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The Chinese republic has from early in its development adopted the socialist form of governance. Socialism is a form of governance which is reportedly aimed at public ownership of the means and method of production and the establishment of an society in which every individual is considered as equal to the other. There is a mutual ownership of land and the riches of the community; this aspect of socialism makes the system very close to that of communism. Social equality is the primal goal of socialism, economic arrangements to serve the interests of the whole community are put in place, this ensures that there is equal wealth distribution based on one’s contribution to the community. The economic structure of society in a socialist economy is characterized with relatively equal power relations, self-management and a significant reduction in the hierarchical forms of management.
Chinese Commune System
The commune system was introduced in the republic of China as from the mid 20th century precisely in the year 1958. The commune system is reportedly to have been very controversial from its introduction, this is because it caused a lot of dispute and disparities amongst the other communist countries and as this was not the only case, it also drew a lot of concern from the free world or rather the western economies (Sassoon, 1998, pp. 55-67). The commune system encouraged mutual ownership of land, the rural society in China is reportedly to cover slightly more than half of China’s total population, and it covers 55% of the total population and has widely varied status in times of livelihood status and life patterns. The fact of rural areas played a great role in the coming of the commune system. The 1958 period in China was drawing close to the 1963 elections which were very significant and therefore the usual opportunism of politicians was to be seen in play.
The Communist Party of China which had rose to power between 1920 and 1950 had given a lot of promises to improve the living standards of the average Chinese citizen. The pre election period of 1958 was the most convenient time for them to put some of their promises into been. This then saw significant land reforms where control was taken from traditional land peasants and the wealthy merchants and directly appropriated to the state; the land was in simpler terms collectivized. The period preceding this collectivization of land (rural land) Mao a Chinese leader noted that there had been great developments and mechanization which had not been seen in the rural areas which according to him and true to the facts, most of the Chinese still lived (Gasper, 2005, pp.224).
The pre election campaigns of 1958 – 1961 were referred to as the Great Leap Forward Campaign, through this, the Chinese leaders attempted to speed up industrialization particularly in rural areas and they were to achieve this by dramatically accelerating land collectivization which according to them slowed down the process of industrialization in rural areas. It involved small-scale labor in steel smelting because it was thought that by collectivization of mass labor, China’s steel production capacity would surpass that of the U.K within a short time. This would be to their advantage as steel was in very high demand during the industrialization period, therefore millions of people were collected to help in the production of this commodity and communes were opened all over Chinese land.
The state controlled and owned the means of production. Approximately 25000 communes were set up each with an average number of 5000 households. The government’s projection was to achieve industrialization by making use of the cheap labor supply. Tens of millions who were to provide cheap labor to the project were mobilized to produce the commodity in small scale. This was to spare the government the cost of importing heavy machinery from the western world in a bid to industrialize. This helped the Chinese government to directly own and closely control the method of production as owners were given bonds to pay back. The Great Leap Forward campaign in China is one of the worst economic times of China in recent history. It is regarded as a great failure, as peasants were deceived to abandon subsistence farming and move on to produce steel or work in other industrial productions. This left China in a very bad state and the three years from 1958 are regarded as the worst are even named ‘The Three Bitter Years’. The great leap famine was experienced and the people suffered from acute shortage of food.
The leadership of the Communist Party of China was under the control of Mao Zedong art the time of introduction of the commune system in China. He was the architect of the ;land reform system and was projecting that if he could acquire cheap labor from the numerous Chinese citizens, he could therefore engage in steel production and beat the production of steel by the United Kingdom (then leading producer) in a short period of fifteen years. According to me, the positive aspect of socialism was the mutual ownership of land and the supposed equality of everyone in the community. His policies were also to some significant extent right the only grave mistake in them was, to fully abandon foods production. An economy cannot positively succeed without food security, if only he could put his ideas well to ensure that only a quarter of the cheap labor produced food for the others working industrially, then the policy would have stood longer.
In 1966, China experienced as a great cultural revolution which was reportedly spearheaded by the chairperson of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong, it was a social political movement that was aimed at further advancing socialism by completely doing away with elements of capitalism. The leader wanted the reinstallment of Maoist orthodoxy and therefore mobilized Chinese youths to cause unrest which was felt at all; government levels. This was the cult of personality of the leader as he portrays himself as egocentric reason been he was only articulating his interests and did not wish the best for the state.
This is because earlier trials of the commune system had driven the people of China the wrong way causing too much suffering to them and still Mao was deceiving their conscience just because the same Chinese people had strong traditional thinking and this also affected them. This period saw Mao’s personality cult growing and advancing to greater heights or immense proportion, this was after the purge of senior government officials who were reportedly to have violated socialism (Panitch, 2001, pp. 75-81).
Mao is remembered as a symbol of socialism in China as he strongly articulated and pushed for that form of governance, his stressing point and his stronghold which offered him support from Chinese was the vision of creating a China where all people were equal and would work mutually to the common good of China. This left Mao glorified and adored by most Chinese workers and peasants as according to them he was putting up the fight for their sake.
The commune system of governance in China is seen as a failure up to date. There were great policies which if well executed China’s commune system would be a success. Mao is glorified by the peasants and the low income earners, as to them, he stood and fought for their rights and they consider him goon because he lived yearning for a Chinese republic where all were equal and all worked together to achieve a common goal.