How a Great Power Falls Apart
Decline Is Invisible From the Inside
SINCE Mao Tse-tung's rise to leadership in the early 1930's, "land reform" has been the principal feature of the Chinese Communist Party line. It is the factor most stressed by the Communists themselves; it is the aspect of Mao's program most discussed abroad. Yet although few foreigners entertain any longer the notion that the Chinese Communists are "mere agrarian reformers," and though it is apparent that the agrarian policy of the Chinese Communists can be understood only when viewed within the framework of the total Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist ideology, misconceptions about the objectives of "land reform" are still widespread.
It is said in particular that Mao's program is primarily designed as a measure to win support for the new régime. Land in China, the theory runs, has been concentrated in the hands of predatory landlords who exacted exorbitant rents from their oppressed tenants. Agrarian discontent was thus gnawing at the vitals of the old order. By setting out to remedy this situation, the Communists won the peasantry to their banners. By promising free land to all, they "broke open the peasant's soul and released a flood of mass passion" (to borrow an eloquent passage) which swelled the waters of war and revolution and swept Chiang Kaishek's régime away.
The corollary of this thesis is that Mao's agrarian program is a genuine attempt to improve the living standard of the masses. Many people in China barely subsist (so the argument runs), and at times they do not even do that: less than 10 percent of the people own more than 80 percent of the arable land.[i] But the Communists, unlike the Nationalists, have in mind the welfare of the suffering people. They are determined to alleviate their hard lot. Redistribution of land will put an end to payments to the landlords, and then another series of measures will lay the foundation of a prosperous rural life. The conclusion is that the welfare of the peasants is the objective of the Communists' program and the basis of their political power.
This pleasant picture deserves closer scrutiny. It is certainly true that Mao Tse-tung and his group desire political power, and there is no doubt that they look upon the agrarian program as a means of acquiring it. There is no doubt also that land reform has helped swell Mao's army. But the method used was rather different from the ideal version of the policy. What Mao did was to plunge rural society in China into such depths of despair that the peasants had no choice but to follow him. The technique was to resort to indiscriminate confiscation, violence and carnage in order, first, to destroy the means by which the peasants could make an independent living, and second, to instill in them the fear of retribution. A Communist document of the thirties put the purpose of land reform in plain terms: "to make the peasant participate in mob violence so as to brand him forever as a Mao Tsetung man; the fear of revenge at the hands of Chiang Kai-shek and the landlords will make it impossible for him to lead a normal life again."[ii]
During the war years the Communists did, indeed, enjoy support of a different kind. Then more than at any other time during the three decades of its history, the Chinese Communist Party enjoyed moral prestige and received willing assistance from the people. But this was the period in which the land reform program was suspended. The Communists proclaimed themselves the advocates of democracy, nationalism and social justice--objectives which are indeed close to the hearts of the Chinese. Mao Tse-tung's "On New Democracy" had a liberal ring. Not without reason many genuine liberals were attracted to the Communist standard. Unfortunately, Mao's "liberalism" was a stratagem.
The fact is that the division of land offers no solution for China's fundamental economic problem--the pressure of population upon resources. No amount of redistribution, no matter how justly and how wisely done, will change the ratio of land to man--approximately one-half acre of land per farm person. The Communist leaders are well aware of this. They raise the picture of social justice through redistribution of land for purposes of their own. Misunderstandings of their objectives are welcome to them, since they help disguise the actual purpose of the land program. It has nothing to do with "reform."
The word "reform" is, indeed a mistranslation of the Chinese kai ko, which means "transformation." In the Communist view, "land reform" is an instrument for sharpening the class conflict and promoting revolution. The Marxist-Leninist revolution--and the revolutionary power which it confers--are the objectives. The welfare of the peasants of China is as incidental to that central purpose as the "welfare" of the steel rails which carry the trains of the Communist leaders from one spot to another. According to the Stalinist doctrine a revolutionary program in a semi-colonial country has three distinct stages: first, a struggle against foreign imperialism; second, an agrarian revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party; and finally, a proletarian dictatorship. In China the fight against imperialist domination has nearly come to an end. The key step is the second--the agrarian revolution. It is in the light of this revolutionary process that the real significance of the Communist agrarian program can properly be understood.
