Foreign Cultures 63 How did the CCP control such a large, complex, contentious society?

10.5.2005

Elements that led to a relatively successful level of control (Note: there are pluses and minuses to these methods of control) Initial party popularity Considering the turmoil of the early 20th century (Western imperialism, inflation, etc.), the party brought economic stability, reforms, a response to the Western world – this led to initial pride and relief due to the CCP; people were willing to cooperate with the government Socialist transformation in the mid-1950s By the late 1950s, the institutions required for individuals to gain social, economic, political status were controlled by the CCP; individuals were dependent on the bureaucratic authorities who answered to the party; political dissent was not an option (could not opt out of the system) Dossier system Young people in schools were tracked in personal dossiers (grades, progress, political leanings, ‘dangerous’ tendencies); secret documents; provided a detailed record of one’s past Extending ‘political rituals’ to the larger population Criticism and self-criticism were extended to everyone (versus in USSR where these rituals were limited to party circles); the need to regularly state one’s support for the latest party doctrine – peer criticism if that support was perceived as insincere Campaigns Large-scale (Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution) to small-scale (rooting out corruption, etc); meant stopping the regular routine, reorganizing the CCP’s priorities to tackle a single issue; work-teams sent into the population; organizing people for ‘class struggle’; designed to foster the sense that party officials were always monitoring the population; de-emphasis on the use of laws, public regulation Benefits By creating a highly mobile, ideological population, there were natural curbs on crime, prostitution Ability to embark on large-scale public works projects Able to get large parts of the population involved in state projects for the benefit of everyone Consequences If the party has undesirable goals, people are still compelled to go along with them People felt marginalized if they had doubts Great Leap Forward Many of the economic initiatives did not make sense; led to an economic disaster with 30 million excess deaths; economic setback for years Cultural Revolution Large numbers of excess death; disruption in peoples’ lives; economic damage

Foreign Cultures 63

10.5.2005

Ability to mobilize the system was one of its greatest defects, in that there was no way to stop it if the goals were misguided Susceptibility to corruption; individuals could not effectively resist corrupt officials Interpersonal tensions would arise, but because of the bureaucratic and fixed nature of work, employers were often antagonistic with each other for a long period of time, but they could only vent their anger during the campaigns. “Cult of personality” surrounding Mao; Communist system leant itself to these things; modern development made possible by the degree of control over the population, plus a political systems based on loyalty to the chairman. No orderly way of promoting people through the political system; people never retired – they either hung on, were killed, or died.