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The Lessons of Defeat: The Reorganization of the Kuomintang on Taiwan, 1950–52*

  • Bruce J. Dickson

Few political parties have the opportunity to make a fresh start in a new location. An organization is rarely able to leave the environment in which its lessons are learned and apply them in a new one. However, the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) encountered this situation after its defeat on the Chinese mainland and retreat to Taiwan. From 1950 to 1952, the KMT underwent a thorough organizational restructuring. The result was a renewal of its Leninist origins from the previous reorganization in 1924. During 1950–52, the KMT created a network of Party cells throughout the government, military and society to which each Party member had to belong. The principles of democratic centralism, ideology as guide to policy, hierarchical authority, and Party authority over the government bureaucracy and the military were reasserted.

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2. Eastman, Lloyd E., “Who lost China? Chiang Kai-shek testifies,” The China Quarterly, No. 88 (12 1981), pp. 658668.

3. Stinchcombe, Arthur, “Social structure and organizations,” in March, James G. (ed.), Handbook of Organizations (Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1965), pp. 168169.

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5. Pepper, Suzanne, Civil War in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978).

6. Fewsmith, Joseph, Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Politics in Shanghai, 1890–1930 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985).

7. Eastman, “Who lost China?”

8. Introduction to Bendang gaizao an (Resolution on the Reorganization of our Party) (Taipei: Central Reorganization Commission Archive Agency, 1951), and in Shieh, Milton, The Kuomintang: Selected Historical Documents, 1894–1969 (New York: St John's University Press, 1970), pp. 207216.

9. Gaizao, No. 11 (1 02 1951), p. 6.

10. Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 17.

11. Hirschman, Albert O., Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).

12. Resolution on Reorganization, p. 11.

13. Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 17.

14. Hao, Chen, “Guomindang paixi fengpo liushinian (shang)” (“Sixty years of factional strife in the KMT (part 1)”) Shibao zazhi (Times Magazine), No. 228 (11 04 1984), pp. 1622.

15. Pfeffer, Jeffrey, Organizations and Organization Theory (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1982), p. 229.

16. Krasner, Stephen D., “Sovereignty: an institutional perspective,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1 (04 1988); Approaches to the State: alternative conceptions and historical dynamics,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 16, No. 2 (01 1984). See also Hannan, Michael T. and Freeman, John, Organizational Ecology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

17. Pfeffer, , Organizations and Organization Theory, pp. 229230.

18. Fuming, Xu, Zhongguo Guomindang degaizao, 1950–52 (The Reorganization of the KMT 1950–1952) (Taipei: Cheng Chung Book Co., 1986), p. 51, and interviews with former CRC cadres conducted in Taiwan during 1991. Suzanne Pepper has suggested that the demise of the Youth Corps was due to protests by college students against the KMT, not to competition between the Youth Corps and the Party centre, cf. Civil War in China, p. 69, n. 36. Documentary and interview data do not support this interpretation.

19. Hao, Chen, “Sixty years of factional strife in the KMT,” part 2, Times Magazine, No. 229 (18 04 1984), pp. 2730. Factional strife has also flourished at the local level, but these conflicts have had little or no influence on central policy.

20. Lindblom, Charles, “The science of ‘muddling through’,” Public Administration Review, Vol. 19, No. 2 (1959); March, James G. and Simon, Herbert A., Organizations (New York: Wiley, 1958).

21. Yu, George, Party Politics in Republican China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), pp. 173175; and Duan-sheng, Ch'ien, Government and Politics of China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950), pp. 8991.

22. Xinsheng bao, 6 August 1950.

23. Duverger, Maurice, Political Parties (New York, Wiley, 1959). In fact, the organizational structure of the main opposition party in Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party, looks remarkably like the KMT's. However, describing the DPP as a Leninist party stretches the definition to breaking point; cf. Xin xinwen (The New Journalist), No. 246 (25 11 1991), pp. 67.

24. Ching-kuo, Chiang, “My days in Soviet Russia,” appendix in Cline, Ray S., Chiang Ching-kuo Remembered (Washington, D.C.: United States Global Strategy Council, 1989).

