Ba Jin: Toward a Free Society (1921)

Ba Jin (Li Feigan)

Ba Jin (1904-2005) was a well known novelist active in the Chinese anarchist movement during the 1920s, when the anarchists were still one of the leading forces on the Chinese revolutionary left. His most famous work is the novel, The Family, about the younger generation in China seeking liberation from traditional mores and institutions, published in 1933. As with many other Chinese anarchists, he was influenced by Kropotkin. He also corresponded with Emma Goldman, whom he regarded as his “spiritual mother.” The Chinese anarchist movement declined under the Guomindang in the late 1920s, and was completely suppressed by the Communists after their seizure of power in 1949. Ba Jin and his wife were persecuted during the so-called “Cultural Revolution” during the 1960s. I included some of Ba Jin’s anarchist writings from the 1920s in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. In Volume Three, I included some reflections by Ba Jin from 1984 on the harmful effects of state power on literature. This article is from Ba Jin’s most active anarchist period during the 1920s. It originally appeared under Ba Jin’s real name, Li Feigan. The translation is by Paul Sharkey, and can be found on the Kate Sharpley Library website. I was reminded of Ba Jin’s struggles against Communist censorship and his treatment during the Cultural Revolution by the current demonstrations in Hong Kong against the attempts by the Communist dictatorship in China to further restrict people’s freedoms.

How are we to establish a truly free and egalitarian society?

These days these words “freedom and equality” are part of the vocabulary of each and every one of us. But make a few inquiries and ask: What is freedom? and you will be told “Freedom means freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, freedom of association and assembly, the freedom of secrecy of correspondence”.

Ask: What is equality? and you will be told: “All citizens are equal before the law, with no difference between the high-born and the yokel.” Now, such narrow definitions have nothing to do with true freedom, true equality. Don’t believe me? Then have a read of the following.

The blight upon the people’s freedom is the State. Ever since the State came into existence, we have stopped being free. No matter what we do or say, the State sticks its nose in. All we ask is to live in love with our brethren from other nations, but the State would have us patriots at any price, enrols us in its armies and forces us to murder our neighbours. And here in China the situation is even worse: here we have Chinese murdering other Chinese. For a number of years now, in Hunan and Shaanxi and Szechuan, “the tide of blood has been running high and the corpses are piling up”.

What horror! So much for the benefits that the State has brought us. Arrogating to themselves the resources that are the common wealth of our planet, the capitalists grind us into a poverty that denies us the right to live. Not that the State punishes them for it: worse still, it protects them through a battery of laws.

The people has nothing to eat and has no option but to steal its food: it goes naked and has no option but to steal clothes: it has no option but to steal all that it needs. The people is driven to all this by the capitalists. And there goes the State, in its grandeur, dismissing us as brigands and decreeing that we are fit for nothing but the execution picket. We are gunned down merely for recouping – in contravention of the law, to be sure – a fraction of what we had lost, whereas the capitalists who loot the commonwealth of our planet are allowed to live in peace. If we are refused the right to steal, there is nothing left for us but to become beggars. Lo and behold, the capitalists, offended by the spectacle, bestow alms upon the poor and afford them a little of the money that they have stolen from them: and upon this they bestow the fine-sounding name of charity. Some of them even have the effrontery to insult us because we beg for our pittance instead of working for it.

Gentlemen! Can you be so sure that we do not want to work? It is more a case of our being denied work. Yet we are showered with insults. Looking at it from this angle, we can see that the “freedom and equality” of which we have just been speaking are alien to the people! Indeed, can one speak here of “freedom” and “equality”? I refuse to credit that there can be any freedom of that sort! Any equality of that stripe! But what then are real freedom and real equality?

Here comes my answer: Anarchy. That is the real freedom. And communism is the real equality. Only a social revolution can allow us to build a really free and really egalitarian society.

But what is Anarchy?

Anarchy is the placing of the State and its accessory institutions upon the Index and collective ownership of the means of production and goods produced. Every individual contributing in accordance with his ability and receiving in accordance with his needs. And work shared out according to the ability of the individual: whoever has the ability to be a doctor does the doctoring, and whoever has the ability to mine does the mining. More time devoted to straightforward tasks and less time squandered on complicated or tiresome ones. An agency to find you food when you are hungry, clothing to wear and a roof under which to shelter. Everybody in receipt of the same education, with no distinction drawn between the clever and the slow-witted.

Time and again, one French anarchist has reiterated: “Every individual need work only two hours a day if all the needs of society are to be met”. And Kropotkin too has stated: “If everyone works four hours a day, that will be enough – indeed, more than enough – to meet society’s needs.”

I imagine that such a proposition, cutting working hours to the bone, could not help but attract universal support. Without the State and its laws, we would have real freedom: without the capitalist class, we would have real equality.

Friends of the world of labour, can you see just how free a society rid of all authoritarian power would be? Can you see how egalitarian it would be? Are you willing to build such a society of freedom and equality? Well then, make the social revolution and have done with these rascally politics.

For the sake of the advent of a society of freedom and equality, let us hope that you and your friends will soon come together as one! As long as you endure it all with resignation, you will be fodder for the capitalists!

If you do not believe me, you will see for yourselves!

Ba Jin

Banyue (Fortnight), Chengdu, China, No 17, 1 April 1921

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Anarchism in China

The Chinese Anarchist Movement-1

Continuing my installments from the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, here I return to anarchism in China during the 1920s and 30s, focusing on Huang Lingshuang’s critique of Marxism. In Volume One of the Anarchism anthology, I included several selections from Chinese anarchists, including He Zhen, the early Chinese anarchist feminist, Shifu, “the soul of Chinese anarchism” who helped create a Chinese anarchist communist movement, and Ba Jin (also known as Li Pei Kan or Li Feigan), the famous Chinese novelist who was active in the Chinese anarchist movement from the 1920s until the Communist Party’s seizure of power in 1949. On my blog, I have posted additional material from Lui Shipei, He Zhen’s companion who helped introduce anarchism to China in the early 1900s, and Kan San, on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

china collage

Anarchism in China Before the 1949 Revolution

In Asia during the 1920s and 30s, the anarchists faced obstacles similar to those of their European comrades. The success of the Bolsheviks in Russia led to the creation of Marxist-Leninist Communist parties in various parts of Asia. The anarchists had until then been the most influential revolutionary movement in China. By the late 1920s, the anarchists had been eclipsed by the Chinese Communist Party and the Guomindang, who fought each other, and the Japanese, for control of China over the next twenty years.

