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From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 27 Oct 2004 16:45:49 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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[Original] EDITOR'S NOTE Chinese Anarchists were inspired by the ideas of Pierre
Proudhon, Michael Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin and Elesee Reclus. Many were exposed
to Anarchist ideas while they were students in Europe and Anarchist books were
soon translated into Chinese and Esperanto, a popular language among Chinese students.
They used the term "Anarchist Communist" interchangeable with the word "Anarchist."
The Chinese words for Anarchist-Communist (Wu-Zheng-Fu Gong-Chan) literally meant "Without Government
Common Production" and in no way implied Bolshevism or Maoism. On the contrary, theirs were the
Libertarian Socialist ideas of the First International which reflected the traditional Chinese
Anarchistic teachings of Lao Tzu while Maoism reflected the authoritarian bureaucracy of Confucianism.

Like the word "communism", the word "collectivism" also has a different
literal meaning in Chinese than when it is commonly used in English: In
Chinese, the word for a "collective enterprise" (Ji-ti Qi-ye) literally means
an assembly of people in a bureaucracy (a "tree of people") - very different
from our understanding of Michael Bakunin's Collectivism or a workers'
collective - more like Bolshevism or Fabian Socialism - The Chinese
Anarchist Shih Fu substantiated this translation by identifying Karl Marx
as the father of "collectivism" in his writings ["The Socialism of Sun
Yat-sen and Chiang K'ang-hu," Min Sheng, No. 6, April 18, 1914,

Historically, Marxism was unable to make inroads into China until after
the Russian Revolution of 1917 when Lenin's followers, bankrolled by the
Bolshevik government, began their attacks on Anarchists in Russia and
neighboring countries. This book describes some of the early history of
Chinese Anarchism up to the period after the Bolshevik
counter-revolution when Russia began to send Marxist-Leninist
missionaries like Chou En-lai to try to try to infiltrate and take over the
student movements in Europe. It includes some of the ideological debates
which ensued between Chinese Anarchists and their Marxist-Leninist


In their memorable 1936 conversations, Mao Tse-tung remarked to
Edgar Snow that he had once been strongly influenced by Anarchism.[1]
Mao was referring to the period at the close of World War I, when he had
come to Peking [Beijing] from Hunan province as a part of a student
group who hoped to study in France. While some of his colleagues
realized this goal, Mao remained in Peking and worked as a librarian in
Peking University. But in Peking as in Paris, Anarchism was much in
vogue with the intellectual avant garde of this era. Thus Mao had the
opportunity to read Kropotkin in translation, Anarchist pamphlets derived
from a variety of Western sources, and the contributions of the Chinese
Anarchists themselves. Many discussions with student-friends flowed
from the theories and themes contained in these materials.

Mao's interest in Anarchism was by no means unique. On the contrary, it
marked him as a part of the central radical stream of those times.
Anarchism preceded Marxism in northeast Asia as the predominant
radical expression of the Westernized intellectual. Between 1905 and
1920, Anarchist thought was a vital part of the intellectual protest
movement in both Japan and China. Indeed, in many respects, it
possessed the coveted symbol among intellectuals of being the most
scientific, most "progressive," most futuristic of all political creeds.


Chinese Students Sent Abroad

Our story begins in Paris and in Tokyo during the period that immediately
followed the ill-fated Boxer Rebellion. Even the decadent Manchu Court
had at long last been forced to acknowledge the need for reform, albeit too
late. Both the central and the provincial governments of China had begun
to send sizeable numbers of students abroad. By 1906, there were over
10,000 Chinese students in Japan and about 500-600 in Europe.[2] Japan
was the most Iogical training area for the majority of students for obvious
reasons. It was closer to home and the costs were considerably less than
elsewhere. The problem of cultural adjustment was much more simple.
In addition, Japan represented the type of synthesis between tradition and
modernity that could have meaning to China, particularly since it was a
synthesis generally favorable to the values of political conservatism.

Perhaps the motives of Chinese authorities in sending students abroad
were not entirely "pure." Chu Ho-chung, himself sent to Germany during
this period, has written that local authorities in the Wuhan area sent
student "activists" abroad to get rid of them, with the more radical being
dispatched to Europe and the less radical to Japan![3] He also reported
that students interested in engineering and mining generally went to
Brussels in this period, whereas those studying law, political science, and
economics went mainly to Paris. Thus Paris became the natural locus of
student radicalism. The Paris Group Whatever the factual basis of these
remarks, Paris did indeed become the center of the early Chinese
Anarchist Movement. When Sun Pao-ch'i went to France in 1902 as
Chinese Minister, over twenty government and private students traveled
with him.[4] Included in this group were Li Shih-tseng and Chang
Ching-chiang, both young men from prominent families. Li was the son
of Li Hung-tsao who for some twenty-five years prior to his death in
1897, had been a powerful figure in the national administration.[5] Young
Li had come to France as an attaché in the Chinese legation, but soon
he gave up this position to study biology and promote Anarchism. Chang
came from a wealth: business family and thus was able to contribute
substantial funds to the revolutionary cause. [6]

