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Sun and the Paris Anarchists

A INFOS News Service, 29 October 2004

The ideological position of the Paris group should have placed them in sharp conflict with Sun Yat-sen. In fact, however, Sun developed a warm personal friendship with the young Anarchist organizers, induced most of them to join his T'ung Meng Hui, and received various types of aid from them. And in later years' men like Wu, Li, and many other young Anarchists gradually affiliated themselves with the Kuomintang. At the end, indeed, some were to be found in the so-called right wing of the Kuomintang. How are these seeming contradictions to be explained?

Some critics are prone to see the Paris group as faddists who in their youthful enthusiasm plunged into Anarchism as into all things left-bank French, with tremendous spirit but in an essentially superficial fashion.

There is some truth in this evaluation, but it is not wholly fair Many of the young Chinese in Paris during this era did fall in love with France and did become ardent Francophiles. In a sense, Anarchism for them was only a part of a much broader conversion--a conversion to Western, particularly French, civilization. Li Shih-tseng is an excellent example. Even now, he effects the French manner, down to beret and goatee(though not to food and drink). With him at least the fad endured But while these faddists may have been superficial Frenchmen, they were not superficial Anarchists. The doctrines which they preached, they understood. In heated argumentation with opponents, they held their own very well If Western Anarchism in their hands was not particularly enriched, neither was it distorted. To be sure, much of the Hsin Shih-chi consisted of straight translations or extensive paraphrasing of Western Anarchist writers; but there were also a goodly number of articles that related Anarchism to the Chinese scene with the same degree of adequacy as characterized Western Anarchists' attempts to relate their doctrines to the Western scene. Whenever one adopts a life-pattern that is fundamentally foreign to one's original roots and instincts, to the culture of one's society, it is difficult to avoid a certain superficiality or shallowness. In defense of the young Anarchists, however, it might be said that by risking such superficiality, by living as eccentrics in their society, they were seeking to be true to the individualism which was at the root of their creed. But in any case, the charge of superficiality is most valid as applied to the Frenchification process, not when it refers to the capacity of these young intellectuals to encompass anarchist philosophy.

The more serious charge perhaps is that of opportunism. It is alleged that men like Wu and Li betrayed a basic insincerity in professing Anarchism and yet affiliating themselves increasingly with the nationalist movement, and a centralized political organization, the Kuomintang, which was antithetical to their Anarchist beliefs. Opportunism has been a recurrent charge against many elements within the modern Chinese elite; so frequently has the issue been raised that some might regard it as a cultural defect. Chinese intellectuals of varying political persuasions (and other social classes as well) are accused of taking or abandoning positions of principle too easily, depending upon the opportunities or threats that present themselves, or the current nature of their personal alliances.

Sometimes, indeed, the intellectual or the merchant has been accused of having no principles, being like a political litmus paper which reflects the dominant pressures of the society, or its most likely future trend. Thus the charges against Wu and Li are by no means unique. In assessing this general problem, one must remember that the modern Chinese intellectual has faced a supremely difficult problem: how to live decently--perhaps how to live at all--in a period of continuous chaos and upheaval. In such a setting, it is easy enough to criticize almost everyone as opportunistic, particularly when there can be no doubt that personal alliances (in the absence of basic social and political stability) have often assumed transcendent importance. However, even when one sets the familial nature of Chinese society aside, for many Chinese intellectuals, the dilemma has been whether to hold rather rigidly to some set of principles, some utopia, achieving only impotence and possibly running serious personal risks; or whether to seek the lesser evil, compromising with the real political forces that existed in his environment. Few societies in the world have posed this dilemma more painfully for its elite than modern China.

But what specifics should be added in connection with the Anarchist Movement, and men like Wu and Li? Despite their anti-nationalist position, the young Anarchists could not avoid a natural link with Sun's revolutionary movement. After all, it did represent the first step: it was anti-Manchu and hence anti-authority in terms of the contemporary Chinese scene. The Anarchists, moreover, always hoped that they could win over this movement to their side, both with respect to tactics (assassination, strikes, and revolution) and with respect to ultimate goals.

