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

May 8, 2021 25 min

Background on Qu Qiubai before he became Communist leader in 1927.

Further reading:
Tsi-an Hsia, The Gate of Darkness: Studies on the Leftist Literary Movement
Jonathan Spence, The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution
Paul Pickowicz, Marxist Literary Thought in China: The Influence of Ch'u Ch'iu-pai
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927

Some names from this episode:
Qu Qiubai, Named head...

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Mao takes a critical position on the military line pursued by the Comintern and the Politburo. Also, the issue of scapegoating individuals as a way of dealing with repudiated party policies.

Further reading:
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Stuart Schram, e...

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The new policy of mass uprisings against the Guomindang is decided upon, and Mao’s comments at the meeting stand out for their epistemology.

Further reading:
Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggang...

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As the Wuhan regime collapses, so does the united front. Soviet advisors leave China, Chinese Communists go underground. The purge strikes Wuhan.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Anna Louise Strong, China’s Millions
Vera Vladimirovna Vishnyakova-Akimova, Two Years in Revolutionary China, 1925-1927
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Na...

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The Comintern’s guidance falls short in response to the ongoing massacre of peasants.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Donald Jordan, The Northern Expedition: China’s National Revolution of 1926-1928
Alexander Pantsov, The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution, 1919-1927

 

Some names from this episode:
Tang Shengzhi, Hunan warlord who sided with the National Revolutionary Army and contested...

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This episode is an appendix to episode 51, and consists of a booklet written by Mao Zedong describing the life of a tenant-peasant in Hunan. This episode should help you to concretely picture peasant life in Hunan during the period we have been discussing in the podcast, while also giving a short example of Mao Zedong’s practice of social investigation.

Most of this is Mao running down the income and expenditures of a tenant-peasant...

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Mao’s experience on the Wuhan Guomindang Left government’s Land Commission, with some comparative remarks on land reform in Communist thought.

Further reading:
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Lynne Viola, The Best Sons of the Fath...

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The Fifth Party Congress of the Communist Party (April 29 to May 9, 1927) decides that the united front is better without Chiang Kai-shek.

Further reading:
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution ...

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December 17, 2020 23 min

On March 21-22, 1927, Shanghai fell to a combination of general strike, armed uprising, and the advance of the National Revolutionary Army.

Further reading:
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927

Some names from this episode:
Chen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist Party
Li Qiushi, Delegate to the Fifth Communist Party Congress known for being very handsome
Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet...

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The question of what sort of revolution the Nationalist revolution will be creates a fundamental division within the Guomindang.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927
C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-Jun...

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Summations of the Second Uprising on several different levels; the continuing inability of the Shanghai Regional Committee of the Communist Party to control the ‘dog-beating’ squads; and some thoughts on the problem of the inevitability of errors being made in revolutionary armed struggle and Mao’s thinking on that problem.

Further reading:
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-y...

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Where we continue to follow the insurrectionary journey of the Shanghai Communists.

Further reading:
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927

Some names from this episode:
Chen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist Party
Sun Chuanfang, Leader of warlord coalition in China’s southeast
Zhang Zongcha...

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The bumpy road that the Communist Party took in Shanghai as it developed its capacity to deploy organized violence as a political tactic.

Further reading:
Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927

Some names from this episode:
Wang Shouhua, Leading Communist labor organizer in Shanghai
Yu Xiaqing, Leader of a nationalist faction of Shanghai’s merchant class
Niu Yongjian, Veteran Nationalist operative who came to Shang...

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The tension between maintaining the united front and mobilizing the peasants for revolution finds expression in a crucial debate over strategy at the end of 1926.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social...

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Debate breaks out within the Communist Party and the Comintern over how to assess the balance of forces and relate to the developing revolutionary situation engendered by the mass movements in Hunan and Hubei in late 1926.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927
Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
Arif Dirlik, “Mass ...

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Mass upheaval in Hunan and elsewhere after people are liberated from warlord rule.

Further reading:
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927
Yokoyama Suguru, “The Peasant Movement in Hunan”
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927

A name from this episode:
Wu Peifu, Northern warlord

Suppo...

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Examining the role of both organized and unorganized mass support for the Northern Expedition in its first phase, the offensive from Guangdong to Wuhan from May to October 1926.

 

Further reading:
Donald Jordan, The Northern Expedition: China's National Revolution of 1926-1928
C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927

Some names from this episode:
Mikhail Bo...

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Mao's political activity and intellectual development during the first nine months of 1926.

Further Reading:
Gerald Berkley, “The Canton Peasant Movement Training Institute”
Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927
Yokoyama Suguru, “The Peasant Movement in Hunan”
Philip C. C. Huang, “Mao Tse-Tung and the Middle Peasants, 1925-1928”
Angus McDonald, “The Hunan P...

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