Mao and Peasant Army 1927-1928

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Mao's first attempt to prove the validity of the peasants potential for revolution was in the city of Changsha, during the Autumn Harvest Uprising of September of 1927. The uprising took place during the harvesting period to intensify the class struggles in the village. Mao had realized the revolutionary potential of the peasant class because the peasants, who were the most exploited class, had already begun revolting against the ruthless economic exploitation that they were subjected to by the petty bourgeoisie, the warlords and landlord classes. Consequently, Mao rallied the peasants and organized a small army and which he led during the Hunan movement. This army was quite successful and it captured several cities in the Yangtse region, in a revolutionary peasant explosion. During the Autumn Harvest Uprising, the peasant army violently attacked and caused radical upheaval for several weeks and the landowning classes of the entire province trembled in the wake of these attacks. This continued until the peasant army was repressed at Changsha within a week of its initial attack. According to Jerome Ch'en, the failure of the uprising resulted from the inexperience of the peasant forces compounded with the fact that the situation of China had changed since Mao's Investigation into the Peasant Movement eight months earlier. Chiang Kai-Shek's White Terror had entered the countryside and Mao's army was easily ambushed and slaughtered. Although the failure of the Autumn Harvest Uprising resulted in the deaths of most of the peasant army, for Mao, the deaths were an acceptable consequence because he believed that the peasants were the key to the successful transition of China towards the utopian ideal of communism. This failure gave Mao an opportunity to reevaluate the ideas in his Hunan report and resulted in the development of the five conditions as expressed by Benjamin Schwartz; Mao's Strategy. This strategy reorganized the peasant masses into a formidable army, which maximized the peasants' revolutionary potential. This event also marked the point of departure of Mao's thought and contributed to his reinterpretation of Marxist-Leninist ideology. Mao reinterpreted Marxist-Leninist thought to suit China's historical conditions. Thus, the Hunan Movement and its unexpected disintegration after the failure of the Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927 were essential for the development of Mao's strategy which led to the formation of a the Red army that would eventually lead China to communism, and even determined Mao's future relations during the communist era in China between Mao, the party and the people. In 1927, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had been forced into the countryside, which effectively separated the party from the urban proletariat. So the communist party embarked on an experiment in the most forsaken parts of China, southern Kiangsi, in an attempt to accelerate the progress of China's evolution to communism. In Hunan in 1927, the peasants were in a constant state of active rebellion against the capitalist oppressors hence the roots of the modern agrarian revolution in China were born. Mao was sent to Hunan, his native province, to conduct an investigation on behalf of the peasant committee of the CCP and in March of 1927 he published the Report of an Investigation into the Peasant Movement. Although Mao had sent the report back to the committee, he did not wait for the communist party to decide whether or not he should organize the peasant masses into a revolutionary army. Instead, Mao gathered his small army and led them during the Hunan movement until they were devastated at Changsha. Mao barely escaped capture and returned to Hunan to regroup and think of how he could refine the ideas in his Hunan report further so that the peasant masses could be organized more effectively. Like Lenin, Mao believed that revolution in China meant agrarian revolution. However in the Leninist ideology peasants are only...
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