DICTATOR VS. PEOPLE
54. The Rising of the Intellectuals
| THE chief motive force
behind the Communist movement in China was the insurrection of the peasantry.
But peasant support, though it was the decisive factor in the civil war,
was not sufficient to bring victory to the Communists over Chiang Kai-shek.
To win the war and gain control of the state, the party had to wean a good
portion of the intellectuals, the businessmen and the army away from the
Kuomintang regime. Otherwise, it ran the risk of seeing the whole revolution
peter out into a mere peasant uprising that would collapse when it hit the
To find a bridge over to the people in Chiang Kai-shek's areas was difficult. Most of the politically conscious elements in Kuomintang territory were not well disposed toward the Communists. During the early part of the war, the party found few intellectuals as allies. Engineers, writers, physicians, professors and students kept very much aloof from the movement in the countryside. The dearth of speakers, agitators and "leaders" was keenly felt in the schools, in the villages and in the political meetings in the Liberated Areas. It is a plain fact that the great majority of Chinese intellectuals, though they are now expressing their love for the "revolution," did not at first give support to the Communist party and even turned their backs on it. Nevertheless, it was the revolt of many of these intellectuals that hammered the final nail into Chiang Kai-shek's coffin which the bold blows of?the peasantry had already hewn into rough shape.
The tremendous economic collapse and the widespread terror practiced by Chiang's gendarmes and gestapo were major factors in convincing the intellectuals that Chiang Kai-shek could not possibly solve their life problems. That made them feel cornered. Still they would not have turned actively toward the Communists had they not caught in the Communist program a glimmer of hope, a road of escape, a path to the future. Upon close examination the means and implements the Communists used in getting this program across to the Chinese people outside their areas seem all out of proportion to the effects they produced. The Communist underground, while very skillful, was quite negligible in numbers when the war began. Their nuclei among the workers in Chiang's areas was almost nil. Their pamphlets and magazines enjoyed a very small circulation. The Kuomintang controlled all of the press in Shanghai, Peiping, Chungking, Hankow, Canton and other large cities.
Yet the Communist program in the end took possession of a decisive minority of the people. How?
The explanation is very simple: The Communist slogans - against civil
war, against oppression, against dictatorship, against American intervention
- corresponded to the urgent demands of the people in Chiang Kai-shek's
areas and created all kinds of revolutionary channels for themselves.
It would be a very vulgar mistake, however, to suppose that the Communists
merely took advantage of discontent by propaganda. The Communists were
not demagogues or charlatans in that sense. The Communists definitely
guided themselves by the needs, the hopes and the experiences of those
they wanted to win over. In fact, there is nothing to show that the slogans
I have just mentioned did not originally come from opposition elements
in Chiang Kai-shek's areas. These demands of the people the Communists
took as their point of departure. That was one of their marks of superiority
to Chiang Kai-shek. They listened to the people and learned from them;
Chiang stopped up his ears and remained in ignorance.
The battle between the intellectuals and the rulers of China began shortly after V-J Day when police threw hand grenades into a student peace demonstration in Kunming, killing four students and wounding fourteen. This was only the opening salvo in a campaign of larger proportions. Two and a half months after the Kunming killings, during peace parleys in Chungking several hundred Kuomintang thugs demolished the rostrum of a mass meeting and manhandled more than fifty leaders of a people's organization. The arrival of George Marshall in China brought the demands for peace still more into the open and consequently forced the Chiang regime also more into the open against its own people. In March 1946, a parade to welcome truce teams composed of Americans, Kuomintang and Communist party members was dispersed by Kuomintang troops and forty ringleaders were arrested. Two schoolteachers were said to have been buried alive and eight boy and girl students were drowned in a near-by river, while the rest were imprisoned. On June 25, in Suchow, the local garrison forces of Chiang Kai-shek shot to death twelve and wounded twenty-seven students of the Suchow Middle School. The dean of the school was hit by seven bullets and killed. More than three hundred students fell on their knees in front of machine guns - possibly supplied by the truce-making United States - and pleaded for their lives.