In 1902, Chang used his money to found the T'ung-yun Company as a
Chinese commercial firm in Paris. Between 1902 and 1906, a number of
young men from Chang's village came to Paris with assurances of work
while they continued their studies. Some of these, such as Ch'u Min-i,
became active workers in the Anarchist ranks.[7] A Chinese
restaurant-tea house was established under the auspices of Chang's
"Company" as an additional outlet for private students from China.

The entrepreneurial activities of the young Chinese in Paris underwent
further expansion in 1906-7. A printing plant (Imprimerie Chinoise) was
organized in Paris in 1906 by Chang, Li, Ch'u, and Wu Chihhui. The
following year, a Chinese pictorial Shih-chieh (The World) , was
published, with ten thousand copies being widely distributed in many
countries Due to high printing costs and a low income from sales,
Shih-chieh did not last long; only two issues and one supplement were
printed. Meanwhile, in the same year (1907), Li, Hsia Chien-chung, and
several others organized the Far Eastern Biological Study Association,
with a laboratory alongside the printing plant. Two years later, after
various chemical experiments with beans, Li established a bean-curd
factory which produced assorted bean products in addition to the
traditional Chinese bean-curds. The idea of work-study was prominently
involved in this experiment.[8] In the evenings and when not on duty, the
workers were to practice Chinese and French, as well as studying such
subjects as general science. Smoking, drinking, and gambling were
strictly forbidden. Initially, five Chinese were employed, but the number
eventually reached thirty.

These ventures had their very practical aspect; they represented attempts
to finance the education of as many fellow countrymen as possible. But
underlying them also ran a strong current of idealisrn, and the ideological
base of this idealism lay in Anarchism as it was currently being
propagated in Europe. All of the young Chinese associated with the
enterprises noted above became ardent converts to the Anarchist creed.
And to espouse this creed, Li, Chang, Ch'u and Wu began the publication
of a weekly known as the Hsin Shih chi (The New Century) , on June 22,
1907.[9] For three years, this journal was to champion the causes of
Anarchism and revolution, reaching Chinese students and intellectuals in
all parts of the world. Very few copies penetrated China proper, of course,
but at a later point, as we shall note, the Hsin Shih-chi message was to
reach the homeland through various channels.

Senior in age and experience, Wu Chih-hui became the primary organizer
of the Paris Anarchist Group, although Li Shih-tseng was perhaps its
driving spirit. Wu was born in 1864 in Kiangsu province.[10] His early
education was of the traditional Chinese type. He reached the Chih-shih
examinations in Peking, but failed. (Li's father was one of the four
examiners). For some time after 1894, Wu taught at various schools in
Peking, Tientsin, and Shanghai. At one point, he nearly entered the
Hupeh Military Academy, not doing so only because he lacked the funds
to get there.

In 1901, Wu made a brief trip to Tokyo, returning to Canton in December
of that year. The first revolutionary seeds seem to have been planted in
his mind during this period. His stay in Canton was unhappy, and in
1902, he returned to Japan. On this occasion, he became involved in an
heated controversy with the Chinese Minister over educational policy and
radical activities. At one point, Wu became so angry that he jumped into
the sea, intent upon a protest suicide, and had to be rescued by the
Japanese police. In May, 1902, he returned to Shanghai. In October, the
Ai-kuo Hsueh-she, "Patriotic Association, " was founded. Wu joined and
moved into its headquarters. By 1903, this Association was secretly
promoting revolution, using the newspaper Su-pao as its organ. In May,
1903, Chinese authorities moved against Su-pao; Chang Ping-lin, to
whom we shall later refer, was one of those arrested. But Wu escaped,
first to Hong Kong and then to London.

The next several years were spent in London, with one brief trip to Paris.
Finally, in 1906, Wu moved to Paris, living with Li and Ch'u Min-i. Li
had first met Wu in Shanghai while en route to France in 1902; Chang
had visited Wu in London in 1905. It was after Wu moved to Paris that
these young men joined Sun's T'ung Meng Hui and organized the
Shih-chich-she, "The World Association, " to undertake publication
activities. In the spring of 1906, Chang had returned home for a visit. En
route, he purchased a printing press in Singapore and employed a
Chinese printer to go to Paris as operator.[11] With these acts, the young
conspirators were in a new business-that of turning out revolutionary

