Analysis of the various classes in Chinese society

Mao Zedong wrote this article to oppose the two tendencies that existed in the Party at that time. The first tendency in the Party, represented by Chen Duxiu, focused only on cooperation with the Kuomintang and forgot about the peasants, which was right-leaning opportunism. The second tendency, represented by Zhang Guotao, focused only on the workers’ movement and forgot about the peasants, which was “left” opportunism. Both types of opportunism feel that they do not have enough power, but do not know where to find power and where to get the vast number of allies. Mao Zedong pointed out that the broadest and most loyal allies of the Chinese proletariat were the peasants, thus solving the problem of the main allies in the Chinese revolution. Mao also foresaw that the national bourgeoisie at that time was a wavering class that would be divided at the height of the revolution and that its right wing would run to the imperialist side. The events of 1927 proved this.

Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This question is the primary question of the revolution. The basic reason why all the revolutionary struggles in China in the past were so ineffective was that they could not unite the true friends to attack the true enemies. The revolutionary party is the guide of the masses, and no revolutionary party has ever led the wrong way in a revolution without the revolution failing. If our revolution is to have the certainty that it will not lead the wrong way and that it will succeed, we must not fail to pay attention to uniting our true friends in order to attack our true enemies. In order to distinguish our real friends from our enemies, we must make a general analysis of the economic status of the various classes in Chinese society and their attitudes toward the revolution.
  What is the situation of the various classes in Chinese society?
  The landowning class and the buying class. In economically backward, semi-colonial China, the landowning and buying classes were completely subordinate to the international bourgeoisie, and their survival and development were subordinate to imperialism. These classes represented the most backward and reactionary relations of production in China and impeded the development of the productive forces in China. They were totally incompatible with the aims of the Chinese revolution. In particular, the big landowning class and the big buying class, who were always on the side of imperialism, were extreme counter-revolutionaries. Their political representatives were the statist faction [1] and the right wing of the Kuomintang.
  The middle class. This class represents the capitalist relations of production in urban and rural China. The middle class mainly refers to the national bourgeoisie, which has a contradictory attitude toward the Chinese revolution: when they feel pained by the blow of foreign capital and the oppression of the warlords, they need the revolution and are in favor of the anti-imperialist and anti-warlord revolutionary movement; but when the revolution has the courageous participation of the national proletariat at home and the active assistance of the international proletariat abroad, and when they feel threatened by the development of the class that wants to reach the status of the big bourgeoisie, they are suspicious of the revolution. When they felt threatened by the development of the class that wanted to reach the status of big bourgeoisie, they doubted the revolution again. Their political proposition was to achieve a national bourgeois one-class ruled state. One self-proclaimed “true believer” of Dai Jitao [2] published a comment in the Beijing Morning Post [3] saying, “Raise your left hand to defeat imperialism and raise your right hand to defeat the Communist Party.” These two sentences painted the contradictory and frightened state of this class. They opposed the interpretation of the KMT’s livelihoodism by the doctrine of class struggle; they opposed the KMT’s alliance with Russia and the accommodation of the Communists[4] and leftists. But the attempt of this class – to achieve a national bourgeois ruled state – is totally unworkable, because the situation in the world now is one of the final struggle between the two forces of revolution and counter-revolution. These two forces have raised two banners: the red banner of revolution, which the Third International [5] holds high, calling all the oppressed classes of the world to gather under its banner; and the white banner of counter-revolution, which the League of Nations [6] holds high, calling all the counter-revolutionaries of the world to gather under its banner. Those middle classes are bound to split up quickly, either to the left into the revolutionaries or to the right into the counter-revolutionaries, leaving no room for their “independence”. Therefore, the “independent” revolutionary idea of the Chinese middle class, with its own class as the main body, is only an illusion.