During most of 1946, the Kuomintang terror was consistently aimed at halting the peace demands. Notable social leaders, advocating peace, were subjected to wild beatings by Kuomintang thugs, two professors were assassinated in Kunming after speaking to an anti-civil war rally and the Peiping Committee member of the Democratic League was kidnaped and tortured.
By such methods, the Kuomintang quelled the popular demands for peace
throughout the country. It would be idle to think that this suppression
did not have effect. After the killing of the intellectuals and the arrest
of students, the peace movement assumed a semi-underground haracter. However,
the offensive against the peace ttlovement nurtured its own counteroffensive.
For the killings of the intellectuals not only shocked the democratic
yearnings of the people, but also brought home clearly to the politically
conscious elements of society the fact that Chiang Kai-shek wanted war.
Had he been able to finish off the war quickly, the suppressions might
have been forgotten. But the desolation brought about by the continuing
war made the murders of the leading peace proponents seem doubly unbearable.
These flashes of popular indignation did not go entirely unheeded by the government. But it was placed in a dilemma. "Hands off China" had become the new rallying slogan of the peace movement. The government did not dare smash the patriotic nature of the new demands. Yet it did not idly look on. Under one pretext or another, in the spring of 1947, Chiang's gendarmes rounded up two thousand civilians in Peiping and another three thousand in Tsingtao and Canton.
Such actions managed for a while to keep the people quiet, but the
decline in the opposition to Chiang Kai-shek did not last very long -
not longer than a few weeks. As of old, it was the students who rushed
to the forefront of the ranks fighting Chiang Kai-shek. This battle between
students and dictator, which flared into open warfare in 1947 centered
not so much around the question of peace as it did around the question
of personal liberty in the schools.
These atavistic doctrines Chen shoved down the throats of China's students along with some books advocating "One party, one ideology, one leader," which he copied from Hitler. Books of a liberal sort were banned from the schools, and students caught reading them were often beaten by Chen's thugs or those of Chiang's Youth Corps who were armed with pistols and lived on the campus as students, but were really spies.
By spring of 1947, the nerves of the students were frayed to the raw edges. Campuses all over China were boiling like a kettle. May 4 was Chinese Student Movement Day. The students had intended to mark this day in a general manner: by parades against food reduction, against kidnaping, against intellectual persecution and mass dismissals. It had occurred to many that the government might oppose the parades, but none thought Chiang would take violent action in the larger cities, such as Shanghai and Nanking where there were numerous foreign eyewitnesses. But the nerves of the bureaucrats, like those of the students, were very shaky. They couldn't stand the sight of popular movements, and ordered the parades suppressed. In the capital of Nanking itself, right in front of the diplomatic corps, bayonets and iron bars were brought into play against girl and boy students alike. The student body was enraged. During the following days, a series of strikes began in university classrooms all over China. This was a signal for the police to storm the campus.
The nature of these attacks is probably hard for a Westerner to understand. For an apt comparison, it would be necessary for an American to imagine that in Columbia University the students were peacefully sleeping in their dormitories when heavily armed New York City policemen, in company with scores of gestapo agents of the Democratic party, (i.e. the party in power) suddenly descended on the campus at three o'clock in the morning, killed a few students, arrested many others and threw them in jails where they were held without trial and assumed to be guilty of "treason," "Communism," or just of being "dangerous." That is what sometimes happened in China.