Influences Upon the Paris Group

Li Shih-tseng has given us some later recollections of the varied
influences that played upon him and his colleagues during this period.[12]
Perhaps these can be divided into three major categories: the Chinese
classical philosophers; Darwin and the Social Darwinists; and the radical
libertarians, brought up to date by the Anarchism of Proudhon, Bakunin,
and Kropotkin. As we shall note, the Paris group were in certain respects
fervent anti-traditionalists who decried any attempt to equate Lao Tzu
with the modern Anarchists, or the ancient well-field system with modern
communism Yet almost without exception, these were young men who
had received an excellent classical education. They had been exposed to a
range of political ideas almost as broad as that existing in classical
Western philosophy At the very least, this robbed most contemporary
Western theories of their strangeness. It permitted an identification, a
familiarity which could contribute powerfully toward acceptance even
when the conscious act was that of rejecting traditionalism in favor of
progress and modernity.[13]

This was the age of Darwinism. Li now recalls how greatly he was
influenced by the writings of Lamarck and Darwin, how these men
opened new doors for him in history and philosophy as well as in science.
The influence was especially strong upon a young man studying zoology,
botany and biology, but Li would have felt the Darwinian impact, no
matter what his field. It was the truth--the science-of Darwinism that
Socialists (and many non-Socialists) used as a point of commencement
from which to analyze man in society, social and political evolution, and
fundamental values. One started with Darwin, irrespective of where one

The Paris group of young Chinese ended with Prince Peter Kropotkin and
Eliseé Reclus whose theories in certain respects constituted a sharp
challenge to Darwinism. Their doctrines were those of Anarchist
Communism, as originally set forth by Bakunin and subsequently carried
forward by Kropotkin and Reclus, first at Geneva and then at Paris.14
The two latter men were the foremost leaders of the late nineteenth
century Anarcho-Communist movement Their journal, Le Revolte, was
published in Geneva from 1879, and transferred to Paris in 1885. In 1895,
a new organ, Les Temps Nouveaux, edited by Jean Grave, carried on the
movement, publishing its final issue in August 1914. In this connection,
it might be noted that the Esperanto title of Hsin Shih-chi was La Tempoj
Novaj. And certainly no single work had greater influence upon the young
Chinese Anarchists than Kropotkin's Mutual Aid. If their movement had
a bible, this was it.[15]

It is easy to understand how men like Wu, Li, and Chang might make a
personal identification with such figures as Bakunin, Kropotkin, and
Reclus. Despite the seeming cultural chasm, there were many common
bonds. These were aristocrats, by birth as well as by intelligence. They
represented the most sensitive and concerned segment of the leisure
class.[16] Another bond was that of science. All of these men were
committed to science - either as a profession or as a way of life.
Kropotkin, for example, was an eminent geologist, Reclus a
world-famous geographer, Li a budding biologist. Science, not Esperanto,
was the true international language of this age. And if both nature and
man could be explained, universally and rationally, what was more logical
than to apply science to politics, to seek an universal, scientific theory of
man in society, one case in an evolutionary mold? There was, perhaps, an
additional tie of major proportions between our young Chinese radicals
and the Russian Anarchists, that of political environment, Russia and
China were the two sick giants of the early twentieth century. That a bond
of sympathy should exist between the dissident intellectuals of these two
societies was natural. The receptivity of the Paris group to the voices of
Russian radicals--indeed, the general influence of Russian revolutionaries
upon their Asian counterparts - must be related to this fact.[17]

The New Century and its Message

Thus the philosophy of Hsin Shih-chi was Anarchist Communism, with
some special Chinese emphases. It can best be set forth in terms of
"anti's" and "pro's. " The young Chinese Anarchists were anti-religion,
anti-traditionalist. anti-family, anti-libertine, anti-elitist, anti-government,
anti-militarist, and anti-nationalist. They were pro-science, pro-freedom,
pro-humanist, pro-violence, pro-revolution, pro-communist, and
pro-universalist. To understand the Anarchist position, these numerous
themes must be fitted together. It is entirely proper to start with the
negative. The Anarchists conceived their immediate task to be that of
destruction. Only when the existing state and other artificialities
restraining man had been destroyed, could human freedom flow. Indeed,
destruction was the most conscious, planned act that the Anarchist could
undertake, since freedom would come only in its aftermath, and come as
a natural, inevitable consequence requiring no elitist guidance or
tampering In their anti-religious position, the young Chinese Anarchists
had some sustenance from their own cultural heritage of secularism.
They could also look upon the European scene as detached observers,
without deep personal involvement. Thus one seems to sense a
somewhat less frenzied tone to the anti-religious articles than that
characteristic of certain Western radicals. Their position, however, was
clear and unequivocal. Wu Chih-hui remarked that the blind worship of
religion had been one of the great historical problems of Europe, but he
noted that a significant change was taking place.[18] The separation of
church and state in France was cited as one indication of this change.