Agrarian reform as such is not new to China. Throughout the ages rulers of China have more than once felt it necessary to counter the trend to concentration of land-ownership. In our day Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Kuomintang, made land reform the cornerstone of his program of economic reconstruction. He advocated the equalization of land rights and coined the slogan, "Land to those who till it." After Sun's death, the Kuomintang hardly attempted in the 20 years of its rule to translate its founder's policy into action. To be sure, it wrote into its statute books some of the most progressive legislation ever conceived to alleviate peasant misery. But this was never applied. In his "On New Democracy," Mao Tse-tung claims that his agrarian program is no more than an attempt to implement Sun's third principle--the Principle of People's Livelihood. But Sun's principles had long ago been repudiated by the Communists. In the "Program" adopted by the Comintern in September 1928, Sun Yat-senism was described as "a vague state of well-being," an ideology of petty-bourgeois Socialism, in which the concept "people" obscured the concept "class." When Mao said in 1940 that Sun Yat-sen's true principles had been abandoned by the Kuomintang and inherited by the Communists, he was trying to win over to his cause the liberals and the Kuomintang left wingers who, though dissatisfied with Chiang Kai-shek, had been opposed to orthodox Communism. Politically, it was a most astute position to take; but the aims of the two programs are utterly different. Sun's land policy was truly reformist in principle. It aimed at the redistribution of land and stopped there. Mao begins where Sun ends.
From the establishment of the soviets in Kiangsi more than 20 years ago, the Communist land program has undergone a number of significant changes, shifting from left to right and back again in accordance with the "objective" conditions as estimated by the Communists at a given time. In the Communist lexicon any Party step is a "forward" step, no matter in what direction it heads. "It is not as though," wrote Lenin, "in the difficult ascent of an unexplored and heretofore inaccessible mountain, we were to renounce beforehand the idea that at times we might have to go in zigzags, sometimes retracing our steps, sometimes abandoning the course once selected and trying various others." This precept of the revolutionary leader has been faithfully followed by his Chinese disciples.
The Communists started their land reform with an "ultraleftist" period (1931-1934) characterized by indiscriminate confiscation and bloodshed. This was followed by an interval of rightist orientation in which the class war was abandoned in favor of an all-out effort against Japanese aggression. At the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese conflict in 1937, which Mao Tse-tung had helped to hasten, the Communists adopted the Nationalist law of rent limitation; land expropriation was practised only in cases of landlords accused of aiding or collaborating with the enemy. As the war went on, however, the relations between the Communists and the Nationalist Government became increasingly estranged, and land reform in the sense of confiscation and redistribution was gradually resumed. By the end of the war, the Communists (having then emerged from the barren loess country of the Northwest) were in control of vast territories in North China and along the north banks of the Yangtze River. Land reform followed in the wake of their armies. This was necessary because, in the words of Liu Shao-chi, Vice Chairman of the People's Government and Mao Tse-tung's second in command, "it was imperative to raise the peasant's high revolutionary enthusiasm to participate in and support the people's revolutionary war and strike down Chiang Kai-shek's régime--a régime sponsored by American imperialism." Landlords and rich peasants were massacred by tens of thousands. Nor did the middle peasants fare much better. The poor peasants, after having been made to engage in mob violence, were forcibly pressed into the armies or organized into labor corps. Fields were abandoned, and the Communists soon discovered that their food supplies were threatened. Accordingly, on May 4, 1946, the Central Committee issued a directive ordering its cadres to go slow with land reform. Only holdings belonging to landlords were to be confiscated; the rich peasants were to be left alone. In the following year, however, the policy veered again to the left, and rich peasants were once more marked out for liquidation. Middle peasants were encouraged to offer their surplus land "voluntarily" for redistribution. In June 1950 the Agrarian Reform Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted. This law has the appearance of greater moderation.
More often than not, changes in land policy reflect changes in the fortunes of the Communists. A policy of moderation indicates confidence, while harshness is a sure sign of worry. All through 1947 and the first part of 1948 Communist policy had only one objective--to win power in the state. Land policy was used as an invitation to revolution, taking the form of a ruthless campaign against the landlords, the rich peasants, and even the moderately well-to-do. By 1949 the Communist ascendancy had become so decisive that it could not be reversed. At this juncture Mao Tsetung counselled moderation. Mao's ideas are embodied in the new law.
