By Elizabeth Perry
How can we clarify the spectacular trajectory of the chinese language Communist revolution? Why has it taken one of these various path from its Russian prototype? a solution, Elizabeth Perry indicates, lies within the chinese language Communists’ artistic improvement and deployment of cultural assets – in the course of their innovative upward push to energy and afterwards. Skillful “cultural positioning” and “cultural patronage,” at the a part of Mao Zedong, his comrades and successors, helped to build a polity within which a as soon as alien Communist method got here to be approved as familiarly “Chinese.” Perry strains this approach via a case learn of the Anyuan coal mine, a spot the place Mao and different early leaders of the chinese language Communist celebration mobilized an influential exertions circulate at the start in their revolution, and whose historical past later turned a touchstone of “political correctness” within the People’s Republic of China. as soon as referred to as “China’s Little Moscow,” Anyuan came to visit time to represent a distinctively chinese language innovative culture. but the meanings of that culture stay hugely contested, as modern chinese language debate their innovative previous looking for a brand new political destiny.
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Extra resources for Anyuan: Mining China's Revolutionary Tradition
The creative use of folk religion and other elements of popular and elite practice in the repertoire of the Anyuan workers’ club was part of a ﬂuid and ﬂexible effort to cultivate a new class consciousness. Through participation in mass education, didactic dramas, and other Communistsponsored activities, many workers acquired an unprecedented appreciation of the economic importance and political potential of the Chinese proletariat. As a result, miners gradually transferred their loyalties from the local secret society (a Triad offshoot known as the Elder Brothers Society or Red Gang, which was behind much of the well-deserved reputation for rebelliousness of this region) to the workers’ club.
21 The modern coal mine brought a sudden inﬂux of new residents to the once small town of Anyuan and its surrounding county. 23 Initially Pingxiang locals comprised the majority of miners, but before long they had been overtaken by Hunanese, contributing to a certain tension between the two groups despite similarities in language and customs. The most backbreaking and dangerous underground work of digging and hauling was relegated to laborers from the Hunan counties of Xiangtan and Liling (the native places of Mao Zedong and Li Lisan, respectively).
42 Here, in a nutshell, was precisely the challenge that would face Mao Zedong and his young intellectual comrades when they attempted to mobilize at Anyuan just a few years later. On the one hand, the pervasive secret societies—accustomed to antistate rebellion and committed to the protection of their members’ livelihood—provided a ready-made vehicle for popular mobilization. On the other hand, the methods and objectives of these indigenous outﬁts fell far short of what their idealistic allies had in mind.
Anyuan: Mining China's Revolutionary Tradition by Elizabeth Perry