Revolutionary Means of Modernization: Marxism, Feminism, & Chinese Nationalism

R. Osmun KSU/HIST 112 21 April 2009 Revolutionary Means of Modernization Through the mid-19th century and into the early 20th century, people began to desire change in existing societal structures, which led to movements with revolutionary new ideas. These movements usually involved progressive change and eliminating repression, looking towards ideas established in the Enlightment period for guidance. The goals of the Marxist, Feminist, and Chinese Nationalist movements were similar in the fact that all desired equality, opportunity, and self government.

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Marxism, Feminism, and Chinese Nationalism all express the belief that the government should represent the people governed. Marxism stresses the need to eliminate social hierarchies and the turning of power to the Proletariat working class. Feminists desired equal representation in their governments. The Chinese Nationalist movement stressed that the ethnic Han Chinese should be governing themselves. These points are readily proved through prominent readings of movement leaders.

Karl Marx believed that the populous, powerful Proletariat class needed to rise up and equalize the elite Bourgeois class, rather than an elite few to usurp all the benefits of industrialized life. Marx states that communists support every revolutionary movement against existing social structures. [1] He offers his communist call-to-action in the Communist Manifesto. “…their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite! [2] Marx believed that the working class should not be ruled by an elite capitalist class, but rather they should be in control. Another movement centered on one group in a society gaining their rights is the Feminist movement. The Feminist movement in the late 19th century was largely focused on gaining political equality, the right of representation, and suffrage. The Ohio Women’s Convention of 1850 drafted many resolutions, or rights, that they wished to achieve. Among them was right to participate in legislation and political office, or if not that, then freedom from taxes since they were not represented. 3] There is a very strong sentiment throughout the resolutions of women desiring political authority and a seat in the democratic process, as men did not make laws with concern for women’s agendas. Along the same lines, Chinese Nationalists felt that only the Chinese could govern China The Chinese Nationalist movement was rooted in the belief that in order for China to become a great country again, the Chinese themselves needed to be in charge of China’s affairs. Sun Yat-sen states simply, “As for the Principle of Democracy, it is the foundation of the political revolution. [4] He explains that since China has been governed for centuries as an autocracy, and that the previous dynasties of China had failed to maintain sovereignty. The solution, according to Yat-sen, was a major political revolution leading to the creation of a constitutional democracy. [5] The Chinese Nationalists were disenchanted with centuries and centuries of autocratic rule and felt that the only way to exalt China to its right stage on the international scene was by establishing a democratic government. Closely related with democracy and self government is another key principle, opportunity.

Opportunity for all is key focus of the three movements. Marxists believe that all people should be equal, that one should not be more advantaged due to money or land ownership. Feminists believed that women should have the opportunity to full participate in legislation and government just as men did. The Chinese Nationalist movement promoted democracy and system based upon merit rather than power. Marxism held the belief that class systems are the worst characteristic of society, through which an elite few hold all the wealth, commerce, and land leaving the majority of peoples no opportunity to equalize their circumstances.

Marx explains that capitalism causes the Bourgeoisie to exploit the proletariat, the big country to exploit the little, and so on giving them the distinct advantage. He states that if we eliminate property ownership and nations, than the exploitation would cease, which would lead to level ground. [6] Marx feels that the only way to eliminate the class disparity is to remove the tools which the elites exercise their power. A less radical outline for opportunity is presented by the Feminists. Feminists desired the opportunity to receive an education, participate in politics, make decisions, and exercise independence.

The Ohio Women’s Convention wanted the opportunity of adequate educational foundations for women[7], as well as full opportunity in the political arena, which can be seen in the first resolution. “Resolved, that the prohibition of Woman from participating in the enactment of the laws by which she is governed is a direct violation of this precept of Nature, as she is thereby prevented from occupying that position which duty points out, and from pursuing her own substantial happiness by acting up to her conscientious convictions; and that all statutes and constitutional provisions which sanction this prohibition are null and void. [8] Naturally, in a democratic environment, the feminists wanted the opportunity to participate and the ability to obtain education to do so. The Nationalists had similar feelings after years of oppression by the Manchus. Yat-sen believed that the opportunity should exist for all to participate in a democratic government and that each person in a flourishing society has the right to enjoy the benefits. As discussed before, Yat-sen believed that a democratic government combined with system for testing competence was the only solution.

This allows the opportunity for Han citizens to participate in government, a privilege which they were previously denied. [9] Yat-sen states that with America and Europe’s prosperity, everyone there should be living comfortably, but that in actuality the opposite has happened. [10] The overall sentiment of the Nationalist movement is that all people should have the opportunity to share in the wealth of the nation. Once opportunity is established, then equality can materialize.

Perhaps more overt in the Marxist and Feminist movements, equality is a base principle of revolutionary movements. Marx believed in the elimination of all classes and property ownership. The primary goal of the Feminist movement was, and still is, total equality to males. Chinese Nationalists promoted equal opportunity among the Han population and also desired China itself to regain equality on the international stage. Marxism promotes the idea that every person is equal, and that the elitist class system and capitalism promote and exaggerate inequality by exploiting the workers.

Marx promoted complete equality amongst people. He suggested no property ownership, no social classes, and no nations. “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. ”[11] He believed that this would lead to a peaceful, non-exploitative society where everyone was equal. Total equality was also the aim of the Feminist movement. Feminists’ core belief is that a female is completely equal to male, and thus deserves equality in all aspects of life.

This ideal is evidence throughout the drafted resolutions, but is summed up particularly well in the second resolution. “Resolved, that all rights are human rights, and pertain to human beings, without distinction of sex; therefore justice demands that all laws shall be made, not for man, or for woman, but for mankind, and that the same legal protection be afforded to the one sex as to the other”[12] They also stress that any distinctions between men and women in regards to social, religious, political, etc. re unjust and contrary to nature. [13] The whole purpose of the feminist movement was, and remains, equality. The Chinese Nationalist focus of equality was slightly different. Chinese Nationalists such as Yat-sen sought to foster democracy, while running on the platform that only the ethnic Chinese can transform China into an equal international power again. One of Yat-sen’s core principles is democracy with complex system of checks and balances to promote equality and deter corruption and incompetence. 14] Yat-sen also states that the only way for China to be a nation that can stand up to Britain and America is for it to be governed by the Han. [15] The Chinese Nationalist movement was about regaining equality on two fronts, at home and on the international stage. As evidenced throughout this essay, the Marxist, Feminist, and Chinese Nationalist revolutionary movements all held similar goals of equality, opportunity, and self government.

While the philosophies may have differed, these revolutionary movements used these goals to express their ideas of modernization and the elimination of repression. ———————– [1] Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto,” in The Human Record: Sources in Global History, Volume II: Since 1500, ed. Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005), 277. [2] Marx, 277. [3] Ohio Women’s Convention of 1850, “Resolutions,” in The Human Record: Sources in Global History, Volume II: Since 1500, ed.

Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005), 287-288. [4] Yat-sen, Sun, “The Three People’s Principles and the Future of the Chinese People,” in The Human Record: Sources in Global History, Volume II: Since 1500, ed. Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005), 347. [5] Yat-sen, 347. [6] Marx, 279-281. [7] Ohio, 288. [8] Ohio, 287. [9] Yat-sen, 347. [10] Yat-sen, 347-348. [11] Marx, 280-281. [12] Ohio, 287. [13] Ohio, 287. [14] Yat-sen, 347-349. [15] Yat-sen, 347.


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