  The petty bourgeoisie. For example, the peasants [7], handicraft owners, and the small intellectual class – the student community, primary and secondary school teachers, small clerks, small clerks, small lawyers, small businessmen, etc. all belonged to this class. This class, in terms of numbers and in terms of class, deserves great attention. The economy of small-scale production was run by farmers and craftsmen. Although all classes within this petty bourgeoisie are in the same position of petty bourgeois economy, there are three different parts. The first part is those who have surplus money and leftover rice, i.e., those who use their physical or mental labor to earn, in addition to self-sufficiency, a surplus every year. This kind of people are extremely rich, and worship Zhao A.C. the most diligently. Although they do not presume to be rich, they always want to climb up to the middle-class status. They see those respected small fortune east, often hanging a foot long saliva. This kind of people are timid, they are afraid of officials, but also a little afraid of revolution. Because their economic status was close to that of the middle class, they believed in the propaganda of the middle class and were skeptical of the revolution. This part of the petty bourgeoisie constituted a minority and was the right wing of the petty bourgeoisie. The second part was the one that was largely economically self-sufficient. They also wanted to get rich, but Zhao A.C.[8] always prevented them from doing so, and because of the oppression and exploitation by imperialism, warlords, feudal landlords, and the big bourgeoisie, they felt that the world was no longer the world of the past. They feel that if they use only the same amount of labor as before, they will not be able to make ends meet. They felt that if they only used the same amount of labor as before, they would not be able to make ends meet. They called foreigners “foreign devils”, warlords “money grabbing commanders”, and landed gentry “unkind for the rich”. As for the anti-imperialist and anti-warlord movement, they only suspected that it might not succeed (the reason was that the foreigners and warlords were so big), and refused to participate in it hastily, taking a neutral attitude, but never opposing the revolution. This part was very large, accounting for about half of the petty bourgeoisie. The third part of the group was those whose livelihood had declined. Some of these people were originally from the so-called well-off families, but gradually they became merely tenable, and gradually their lives declined. Whenever they closed their accounts at the end of the year, they were surprised and said, “Ahem, another loss!” This kind of people, because they used to live a good life, then declined year by year and became more and more indebted, gradually lived a miserable life, and “shuddered when they looked at the future. Such people feel great mental pain because they have an opposite comparison between the former and the present. This kind of people is quite important in the revolutionary movement, and is a considerable mass, the left wing of the petty bourgeoisie. But in wartime, when the revolutionary tide was high and the dawn of victory was visible, not only did the left wing of the petty bourgeoisie join the revolution, but also the center wing, even if the right wing was hostage to the revolutionary tide of the proletariat and the left wing of the petty bourgeoisie. From the experience of the May 30th Movement in 1925[9] and the peasant movements in various places, we can see that this is a good conclusion.
  The semi-proletariat. The so-called semi-proletariat here includes: (a) the vast majority of semi-proletarians [10], (b) poor peasants, (c) small craftsmen, (d) shopkeepers [11], (e) peddlers, and so on. The vast majority of semi-subsistence farmers and poor farmers are an extremely large mass in the countryside. The so-called peasant problem is mainly their problem. What the semi-self-employed peasants, poor peasants and small artisans operate is a much finer economy of small production. Although most of the semi-proletarians and poor peasants belonged to the same semi-proletariat, their economic conditions were still different from those of the upper, middle and lower classes. The semi-self-employed peasants suffered more than the subsistence peasants because half of their food was not enough each year and they had to rent other people’s fields, sell part of their labor, or run small businesses to make up for it. Between spring and summer, the green and yellow, high interest to borrow from others, heavy price to buy food from others, compared to the subsistence farmers do not ask for, the natural situation to be bitter, but better than the poor farmers. Because the poor peasants have no land, they only get half or less than half of the annual harvest, while the semi-self-employed peasants only get half or less than half of the annual harvest, but they can get all of their own portion. Therefore, the semi-self-employed farmers are more revolutionary than the selfemployed farmers but less revolutionary than the poor farmers. The poor peasant was a tenant farmer in the countryside, exploited by the landlord. Their economic status was divided into two parts. One part of the poor peasants had more than enough agricultural tools and a considerable amount of money. This type of peasant can get half of the annual labor results for himself. If they did not have enough, they could grow miscellaneous grains, fish and shrimp, feed chickens and boars, or sell part of their labor to barely make ends meet, and in the midst of hardships and straits, they could live on their