SCALAPINO, R and G.T. YU. The Chinese Anarchist Movement -6-


Nature. VegetarianismEthicsGOLDMAN, Emma (1869-1940)Communication. EsperantoSHIFU Liu (1884-1915). Anarchiste chinoisHong Kong (China)WU CHIH-HUI (1865-1953)SHIH-TSENG, Li (formerly Li Yu-ying) (1882-....)SCALAPINO, RobertYU G. T.WANG CHING-WEI CHANG CHICanton (China) SUN YAT-SEN
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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. [1] 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.

Liu Shi-fu

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. [2] 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. [3]

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. [4]

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. [5] 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." [6] 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. [7] 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." [8] Finally, Special C Division members accepted all previous stipulations and also promised not to drink liquor or eat meat. [9]

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. [10]

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. [11] And on another occasion, a most interesting letter from a Fukien province comrade was published in Min-li Pao. [12] 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.

Anarchist-Communist Themes

By 1913, a number of intellectual groups were cultivating Anarchist theories and values, especially in south China. But the most active movement, and the great bulk of publications during this period, came from Shih Fu and his Hui-ming Hsueh-she. As its organ, the Hui-ming-lu, "The Voice of the Cock Crowing in the Dark," began publication on August 20, 1913. [13] It used the Esperanto name, La Voco de La Popolo, and after the first few issues, changed its Chinese title to Min Sheng, "The Voice of the People." In this journal and also in separate pamphlets, were reprinted various original articles and translations from Hsin Shih-chi. In this manner, Anarchist thought was widely disseminated. The names of Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta - and some of their theories - were now introduced into the main stream of Chinese "progressivism." In mid-1914, a Society of Anarchist-Communist Comrades was established in Canton. [14] Anarchist associations were also formed in Nanking, Shanghai, and several other centers. Communication was established with the international anarchist movement; indeed, in August, 1914, Shih Fu wrote a report to the International Anarchist Congress on the past history and current condition of the Chinese Anarchist Movement. [15] Exchanges were established with such foreign Anarchist Movements as those in Japan and the United States. [16] To facilitate this international exchange and to support universalism in all respects, the Esperanto movement was strongly pushed, and Shih Fu actually became an officer in the International Esperanto Association.

While the Anarchists may have benefitted occasionally from the near-chaotic conditions in China, this was scarcely an era of political freedom. Shih Fu and his comrades were kept almost constantly on the move. When the southern armies were defeated and Lung Chi-kuang entered Canton, the Hui-ming Hseh-she was closed. Shih Fu, whose arrest had been ordered by Yuan Shih-k’ai, moved his operation to Macao. Here the third and fourth issues of his journal were published, but heavy pressures were put upon Portuguese officials, and once more Shih Fu was forced to move. Shanghai, and especially the International Settlement, provided the greatest safety for subversive movements during this era. Min Sheng continued to be published there until its final demise, with issue number twenty-nine, on November 28, 1916. [17]

The Hui-ming-lu opened with a declaration that it would be the voice of the people, speaking as their organ. [18] Having set forth this ambitious goal, Shih Fu proceeded to assert that the evil nature of social organization was responsible for public misery, and that only by carrying out a basic world revolution and destroying all present social authority, would the people attain the true happiness of freedom. "Our principles are communism, anti-militarism, Syndicalism, anti-religion, anti-family, vegetarianism, an international language, and universal harmony. We also support all the new scientific discoveries which advance man’s livelihood." [19] The Anarchist-Communist creed could not have been put more succinctly. In the first major article, Shih Fu attempted a simple explanation of Anarchism, drawing upon Hsin Shih-chi and such Western sources as Kropotkin. [20] By the abolition of government and the institution of communism, classes will be equalized and the struggle for money will cease. Then life will be free, and the society of contention will become one of mutual love. If we could eliminate the struggle over property and over lust by wiping out the institutions of private property and marriage, argued Shih Fu, 80-90% of all killings could be eliminated. Evil and immorality were due to society not to man. Only through Anarchist-Communism, asserted Shih Fu, could the fruits of science be properly utilized for the benefit of all. If education could be available to everyone without patriotic and militaristic indoctrination, then every man could have a knowledge of science and it would no longer be a monopoly of the few, to be used for capitalistic material gain. [21]