Chinese anarchists rejected the Marxist notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat, concentrating all power “in the hands of the state,” because this would result in the “suppression of individual freedom” (Volume One, Selection 100). The Chinese anarchists did not regard Marxist state socialism as sufficiently communist, for during the alleged “transition” from socialism to communism, a wage system and some forms of private property would be retained.

Huang Lingshuang (1898-1982), one of the more noteworthy Chinese anarchist critics of Marxism, rejected the Marxist view that society must progress through successive stages of economic and technological development before communism can be achieved. Drawing on the work of European anthropologists, Huang Lingshuang was able to more clearly distinguish between cultural change and biological evolution than Kropotkin, who had largely conflated the two. Huang Lingshuang argued that, contrary to the Marxist theory of historical materialism, the “same economic and technological conditions do not necessarily result in the same culture,” cultural and economic changes do “not occur at the same rate,” and not every society goes through the same economic stages of development in the same order (Volume One, Selection 100). Rudolf Rocker made similar arguments in Nationalism and Culture (Volume One, Selection 121).

Robert Graham

China down with emperors

Anarchism in Asia

asian anarchism

In this installment from the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I discuss the origins and development of anarchist movements in Asia, focusing on China and Japan. The Japanese and Chinese anarchists were influenced by various European and American anarchists, such as Bakunin, Kropotkin and Emma Goldman, but developed ideas and approaches suited to their own social and political conditions.

Kotoku Shusui

Kotoku Shusui

Anarchism in Asia

In Japan, Kôtoku Shûsui (1871-1911), who had begun his political career as an orthodox Marxist, embraced anarchism in 1905, introducing anarchist communist and anarcho-syndicalist ideas to Japanese radicals. Kôtoku advocated the creation of interlinked trade union and cooperative organizations to provide the basis for anarchist communes “at the time of or in the aftermath of a revolution,” an idea that can be traced back to Bakunin, Guillaume and the anarchist currents in the First International. He argued in favour of working class direct action and anti-parliamentarianism: the workers “must act for themselves without relying on slow moving parliaments.” The workers would strike to improve their working conditions while pushing “on to the general strike,” while the hungry would expropriate food from the rich, instead of waiting for legal reforms (Volume One, Selection 102). He translated Kropotkin into Japanese, and anarcho-syndicalist material, such as Siegfried Nacht’s 1905 pamphlet, The Social General Strike.

In 1910, Akaba Hajime, another Japanese anarchist, published The Farmers’ Gospel, in which he called for the “return to the ‘village community’ of long ago, which our remote ancestors enjoyed. We must construct the free paradise of ‘anarchist communism,’ which will flesh out the bones of the village community with the most advanced scientific understanding and with the lofty morality of mutual aid” (Crump, 1996). The Japanese anarchist feminist, Itô Noe (1895-1923), pointed to the Japanese peasant village as an example of living anarchy, “a social life based on mutual agreement” and mutual aid (Volume One, Selection 104). As with anarchists in Europe and Latin America, the Japanese anarchists sought to unite the workers and peasants in the struggle for a free society.

Despite the execution of Kôtoku in 1911 following the infamous Japanese treason trials, which were used to smash the nascent Japanese anarchist movement, Akaba’s imprisonment and death in 1912, and the 1923 police murder of Itô Noe and her companion, Ōsugi Sakae, another prominent anarchist (Volume One, Selection 103), the anarchists remained a significant force on the Japanese left throughout the 1920s.

In 1907, a group of Chinese anarchists created the Society for the Study of Socialism in Tokyo. Two of the Society’s founders, Liu Shipei (1884-1919) and Zhang Ji (1882-1947), were in contact with Kôtoku Shûsui, who introduced them to the ideas of Kropotkin and the anarcho-syndicalists. Liu, Zhang and Kôtoku all spoke about anarchism at the Society’s founding meeting (Scalapino & Yu). Zhang contributed to Balance, a Chinese anarchist journal published in Tokyo, which in 1908 ran a series of articles calling for a peasant revolution in China and “the combination of agriculture and industry,” as proposed by Kropotkin in Fields, Factories and Workshops (Dirlik: 104). Following Kôtoku’s example, Zhang also translated Nacht’s pamphlet on The Social General Strike into Chinese.

Ba Jin's translation of Kropotkin

Ba Jin’s translation of Kropotkin

Liu and his wife, He Zhen, published another Chinese anarchist journal in Tokyo, Natural Justice. He Zhen advocated women’s liberation, a particularly pressing concern in China, where foot-binding and concubinage were still common practices. She was familiar with the debates in Europe regarding women’s suffrage but argued that “instead of competing with men for power, women should strive for overthrowing men’s rule,” a position close to that of Louise Michel and Emma Goldman. She criticized those women who advocated sexual liberation merely “to indulge themselves in unfettered sexual desires,” comparing them to prostitutes, a view similar to that of European and Latin American anarchist women, such as Carmen Lareva, who were also concerned that the anarchist notion of “free love” not be confused with making women sexually available to men (Volume One, Selection 69). He Zhen insisted that “women should seek their own liberation without relying on men to give it to them” (Volume One, Selection 96). Women’s liberation became a common cause for the Chinese anarchists, who rejected the traditional patriarchal family and often lived in small communal groups.

Chinese anarchists in Guangzhou began labour organizing in 1913, creating the first Chinese trade unions, inspired by Shifu (1884-1915), the anarchist communist who became known as “the soul of Chinese anarchism” (Krebs). Heavily influenced by Kropotkin, Shifu advocated anarchist communism, the abolition of all coercive institutions, freedom and equality for men and women, and voluntary associations where no one will “have the authority to manage others,” and in which there will “be no statutes or regulations to restrict people’s freedom” (Volume One, Selection 99).

In the conclusion to his 1914 manifesto, “The Goals and Methods of the Anarchist-Communist Party,” Shifu referred to the “war clouds [filling] every part of Europe,” with “millions of workers… about to be sacrificed for the wealthy and the nobility” (Volume One, Selection 99). Kropotkin’s subsequent support for the war against Germany shocked anarchists throughout the world, and was particularly damaging in Russia where his position was seen as support for Czarist autocracy (Avrich, 1978: 116-119; 136-137). However, as the war continued, the anarchists who maintained their anti-war, anti-militarist and anti-statist position began again to find a sympathetic ear among the workers and peasants who bore the brunt of the inter-imperialist slaughter in Europe, and who were to arise en masse in February 1917 in Russia, overthrowing the Czar.

