SCALAPINO, R and G.T. YU. The Chinese Anarchist Movement -4-

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Sun and the Paris Anarchists

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. [1]

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. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4]

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. [5] 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. [6]

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. [7] 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. [8] Wu attacked Chang’s conservative nationalism and accused him of maintaining connections with traitors to the revolutionary cause. [9] 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.

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[1When posed with this general question, Li Shih-tseng asserted that in each era, one struggles for freedom and the liberation of the individual spirit in a different manner, relying upon different tactics and approaches — but that the fundamental struggle is still the same. Interview, July 16, 1959.

[2Yang K’ai-ling asserts that Sun met Wu in Tokyo, but others state that the London meeting was the first. See Yang, "The Father of the Country and Mr. Wu Chih-hui," op. cit., No.1, pp. 28-29.

[3Feng Tzu-yu, "The Master of the Hsin Shih-chi, Chang Chingchiang," op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 227-230.

[4Ibid., p. 229.

[5For an account of this and other events of this period in English, see T’ang Leang-li, The Inner History of the Chinese Revolution, London, 1930, pp.40 ff. (p. 62) For a discussion of the manifesto, see "Advice," Hsin Shth-chi, No. 115, November 13, 1909, pp. 4-11.

[6The Su-pao Affair is discussed in T’ang, op. cit., p. 42; and History of The Press and Public Opinion in China, 1936, p.102. Mr. Richard Howard has informed us that some authorities claim that the enmity of Wu and Chang dates even before the Su-pao affair.

[7This was Lin Yutang’s remark. Ibid., p.102.

[8For some of Chang’s "open letters," see "A Just Discussion on Anti-Manchuism," Min-pao, No. 21, June 10. 1908, pp. 1-12; "Refuting the Argument Regarding China’s Adoption of the International Language," Ibid., pp. 49-72; "The Taiwanese and the Hsin Shih-chi Correspondent," Ibid., No. 22, July 10, 1908, pp. 31-35; "To Advise Hsin Shih-chi," Ibid., No. 24, October 10, 1908, pp.41-65. Wu’s open letters to Chang appear in Hsin Shih-chi, Nos. 28, 44, and 63. See also the important article, "Advice," Ibid., No. 115.

[9See Wu’s article "Party People," Ibid., No. 117, January 22, 1910, pp.1-10. Here Wu reported that the anti-Sun manifesto, circulated in the names of T’ung Meng Hui members from seven provinces, was reported to have been written by T’ao Ch’eng-chang. He argued that if Sun were wealthy why did his son work in Honolulu to earn tuition, and why were the expenses of his mother, near death in Hongkong, being met by friends. He urged the anti-Sun forces to furnish proof of their charges. Then he furnished "proof" of Chang Ping-lin’s association with Liu Kuang-han and his wife, in the form of five letters, the implication being that Chang was still close to him who by this time had deserted the Anarchist and revolutionary cause.