Chapter 15b

The 3 Requisites for China

by Russell

1. The establishment of an orderly government

At the moment of writing, the condition of China is as anarchic as it has ever been.

A battle between Chang-tso-lin and Wu-Pei-Fu is imminent.

The former is usually considered, though falsely according to some good authorities, the most reactionary force in China; Wu-Pei-Fu, though The Times calls him “the Liberal leader,” may well prove no more satisfactory than “Liberal” leaders nearer home.

If he wins, he may be true to his promises and convoke a Parliament for all China.

But it is at least equally possible that he may not. In any case, to depend upon the favour of a successful general is as precarious as to depend upon the benevolence of a foreign Power. If the progressive elements are to win, they must become a strong organized force.

Chinese Constitutionalists are doing the best thing that is possible at the moment, namely, concerting a joint programme, involving the convoking of a Parliament and the cessation of military usurpation.

Union is essential, even if it involves sacrifice of cherished beliefs on the part of some. Given a programme upon which all the Constitutionalists are united, they will acquire great weight in public opinion, which is very powerful in China.

They may then be able, sooner or later, to offer a high constitutional position to some powerful general, on condition of his ceasing to depend upon mere military force. By this means they may be able to turn the scales in favour of the man they select, as the student agitation turned the scales in July 1920 in favour of Wu-Pei-Fu against the An Fu party.

Such a policy can only be successful if it is combined with vigorous propaganda, both among the civilian population and among the soldiers, and if, as soon as peace is restored, work is found for disbanded soldiers and pay for those who are not disbanded. This raises the financial problem, which is very difficult, because foreign Powers will not lend except in return for some further sacrifice of the remnants of Chinese independence.

Chapter 10 explained that I do not accept the statement by the American consortium bankers that a loan from them would not involve control over China’s internal affairs. They may not mean control to be involved, but I am convinced that in fact it would be.

The only way out of this difficulty that I can see is to raise an internal loan by appealing to the patriotism of Chinese merchants. There is plenty of money in China, but, very naturally, rich Chinese will not lend to any of the brigands who now control the Government.

When the time comes to draft a permanent Constitution, I have no doubt that it will have to be federal, allowing a very large measure of autonomy to the provinces, and reserving for the Central Government few things except customs, army and navy, foreign relations and railways. Provincial feeling is strong, and it is now, I think, generally recognized that a mistake was made in 1912 in not allowing it more scope.

While a Constitution is being drafted, and even after it has been agreed upon, it will not be possible to rely upon the inherent prestige of Constitutionalism, or to leave public opinion without guidance. It will be necessary for the genuinely progressive people throughout the country to unite in a strongly disciplined society, arriving at collective decisions and enforcing support of those decisions upon all its members.

This society will have to win the confidence of public opinion by a very rigid avoidance of corruption and political profiteering; the slightest failure of a member in this respect must be visited by expulsion. The society must make itself obviously the champion of the national interests as against all self-seekers, speculators and toadies to foreign Powers. It will thus become able authoritatively to commend or condemn politicians and to wield great influence over opinion, even in the army.

There exists in Young China enough energy, patriotism and honesty to create such a society and to make it strong through the respect which it will command. But unless enlightened patriotism is organized in some such way, its power will not be equal to the political problems with which China is faced.

Sooner or later, the encroachments of foreign Powers upon the sovereign rights of China must be swept away. The Chinese must recover the Treaty Ports, control of the tariff, and so on; they must also free themselves from extra-territoriality. But all this can probably be done, as it was in Japan, without offending foreign Powers (except perhaps the Japanese).

It would be a mistake to complicate the early stages of Chinese recovery by measures which would antagonize foreign Powers in general. Russia was in a stronger position for defence than China, yet Russia has suffered terribly from the universal hostility provoked by the Bolsheviks.

Given good government and a development of China’s resources, it will be possible to obtain most of the needed concessions by purely diplomatic means; the rest can wait for a suitable opportunity.

  1. Industrial development

I wrote this in Chapter 14.