Robert Graham

Meeting of East Asian Anarchist Federation

Meeting of East Asian Anarchist Federation 1927

Kan San: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Although anarchism as a significant movement virtually disappeared from China by the 1930s, anarchist ideas and anti-authoritarian movements have continued to manifest themselves in China during various social upheavals. During the so-called “Cultural Revolution” in the 1960s, some Red Guards took Mao Zedong’s revolutionary pronouncements to heart, advocating the transformation of China into a “People’s Commune” based on the revolutionary models of the 1871 Paris Commune and the 1917 Petrograd Soviets (see the “Whither China” manifesto of the Sheng-Wu-Lien group, reprinted in China: The Revolution is Dead—Long Live the Revolution (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1977)). After the Communist authorities, with Mao’s approval, suppressed these “ultra-leftist” deviations, some former Red Guards became interested in anarchist ideas. In 1976, the Hong Kong based libertarian communist group, the ‘70s, published their collection of ultra-left writings, China: The Revolution is Dead—Long Live the Revolution. Space considerations prevented me from including material from this anthology in Volume Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939-1977).

Lee Yu See and Wu Che, in the Appendix to China: The Revolution is Dead—Long Live the Revolution, set forth the following analysis of the Chinese Communist Party and its counter-revolutionary role, drawing on theories of the “new class,” the relationship of intellectuals to the state and the rise of techno-bureaucracy that originated with Bakunin (Volume One, Selections 22, 24, 25 & 64) and were further developed by later anarchists, such as Geoffrey Ostergaard (Volume Two, Selection 27), Nico Berti (Volume Two, Selection 67) and Noam Chomsky (Volume Two, Selection 68).

1. From the beginning, the Chinese Communist Party was a bourgeois organism. The party was structured along hierarchical lines. It was a miniature state. It assimilated all the forms, techniques and mentality of bureaucracy. Its membership was schooled in obedience and was taught to revere the leadership. The party’s leadership, in turn, was schooled in habits born of command, authority, manipulation and egomania. At the same time, the party was the spineless follower of the Comintern directed by Moscow.

2. The rigid dogma adopted by the Chinese Communist Party was that of Leninism-Stalinism, an ideology which had led to the consolidation of a system of state capitalism in Russia. Not by deviating from but by following Lenin’s ideas, a new dominating and exploiting class came into power over the working masses.

3. China was an economically backward country in which the old ruling classes were incapable of carrying out industrialization. The young native bourgeoisie had neither the strength nor the courage to revolutionize the old social structure in the way that a genuine modernization would require. The “bourgeois tasks” were to be solved by a bureaucracy

4. In pursuing the strategy of encircling the cities from the countryside in its attempt to seize state power, the Chinese Communist Party built up a peasant army. But such an army, organized by a bourgeois party, became a tool of the party and therefore a capitalist machine.

5. The so-called 1949 revolution [had] nothing in common with a genuine socialist revolution. It was simply a violent take over of the state by a bureaucracy better placed to manage the national capital than the old ruling clique.

6. Having won control of the state machine, the only way to move forward for the Maoist bureaucracy was to impose a regime of ruthless exploitation and austerity on the working masses.

The bureaucracy began to carry out the task of primitive accumulation. Because of the lack of capital-intensive industry, economic development depended on the most primitive methods of extraction of surplus value: in the countryside, mobilizing millions of peasants and semi-proletarians around the construction of public works and irrigation projects, built almost bare-handed by the rural masses; in the cities, forcing the workers to work long hours for extremely low wages, banning strikes, putting restrictions on the choice of employment and so on.

7. The new bureaucratic capitalist class in China did not emerge because of the development of new modes of production. It was on the contrary, the bureaucracy which brought the new mode of production into existence. The Chinese bureaucracy did not originate from the industrialization of the country. Industrialization was the result of the bureaucracy’s accession to power.

8. Soon after the accession to power of the Maoist bureaucracy, intra-party feuds occurred. Such feuds originated out of two different conceptions of how China was to modernize in agriculture, industry, science and technology.

9. The Maoist-radical faction (led… by Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan [the so-called “Gang of Four”]) advocated self-reliance, the active mobilization of the “popular masses” behind the state and the economy to promote production by ideological rather than material incentives, “redness” over “expertness”, the “infallibility” of the thoughts of Mao Zedong, hostility towards the Soviet Union, “revolutionizing” arts and literature to serve the single purpose of propagating the official ideology, the need for endless mass movements and struggle because “in the long historical period of socialism, the principal internal contradiction is the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie.”

The so-called capitalist roaders (Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, et al) favoured the retention of wage differentials and the extension of material incentives for increased productivity. They also stood for a more efficient technological apparatus, rapprochement with the Soviet “revisionists”, liberalization of policies in relation to the arts, rejection of the personal cult of Mao, the priority of national Construction over endless “class struggles”.

Both lines represented different strategies designed by the different factions of the bureaucratic capitalist class for attacking the working masses, for intensifying their exploitation.

The Maoist-radical road was leading to a “feudalistic social-fascist dictatorship”. The road of the “capitalist roaders” would bring a “destalinized Russian type of society” like today’s Russia.

Lee Yu See and Wu Che also provide greater details regarding the so-called Tiananmen Incident in April 1976, when some 100,000 people gathered in Tiananmen Square to protest against the Communist government. Cars were overturned and burned, the barracks of the People’s Liberation Army were sacked and occupied and some protesters battled with the police and worker-militiamen. Similar demonstrations took place in Chengchow and Kunming. In an earlier essay, “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” Kan San provides further details regarding the “ultra-left deviationists;” his views regarding Mao’s role are rather naive and at odds with the more critical analysis of Lee Yu See and Wu Che.

Ba Jin (1904-2005)

The awful absurdities and excesses of the Cultural Revolution are discussed from a personal perspective by the Chinese novelist and anarchist, Ba Jin, in “Against the Powers that Be,” an essay that will be included in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas that he wrote in 1984 during a brief period of liberalization (which ended with the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989) . I included several selections by Ba Jin, written in the 1920s, in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939).

 

Kan San: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution


 

1. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution—Why is it called “cultural”?

