Re: chinese anarchism after 1949

From "Matt Hale" <>
Date Sun, 20 Nov 2005 07:07:58 +0000
In-reply-to <>


Thanks for the link to Gaizao.

I'm also curious about political tendencies within mainland punk rock 
culture. I've chatted with a few punks in Nanjing and they seemed pretty cut 
off from the masses, so to speak, and more concerned about the usual 
"lifestyle" freedoms, as you put it (drugs, sex, etc.) than social justice; 
but they did talk about "wuzhengfuzhuyi" in their song lyrics in ways that 
seemed to hint at some sort of social-political consciousness. Unfortunately 
I lost the CD and their contact info, but, if you're curious, you might try 
searching "" for key words like "bengke" - I sort of doubt they 
would have political discussions on the net, but this is one way to get in 
touch with these groups, in case you're not already. In Nanjing the only way 
to find out about their shows and parties was on this sort of BBS or by word 
of mouth. And by the way, does anyone have any contacts with punks and or 
anarchists (or Maoists, for that matter) in Chengdu? (not that we should be 
talking about these things online - I'm sort of pushing the envelope 

As for Reclus, I don’t know of a better English source than the one you 
mention (Scalapino and Yu 1961), which is what Arif Dirlik refers to in ACR, 
along with Peter Zarrow’s dissertation (I haven’t read his book yet, but I’m 
sure he mentions Reclus there) and a 1976 dissertation by someone named 
Richard Wang. He also gives some Chinese sources, including a piece by 
Reclus himself, translated into Chinese (his Chinese name is Shao Kelu), on 
Li Shizeng, who was his main Chinese disciple (“Wo suo renshi de Li Yuying 
[Shizeng] Xiansheng”, _zhuanji wenxue_ 45:3, 1983), and a collection called 
_Li Shizeng zhuanji ziliao_ (Zhu Chuanyu, ed., Taibei 1979).

The main Chinese names Dirlik mentions in conjunction w/ Reclus are Li 
Shizeng, who founded the New World Society (xin shijie she) in Paris in 
1906, Wu Zhihui, who edited the Society’s journal, New Era (xin shiji), and 
Zhang Jingjiang, who funded the Society with the proceeds from his bean curd 
factory. Unfortunately, all three ended up joining the Guomindang and 
helping to suppress the Shanghai and Guangzhou workers uprisings in the 
1920s. As Dirlik puts it, “The importance of their ideological contribution… 
lies in the consistency of the ideology they propagated, not in the 
consistency with which they lived up to their own ideals” (81). They were 
also important for translating Reclus’ work, along with texts by Kropotkin, 
Bakunin and Malatesta.

Hope this helps!


Matthew Allen Hale
Anthropology Department
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
"I have never let my schooling stand in the way of my education"
(Mark Twain)

>From: Yvonne Liu <>
>To: Matt Hale <>
>CC: Zhong Guo <>, 
>,, Chuck Morse 
>Subject: Re: chinese anarchism after 1949
>Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 21:42:11 -0500
>Ba Jin was a Chinese anarchist, who recently passed away in  Shanghai.  
>Obit and brief bio here: ainfos17204.html
>Ba Jin in Anarchy Archives: 
>And, Gaizao ( is a web portal written by an  anonymous 
>anarchist based in Asia, with links to groups of a more  lifestyle 
>anarchist nature in Asia.  I'd be curious about  manifestations of 
>anarchism in Beijing, which has a burgeoning punk  scene.
>I have a question too:  I'm writing a paper refuting the Eurocentrism  and 
>Orientalism of Karl Wittfogel's theory of hydraulic  civilizations.  I 
>think this is a hegemonic concept that has found  consensus among Chinese, 
>who say that Mao was another tyrant in a  long line of despotic and 
>authoritarian dictators.  I'd like to use  the work of Chinese geographers 
>to refute Wittfogel but I'm  unfamiliar with that field in China.  Can 
>someone recommend Chinese  geographers, particularly of the radical or 
>critical geography vein?   Thanks, much appreciated.
>Also, noted that this article on Chinese anarchism (R. Scalapino and  G.T. 
>Yu, 1961,  says that 
>Chinese anarchists were influenced by folks such as Elisee  Reclus -- a 
>French anarchist and participant in the Paris Commune,  and famous 
>geographer of the 19th century (he was a friend of  Kropotkin).  For 
>someone familiar with Chinese anarchism: Do you know  of Chinese anarchists 
>specially influenced by Reclus?  Citations and  references would be greatly 
>On Nov 17, 2005, at 8:10 PM, Matt Hale wrote:
>>Arif Dirlik argues in _Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution_ that CR  
>>Ultra-Leftism and some of its subsequent theoretical developments  gave 
>>expression to "traces" of the early 20th century Chinese  anarchism that 
>>had entered the genealogy of Chinese Marxism, but  that he has seen no 
>>evidence that these later activists and  theorists acknowledged this 
>>connection, nor any indigenous attempts  to put CR Ultra-Leftism in 
>>dialogue with anarchism as a philosophy  (as opposed to a mere slur). I 
>>find this hard to believe  considering that a number of Ultra-Leftists 
>>fled to HK and entered  dialogue with other left currents such as the 
>>"libertarian  communist" 70s Collective, who were making their own 
>>analyses of  the CR struggles. Did none of these perspectives make it back 
>>to  the mainland? Moreover, I know that a number of mainland scholars  
>>started publishing books on anarchism and Chinese anarchism in the  1980s 
>>- most, at least on the surface, from a basically orthodox, non- anarchist 
>>perspective (some more clearly sympathetic) and all, as  far as I have 
>>seen, ending their discussions of Chinese anarchism  well before 1949 
>>(despite evidence that there were scattered  pockets of peasants and 
>>workers maintaining fidelity to the  anarchist tradition until at least 
>>the 1960s), but one expects that  someone on the mainland would have 
>>written about the connection at  some point. Can anyone help to fill in 
>>the gaps here?
>>More generally, can anyone provide a list of Chinese language  resources 
>>related to anarchism, anti-state communism, etc.? In  addition to books, 
>>I'm also interested in other media, such as  film, music, websites, as 
>>well any current or recent periodicals.  And related to that, does anyone 
>>know of any existing anarchist  collectives or resource centers in HK or 
>>(I was surprised to see that a search of my library for "annaqi",  "an na 
>>ch'i", "wuzhengfu", "wu cheng fu" yielded several books  published on the 
>>mainland, only one from Taiwan, and none from HK.  I guess I need to use a 
>>Cantonese transliteration for HK books?  Anyone know what that would be?)
>>Matthew Allen Hale
>>Anthropology Department
>>University of Washington
>>Seattle, WA 98195
>>"I have never let my schooling stand in the way of my education"
>>(Mark Twain)
>vox: 646.321.5710
>aim/skype: whyloo
>Cats are "natural anarchists" because "there is not a human sentiment  
>which on occasion they do not understand or share, not an idea which  they 
>may not devine, not a desire but what they forestall it" (George  Woodward 
>in M. Fleming's "The Geography of Freedom: The Odyssey of  Elisee Reclus," 
>NY: Black Rose, 1988).