And in tactical terms, they scored some successes. As we shall note later, the major Anarchist spokesmen did not participate in politics immediately after the revolution. They remained generally aloof, both from power and from party position. Over time, however, men like Wu began to rationalize a closer relation to the Kuomintang and to political office. Wu was fond of saying that it would take many years to achieve Anarchism, and in the meantime, Sun's Three People's Principles were an adequate beginning. Moreover, the Anarchists were undoubtedly pushed toward the Kuomintang in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and their bitter struggle with the Chinese Communists In later years, the choice was essentially between the Communists and the Kuomintang. Perhaps it is not surprising that some of the old Anarchists cast in their lot with the latter, especially since it was possible for them to retain a certain special status, to pursue a personal creed, an individual way of life, and to hold office (or sinecure) with rather minimal obligations. What quotient of opportunism this transition represented each reader must decide for himself. [63]

In any case, if we return to the initial ties between Sun Yat-sen and the Paris Anarchist group, we have to enter the complex world of Chinese personal relations. Such relations constitute that human element of tremendous importance that must be factored into any realistic analysis of Chinese politics rendering the illogical, logical or at least explicable, giving life and uncertainty to what would otherwise be a political scene fully determined by the theories we have attempted carefully to sketch.

Wu Chih-hui may have met Sun in Tokyo in March, 1901, but their friendship dated from the winter of 1904 when they were both staying in London.[64] We do not know the frequency of their contact. Sun did introduce Wu to his old teacher, Dr. James Cantlie. It was also at this time that the two men met Chang Ching-chiang. At some point during this period, Chang promised Sun that if he ever needed money, he need only wire, and the two men even worked out a code that would signify the amount required.[65] on at least two occasions, once in 1906 and again the following year, Sun took advantage of this offer and obtained substantial sums. Both Wu and Chang also joined the T'ung Meng Huio Wu joined in late 1905, reportedly because he thought the Sun program was an acceptable partial step and because he was convinced that all revolutionaries should work together. There can be little doubt that Sun's very great eclectism when it came to Socialist doctrine abetted this position. It is likely that Sun paid considerable homage to Anarchism as an ideal, especially when he was with the Paris group. Chang joined the T'ung Meng Hui in 1907 in Hong Kong, after it had been agreed that the oath of allegiance could be modified to omit any mention of heaven.

As an Anarchist who opposed religion, Chang insisted upon this change.[66]

After 1907, Sun and the Paris group were brought even closer together by having a mutual enemy. In the autumn of 1907, Chang Ping-lin (T'ai-yen) and certain other T'ung Meng Hui members in Tokyo launched a movement to oust Sun as head of the revolutionary movement Sun was in Indo-China, and his chief supporters were gone from Tokyo.

Chang became editor of the Min-pao. He had always been a somewhat different revolutionary type, being essentially a classicist and a Buddhist, with very little interest in Western progressive ideas, and an antipathy toward Socialism. Chang was violently anti-Manchu, but beyond this, he had little in common with the young radicals, or with Sun himself. In October, 1907, Chang Ping-lin,Chang Chi, and some other members of the Tokyo T'ung Meng Hui published a manifesto seeking to remove Sun as leader of the revolutionary movement Sun was attacked for having taken the title of tsung-li or general leader, it being denied that his influence or ability warranted such an exalted designation. He was charged with the rash sacrifice of lives in hopeless ventures. it was also asserted that he had misused funds and deposited a small fortune to his name in the bank.[67] This manifesto was evidently widely circulated among Chinese overseas communities.

As indicated earlier, relations between Wu Chih-hui and Chang Ping-lin had been bad since the 1903 Su-pao affair. Su-pao, [Kiangsu Journal] had begun in 1897 as a reform newspaper and gradually moved toward the support of revolution. It operated from the Shanghai International Settlement, being registered with the Japanese Consulate in the name of the Japanese wife of the editor, Hu Chang. Among the important writers in 1903 were Wu Chih-hui, Chang Pinglin, and Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei. At this time, Tsou Yung wrote a violently anti-Manchu pamphlet entitled Revolutionary Army which suggested among other things the assassination of the Emperor. Chang not only wrote the preface for this pamphlet, but also reviewed it in the pages of Su-pao. Infuriated Chinese authorities obtained permission for a trial before the Mixed Court. But most of the leaders including Wu escaped Chang, however, was caught, tried, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. For some reason not clear, Chang blamed Wu for his arrest, and a strong hostility developed between the two men.[68]