Superficial observations only revealed brutal struggles, large scale rebellion, or a limited civil war in various places. Under the directive of Mao Zedong, [future Gang of Four member] Yao Wenyuan published the essay “Criticizing the New Historical Play: The Dismissal of Hai Jui from Office” and this raised the curtain of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Yet the revolution should not be called “cultural”. After the October Revolution the Soviet Union had not travelled on the road to socialism and had become an imperialistic power, Mao Zedong had to seek an explanation for this. Of course we ourselves would not think that the foundation for the realization of socialism had been laid if the means of production were nationalized under the leadership of a vanguard party. However, to a stern believer of Bolshevism like Mao Zedong, the revisionism of the Soviet Union was puzzling. Subsequently he came to the conclusion that the superstructure had brought about counter-effects to the economic base. Mao said, “We recognize that in the long course of historical development, the material determines the spiritual; social existence determines social consciousness; but we also recognize in turn the counter-effects of the spiritual on the material, social consciousness on social existence, and the superstructure on the economic base”. This is to say Mao Zedong felt that although the capitalist class had been overthrown, their ideas and ideology were still greatly influencing the superstructure in the arena of theoretical formulation, academic research and artistic creation… Such propagation of anti-socialist ideas was making preparations for capitalism to be restored…

Mao Zedong ignited the Cultural Revolution because he wanted to resolve the problem of the residual capitalist ideas and consciousness having a counter-revolutionary effect on the economic base. He wanted to carry out a revolution which would deeply affect the inner soul of mankind, and revolutionize the thoughts of the people so that China would steer clear from the path travelled by the Soviet Union…

It is my belief that unless we understand the aim of Mao Zedong in initiating the Cultural Revolution to be more than the resolution of his disputes with the Liu Shaoqi faction, unless we are aware that Mao Zedong was seeking to revolutionize the thoughts of the people, we would not be able to explain many of the seemingly incomprehensible occurrences in the Cultural Revolution.

2. A Real Revolution developed from a Sponsored Revolution

Before the Cultural Revolution, the power and influence of the Liu Shaoqi faction had been deeply entrenched… Mao, in addition to his control of the army through Lin Biao, commanded respect through his own authority but he possessed nothing else. Moreover, Mao ignited the revolution not purely for the sake of a power struggle. The move in fact embraced a highly idealistic overtone, and this explained why Mao had the courage to mobilize the masses to attack the bureaucrats of the Liu Shaoqi faction by means of “big Link-Up”, big character posters and the slogan “attack with pens and defend with arms.” At that time, although the people found their material well being slightly better under communist rule as compared to the days of Chiang Kai-shek, they nonetheless felt suppressed in many respects. The youth, in particular, were torn between the education of orthodox Marxism which conferred upon them high ideals on the one hand, and their experience in reality which differed greatly from socialism which the Chinese Communists preached to be in existence. But they could not see where the problem really lay. The bureaucrats enjoyed special privileges and received special attention. What the bureaucrats advocated was to join the party and become an official. What was prevailing was elitism. The principle of “from the top to the bottom” ruled and the masses were reduced to small pawns on a chess board and screws in a megamachine, completely obedient to the top leadership. Hence when Mao Zedong mobilized the masses to struggle against the Liu Shaoqi faction, they responded most enthusiastically. [That] is because the masses, tired of bureaucratic rule, naively believed that it was the Liu faction to whom all problems could be traced. They became a formidable force and the Liu faction was completely toppled.

During the course of struggle against the Liu Shaoqi faction, the masses realized their own strength. The bureaucrats, once posited high above, revealed their impotence and cowardice in front of the people. When the masses smashed the governmental machine, they discovered that each individual had a secret file in which a comment made by the bureaucrats would predetermine that individual’s whole life. For the sake of the struggle against the Liu faction bureaucrats, the Red Guards went everywhere to link up with one another and organized themselves. Their power of analysis was greatly improved as a result. After the Liu Shaoqi faction had been crushed, Mao felt that the major problem had been solved, the only remaining one being the reconstruction of peace and order. But most of the masses felt that even though the Liu Shaoqui faction was overthrown, the problem had not been solved. Some who were thoughtful and sensitive, having acquired a better understanding of the bureaucratic system from their struggle against the bureaucrats, persisted to the end. Some were also beginning to cast away the control exerted by Mao Zedong’s thought, and did what they thought ought to be done. The Shanghai Radio Station broadcast the warning that the rebels must not seize power from the Party, saying: “Some thought-confusing members of our group said, ‘Without the Party’s leadership, we still managed to achieve for ourselves victory in the January Revolutionary struggle for power. Seize power again in the same way and use it well.’”

Mao Zedong, seeing that the masses were gradually going out of his control, panicked. The more thoughtful Red Guards in particular, by means of link-ups exchanged revolutionary experiences with their counterparts in other provinces and gradually formulated their own framework of analysis, most notably in the [1968] article “Whither China?” by [the] Sheng Wu-lien [group]. They pointed out that the only prospect for the Chinese Revolution was forming the Chinese People’s Commune to be modeled after the 1871 Paris Commune. For this goal to be achieved, they thought that the precondition was to smash the entire state machinery and the entire bureaucratic system. Ultra-left ideas thus germinated and flourished and groups like the Northern Star Study Society and Kung Shan Tung were established, causing Mao to feel all the more uneasy. Furthermore, the outbreak of the Wuhan Mutiny by the military to oppose the masses’ seizure of their power further compelled Mao Zedong to decide on the suppression of the Red Guards. Through the military, Mao forced the masses to surrender their weapons to join the Revolutionary Committee of the Old, Middle-aged, and the Young, with the Army, Cadres and the Masses, so as to restore bureaucratic rule and to force the masses to surrender their arms seized from the military. He further launched the “Up the Mountain and Down the countryside” campaign, driving the youths up the mountain and down the countryside, preventing the Red Guards from getting together to discuss and learn how to rebel and how to attain genuine socialism. The masses’ consciousness and ideas had not yet developed to maturity and they had not been aware of Mao’s trickery. This real revolution, developed from the sponsored one, was crushed before it could make great strides. The revolution is dead; long live the revolution! The failure was to pave the way for the new total revolt.