All railways should be in the hands of the State. All successful mines should be purchased by the State at a fair valuation, even if they are not State-owned from the start.

Contracts with foreigners for loans should be carefully drawn so as to leave the control to China.

There would not be much difficulty about this if China had a stable and orderly government; in that case, many foreign capitalists would be willing to lend on good security, without exacting any part in the management. Every possible diplomatic method should be employed to break down such a monopoly as the consortium seeks to acquire in the matter of loans.

Given good government, many State enterprises would be desirable in Chinese industry.

There are many arguments for State Socialism, or rather what Lenin calls State Capitalism, in any country which is economically but not culturally backward.

  1. It is easier for the State to borrow than for a private person.
  2. It is easier for the State to engage and employ the foreign experts who are likely to be needed for some time to come.
  3. It is easier for the State to make sure that vital industries do not come under the control of foreign Powers.

More importantly, by undertaking industrial enterprise from the start, the State can prevent the growth of many of the evils of private capitalism.

If China can acquire a vigorous and honest State, it will be possible to develop Chinese industry without, at the same time, developing the overweening power of private capitalists by which the Western nations are now both oppressed and misled.

But if this is to be done successfully, it will require a great change in Chinese morals, a development of public spirit in place of the family ethic, a transference to the public service of that honesty which already exists in private business, and a degree of energy which is at present rare.

Young China can fulfill these requisites, spurred on by patriotism. But it is important to realize that they are requisites, and that, without them, any system of State Socialism must fail.

For industrial development, it is important that the Chinese should learn to become technical experts and also to become skilled workers. I think more has been done towards the former of these needs than towards the latter.

For the latter purpose, it would probably be wise to import skilled workmen—say from Germany—and cause them to give instruction to Chinese workmen in any new branch of industrial work that it might be desired to develop.

3. Education

If China is to become a democracy, as most progressive Chinese hope, universal education is imperative.

Where the bulk of the population cannot read, true democracy is impossible. Education is a good in itself, but is also essential for developing political consciousness, of which at present there is almost none in rural China.

The Chinese themselves are well aware of this, but in the present state of the finances it is impossible to establish universal elementary education. Until it has been established for some time, China must be, in fact, if not in form, an oligarchy, because the uneducated masses cannot have any effective political opinion.

Even given good government, it is doubtful whether the immense expense of educating such a vast population could be borne by the nation without a considerable industrial development. Such industrial development as already exists is mainly in the hands of foreigners, and its profits provide warships for the Japanese, or mansions and dinners for British and American millionaires.

If its profits are to provide the funds for Chinese education, industry must be in Chinese hands. This is another reason why industrial development must probably precede any complete scheme of education.

For the present, even if the funds existed, there would not be sufficient teachers to provide a schoolmaster in every village. There is, however, such an enthusiasm for education in China that teachers are being trained as fast as is possible with such limited resources; indeed a great deal of devotion and public spirit is being shown by Chinese educators, whose salaries are usually many months in arrears.

Chinese control is, to my mind, as important in the matter of education as in the matter of industry. For the present, it is still necessary to have foreign instructors in some subjects, though this necessity will soon cease. Foreign instructors, however, provided they are not too numerous, do no harm, any more than foreign experts in railways and mines. What does harm is foreign management.

Chinese educated in mission schools, or in lay establishments controlled by foreigners, tend to become de-nationalized, and to have a slavish attitude towards Western civilization. This unfits them for taking a useful part in the national life, and tends to undermine their morals.

Also, oddly enough, it makes them more conservative in purely Chinese matters than the young men and women who have had a modern education under Chinese auspices. Europeans in general are more conservative about China than the modern Chinese are, and they tend to convey their conservatism to their pupils. And of course their whole influence, unavoidably if involuntarily, militates against national self-respect in those whom they teach.

Those who desire to do research in some academic subject will, for some time to come, need a period of residence in some European or American university. But for the great majority of university students it is far better, if possible, to acquire their education in China. Returned students have, to a remarkable extent, the stamp of the country from which they have returned, particularly when that country is America.