But it would be erroneous to suppose that a change in policy is always a change in practice. The area of difference between the two has often been considerable. This is freely acknowledged by Communist leaders, but they put the excesses in execution down to "deviations" on the part of over-zealous groups. "In many places," says Mao Tse-tung, "many laboring people who did not engage in feudal exploitation or did it but slightly, were wrongly placed in the landlord or rich-peasant category. Thus the front of attack was erroneously extended, the extremely important tactical principle that it is both possible and necessary for us in our land reform work to unite with 92 percent of the rural households or 90 percent of the rural population--the entire body of rural toilers--in order to establish a united front, is forgotten."[iii] This mistaken policy of encroaching upon the interests of the middle peasants, Mao warned, has the effect of "taking a large number of persons from our own ranks and sending them to the enemies' camps. This was a violation of Marxism-Leninism and could have jeopardized the revolution if it had not been corrected in good time." Mao also preached against "unnecessary and indiscriminate violence." Only the "key counter-revolutionaries and tyrants" who have committed "gross crimes against the people" should receive capital punishment. The reason for the deviation is due to a "departure from the objective situation at a given time and place."
Another form of deviation, according to Mao, is the tendency to encroach upon the interests of industry and commerce in the course of land reform. The cadres and rural masses seem to be incapable of distinguishing between "feudal exploitation" of the landlords, which is to be eradicated, and "capitalist exploitation," which is to be curbed but not eliminated in the "New Democracy." To confiscate land belonging to a factory, for example, is to apply the agrarian policy in a spirit of "petty bourgeois equalitarianism;" that is to say, it stifles industrial production.
"Deviations," however, have by no means ceased, despite Mao's warnings. Has Mao, in fact, any desire to put a stop to them? They are an integral part of the revolutionary process, though so long as it serves Mao's interests to call that program land reform, and to maintain the fiction that he and his Party really are thinking of the interests of the people, he will no doubt continue to disavow them in words. If they are too cruel, that is neither his nor his Party's fault: the lack of experience and the revolutionary zeal of various groups are to blame, as well as the "spontaneous reaction" of the masses. We can be sure that, unless Party interests are adversely affected, such "deviations" will continue to flourish in one form or the other.
The agrarian law of 1950 is designed to do away with the feudal system of land ownership and feudal exploitation--the word "feudal" being used, not as a precise term of description, but as an abusive label. The main provisions of the law may be summarized as follows:
1. The land, draft animals, farm implements, and surplus grain of the landlords, and their surplus houses in the countryside, shall be confiscated, but other properties shall not be confiscated.
2. Rural land of temples, monasteries, churches, schools and other institutions shall be requisitioned.
3. Land owned by rich peasants and cultivated by them or by hired labor shall not be touched. Small portions of land rented out by them shall be protected; but in certain areas, part or all of the land that has been rented out may be requisitioned.
4. All confiscated land is to be taken over by the local peasant associations for distribution in a unified, equitable and rational manner to peasants with little or no land.
5. Landlords shall be given an equal share of land so that they may rely on their labor for a living and reform themselves through labor.
6. After the land redistribution, title deeds will be issued and all land owners may buy, sell, or rent land freely.
7. Land shall not be given to collaborators, traitors, war criminals, and counter-revolutionaries.
The underlying objectives of this law, we are told, are the liquidation of the landlord as a class (though not necessarily as a person), the neutralization of the rich peasant, and the protection of the middle peasant. Poor peasants and farm laborers will, in theory, disappear after land redistribution. In this connection it may be asked: what is a landlord, a rich peasant, or a middle peasant? To the individuals concerned this is not a theoretical question but a matter of life and death.
The question is easier asked than answered. In China the average holding is small. Except perhaps in provinces such as Szechuan, where land is more concentrated than other parts of the country, big landlords are rare. Landlords of the former Eastern European type, for instance, with immense estates and vast incomes, living in romantic luxury, are practically unknown. What, then, is a landlord in China?
To the Chinese Communists the most important yardstick for the measurement of a man's status is the presence or absence of the element of exploitation.[iv] The size of the holding, while important, is not the controlling factor. Thus a man is a landlord when he does not cultivate his land with his own labor, but rents it to others for cultivation. Persons acting as agents or rent-collectors for a landlord, though having no land of their own, are also regarded as landlords. Those who make a living by lending money to peasants at usurious rates of interest are also treated as landlords. A rich peasant is primarily an owner-cultivator, though he may hire farm laborers to work for him or rent out a portion of his land to others. A middle peasant toils on his tiny plot of land, and is distinguished from a poor peasant or a farm laborer by the fact that he is the master of his own labor.
It is obvious that the distinction between a landlord and a rich peasant on the one hand, and between a middle peasant and a poor one on the other, is a question of interpretation--and in practice, in most cases, a matter of splitting hairs. Theoretically, class status is determined by "democratic estimation" at village peasants' meetings. Each man gives a self-assessment of the class to which he belongs, and after public discussion, the village meeting makes the decision. But the source of real power is not in the peasants' assemblies but in the Communist groups which control the meetings.