3. The Development of Ultra-left Ideas

…Although the tumultuous mass movement was suppressed, the Cultural Revolution had not yet ended. On the one hand, the Cultural Revolution had had an important effect on the superstructure, including literature, education, scientific research, political organization, and had negated a great part of the establishment—but all these had yet to be reconstructed. Controversies over questions such as the method of production, enterprise management, etc. had also not been solved. On the other hand, the conservative faction of the bureaucrats had reorganized their strength and demanded a restoration of the old order of the days before the Cultural Revolution. They thus tried to seize power from the newly instated bureaucrats, causing the contradiction to be deepened and become evident. The disclosure of the Lin Biao affair [who died fleeing China following an alleged attempt to seize power], the anti-Lin [Biao], anti-Confucius campaign, the criticize [the 14th century literary classic] Water Margin Movement, and the reemergence of certain of the disgraced bureaucrats rendered the vision of the masses clear, enabling them to understand that the Cultural Revolution was yet another trick played by Mao to fool the people. The masses began consciously to boycott the instructions imposed by the bureaucrats. For example, in the field of production, their lack of enthusiasm for work lowered production greatly, and their sabotage further prevented the production target from being reached, tightening the supply of commodities. In the fields of arts and literature, education and scientific research, because of the boycott by the masses, non-cooperation of the old bureaucrats, and the incompetence of the Gang of Four and their followers, Mao’s already ridiculously inappropriate policies were to become even more farcical. In the field of arts and literature, only some ten scripts of model operas were accomplished, and all literary works were repeating the same theme and their characterizations were very much the same. The standard of education declined rapidly: those who accused the teachers were hailed as the model of the people, and those who submitted blank answer sheets in examination, heroes. The intensification of all these contradictions made the pursuit of the answer to “Whither China?” all the more urgent.

The article “Whither China?” by [the] Sheng Wu-lien [group] firstly pointed out that China should head towards the goal of the Chinese Peoples’ Commune. The way to attain the goal was by means of overthrowing the rule of the new bureaucratic capitalist class through violence to solve the question of political power. It is indeed utopian to neither talk about the seizure of power nor to entirely smash the old state machine, but to just cry the empty slogan of realizing the May 5th directive. The red capitalist class had become a corrupt class hindering the progress of history; their relationship with the masses had changed from that of the leader and the led to the ruler and the ruled, and the exploiter and the exploited, from a relationship based on equality in the course of revolution to that of the oppressor and the oppressed. This class must be overthrown if the Chinese Peoples’ Commune was to be realized. The article provoked tremendous response and sparked off further analysis of the essence of the rule of the Chinese communists.

The [1974] Li I-che poster [“Concerning Socialist Democracy and the Legal System,” also reprinted in China: The Revolution is Dead—Long Live the Revolution] once again proved with examples the emergence of the new class in China. The essence of the new bourgeois mode of production is “changing the public into private”. When the leader of the state or an enterprise redistributes the properties and power of the proletariat in a bourgeois manner, he is in fact practicing the new bourgeois private possession of these properties and powers. What has been commonly observed is that some leaders have allowed themselves, their families, kinfolk and friends special political and economic privileges, even going so far as to swap among themselves and push their children into political and economic positions through back door channels. Once the Li I-che poster was pasted up, the people of Canton enthusiastically copied the whole text, and its influence extended more and more. When the Tiananmen Incident erupted [in April 1976], the Chinese Peoples’ understanding of the bureaucrats was pushed to the peak, well demonstrated by their words: “China is no longer the China of yore, and the people arc no longer wrapped in sheer ignorance. Gone for good is [Chin] Shih Huang-ti’s feudal society!” The Chinese Communists mobilized the militiamen to execute the bloody suppression of the masses. After the Tiananmen Incident, the era of Mao Zedong finally retreated from the stage of history. The intense infuriation of the masses indirectly led to the rapid downfall of the Gang of Four and finally managed to force the bureaucrats to stop labelling the Tiananmen Incident as counter-revolutionary. The masses once again became the major determinant of China’s politics.

4. The Lessons of the Cultural Revolution

The richest heritage of the Cultural Revolution was the realization by the masses of the greatness of their own strength. The head of the State who had been regarded as immaculate as well as many of the leading cadres had fallen within a very short time. The idea that leaders were indispensable was negated. In the past everything had been done as instructed by the leaders as if the absence of leaders would lead to the collapse of the sky. The experience of the Cultural Revolution however convinced the masses that without the directions from above and with the masses themselves managing, planning and executing all administration, steel continued to be produced and the trains were punctual in arrival and departure. Production improved both qualitatively and quantitatively. When the workers controlled and managed production on their own, their commitment to work increased for they not only knew how to produce, but also comprehended what it was they were working for. Work ceased to be alienating and the working morale rose tremendously. The dullness of the past had given way to a situation swelling with life and burning with warmth. The people seemed to have realized in this very moment the meaning of life, the truth of revolution, the prospect of China and the future of mankind.

There were, admittedly, a few who had felt uneasy in the face of such great freedom. But they too looked back to those days of freedom with nostalgia and felt infuriated and disgusted with the existing political conditions. They witnessed the process through which the State Chairman Liu Shaoqi became “a traitor and a spy”; the constitutional successor to the Party and the State, Lin Biao, became a “traitor, a man with ambition and a conspirator” who died without a grave; an unknown young man became the vice-chairman of the Party and was then denounced as “a new born capitalist”; Mao’s wife, “student and comrade”, Jiang Qing, was condemned as a monster and likened to Wu Ji-tien. The struggle among the bureaucrats disclosed their corruptibility and rendered the People’s vision clear, making them realize that “there had never been any saviour, god or emperors to give them happiness and that the happiness of mankind had to be created by man himself.” To avoid being fooled again by the bureaucrats, to be freed from the bureaucrats and from the need of morning prayers, evening penitences, the loyalty dance, and the constant threat of struggles and criticisms, the people have to rely on their own strength all the more for the smashing up of the entire bureaucratic system.

The shift of Mao’s attitude from making beautiful promises to mobilize the masses in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, to suddenly proclaiming “Revolutionary committees are fine!” to deceive the masses into discarding the demand for the establishment of the Chinese Peoples’ Commune, and then finally utilizing the army to execute the brutal suppression of the masses… taught the People an old yet still new lesson: the ruling class would never retreat from the stage of history voluntarily. Without force and violence, they would never be overthrown. To be kind hearted and lenient towards the bureaucrats would only result in being slaughtered by them in the end, and to compromise with the bureaucrats was analogous to offering the bandits weapons. The generation baptized by the Cultural Revolution will be the initiator and backbone of the forthcoming socialist revolution in China.