25. See Hao, Chen, “Sixty years of factional strife, ” and Weisi, Shen, “Qian Tai yilai de dangnei paixi fenhe” (“The division and union of Party factions since the retreat to Taiwan”), in Toushi dangnei paixi (Investigating Party Factions) (Taipei: Fengyun shuxi, No. 3, 1986), pp. 7578.

26. Gaizao, No. 22 (16 07 1951), pp. 811.

27. Kerr, George H., Formosa Betrayed (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965).

28. Pfeffer, , Organizations and Organization Theory, pp. 185–86.

29. Jun, Shen, Dangdai Taiwan (Contemporary Taiwan) (Anhui: Renmin chubanshe, 1990), p. 79. The topics covered by these pamphlets were dialectics, cadre education, party work and party building, and the “zhengfeng” campaign; cf. Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 811. This was not the first time Chiang advocated borrowing from the Communists: he had previously suggested using Communist organizational principles to guide the Blue Shirts in the early 1930s; see Eastman, Lloyd E., The Abortive Revolution: China under Nationalist Rule, 1927–1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), pp. 3184, especially p. 36.

30. Gaoji ganbu tongzhi yingyou de zeren” (“The proper responsibilities of high-level cadres”), Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 17.

31. Gaizao, No. 25 (1 09 1951), pp. 1020.

32. Jacoby, Neil H., U.S. Aid to Taiwan: A Study of Foreign Aid, Self-Help, and Development (New York: Praeger, 1966); Cheng, Cheng, Land Reform in Taiwan (Taipei: China Publishing Co., 1961).

33. Xiaozu yewu (The Work of Cells) (Taipei: CRC Cadre Training Commission, 07 1952), p. 20; Gaizao, No. 5 (1 11 1950), pp. 5760.

34. Gaizao, No. 34 (16 01 1952), pp. 3235.

35. Dangyuan de jiben renshi (Basic Knowledge for Party Members) (Taipei: Wenwu Gongyingshe, 1950), p. 55.

36. Stinchcombe, “Social structure and organizations”; Duverger, Political Parties.

37. An earlier incarnation of the KMT briefly served as a party in parliament during 1912–14. Before and after, it was a revolutionary party seeking political power primarily through military action. See Yu, Party Politics in Republican China.

38. Eastman, “Who lost China?”; Jun, Shen, Contemporary Taiwan, pp. 7677.

39. Resolution on Reorganization; and Shieh, , The Kuomintang, pp. 217224.

40. Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 56.

41. Ibid. p. 54.

42. Resolution on Reorganization, p. 8.

43. Tien, Hung-mao, The Great Transition, p. 67.

44. Biographical information taken from Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, pp. 5962.

45. Gaizao, No. 5 (1 11 1950), p. 22; Bendang dangwu gaizao fagui jianbian (A Collection of Regulations on the Reform of Party Work) (Yangmingshan, n.p.: 01 1951), p. 15; Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 89.

46. Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, pp. 8687, 95–98, and interview data.

47. Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 71, and interview data.

48. Weisi, Shen, “Party factions on Taiwan,” pp. 7778.

49. Zhongguo Guomindang liushinian lai zuzhi zhi fazhan (60 Years of the KMT's Organizational Development) (Taipei: KMT Central Committee, 1954), p. 15. The Party still maintains this label, although its propriety has become a matter of internal debate following the democratic reforms of the mid-1980s. See Ya-li, Lu, “Political modernization in the ROC: the Kuomintang and the inhibited Party center,” in Myers, Ramon H. (ed.), Two Societies in Opposition: The Republic of China and the People's Republic of China after Forty Years (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1991), pp. 117–18.

50. Ch'i-yun, Chang, The Rebirth ofthe Kuomintang (Taipei: China Cultural Service, n.d.), pp. 8485. According to Fuming, Xu, the methods were revolutionary, but the goal was democracy, cf. Reorganization of the KMT, p. 81.

51. Ch'i-yun, Chang, Rebirth, p. 83.

52. Yumei, Hao, Guomindang timing zhidu zhi yanjiu (The KMT's Nomination System) (Taipei: Cheng Chung Book Co., 1981).

53. The Work of Cells, pp. 3–5.

54. Ibid. p. 3.

55. Ch'i-yun, Chang, Rebirth, p. 12; emphasis added.

56. Both cases cited in Gaizao, No. 34 (12 01 1952), pp. 12.

57. Gaizao, No. 25 (1 09 1951), pp. 4647.

58. Zhongguo Guomindang gaizao qijian gongzuo gaikuang tukaji (A Pictorial Survey of General Working Conditions of the KMT during the Reorganization Period) (n.p.: 02 1953), p. 51.