Perhaps the Hsin Shih-chi position on religion was best expressed by Wu
in an exchange between him and a reader from Japan.[19] The reader
(presumably a Chinese student) wrote that while pro-Socialist, he felt the
attacks upon religion were too extreme, thereby alienating would-be
supporters. Moreover, he queried, are not the moral standards of the
Chinese quite deficient as their educational standards, and is there not a
need for religious morality among them? Wu answered by posing the
morality of Socialism against that of religion. He asserted that Socialist
morality contained all of the basic ethical principles found in religion,
without its accompanying superstitions.

It was not sufficient for Chinese Anarchists to attack religion.
Confucianism also had to be assaulted. This assault took various forms In
the very first issue of Hsin Shih-chi, it was suggested that Confucius lived
in an age of barbarism, and that in such an age, it was not difficult for
"crafty men" to make themselves into sages and be worshiped by simple
folk. [20] The more basic attack upon Confucianism, however, was
impersonal: that later generations had attempted to turn him into a saint
and insisted that his every word be treated as law without regard to
changing times and events. Thus the attack upon Confucianism was
broadened to include a general criticism of traditionalism in all its forms.
"The Chinese seem to be the greatest lovers of things ancient, "
complained Chtu Min-i, "so much so that their minds have been wholly
bound by traditional customs and thus they have become enslaved by the
ancients." [21] Even in recent decades when it has finally been admitted
that China must absorb Western learning, there is still the insistence that
"the national character" be preserved. And in the following passage, the
author put the anti-traditionalist argument forcefully and well:

"I say that the reason why China has not been able to progress with the
world has been due to its emphasis upon things ancient and its treatment
of modern things lightly. And the reason why the West had progressed is
because of its opposite attitude... We Chinese also have a tendency to
treat all Western things as things which China has long experienced or
possessed. For example, we say that China long ago engaged in
imperialism under the Mongols...; that China long ago realized
nationalism under the Yellow Emperor...; that Lao Tzu was the founder of
Anarchism; that Mo Tzu was the first advocate of universal love; and
finally, that China long ago practiced communism under the name of the
'Well-Field System'. Alas! There is reason behind the birth of new
knowledge. It comes at the appropriate time, when it has the potential of
realization. One cannot take some saying from the ancients and state in
effect that all was long ago foreseen, or that all things new must be fitted
into existing ancient teachings... There are countless things which even
modern man cannot foresee. Thus how much can one expect of the
ancients?" [22]

This anti-traditional position was important. It symbolized the
commitment to modernity, progress, and new ideas that embodied the
essence of twentieth century radicalism in the Far East The
anti-traditional, anti-Confucian themes enunciated in Hsin Shih-chi and a
few other Chinese radical journals of this period were later carried forward
by Ch'en Tu-hsiu and many other "progressive" intellectuals. After 1915,
as is well known, the Hsin Ch'ing-nien (The New Youth), edited by
Ch'en, served as the avant garde journal for the Chinese intellectuals. Its
searching criticisms of contemporary Chinese society provided a powerful
stimulus to the political events that followed. But many of these criticisms
had first been advanced a decade earlier by the Chinese overseas
students, particularly by the Paris and Tokyo Anarchist groups. There
was a natural connection between the anti-Confucian, anti-traditional
themes and that of anti-family. In one of its first issues, Hsin Shih-chi
called for an "ancestor revolution" [23] The veneration of ancestors was
denounced as a breach of reason, a denial of science. To qualify as a
member of the Chinese Revolutionary Party, one's position on this issue
had to be clear, it was asserted. Moreover, in the broader sense, social
revolution had to begin with the family, because the family was the
primary institution of subjugation and inequality. Thus was one of the
earliest attacks launched on the Chinese familial institution, an attack that
has finally reached a climax in the events since 1949.[24]

