To What Extent Was the Chinese Revolution, 1927-1949, a Socialist Revolution as Defined by Marx?

Topics: Marxism, Communism, Socialism Pages: 12 (4672 words) Published: August 1, 2008
1. Introduction
To what extent was the Chinese revolution, 1927-1949, a socialist revolution as defined by Marx? This investigation will be comparing classical Marxist doctrine with Mao Zedong thought and the Chinese revolution, to see the extent that the revolution adhered to Marxist doctrine. Classical Marxism will be defined by the works of Karl Marx and Fedrich Engels and Mao Zedong thought will be defined by the works of Mao Zedong. The primary sources used for this essay are Selected Work of Mao Zedong and Marx and Engels: Selected Works. To investigate the Marxist nature of the Chinese revolution, I break down the revolution into three parts: cause, process and effect. To analyse these three parts, three consequential questions are asked. Firstly, what is a Socialist revolution? From here I will investigate the cause of socialist revolution from Marx’s and Mao’s point of view. Secondly, how did Mao adapt Marxism to China? From this question I will investigate the process of socialist revolution from Marx’s and Mao’s point of view. Thirdly, to what extent was China after the Chinese revolution a socialist state? From here I will investigate the effect of Chinese revolution to what Marx viewed as a socialist state. From this analysis, I will prove that the Chinese revolution was not a socialist revolution as defined by Marx, but simply a movement to overthrow a corrupt government dressed up in Marxist jargon.

2. “What is a Socialist Revolution?”: Cause
First we shall look at social revolution from the Classical Marx point of view. The historical context in which Marx and Engels established their social theory was the post-industrial revolution and European capitalist society. Classical Marxism is a doctrine based upon “economic relations” . The value of using Marx-Engels Selected Works is that it originated from Marx himself. Therefore it gives us access to Marxism in its purest form; Marx’s own academic thoughts, which would be valuable when doing a more objective comparative study between Marxism and Maoism late in the essay. However one must be aware of the limitation that this source was written in the 19th century. Its purpose was thus to explain the economic relations of post-industrial revolution Europe which was very different from the world economy of China in the 1940’s 80 years later. Thus one must be aware of the limitation of Marx’s industrial revolution roots when using these sources.

Its economic structure has two key attributes: forces of production and relation of production. The forces of production are a combination of the means of production and labour power. In the context of an industrialised society, the means of production refer to the industrial factory and “all those things with the aid of which man acts upon the subject of labor, and transforms it” and the labour power refers to the labour that workers contribute to the production in modern industrial factories. According to Marx, in a capitalist society, the most important production factor is labour . Thus Marx argues that the labour power combined with the modern industrial means of production forms the forces of production which laid the foundation of capitalism. He then argues that the forces of production are rightfully originated from the working class because they are the source of labour. However, in the capitalist society, the bourgeoisie own the force of production for their profit by exploiting the value of products created by workers employed in their owned factories. Hence, the relation of production in the capitalist society is the combination of the social relation between bourgeoisies and workers and the material relation between workers and industrial factories.

Based on the classical Marxism, a socialist revolution would occur in the capitalist society. The working class or the proletariat as Marx defined will become conscious of their labour being unfairly exploited by the bourgeoisie and rise to take...

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