59. Resolution on Reorganization, article 30.

60. According to my interviews, these small groups continue to exist today, but are inactive.

61. Gaizao, No. 5 (1 11 1950), p. 20; Jiqun, Zheng, “Zhongguo Guomindang dangzheng xietiao zhidu de yanbian” (“The evolution of the KMT's Party-government co-ordination system”), Renwen xuebao, No. 2 (07 1976), p. 47; Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 103. As mentioned above, reorganization commissions typically became the permanent Party organ of that level.

62. Chen Hao, “Sixty years of factional strife”; see also Jiqun, Zeng, “The evolution of the KMT's Party-government co-ordination system,” pp. 4748; Qihua, Ma, “Dangzheng guanxi yu juece licheng” (“Party-government relations and the decision-making process”), Zhengzhi Wenhua (04 1985), p. 127.

63. For a discussion of American influence on KMT policy in the early 1950s, see Richard Barrett, E., “Autonomy and Diversity in the American State on Taiwan,” and Simon, Denis Fred, “External incorporation and internal reform,” in Winckler, Edwin A. and Greenhalgh, Susan (eds.), Contending Approaches to the Political Economy of Taiwan (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1988), pp. 121137 and 138–150.

64. Guipu, Lin, “Analysis of China's Party-government relations,” pp. 6870.

65. Gaizao, No. 18 (16 05 1951), pp. 7879.

66. See Zhongguo Guomindang dangzheng guanxi dagang” (“Outline of Party-government relations”), and “Zhongguo Guomindang dangzheng guanxi dagang shuoming” (“Explanation of the outline of Party-government relations”), in Gaizao, No. 17 (1 05 1951), pp. 6975. Later, these groups were enlarged to nine members, three each from the Party, government, and legislature.

67. Gaizao, No. 21 (1 07 1951), pp. 7072.

68. “Explanation of the outline of Party-government relations.”

69. Gaizao, No. 49 (1 09 1952), p. 5.

70. Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 129; Pictorial Survey, p. 54.

71. Yangde, Chen, Taiwan difang minxuan lingdao renwu zhi biandong (Changes in Locally-Elected Leaders) (Taipei: Siji chuban shiye youxian gongsi, 1981), p. 123.

72. Hao Yumei, The KMT's Nomination System; Chen Yangde, Changes in Locally-Elected Leaders; interview data.

73. Jiqun, Zeng, “The evolution of the KMT's Party-government co-ordination system,” p. 52.

74. Hsiao-shih, Cheng, Party-Military Relations in the PRC and Taiwan: Paradoxes of Control (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), pp. 1826; Eastman, “Who lost China?”; Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 74.

75. Hsiao-shih, Cheng, Party-Military Relations, p. 25.

76. Wenwu, Zhu-Ge, “Zhengzhan xitong zai Taiwan” (“The political warfare system on Taiwan”) in Investigating Party Factions, pp. 118123.

77. Tien, Hung-mao, The Great Transition, p. 68.

78. Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, p. 110. In the KMT cadre system, ganbu referred to cadres in a collective sense, and ganbu fenzi to individual cadres. This is thus more similar to the Soviet practice, which also emphasized the collective, than the CCP, which emphasized the individual. See Schurmann, Franz, Ideology and Organization in Communist China, 2nd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968), p. 163, n. 75.

79. Pictorial Survey, p. 36.

80. Gaizao, No. 49 (1 09 1952), p. 3; Fuming, Xu, Reorganization of the KMT, pp. 130131; Pictorial Survey, p. 41; and interview data.

81. Gaizao, No. 5 (1 11 1950), pp. 5760.

82. Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 811.

83. Gaizao, No. 49 (1 09 1952), pp. 23.

84. Zhongguo Guomindang congzheng dangyuan guanli banfa” (“Management methods for Party members in government work”), Gaizao, No. 18 (16 05 1951), p. 75.