A society such as was foreshadowed earlier in this chapter, in which all really progressive Chinese should combine, would encounter difficulties, as things stand, from the divergencies in national bias between students returned from (say) Japan, America and Germany. Given time, this difficulty can be overcome by the increase in purely Chinese university education, but at present the difficulty would be serious.

To overcome this difficulty, two things are needed: inspiring leadership, and a clear conception of the kind of civilization to be aimed at. Leadership will have to be both intellectual and practical. As regards intellectual leadership, China is a country where writers have enormous influence, and a vigorous reformer possessed of literary skill could carry with him the great majority of Young China. Men with the requisite gifts exist in China;

I personally know that Dr. Hu Suh[110] has great learning, wide culture, remarkable energy, and a fearless passion for reform. His writings in the vernacular inspire enthusiasm among progressive Chinese.

He is in favour of assimilating all that is good in Western culture, but by no means a slavish admirer of our ways.

The practical political leadership of such a society as I conceive to be needed would probably demand different gifts from those required in an intellectual leader. It is therefore likely that the two could not be combined in one man, but would need men as different as Lenin and Karl Marx.

The aim to be pursued is of importance, not only to China, but to the world. Out of the renaissance spirit now existing in China, it is possible, if foreign nations can be prevented from working havoc, to develop a new civilization better than any that the world has yet known.

This is the aim which Young China should set before itself: the preservation of the urbanity and courtesy, the candour and the pacific temper, which are characteristic of the Chinese nation, together with a knowledge of Western science and an application of it to the practical problems of China. Of such practical problems there are two kinds: one due to the internal condition of China, and the other to its international situation.

In the former class come education, democracy, the diminution of poverty, hygiene and sanitation, and the prevention of famines. In the latter class come the establishment of a strong government, the development of industrialism, the revision of treaties and the recovery of the Treaty Ports (as to which Japan may serve as a model), and finally, the creation of an army sufficiently strong to defend the country against Japan.

Both classes of problems demand Western science. But they do not demand the adoption of the Western philosophy of life.

If the Chinese were to adopt the Western philosophy of life, they would, as soon as they had made themselves safe against foreign aggression, embark upon aggression on their own account.

They would repeat the campaigns of the Han and Tang dynasties in Central Asia, and perhaps emulate Kublai by the invasion of Japan. They would exploit their material resources with a view to producing a few bloated plutocrats at home and millions dying of hunger abroad. Such are the results which the West achieves by the application of science.

If China were led astray by the lure of brutal power, she might repel her enemies outwardly, but would have yielded to them inwardly. It is not unlikely that the great military nations of the modern world will bring about their own destruction by their inability to abstain from war, which will become, with every year that passes, more scientific and more devastating.

If China joins in this madness, China will perish like the rest. But if Chinese reformers can have the moderation to stop when they have made China capable of self-defence, and to abstain from the further step of foreign conquest; if, when they have become safe at home, they can turn aside from the materialistic activities imposed by the Powers, and devote their freedom to science and art and the inauguration of a better economic system—then China will have played the part in the world for which she is fitted, and will have given to mankind as a whole new hope in the moment of greatest need.

It is this hope that I wish to see inspiring Young China. This hope is realizable; and because it is realizable, China deserves a foremost place in the esteem of every lover of mankind.

June 21, 1922.

Latest Articles

How to Fix Ukraine
How to Fix Ukraine
The Age of the Universe
The Age of the Universe
Material Superphysics
The End of Capitalism (and Marxism)
The End of Capitalism (and Marxism)
The Elastic Theory of Gravity
The Elastic Theory of Gravity
Material Superphysics

Latest Simplifications

Nova Organum by Francis Bacon
Nova Organum by Francis Bacon
The Analects by Confucius
The Analects by Confucius
The Quran by The Prophet Mohammad
The Quran by The Prophet Mohammad

All Superphysics principles in our books

The Simplified Series

Developing a new science and the systems that use that science isn't easy. Please help Superphysics develop its theories and systems faster by donating via GCash