Thus it was easy for the Paris group led by Wu to defend Sun against an old enemy For a time, Wu and Chang Ping-lin exchanged attacks through the pages of their respective journals. These have been called excellent examples of Chinese vituperative literature.[69] This may be true. Surely they are not excellent examples of anything else. The issues raised were negligible. Chang did attack Anarchist support for the international language Esperanto as an abandonment of Chinese learning.

He charged that the Paris group were sycophants of the West, and that the self-proclaimed scientific basis of their Anarchist philosophy was totally faulty.[70] Wu attacked Chang's conservative nationalism and accused him of maintaining connections with traitors to the revolutionary cause.[71] And Sun's honor was staunchly upheld in Paris.

In later years, Sun sought to repay these services. He offered positions both in the Kuomintang and in the government to his old Anarchist friends. Initially, these were declined, with most of the Anarchists remaining firm in their refusal to be associated with power. Later, however, some posts were accepted, as the Anarchist Movement faded away before the challenges of nationalism and Communism. But the ideological chasm between Sun and the Anarchists was never bridged. At times., it seemed that Sun was willing to accommodate himself to all doctrines that bore the label Socialism. And despite their early denials, Anarchists like Wu, Chang, and Li ultimately seemed willing to accommodate themselves to Sun's Three People's Principles as a first step in the proper direction as was suggested earlier. In purely ideological terms, however, there could be no easy compromise between Sun's one-party tutelage and the Anarchists' freedom, between his concept of centralized power and their concept of free federation. Theirs was a marriage of convenience and friendship, not of logic.

The Mounting Struggle Against the Government

In addition to defending Sun, Hsin Shih-chi kept up a running battle against government surveillance of overseas students. In early 1907, the Chinese government announced it would send a super visor to France to assist the students in their various activities. On June 18, 1907, the very eve of the first issue of Hsin Shih-chi, a meeting was convened by the Chinese students in France, and the matter was discussed. What percentage of the students came is unclear, but the attitude of those present toward this new proposal was very clear indeed. They recommended that any supervisor meet the following conditions:

1. He should know three languages well.

2. He should be well versed in at least one science.

3. He should not be allowed to bring his family.

4. His salary should not be more than the amount paid to three students.[72]

If these qualifications could have been applied, the students would not have had to worry about the supervisor's imminent arrival! And there is good reason to believe that the Anarchist group had a considerable role in framing these suggestions. In the course of the meeting, some amendments were proposed. It was suggested that only those members of the official's family with bound feet be prohibited from coming, so as not to disgrace the students. The question of queues was also raised.

The Hsin Shih-chi report of the meeting was written in a satirical vein.[73] If there were a need for someone to make payments to overseas students, then an accountant should be brought, not a supervisor. Of course, the government really wanted to investigate revolutionary activities. To help the government in this respect, the writer stated that he could announce immediately that the general student sentiment was favorable to revolution; the only opposition came from those who wanted to become officials and acquire wealth. These were already serving as informers, so why waste money on a supervisor who would know so little in any case that he would have to depend upon them after his arrival. The writer made one additional offer to help. Henceforth, he said, we will print more news about revolutionary activities and send the paper free of charge to the supervisor. Then he can stay home and still be well informed. Despite this final offer, the supervisor did arrive. Hsin Shih- chi reported his first speech, an address given on May 31, 1908.[74] It was a conciliatory talk delivered before some 60-70 students, but Wu took strong exception to it and sought to read amply between the lines.