85. Gaizao, No. 49 (1 09 1952), p. 3.

86. Mingshan, Jiang, “Dang de jiben gongzuo zhi yanjiu,” (“Some aspects of the basic work of the Party”) Zuzhi yu Xunlian, (Organization and Training), No. 14 (11 1973), p. 88.

87. Mingshan, Jiang, “Some aspects of the basic work of the Party,” pp. 8485; Nai-teh, Wu, The Politics of a Regime Patronage System: Mobilization and Control within an Authoritarian System (doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago, 1987), pp. 4850.

88. Gaizao, No. 14 (16 03 1951), pp. 811; No. 21 (1 July 1951), pp. 66–70; and No. 36, (16 February 1952), p. 5.

89. Kai-shek, Chiang, “The proper responsibilities of high-level cadres,” pp. 12.

90. Basic Knowledge for Party Members, pp. 72–73.

91. Gaizao, No. 19 (1 06 1951), p. 65.

92. Huaien, Peng, Taiwan zhengzhi bianqian 40 nian (Forty Years of Political Change on Taiwan) (Taipei: Zili Wanbaoshe wenhua chubanbu, 1987), p. 72.

93. 60 Years of the KMT's Organizational Development, p. 16. Mary Wright noted that the CCP scholars (one of whom was Deng Liqun) had reached the same conclusion a decade earlier; cf. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T'ung-Chih Restoration, 1862–1874 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957), p. 99.

94. In addition, the KMT claimed to have another 257,000 members in foreign countries; see Pictorial Survey, p. 33.

95. Jun, Shen, Contemporary Taiwan, p. 81.

96. Gaizao, No. 36 (16 02 1952), pp. 35.

97. In 1952, Taiwan's population was 8.128 million, of which 7.478 million (92%) were born on Taiwan and 650,000 were born on the mainland; see Jacoby, , U.S. Aid to Taiwan, p. 295, table D.2.

98. Shijie sizhong quanhui yilai Zhongyang Weiyuanhui ge danwei zhongyao gongzuo gaikuang baogao (Report on the Overall Work Conditions of all Units of the Central Committee since the Fourth Plenum of the Tenth Central Committee) (Taipei: Central Inspection and Discipline Commission, 1974), p. 18.

99. Interview data. One former central official joked that it was natural for mainlanders to dominate the central levels: they had been squeezed out of posts at lower levels and there was nowhere to go but up.

100. Xiaoyi, Qin [Hsiao-yi, Ch'in] (ed.), Zhongguo Guomindang jiushi nian dashi nianbiao (A 90-Year Chronology of the KMT's Major Events) (Taipei: KMT Central Committee, 1984), p. 442. Lu Va-li also notes that top Party and military officials swore an oath of loyalty to Chiang Kai-shek in the early 1950s; see “Political modernization in the ROC,” p. 113.

101. Michels, Robert, Political Parties (New York: Free Press, 1962).

102. On the other hand, an article in Gaizao drew a clear distinction between Leninism and Marxism: Marxism is a theory of economic and social development, but Leninism is equated with military aggression, not organizational principles, as I am using the term. According to the author of this article, capitalism and socialism are both the enemies of Leninism. The author is far more sympathetic to Marxism than to Leninism. He claims the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties are not Marxist at all, but only Leninist. Leninism is defined in totalitarian terms as the complete domination of society and the goal of global revolution. See Wenqing, Zhou, “Liening zhuyi pipan,” (“A critique of Leninism”), Gaizao, No. 21 (1 07 1951), pp. 26–33.

103. Wade, Robert, Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

104. Interview data.

105. Peng Huaien, Forty Years of Political Change; Winckler, Edwin A., “Institutionalization and participation on Taiwan: from hard to soft authoritarianism?The China Quarterly, No. 99 (09 1984), pp. 481499.

* I would like to thank Abigail Jahiel, Kenneth Lieberthal, Michel Oksenberg, Miranda Schreurs, Hung-mao Tien and Martin Whyte for their comments on a draft of this article. Research was made possible by the financial support of the University of Michigan's Center for Chinese Studies, the China Times Cultural Foundation and the Pacific Cultural Fund, and by the Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy of Academia Sinica, which sponsored my research in Taiwan.

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