Xinhai Revolution: the view of a Western Marxist

By Heiko Khoo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 11, 2011
Adjust font size:

When I walk through the streets of London, I often stop to inspect the obscene monuments to the British Empire, such as statues and reliefs of British soldiers slaughtering Indian, African and Chinese nationalist rebels. Most people in the centres of imperial power pass such statues by, oblivious to the barbaric continuity that ties the international arrogance of 'democratic' interventionism in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq to the slave trade, the Opium Wars and the genesis of global financial capitalism.

For thousands of years, Chinese civilisation held world ascendancy in terms of economic capacity and scientific development. After the 1820s, European capitalist dynamism assumed global dominance with its rapidly increasing productive power. Along with manufacturing, trade and commerce, the accumulation of capital was increasingly backed by military adventure and colonial subjugation.

In 1839, when Chinese authorities in Guangzhou burnt opium chests and a few British traders were killed, this was called 'an unquestionable atrocity'. China was "full of insolence, full of error, (and) needing to be enlightened" according to the English Quarterly Review. Gunboats alone could protect this lucrative narcotrafficing!

While every Chinese child knows of the Opium Wars and China's century of humiliation, British kids are told to emulate Prince Harry, who is shown on television gleefully firing a machine gun at 'enemies unknown' in Afghanistan. This contrast reveals the contemporary relevance of China's 1911 revolution.

Don't miss: 

Achieving a third round of CPC-KMT cooperation

In the 19th century China was carved up by Imperial powers, so the cream of China's intellectual elite searched the world for ideas which might save China. They adopted eclectic combinations of democracy, nationalism and socialism.

Sun Yat-sen wrote "From 1885, i.e. from the time of our defeat in the war with France, I set myself the object of the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of a Chinese Republic in its ruins."

Sun, along with a handful of supporters, studied the history of revolutions. Ten years later his initial preparations for insurrection were uncovered and smashed. He cut off his pigtail, dressed in Western clothes and left China to find new support for future battles.

The 1911 revolution was the last of ten uprisings inspired by Sun Yat-sen; one assumes this was a world record! Like so many revolutions the old order was broken, but the new not yet born.

1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from