First published in International Socialism (1st series), No.5, Summer 1961, p.31.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Agrarian Policy of the Chinese Communist Party
Asia Publishing House. 55s.
The Chinese Communes
The Bodley Head. 10s 6d.
Chao’s book is a very well documented history of the changing policies of the Communist Party of China in the countryside. It shows the numerous zigzags of this policy: in 1928 nationalization of the land; during the National United Front with Chiang Kai-shek between 1937 and 1945, cessation of land confiscation and instead limitation of the rent to 37.5 per cent of the yield; in 1946 a policy of purchasing portions of the landlords’ land; in 1947 once again expropriation of the landlords’ land; in 1948 a turn to a mild policy of reducing the rent by 25 per cent so as not to exceed 37.5 per cent of the crop; in June 1950 again expropriation of the landlords. The history of these zigzags shows Mao’s leadership to be not a peasant leadership – although Chao does not draw this conclusion – but an elite manoeuvring between the contending classes in the countryside.
Chao’s book is also very useful as a source of information about the steps taken by Mao’s Government to reorganise farming during the last dozen years. Unfortunately, viewing things from an administrative standpoint, the author misses the actual social and economic content of the Maoist transformation of the countryside.
Hughes’ is a poor book, largely made up of interviews with refugees from Communist China and a few quotations from the Chinese press (and these carelessly omit exact details of the papers quoted from).
Last updated on 25 February 2010