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The Theory and Practice of communism a series of 13 lectures drawn from the 1967 Wisconsin Alumni seminar held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Today guest lecturer Eugene Boardman will speak on the way of Mount Zedong. Professor Boardman a specialist in East Asian history has been associated with the University of Wisconsin Department of History since 1946. He is the author of Christian influence on the idiology of the Taiping Rebellion 1851 1864. And the co-author of a new China policy some Quaker proposals. And now to discuss the way of Mount Zedong is Professor Eugene Boardman I. Will try on my talk today. To present Maoism as a. As an idiology in practice. And in. The Chinese setting.
This is the way in which Mao has developed it. And in which he and other practitioners have gone at their problems. And I want to start with the general proposition that by nine hundred forty nine The Chinese had a need for. The kind of approach that Mao and his people to a considerable extent had developed. There was no other alternative. For one thing and the Chinese people were humiliated and they were at the end of their rope. Now as a historian I will range quickly over about 50 years of previous history by 1900 the year of the boxer uprising. The Chinese were prostrate so far as any
help from their own tradition are their own people or their own leaders were concerned. Their leadership had proved itself unable to adjust. And unable to accommodate to the needs of the modern age. And the Dowager Empress is us fanatically anti-foreign rebels during the exciting summer of 1980 was a symbol of this Chinese humiliation following the boxer protocol of one thousand one was complete and concerned educated top Chinese leaders had to face the fact that not only elements of their material civilization but also of their ideals. And of their promise for the future were bankrupt. And what should they do. This proud nation. We've never been in this position. We've never had to overhaul everything from the abyss of failure.
So since are from 1001 onward there are successive attempts made under varying auspices to try to make China adequate to the demands of the 20th century and to try to re-enact a period of China's strength equal to their past and expectations of Chinese leaders. The first of these periods was from one thousand one to one thousand eleven. When the old regime the Manchu regime did its best to enact a reform program. But they weren't up to it and they were suspect and they went down in revolution opposed by three echelons at least of Chinese protestors one of which was committed to overthrowing them. The second attempt was an attempt that could be called constitutionalist an effort to
establish according to thinking of the time a kind of a constitutional government. So I doubt Sam was a doctor of medicine and then a revolutionary and he was a voracious reader. But he was a kind of an intellectual magpie. He was not a systematic thinker. He was much entranced by ideas around like the initiative referendum and recall and his ideas of the kind of government were there for half formed and the Chinese around him weren't much better. But they did get a political party started and tried with the constitution to bring about a constitutional government only to have this fail within two years. The next attempt you can date between 13 and 16. And this was an attempted reenactment of absolute monarchy or at least monarchy Japanese style with an old style very
good old style Chinese aspiring to the post of Emperor. And this man did his best according to his lights he was a Chinese not a Manchu. He didn't have a Western education. He was advised that monarchy was more in keeping with China's traditions and this was so and so he proceed to do what he could. But the people wouldn't have it. And he was repudiated by top and bottom and by some of his best friends and he died a disappointed man. In the summer of 1916. So that was the third attempt at what to do the fourth attempt was local and this was following a Chinese pattern because China is a collection of localities more than it is a nation until 1949. This eventually ended in a fantastic period of local governmental and especially military control known as the warlord era. When
life ordinary life was very hard communications were disrupted. Floods were rampant great famines I mean really great famines occurred and China was in a miserable period. The warlord era elements of that persisted into the 1940s. This was certainly not a conscious attempt to make China adequate. But there were some good local leaders that did some things. Now the fifth attempt came the closest to success of any of the five and had an interesting history and some of the people who participated in this world now talk to graduate students from Taiwan for which I'm very grateful. That is the attempt to found the Republic of China. Which was a going concern to some extent between one thousand twenty eight and thirty six but had to face local threats everywhere
had to face a matter of communist competition and that above all had to face Japanese interests in the mainland of China and especially in Manchuria. So there was little left of either attention or of money up to 937 for the success of John Shaq and his regime. The Japanese finished that and then you have an interlude from 37 to 1945. When China was fighting for its life as a separate nation and it was able to come through as a separate nation with considerable outside help and interest. So that the 945 you do have the Republic of China continuing but in very poor shape to face up to the greater problems of post-war adjustment and the years from forty five to forty nine are unhappy period.