5. Conclusion

The Chinese communists recently announced that “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has been concluded by the victorious crushing of the Gang of Four”. The real meaning of this is—Mao Zedong is dead; the Gang of Four are arrested, and the Chinese bureaucrats no longer have conflicting opinions on the restoration of the old order of society before the Cultural Revolution. All bureaucrats who have lost their positions during the Cultural Revolution have been restored to positions of power, and are ready to avenge the activists of the Cultural Revolution. Does this mean anything but that the Cultural Revolution marked for its anti-bureaucratic overtone has ended? For the rebels of the Cultural Revolution, the Cultural Revolution had failed long ago. Now, it only means that they can no longer make use of the contradictions among the bureaucrats as they have done in the past few years.

On the face of it thus Mao’s attempt to initiate the Cultural Revolution in order that China will not become like the Soviet Union has failed, for the Hua-Teng policies now implemented have totally negated this attempt of Mao. Mao’s failure however was to be expected and unavoidable. Although Mao Zedong was capable of grasping the idea that the superstructure would and could have significant influences on the economic base, influences, which if not seriously attended to, would ultimately lead to revisionism, nevertheless as head of the bureaucrats, and deeply imbued with bureaucratic ideas, Mao could not understand that the maintenance of the bureaucratic system itself was the prime factor contributing to revisionism and imperialism. During the course of the Cultural Revolution, Mao had tried hard to maintain the bureaucratic system, as demonstrated by his saying that “Revolutionary committees are fine” and by his insistence on the practice of giving orders to be followed—even to the extent that “those understood by the people must be executed and those not understood must also be executed.” How then could the revolution he sought develop from the inner soul of the people? How then could China be saved from travelling the tragic road of the Soviet Union? The failure of the Cultural Revolution is no accident.

But Mao Zedong had nonetheless unexpectedly educated the generation of the Cultural Revolution. His repeatedly reactionary measures helped to generate the awareness of the people and they now have found the way for the Chinese revolution. Mao’s own practice in the Cultural Revolution destroyed his faked revolutionary image and finally led to his fading out from the stage of history. From now on, no bureaucrat will be able to bring forth theories like the “thoughts of Mao Zedong” to fool the masses. The Chinese People have got rid of the chains previously restricting their thoughts and the ideas of the “Ultra-left” can develop in the absence of mystifying fog. The bureaucrats have lost their weapon of ideological control on the Peoples’ consciousness.

What the Hua-Teng bureaucrats have proposed are merely the policies and practices rejected by the people during the Cultural Revolution. How then could they get accepted by and satisfy the people aspiring to genuine socialism? It is not a simple process for people who are aware to turn to action. But how long will it take for this process to be accomplished? This can come about only when the “Ultra-left” thoughts and ideas become more widespread and when there are other changes in the political situation in China… the Chinese Revolution is an integral part of the world revolution, and if there is a genuine socialist revolutionary upsurge in any part of the world, it will inevitably affect China in a substantial way. For this reason, I have come to exchange ideas and experiences with you and hopefully this will contribute to the development of the world revolution in a small way, which will then act as a catalyst to the socialist revolution in China. Then will be the day when the aim of “liberation of myself through the liberation of mankind” is attained.

Liu Shipei – On Equal Human Ability

Liu Shipei (Shen Shu) was a Chinese classical scholar who, with his wife, He Zhen, established the Society for the Study of Socialism in Tokyo in 1907. The Society published a journal called Natural Justice which promoted an agrarian kind of anarchism. He Zhen, an anarchist feminist, was the more radical of the two, familiar with European debates regarding socialism and women’s suffrage movements. She argued, much as Emma Goldman did, that the vote would not bring women genuine freedom. Excerpts from He Zhen’s essay, “Problems of Women’s Liberation,” originally published in Natural Justice in September and October 1907, are included in Chapter 20, “Chinese Anarchism,” in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. The following excerpts are taken from Liu Shipei’s contemporaneous essay, “On Equal Human Ability,” also published in Natural Justice. Unlike the Chinese anarchists who published the New Era journal in Paris, which adopted a modernist stance, and who sought to distance themselves from classical Chinese thought, Liu Shipei regarded the mythical Daoist sage, Lao Zi (or Lao Tzu, circa 400 BCE), as the father of Chinese anarchism, and drew inspiration from the third century BCE utopian, Xu Xing, in developing his ideas regarding an egalitarian, agrarian anarchist society. Liu was also influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s peasant focused pacifist anarchism, and was one of the first Chinese anarchists to emphasize the important role of the peasantry. Reading “On Equal Human Ability,” one can detect the influence of Charles Fourier as well (Volume One, Selection 7). As with Fourier’s similar plans for utopian colonies, Liu’s utopian vision is so detailed that it sets forth too narrow and restrictive a path to equality and freedom. The translation is by Guannan Li.

Humankind is named after its upright stance on the earth. Round head, square toes, different races; these are features common to all. The Buddhist Sutra tells us that the human body possesses four “Bigs”. Modern scientists know that the human body is composed of raw materials, and since we are all human beings, our bodies contain the same material. Materialists can demonstrate that every human body is the same. According to psychologists, every human being has a heart. Although the heart does not interact directly with the material world, when the body senses something, the heart, too, perceives it. So feelings originate from sensation, and intentions come after perception. Therefore, everyone identified as a human being is the same. This is why idealists can demonstrate that humankind shares the same feeling. The Buddha says that the dharma has no location. Living beings are not alien to the dharma, and the dharma is not alien to living beings. The Buddha also says that all living things are alike in their regulation. The philosopher Mencius also points out: “Things belonging to the same species are all similar. Humankind is no exception. The saint and I belong to the same species.” Wang Shouren has the same idea. The modern western scholar Rousseau originated the theory of human rights to argue for the same idea. Thus, equality of humankind was widely advocated by previous philosophers.

Since the creation of the world, all kinds of differences have come into being because of intellectual and physical distinctions. The powerful coerce the weak; majorities humiliate minorities; the wise cheat the stupid; and the brave terrify the timid, so the noble always rule the humble; the wealthy control the poor, and native people overpower foreigners. There is distinction between the dominant and the dominated; there is difference between a noble person and an average person. Generally speaking, people belonging to the former category are idle; people belonging to the latter category labour hard. The idle are happy; the labourers in pain. Doubtless, it is class politics that determines this. When we reflect on our society, there are control systems, distribution systems, and supply and demand systems. In society, in terms of occupations, there are scholars, peasants, artisans, and merchants; in terms of class, there are kings, ministers, soldiers, and masses. This is not just the case in despotic countries or under the patriarchal clan system. Don’t so-called republican polities and military societies also follow this unequal system?