Meanwhile, pressure upon the revolutionary movement was everywhere on the increase. By the latter part of 1908, Chinese authorities had finally prevailed upon the Japanese government to stop the publication of Min-pao and two Anarchist journals, T'ieni Pao (Natural Principles) and Heng Pao (Measurement). Nevertheless, the 25th issue of Min-pao was printed secretly, and at one point, Hsin Shih-chi announced that it was serving as publisher.[75] There were later indications, however, that this issue which came out late in 1909, was not printed in Paris; it was probably printed underground in Tokyo.[76]

The editor of the secret Min-pao was Wang Ching-wei, an ardent supporter of Sun and one definitely influenced by the Anarchist writings of this period. Chang Ping-lin, now excluded from authority, complained bitterly that this was a false Min-pao, but Hsin Shih-chi, helping to distribute it, asserted party members in the East are paying no attention to Chang's charges.[77] And Wang was to be the final hero of the Paris journal. Its last issue, published on May 21, 1910, might well have been called the Wang Ching-wei special edition, since it was devoted almost entirely to praise of Wang for his attempted assassination of the Manchu Prince Regent.[78]

On the eve of the Nationalist Revolution, the Chinese Anarchists had considerable reason for optimism. The revolutionary movement seemed to be adopting their tactics. Assassination and other forms of direct action had become the order of the day. Anarchist writings had had an impact upon a number of nationalists, and the leaders of the Paris group had close personal ties with Sun and his supporters. The pro-Sun element, moreover, was now clearly ascendant within the revolutionary camp of China. This element had successfully weathered the Chang Ping-lin storm, and it was moving left, partly as a result of that storm.

Finally, the international climate for Anarchism seemed generally good.

Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism were much in vogue in European radical circles. Even in the United States, the IWW had created a considerable stir, and American Socialism had to conjure with names like Emma Goldman and William Haywood. In Japan, the Anarchists had captured the commanding heights of the Socialist Movement. Was there not reason to believe that Anarchism represented the wave of the future?

The Chinese Anarchist Movement in Tokyo

Before looking at that future, however, we must turn back to the past. A Chinese Anarchist group had emerged in Tokyo at almost precisely the same time that the Paris group was being organized. The central figures in Tokyo were Chang Chi, Liu Shih-p'ei, and Liu's wife, Ho Chen. Chang Chi, who became associated with the Paris group as well as with the Anarchist movement in Japan, was one of the earliest Chinese students studying in Japan.[79] From a scholarly-gentry family of Hupei, Chang first arrived in Japan in 1899. He soon became active in the nationalist movement and joined Sun's T'ung Meng Hui upon its establishment in 1905. Chang studied political science and economics at Waseda University. In Japan, he became acquainted with Japanese Anarchists, including Kotoku Sh-usui and Osugi Sakae, and later translated Errico Malatesta's work on Anarchism into Chinese.[80] Liu came from a long line of scholars, had received a thorough classical education, and had demonstrated remarkable ability as a youth.[81] He was already teaching at the age of eighteen, and passed his chi-jen degree the following year, in 1903. His conversion to the anti-Manchu cause seems to have been mainly the product of a friendship developed with Chang Ping-lin' whose background and interests were very similar to those of Liuo. In 1904, Liu became a member of the patriotic society, Kuang-fu Hui, Restoration Society, in Shanghai, having been introduced by Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei.

During this period, Liu gradually became active in revolutionary undertakings, participating in various publications, helping to plan an unsuccessful assassination, and supporting himself by doing some middle school teaching.

In 1907, Liu and his wife went to Japan. He had changed his name by this time to Kuang-han (Restore the Han), and his wife also had adopted a new appellation. At first, they lived with Chang Ping-lin.[82] Within a few months, they had made contact with Japanese Anarchists, and were obviously much influenced by them. Kotoku Shosui and some of his young disciples did a great deal to convert Liu to the Anarchist cause. In June, Liu and Chang Chi decided to establish a Society for the Study of Socialism. The fifteenth issue of Min-pao which was published in July, 1907, carried a brief news item about this study group, with the request for the names and addresses of those interested, and a promise to notify all who responded as to the time and place of the first meeting.83 Meanwhile, Liu and his wife had begun the publication of an Anarchist journal, T'ien-i Pao The first issue came out in June.[84]

