An anarchist in love with Mao’s China - Herbert Read’s ‘letters from China’ ... Plus a list of dubious accounts of ‘successful’ revolutions, from Russia to Rojava
In the second year of the Great Leap Forward famine – in which perhaps 30 million died, anarchist Herbert Read visited China on an official delegation. Read’s acceptance of a knighthood for his literary achievements had already discredited him amongst many anarchists. But, at the time of his visit in 1959, he was still the most prominent anarchist in Britain and his published writings had considerable influence on, amongst others, Murray Bookchin.†
The mythology of the great proletarian cultural revolution and the Chinese ultra-left - Donald Parkinson
The most famous text from 1968 by the Hunan Provincial Proletarian Revolutionary Great Alliance Committee (Sheng-wu-lien), the most influential of the ultra-left currents which developed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. While it is politically problematic in some areas, for example despite being opposed to Mao's policies it does not escape the framework of Maoism, it does put forward a working class perspective.
Written in 1942 at the Communist base camp in Yenan, Wang Shih-wei criticises the hierarchical structure and privilege of the nascent Maoist bureaucracy in the camp. The article makes clear that the hierarchy was well established long before the 'Communist' Party came to state power in China in 1949. Wang was the most piercing, outspoken and unrepentant of the several literary critics who wrote articles with similar themes. This sealed his fate; the Maoist regime later executed Wang Shih-wei.
A discussion of Women's Day - written in 1942 in Yenan, China, where the Red Army had settled in cave dwellings at the end of their Long March retreat. This text was one of several that made criticisms of the ruling Maoist elite at Yenan. It was condemned as "narrowly feminist" and Ting Ling and others were successfully pressured to repent and disown their criticisms. Nevertheless - depending on the changing fortunes of competing bureaucratic factions - Ting Ling suffered periodic persecution for decades afterwards as a result of daring to publicly criticise the ruling hierarchy.
In the spring of 1942 a series of articles appeared in the Yenan press [see two of the texts here and here] which took as their theme the need to expose the ‘dark side’ of life in the Communist base areas of northern China. The authors of these articles saw themselves as upholders of the literary tradition of Lu Hsün, modern China’s best known literary figure, and used the tsa-wen—a laconic and fiercely critical essay form perfected by Lu Hsün—as their literary ‘dagger’.