Chronicles of a revolution (3)

Chronicles of a revolution (3):Essential for revolutionary: changing own bourgeois feelings, a change of one class to another.

Still in search for a theory 
“Mao had heard through relatives of his mother's of a 'modern education school' in Hsiang Hsiang, where his mother's relatives lived. “My father finally agreed to let me enter, after friends had argued to him that this 'advanced' education would increase my earning powers.” Thus Mao said, wryly, of the consent he finally wrung from the older man. The year was 1910, and he was sixteen years old.(....)
The teachers liked me ....because I wrote good essays in the classical manner. But my mind was not on  the classics”. He was reading two books by the reformists Kang Yu-wei and Liang Chi-chao. “I read and re-read them until I knew them by heart.” Mao has left us a word picture of “one of the teachers .... a returned student from Japan (who) wore a false queue”. He was called the False Foreign Devil, and talked a great deal about Japan. Thirty years later Mao still remembered the Japanese poem the teacher quoted, a poem commemorating the victory of Japan over Russia in the war of 1904-5. “I knew and felt the beauty of Japan, and felt something of her pride and might.... I did not think there was also a barbarous Japan ..” Mao took everything seriously, and his allegiance to truth, or rather reality, drove him to enthusiastic (but temporary) devotion to many heroes. He “worshipped” Kang Yu-wei and Liang Chi-chao. Later he read of America and Washington, of Napoleon and Catherine the Great (in a book, Great Heroes of the World) He imbibed learning  like a sponge and yearned for more; his progres was swift, too swift; at the end, the students disliked him because he did not belong. “I felt spiritually very depressed.” All they were interested in was factional snobbishness; there were three sets. Mao refused to take sides. “Consequently all three factions despised me.” (...)

He was now, at seventeen, convinced that strong men were needed to build up the nation, and in this way not different from thousands of other young students. But he had no set theory, only a indignation against foreign exploitation, the heritage of his generation. He admired all nation-builders – Napoleon or Washington, Han Wu-ti or Peter the Great. There was no way for him to distinguish between them at the time. To take up stray sentences which he then said - 'I admire Bismarck' or ' Napoleon was a truly great man' – in order to prove that Mao is 'authoritarian' by nature is not to describe his development. To lay on the 'military' turn of his mind because he spoke of war and strategy is to ignore the social context of his time: a time of armed rebellion. Western history is littered with martial examples to admire; Mao Tsetung deduced that military matters were as important in the West as in China. He dreamed of a way to 'save the nation'. The students who adhered in increasing numbers to Sun Yatsen's revolutionary Tung Meng Hui engaged in bomb-making and gun practice and dreamed no less. Young boys gravely discussed insurrection as they took walks in the wooded hills, classics under their arms. They smuggled weapons and books; they risked decapitation.
Siao Emi, the schoolmate who loaned Mao Tsetung the book Great Heroes of the World, recalls how Mao marked passages with circles and dots, in the Chinese manner[1], and said: ' We ought to study these men, find how to make China rich and strong, avoid becoming like India, Korea....'[2]
In the summer of 1911 Mao had ended a year at the Tungshan Higher Primary School and was becoming restless. (...)
After the summer vacation of 1911 Mao Tsetung walked the forty miles to Changsha, and entered his first city.[3]

Use of all kinds of information- and communication canals: today it would be websites, weblogs and the use of netwerks like facebook....

“ 'Subversive' material – books, pamphlets, as well as weapons – were smuggled into Changsha by Sun Yatsen's adherents. Revolutionary associations under various names were formed by teachers and students. Each school in that year was a small time bomb with a short fuse; and the hunger and misery of the countryside, despite the fertile soil, filled even ' the scholars' street with beggars and the corpses of those who had died of starvation.
Institutes of physical culture and 'self-strengthening' were the fashion; actually they were political platforms for expression and dissent. A movement against opium smoking among the young Hunanese in the schools was part of the rejection of traditional values and customs, also of anti-imperialism[4].  Mao's interest in health, in physical culture, dates from his days in Changsha when exercise, fitness, clean living, were acts of revolt by the young generation against the social degeneracy of their elders.
Mao Tsetung arrived at Changsha in September, a month before the revolution of 1911. He began his school life by reading a newspaper, Min Li Pao, published by Sun Yatsen's organisation the Tung Meng Hui. The Tung Meng Hui was still in Japan, where most of its members were exiles, but their publication circulated secretly throughout China. In this paper Mao read of an uprising which had taken place in April in Kuangschow, and of the death of seventy-two of the insurgents. They had been led by the Hunanese, Huang Hsing, whom he had admired for leading the insurrection of
1906 in Hunan. Mao now discovered that the reformists Kang Yu-wei and Liang Chi-chao, whom ideas he admired a few brief weeks before, were now considered 'old-fashioned', outdated by the tempestuous course of the national revolution in the making, and vigorously attacked. Exalted by his new discovery, he wrote an article which he posted on the school wall; this was Mao Tsetung first ta tze pao[5], or wall newspaper – 'my first expression of a political opinion, and it was somewhat muddled'.[6]