Early in May 1947, the police raided the campus of the Shanghai Law College, killed one co-ed and arrested eleven students. The raids soon spread throughout Shanghai and Nanking until on May 24, 150 students were under arrest. Four days later, one thousand of Chiang Kai-shek's gendarmes broke into Chinan University, arrested seventy-one pupils and wounded or beat over a hundred. On May 30, more than two thousand troops and police surrounded Chiaotung University in the heart of Shanghai. On June i, the garrison of Hankow (the Chicago of China) raided National Wuhan University with rockets and machine guns, seized five professors and over thirty students. When the whole student body gathered to protect the seized victims, they were machine-gunned, three killed and over fifty hurt. In Chungking, eighty-four girl students of the Women's Normal College were arrested and over three hundred students from Chiang's Japanese wartime capital were thrown in prison. In the fortnight between May 20 and June 2, 1947, 923 known students and teachers were arrested and more than a thousand were believed to have been killed or injured.
|原注一：见《美利坚合众国与中国》，约翰·费班，哈佛大学出版社，1948，256页||(1)See The United States and China, John Fairbanks (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1948), p. 256.|
These indiscriminate attacks against the educated youth brought the
literate of the nation to an angry boiling point. Government authorities
tried to tell parents that their children had been corrupted by Communism.
The parents would not have it. In a desperate attempt to pacify the students
and the parents and at the same time to crack down on all liberalism,
the government followed up the mass arrests with mass dismissals. In 1947,
several thousand students and 230 professors and lecturers were dismissed
from the colleges. Its self-confidence completely shaken, the government
followed up these extremities by bringing up secret agents into the classes
to spot any remaining suspicious students. The aim, of course, was to
insure complete philosophic and political orthodoxy on the campus.
During this period, the Kuomintang developed a new, but still a very old, strategy for dealing with political opponents that ultimately led to their psychological divorcement from the intellectuals of China. In the dictionary of the ruling clique, mass action, student parades, protests against oppression, demands for lowered taxes, tortured screams for liberty, every attempt to avoid exploitation - in a word, every progressive thought or action - became the synonym for Chinese Communism or "8th Route banditry." Does this mean that all these things are Communism? the students would ask themselves. Chiang Kai-shek compelled his people to identify their thoughts and demands, even their secret hopes, with the slogans of the Communist party. If you call a person a Communist long enough, he very well may end up by saying: "Maybe I am a Communist." If this seems nonsensical, such a phenomenon can be observed to a small degree today in the United States where the drive of the Un-American Activities Committee and other organizations for philosophic and political orthodoxy in our schools have forced people either to get down on their knees and slobber out their loyalty or to stand up for their rights, thereby identifying themselves with Communism in which they may not believe at all.
This trend in the United States is not yet out of hand, but it is fast getting so. As I write, news has come to hand that the Oklahoma State Legislature has passed a bill requiring all teachers in the state and all students in state-supported colleges to affirm their loyalty to the US "as a condition of employment or of participation in the activities of the institution." At the same time a bill is before the New York State Assembly which provides that "any person who is a member of the Communist party or who refuses to disclose upon inquiry, whether or not he is a member of the Communist party, or who subscribes to its doctrine, or who espouses or is in sympathy with its cause, shall be ineligible for employment in the teaching profession or in the school systems of this state."
Although such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union,
the New York Teachers Union, the American Labor party and others have
opposed this last bill, there are powerful interests which support such
bills. The Hearst papers, for example, want the whole nation to adopt
such bills in order to protect our schools from Communism because they
are the first places Communists infiltrate.
| In China, the govermnent's attempt
to insure orthodoxy on the basis of anti-Communism helped to bring about
the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek. The attitude that anyone who stood for liberty
and democracy was a Communist could not help but lead the Chiang regime
into a series of atrocities which brought many of the most passive and non-political
people into the fight against the Kuomintang government.