From the point of view of Chinese expectations of their own leaders as well as foreign expectations of the Chinese including the Americans we had a great deal of interest in China and we felt that we were the greatest outside foreign friend of the Chinese. As a result of this by nine thousand forty nine John Kai-Shek regime had failed in almost every particular and had been disgraced and flat. And the circumstances of this flight were not honorable. And so life came to an employer likely as far as this regime was concerned on the mainland and the alternative was the Chinese People's Republic. Now this had certain qualifications for leadership. Which made non communists intellectuals consider seriously staying with it and not becoming exiles in the first place. The leaders of the Chinese People's
Republic were experienced and they had been in the business of trying to solve China's problems as a career according to their lights. Ever since the early 1980s their vocation was politics and their interest was not selfish. I don't believe you can really say it was was selfish and so you have the top echelon of leaders today even in China. As people who have known nothing but concern for China's big problems and solving them efficiently and in consonance with China's tradition. As well as in the best traditions of Marxism Leninism as applied to this country. And the second place by nine thousand forty nine these people under the leadership. Of mots and others theory was favored. Had begun to use doctrine in the Torah way. Communist doctrine Marxism Leninism. Now there are
many details as far as this is concerned but you've been through a good deal of Marxism I gather. And I don't want to burden you with much more unless it specifically illustrates certain points. Now in this book the sensual works of Marxism. There is a selection on practice page Bible for which I want to read just one paragraph. This paragraph illustrates the close connection that Mao. Believed should exist between practice and doctrine. Doctrine should precede practice and follow it. Sometimes it would lead sometimes it would follow but always it would be in close association and neither one could be neglected. So we have in his key document on practice Mao saying
all knowledge originates in man's perception of the external world through his sense organs If one denies his perception denies direct experience and denies personal participation in the practice of changing existing conditions. One is not a materialist. This is exactly where the know it alls are ridiculous. The Chinese have an old saying if one doesn't enter the tiger's dam one cannot obtain Tiger cups. The statement is as true of a piston Knology or the theory of knowledge as of man's practice. Knowledge is impossible if separated from practice. Now this is very close application as I gather. Of Marxism Leninism and it certainly is Chinese in its practical EMP Asus. Then you have. This mature use of doctrine extending to the use of force and of what. They called the People's Liberation Army.
The use of armed force was intimately tied with politics in Mao's view. And to show you that I'm going to read from a little red book that you've already about page 100. Here I was describing the Chinese Red Army as he feels it should be the Chinese Red Army is an armed body for carrying out the political tasks of the revolution. Especially at present. The Red Army should certainly not confine itself to fighting. Besides fighting to destroy the enemy's military strength that should shoulder such important tasks as doing propaganda among the masses organizing the masses arming them helping them to establish revolutionary political power and setting up party organizations the Red Army fights not merely for the sake of fighting but in order to conduct propaganda among the masses. Organize them
arm them and help them to establish revolutionary political party. Power partly without these objectives fighting loses its meaning and the Red Army loses the reason for its existence. And of course the other thing occurred here very early and that was the use of political commissar us down to the platoon level to explain to the Chinese troops at every juncture what they were doing why they were doing it and that kind of thing the troops would fall out and then they would get a lecture and they would have some pleasant evening and then there would be a Tablo that would bring them up to date on some recent event and its meaning. So this this was plainly in the picture. Now in the third place the Chinese Communists had in practice certain principles in the training of troops that I feel
deserve our respect. In the first place according to this doctrine and also in practice especially noted in China and also in Korea was the close correspondence between military and political aspects that I've referred to and this is expressed also in terms of officer to man relationships. I mean when the officers talk to the men of the men talk to the officers it can be and should be in terms of politics and what they're doing. This is the subject for discussion. But a commissar is aren't just lecturers and so this is the Maoist field. Each will an equal importance should be attached to the military and political aspects of the one year consolidation and training programme which has just begun and the two aspects should be integrated. This was in one thousand forty four in a composition called our CAS for 45 at the start stress should be placed on the political
aspect on improving relations between officers and men and Hansing internal unity and arousing a high level of enthusiasm among the masses of cadres training troops and fighters only Thus will the military consolidation and training proceed smoothly and attain better results. I think this is sophisticated and very able advice and then so far as the officers and men relationship is concerned and here I have some personal knowledge of the problem. When you're training officers you're apt to keep them separate from the man. Give them separate training induce much morale among themselves. But the problem comes up when they are placed over troops if they do not come from the ranks. They're aided at first by the book and by the formal position. And their orders are delivered from on high and they're taken on the basis of the fact that it's given by an officer. But then as
the association develops under other than parade ground or camp conditions in training and then in combat some sort of different relationship must ensue. And the officer must somehow become a leader. And the men must somehow become followers. We respect what is said who are sprit spec the direction and who develop definite attitudes that help in the common task. So the problem is how does an officer become a leader. And this was addressing himself to in this selection. As for the method of training comrades we should unfold the mass training movement in which officers teach soldiers soldiers teach officers. Seems to me this happens too. And soldiers teach each other. I slogan in training troops as officers teach soldiers soldiers teach officers will just teach each other the fighters have a lot of practical combat experience the officer should learn from the fighters and when they have made other
people's experience their own they will be more capable. This is just solid good sense and I think it was borne out. In the way in which Chinese were able to perform in Korea. Without air support without naval support and without sophisticated measures of directional control. And in a terrain that was unfamiliar to them. And I think they give a good account of themselves I understand from people who were in Korea on the receiving end that they did. Now in the late 1930s a professional officer at that time in the US Marine Corps by the name of Evans Carlson. Colonel Evans Carlson he was on a major I guess decided there might be something to what the communists were doing in a military way. And so he was able to arrange. Contacts professional