A detailed report of the first meeting of the Society for the Study of Socialism is available.[85] It was held on August 30, 1907. About ninety people attended, and the two major speeches were made by Liu and Kotoku. Liu began by announcing that the purpose of the society was not merely the study of Socialism, but the practice of Anarchism. He then proceeded to advance arguments on behalf of this creed. Like his comrades in Paris, Liu had been strongly influenced by the composite forces of Chinese classicism, Darwinism, and radical libertarianism. The realization of Anarchism in China, he stated, should not be too difficult, because for thousands of years, the Chinese political foundation had rested upon Confucian and Taoist principles of indifference and non-interference. In practice, moreover, traditional Chinese government had not been close to the people and had not been trusted by them. Laws had been merely formal documents and officials had held only empty positions. No individual had truly possessed power. The government had looked down upon the people, treating them as plants and animals; and the people had viewed the government as repulsive and evil. This historic situation of indifference to government could easily be turned into a victory for Anarchism, Liu remarked. Indeed, he argued, China should be the first country in the world to realize Anarchism due to this unique background.

Liu also dealt with Darwinism. To the extent that it represented science, it represented the new truth that should provide the basis for human relations. But Liu challenged the Darwinian thesis that progress came through competition, asserting that that was the old theory. The new theory was that of Kropotkin: progress through Mutual Aid. This was an idea that had firm foundations in nature and thus represented a superior scientific truth. And throughout his speech, Liu cited the Western libertarians from Rousseau to Bakunin and Kropotkin. Primitive man had been free until he was enslaved by government. Political authority could have no legitimate basis, either in morality or in need. All forms of authority were types of oppression. Human freedom in the most complete possible form had to be- the supreme desideratum of civilized man. Liu sought to build a popular front between anti-Manchuism and Anarchism, while at the same time clearly distinguishing between them, and asserting the superiority of the latter. The bond between anti-Manchuism and Anarchism lay in the fact that both were against absolutism and in favor of revolution. Thus they should be able to cooperate. But there were three reasons why Anarchism was superior, according to Liu First, nationalism-the worship of one's own race and the casting off of others—could easily be turned into national imperialism.

Second, revolution should not have such a private, selfish motive as that of seizing power for oneself or one's group; it should be dedicated to freedom of all, as was anarchism. Finally, revolution had to have a broad base. The anti-Manchu movement was primarily a movement of students and secret society members, whereas the Anarchist revolution would be supported and underwritten by the whole people, the peasants and workers of the nation. To enjoy lasting success, revolutions had to have a mass basis. y After Liu, Chang Chi made a few remarks, and then a lengthy speech by Kotoku, the Japanese Anarchist, followed. Kotoku's influence upon his Chinese comrades must have been very great. He was probably the most brilliant Japanese radical of his generation. Moreover, his contacts with Western Socialism were extensive, both in terms of the literature and in terms of personal contacts Kotoku had returned from the United States in mid-1906 with books and the latest ideas. His translations helped to introduce Kropotkin and other Western Anarchists to all students living in Japan. In this respect, as in many others, Japan served as a transmission belt conveying Westernism in all its facets to young Chinese intellectuals.

We need not devote much attention to Kotoku's speech since its main themes have been set forth earlier. He began with an apology for having to speak in Japanese, a language foreign to his audience, but promised that the day of an international language was not far distant. Then he proceeded to give a general historical survey of the European socialist movement, taking his position with the most advanced element, that element pioneered by Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin.[86] Like Liu, Kotoku cited the classics in defense of anarchist doctrine and morality, referring to Christianity as well as Confucianism, although he was a strong anti-Christian.

The first meeting of the Society for the Study of Socialism was concluded by the short talk of Ho Chen, Liu's wife and the editor of T'ien-i Pao .[87] She suggested that among the anarchist movements, that of Russia was the strongest and in its three stages of development offered a guide for China: the first stage was that of speech and discussion, followed by a state of political activity, and climaxed by a period of assassination. Many of the Chinese and Japanese present at this meeting were to have their lives profoundly affected by the attempt to follow these words. In a few years, Kotoku and a number of his students would be dead, executed by the Japanese government on charges of responsibility for a plot against the Emperor Meiji. In Chinese revolutionary circles, also, the trend was toward more extremism. Ho Chen herself, as we shall note, evidently became involved in an assassination attempt.

