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The Communist Revolution of China:
A Marxist Revolution?

Charlie Ma

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          The heart of any Communist revolution is the abolition of private property. The Chinese Communist Party's ultimate goal was same as that of Marx. They believed that under common ownership, use of resources would be more efficient. They did not immediately move the population into communes however. The Communists prepared the people in small steps. "When the Communists had come to power in 1949, they had confiscated farm land and turned it over to the peasants. A few years later the Party organized the peasants into small co-operative farms" The small incremental steps gave the peasants experience. First, individual families gained their own property to work on, instead of working for a landlord. Then, groups of thirty to forty families collectively worked together much like Marx described. The production did not meet the demand so the government decided to "organize still larger agricultural units called communes." During the period known as the "great leap forward", twenty-five thousand communes of approximately five thousand households each were established. "These peasants not only lost their remaining rights in the land but also had to turn over their work animals and farm equipment to the commune." Many people, however, were given small plots of land as a private garden when the government realized even gradual changes were too fast for the peasants.

          Instead of rising with the progress of industry, the modern laborer sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of their own class. Karl Marx uses this to justify the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. One of the aims of Communism is to solve this problem. After the Chinese Communist Revolution, everyone's income was relatively equal. Although "some workers were paid bonuses for producing more than others", this was eventually discouraged by the government. The workers' income was based on the profit of their team so the more efficient teams earned slightly more money. Each individual worker's income is also based on skill, ability, and difficulty. Despite the variations, people of the same type of occupation had similar incomes. Under Communism, instead of sinking deeper, the living conditions in class become similar. Though the end result coincided with Marxism, the beginning is very different.

          The living conditions of the proletariat were indeed deteriorating for the benefit of the other classes. The scenario was different however, with the peasant farmers. The decline in the standard living of peasants was not due to continual exploitation as was the case with the proletariat. The Chinese were fighting Japanese invaders which had a vastly superior military force. They also had to support the ongoing civil war during crisis times like the famine. During the war, tax rates soared to ridicules levels, sometimes over fifty percent. The wartime conditions declined for everyone, not just a single class. The Communist Manifesto was aimed at the working class during peacetime, not during a war. It was only during war that conditions for Chinese farmers steadily worsened. The standard of living was steadily increasing for the peasants before the war. This was also because of the immaturity of industrialization in China. Farmers did not feel the benefits of cheap manufactured goods until early to the mid twentieth century.

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