The atrocities reached a new high on July 15, 1948 when the authorities in the city of Kunming, near the borders of Burma and far from the civil war, mobilized more than two thousand policemen and gendarmes, not to dispel a demonstration, but to raid the campuses of Yunan University and Naching Middle School. Armed with pistols, rifles, machineguns, bayonets and water hoses, the gendarmes killed five students, injured more than a hundred and arrested a reported twelve hundred. Three hundred of these were imprisoned in concentration camps where they underwent rigid thought control. Seven hundred were placed in cells and tortured. A girl student named Wu Shou-chin became insane after being treated five times in an electric chair. Torture caused a woman teacher to have a miscarriage. The student prisoners were fed daily with two bowls of rice and a cup of salt water. At midnight they were dragged out of their cells and made to kneel on the gravel. Special guards then waved shining bayonets over their heads and fired their rifles into the air in order to make them say they were Communists. More than thirty prisoners were buried alive. None was given a court trial.
| As if they had not subjected the youth
of China to enough misery and torture, the Chiang regime, desperate, angry
and fearful of the rising tide of public opinion, in August 1948 created
a number of special tribunals to purge the schools of students the Kuomintang
spies did not like. Writs of arrest were issued for a thousand students
throughout the country. The aim of the Kuomintang authorities was evidently
to cleanse the campus so thoroughly before the autumn session that no student
unrest could possibly occur in the next year.
The special tribunals derived their legal power from "the regulations for the punishment of crimes endangering the republic during the period of bandit suppression.?In thus trying to shield themselves from the Chinese people by the questionable authority of a higher law, the Kuomintang compromised the law and the constitution in the eyes of its own people. The effect was doubly compounded when prominent liberals and educators used the law as an excuse for helping the government in the student purges. American life offers somewhat of a parallel in recent events at Washington University, where school authorities made their professors face a court of inquiry concerning their political beliefs.
The political orthodoxy of prominent liberals in China curiously enough did not strengthen the hand of the government but only produced another factor into its decay. For many students and the professors came to believe there was no hope in seeking democratic reforms under the existing structure. They must stand up and fight the Chiang dictatorship openly. And this many of them now did. Students not only rallied to protect their classmates threatened with arrest, but many professors joined hands in Peiping and issued a joint statement accusing the government of deliberately fostering disturbances in the universities.
| Intellectual opposition to the government
came daily more into the open. From all over China letters poured into the
offices of the China Weekly Review, one of the few public opinion outlets
available to the oppressed Chinese people. "Can such things happen
in a democratic country?" inquires a student from North China College.
The question more than contains its own answer. The acme of disillusion,
however, is expressed by a student writing from Wuhu in Anwhei Province:
"A half a year ago I had interest in reading criticisms of the government.
Now they seem to me, just as does the government, meaningless. If there
are men who still believe in the Kuomintang, they are idiotic."
From complete disillusionment, it is only one step to revolt. Many students no longer tried to live under Chiang Kai-shek. Most all of those for whom the writs of arrest were issued fled over to the Liberated Areas, thereby furnishing intellectual leadership to the peasantry. Such living deeds are more precious testimony than any sociological research into the correlation of forces. For they clearly reveal that the students had lost hope in the old regime and were seeking a way out in the new one. They also bared the basic charlatanism underlying all of the Chiang regime's tactics. As a magician seemingly creates rabbits out of thin air, so China's gestapo created Communists where there apparently had been none.
The students' role in both crippling the Kuomintang and bolstering the strength of the Communists can hardly be overestimated. They were in reality the only articulate section of the suffering people in Chiang's areas. Thousands of students who migrated from the Kuomintang regions into the Liberated Areas furnished much-needed brains to the slender ranks of the Communist party. During the Japanese war, more than ten thousand students went to Yenan from the Kuomintang areas to study. Many of them had already become key political and administrative cadres before the civil war broke out in 1946. The mass student migration continued as the Kuomintang persecution was intensified in 1948. Seventeen hundred students were said to have crossed the lines after the Kuomintang announced its black list in August 1948. In October of the same year, during the ten days after the fall of Kaifeng in Central China, forty-five hundred more students trooped over to the Communists.
