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10-08-2015, 16:45


Overall, revolutionary Marxism had its greatest impact in China, where a group of young radicals, including several faculty and staff members from prestigious Beijing University, founded the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. The rise of the CCP was a consequence of the failed revolution of 1911. When political forces are too weak or divided to consolidate their power during a period of instability, the military usually steps in to fill the vacuum. In China, Sun Yat-sen and his colleagues had accepted General Yuan Shikai as president of the new Chinese republic in 1911 because they lacked the military force to compete with his control over the army. Moreover, many feared, perhaps rightly, that if the revolt lapsed into chaos, the Western powers would intervene and the last shreds of Chinese sovereignty would be lost. But some had misgivings about Yuan’s intentions. As one remarked in a letter to a friend, “We don’t know whether he will be a George Washington or a Napoleon.” In fact, he was neither. Understanding little of the new ideas sweeping into China from the West, Yuan ruled in a traditional manner, reviving Confucian rituals and institutions and eventually trying to found a new imperial dynasty. Yuan’s dictatorial inclinations led to clashes with Sun’s party, now renamed the Guomindang (Kuomintang), or Nationalist Party. When Yuan dissolved the new parliament, the Nationalists launched a rebellion. When it failed, Sun Yat-sen fled to Japan. Yuan was strong enough to brush off the challenge from the revolutionary forces but not to turn back the clock of history. He died in 1916 (apparently of natural causes) and was succeeded by one of his military subordinates. For the next several years, China slipped into anarchy as the power of the central government disintegrated and military warlords seized power in the provinces.