The determination of class status is, in the view of the Communists, in itself an important objective. The Chinese as a rule have been singularly free of class consciousness. A fatalistic people, they resign themselves to what have always appeared to be the ordained requirements of a life of deprivation. They know nothing and care less about Marxism-Leninism. Now it is the business of the Communists to teach them. But before they can be class-conscious they must be given a sense of class status. A class war cannot be waged without combatants. When an individual knows to which class he belongs, he will then know who his enemies are. Woe to him who is called a landlord and therefore a class enemy!
Only a year ago the rich peasant was a class enemy. But the cost of the destruction of rich-peasant economy has been high. The rich peasant has been the backbone of the nation's agricultural production. To destroy him is to destroy the food supply. China still suffers from the effect of that shortsighted policy. It has now been officially changed, but only after great numbers of rich peasants have already been wiped out.
Liu Shao-chi tells us that the change "is not a temporary measure but a long-term policy, that is to say, as long as the period of New Democracy will last." But how long will the New Democracy last? There is no answer. Whatever may be its duration, this much is clear: the rich peasant is a marked man. Only his current usefulness keeps him alive. Politically he is a person without civil rights (if there are such rights under a Communist régime). In order to preserve the "purity" of the peasant associations, he is not permitted to join. Economically he is discriminated against; he alone of the farming population has to bear the crushing burden of the progressive land tax. He is a man condemned to death by slow degrees.
The policy of preserving the rich peasant is a temporizing line, motivated by the need to boost farm production. Millions of bureaucrats (according to Liu Shao-chi there are now 9,000,000, but Bo I-po, the Finance Minister of the Central People's Government, thinks that the number will soon reach 18,000,000), as well as millions of soldiers, must be fed. Moreover, large quantities of grain are needed for export to Eastern Europe in exchange for manufactured goods and materials. The Government claims that it holds additional quantities of grain in reserve to meet such emergencies as famine and seasonal shortages, though this is probably no more than propaganda.
In point of fact, however, the rich peasant is in no mood to produce more than is absolutely necessary. One can hardly blame him. Even the middle peasant and the poor peasant, for whose benefit the land-reform program supposedly exists, tend to be skeptical of Communist intentions. They do not work as hard as they used to do, for it has become dangerous to be too prosperous. As one Communist correspondent, writing to the author from Honan in July 1950, put it: "The peasants look with a suspicious eye at the pieces of land allotted to them, and do not care to use fertilizer to increase production. Some are afraid that they may have too much land and will have to pay exorbitant taxes. There are even those who exult in being poor and have no desire to become well-to-do through productive efforts. The middle peasants only hope to maintain their present level of production, and are fearful of becoming objects of fresh struggles." An editorial in the Peking People's Daily, official organ of the Party, says (July 19, 1950): "The life of the peasants in North China [after the completion of land reform] is far from good. In order to make it so the first thing to do is strengthen the peasants' spirit for active production." It is clear that the land reform has not ushered in an era of plenty. Its chief effect upon the peasants is to make them wonder what is to come next.
A closer look at what is actually going on is the best clue to what is to come. When Liu Shao-chi says that "agrarian reform is a systematic and fierce struggle," he is summarizing the nature of the Communst land program accurately. For the so-called reform is a kind of warfare. The essential idea is imported from Russia, and only the particular techniques are being developed in China. The struggle takes many forms. Some of the best known are the requisitioning of food, the "Speak Bitterness" meetings, the trial and punishment of the so-called "rural despots," and the "disgorging" of rents. The war is designed to break down the resistance of the landlord class, to prevent sabotage, and to rid Chinese society of "feudal" remnants.
Prior to instituting the reform in any area, groups of Party workers are sent to the villages to requisition food. The purpose of this is to forestall the concealment of grain by the peasants during the subsequent procedures. The rate of requisition is supposedly fixed at 13 percent of the total produce, but the amount exacted often exceeds 50 percent and even, in some cases, goes as high as 100 percent. The Party emissaries themselves estimate the amount of the farmer's produce, and as might be expected they have a habit of overestimating the amount of grain produced. If the peasant protests, he is told that he would have produced that amount if he had worked hard enough. If he hasn't got it, that is his fault: he must have been too lazy to make the fullest use of his land.
