Mobilization of Workers: Labour Education and Publication in Chinese Revolution: 1919-1927
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Chinese proletariat was young and numerically weak in the 1920s. These workers nevertheless played a decisive role in the great strike wave culminating in the mid-1920s. Western scholars have provided conflicting narratives of the Chinese labour, but they mainly worked within the same paradigm of social class, with emphasis on workers’ socio-economic and cultural lives as precondition of their emergence as a political force. This paper looks at a different dimension of Chinese labour movement through examination of workers’ activism and militancy in the context of Communist and nationalist movements. More specifically, it explores the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s propaganda and educational work as a key component of Communist labour unions’ organizational and mobilization strategy. This paper will first look at Shanghai workers’ anti-imperialist strike in 1919 as stimulation to left-wing May Fourth intellectuals’ embrace of Marxism and identification with workers. Then it traces the mass education campaign popular at the beginning of the 20th century as the prelude of the CCP’s education drive among workers. Further, two main components of CCP’s mobilization strategies—labour periodicals and workers’ school--will be discussed to show their contributions to workers’ unionization and militancy. Little work has been done on this theme both in China and in the West. Finally, this paper tries to shed light on the relation between intellectuals and workers in reference to Lenin and Gramsci’s theories on the issue.