own. Therefore, their lives are more miserable than semi-farmers, but better than another part of poor farmers. Their revolutionary status is better than that of the semi-self-employed farmers but not as good as that of the other poor farmers. The other part of the poor peasants had neither sufficient farming tools nor capital, insufficient fertilizer, poor land harvest, and little income other than rent, and they had to sell part of their labor. In times of famine, they begged for pity from friends and relatives, borrowed a few buckets and a few liters to make ends meet for three or five days, and became heavily indebted. They were the hardest workers among the peasants and were very receptive to the revolutionary propaganda. The small craftsmen were called semi-proletarians because although they had their own simple means of production and were a kind of free profession, they were often forced to sell part of their labor, and their economic status was slightly comparable to that of the poor peasants in the countryside. Because of the heavy burden of their families, the disproportion between wages and living costs, the oppression of poverty and the fear of unemployment from time to time, and the poor peasants are also roughly the same. Shopkeepers are employees of the stores, with a meager salary to pay for the family expenses, prices increase every year, the salary often has to be increased once every few years. Their status is comparable to that of the poor peasants and small craftsmen, and they are very receptive to revolutionary propaganda. Whether hawkers are hawking on their shoulders or selling at street stalls, in short, the capital is small and the profit is small, so they do not have enough to eat. Their status was the same as that of the poor peasants, and their need for a revolution to change the status quo was the same as that of the poor peasants.
  Proletariat. The modern industrial proletariat is about two million people. China is economically backward, so the number of the modern industrial proletariat is not large. Of the two million or so industrial workers, they are mainly workers in the five industries of railroads, mines, shipping, textiles, and shipbuilding, and a large number of them are under the servitude of foreign-invested industries. The industrial proletariat, though small in number, was the representative of the new productive forces in China, the most progressive class in modern China, and did the leading work of the revolutionary movement. The importance of the industrial proletariat in the Chinese revolution can be seen when we look at the power of the strikes that have taken place since four years ago, such as the seamen’s strike [12], the railroad strike [13], the Kailuan and Jiaozuo coal strikes [14], the Sha-Mian strike [15], and the general strike in Shanghai and Hong Kong [16] after the May 30th Movement. The first reason why they were able to do so was their concentration. Neither was as concentrated as they were. The second reason is the low economic status. Having lost their means of production, they were left with two hands and had no hope of getting rich, and they were subjected to extremely cruel treatment by imperialism, warlords and the bourgeoisie, so they were especially capable of fighting. The strength of the urban laborers was also very noteworthy. The majority of them were dock porters and rickshaw drivers, and the scavengers and scavengers also belonged to this category. Their economic status is similar to that of industrial workers, but less concentrated and less important in production than industrial workers. There was not yet a new type of capitalist agriculture in China. The so-called rural proletariat refers to hired peasants such as long-time workers, monthly workers, and odd-job workers. These peasants not only had no land, no agricultural tools, and no capital, but also had to work for a living. Their long working hours, low wages, low treatment, and unstable careers exceed those of other workers. These people are the most difficult ones in the countryside and are in the same critical position as the poor peasants in the peasant movement.
  In addition, there are a considerable number of nomadic proletarians, peasants who have lost their land and handicraft workers who have lost their jobs. They are the most unstable people in human life. They had secret organizations in various places, such as the “Triad Society” in Fujian and Guangdong, the “Brotherhood Society” in Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou and Shu, the “Dagger Society” in Anhui, Henan and Lu provinces, the “Zaijiao Society” in Zhili and the three eastern provinces, and the “Zaijiao Society” in Shanghai. The “Zaihehui” and the “Qing Gang” in Shanghai and other places [17] were all mutual aid groups for their political and economic struggles. Disposing of this group of people was one of the difficult problems of China. This group of people is very brave in their struggle, but they are destructive and can be turned into a revolutionary force if they are guided properly.
  To sum up, it is clear that all warlords, bureaucrats, the buying class, the big landowning class, and a part of the reactionary intellectual circles attached to them, who are in collusion with imperialism, are our enemies. The industrial proletariat is the leading force of our revolution. All the semi-proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie, are our closest friends. That wavering middle class, whose right wing may be our enemy and whose left wing may be our friend – but we must always beware of them and not let them disturb our front.


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