Thursday, December 20, 2012

Suffering, and more Suffering, China in the 20th Century

China, A Century of Revolution chronicles the earth shattering changes China underwent through much of the twentieth century.  

From the strangle hold of foreign powers on China, their unrestricted exploitation of it people and its land, to the rise of Sun Yat Sen and his brand of nationalism, taken over by Chiang Kai Shek and his Chinese Nationalist government, to the rise of the Communist Party and its takeover in 1948 under the control of Mao Zedong, there is one steady element in all of this flux, regular Chinese people suffer.

The impetus for the takeover of the Communists was the lack of public appeal of the Nationalists.   Rife with corruption, out of touch with the rank and file, the Communists offered more radical reform to help the people rise out of their abysmal poverty.

But in keeping with Brinton’s book The Anatomy of Revolutions, the People’s Republic of China soon becomes an instrument of oppression to its people, especially after the rise of the cult of Mao, culminating in the massive disruptions of the Cultural Revolution.

This is a motif in Chinese history.  Popular uprisings, often under the auspices of a religious or culture movement, are the main threat to existing regimes.   This tends to breed a kind of inherent conservatism in Chinese culture.  Those in power are fearful of mass movements, and mass movements, in turn, create a chaos that is suppressed by the ruling elite.  Then there is a period of stasis, followed by yet another uprising.   

This documentary shows that this pattern is ingrained in Chinese history.  It makes one wonder what will come next.  If Chinese history is any example, regular people will suffer whatever happens.

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