This migration produced a kind of united front between the students on both sides. New leaders of the students in the Kuomintang areas, succeeding those who entered the Communist areas, kept close underground contact with the latter or followed the path already traversed by their predecessors. There was thus growing up beside Chiang's apparatus of power, a new machinery, a kind of underground state within a state.
| There is a revolutionary lesson in
these events. And it is simply this: You cannot halt a revolution with tactics
alone. In this respect, war and revolution are alike. Tactics should never
be anything but the arm of strategy and strategy should be the arm of politics.
If it is the other way around you are doomed to failure. Chiang had no policy
- except to keep himself in power. Therefore, he subordinated everything
to his tactic of anti-Communism. His secret service tried everything - murder,
suppression, special laws - and each one of these methods betrayed him.
During these days when up on top, in the fine yamens of the government, there was taking place a loose coalition between the Ministry of Education, the party and Chiang's secret agents against the students, there was taking place underneath the surface of Chinese life, but barely concealed, a union between the students and some of the small businessmen, the native industrialists and a few of the city workers. During student parades, it was noticed that shopkeepers ran out amid the students and pressed money in their hands. "Go to it," they would whisper. "We are with you." Thus, different sections of Chinese society began to reach across the bayonets of Chiang's gendarmes and shake hands with each other.
A factor of primary importance in bringing about this alliance between the intellectuals, the shopkeepers and native industrialists in Chiang's areas was the tremendous economic collapse which whipped up the discontent of the entire Chinese people. As the war went on the food situation in Chiang's cities became worse. The standard of the masses oscillated between hunger and outright starvation. Refugees and landless peasants crowded into Shanghai and cluttered the alleyways with corpses - mute and damning testimony of the utter inability of the Chiang regime to solve the life conditions of its people. The newspapers, despite the heavy censorship, began publishing stories of appalling economic tragedies. The letter columns of the China Weekly Review became a kind of wailing wall where the people howled out their anguish. Every class in Chinese society began to disintegrate. The factory workers and the ricksha coolies lost their taste for labor and took to robbery. The administrations in the factories began to fall apart. Property rights under Chiang Kai-shek appeared unreliable. Profits were falling off, dangers growing. Native industrialists were being driven out of business by the Chiang bureaucracy while others were losing their taste for production under conditions of so-called nationalization and the alarming inflation.
| This inflation was really
fantastic. The printing press money climbed in huge upward spirals from
three thousand Chinese dollars for one American dollar to three hundred
thousand, then to the unheard of figure of six million. The deterioration
assumed such terrific proportions that the value of Chiang's money dwindled
to no more than the paper money burned for the dead. A large paper mill
in Kwangtung bought up eight hundred cases of notes ranging from hundred
dollar to two thousand dollar bills to use as raw material in the manufacture
of paper. The phenomenon of money being used for something else besides
money frightened everyone almost to the state of hysteria. Naturally prices
bounded upward almost beyond computation. In South China, nearly a thousand
miles from the civil war areas, rice rose from eighteen million dollars
to thirty-six million dollars a picul within a few days. Newspapers estimated
that a single grain of rice would cost fifteen dollars and a single match
two hundred dollars. But nobody would trade on this basis. Worse - the government
paid its civil servants and teachers in small denomination notes. But the
Central Bank, the Post Office, the Railway Administration and tax-levying
organizations all refused to accept such notes. This, of course, was nothing
but direct robbery of the middle classes. The Chiang bureaucracy, however,
aimed even higher. Scared by the grumblings from below, Chiang Kai-shek
in August 1948 issued a new gold yuan, exchanging three million of the old
dollars for one of the new. At the same time it compelled the people, under
threat of arrest and by forcible house search, to surrender their gold,
silver, Mexican dollars and all foreign currency to the Central Bank. As
one commentator put it: "The government holds out a piece of paper
in one hand and as if by magic whisks the wealth of the people away with
The new "Gold dollar" which was designed to salvage the government's discredited currency only wrecked it further. Production came to a standstill. Prices remained stable for a few brief days and then began climbing back again toward the old levels. The government tried to hold the prices in line by economic decree. Embattled shopkeepers, knowing full well that nothing could hold prices in line for long, fought back by refusing to put goods on sale in their stores. People rushed in mobs to buy whatever they could lay their hands on. Wealthy residents in Shanghai began to buy up the biggest diamonds, the costliest watches, the greenest jade and other articles to get rid of the gold yuan. In Peiping, ricksha coolies bought up expensive French pastries because they could not find anything else on the market. In Canton, housewives were reported buying snakes to eat rather than keep their gold yuan overnight in the hope of finding food on the market. To the Chinese people, the new currency was just so much paper backed by the assets of a government in which they had lost confidence.