The Liu magazine, T'ien-i Pao, emphasized familiar Anarchist themes including Freedom and equality were made primary goals. Religion was bitterly attacked. Special privileges to rulers and nobility were denounced, as was government in any form. All analysis and argument were cast in a scientific mold, and yet values were much discussed and defended. Liu, for example, in one article, defined man's three basic feelings as those of self-interest, hatred and goodness. [88]In a manner completely compatible with Confucian thought, he argued that man had the capacity for goodness, and asserted that goodness exceeded even equality as a value. He related it to the concept of Confucian jen, Kantian love, and the theme of mutual aid in Kropotkin's writings. Liu might define goodness in Confucian terms but he did not seek to develop it through Confucian methods. In place of the educative state, he wished to advance the stateless, classless society.

In another article, Liu explored socialism in ancient China, with special reference to the land equalization policies of Wang Mang.[89] He paid tribute to Wang, but asserted that his policies failed because he could not eliminate classes nor abolish government, and with an obvious glance in the direction of Sun Yat-sen, he asserted:

Those who today seek to found governments and further deceive the people with a policy of the equalization of land are all of the same sort as Wang Mang.[90]

In 1908, Liu split with Chang Ping-lin, and in that same year, the Anarchist journals were ordered to cease publication. Liu and his wife returned to Shanghai. Soon it became known that they were serving as informers for the police, and had entered the service of the Manchu official, Tuan-fang.[91] Liu told the Shanghai International Settlement police of a secret T'ung Meng Hui meeting, with the result that one member was imprisoned. The precise pressures or circumstances that produced this shift in position are not clear. According to rumor, Ho Chen was involved in an assassination plot (Wang Kung-ch'a) and perhaps a deal was made to save her. In any case, this ended their Anarchist careers. In later years, Liu supported Yuan Shih-ktai. Despite these transgressions, however, Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, when he became president of Peking University, gave Liu a professorship Both their old personalities and the fact that Liu was an excellent classical scholar probably entered into this appointment But Liu died very shortly thereafter, on November 20, 1919, at the young age of thirty-six.

Probably Liu was always closer to Chinese traditionalism than most of his comrades. We have noted his extensive use of traditionalist thought to justify Anarchism. And this illustrates again a most important point. As long as Chinese traditionalism was enlisted, selectively, in the service of Western radicalism, as long as that radicalism could be buttressed by reference to the Chinese past, the political pendulum for some radicals could always swing back under certain conditions, causing them to revert to orthodoxy. The considerable staying powers of Chinese traditionalism were never more clearly illustrated than under such circumstances.

As for Chang Chi, the other participant in the Tokyo anarchist movement, with the increasing police pressure upon the socialists late in 1907, he left Japan for France. Between 1908 and 1911, Chang associated himself with Li Shih-tseng, Wu Chih-hui and the Paris Anarchist Group.

His interest in Anarchism continued and he spent the summer of 1908 in a communal village (communisme experimental) in Northern France.[92] Upon the success of the 1911 Revolution, Chang returned to China and became a leading member of the Kuomintang.[93]

The initial impact of the Chinese Anarchist movements in Paris and Tokyo was almost wholly upon the overseas students. Very few copies of the Hsin Shih-chi or T'ien-i Pao could be smuggled into China. In this era, the average Chinese intellectual at home remained completely oblivious to Western radicalism. In many respects, the general circumstances of this period contributed to an enormous gulf between the old and new intelligentsia. The old intelligentsia stayed at home, with the windows of their studies firmly closed to the winds of change from the outer world. The new intelligentsia were in that outer world, being swept along by its winds. Their ideas were being formed in a foreign environment, and while they did not need to desert their heritage completely, generally that heritage had to be interpreted and reconciled with Western progress and truth.

It is most significant that the Chinese intellectuals had so short a time in which to adjust to the political currents of the modern world. For the great majority, liberation came only with the 1911 Revolution. Then in less than a decade--and a decade filled with extraordinary political chaos--they were forced to cope with an unending variety of new, often conflicting ideas. Scarcely had liberalism begun to make its impact when the Bolshevik Revolution brought the doctrines of Marxist-Leninism into the land. But even before this, democracy, Socialism, and Anarchism were more or less simultaneously released into the Chinese intellectual stream.