Another significant article seeking to define Anarchist-Communism was written by Shih Fu in April, 1914. [22] Since both the terms "Anarchism" and "communism" were new to the Chinese language, many misunderstandings had resulted, he stated. Anarchism advocated the complete freedom of people, unrestrained by any controls, with all leaders and organs of power eliminated. "The great teacher of Anarchism, Kropotkin had put it simply: ’Anarchism means no authority.’ " And, said Shih Fu, the most dangerous authority in modern society was capitalism, hence Anarchists must also be Socialists. "Socialism advocates that the means of production and its products must belong to society. " Two major Socialist factions existed, according to Shih Fu, communism and collectivism. Communism advocated the common ownership of production and products? with each working according to his ability and taking according to his needs. Collectivism advocated the public or state ownership of production, but private ownership of the basic essentials of livelihood [like the word "communism", the word "collectivism" also has a different literal meaning in Chinese than when it is commonly used in English: In Chinese, the word for a "collective enterprise" (Ji-ti Qi-ye) literally means an assembly of people in a bureaucracy (a "tree of people") - very different from our understanding of Michael Bakunin’s Collectivism or a workers collective - more like Bolshevism or Fabian Socialism - Shih Fu substantiates this translation by identifying Karl Marx as the father of "collectivism."]. Shih Fu took his position with communism. [23]

The Anarcho-Communist society spelled out more fully by Shih Fu in one of his last major articles. [24] All means of production would be socially owned, but producers (presumably everyone) would have the right to use them freely. This would be a classless society where all would work. There would be no government, no armies, no police, and no jails; no laws or regulations, only freely organized groups to adjust jobs and production, to supply the people with their needs. There would be no institution of marriage. Mothers and children would be taken care of in public hospitals. All children from six years to the age of twenty or twenty-five would receive free education. Upon graduation they would work until the age of forty-five or fifty, and then be taken care of through public old-age homes. Religion of all types would be abolished, and in its place, "the natural morality of mutual aid" would be allowed to develop fully. Each person would work between three and four hours daily. Education would be given in Esperanto; "native languages" would be slowly eliminated. How was this Utopia to be achieved? First, all media of public communication were to be used to spread these ideas to the people — newspapers, books, speeches, and schools. During the period of propaganda, several additional methods were to be employed: resistance to taxes and military conscription, and also strikes. Assassination was also to be employed. When the time was ripe, a popular revolution to overthrow the government and capitalism should be produced. And a popular revolution had to mean a world revolution This world revolution would start in Europe, in such areas as France, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, and Russia where the ideas of Anarchism were already widely advanced. Then it would spread to South and North America, and finally to Asia. China had to hasten and catch up, lest she become a drag on world progress.

Shih Fu first tackled the problem of backsliders. He was shocked by the fact that Chang Chi had allowed himself to be elected to parliament, and even accepted the office of parliamentary president under the Republic in 1913. Chang had violated the Chin-te Hui agreement, wrote Shih Fu, in querying Wu Chih-hui about this matter. [25] Wu defended Chang Chi in his reply by asserting that since Chang had already been a member of parliament when the Chin-te Hui was organized, he had become only a Special A Division member of the society and therefore had not broken any rule. [26] Shih Fu was not satisfied with this answer, insisting that a true Anarchist could not legitimately accept any public office. [27]

Shih Fu’s main battle, however, was against Sun Yat-sen and Chiang K’ang-hu, especially the latter. [28] He admitted that most people believed that these were the two leading Socialists of China, and he proclaimed himself touched that they had the courage to speak out. But he denied that either was a bona fide Socialist. Sun was principally a political revolutionist, and the study of socialism was not his speciality. [29] "But his heart is drunk with the teachings of Henry George and he wants to put the single tax into practice in China." [30]

Georgism, said Shih Fu, was social reform, not socialism. He acknowledged that Sun claimed to advocate "collective" Socialism, and that at a meeting of the Chinese Socialist Party, Sun had paid great homage to Das Capital by Marx, the father of "collectivism." But Shih Fu insisted that Sun’s attempts to fuse George and Marx, his assertion that their theories were mutually compatible, were erroneous. Sun had confused social reformism with Socialism.