In a desperate effort to restore the confidence of the people and halt threatening riots, Chiang Kai-shek sent his Russian-educated eldest son, Chiang Ching-kuo, to Shanghai and set him up with special troops and police as economic dictator over the port. Young Chiang met secretly with his close associates and decided on a policy, of striking against the middle classes in order to enlist the support of the city poor. His tactics were patterned after those used by Hitler to seize power. With a demagogic flair that his more austere father could not have equaled, young Chiang appealed to the people of Shanghai for what he called a program of "social revolution."
Dispatching his spies and armed troops into Shanghai's stores, the dictator's son forced shop owners, on pain of arrest, to sell their merchandise at his artificially created prices. With this pistol at their heads, the storekeepers could do nothing but submit. Given a chance to turn worthless money into valuable commodities, Shangbailanders went on a buying bender. For perhaps the first time in modem Chinese history, sales clerks and shop owners deprecated the quality of their merchandise, frantically trying to persuade the customer not to buy. In vain. Customers wanted goods of any shape or size and right away. A coolie grabbed a handful of penicillin from a shelf. When an astonished clerk asked him if he knew its use, the coolie replied: "No, but I know it's worth more than money."
The shelves of Shanghai's stores were swept clean. Within a few days,
numerous shopkeepers were ruined. In trying to solve economic problems
by political demagoguery, Chiang Kai-shek had revealed the desperateness
of his position to everyone. However, the submission of the shopkeepers
encouraged Chiang Kai-shek and permitted him to turn his panic into madness.
He decided to show an iron energy. The middle classes had been thoroughly
exploited. Now it was the turn of the upper classes. With a crazy disregard
for consequences, young Chiang attacked the bankers and the big city racketeers
- he most firm supporters of his father and the men who had helped him
to power and kept him there for twenty years.
After the blows against the Shanghai upper classes, the Chiang Kai-shek regime survived only some dozen weeks. The terrorism against the middle and upper brackets of Chinese society in the city played an important role, but a very different one from that upon which its perpetrators had counted. It did not weaken the crisis, but sharpened it. People talked everywhere of the "economic executions" and the plunder of the rich. The inference was obvious: even Chiang's supporters have no weapon of defense against him, but to get rid of him. By autumn 1948, Chiang had destroyed many of his former bases of economic support. All that was left him were a few landlords in the interior and utter dependence on the United States. As the circle of Chiang's influence grew smaller and smaller, the masses, half leaderless, crowded in closer and closer, breathing anger, despair and defiance.
| For hundreds of thousands
of people, the problem of life was no longer one of Communism or dictatorship,
but one of survival. Teachers in China, loyal to their trust, had formerly
declared that they would rather die of starvation than quit their posts.
Faced with actual instead of possible starvation, however, they swiftly
changed their minds. On October 24, 1948, eighty-two professors of Peking
National University announced a strike, declaring that their monthly salaries
were only enough to keep them alive for a few days. Two days later, Tsinghua,
Nankai, and Peiyang universities went on strike. Sixteen municipal high
schools and 234 primary schools in Peiping followed suit. Beginning on November
I 3, twenty-eight colleges and high schools in the Hankow area and thousands
of professors and students in Kunming, Tsingtao, Nanking, Shanghai, Chengtu,
Changsha and other cities joined in the strike wave. Education in a Western
sense ceased. Teachers had to spend hours trying to borrow money to buy
food. Students queued up for poor professors in the rice lines.