Compared to China, the introduction of Japan to Westernism was almost leisurely. The Japanese intellectual had had some four decades of Mill, Locke, Burke and Rousseau before he got the Fabians, Kropotkin, or Marx. Modern China paid very heavy penalties for her tenacious institutions, her self-satisfied intelligentsia, her basic xenophobia—and hence her delayed, kaleidoscopic revolution in which there was no time to undergo an intellectual evolution, to meet ideas in sequence, to separate the past from the present or future. or to develop one's own syncretic political philosophy. But despite the multiple confusions, to be Anarchist in this period was to be truly avant garde, to leap ahead of the West, as it were, and capture the future. It is not surprising that Anarchism made a deep impression upon some of the young Chinese intellectuals who were in search of modernity.


Shih-fu and His Movement

Before Marxist-Leninist-Maoism, Anarchist banners had already been planted in China proper and a much larger circle of Chinese intellectuals had gained some acquaintance with Anarchist theory. One of the first to take the ideas of Hsin Shih-chi into China was Liu Szu-fu, better known as Shih Fu.[94] Liu came to Anarchism from Sun's T'ung Meng Hui.

Born in 1884 near Canton, he developed into an excellent classical student, but one showing revolutionary tendencies even before leaving China. In 1904, he went to Japan to continue his education, and the following year, he took an active part in the establishment of the Tokyo T'ung Meng Hui. Nor were all of Liu's studies academic. He also studied the art of manufacturing explosives, although as we shall soon see, perhaps he did not master the subject.

In 1906, learning that Sun would attempt an uprising in Kwangtung, Liu along with many other students left Japan for home. Upon reaching Hong Kong, however, Liu accepted the editorship of a local journal and remained there. The following year, it was decided that a successful revolt in Kwangtung would be facilitated by the assassination of either the governor or the naval commander. The latter, Li Chun; was chosen as the target and Liu volunteered to serve as executioner. Due to Liu's carelessness, however, an accident occurred and the bomb exploded prematurely. He was severely wounded, and lost all the fingers on his left hand. This incident also resulted in his arrest, and while the police were unable to determine his exact mission, he spent nearly three years in prison, and was released then only because his literary efforts were so admired by local officials that they petitioned higher authorities on his behalf.

Following his release from prison in 1909, Liu returned to Hong Kong.

During his confinement and afterward, he had moved steadily toward anarchism, finally becoming a full disciple of the Hsin Shih-chi doctrines.

In Hong Kong, Liu and others organized an assassination group dedicated to anarchism and having no contact with the T'ung Meng Hui.[95] This group was planning the assassination of the Prince Regent, Tsai-li (Wang Ching-wei's intended victim) when the Revolution of 1911 broke out. After the revolution, the group picked another target, Yuan Shih-k'ai, but according to Liu, a certain person asked them not to act in haste.[96]

About this time, in 1912, Liu and his followers founded the Hui-Ming Hseh-she, The Society of Cocks Crowing in the Dark, in Canton. The objective of the new society was to propagate Anarchism at the mass level, to move from destructive to constructive work. And for the next three years, until his premature death of tuberculosis in March 1915, Liu was one of the pillars of the active movement. In addition to the Hui-ming Hsueh-she, Liu and his comrades in 1913 founded the Hsin-she, Heart Society, in Canton. It was intended to be a preliminary organization to a full-fledged Anarchist Movement. The Hsin-she had twelve conditions for membership:

1. No eating of meat.

2. No drinking of liquor.

3. No smoking.

4. No use of servants.

5. No marriage.

6. No use of a family name (thus Liu changed his name to Shih Fu).

7. No acceptance of government office.

8. No riding in sedan chairs or rickshaws.

9. No acceptance of parliamentary seats.

10. No joining of political parties.

11. No joining of an army or navy.

12. No acceptance of religion.[97]

The Society to Advance Morality and its Impact

The Hsin-she had an earlier and more significant model. In January 1912, the Chin-te Hui, Society to Advance Morality, had been founded by Wu Chih-hui, Li Shih-tseng, Chang Chi, and Wang Ching-wei.[98] Most of the Paris group had returned to China shortly after the 1911 Revolution. They were making their political impact felt in a variety of ways. None was more interesting than the Chin-te Hui. In propagating their Society, Wu and the others argued that basic social reform had to accompany political change. The reason for the corruption of the Ch'ing regime, they argued, was due to the corruption of Chinese society; its most common forms being prostitution, gambling, and the concubine system. Hence China must build a new morality attuned to the new society that had to be created.