Alas! From past to present, humankind has never experienced the joy of equality. The reason people are unequal is because they are not independent. It is because of dependence that the enslavement of people is possible. Because of dependence, they lose their right to freedom. As they lose freedom, they also lose the right to equality. Humankind has been imprisoned for a long time, which is contrary to the principle of equality. People who enslave others must depend on the willingness of the ruled. If they are reluctant to be ruled, you will lose what you depend on. Then you lose your subsistence. People enslaved by others must depend on their willingness to rule. If they don’t need your service any more, you will definitely lose your job. Then you cannot afford your subsistence. Therefore, dependent people are the most dangerous ones among human beings.

Aiming to sweep away power and wipe out the government, so-called communists regard land and capital as collectively-owned property. In communist society, everybody can work. Although all are equal in having access to jobs, even the same job can vary in hardship. There must be someone who measures workers’ abilities and assigns the corresponding job. This is another kind of government, and another kind of intervention. If there are superintendents, smart people will make use of the pretext to decline heavy jobs, and cunning people will make use of the pretext to avoid hard work. Furthermore, if it is because of inequality of hardship that envy occurs, how can conflicts be stopped immediately? If you let people choose their job according to their temperament, won’t every person approach happiness and avoid hardship, or choose easiness and restrain oneself from difficulties? If everybody behaves like this, who is to assume hard and difficult jobs? Furthermore, how do people’s demands and lust get satisfied since materials are always short? Even though someone would reluctantly accept the hard job, it is always against his/her will. In this sense, this would not work for very long. Even though it may work for a while, people who share the morality of the same species would end up with this inequality of hardship. So the result would be that the right is equal, but not the commitment. Therefore, equal commitment is determined by everybody’s independence. What’s independence then? Independence means that no one relies on others, or is enslaved by them.

This is the so-called “equal men” discourse. Equal men are equipped with multifold skills concurrently. To realize the promise of this discourse, we must destroy existing society and eliminate national boundaries. The area where the population reaches over one thousand should be cantoned as a county. Every county then sets up a rest home for senior citizens and children. After children are born, no matter male or female, every baby is sent to the rest home. Those who are over fifty also go to the rest home. Their responsibility is to feed the children. Children who reach six should be educated by the seniors. Education will last for five years. From ten to twelve, children will receive practical training. During these ten years, children will study the sciences half the day, and for the other half learn to manufacture appliances which are the necessities of life. Both will be taught by the senior people. The necessities of life will meet people’s basic needs, namely clothing, food, and housing. The maximum of education time for one person is ten years. People over 20 will go to work for society. People are supposed to change their jobs at different ages. After reaching fifty, people will enter the rest home again. These are the basic ideas of the equal man discourse…

Maximum of farming time for one person is 16 years. Machines must be used in farming to save labour. Within these 16 years, the amount of rice produced by one person could feed approximately 4 to 5 persons.

Depending on the area, people could choose two or three jobs to do, including planting cotton, vegetables, and trees, and other minor works, such as feeding livestock, fishing, and hunting which are conducted during the time off from farming.

In the farming season, people should stop working on other jobs (like road construction) and just focus on farming. When farming is done, people just need to work for another two hours on other jobs. The remaining time is just for rest.

People must use machines in production. Every county should prepare all the machines. Every worker no matter which job he is doing should cooperate with each other efficiently.

Everybody should produce ironware and pottery, the necessities of people’s livelihood. Besides these, one can choose another one or two things to produce according to one’s temperament.

If goods are transported in the vicinity, the maximum working time is two hours per day. Only after five years can people get exemption from that. If transportation is to a distant place that cannot be reached within one day, or a whole day is spent traveling (with no time to rest), the service period should decrease. The maximum could be one or two years.

In the spare time after work, one should engage in study according to one’s temperament. After reaching 46, one devoting oneself to medicine should take charge of curing people. One devoting oneself to engineering should take a position as a mechanic or road construction engineer. One who has not received so much education could be an electric bus assistant or a barber. The maximum working time per day is two hours. If one always travels to a distant place, and there is little rest for the whole day, the maximum service time could be reduced from 5 to 2 years.

Cripples over 20 are exempted from all the work above. The blind will take charge of music. The dumb and the deaf will take charge of typesetting and publishing books. The lame take charge of editing and collating. The maximum of their working time is also two hours per day. They have the same rights as others.

Generally speaking, people do more difficult jobs at their younger ages, then easier ones during their old age.

All manufactured appliances are placed in the public market and are collectively owned by all people. Houses are built in the same dimensions. Everyone owns one. There should be certain places for reading and dining. These are the places where people gather together.

If we carry out this plan, hardship would be equal. And there is no need to worry about the lack of any material. Within society, everyone is equal; outside society, everyone is independent. Everyone is simultaneously a worker, peasant, and scholar. Everyone has the same right and bears equal commitment. Isn’t this the world where the great public way is manifested? Besides this, the plan has other advantages.

First, it accords with human nature. Humankind has one common nature: fondness of the new and boredom of the old. From morning to night just focusing on one job, people will definitely get tired of it. However, if they could switch to another job occasionally, they will not. Reading just one book, they will get tired of it. However, if they switch to another book, they will not. Why? People always get tired of the old and are fond of the new. It is for this reason that people always keep in motion. Now one person has multifold skills concurrently. His job correspondingly changes with age. This accords with human nature. This is the first advantage.

Secondly, it accords with humanity. Beneath heaven everybody is equal. People have the same ears and eyes, and thus share the same feelings. As Mencius remarks, “I have everything within myself”. Nowadays the necessities of life are produced by others. Others know but I don’t; others practice but I don’t. The sage once noted, “It is a shame of a scholar if he doesn’t know one thing.” In light of this saying, how can I stand this endless shame? Only by carrying out this plan, can I be equipped with multifold skills. Then I will be able to handle things as others do. Isn’t this the humanistic way? This is the second advantage.