It is equally important, however, to note the strong anti-libertine position
which the young Anarchists took. Like most "true believers," the Chinese
Anarchists had a fairly rigorous ethical code. Theirs was a call to hard
work and hard study, the protection of one's body, and in general, a
Spartan life. The Anarchists were vigorously opposed to visiting
prostitutes, smoking, drinking, and gambling, and as we have noted,
these activities were prohibited in Anarchist-run establishments. Some
Anarchists like Li Shihtseng also espoused vegetarianism. Physical
exercise was greatly encouraged. The contrast between these rules of
personal conduct and those of the orthodox Chinese scholar-gentry class
was striking. And in this sense, conversion to Anarchism was similar to
religious conversion involving the attempt to follow a whole new way of
life. Nor is a strong parallelism with the later Communist movement
lacking. But it must be emphasized that for the Anarchist, "conversion"
was an intensely personal act. Moreover, the very fact that the Anarchist
ethical code, if strictly followed, separated one from the mores of one's
class and society in this period, enhanced the individualism which at root
the Anarchists cherished. In these senses, there is a substantial difference
from the heavy compulsory element in Chinese Communist morality,
from the conscious attempt to create an uniform "moral man" in the
Communist mold. The capstone of anarchism is anti-authority. Elitism of
all types and in all forms is denounced. It is thus not surprising to find
Hsin Shih-chi condemning those revolutions conducted by the few as
dangerous.[25] If the majority of the people did not appreciate the need
for revolution and did not support it, its progress would be slow. Only
when a revolution had the support of the great majority or the whole of
the people could it be considered a true social revolution.[26] In a later
issue, Hsin Shih-chi carried a speech of Liu Shih-p'ei made in Tokyo.[27]
Liu described the anti-Manchu movement as being supported chiefly by
students and secret society members. Hence, its success would be the
success of the few, whereas the revolution being proposed by the
Anarchists for China would be the product of the many, the struggle of
the nation's peasants and workers, and ultimately, the whole of mankind.

The Anarchists were wanting massive peasant-worker support, and it was
the Anarchist Movement that first introduced this concept in its modern
form into the stream of Chinese political thought. The early Chinese
Anarchists paved the way for all subsequent travelers who chose to
worship at the feet of the Proletariat. But the Leninist concept of elitism,
of vanguardism, was totally foreign to Anarchist theory. The Anarchists
wanted no oligarchy, no inner circle of powerful men to guide the
ignorant masses. They believed that any elite would confine and corrupt
freedom. The masses must be brought along with the revolution, must be
caused to understand and appreciate it, so that in its aftermath, they
would be prepared immediately to be free men.

The Anarchist position culminated in a frontal attack upon the state. "All
governments are the enemies of freedom and equality" wrote one Hsin
Shih-chi editor.[28] And in a later issue, the Anarchist case was set forth
more fully:

"The individual is the basic unit in society. Together with others, he
forms a village, and with other villages, a country is formed. Society in
turn is formed through the process of bringing all countries together. The
proper society is that which permits free exchange between and among
individuals, mutual aid, the common happiness and enjoyment of all, and
the freedom from control by the force of a few. This is what Anarchism
seeks to realize. The governments of today, however, are organized by the
few, who in turn pass laws which are of benefit to the few Thus the state
is the destroyer of the proper society. In sum, what we seek is the
destruction of the destroyer of proper society." [29]

In such fashion did the Anarchists proclaim their major objectives the
elimination of the State and an uncompromising anti-militarism. All
governments, of whatever type, were declared the enemies of freedom
and equality, coercive devices that protected the few and produced misery
for the masses. And it was militarism that served as the brute force to
uphold the state, the means whereby the oppressor class retained its

Unrelenting Anarchist opposition to the State and to organized power in
any form produced sharp conflict with the nationalists. An interesting and
significant polemic battle between young Anarchists and nationalists was
carried out in the pages of Hsin Shih-chi. The journal published
numerous letters from nationalist readers, with the rebuttal arguments of
the editors inserted at intervals into the original text. Simultaneously, it
will be recalled, the nationalists were struggling with the K'ang-Liang
forces who supported constitutional monarchism. In this era, Chinese
nationalism had to do battle on two fronts, and by viewing both fronts,
one can glimpse the total Chinese reform-revolution spectrum. The
nationalist arguments against Anarchism were many, but two were
pushed with special vigor. The nationalists posed their "realistic" view of
world politics against anarchist utopianism As an ideal, Anarchism was
excellent, but in the world of reality, it would represent an unchallenged
victory for imperialism and despotism. For China to abandon government
and her quest for strength would lead to her total conquest by various
predatory powers. "If you people know only how to cry emptily that 'We
want no government, no soldiers, no national boundaries, and no state'
and that you are for universal harmony, justice, freedom and equality, I
fear that those who know only brute force and not justice will gather their
armies to divide up our land and control our people."[31] China must
become strong, argued the nationalists, so that none will dare assault it.
Indeed, they asserted, without a military force or an organization, one
could not even challenge the Manchu tyranny effectively, not to mention
the Western imperialists.