Chiang K’ang-hu, according to Shih Fu, was also a social reformer rather than a Socialist. To be sure, Chiang had written some laudatory passages about communism. But Chiang’s program called merely for legal reforms’ arms limitations, the land tax, and equal education; it did not involve public ownership of the means of production. Shih Fu argued that in reality, Chiang was closer to Saint Simon. He regarded him as hopelessly confused, and sprang to the attack more than once. [31] Nor was Lo Wu’s "Pure Socialist Party’’ acceptable. While its constitution might advocate Anarchist-Communism, the very fact that it acted as a conventional party barred it from orthodoxy. "We have no work except that of overthrowing the present authority," asserted Shih Fu:

"We are not like other political parties which have plans and policies Following the overthrow of governments and the attainment of Anarchism, there will be no Anarchist party." [32]

Later, Wu Chih-hui was to write:

"Since the death of Shih Fu, the Anarchist Party of China has been scattered and indifferent it seems as if Shih Fu’s death from tuberculosis has caused the Chinese Anarchist Party to suffer also from this disease." [33]

The death of Shih Fu removed a dynamic figure from the Chinese Anarchist Movement and certainly damaged it severely However, organizational efforts not only went forward between 1916 and 1920, but in some respects, anarchist thought had its greatest influence upon young Chinese intellectuals during this period. Anarchist societies continued or were formed in Peking, Nanking, Shensi, and Shanghai. [34] During this period, anarchist thought and writings penetrated deeply into student circles at Peking University and elsewhere. Student journals such as Chin-hua (Evolution), Hsin ch’ao (New Currents ), and Kuo-min (The Citizen), carried the admixture of Anarchist, Socialist, and democratic ideas that were now flowing into China. [35] A lack of funds and governmental restrictions made it difficult to keep the student and intellectual journals alive It was possible, however, to have study groups, reading circles, and individual correspondence. And Peking [Beijing] was now unquestionably the center of such activities. Through these channels. Anarchism was a strong force, perhaps the dominant one, among the radical avant garde as World War I ended. Indeed, when the Bolsheviks made their first overtures to the Chinese intellectuals, it was inevitable that they would have intimate contact with the Anarchists in China, just as they did in Japan. [36]

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[1A brief biography of Shih Fu appears at the beginning of his collective works, Shih Fu wen-ts`on (Collective Works of Shih Fu), Canton, 1927. See also his biography in the Anarchist publication Ko-ming hsien-ch’ (the Vanguard of Revolution), Shanghai, 1928. For a sketch in English, see H. E. Shaw, "A Chinese Revolutionist," Mother Earth, Vol.X, No.8, October, 1915, pp.284-5.

[2Shih Fu wen-ts’un, op. cit.


[4Ibid. See also Feng Tzu-yu, op. cit., Vol.II, pp. 207-211.

[5For a detailed description of the Chin-te Hui, see Chang Hsing yen, "On the Chin-te Hui", Min-li Pao, February 26, 1912, p. 2, and the special Chin-te Hui section which was subsequently carried in that newspaper. See also Wu Chih-hui’s reply to Shih Fu in Min Sheng, No. 2, August 27, 1913, p.10.

[6"Covenant of the Chin-te Hui", Min-li Pao, February 26, 1912, p. 2

[7Ibid., p. 2

[8Ibid., p.2.

[9From time to time, lists of members were given in Min-li Pao. General members included Ts’ai Yuan-piei, Chang Hsing-yen, and according to a new list of March 1, 1912, Hu Han-min among others. Special A Division members included Chang Chi, Chang Ching-chiang, Tai Chi-tiao and many others. B Division members included Wang Ching-wei and Chiu Min-i. C Division included Wu Chih-hui and Li Shih-tseng.

