DiscoverPeople's History of Ideas Podcast
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.
55 Episodes
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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)
The bumpy road that the Communist Party took in Shanghai as it developed its capacity to deploy organized violence as a political tactic.Further reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Wang Shouhua, Leading Communist labor organizer in ShanghaiYu Xiaqing, Leader of a nationalist faction of Shanghai’s merchant classNiu Yongjian, Veteran Nationalist operative who came to Shanghai in 1926Sun Chuanfang, Leader of warlord coalition in China’s southeastTao Jingxuan, Communist union organizer executed after First Armed UprisingChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartySupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
The tension between maintaining the united front and mobilizing the peasants for revolution finds expression in a crucial debate over strategy at the end of 1926.Further reading:C. 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 PartyStuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangGregory Voitinsky, Chairman of the Far Eastern Bureau of the CominternChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartyWang Jingwei, Main leader of the Guomindang leftSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Debate breaks out within the Communist Party and the Comintern over how to assess the balance of forces and relate to the developing revolutionary situation engendered by the mass movements in Hunan and Hubei in late 1926.Further reading:C. 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 PartyArif Dirlik, “Mass Movements and the Left Kuomintang”Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Daniel Kwan, Marxist Intellectuals and the Chinese Labor Movement: A Study of Deng Zhongxia, 1894-1933Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangWang Jingwei, Main leader of the Guomindang leftChen Gongbo, Close follower of Wang JingweiSun Chuanfang, leader of warlord coalition which held east China before being defeated during the Northern ExpeditionVasily Blyukher, Soviet general purported to be de facto commander-in-chief of Northern ExpeditionTang Shengzhi, Hunan warlord who sided with the National Revolutionary Army and contested leadership with Chiang Kai-shekGregory Voitinsky, Chairman of the Far Eastern Bureau of the CominternSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Mass upheaval in Hunan and elsewhere after people are liberated from warlord rule.Further reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Yokoyama Suguru, “The Peasant Movement in Hunan”Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927A name from this episode:Wu Peifu, Northern warlordSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Examining the role of both organized and unorganized mass support for the Northern Expedition in its first phase, the offensive from Guangdong to Wuhan from May to October 1926. Further reading:Donald Jordan, The Northern Expedition: China's National Revolution of 1926-1928C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartySun Zhongshan/Sun Yatsen, Founding leader of the GuomindangWu Peifu, Northern warlordGregory Voitinsky, Comintern representative in China at various points Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Mao's political activity and intellectual development during the first nine months of 1926.Further Reading:Gerald Berkley, “The Canton Peasant Movement Training Institute”Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927Yokoyama Suguru, “The Peasant Movement in Hunan”Philip C. C. Huang, “Mao Tse-Tung and the Middle Peasants, 1925-1928”Angus McDonald, “The Hunan Peasant Movement Its Urban Origins”Some names from this episode:Shen Yanbing (Mao Dun), Communist writer and later Culture Minister, in 1926 worked with Mao Zedong in Guomindang propaganda departmentZhao Hengti, Dominant warlord in HunanTang Shengzhi, Subordinate of Zhao who allied with the Guomindang and displaced ZhaoWu Peifu, Northern warlordNikolay Kuibyshev, Soviet general and head of military mission in Guangdong in late 1925 and early 1926Andrei Bubnov, Headed Soviet military inspection mission to China in early 1926Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangPeng Pai, Communist peasant organizerSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
How the Communist Party took the formula of "Haifeng + armed self-defense" and set out to organize the peasants of Guangdong, and beyond.Further Reading:Pang Yong-pil, “Peng Pai: From Landlord to Revolutionary”Yuan Gao, “Revolutionary Rural Politics: The Peasant Movement in Guangdong and Its Social-Historical Background, 1922–1926”Robert Marks, Rural Revolution in South China: Peasants and the Making of History in Haifeng County, 1570-1930Roy Hofheinz, The Broken Wave: The Chinese Communist Peasant Movement, 1922-1928Fernando Galbiati, P’eng P'ai and the Hai-Lu-Feng SovietGerald Berkley, “The Canton Peasant Movement Training Institute”C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Elizabeth Perry, Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945Some names from this episode:Peng Pai, Communist peasant organizerChen Jiongming, Warlord dominant in Haifeng region until 1925Li Zhongkai, Leader of Guomindang left, assassinated in 1925Li Dazhao, Co-founder of the Communist PartySupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Peng Pai and the beginning of the peasant movement in Guangdong Province.Further Reading:Pang Yong-pil, “Peng Pai: From Landlord to Revolutionary”Yuan Gao, “Revolutionary Rural Politics: The Peasant Movement in Guangdong and Its Social-Historical Background, 1922–1926”Robert Marks, Rural Revolution in South China: Peasants and the Making of History in Haifeng County, 1570-1930Roy Hofheinz, The Broken Wave: The Chinese Communist Peasant Movement, 1922-1928Fernando Galbiati, P’eng P'ai and the Hai-Lu-Feng SovietSome names from this episode:Peng Pai, Communist peasant organizerLi Dazhao, Co-founder of the Communist PartyChen Jiongming, Warlord dominant in Haifeng region until 1925Zhu Mo, Bad landlord in Haifeng CountyZhang Zepu, Judge in Haifeng CountySupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
Tensions come to a head between Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Jingwei and General Kuibyshev, as a Soviet plot backfires spectacularly.Further Reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Wu Tien-wei, “Chiang Kai-shek's March Twentieth Coup d'Etat of 1926”Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangWang Jingwei, Leader of Guomindang government in Guangdong in late 1925 and early 1926Dai Jitao, Right-wing Guomindang ideologueNikolay Kuibyshev, Soviet general and head of military mission in Guangdong in late 1925 and early 1926Victor Rogachev, Soviet general and adviser to Chiang Kai-shekLi Zhilong, Communist in Guomindang navyHu Hanmin, Leader of Guomindang right-wing, spent a period of exile in the USSRAndrei Bubnov, Headed Soviet military inspection mission to ChinaGeneral V. A. Stepanov, Headed Soviet military mission after Kuibyshev left and before Blyukher returnedVasily Blyukher, Soviet general whose return was requested by Chiang Kai-shekChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartySupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=DACDMMMEASJVJ)
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