as the war and famine, Sun Yatsen, the revolutionary of those decades, launched yet another insurrection to overthrow the Manchus and establish a republic in China. Seven such attempts were made by Sun Yatsen between 1906 and 1908. They all failed; nevertheless they sustained and inspired a generation of intellectuals with the necessity for revolt. The unquenchable Sun Yatsen, to whom Mao renders full praise, was never disheartened by defeat. 'Let's try again' was his constant retort to those who were disheartened.  The revolution of 1911, the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in China, and the establishment of a republic were all due to this indomitable leader from Kwangtung (province), who devoted his life to trying to restore to China her independence and her sovereignty, whose dream was to establish in China a system to parliamentary democracy as in the West[5]. (...)
The Hunan insurrection of 1906 was launched by Huang Hsing, a Hunanese, member of Sun Yatsen's revolutionary organisation the Tung Meng Hui (then sited in Japan). Its particular feature was that the uprising began in the coal mines of Pinghsiang and in Liuyang, were the famine was particularly severely felt. The leaders of the peasant secret societies[6] cooperated with Sun Yatsen's revolutionaries, and a march on Changsha, the provincial capital, was organised in which thousands of miners, peasants and the local soldiers took part. On the way the hungry marchers raided the grain stores of the landlords. Again the old Taiping[7] cry went up: “Share the land”. This uprising created so much excitement that many Chinese students in Japan came home to join the Hunan insurrection. The people of Changsha, who were starving, sent a delegation to beg for relief to the governor of the province, but he replied, “Why haven't you got any grain? I always have enough!” the citizens then rioted, attacked the governor's official quarters, and raided the rice barns of hoarders. Both in city and countryside the revolt spread. Six thousand miners at the Anyuan coal mines (where later Mao Tsetung was to establish the first Communist Party cel of Hunan) picketed the administrative offices of the mines; they were joined by the local peasants, waving banners inscribed “Share the land”. The whole province becames involved; a movement so widespread was already more than an anti-dynastic uprising, it threatened social revolution. Seriously alarmed, the military governor sent three provincial armies to cut down the unarmed peasants and miners. Members of Sunt Yatsen's party were caught and executed. The heads of the slaughtered adorned the city gates and remained exhibited till New Year.
Mao Tsetung heard of this event from bean merchants fleeing from Changsha, who came through Shaoshan and told the story to the head of the Mao clan; the children crowded round, shoving each other to catch a word. While the elders commiserated with the merchants, the young at school discussed it; but their sympathies were for Huang Hsing and his colleagues, who became heroes for Mao, then a vulnerable twelve-year-old. This event shows that already, even without knowing why, the young were opposed to their parents' opinions and reactions. “Most of the other students sympathised with the “insurrectionists”, Mao notes, “but from an observer's point of view. They did not understand that it had any relatiion to their own lives .... I never forgot it.” and this was the essential difference. Thirty years later Mao was to look upon the incident as part of life as revolutionary. “I felt that there with the rebels were ordinary people like my own family and I deeply resented the injustice ot the treatment given to them”.
The child Mao Tsetung thus spanned a world in turmoil, between the crumbling tyranny of an old feudal empire and an unknown future which could only be brought to birth by the mass uprisings of the exploited against their exploiters. Little did he then knew how much he would give of himself in shaping that future, but all his generation, like him, were sensitized to injustice and exploitation.”

[1] Also known as the Boxer Revolution, it was at first an anti-dynastic movement, but was turned by the Manchu dynasty into an anti-foreign movement. See Victor W. Purcell, The Boxer uprising, Cambridge University Press, 1963. or see (Nico): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_Rebellion .
[2] Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, United States, Russia, Japan.
[3]  'New learning' meant learning history, geography, mathematics and the natural sciences, instead of learning only the classics. But the teaching of the classics continued as part of Chinese language teaching.
[4] The practice of sending Chinese students abroad also started in the 1890s, but accelerated after the defeat of the Boxer uprising in 1901.
[5] See Bernard Martin, Strange Vigour: A Biography of Sun Yatsen, Heinemann, London 1944.
[6] Secret societies at first emanated from peasant revolts against Manchu rule, though later many degenerated into Chinese mafias. In Hunan, Szechuan, the secret societies were particularly strong among boatmen, pedlars, petty craftsmen and the peasantry.
[7] The Taiping peasant uprising (1850-64), most famous of all China's many peasant uprisings, was also put down with the help of foreign powers.See(Nico):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Rebellion 

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