As befitted an Anarchist-inspired movement, the Chin-te Hui had no president or other officers, no regulations, no dues or fines. New members were simply introduced by old ones, and had their names recorded on a membership roll. And if a member was discovered to have violated the Covenant of the Society, other members were supposed merely to raise their hats, indicate their unhappiness, and respectfully implore in silence.[99] The full Chin-te Hui regulations were very complicated. There were five types of membership, with increasingly rigorous requirements at each level. Supporting members, the lowest level, agreed not to visit prostitutes and not to gamble. General members agreed in addition not to take concubines. Beyond this, however, there was a special covenant that established three special divisions of members. The Special A Division members accepted the above restrictions, and in addition agreed not to become government officials. Some one has to watch over officials noted the covenant.[100] Special B Division members added to the above prohibitions the agreement not to become members of parliament and not to smoke.

Legislators watch over officials, but someone has to watch over the legislators.[101] Finally, Special C Division members accepted all previous stipulations and also promised not to drink liquor or eat meat.[102]

The Paris rules, refined, were being brought home. It is almost startling to discover how widely the new anarchist morality was permeating the new Chinese intelligentsia For example, its influence was apparent in the Chinese Socialist Party, a party established by Chiang K'ang-hu (Kiang Kang-hu), shortly after the 1911 Revolution. Chiang, who had close ties with Sun Yat-sen, was strongly criticized by Liu and other Anarchists, as we shall note. However, he coined the phrase, The three no's and the two eaches, and even organized a 3-2 Study Society. The three no's referred to no government, no family, and no religion The two eaches were from each according to his ability and to each according to his need. In abbreviated form, this was Anarchist-Communism, even if Chiang was not really faithful to that creed. In an effort to be more faithful, one branch of the Chinese Socialist Party headed by Lo Wu and Fen Fen broke away, and proclaimed itself an advocate of Anarchist-Communism while retaining the label Socialist Party. Yuan Shih-kai suppressed both branches shortly, but during their brief life, they were further testimony to the rapidly expanding influence of anarchist thought within Chinese progressive circles. There is also an account of Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei founding a Liu-pu Hui, Six No's Society, with rules akin to the Chin-te Hui, possibly its offshoot: no prostitutes, gambling, concubines, meat, liquor, or smoking. All members were supposed to observe the first three rules; the latter three were optional.[103]

There is some indication that the widespread impact of anarchist thought, combined no doubt with the historic reluctance for power and glory so deeply implanted in traditional Chinese ethics had a definite effect in limiting the political leadership available to the new revolutionary era.

According to the Min-li Pao, both Sun and Yuan Shih-k'ai were willing to have Wang Ching-wei as Premier, but since he was a Special B Division member of the Chin-te Hui, he declined.[l04] And on another occasion, a most interesting letter from a Fukien province comrade was published in Min-li Pao.[l05] Conditions were very difficult, he reported, and one Wang Tzu-yuan was needed to take over the educational system in the province However, Wang, being a Special C Division member of the Chin- te Hui, refused. Could not Wang's membership be changed temporarily to the general category, and then, when his task was finished, revert to Special C Division status asked the writer? Wu Chih-hui answered the letter with a flat refusal to consider any such request. He did assert, however, that if Wang wanted to aid the Fukien educational program, he could serve as the head of an educational society, or act as an adviser. In these capacities, a few of the anarchists did begin to assist the Nationalist government, but there can be little doubt that many refused to play the kind of political role that was so desperately needed in a period when trained personnel were extremely scarce in comparison with the tasks at hand. To some extent the anarchist movement must share the responsibility for the rapid collapse of Nationalist aspirations after 1911.