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.
43 Episodes
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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 left
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 Comintern
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 warlord
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 
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 organizer
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 Party
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 County
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 Party
An oral history interview with Monica Shay (née Newbold, aka Kathryn) about her experience in China in 1971-72.Some names from this episode:William Hinton, author of Fanshen and other books on ChinaJiang Qing, leading radical during Cultural Revolution and wife of Mao ZedongRevolutionary Union (RU), pro-China communist group in the US in early 1970sDazhai, model agricultural commune
The song "New China" by the band Prairie Fire, from the 1976 album Break the Chains. This song will be referenced in our next episode.
Mao’s first major statement on the need for a strategic reorientation toward mobilizing the peasantry.The chart cited in the episode is now on the podcast website (as of 8-24-20): https://peopleshistoryofideas.com/episode-33-the-beginning-of-maoism-mao-zedongs-analysis-of-all-the-classes-in-chinese-society/.Further Reading:Stuart Schram, ed., Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 2: National Revolution and Social Revolution, December 1920-June 1927Philip C. C. Huang, “Mao Tse-Tung and the Middle Peasants, 1925-1928”Some names from this episode:Chen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartyLi Dazhao, Co-founder of Communist Party
Mao as acting head of propaganda for the Guomindang.Further Reading:C. 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 1927Some names from this episode:Wang Jingwei, Leader of Guomindang government in Guangdong in late 1925 and early 1926Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangChen Duxiu, General Secretary of the Communist PartyGregory Voitinsky, Comintern representative in China at various pointsDai Jitao, Right-wing Guomindang ideologue
The Hong Kong strike, the assassination of Liao Zhongkai, and the Second Eastern Expedition.Further Reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927John Erickson, The Soviet High Command: A Military-Political History, 1918-1941Some names from this episode:Chiang Kai-shek, Japan-trained military officer, close confidant of Sun YatsenDeng Zhongxia, Communist labor leader, involved in Hong Kong strikeWang Jingwei, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of GuomindangLiao Zhongkai, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of GuomindangHu Hanmin, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of Guomindang (further to Right than the other two)Chen Jiongming, Southern warlord, ally and then enemy of Sun YatsenMikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangZhou Enlai, Communist head of the Whampoa Academy political department, leading commissar on Second Eastern ExpeditionVictor Rogachev, Soviet general and adviser to Chiang Kai-shek
The National Revolutionary Army battles the warlords for supremacy in Guangdong, while the British and French escalate tensions by massacring supporters of a strike which shut down Hong Kong.Further Reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Chiang Kai-shek, Japan-trained military officer, close confidant of Sun YatsenVasily Blyukher, Soviet general who led military mission to aid GuomindangZhou Enlai, Communist head of the Whampoa Academy political departmentWang Jingwei, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of GuomindangLiao Zhongkai, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of GuomindangHu Hanmin, Potential heir apparent to Sun Yatsen as leader of Guomindang (further to Right than the other two)Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangSun Zhongshan/Sun Yatsen, leader of the Guomindang, died in March 1925Chen Jiongming, Southern warlord, ally and then enemy of Sun Yatsen
The first year of the Soviet military alliance with the Guomindang, including the creation of the Whampoa Military Academy, the formation of the National Revolutionary Army, and the crushing of the Merchant Corps.Further Reading:C. Martin Wilbur and Julie Lien-ying How, Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927John Erickson, The Soviet High Command: A Military-Political History, 1918-1941Some names from this episode:Mikhail Borodin, Comintern agent and head of Soviet mission to aid the GuomindangChiang Kai-shek, Japan-trained military officer, close confidant of Sun YatsenChen Jiongming, Southern warlord, ally and then enemy of Sun YatsenDeng Zhongxia, Leading Communist labor organizerGregory Voitinsky, Comintern representative in China at various points, much more wary of Sun Yatsen and the Guomindang than BorodinSun Zhongshan/Sun Yatsen, leader of the Guomindang
Mao gets sick of all the BS in Shanghai and returns to his hometown of Shaoshan, where he discovers a militant peasantry.Further Reading: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”Some names from this episode:Li Lisan, Communist leader of the Shanghai General Labor UnionLiu Shaoqi, Communist leader just below Li Lisan in the Shanghai General Labor UnionLiu Hua, Union activist executed for leading role in May 30 MovementLiu Bolun, Stood in for Mao at a meeting of the Committee for Common People’s EducationWang Xianzong, Hunanese Communist murdered by a local warlord for organizing peasantsWang Jingwei, Head of Guomindang government in Guangzhou in late 1925 when Mao arrived from HunanHan Suyin, early biographer of Mao for a western audienceLiu Shaoqi, Leading Communist labor organizer in the 1920s, later targeted as a capitalist roader in the Cultural RevolutionDeng Xiaoping, Chinese leader targeted as a capitalist roader in the Cultural Revolution
A podcast version of a recently published article which discusses what the leader of Peru's Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán, has to say about the time he spent in Maoist China.The article can be read on the podcast website.
Workers, students and merchants in Shanghai take on the British authorities of the International Settlement and Japanese mill owners after protesters are massacred.Further Reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Li Lisan, Communist leader of the Shanghai General Labor UnionZhang Xueliang, son of Zhang Zuolin, occupied Shanghai’s Chinese cityZhang Zuolin, northern warlordGregory Voitinsky, Comintern representative in China in 1925Liu Shaoqi, Communist leader just below Li Lisan in the Shanghai General Labor UnionLiu Hua, Union activist executed for leading role in May 30 Movement 
In response to a listener request, we consider the situation in the United States today in light of historical thinking on the question of revolutionary situations.Further reading:Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International (chapter two)Lenin, Letters from AfarLenin, “Marxism and Insurrection”
The Communist Party tries to figure out how to put the workers in the lead of the nationalist revolution, and has some initial success.Further Reading:Steve Smith, A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-1927Some names from this episode:Deng Zhongxia, Leading Communist labor organizerLi Dazhao, Co-founder of the Communist Party, often credited as China’s first MarxistLi Lisan, Leading Communist labor organizerChen Duxiu, Chen Duxiu, General secretary of the Communist PartyGregory Voitinsky, Comintern representative in China in 1925Yang Zhihua, Communist leader in women’s movement
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