Before examining the Anarchist answer, let us advance the second
nationalist argument. It might be called the two-stage revolutionary
theory in its earliest form. In one letter especially, this theory was spelled
out in a most interesting manner. Ordinary societies could be depicted

"Only through the use of nationalism could the Chinese people overcome
forces "a" and "b, " and only then would they be able to stand as equals
with the world, working for world harmony. The first task was the
nationalist revolution, and only after this had been achieved, could a
society advance to internationalism." [32]

The Hsin Shih-chi answer to this argument carries with it a remembrance
of things future. The editor asserted that since the rich and official classes
of China do not seek justice, the common people could not unite with
them to overthrow the Manchu. The Anarchists were clearly anti-popular
front, long before the first Chinese Communists struggled with the
Bolsheviks over this problem. Nor could the Chinese common people
jump over barrier "y, " and break the shackles of "a" and "b. " The only
answer was total, complete, and simultaneous mass revolution. The
Anarchists drew their own diagram:

"The inner circle was labeled "the people of the world, " the outer circle
was called "all authority, " with the caption. "Unite with the people of the
world to burst open authority." [33]

The Anarchists advanced other arguments against their nationalist
opponents. They asserted that the maintenance of states and armies did
not prevent others from attacking. It was only when concern went beyond
one's own race or nation, when one opposed all enemies of the moral
laws of mankind that self-preservation could be attained.[34] Rather than
merely opposing the Manchu Court, was it not better to oppose
monarchy, Manchu or Han?[35] Did not those who advocate another
state to replace the present one merely postpone the final revolution, and
were they not in the same class as the constitutional monarchists?[36] If
the Han had a right to challenge Manchu control of China, did not the
earlier Miao have a right to challenge the Han?[37] Was nationalism
more than "revengism, " an appeal to irrational hatred and love? [38]
How long have the Chinese known the meaning of the term "nation, "
and does the working class care? [39] With such queries did the
Anarchists taunt and challenge their rivals.

Sometimes, they too made use of a concept of stages or evolution, but not
in the sense of a necessary sequence; rather, in terms of an unfolding of
man's grasp of higher truth and moral law. One writer explained it this
way: first came individualism, self-interest; then racial revolution and
nationalism, the interest of one's people; finally, social revolution and
universalism, the concern for all mankind.[40]Another wrote that man's
evolution was from absolutism to Anarchism.[41] There was little doubt
that the Anarchists felt that the age of nationalism was going out of
fashion, and could be by-passed in China. This point may serve as a
transition to the Anarchist positive beliefs, and here, one can start with
that of science. The strength of anarchist faith in science can be indicated
by the remark of Li Shih-tseng: "There is nothing in European civilization
that does not have its origin in science."[42] To the Anarchists, science
was truth, knowledge, and progress. It was the only legitimate
cornerstone of education, the only proper basis of values.[43] It separated
the barbarian from the civilized man.[44]

When the Hsin Shih-chi writings are carefully perused, however, it is
clear that the young Chinese Anarchists had also acquired a deep
conviction in Western humanism, a conviction that did not stem from
their reverence for science despite attempts to unite the two. The opening
words of Hsin Shih-chi proclaimed that the journal would have as its
starting point, a sense of kung-li, "common rights," and liang-hsin,
"conscience."45 In subsequent issues, many articles were sprinkled with
words like "justice, " "fairness, " "equality, " and "human rights." To the
Anarchists, the first and last commandment of natural law was that man
be free, and that he substitute mutual aid (in Kropotkin's terms) for
ruthless competition and sordid materialism.

The Anarchist attack upon constitutional government flowed partly down
this channel. The Anarchists charged that if monarchy was a victory for
absolutism, modern democracy was a victory for money and the wealthy
class. Both were unnatural and unnecessary forms of coercion, violations
of human freedom. Once again, selected aspects of Chinese
traditionalism could blend easily with the Western secular humanism to
which these young radicals paid tribute. The Anarchists made much of
ta-t'ung chu-i, "universalism, " but this was surely not a novel term to
those trained in the classics, nor were many other terms commonplace in
Anarchist literature. This matter must not be oversimplified, however. A
term or an idea may be the same in isolated form, but it must be viewed
in context if its total meaning and implications are to be understood. In
this sense, when the anarchist movement was viewed in its total Western
context, it did demand intellectual changes of revolutionary proportions
from its Chinese disciples, however much the classics might help in
providing some familiar way signs.

Anarchism was based upon a combination of science and humanism. It
was an heroic attempt to spell out a theory of progress that would signal
man's ultimate triumph over all external coercion and his own internal
weaknesses. Naturally, the Anarchists glorified revolution. They argued
that the entire movement of mankind from barbarism to civilization was
due to revolution.[46] They proclaimed the twentieth century as a century
of world revolution, from which ultimately no nation would escape.[47]
And they believed in the use of violence to effect revolution. When
accused by nationalist rivals of being inconsistent in advocating
anti-militarism on the one hand, but sanctioning violent revolution on the
other, the Anarchists refused to admit any contradiction. "Militarism is
that by which the strong sacrifice the lives and money of others in order to
preserve their own power and that of the state. Thus it is unfair and
should be eliminated. Revolutionary assassination, on the other hand, is
the sacrifice of the individual to eliminate the enemy of humanity, thereby
extending the common rights of the world. These two, militarism and
revolutionary assassination, are as different as two things can be."[48]

