UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bolshevism and the Chinese revolution : the conceptual origins of the program of the Chinese Communist Party at the time of its first congress, 1917-1921 Stanley, Timothy John


This is a study of the intellectual origins of the program of the Chinese Communist Party during the period between the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in the summer of 1921. This study examines the positions put forward in Gongchandang ("The Communist"), the theoretical organ of the Provisional Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Although these positions were influenced by Lenin's theories to some extent, they were mainly influenced by the Chinese intellectual's reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution, understanding of classes and concepts of social change. Specifically, the Russian Revolution was seen in terms of the anarchist concept of "social revolution". Marx's theories of historical materialism failed to alter the fundamental perceptions of reality of intellectuals, including those who considered themselves to be Marxists. Marx's theory of surplus value was seen as equivalent to the anarchist position "property is theft", and class struggle was seen as one among several methods of achieving "social revolution". Nowhere was the influence of anarchism more evident than in class concepts. Anarchism had identified the existence of two classes in China--the rulers and the ruled. The influence of Bolshevism and Marxism on class concepts was limited to supplying an economic content to these anarchist classes. Essentially landlords and capitalists were seen as the class that owned the means of production, while peasants and industrial workers were seen as the class which did not own any means of production. Consequently translations of the terms "proletariat" and "bourgeoisie" — "wuchan j iej i" and "you chan j ie j i" were understood as "unpropertied class" and "propertied class" respectively. This perception of classes in turn led the Chinese Communist Party, at the time of its First Congress, to analyse Chinese society in terms of the "propertied" and "unpropertied" classes. Based on this analysis, it developed a strategy of revolution aimed at organizing and rousing the consciousness of the members of "the unpropertied class". The understanding of landlords and capitalists as a single class, and of workers and peasants as a single class, also suggests that class differences between peasants and proletariat, between landlords and capitalists, were not apparent, at least to Chinese intellectuals, between 1917 and 1921.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.