The tortuous path of the Chinese revolution would be like an unsolvable riddle if abstracted from the world revolution and imperialism. It first reared its head in the Taiping Rebellion in the mid-19th Century, in form a traditional peasants’ uprising but whose causes and results were shaped by China’s sudden integration into the world market. The proletarian phase of the revolution, beginning in 1919, was from the beginning determined by the Chinese working class’ gravitation towards the ideas and methods of Bolshevism.

It has already been explained that the shifting of the base of the Chinese Communist Party in the late 1920s from the proletariat to the scattered peasantry inevitably meant the increasing dislocation of the party leadership, with as many factional struggles as the party had local bases. By 1928 five major factions in the party existed in the aftermath of the failed 1925-27 revolution; submerging the party in this rural, petty-bourgeois environment would do nothing to resolve these factional disputes. It is within this environment that Mao was to eventually emerge as leader.

Six months into China’s new Politburo Standing Committee under Xi Jinping’s Presidency, it has become abundantly clear that the next ten years under his rule will not resemble the relative social stability and rapid growth of the past ten years. The cart will not keep on rolling down the same path.  Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party stand at a crossroads, facing that classic dilemma of all ruling classes - either to open up to democratic reform or clamp down on growing dissent?

The flight to the countryside forced upon the leadership the need for flexibility and self-sacrifice at the expense of political foresight and influence in the working class. Similarly, the desperate way in which the Long March was begun as a daring escape from certain destruction really brought out all the tactical genius of the party and in particular of Mao Zedong.

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