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People's History of Ideas Podcast
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People's History of Ideas Podcast

Author: Matthew Rothwell

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In this podcast, Matthew Rothwell, author of Transpacific Revolutionaries: The Chinese Revolution in Latin America, explores the global history of ideas related to rebellion and revolution. The main focus of this podcast for the near future will be on the history of the Chinese Revolution, going all the way back to its roots in the initial Chinese reactions to British imperialism during the Opium War of 1839-1842, and then following the development of the revolution and many of the ideas that were products of the revolution through to their transnational diffusion in the late 20th century.
63 Episodes
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A closer look at the phenomenon of banditry in the Jinggang Mountains, because of the importance that banditry and other forms of collective violence had on how the revolutionary movement developed.Further reading:Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base AreaNames from this episode:Qu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceZhu Kongyang, Warlord army officer turned banditSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
With particular emphasis on the geographical divisions between valleys and mountainsides, and ethnic divisions between Han and Hakka.Further reading:Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base AreaStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Name from this episode:Zhu Beide, Governor of Jiangxi provinceSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
As Mao’s troops arrive in the Jinggangshan region, a revolutionary reorganization of the people’s army is begun. Also, a tangent on Mao’s leadership style and nuclear war with a jump 30 years into the future.Further reading:Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949Stephen Averill, Revolution in the Highlands: China’s Jinggangshan Base AreaMao Zedong, “Speech at a Meeting of the Representatives of 64 Communist and Workers’ Parties”Some names from this episode:Lu Deming, Leader of the Lu Deming RegimentHe Long, One of the Communist leaders of the Nanchang UprisingYuan Wencai, Communist ‘social bandit’ leaderChen Muping, Yuan Wencai’s secretary and graduate of the peasant training instituteSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The first days of Mao Zedong’s long career of armed struggle.Further reading:Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928Roy Hofheinz, “The Autumn Harvest Insurrection”Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Elizabeth Perry, Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary TraditionSome names from this episode:Lu Deming, Leader of the Lu Deming RegimentZhang Fakui, Guomindang general close to Wang JingweiQu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceZhang Guotao, Leading Communist Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Mao doesn’t budge on his military line in the face of pressure from the Party Center, and then gets arrested.Further reading:Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyRoy Hofheinz, “The Autumn Harvest Insurrection”Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, Mao Zedong: A Biography, vol. 1: 1893-1949Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Elizabeth Perry, Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary TraditionC. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Edgar Snow, Red Star Over ChinaSome names from this episode:Qu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceBesso Lominadze, New Comintern head in China starting in July 1927Peng Gongda, Leading Communist in HunanYang Kaihui, Mao’s wifeTang Shengzhi, Leader of Guomindang Left military forcesMao Anlong, Mao’s youngest sonMao Anqing, Mao’s three-year-old sonMao Anying, Mao’s four-year-old sonSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The planning and execution of the Autumn Harvest Uprising in southern Hubei province.Further reading:Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyRoy Hofheinz, “The Autumn Harvest Insurrection”Timothy Cheek’s Introduction to Pang Xianzhi and Jin Chongji, eds., Mao Zedong : A Biography, vol. 1Some names from this episode:Feng Yuxiang, Christian warlord“Scarlet Rays” Huang, Member of South Hubei special committeeLiu Pu-I, Leader of “People’s Self-Defense Army”Hsieh I-huan, Member of South Hubei special committeeFu Hsiang-i, Member of South Hubei special committeeSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Background on Qu Qiubai before he became Communist leader in 1927.Further reading:Tsi-an Hsia, The Gate of Darkness: Studies on the Leftist Literary MovementJonathan Spence, The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their RevolutionPaul Pickowicz, Marxist Literary Thought in China: The Influence of Ch'u Ch'iu-paiSteve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Qu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceWang Shouhua, President of the General Labor UnionLi Dazhao, Co-founder of the Chinese Communist PartyMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangBesso Lominadze, New Comintern head in China starting in July 1927Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Mao takes a critical position on the military line pursued by the Comintern and the Politburo. Also, the issue of scapegoating individuals as a way of dealing with repudiated party policies.Further reading:Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Zhou Enlai, Selected Works of Zhou