Teachers began to commit suicide. A woman professor of biology in Amoy University swallowed poison, saying she was no longer able to support her children. Professor Tu Su of National Kwangsi University killed himself by jumping from a building because he couldn't pay his hospital bills. A teacher of Han Min Middle School hanged himself because he had been suspected of stealing when he was found on the roadside selling his own clothing. Not only teachers, but even army officers killed themselves. Major General Loh Ying-chao jumped off a ship, leaving behind a note in which he said: I have been in the army thirty years and I am a major general, but still I can't support my family. I cannot bear to watch them die."
Apathy and despair flowed down like rain. But with these emotions, there was a rising anger. Crowds in Shanghai stormed the rice shops, the restaurants, the grocery stores, the coal shops. Police rounded up scores of rioters, but had to release them. The jails were already filled. Moreover, policemen had begun to look the other way when mobs burst into rice shops. "Why should I arrest them?" a policeman asked a reporter. "I may join them myself tomorrow." In the words of this policeman, one may hear the death knell of the old society. The fact that the armed guardians of the social regime are now ready to join the common people adequately enough indicates the disintegration of the power of the government. As the result of their clearly revealed incapacity to deal with the situation, the members of Kuomintang lost faith in themselves, the party fell to pieces; a bitter struggle of groups and cliques prevailed, hopes were placed in miracles or - American intervention.
But politically active Chinese no longer believed in miracles. They wanted no more of the Kuomintang regime. It would be wrong to think that the majority of the Chinese people revolted against their rulers. Such was not the case at all. But it was true that a decisive minority of the whole people, or a majority of those actively engaged in the political struggle, were now willing to endure sacrifices and take great risks in order to get rid of Chiang Kai-shek.
This change in the political feelings of a great number of people was
not only produced by the collapse of life conditions in Chiang's areas,
but by the sharp contrast offered by living conditions in Communist areas.
The liberal economic policies of the Communists, their protection of private
property in commerce, trade and native industry, had served to dispel
the fears of many Chinese businessmen and given them the belief that they
could exist under the Communists which they could no longer do under Chiang
Kai-shek. The lenient treatment of captured Kuomintang generals made Kuomintang
commanders think twice before risking their lives for Chiang's sake. The
idea that they could surrender to the Communists and then regain their
influence by political intrigue within the enemy camp also attracted many
others. Students who had fled over to the Liberated Areas reported they
were honored leaders in the "new society." Many people in Chiang's
areas began to see a path of escape from the cul-de-sac where society
had trapped them. From passive opposition to Chiang Kai-shek, not a few
Chinese now turned directly to support the Communists.
Everywhere the oppositional mood of the people was transmuted into
a definitely revolutionary mood. The compensation for Chiang's terror
came fast. Driven, persecuted, tortured, murdered, the intellectuals and
the students rose more rapidly than ever. Professors in Peiping University
now openly lectured on the evils of "American imperialism."
Wall newspapers went up proclaiming the glories of the "new democracy"
promulgated by Mao Tze-tung. The process of opposition ran from the campuses
in Peiping into the provinces, from the cities into the villages. Most
resolute of all were the peasants in South China, nearly a thousand miles
from the civil war areas. In Kwangtung Province where the Kuomintang revolution
had begun a quarter of a century before, peasant guerrillas took over
whole counties from Kuomintang officials. In Yunan, near the borders of
Burma, the same thing happened, with local heroes fighting on the side
of the poor carving out petty domains for themselves. The Chiang government
refused to heed these warnings; the landlords remained in power and the
peasants continued to revolt.
With all his former bases of support collapsing, Chiang's army also
began to collapse. Hitherto, the Communist land reform had been a powerful
agent in helping demoralize the peasant soldiers in the Kuomintang armies.
Now, the disaffection of the intellectuals in the rear lines brought about
the collapse of morale among the generals, many of whom were on the verge