The Anarchists believed that the pistol and the bomb were important
means of advancing common rights. One author criticized the young
Chinese students in Japan who were committing suicide in protest
against Chinese government policies:

"If you fellows really see in death the answer to things, why do you not
follow in the footsteps of the Russian Terrorist Party by killing one or two
thieves of mankind as the price of death. Whether one plunges into the
sea or is decapitated (as an assassin), both are the same death. But they
are different in their impact. Whereas one has no impact and the person
merely dies as a courageous man, the other has a great impact, especially
upon the Chinese official class. For the fear of death is one of the special
characteristics of Chinese officials. In sum, in this twentieth century, if
there is the possibility of eliminating even one thief of mankind and
thereby decreasing a portion of dictatorial power, then the year of the
great Chinese revolution will be one day closer. . . " [49]

The appeal of assassination to Chinese radicals as a revolutionary
technique was due in major part to the problems involved in organizing
any effective mass movement in contemporary China, and the difficulties
of peaceful change. Assassination was an immediately practical individual
action. Other methods seemed utopian, or at best, long range. Still, as we
have noted, the Anarchists insisted that a truly successful revolution had
to have the support of a majority of the people. To obtain this, they urged
a campaign of both propaganda and action at the mass level. This
campaign should be directed toward three objects: government,
capitalists, and society. With respect to government, opposition should be
concentrated upon militarism, laws, and taxation. Capitalists should be
combated by an attack upon the concept of private property. In society at
large, religion and the family institution should be exposed. At the action
level, assassination should be used against government, strikes against
capitalists, and love toward society.[50] In another source, La Revolution,
probably written by Li Shih-tseng and Ch'u Min-i, five means of
effectuating revolution were listed: books and speeches "so as to move
people"; meetings and gatherings "whereby the people's power may be
brought together"; public resistance in the form of refusal to pay taxes;
opposition to conscription, and strikes; assassination; and mass

It is interesting to note one article which urged that the existing Chinese
secret societies be converted into vehicles for revolution by the
Anarchists.[52] It argued that these societies already had a mass base,
and had succeeded in implanting an anti-Manchu revolutionary spirit
among large numbers of common people. To be sure, the secret societies
remained traditionalist and culture-bound, therefore, they did not
contribute much to modern China However, the new revolutionary
methods of Western radicalism such as the general strike and
anti-militarism might be implanted within the structure of the secret
society. If revolution were to succeed in China unions would have to be
established, but rather than building anew, why not change the character
of the secret societies? Why not cause hundreds and thousands of
revolutionary comrades to join these societies, and carry with them the
principles of Anarchist-Communism? Then the simple aim of
overthrowing the Manchu could be broadened to include the ideas of
social revolution and free federation.[53]

In the article just cited, the general strike was recognized as a major
technique of Western radicalism and a Chinese labor union movement
was encouraged. The Paris Anarchist group were emerging at the very
time when European Syndicalism was making strides forward, and the
general strike was being lauded as the foremost revolutionary method.
But considering these facts, the emphasis upon unionism and the strike
as a political weapon was rather scanty in the Chinese Anarchist
writings.[54] The reason was obvious: these factors could not be very
meaningful in China under current circumstances. Even the most ardent
Anarchist found it difficult to envisage a rapidly growing Chinese labor
movement, one that could successfully employ the tactic of the general
strike. Revolution via assassination, or via the peasant-worker mass
uprising seemed a more promising immediate technique.

The Anarchists were careful to distinguish several types of revolution.
They admitted that all revolutions would require some bloodshed, but
they argued that actually modern revolutions would be less bloody than
those of the past, since resistance to revolution was gradually
declining.[55] It was important, however, not to be satisfied with a partial
or incomplete revolution. Most Anarchists sought to make a basic
distinction between "political" and "social" revolution. The former was a
limited revolution, one to overthrow the Manchu, but without sufficiently
broad socio-economic objectives or mass support. The only complete
revolution was a social revolution, one based upon popular support and
participation, the principles of political freedom, equality, and a sharing of
the wealth. A social revolution had to be underwritten by the practice of
Anarchist Communism.[56]

Hsin-Shih-chi contained a number of articles that attempted to define and
defend Anarchism or Anarchist Communism. A lengthy [57] essay, "On
Anarchism, " ran through many issues of the journal. In this, the authors
asserted that Anarchism essentially meant "no authority. " Governments
used the military to underwrite authority, and hence the Anarchist was
opposed to militarism, advocating humanitarianism in its place. Secondly,
Anarchism was a theory that no limits should be placed upon man,
whereas government limited man by laws and other forms of coercion.
Above all, the anarchist respected freedom. In addition, the Anarchist
believed in a classless, equal society. He believed in the common sharing
of property, being opposed both to Capitalism and to State Socialism,
another form of concentrated political and economic power.
Nationalization of industry would only strengthen government and the
governing class. The answer lay in the equalization of wealth through
communal ownership and communal control, with power centered upon
the primary, natural group. Groups, whether in economic or political
terms, could be associated with each other through the system of free

