May Fourth and the Pivot of Chinese Socialism

This essay analyzes the reception of communalism in China in the context of the powerful currents that contributed to and shaped it: the New Village Movement, anarchism, and Communism. Following on the heels of the fall of the Qing dynasty and the end of World War I, the May Fourth period was a time when China appeared threatened by imperialism from without and social war caused by the inequalities and instabilities of modernization from within. The former also shaped the latter, as clearly exemplified in the Boxer Uprising. However, for many Chinese intellectuals the solution to their national problems was not simply a matter of rejecting the globalizing world or of opposing it with force as the Boxers had done; rather, they sought to transform themselves into a society in consonance with modernity by studying foreign ideas. These ranged from Western science and democracy to religion and philosophy. Below is an investigation into communal living in the May Fourth period, a specific method of social transformation that synthesized and adapted elements from the New Village Movement, anarchism, and humanism. As a response to geopolitical and transnational intellectual movements, this communalism is particular to the May Fourth period in China. It marks the May Fourth period as a time when the possibilities for political action were not limited by the party form or by ideology.


About D C

Robot anarchist View all posts by D C

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