contacts with leaders of the communist forces in interior China. And he came to observe this leader relationship to man and he was impressed. I was a Harvard graduate student at the time when he came back and told about the six these experiences and he's so often very informal voice and in the Harvard faculty club where the kids at the Harvard union I guess they called it were the kids a lesson to them. I didn't think much about the time. But later on this relationship was embodied in. A practical suggestion he made to his branch of the armed services the Marine Corps. In favor of what he called the gung ho arc together united principle. And the Raider battalions which had been begun to Reginald in sort of imitation of the commando kind of thing. When they got to the Pacific it changed character and were being fashioned as fast as Colonel Carlson could make them in the Chinese communist
model. But this did not fit the conceptions and preconceptions of the core. And so in conditions of practice and precept Chinese communist military doctrine lost out. That's another story I'm not going to go into it but I do mention it here because I think it's in context. Now let's go on. The Chinese communists had established in their experience in both South Central China and then after the long march in northwest China. Successful relationships with the people and especially with the farmers the most numerous group. And many common maxims were used at this time to impress on the Chinese Communist soldier the position he was in in regard to the people. I think the most easily remembered of these is the little simile or metaphor I guess it is the people of the faith the
soldiers of the fish. And the people are the water in which the fish live and propagate. The soldiers of the fish the people of the water in which the fish which the fish have to have in are to live and to propagate. And in their behavior toward toward the people Chinese Communist soldiers showed that they appreciated this and they were able to do this. After one thousand thirty six first part of thirty seven. When large armies were split up into small groups hundred fifty at the most. And these attach themselves to portions of the North China countryside. And the Chinese people acted to bring them food and they were their medical service and they acted as their intelligence and their spies I mean little boys watching at dawn who could look Japanese or take any notice of these kids. And then my mind's made of clay. How could you detect them with a mind detector. And so
features of Japanese occupation of North China were nightmarish and in character as as a result of this. Not only this but doctrine as regards how you treat peasants and landlords especially now when they first went into. South China in the Jiang who can border area the newly arrived communists from other provinces were inclined to be arbitrary and of course the landlords around tapped boundary stakes and really make life tough. But when they came over to northwest China after this harrowing experience that decimated them their attitude changed and they were more accommodating and they avowed the idea of the hero a landlord who would fight with them against the Japanese and would cooperate and they could accommodate that kind of individual so that when they came to their experience of 1949 and they were determined to carry out
land reform. They had a sophisticated five stage program as to what you did in every part of the country at each stage. And how they were able to pull this off is one of the miracles of social change. They had a tough time especially in the south and the southeast among alien people for most of them and I'm referring to the Cantonese the Cantonese are separate people. And they have a separate tongue and they stick together and they have their own social organization type 2 anyway so their relationships with the Chinese peasants. They had a successful record after trial and error after experience dating back to the 1920s and then finally they had the supreme recommendation of being patriots. Sometimes this is what counts most. Actually when they were encircled by John chi Scheck's people 931. They declared war against Japan when Japan invaded Manchuria. And this went down in the record. But when they got up to northwest China
then they were able to make common cause with defeated soldiers who'd been pushed out of Manchuria by the Japanese and we could see no sense in carrying on anti-communist expeditions under John Kai-Shek supervision when the greater threat came from Japan and that produced the episode known as the kidnapping of John Kai-Shek which was Christmas week of 1936. And John. Son spectacles sonce teeth and a few other signs I think to many was captured in the cave a couple miles from where he had been. And he said Kill me or obey me and then there ensued a very interesting week of negotiations. Well so then you have these qualifications and it's hard to imagine a revolutionary regime in the 20th century at least coming to power with more an outside here now when it came to power and the Chinese People's Republic was established in October. Nine hundred forty nine. How did it proceed to apply its doctrine
and its past practice. The first thing to notice. Was the use of what. They called. The New Democracy or the people's democratic dictatorship. Now my was handicapped in his thinking by the fact that in China no genuine capitalist stage had really developed. And therefore the Marxist analogy was not valid. Something had to be invented or posited to take its place. So the theory developed that China would have had a capitalist stage except this was denied it. By the activities of Western powers in the 1073. Among whom the United States was included. In lieu of that therefore he would supply the new democracy. Time as a
bridge between existing intermediate pre-industrial some a colonial semi feudal China and the socialist China of the future. During this new democratic phase China must largely duplicate what had already been achieved through capitalist development in more advanced nations of the West. Now this would not be. They decided a period when China would be dominated by the Boers was easy. And China was not going to be caught out at this point in leading in the creation of a capitalist society how can a Marxist help create a capitalist society. Instead something new was needed. And as far as possible it would be led by the proletariat if you could find them in China and there wasn't much of it. The new democratic society would have to be formed and it would be a combined dictatorship of all revolutionary classes.
So you have then developed a strategy of the United Front. This would use Chinese nationalism. It would use an agrarian reform program. It would use the support of a mixed economy of state owned private and cooperative enterprise. It would have to appeal to labor to peasantry to some business elements and to intellectuals. All of these groups would be asked to participate them. But the coalition would be led by the party. Make no mistake about that.
The theory and practice of communism
The Way of Mao Tse-Tung
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University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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Chicago: “The theory and practice of communism; The Way of Mao Tse-Tung,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
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