Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Change in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 17, 2011

By R Berring Central to understanding Mao’s thoughts on law is an appreciation of the special role of the peasant in the Maoist ethic. The one constant in the millennia of Chinese history has been the peasant. Living a subsistence life in the village, maintaining as little contact with the formal government structures as possible, this hardy individual was not touched by the powers of the dynastic or warlord government in any but the most unfortunate of ways. United by a culture based in a common written language, moral condition and historic heritage, this mass of peasants was the reality of China. In the traditional dynastic order, a sort of mythic bond based on the Mencian 孟子 concept of the Mandate of Heaven (in Chinese: tianming 天命) was believed to relate the success of the life of the peasant to the actions of the Emperor. If the central government did not manage to keep certain coordinating functions on the rails, notably those concerning flood control and irrigation as well as some level of famine control, enough trouble could brew to bring about change.

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