The Party also stages what are called "Speak Bitterness" meetings. The procedure is to seek out the poorest peasants and the riffraff of the village, and to urge them to tell their tales of woe in public assemblies. The roots of their trouble, they are told, are embedded in the exploitation of the landlords or, prior to 1950, of the rich peasants. They must therefore struggle against their oppressors.
A "rural despot" is a landlord who has committed "heinous" crimes against the people. Every village is supposed to have a few despots, and if they do not exist they have to be invented. A despot is subject to a public trial at which every peasant is encouraged to make accusations. He can be humiliated, beaten and stoned. Other landlords are invited to attend the proceedings because of the "educational" value to them. The audience is required, at appropriate intervals, to shout, "Down with all despotic oppressors! Down with feudalism! Long live Mao Tse-tung and the revolution!" Often the offender is disposed of by clubs, knives and stones. Of late such haphazard violence has been frowned upon, however. People's Courts are being organized to take care of the despots. But the so-called courts are no courts at all, merely a slightly different version of the same thing. There is neither law nor procedure, and the defendant is not allowed to defend himself.
The Communists used to make a distinction between a "wicked" and a "good" despot, the latter being a man of influence in the village, but one who had not used his influence for the oppression of people. He is what in America is called a civic leader. But, in the Communist view, he is nonetheless a class enemy. Formerly, such a man was humiliated but allowed to live, but since the Communist intervention in Korea, persons belonging to this category have been massacred freely. The motive is mainly political. Unrest in the countryside has mounted, and this has caused serious concern. "Despots" are people of the type around whom discontented peasants might rally. Communists know that no matter how widespread may be the discontent, it can never assume the proportions of open revolt without leadership.
One of the harshest measures that has been devised to break the spirit of the landlords is the so-called disgorging of rents. What is meant is that the landlord is required to pay back all the rents he has collected during the period in which the land has been rented out. This may mean years, decades or generations, for a landlord is responsible for the acts of his forefathers. Of course, this may prove, and often is, an impossibility. The Communists know that it is impossible; but it is a form of struggle, and class struggle knows no bounds. Closely allied to this is the forced payment of tax arrears which the landlord might have owed to Chiang Kai-shek's régime before the Communist liberation. It seems strange indeed that a revolutionary government should stoop to collect the taxes which had been levied by a despised reactionary predecessor. But it is being done.
All these forms of class war are calculated to tear asunder the history and traditions of the Chinese, and to uproot the people psychologically. The Chinese are not given to extremes. Contrary to popular belief, the tenants seldom hate the landlords but consider that both parties are united in a joint enterprise for mutual benefit. The colossal misunderstanding abroad of the landlord-tenant relationship in China has been the result of Communist propaganda during the last three decades. Any impartial investigation of the situation will disclose that propaganda's falsity. To say this is not to say that landlord-peasant relations in China were idyllic, and that there was no room for improvement. The Chinese people were not opposed to land reform, in the proper sense of the words, and in some parts of China the reform was long overdue. But the Communist version of land reform is a stratagem for promoting revolution--a struggle, a systematic and fierce struggle, as Liu Shao-chi says. No one, save the Communist leaders in their search for dictatorial power, is benefited by it.
In recent times it has been fashionable for students of China, influenced by Marxist theory, to attribute all peasant revolutions in Chinese history to the oppressions of the landlord class. They forget the historical fact that in every peasant revolution members of the landlord class have been prominent leaders. The downfall of the Ming Dynasty was largely due to Li Tsu-ch'eng's revolt. Li's social status was, to use the Communist terminology, a rich peasant, and the men who acted as his advisers--Niu Chinhsing among others--were, if anything of the kind, landlords. Most of the leaders of the Taiping Rebellion were of the landlord class. The Communist movement itself is not a peasant movement. It was started, directed and carried to victory by intellectuals, who are mostly men and women of landlord--or at least rich peasant--origin. And, what is even more significant, revolts had never been directed against the landlords but against the reigning dynasties. They have invariably taken place at the decline of a dynasty, when the Government's hold on the people was weak, the administration corrupt, and the military power at low ebb. There was also, of course, an economic cause for such upheavals--famine, for instance. But we should guard against applying the Marxist principle of class struggle too readily to complicated historical events.
The Communist objective in land reform, then, is to shatter the traditional Chinese society and remold it in accordance with their desires. In the struggle they aim at one thing--the inoculation of hatred among the various social classes of the rural population. It must be remembered, in this connection, that Chinese rural society is fundamentally a kinship society in which the members are closely bound together in a variety of relations. It is extremely unnatural for them to engage in a class war of self-annihilation. When the Communists describe Chinese society as "feudal" they have, of course, this feature in mind. And it is this that they have set out to destroy. To them family ties are but primitive tribal attachments, and the ordinary sentiments of human beings are subjects for ridicule. Children who denounce their parents, wives who betray their husbands, brothers who spy on brothers--these are now the "revolutionary heroes."
