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The Communist Revolution of China:
A Marxist Revolution?

Charlie Ma

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          The lack of industrialization invalidated another point under Marxism. The Marxist theory stated that "the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character ... [and] becomes an appendage of the machine." One of the reasons for revolting would be because workers only had collective value and power through the work they provide, worth even less than machines. One worker could replace another, they were both equal and the same. It is horrors like absence of job security, lack of protection against dangerous machines, long work hours (usually over seventy hours a week), and bare subsistence income (just to name a few) which forces the workers to revolt. Conditions were so poor that the life expectancy of the urban industrial worker was thirteen years below those of non-industrialized areas. Unindustrialized, China did not have this problem. Since the horrors of industry were known by relatively few, it made no impact in the rest of China. It simply didn't apply to the peasants. The far majority of the Chinese were farmers who retained individuality both in themselves and their products. Since most Chinese families owned their own plot of land, they did not simply become replaced or fired for an arbitrary reason. Whether due to injury or a depression in the economy, the farmers still held some control. Peasant farmers rarely became discontent for the same reasons the proletariat does. At anytime, the farmers could see the products of their hard work, take what they made, and do as they wish with it That was something the proletariat Marx had in mind could not do. The total absence of direct power within a class which fundamentally holds all the real power is an important catalyst in a revolution. The injustice would have to be corrected. This situation was lacking in a country like China where the proletariat contributed to only a small percentage of the total population.

          China was too different from the European industrial world of Marx to apply completely to The Communist Manifesto. Its large peasant population, and its small class of proletariat differed greatly from the industrial slums Marx was used to. Much of the Chinese not only owned the means of production, but was also far from being the faceless worker Marx described. Though the lack of safety regulations and enforcement was appalling, its effects rarely reached the peasant masses which made up most of China.

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