In response to:
Revolution in America? from the January 30, 1969 issue
To the Editors:
Harold Hinton may be a nice fellow personally, but he is, after all, on the other side of the barricades. Therefore it is rather painful, to say the least, to see my work attributed to him in your January 30 issue. That Barrington Moore cannot keep his authors straight does not speak well for his analysis of the problem of revolution.
Moore’s comments on the viability of Communist-led liberated areas which he bases, in part, on my work indicates a very superficial understanding of the Chinese experience. “Without their isolation (the result of the Long March) and the fact that the Communists were able to detach a part of Chiang’s army at the very beginning, the Communist liberated areas probably could not have survived at all,” Moore says. He is wrong on both counts. Thirty thousand of Chiang’s crack troops were detached at Nanchang on August 1, 1927, but due to lack of a sound policy these troops roamed south, were defeated near Swatow, and only 1000 men under Chu The finally reached Chingkang Mountain to join Mao in 1928. While it is true that Mao himself led a regiment of Wuhan garrison troops into rebellion during the Autumn Harvest uprising of that same year (1927), their numbers were small. There were at least twice as many Anyuan miners and East Hunan peasants in his forces as there were regular troops and by the time they reached Chinkang Mountain Mao had only about 1000 men left himself. The survival and growth of the South China liberated areas was due, not to the fact that Mao started with regular troops, but to the fact that he mobilized the peasants, armed them and led them in a campaign to seize the land. This was the key to the success of the revolution. No regular armed force was able to survive except by building rural bases and carrying through the agrarian revolution. Every other tactic degenerated into one form or another of militarism, of warlordism, and was defeated. At the same time, of course, Mao proved that peasant guerrillas must create regular forces to combat the regular forces of the existing state power. Purely local forces and part-time militia were not sufficient for defense. But the regular forces were created out of the guerrilla bands and were not detached from Chiang’s regular armies. Large numbers of prisoners were, of course, later incorporated into them, and whole KMT units later went over to the revolutionary army to be reorganized as Communist troops.
As to isolation, Yenan was isolated, but Yenan and North Shensi constituted only a small part, a minor fraction, of the liberated areas that eventually smashed Chiang Kai-shek. These areas, built up during the anti-Japanese war almost exactly correspond to the map of Chinese population concentration as shown in Cressy (China’s Geographical Foundations). The only major exception is Szechwan. The Japanese occupied all of the most intensively cultivated and heavily populated areas of China outside Szechwan, and the Communist-led Eighth Route Army liberated almost all of this. When Japan surrendered, Communist-led peasant armies held the great North China plain that spreads through Hopei, Honan, Shantung, Anhwei, and Kiangsu. This is the agricultural heart of China. In addition they held the mountains surrounding this plain, North, South, East and West. Though they temporarily abandoned the mountains to the south, along the Yangtze, they did not abandon the main plains or mountain ranges which they held, and this is where Chiang Kai-shek’s forces were smashed….
William H. Hinton