According to the Communist timetable, the program of land reform is to be completed in the autumn of 1952. Since the Korean intervention, however, the pace has been accelerated. At this writing most of the provinces in China proper and Manchuria have either completed or are in the process of completing the program. Only in some small areas has the reform been put off.
The worsening of the international situation makes it necessary to hasten the consolidation of the social revolution at home, so that no sector of society will be left vulnerable to outside influence. The land-reform program is now being linked up with the suppression of "reactionary" and "counterrevolutionary" activities, and the liquidation of the landlords as a class has, as a result, now become the liquidation of the landlords as persons.
The program as carried out by the Communists makes sense only when it is regarded as blazing a trail for the Socialism which constitutes the third step in the Stalinist program of revolution for colonial and semi-colonial countries. The Chinese revolution cannot, of course, be permitted to halt short of the final stage of Marxist-Stalinist theory--the collectivization of agriculture. To press on thus is not only an article of faith with the Communists; it is a practical necessity, for they can never feel secure so long as an overwhelmingly large section of the population clings to the idea of private property. The Soviet Union accomplished the program of collectivization in five years. Can China do this?
Probably not, for reasons which are not difficult to perceive. The most important prerequisite of collectivization is industrialization. Collective agriculture is, in fact, mechanized agriculture. Farm machinery in the form of tractors, combines, threshers and the like must be made available in large quantities. The introduction of machinery, moreover, means the elimination of a large part of the manpower now employed on small individual farms, and there must be industries to absorb these surplus workers. When the Bolsheviks set out in 1930 to recast the nation's agriculture into a collective pattern, they sought not only to wipe out some 5,000,000 kulaks who formed the hard core of latent opposition to Communism, but also to shift several million workers from the land into the rapidly expanding industry. China cannot do that for a long time to come. Indeed, it may be doubted whether she can ever collectivize her agriculture as Russia has done.
The problem of industrialization in China is not a simple one. Though China has tremendous possibilities for the development of hydroelectric power, and a huge reserve of coal, her iron reserves are only half those of European Russia, and the ores are generally of a low grade. She is relatively rich in lighter metals--magnesite, bauxite, tungsten and antimony; but oil and shale reserves are negligible. For her size and with her population, China is not a rich country by any standard. Certainly she can compare neither with the United States nor with the Soviet Union in resources.
Moreover, industrial development calls for a prodigious amount of capital. How is this to be accumulated? History shows that external aid in the form of long-term credits or loans is indispensable to a young country that wants to raise its industry to a higher level. The Soviet Union is the only backward country that has embarked on a program of gigantic development of heavy industry without the benefit of foreign assistance. The Soviets did it at the expense of the people, exporting vast quantities of grain in exchange for machinery and other equipment. Meanwhile the people starved.
The Chinese Communists, like their brethren in Russia, are certainly not squeamish about putting the screws on the people, but it is doubtful that, with all the ill-will in the world, a Chinese dictatorship can squeeze the needed capital out of its victims. China has no great natural granary as Russia has in the Ukraine. And the pressure of population on resources is far greater than in Russia. But if Mao Tse-tung and his Government must have external aid to carry out a plan of industrialization, to what country can they turn? The Soviet Union can hardly supply the capital without putting unbearable strains on its own forced-draft economy. Peking's one-sided foreign policy precludes the possibility of obtaining assistance from the West. It is reasonable to conclude that the prospects for rapid industrialization of Communist China are not very bright. With that hope, the hope for the collectivization of agriculture fades also.
This does not mean that the Communists will abandon their goal. The land is not to be reformed, it is to be collectivized. The very size of the obstacles means that the pace will be speeded, and harsher and still harsher measures will be employed. The future holds more struggles, more suffering and more bloodshed for the Chinese people.
[i] For a description of the actual situation, see J. Lossing Buck, "Fact and Theory about China's Land," Foreign Affairs, October 1949.
[ii] Quoted by Li Shi-nung, "The Bourgeoisie and Peasantry as Reserves of the Chinese Communist Party," 1950.
[iii] "Address to Cadres of the Shansi-Suiyuan Border Region," 1948.
[iv] "How to Determine Class Status." This document, first issued by the Party in 1933, is, with modifications, still in force.