I can't help but feel that I am blindly moving forward on this expedition to be able to say "Hey! I've learned something..." But after much urging from all sorts of outside forces, I have to keep writing or at least working at it. Thursdays, as well as Tuesdays, get divided between Asian Civ II and the Urban theory and ethnography course. In broad terms, both courses will talk about social movements; I think that for any real humanities, social science student you can't help but talk about such things. Of course, maybe that is saying too little about too much? For right now, it is not about my thoughts, more the information I am gathering!

Everyone seems to have a general sense of the political situation in China, and I am not really here to firmly establish my own thoughts on that matter in particular. I have to admit that even I honestly lack the full range of resources necessary to make a good response. However, the situation is there, and we, as a people separated by an expansive ocean yet connected through the ever-growing ether of communication, are left to question how it came to be. The Communist party has not been in China forever. What were the forces pushing this sort of movement? Who, beyond Mao Zedong, led this group? Were they always the powerful group that we see today? Origin stories, snapshots, speak volumes to the present. Prof. Fernsebner selected long portions of Edgar Snow's Red Star over China for us to read before class lectures. The book fascinates me. The subject matter in general is not new, but the specifics have always been very hazy. Sure, I knew who the key players were, but no conflict can be or should be boiled down to two names, whether these names be a party or merely people. Saying that what started to happen around the 1920s and 30s can be represented by Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong only limits the understanding that one could attain. Snow had a very unique position in all of the turmoil happening in China. A journalist working in China, he managed to cross into what was distinctly Red territory in the Northwest during a lull in the internal, civil conflicts. His Chinese, apparently, was not too great but enough to get him by. His work gives us something that few others ever could, actual interviews with the Chairman himself. I can't find the quote at the moment, but Snow mentions that many of the Party members seem to almost forget their own history when joining/working for the Communists. The mindset turns from individual histories, to a deep concern for the Greater Chinese Good.

The actual lecture walked through the beginnings of the divisions between the United Front led by Chiang Kai-shek who took over after Sun Yat-sen suddenly died. When a major figurehead dies, we can often find that those who are left to carry his/her load just can't quite seem to do as well. Chiang Kai-shek managed to do well considering, with the 1920s being a fairly prosperous decade for those living within the urban areas. What interests me is the rhetorics and ideologies being adopted by the different sides as each attempt to create the true China and protect it from the overwhelmingly powerful foreign imperialists.

Getting late, still have classes tomorrow. We will talk another day.

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