The Chinese Communes: Big Risks for Big Gains

Courtesy Reuters

WITHIN the past year Communist China has incorporated some 550,000,000 of its peasants into "people's communes." Now, after a winter and spring of "tidying up" these communes and examining their performance in the face of peasant resistance, the Communist Party has shown this is no mere experiment. The rulers in Peking are committed to them for "transforming rural society through socialism to Communism." A single commune today manages the total activity of several thousand peasant families--sometimes more. Their crops are planted, harvested and stored, or sold to the state, as dictated by the commune. Men and women in a labor platoon may shift from farming to mining coal or processing beans into soya sauce. But the decision is not theirs--it is made by Communist commune managers. They determine how long the peasant will work and his meager compensation. The commune drills him in its "people's militia," selects the movies he is

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