Precisely when the term "communism" was introduced into Chinese
language and thought, we cannot say. It seems likely, however that it
occurred during this period, and in connection with the discussions of
Anarchist Communism.[59] In the Hsin Shih-chi issue of November 7,
1908, we find an article by Ch'u Min-i criticizing an earlier article which
had been published in the Shanghai Shih-pao, a progressive newspaper
founded in 1904 by T'i Ch'u-ch'ing, returned student from Japan. That
article had been entitled "Why China Cannot Now Promote Communism
(Kung-ch'an chu-i) ."[60] Ch'u in his answer, insisted that all Anarchists
were communists, whereas this was not necessarily true of Socialists
[The Chinese word for communism "Gong-Chan" literally translates as
"Common-Production."]. There were many false Socialist parties which
sought to substitute the power of government (via state socialism) for the
power of capitalists. Only communism which ignored the wealth of the
nation and its military might, concentrating instead upon the well-being
of each individual in the world, could provide justice and achieve
universal harmony.

The Shih-pao article had equated communism with the ancient
Well-Field System, but had asserted that despite the attempt to effectuate
communism from time to time throughout Chinese history, it could never
be more than empty talk because it ignored reality. At points, this article
had used the term, "chn-ch'an, " "equalization of property" for
communism, in place of "kung-ch'an " In his reply, Ch'u consistently
used the latter term. He denied any relationship between the Well-Field
System and modern communism. He insisted, moreover, that one must
distinguish between various forms of state collectivism, such as the
nationalization of property, and true communism. The latter was based
upon common property, with the controls being vested in the small,
operative, natural group. Groups were united only in free federation, and
there were no coercive instruments of control.

Ch'u admitted that the gap between rich and poor in China had not
reached the extremes characteristic of the West. If that fate were to be
averted, however, communism would have to be practiced. And in
communism, there was only one basic law: "from each according to his
ability; to each according to his needs." No other rules were necessary,
and hence there was no need for higher government or a state. When the
Shih-pao brought social evolutionism into play, Ch'u also had an answer.
The Shih-pao author had asserted that the world progressed through
competition, and thus the struggle between rich and poor, between ruler
and people, constituted a part of the inevitable historical process.
Responded Ch'u:

"Progress did not necessarily depend upon competition and competition
did not always mean progress. Mutual aid was also a route to progress -
with justice."

The political theory of the Paris group can perhaps best be summarized
by referring to a chart published in the July 27, 1907 issue of Hsin
Shih-chi. It was entitled "A Comparison of the Three Principles of
Nationalism, Democracy, and Socialism."[61] The salient characteristics
of nationalism were its anti-Manchu and anti-foreign (Western) qualities.
In a limited sense, it was anti-authority: it opposed the transgression of
any foreign race upon the Han people, and sought to eliminate the insults
to them. It was thus drawn to support militarism as a method of opposing
external dangers and strengthening China.

Democracy was characterized by being anti-monarchy and anti-nobility. It
too was anti-authority in a limited sense: it opposed the power and
coercion of one person (the monarch) or a small group (the officials), and
sought to end oppression upon the people. But democracy also supported
tsu-kuo chu-i, "fatherlandism. " Together, nationalism and democracy
sought the well-being of one country or one race. At best, this was a
decided minority of world's people. Hence, in the final analysis, these two
movements were dominated by selfishness or self-advantage.

Socialism, on the other hand, was dedicated to opposing all things that
were against reason. Thus it was anti-authority without reservation. It
was against all political systems. It sought to eliminate injury of whatever
type to human freedom and to realize certain universal moral laws. It
opposed international as well as national power politics, favoring an end
to warfare and the realization of universal harmony. It was for the
elimination of evil ways--such as the superstitions of religion (so as to
eliminate falseness and realize truth); the obligations of the family (so as
to eliminate family bonds and realize love among mankind); and the
customs of social intercourse (so as to eliminate falseness and realize
practicality). It strongly supported equality in all forms: equality in the
economic system (so as to eliminate divisions between rich and poor, and
realize common property); equality in moral and political rules (so as to
eliminate classes and special privilege). Thus socialism has as its ultimate
characteristic universal harmony based upon justice and selfless love of
mankind.[62] In this fashion, did the Chinese Anarchist seek to
distinguish themselves from their rivals and set forth their case . /2

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