People's History of Ideas Podcast

People's History of Ideas Podcast

In this podcast, Matthew Rothwell, author of Transpacific Revolutionaries: The Chinese Revolution in Latin America, explores the global history of ideas related to rebellion and revolution. The main focus of this podcast for the near future will be on the history of the Chinese Revolution, going all the way back to its roots in the initial Chinese reactions to British imperialism during the Opium War of 1839-1842, and then following the development of the revolution and many of the ideas that were products of the revolution through to their transnational diffusion in the late 20th century.

Episodes

April 28, 2022 44 min

A talk that I recently delivered at the University of Hamburg, focused on the development of a new socialist political economy late in the Cultural Revolution and how this influenced the Communist Party of Peru.

Further reading:
Alessandro Russo, Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture
Fabio Lanza, The End of Concern: Maoist China, Activism, and Asian Studies
Antonio Díaz Martínez, China: La revolución agraria
Catalina Adrianzén, ...

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In light of the Ukraine crisis, a historical look at communist thinking on the connection between a third world war and revolution.

Further reading:
Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War
David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb
Edward Wilson, “Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, the man who stopped nuclear war”
Mao Zedong, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”
Mao ...

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The Hunan Provincial Committee decides that Mao must obey its authority.

Further reading:
Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base Area
Elizabeth Perry, Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition

Some names from this episode:
Wang Meisheng, Courier between Anyuan and the Jinggangshan
Du Xiujing, Inspector sent to the Jinggangshan by the Hunan Provincial Committee
Yuan Desheng, Sent to work in the Jinggan...

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In the wake of their military victories in late Spring 1928, the Communists carried out a major land redistribution and a mass recruitment drive. There were some unforeseen complications.

Further reading:
Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base Area
Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establ...

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Mao Zedong and Zhu De learn warfare through warfare as they face continuing onslaughts from Guomindang forces.

Further reading/watching:
Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base Area
Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949
China: A Century of Revolution documentary
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), “Experiences of the People’s War
and Some Important Questions

Communist Part...

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The unification of Mao Zedong’s and Zhu De’s forces. Some discussion of the problems involved in unifying the Communist armed forces.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]
Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base Area
Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangsha...

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Discussing pay for professional revolutionaries, the role of servants in the lives of Communist leaders, and the Comintern in Shanghai.

Further reading:
Patricia Stranahan, Underground: The Shanghai Communist Party and the Politics of Survival, 1927-1937
Elizabeth Perry, Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor
Wang Fan-hsi [Wang Fanxi], Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary
Gavin McCrea, Mrs. Engels
Frederick Litten, “The Noulens ...

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How did the Communist Party try to protect itself in Shanghai? We discuss the compartmentalized party organization and the creation of the Special Services Division.

Further reading:
Patricia Stranahan, Underground: The Shanghai Communist Party and the Politics of Survival, 1927-1937
Timothy Cheek, “Making Maoism: Ideology and Organization in the Yan’an Rectification Movement, 1942-1944”
Mao Zedong, “Combat Liberalism”
Xuezhi Guo, China...

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The Communist Party Center remained underground in the dangerous city of Shanghai during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Further reading/watching:
Patricia Stranahan, Underground: The Shanghai Communist Party and the Politics of Survival, 1927-1937
China: A Century of Revolution documentary
Josephine Fowler, Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists: Organizing in American and International Communist Movements, 1919–1933
Chang Kuo-t’ao [...

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The Party Center puts the South Hunan Special Committee in charge of the Jinggangshan, and the contrast between the strategies advocated by Mao and the Party Center are put on vivid display.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base...

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December 14, 2021 23 min

We look at the successful conquest of three cities (and one heart) by Zhu De during the course of the uprising he led in south Hunan at the beginning of 1928.

The link for my new course on academia.edu mentioned at the end of the episode:
www.academia.edu/learn/MatthewRothwell

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent,...

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Following Zhu De in Shanghai and Germany, finishing up our four-part detour through the early life of Zhu De.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]

Some names from this episode:
Chen Duxiu, first general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party
Zhou Enlai, organized branches of the Chinese Communist Party in Europe when he was a student there in the early 1920s, before returning to China ...

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As the Army for the Defense of the Republic faces defections from the revolutionary nationalist cause as well as powerful warlord enemies, Zhu De rethinks the military vocation.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]

Some names from this episode:
Cai E, Republican general and governor of Yunnan after the 1911-12 revolution
Yuan Shikai, leader of the Beiyang Army and dictator after the fall...

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Following Zhu De from his time as a teacher of physical training at a modern school, through his time at the Yunnan Military Academy, the Revolution of 1911 and the rebellion against Yuan Shikai.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]

Some names from this episode:
Cai E, Republican general and governor of Yunnan after the 1911-12 revolution
Yuan Shikai, leader of the Beiyang Army and dicta...

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Taking a look back at the early life of Zhu De, the man who would later be Mao’s main partner in revolution.

Further reading:
Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]

Some names from this episode:
Zhang Tailei, leader of the Guangzhou Uprising of December 1927
Wang Zuo, Bandit leader who joined with Mao Zedong
Shi Dakai, Taiping general who fought a campaign in Sichuan
Emperor Guangxu, Emperor of China who tri...

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September 9, 2021 24 min

The story behind how guidance on communist armed struggle got into a major American newspaper in 1852. Listener requested background on the text used by Lenin and which was so influential in the Guangzhou Commune.

Further reading:
Frederick Engels, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany
Lenin, “Advice of an Onlooker

Some names from this episode:
Zhang Tailei, leader of the Guangzhou Uprising of December 1927

Support the show (http...
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The last major armed uprising of 1927, in which the Communists temporarily took over Guangzhou.

Further reading:
Arif Dirlik, “Narrativizing Revolution: The Guangzhou Uprising (11-13 December 1927) in Workers’ Perspective
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
Hsiao Tso-Liang, “Chinese Communism and the Canton Soviet of 1927
Lenin, “Advice of an Onlooker

Some names from this episode:
Z...

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Using the early November 1927 peasant revolt in Jiangsu province to illustrate features common to the many small Communist-led uprisings at the end of the 1920s.

Further reading:
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
Chang Liu, “Making Revolution in Jiangnan: Communists and the Yangzi Delta Countryside, 1927-1945

Some names from this episode:
Qu Qiubai, top leader of Communist Party b...

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The Politburo meets to decide whether the leadership’s overall policy was wrong, or whether all the cadres carrying out the policy are just bad.

Further reading:
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Chang Kuo-t’ao [Zhang Guotao], The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party (2 volumes)

Some names from this episode:
Chen Duxiu, Gen...

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