[10Ibid., March 2, 1912, p.3.

[11Ibid., March 6. 1912, p.3.

[12Ibid., April 21, 1912, p.2.

[13A complete set of these papers is available and has been used by the authors.

[14For its declaration, see "Declaration of the Society of Anarchist Communist Comrades," Min Sheng, No.19, July 18, 1914, pp. 6-9.

[15See Shih Fu’s "Letter to the International Anarchist Congress," Min Sheng No.16, June 27, 1914, pp. 4-8. This is a valuable source, especially for current developments.

[16For example, in Min Sheng, No. 21, August 2, 1914, the receipt of one of Emma Goldman’s books is acknowledged, and her picture is printed. In the same issue, is a note stating that despite the seizure and suppression of Osugi Sakae’s new journal, Heimin Shimbun (The Commoner Newspaper), Min Sheng has secretly received a copy of issue No.1. Scarcely an issue of Min Sheng, moreover, was without news of some foreign anarchist party or movement. In issue No.13, an advertisement appears on p. 12 for a Chinese socialist and Anarchist journal published in Burma called Cheng Sheng (The Voice of Justice).

[17Shih Fu lived until after the publication of issue No. 22. It is reported that after every issue, he became ill from over-exhaustion. Following his death, Min Sheng was changed to a bi-weekly, and the last few issues were published very irregularly. At a later point, the Anarchists began to publish the magazine again

[18"Declaration, " Hui - ming -lu,No. 1, August 20, 1913, pp. 1 - 2.

[19Ibid., p. 2.

[20"A Simple Explanation of Anarchism," Ibid., pp. 2-8.


[22"Explaining the term ’Anarchist-Communism’," Min Sheng, No. 5, April 11, 1914, pp.1-5.


[24"The Aims and Methods of the Anarchist-Communist Party," Ibid., No.19, July 18, 1914, pp. 6-9.

[25"First Letter of Shih Fu to Wu Chih-hui," Ibid., No. 2, August 27, 1913, pp.9-10.

[26"Wu Chih-hui’s Reply," Ibid., No. 2, August 27, 1912, p.10.

[27"Shih Fu’s Letter to Chang Chi," Ibid., pp.10-11.

[28See especially "The Socialism of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang K’ang-hu," Ibid., No. 6, April 18, 1914, pp.1-7, and Chiang K’ang-hu’s "Anarchism," Ibid., No.17-18, July 4-11, 1914, pp.6-7; 5-7

[29"The Socialism of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang K’ang-hu," op. cit., pp.1-7.


[31"Argument Against Chiang K’ang-hu," Ibid., No.14, June 13, 1914. pp.159-167, continued in No. 15, June 20, 1914, pp.171-177. See also "The Anarchism of Chiang K’ang-hu," Ibid., No.17, July 4, 1914, pp.6-7, continued in No.18, July 11, 1914, pp. 5-7.

[32See Shih Fu’s "In Answer to Lo Wu," Ibid., No.7, April 25, 1914, pp. 9-11; and his "On the Socialist Party," Ibid., No. 9, May 9, 1914, pp.1-6.

[33Wu Chih-hui, "Remembering Mr. Shih Fu," in Wu Chih-hui ch’an-chi (The Complete Works of Wu Chih-hui), Shanghai, 1927. Vol.8, pp.115-117.

[34See Yang Ch’uan, "Social Reform Thought of the Last Thirty Years in China," Tung-fang tsa-chih, Vol. 21, No. 17, September 10, 1924, pp. 50-56.


[36See Liang Ping-hsien (using the pen-name Hai-y Ku-X’e) "Special Memoirs of the Liberation," Tzu-yu Jen (The Freeman), Hong Kong, Nos. 73-86, Nov. 14 - Dec. 29, 1951. Liang was a member of the Hui-ming Hseh-she and these are an exceedingly valuable series of articles pertaining to such questions as the origins of the Chinese Communist movement, and the relation of the Anarchists to its opening stages.