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Mao & Gandhi: Western Thought In An Eastern World

1975 words - 8 pages

For thousands of years, Asia led the world in technology and thought. Millions throughout those years followed the teachings of the Vedic religion, Buddhist thought, or Confucian philosophy. These societies solidified their power in the early centuries of anno domini and even boasted of self sufficient power as late as the fifteenth century. To the West however, grew nations with a different heritage of thought that soon infiltrated the Eastern world. Though their influence seemed minor in such a developed world, by the twentieth century political relations and western philosophy became a part of Asia’s reality. In the writings of two influential thinkers in modern Asia, Mao Zedong and Mahatma Gandhi, western thought’s existence is clear. Specific western philosophy helped define and further both Mao’s and Gandhi’s beliefs, such perceptiveness to these strains of thought can be found deeply rooted in China’s and India’s history.
Qing China was a place of dynamic success and power. Beginning in 1644, the dynasty began as others had, with foreign control. But non-Chinese rule did not impede the country’s success. The Qing Emperors quickly began expanding territory. By Qianlong’s rule, just short of a hundred years into Qing reign, China boasted the greatest amount of territory and surplus the country had seen before. Their tax system was so efficient that on occasion taxes were canceled across the kingdom because of surplus goods. Soon, China showed massive population growth. In 1600, forty four years before Qing control, China held a population of 160 million souls. By 1700 the population remained at the 160 mark, but within 50 years the population soared to 225 million. Even in the face of massive population increase, Qing utilized advancements in food and production ability in order to support the booming birth rates. European influence began as an outlet to sell their products, they themselves needed very little from outside help. Qing China had decades of success, but slowly Europe and other Asian countries caught up and surpassed the abilities of China. Internal tensions, two Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion left China’s strength dwindling and the West more effective than ever. Emperor Guangxu, asserting his power against his regent mother, echoed the cry to westernize. His vision was apprehended by his mother. Qing China fell in October of 1911, a powerful kingdom drained by a changing world. A new government under Dr. Sun Yatsen, called Guamundang, was formed, though trouble for China still loomed.
“The history of modern China is a history of imperialist aggression.” When Mao wrote two of his most famous texts, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” and “New Democracy,” Mao spoke with all of China’s history behind him, but especially the history and fall of the Qing Dynasty. Mao, Ch’en, Li were at the forefront of the communist party in China. They, in the time of chaos after Qing’s...

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