Thirdly, this accords with evolutionary principles. The skills barbarians possess are very simple. With evolution, they gradually gain more complicated skills. Because of their simple skills, their enterprises are also simple. Only after they gradually gain more complicated skills, do their enterprises get complicated. It’s like ancient merchants who do not need to study classics; or ancient scholars who do not need to study martial arts. Modern merchants in the civilized countries certainly know sciences; scholars certainly provide military service to the government; peasants also need to receive education. Isn’t it proof of the evolutionary process from simple to complicated? This plan which makes people switch their jobs from the simple to the complicated accords with the evolutionary principle. Ancient knowledge is categorized into different disciplines. In contrast, modern people before their adulthood all study the common sciences. Since everybody is able to master the common sciences, everyone is also able to assume the common job. Since everybody is able to assume the common job, everyone can gradually be equipped with more knowledge and gain more abilities. This is the third advantage.

Fourthly, this plan can eliminate conflict in the world. The emergence of conflict is due to selfishness and envy. Pursuit of one’s own interests directly leads to their proliferation. This certainly induces others’ envy. Envy originates from unevenness; unevenness results from different jobs. This leads to world-wide conflict. In sum, the misfortune of conflict results from inequalities of hardship. When poor people envy your happiness, they have to seek their interests. When they hate your happiness, envy arises. The disaster of bloody revolution originates therein. If hardship is equal for everybody, there will be no difference, and nobody will mind it. The sense of inequality will not rise and conflict will not occur. Humankind can maintain peace forever. This is the fourth advantage.

I believe that these four advantages of “equal man” discourse are sufficient to govern all under heaven. However, skeptics may still raise three questions about this plan. First, that nobody is able to manage all the jobs. Second, that it will increase hardship. Third, that it will hinder study.

Let me dispute them one by one. Like the French Emperor Napoleon, who wanted to eliminate the word “inability” from the dictionary, there are several Chinese philosophers who criticized those who had abilities but did not work. Zai Shi in the Zhouli (Rituals of Zhou Dynasty) once said, “If you did not raise livestock, there would be no livestock for sacrifice. If you did not cultivate, there would be no rice for sacrifice. If you did not plant trees, there would be no wood for the coffin. If you did not raise silkworms, there would be no silk. If you did not weave, there would be no mourning garments of hemp.” Isn’t this proof that one should equip oneself with multifold skills? In this sense, “inability” is always the excuse. This excuse justifies the production of clothing, food and housing by others. You just sit there and enjoy the products. This directly results in your dependence on others. Moreover, if others do what you think you are “unable” to do, it is no longer a question of inability. If you think practical jobs could only get done by humble people, when you do it, is this because of your responsibility? Or is this because you are forced by the situation? From all the reasons above, it does make sense that nobody be able to manage all the jobs. However, the fact is that hierarchy has already been included in this argument. This is the argument only for a class society. It is not proper today.

Secondly, some may argue that the “equal man” plan will increase hardship. This argument is actually not true. Nowadays workers work everyday from 8 AM to 10 PM. They are very busy the whole year and have little rest. However, according to the “equal man” plan, the total farming period will be just 16 years, the farming season per year will be no more than several months, and the maximum work per day will be two hours. From this comparison, isn’t it clear which is harder and which is easier? Furthermore, the feeling of hardship always depends on that of happiness. One can feel so-called bitterness only in isolation. If bitterness is felt collectively, the boundary between bitterness and happiness is already obscure. How could you say you still feel pain? Moreover, since fondness of exercise and work is human nature, plenitude of work accords with it. How could you say you get more hardship since work is your human nature? Thus, this argument for more hardship is also wrong.

Thirdly, in terms of hindering study, scholars in ancient times not only studied but also cultivated. They mastered one classic each three years. Yi Yun also cultivated by himself; Fu Yue also constructed buildings. Both of them finally became assistant to the king. Isn’t this proof that physical work is not a hindrance for learning? Moreover, in our ideal society, common study comes before adulthood. After that, there are no more than several months of farming per year, and no more than two hours of work per day. Besides these, all the time left is reserved for study. Thus the argument for hindrance of learning is also wrong. Moreover, once this plan is carried out, the tendency of mutual dependence will be eliminated and the happiness of freedom and equality will be achieved. All the systems of inequality and injustice of former days will be abolished. There will be no more talk of unevenness and inequality. If the sage were reborn, he would not argue with me.

Look at the Warring States period. Xu Xing advocated that scholars should also farm. He said, “The sage will farm and eat side by side with the common people. If people eat well, the state is peaceful. However, King of Teng set up granaries and government to exploit people in accordance with his own interests.” His idea is incisive. Farming side by side with peasants means that everyone should work. He scolds King of Teng for exploiting the people for his own good. His idea is against class. However, Mencius attacks this point, arguing that Xu’s theory is wrong because if everybody engages in farming, other necessities of life will not be met. Chen Xiang, a former disciple, told Mencius that “artisans could not work and at the same time cultivate.” Farmers and workers could trade with each other. From this perspective, isn’t it true that China already has two classes of workers and peasants? Isn’t it difficult to have equal jobs? Mencius replies to Chen, “One needs all the necessities produced by hundreds of artisans to maintain oneself. If he insists that he only use the stuff produced by himself, he is leading people to ruin the Tao.” Xu Xing exchanges millet for necessities, but he never argues for the self-sufficient idea. Although the self-sufficient idea is very similar to the equal man theory, they are different. If Mencius were to be reborn, how could he use this pretext? If he argues that there is a difference between using the body (laoli) and using the mind (laoxin), between rulers and ruled, this would be totally contradictory to the equality of humankind. His theory is even worse than Xu Xing’s. Although Xu’s is not perfect, he was the first person in China to advocate that scholars should farm side by side with peasants. This is a capital idea…

Nowadays people who advocate that men are superior to women all think women’s obligation is inferior to men’s. If we carry out this plan, there would be no difference between men and women’s obligation. Men will not depend on women’s housework; women will not depend on men’s money for clothing and food. The dependency tendency will be totally eliminated. Moreover, since newborn children will be sent to nurseries, women will have no obligation to raise them. Thus their obligation will be the same as men’s. When their obligation is equal, the theory of men’s superiority over women will no longer be possible. Here the theory of equality of men and women and equal man theory are two sides of the same coin. It is also wrong to say that women cannot assume hardship. In several provinces, such as Hunan and Guangxi, all the hard corvee labour which men are unable to assume actually is taken on by women. The theory that women cannot assume a hard job is wrong. I hope that women will not use inability as an excuse. Equality will be good both for our society and for women.

Natural Justice, Volume 3, July 10, 1907