The State of Revolutionary Ideology in Modern-day China
Over the course of history, many violent revolutions have brought forth new leaders and new ideas. They came in a great many forms and in response to a variety of circumstances. However, the Communist Revolution in China remains perhaps the greatest recent example. Not only because it took more than two decades to complete, but also because there was an attempt to institutionalize revolution after some initial changes to build state infrastructure.
China is an incredibly complex entity with a history approximately 22 times longer than the United States and is as far culturally from the West as it is geographically. Particularly in contrast to the Western acceptance of dissent, has been a long-standing institution of Confucian principles. When oversimplified, Confucian principles mean that children submit to their parents, wives submit to husbands, and citizens obey the state. To disagree with a superior in China is risky business, because ultimately the most important thing is to maintain good appearances.
With such a strong emphasis on hierarchy and submission to authorities it is surprising that a revolution in China ever occurred. Part of what I wish to examine were the circumstances in which revolution took place, considering that the 20th century witnessed two Chinese revolutions, the first ending the long dynastic tradition in 1911. I also wish to examine the attempt to institutionalize revolution during the early part of the PeopleÂ’s Republic of China, the PRC, most notable during the Cultural Revolution, as well as look at the popular movement for democracy during the decade following the Cultural Revolution. What appears from the history of the PRC is the eventual loss of revolutionary zeal due to a combination of factors: scarce economic resources because of overpopulation, the threat of state repression, and satiation from current economic growth.
The initial change in the course of Chinese history that led to revolution has most often been traced back to the Opium War between China and Great Britain in 1839. It is important to note that from 1839 to the founding of the PeopleÂ’s Republic of China in 1949, China withstood perhaps the fiercest roller coaster ride in its history under revolutionary thrusts for control. China up to this point had arguably been the pinnacle of civilization on Earth at four different times; even the Roman Empire had but one turn.
Thus, when the Qing Empire decided that their dealings with Great Britain were not to their benefit, they told the British to pack up and go. Unfortunately for the Chinese, British weaponry was far superiorÂ—despite the fact that the Chinese invented gunpowder almost a half millennium before Europe; yet, they used it for fireworks, not firearms. With only half a dozen battles, British gunboats won the Opium War of 1839-1842 for complete access to Chinese ports.
Within a decade, the Qing Empire then faced...