Enlai, vol. 1Some names from this episode:Qu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceBesso Lominadze, New Comintern head in China starting in July 1927Tang Shengzhi, Leader of Guomindang Left military forcesMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangTan Pingshan, Communist representative in Wuhan governmentChen Duxiu, Former General Secretary of the Communist PartyZhou Enlai, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The new policy of mass uprisings against the Guomindang is decided upon, and Mao’s comments at the meeting stand out for their epistemology.Further reading:Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Some names from this episode:Chen Duxiu, Communist general secretary until July 12, 1927Zhou Enlai, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Zhang Guotao, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Li Lisan, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Qu Qiubai, Named head of new provisional politburo at August 7, 1927 Emergency ConferenceXia Xi, Named to the South Hunan special committee responsible for the Autumn Harvest UprisingGuo Liang, Named to the South Hunan special committee responsible for the Autumn Harvest UprisingRen Zuoxuan, Named to the South Hunan special committee responsible for the Autumn Harvest UprisingMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangBesso Lominadze, New Comintern head in China starting in July 1927Li Dazhao, Co-founder of the Chinese Communist PartyWang Jingwei, Leader of the Guomindang LeftSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The mutiny that founded the Chinese Red Army.Further reading:Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Marcia Ristaino, China’s Art of Revolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928Agnes Smedley, The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh [Zhu De]Chang Kuo-t’ao [Zhang Guotao], The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party (2 volumes)C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928C. Martin Wilbur, “The Ashes of Defeat”Some names from this episode:Henk Sneevliet, alias Maring, Dutch Communist and early Comintern agent in ChinaZhang Fakui, Guomindang general close to Wang JingweiYe Ting, Communist officerHe Long, Communist officerZhou Enlai, Commanded Front Committee which coordinated Nanchang UprisingMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and political head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangBesso Lominadze, New Comintern head in China in July 1927Zhang Guotao, Leading CommunistWang Jingwei, Leader of Guomindang “Left”Zhu De, Nanchang chief of public securityAgnes Smedley, Communist journalistZhu Beide, Governor of Jiangxi provinceNie Rongzhen, Communist military leaderSong Qingling, Guomindang Left leader and widow of Sun YatsenDeng Yanda, Head of the Guomindang peasant bureauEugene Chen, Guomindang Left foreign ministerSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
As the Wuhan regime collapses, so does the united front. Soviet advisors leave China, Chinese Communists go underground. The purge strikes Wuhan.Further reading:C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Anna Louise Strong, China’s MillionsVera Vladimirovna Vishnyakova-Akimova, Two Years in Revolutionary China, 1925-1927C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartySome names from this episode:M. N. Roy, Indian Comintern agentWang Jingwei, Leader of the Guomindang LeftFeng Yuxiang, Christian warlordVasily Blyukher, Soviet general and military genius, chief of Soviet military mission to aid the GuomindangZotov, Blyukher’s code clerk, died of poisoningMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and political head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangHe Jian, Nationalist generalT. V. Soong, Wuhan government finance ministerChen Duxiu, Communist general secretary until July 12, 1927Zhou Enlai, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Zhang Guotao, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Li Lisan, Member of temporary standing committee of Communist Politburo appointed in July 1927Song Qingling, Guomindang Left leader and widow of Sun YatsenDeng Yanda, Head of the Guomindang peasant bureauEugene Chen, Guomindang foreign ministerGregory Voitinsky, Chairman of the Far Eastern Bureau of the CominternSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The Comintern’s guidance falls short in response to the ongoing massacre of peasants.Further reading:C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Donald Jordan, The Northern Expedition: China’s National Revolution of 1926-1928Alexander Pantsov, The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution, 1919-1927 Some names from this episode:Tang Shengzhi, Hunan warlord who sided with the National Revolutionary Army and contested leadership with Chiang Kai-shekYe Ting, Communist general and garrison commander who defended Wuhan against a right-wing mutinyM. N. Roy, Indian Comintern agentWang Jingwei, Leader of the Guomindang LeftMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangChen Duxiu, General secretary of the Communist PartyZhang Guotao, General secretary of Hubei branch of Communist PartySupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
