May 31 Workshop

Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society Presents:

Why Could the Communist Revolution Take China in 1942?—Examining Organization, Leadership, Social Basis, and External Pressure

Jin Xu
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 4:30 – 5:50pm
Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Abstract:
The success of the communist revolution is not that inevitable in its 28 years of history since the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In early stages before the anti-Japanese war, the revolution was on the brink of failure two times under the increasing state power of the GMD forces. However, relying on ideological loyalty and organizational elasticity, the revolutionists who survived from each blunder were forced to adjust their strategies so as to be adaptive towards the changing socio-political environment. When the overall anti-Japanese war broke out in 1937, the revolutionists finally obtained a sustainable opportunity to grow its strength on the right track. Firstly, examined by the cruel reality of the warfare, the revolutionists matured a party-based mobilization system. The unitary leadership enabled the party to achieve a high level of control on its troops, governments and a variety of other organizations. Meanwhile, such a system also magically increased the efficiency of policy implementation in local given a high amount of flexibility. Secondly, the revolutionists established their charismatic leader and a pragmatic communist dialect tailored for its fast development in war time. Thirdly, while the whole party anchored its social basis on the dominating population of the rural poor, it also became much more flexible than its opponents to get support from other social groups. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, all the above improvements were amplified because the CCP faced much higher and more frequent survival
pressure than its major opponent, the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD). The intense pressure forced the CCP continuously adjust its strategy to be more pragmatic and adaptive to the changing environment. Therefore, even though the CCP regime was still far less powerful than the GMD regime in terms of overall population and military strength, it had already become a better war fighting machine than its opponent machine by the end of 1945.

Though the GMD also went through several reforms which increased the despotic power of the regime, it never solved three key internal structural constraints. Firstly, the long history left the GMD a ‘legacy’ of ideological promiscuity. Unlike the CCP’s Yan’an Rectification, the GMD hardly made any successful attempt to establish a dominant ideological dialect. Secondly, the long revolutionary past generated a tradition of factional politics within GMD. Comparing with the CCP revolutionists, it was much more difficult for any GMD leader to completely suppress the internal challenges and integrate the whole party around him as the unchallenged charismatic leader. Thirdly, even though the Anti-Japanese war enlarged
the social basis for GMD, the party still mainly relied on rich peasants and city upper middle class as core supporters. Therefore, even some mild reform was easily impeded by old and conservative thoughts. Moreover, the party was very constrained to effectively mobilize the dominating poor population in war fighting. Last but not the least, the GMD faced much less critical pressure than the CCP in its history. The lack of external pressure increased the level of ideological promiscuity within the party, raised the bar to establish a charismatic leader by completely wiping out factionalism, and retarded any policy to extend the social basis of its rule. Even though the GMD made some changes in the beginning of the anti-Japanese war, the decreasing survival pressure gradually lowered the motivation of GMD’s reform. When the war
approached to its end, except for its increasing state despotism, the GMD hardly broke any of the three structural constraints above.

May 17 Workshop (Paper will be sent out via email or upon request)

Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society and the Confucius Institute Present

Recasting the State: Feminist Trajectories in India and China

Professor Dongxiao Liu
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 4:30 – 5:50pm
Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Confucius Institute, Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Abstract:
War, taxation, trade, and domination over powerful male groups in society are considered intrinsic interests of the state. Feminism has to be superimposed on the state through piecemeal add-ons, specific policies, and partial modification of political procedures. The state is the “coral reef” for feminist mobilization at both domestic and international levels. This is one path toward a gender-equitable state, which has animated scholarly debates on the relationship between state and feminisms.
The Indian and Chinese cases suggest an alternative path, the unfolding of which is shaped by a different sequence of state making and feminist mobilization. Gender equality is a founding principle of the states, established as a result of decades-long cultural debates and political competition that preceded the founding of the states. The commitment has subsequently been reinforced by international competition and cooperation. If the states on the aforementioned path have taken shape through war and other conventional state-making processes before facing feminism, the states on the alternative path have had to accommodate feminism as they take shape. Therefore, contentions over feminism have defined the state’s identity in relation to society, shaped the core agendas of the state concerning national development, and complicated the dynamics of competition among state elites. In short, the trajectory of state-making is distinctively feminist even though the results are not.
In this talk, I revisit the feminist trajectory in 1950s China (with reference to India), and outline the implications for existing theories of the state and its relationship to domestic and transnational feminist organizing.