The practice of the actuality (here the 1911 revolution
[7]), being a part of it
“The 1911 revolution began with a mis-timed dynamite blast in Wuhan on10 October. Within days the Manchu empire had collapsed and the republic had taken its place. Such was the speed of change that to many it seemed hardly credible, yet the change was irreversible.
Martial law was declared throughout the province of Hunan. A member of Sun Yatsen's Tung Meng Hui, a young teacher, came to Mao's Middle School in Changsha and made a stirring speech, explaining the aims  of the Tung Meng Hui. 'Not a word [from the audience] was heard as he spoke', said Mao Tsetung.
Few days later Mao Tsetung left for Wuhan to join the Republican Army, to become soldier of the revolution. He cut off his pigtail, then he and another student forcible assaulted and cut off the pigtails of ten of their schoolmates who had promised to relieve themselves of these badges of slavery[8] but had then changed their minds. He collected money from classmates for his journey, and with other volunteers left for the 'front', which meant Wuhan. They walked out of the city of Changsha on a fine late October day. Already autumn was upon the trees, and the hills glowed scarlet as the young recruit reached the city' outskirts, where he went to borrow some galoshes from a friend, a fellow student already in the Republican Army, because he had been told 'the streets of Hankow[9] were very wet'
'I was stopped by the garrison guards ... the soldiers had for the first time been furnished with bullets, and they were pouring into the streets.' A big battle was on the outside the city walls, and Mao Tsetung then saw the soldiers of the Republican Army capturing the strong-points within the city from its Manchu garrisons. He also saw the city gates, which had been closed, stormed and taken by Chinese labourers, boatmen and coolies, who had risen to overthrow the Manchus.
He thus absorbed a lesson in the art of war he would never forget. Fascinated, he could not leave. 'I re-entered the city, stood on a high place and watched the battle.' He then saw the revolutionary flag ( a white banner with the character Han[10] upon it) raised over the official palace. He then returned to the Middle School, since the war had now come home to him. On 23 October, a new government was organised in Changsha, ostensibly representing 'the Chinese people'. But the landlords' and merchants' representatives in the government clashed with the representative of the poor peasants and the workers and murdered them. This was Mao Tsetung's first direct knowledge of civil war, of class struggle, of how the fruits of victory were wrested from the labourer and coolies. ' Not many days later ....I saw their corpses lying in the streets.' [11]

Change of feelings, change of one class to another

“Levies of the Republican 'New Army' were organised in each province to fight against the remaining dynastic Manchu armies. Students were enrolled in special battalions. Instead of joining the student battalions Mao chose to become a common soldier: 'I did not like the students army.' It was organised by the landlords and militarists.'I considered the basis [of the student army] too confused.[12]' This refusal was related to the massacres he had witnessed of the peasants' and workers' representatives, and to other episodes of brutality against the poor, so common in those days. Mao was already revolted by the illogic of those proclaiming freedom yet continuing to ill-treat the exploited. 'I decided to join the regular army instead and help complete the revolution.'
But he was nevertheless a student , a cut above the rest of the soldiery, for he could read and write. He was treated with deference by his companions, wrote their letters for them, read newspapers tot them (he spent most of his seen dollars a month soldiers' wage buying newspapers, and two dollars on food). He became more conscious of 'class' differences, felt a beginning isolation which cut him off, by virtue of a year's schooling, from the self he had been when he carried manure to the fields. Where food was concerned he ate as the soldiers did, but was reluctant to fetch and carry his own water, and was surprised at himself. Why had he changed, and so swiftly? Why did he now think it humiliating to carry his own hot water? What was it that he had made this change, so that the others also knew he was not like them, hard though he tried? Thus he studied himself, and later[13] was to write: 'I might mention the changes in my own feelings .... I began as a student, acquired the habits of a student, surrounded by students who could neither fetch nor carry. I then used to feel it undignified to do even a little manual labour such as carrying my own luggage.' This transformation of feeling was a revelation to him, but he had no explanation for it until he became a Marxist. Introspection, self-criticism, became to him more than a habit, a compulsion in his long search for truth. ' After I became a revolutionary and lived with workers and peasants and with soldiers, it was then, only then, that I fundamentally changed the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois feelings implanted in me in the bourgeois schools....This is what is meant by a change of feelings, a change from one class to another.[14]

[1] The Chinese dot or put a small circle beside or under each word they wish to emphasize.
[2] The subjugation of India by Great Britain through the East India Company had a deeper effect on Chinese minds than is usually recognised by Western historicians.
[3] Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chines Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890
[4] Since opium had been introduced in China in vast quantities after the first Opium war (1840)
[5] The ta tze pao or wall newpaper stems from an ancient Chines tradition dating from the legendary times of the Yellow Emperor (1300 B.C.)
[6] Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chines Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890
[8] It was the Manchu dynastic rule which imposed the pigtail upon Chinese men. Cutting off meant revolt, and the penalty had been decapitation.
[9] Hankow, one of the three cities of Wuhan.
[10] Han is the name the Chinese give to themselves.
[11] Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chines Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890
[12] Later he was to recall that among the students joining the student battalions was Tang Sheng-chih, who was to become a warlord of Hunan; they were to meet again sixteen years later, when Tang Sheng-chih became governor of Hunan (1927-7), and again in 1949, when a repentant Tang Sheng-chih joined Mao's government in Peking.
[13] Thirty years later , in Yenan, 1942 (see The Morning Deluge vol. II, pp.128-9). See Talks at Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, May 1942, Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol. III. English edition, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1961-5.
[14] Out “The Morning Deluge – Mao Tse Tung and the Chines Revolution”, Han Suyin, http://www.amazon.com/morning-deluge-Tsetung-revolution-1893-1954/dp/0316342890

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