An Interpretative View of the Origin of the Early Chinese Revolution from the Perspective of Secret Societies: Retrospect and Reflections from the History of Social Thought, Part II

早期中国革命起源的秘密结社阐释—— 一个社会思想史的回顾与反思(之二)

In: Rural China
Xu Wang (王旭) Department of History and Institute of Marxism, Fudan University (复旦大学历史学系、复旦大学马克思主义研究院) Shanghai China

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The development of the Chinese revolutionary movement in the early twentieth century absorbed cultural resources from traditional secret societies and associations. The White Lotus, the Tiandihui, the Gelaohui, the Triad, and the various secret societies that had emerged in the Taiping and the Boxer rebellions were all incorporated into the discourse system of revolutionary history. The secret societies’ slogans of “overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming” and “rob the rich to help the poor” merged with the revolutionaries’ platform of “drive out the Manchus” and “relief for people’s livelihood,” and finally advanced the success of the Xinhai Revolution and was turned into a coherent historical narrative. After the founding of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen and Song Jiaoren carefully assessed the function of secret societies and distinguished them from modern political parties. On the other hand, leaders of the Communist Party, such as Mao Zedong, Qu Qiubai, Yun Daiying, and Chen Duxiu, emphasized the ideological transformation of secret societies and the suitable role they could play in the revolution, thus showing a dynamic strategy of allying with these organizations. The history of the relationship between the Chinese revolution and secret societies reflects the changing characteristics and logic of the underclass of Chinese society.

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