Archive for December, 2012

Planning the new society

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Figuring out who these two guys are (look at the guy’s smile on the right) would not help you go a long way into figuring out the significance of events here in Chapter 20, “Planning the New Society” but it will give you a chuckle.

Terms from the chapter are;

first five year plan        Tibet       John Foster Dulles

Vietminh                        Han Chinese                        PLA                       

 100 Flowers movement

and there are more, like “Zhou Enlai” that I haven’t bothered to repeat.  stick to those seven terms, + repeats and you’re good for the quiz.

What is striking to me on the re-read of this chapter, is the extent to which China is swayed by international events that, I’m afraid, you haven’t read about yet.  Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 denouncing Stalin, and revolts in Poland and Hungary, also in 1956.  This all leads into what is often called the 100 flowers campaign, Mao’s desire to open up criticism from the intellectual community that remains in the PRC, much of which has its origins in the Nationalist party era or before.

You will have a question on your review that goes something like, “If we have criticism to our policies we are not afraid of them” or something like that from Mao.  Many students (unadvisedly) try to answer that entire question based up on the 100 flowers campaign.  Spence will come right out at the start of the next chapter and say the 100 flowers campaign was NOT a plot by Mao to reveal hidden rightists.  He honestly wanted some critics to stand up.  If that so, why did so many, like Ding Ling with her Stalin prize in hand, end up in permanent exile?

Birth of the PRC

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012


In 2009 they celecbrated the 60th birthday of the PRC.  Is it the same PRC it was in 1949?  Certainly not.  Just as you are not the same as when you were born.  However when you were born no doubt there were certain expectations of what you would be like.  You were likely to have brown eyes maybe, or a proclivity for dance.  Maybe you were expected to be very intelligent or athletic.

What were the expectations of the PRC at its birth?  How does it hold up now in 2012?  Is it what Mao would have expected?  Is it what the West would have expected? 

The birth of the PRC. Several interesting things to note here. 1, yet another perspective on the Korean war. What’s different here?

2 – how does the PRC establish itself? How does land reform work? WhAt of the three anti and five anti campaign? What about women’s rights. Why was this at all successful?

3 – a couple new people in your terms. Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai. Who are they and what are they up to?

Fall of the GMD

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Cruelties all around.  Neither the Nationalists nor the communists can claim in these pages to be great humanitarians.  In fact Prof Pickowicz at UCSD claims that the land reform struggles against the land lords that often resulted in murder, orgy like feasts, and then murderous redemption, almost lead to the collapse of the CCP.  Had the CCP not pulled back on the reins of the frustrated peasants in that time, then their support might have collapsed.

Bonus question.  What do the stars stand for?  Extra secret double bonus question.  How do you reconcile the answer to the first question with your understanding of Marxism?

Terms in this chapter that I count;

Guomindang                 CCP                Chiang Kai Shek

Mao Zedong                George Marshall           Lin Biao                       fabi

Deng Xiaoping       PRC                Liu Shaoqi                Zhou Enlai 

So ask yourself, what did Lin Biao do here?  What about Deng Xiaoping and George Marshall?  Keep focused on the terms and their relation to the chapter and you’ll be fine.  Good luck!

China in WWII

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

How was “China’s War” our war?  You’ve been here before.  This is WWII.  How is that we have posters such as these seeking relief for the Chinese?

There was another one I couldn’t save that should a portrait of a Chinese soldier saying “This man is your friend.  He fights for your freedom.”  So whats up with all these English language relief posters for China?

There is lots of great stuff in this chapter.  Your terms are, in this chapter;

Guomindang                 CCP                Marco Polo bridge                   Chiang Kai Shek

Long March*               Burma Road     united front                              

“New Fourth Army Incident”                Gen Joseph Stillwell                  “Hongkew”

Mao Zedong                    fabi

So, place each of them in context in the chapter, the fabi is the Chinese currency, part of their nationalism, that the Japanese seek to undermine.  The “united front” is the alliance of the nationalists and the communists against the Japanese which is effectively ended with the “New Fourth Army Incident.”

There are other things that you should catch just because of context or humor.  Remember that test question about American involvement prior to Dec 7?  There is good evidence in here for that.  What is it?  What was Stillwell’s nickname for Chiang?  Hysterical.

See you tomorrow.

Keep an eye on those terms.  They should make life easier here.  Questions, comments, confusions?

Ambrose on Korea

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

I love this image and caption.  Those “cheeky” Brits!  The image is, of course, Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Il Sung II, but it nicely illustrates the isolation that N Korea has endured.

A&B portray the events in Korea a wee bit different than Dr K.  I don’t recall Kissinger painting Truman as needing this crisis in Asia in the same way that A&B insist on.

Also interesting for me here is this little voice going off in my head about the 1950s and “Leave it to Beaver”.  The economic vitality of 1950s America that we can all picture with 3BR 2 Ba houses spreading into suburbia, tailfins on Cadillacs and TVs selling us soap…  well A&B say it shouldn’t have happened. 

If permanent containment was to come, and it did, than America would have a “permanent postponement of the social and economic promises of the New Deal”. (124)

So what’s up?  The economic promises of the New Deal, stability, low unemployment, rising GDP all happened.  Why?  We were spending all our money on defense.  How did everything go so “well”?

As you might have guessed I sort of think the answer is in the question.  We were spending all our money on defense.  If you like things that fly or go fast or are secret or all three read this;

one of my favorite books of the era.  The military industrial complex as it has come to be called includes Lockheed, Boeing, and our own General Atomics.  These domestic industries get fed billions of government dollars and those employees go and buy Cadillacs and TV and soap.  Its all connected.
“Why are things so bad today when we’re spending even more billions on defense? ”, you might ask.  I don’t know.  Ask Strebler.  I think though, that the economic doldrums of the 1970s and the post 2007 era, haven’t stopped the ever banking up of the GDP.  I frankly worry about the trillions in cuts the govt. is currently discussing because those cuts mean cuts in contracts, cuts in jobs, and less people buying Cadillacs, TVs and Soap.  From an environmentalist standpoint I praise less consumption, but from the desire for a stable economy I’m concerned.
What about you? 

Korea according to Kissinger

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

So what was MASH about?  There was a movie that was good, with Elliot Gould, but then the TV show was simply great.  It was about Korea, nominally, but it was also very much about Vietnam and the futility of war.  Kissinger is doing something similar here.  He’s writing about Korea, but he’s saying a lot about Vietnam.

He brings up Saddam Hussein of course and this is a reference to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, wherein the US “kicked the Vietnam Syndrome” according to President GHW Bush, and Kissinger is comparing N. Korea and Iraq’s suprise at the US reaction. Neither believed the US would act if they invaded.

They shouldn’t have been suprised though.  In 1946 Truman wrote a letter we saw in the documents asserting we needed to make a strong government in Korea.  Though in 1950 American planners (like German and Russian planners we saw earlier) were only really planning on the possibility of a general war and a general war in Europe no less.   That they were able to keep Korea from going general was of course a great thing.  Despite claims that our line of defense did not include the Korean peninsula (look at a map) that was only in relation to a general war, but in this now limitited war, the US and the UN would and do respond.

The struggle between Truman and MacArthur, China and Taiwan, N Korea and Stalin and the USSR all bear some consideration.  Any reference to Indochina/Vietnam should also be noted.  You also know, that N Korea, like Cuba, remain isolated states today, perfect examples of the policy of containment. 

There never was a peace signed in Korea.  Its still a hostile border.  Looking back at my blog from last year I was pointing to the then current event of N Korea shelling S Korea and killing four persons.  That the study of history is very much the study of today has rarely been clearer.