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International Socialism, Winter 1962


P. Mansell

Chiang and Mao


From International Socialism, No.11, Winter 1962, p.29.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Long March to Freedom
Stuart and Roma Gelder
Hutchinson. 30s.

In this book, Stuart Gelder, a former member of the News Chronicle staff, describes China as he knew it during and immediately after the War, and as he and his wife found it on a tour they made in 1960.

He describes frankly the corruption, brutality and incompetence of Chiang Kai-Shek’s regime in its death-agony. There are revealing quotations from reports by US diplomats to the State Department (published in 1956/7) which have no doubt cost their authors dear. One report, for example, in 1944 said:

‘The Communists have survived ten years of civil war and seven years of Japanese offensives ... They have survived and they have grown ... And they will continue to grow. The reason for this phenomenal vitality and strength is simple and fundamental. It is mass support, mass participation. The Communist Government and armies are the first Government and armies in modern Chinese history to have positive and widespread popular support. They have this support because the Government and armies are genuinely of the people.’

When Mr and Mrs Gelder turn to contemporary China their account reads very much like the glowing descriptions of happy Russian peasants and workers published in the Daily Worker even at the height of Stalin’s terror. The limitations of their journalistic approach are all too evident. There are, for instance, one or two vague references to wage differentials such as ‘Architects and engineers receive more than craftsmen. Craftsmen receive more than labourers ...’ but no statistics that would indicate the extent and therefore significance of the differences. The cleavage between Moscow and Pekin is glossed over and the differences between them are explained partly in personal terms: ‘The bucolic exuberance of Mr Khrushchev will not appeal to the more courteous, sophisticated Chinese.’

Briefly, this book may have some value in opening the eyes of those who have keen persuaded by Western propaganda into believing that Chiang Kai-Shek is a democrat and Mao a thug. It is of little help to Socialists seeking to analyse the nature of Chinese society.

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Last updated on 19 March 2010