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Mechanisms of Communist Cooptation: The Nationalist Consensus Movement in Shangcheng County, Henan by Odoric Y. K. Wou In late 1937 and early 1938, Shangcheng County, one of the Communist EYu Wan bases in southeastern Henan, was engulfed in a sweeping youth movement . The war with Japan greatly energized Shangcheng students, thousands of whom poured into the streets to put up anti-Japanese posters, give speeches at street corners, demonstrate, sing nationalistic songs, and stage musical dramas. They had a specific goal in mind: to mobilize the general public to join the socalled "Resist Japan National Salvation Movement" (kang-Ri jiuwang huodong). Many students joined Communist propaganda teams and proselytized in both urban centers and the countryside. For a period of rough~y a year, this remote county, situated in the very heart of the Dabie Mountains, came alive all of a sudden and transformed itself into a wartime center of youthful nationalistic activities. The Communist Party also seized upon this patriotic movement to revitalize its party organizations and rebuild its social base in Shangcheng. But the movement flourished briefly for a year and then dissipated. Why? This essay analyses the emergence, dynamics, and the eventual demise of this youth movement in Shangcheng, adopting for the purpose the analytical concept of a "consensus movement" put forth by John D. McCarthy and Mark Wolfson (McCarthy and Wolfson 1992: 273-297). McCarthy and Wolfson distinguish two types of social movements: conflict and consensus movements. Conflict movements, such as labor or feminist movements, "are typically supported by minorities or slim majorities of populations and confront fundamental, organized opposition in attempting to bring about social change." The chance for conflict movements to coopt civic and state infrastructures, they assert, is rather narrow. On the other hand, consensus movements "are those organized movement for change that find widespread support for their goals and little or no organized opposition from the population ofa geographical cOlnmunity." Although McCarthy and Wolfson use the concept of a consensus movement mainly to analyze sub-national movements, I think we can fruitfully employ the same concept to examine the mechanism of cooptation of the nationalist movement, but on the local level. 1 In this essay, I choose Shangcheng county as a case study of this cooptation mechanism. As mentioned above, Shangcheng was part of the Communists' Twentieth-Century China, Vol. XXV, No.1 (November 1999): 71-112 72 Twentieth-Century China EYu Wan base area. During the Northern Expedition Shangcheng, along with the other sub-bas~s in the EYuWan border area, created peasant associations and a peasant self-defense army. In 1929, Communist natives staged an uprising in the county seat, set up a soviet government, carried out land reform, and built a Red Army. The army eventually joined Mao and other Red Army forces in the Long March. After the Red Army left, a state crackdown ensued and the remaining Communists took to the hills to wage a guerrilla war. Not until the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War and the creation of the Second United Front did these Communist guerrillas finally leave the mountains to take part in the anti-Japanese nationalist struggle (P:SC geming shi: 3-196). Though Shangcheng had been an "old revolutionary base" where Communists had built a solid foundation, repeated state crackdowns had greatly weakened the party organization and robbed the movement of its vital resources. But the Communist social base and interpersonal ties were still operative. To create the necessary human and material resources to rebuild the movement, what the party needed to do was to re-activate its interpersonal networks and to coopt the existing institutions, both state and civic. But how did a consensus Inovement like the anti-Japanese national salvation movement facilitate and constrain the Communist cooptation efforts? What types of state and civic structures were available for cooptation? What groups lent themselves to be coopted by the Communists and what groups resisted the party's effort? What were the actual mechanisms of cooptation? Did the Communists enjoy an advantage because of their past sociopolitical influence in the area? If consensus movement helped to facilitate Communist cooptation, how did the state, regional militarists, and local power-holders react to party...


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