This episode is an appendix to episode 51, and consists of a booklet written by Mao Zedong describing the life of a tenant-peasant in Hunan. This episode should help you to concretely picture peasant life in Hunan during the period we have been discussing in the podcast, while also giving a short example of Mao Zedong’s practice of social investigation.Most of this is Mao running down the income and expenditures of a tenant-peasant, and just the last few minutes of this recording are Mao giving his conclusions. If you’re good at hearing lists of expenses and income and extrapolating in your mind what that meant for someone’s life concretely, then this piece will help you. If that’s not you, this might get pretty dry pretty fast. Feel free to skip this episode if it’s not working for you.Some units of measurement used in this document:1 mu = .167 acre1 dan = 100 liters1 dou = 10 litersA note to the text indicates that the use of the terms dan and dou is not consistent throughout the text.1 jin = .5 kg1 fen = .01 yuan (yuan, or Chinese dollar, is the unit of currency, so 1 fen could also be translated as 1 penny)3,300 cash = 1 yuan1 sheng = 1 literliang = tael (traditional unit for counting silver)string = 1000 copper coins strung together through the holes in the middle of the coins1 zhang = 10 chi = 141 inchesSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Mao’s experience on the Wuhan Guomindang Left government’s Land Commission, with some comparative remarks on land reform in Communist thought.Further reading:Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Lynne Viola, The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet CollectivizationLenin, “Pages from a Diary” and “On Co-operation”Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangWang Jingwei, Leader of the Guomindang LeftSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The Fifth Party Congress of the Communist Party (April 29 to May 9, 1927) decides that the united front is better without Chiang Kai-shek.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Tony Saich, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Some names from this episode:M. N. Roy, Indian Comintern agentMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartyWang Jingwei, Leader of the Guomindang LeftPeng Pai, Communist peasant organizerLi Lisan, Communist labor organizerSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Chiang Kai-shek’s April 12, 1927 coup against the Communists.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Elizabeth Perry, Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese LaborMaurice Meisner, Li Ta-chao and the Origins of Chinese MarxismStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930Some names from this episode:Wang Shouhua, President of the General Labor UnionDu Yuesheng, One of three top leaders of the Green GangHuang Jinrong, One of three top leaders of the Green Gang (and top cop in the French Concession)Zhou Enlai, Leading Communist responsible for the workers’ armed forces in ShanghaiBai Chongxi, NRA commander whose forces occupied ShanghaiLi Dazhao, Co-founder of the Communist PartyGregory Voitinsky, Chairman of the Far Eastern Bureau of the CominternSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
On March 21-22, 1927, Shanghai fell to a combination of general strike, armed uprising, and the advance of the National Revolutionary Army.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Chen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartyLi Qiushi, Delegate to the Fifth Communist Party Congress known for being very handsomeMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangHenk Sneevliet, alias Maring, Dutch Communist and Comintern leader in China from 1921-1923Zhou Enlai, Head of the military commission of the Communist Central CommitteeBai Chongxi, NRA commander whose forces occupied ShanghaiSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The question of what sort of revolution the Nationalist revolution will be creates a fundamental division within the Guomindang.Further reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927C. Martin Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923-1928Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927Alexander Pantsov, The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution, 1919-1927Jack Gray, Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to 2000Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangTang Shengzhi, Hunan warlord who sided with the National Revolutionary Army and contested leadership with Chiang Kai-shekPeng Pai, Communist peasant organizerKarl Radek, provost of Sun Yatsen University in Moscow Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Summations of the Second Uprising on several different levels; the continuing inability of the Shanghai Regional Committee of the Communist Party to control the ‘dog-beating’ squads; and some thoughts on the problem of the inevitability of errors being made in revolutionary armed struggle and Mao’s thinking on that problem.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927Allyn and Adele Rickett, Prisoners of LiberationSome names from this episode:Qu Qiubai, Communist Central Committee member and head of propagandaZhou Enlai, Head of the military commission of the Communist Central CommitteeLi Baozhang, the commander of the garrison of warlord troops in ShanghaiSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Where we continue to follow the insurrectionary journey of the Shanghai Communists.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Chen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartySun Chuanfang, Leader of warlord coalition in China’s southeastZhang Zongchang, Shandong warlordLi Baozhang, the commander of the garrison of warlord troops in ShanghaiZhou Enlai, Communist commissar who left Whampoa to aid the Shanghai military commissionNiu Yongjian, Veteran Nationalist operative who came to Shanghai in 1926Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
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