Skip to main content

The State That Mao Built

  • John K. Fairbank

China has been such a big unit during most of the last two thousand years that it has habitually been thought of in terms of models, whether Legalist, Confucian, Neo-Confucian, or Communist. To put it another way, the remarkable early success of Chinese administrators in setting up and maintaining a centralized bureaucracy was part and parcel of their inveterate penchant for blueprinting the social order. Today "China" is one of the largest concrete referents commonly used in discussions of world politics. Generalizing about China is a particularly daring venture, but it is a game we continue to play because the Chinese have always played it. Before appraising the most interesting recent treatment of China in this customary fashion—Franz Schur-mann's book Ideology and Organization in Communist China—I should like to look briefly at the fashion itself.

Hide All

1 See Lach, Donald, Asia in the Maying of Europe, Vol. I, The Century of Discovery (Chicago and London 1965), 743ff.

2 (London 1849).

3 (New York and London 1848). Williams became the standard work, but was only one example of a large genre.

4 The Tables were imperially commissioned in 1780 and have gone through many editions. The Kuo-hsueh chi-pen ts'ung-shu edition was published in Shanghai in 1937 in eight volumes.

5 Charles O. Hucker, The Censorial System of Ming China (Stanford 1966), 322–24, has an exemplary footnote on a typical problem of “history by etymology”: numerous scholars have confused the Chou yü-shih (royal recorders) with the Ch'in-Han yü-shih (surveillance officials) and so inferred that the latter had the duty of remonstrance with the emperor, when this actually was the duty of the yen-kuan (speaking officials).

6 Printed in Tokyo by Okura (1937–1938) and recently in Taiwan.

7 “The Study of Chinese Political Culture,” World Politics, xviii (April 1966), 503–24, see 524.

8 Reischauer, Edwin O. and Fairbank, John K., East Asia: The Great Tradition (Boston 1960), 339–40.

9 P. 524. Mr. Lewis' salutary effort to rank “die potential for revolution and mobilization according to the level of modernization of the locality” of course suffers from the part-and-whole difficulty that, by his own definition (footnote 15), die degree of “mobilization” is one index of the more inclusive phenomenon of “modernization.” Thus, a modernized locality is identifiable pardy by its degree of mobilization; that the “potential for revolution and mobilization” may be measured by die “level of modernization” is to some degree automatic or tautological.

10 Schurmann, Herbert Franz, Economic Structure of the Yüan Dynasty: Translation of Chapters 93 and 94 of the Yüan shih, Harvard-Yenching Institute Studies XVI (Cambridge, Mass., 1956).

11 Shimizu, , Shina shakai no kenfyyü [Studies on Chinese Society] (Tokyo 1939); Wen, , Chung-kuo pao-chia chih-tu [The Pao-chia System in China] (Shanghai 1935); Hsiao, , Rural China: Imperial Control in the Nineteenth Century (Seattle 1960), 66. See Hsiao, chap. 3, “Police Control: The Pao-chia System,”passim.

12 See Kuhn, Philip A., T'uan-lien Local Defense System at the Time of the Taiping Rebellion,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, xxvii (forthcoming 1967).

13 Cohen, Jerome Alan, “Chinese Mediation on the Eve of Modernization,” California Law Review, LIV (August 1966), 1201–26, makes an approach to this problem. Cohen concludes that “Chinese emphasis upon mediation significantly emasculated the growth of law through legislation and judicial processes” (p. 1225).

14 Feuerwerkcr, Albert and Cheng, S., Chinese Communist Studies of Modern Chinese History (Cambridge, Mass., 1961), surveys materials on this problem.

15 See footnote 5 above.

16 Wu, Silas Hsiu-liang, “The Memorial Systems of the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644–1911),” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, xxviii (forthcoming 1967).

17 It would be only mischievous to pit this view against the carefully argued finding of Professor Herrlee Creel of Chicago that something very like the modern Weberian-type bureaucracy was independently invented in ancient China. See Creel, , “The Beginnings of Bureaucracy in China: The Origin of the HsienJournal of Asian Studies, xxiii (February 1964), 155–84.

18 Thousands of essays of this ching-shih genre were printed in nineteenth-century collections, beginning with more than two thousand in the Huang-ch'ao ching-shih wen-pien, or Collected Essays on Statecraft Under the Reigning Dynasty, published by Ho Ch'ang-ling in 1827. Some fifteen supplementary collections were produced, down into the twentieth century.

19 See footnote II above.

20 “The Argumentation of the Shih-huo chih Chapters of the Han, Wei, and Sui Dynastic Histories,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, xi (June 1948), 1118, see 92–93.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed