Communists, Nationalists, and China’s Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37


Hi I’m John Green, and this is Crash Course
World History and today we’re going to return — sadly for the last time on Crash Course
— to China. By the way, Stan brought cupcakes. That’s
good. I wish I could draw some parallel between this and China, but I got nothing. It’s
just delicious. I’ll sure miss you, piece of felt Danica
cut out in the shape of China using blue because we felt red would be cliché. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, Mr Green! You don’t get to talk until you shave the
mustache, Me From The Past. So the 20th century was pretty big for China
because it saw not one but two revolutions. China’s 1911 revolution might be a bigger
deal from a world historical perspective than the more famous communist revolution of 1949,
but you wouldn’t know it because: 1. China’s communism became a really big
deal during the Cold War, and 2. Mao Zedong, the father of Communist China,
was really good at self-promotion. Like, you know his famous book of sayings? Pretty
much everyone in China just had to own it. And I mean, had to. [theme music] So as you no doubt recall from past episodes
of Crash Course, China lost the Opium Wars in the 19th century, resulting in European
domination, spheres of influence, et cetera, all of which was deeply embarrassing to the
Qing dynasty and led to calls for reform. One strand of reform that called for China
to adopt European military technology and education systems was called self-strengthening,
and it was probably would have been a great idea, considering how well that worked for
Japan. But it never happened in China– well, at least not until recently. Instead, China experienced the disastrous
anti-Western Boxer Rebellion of 1900, which helped spur some young liberals, including
one named Sun Yat Sen, to plot the overthrow of the dynasty. Oh, it’s already time for
the Open Letter… An open letter to Sun Yat Sen. Oh, but first, let’s see what’s in the
secret compartment today. Oh, more champagne poppers? Stan, at this
point aren’t we sort of belaboring the fact that China invented fireworks? Wow! That is
innovation at work right there. We used to not be able to fire off one of these, and
now we can fire off six at a time if you count the two secret ones from behind me. Dear Sun Yat Sen, You were amazing! I mean
the Republic of China calls you the father of the nation. The People’s Republic of
China calls you the forerunner of the democratic revolution. You’re the only thing they can
agree on! You lived in China, Japan, the United States, you converted to Christianity, you
were a doctor, you were the godfather of an important science fiction writer. But the infuriating thing is that you never
actually got much of a chance to rule China, and you would have been great at it. I mean,
your three principles of the people, Nationalism, Democracy, and the People’s Livelihood,
are three really great principles. I mean the problem, aside from you not living long
enough is that you just didn’t have a face for Warhol portraits. Huh, it’s too bad.
Best wishes, John Green So the 1911 revolution that led to the end
of the Qing dynasty started when a bomb accidentally exploded, at which point the revolutionaries
were like, “we’re probably going to be outed, so we should just start the uprising
now”. The uprising probably would’ve been quelled like many before it, except this time
the army joined the rebellion, because they wanted to become more modern. The Qing emperor abdicated, and the rebels
chose a general, Yuan Shikai, as leader, while Sun Yat Sen was declared president of a provisional
republic on Jan 1, 1912. A new government was created with a Senate and a Lower House,
and it was supposed to write a new constitution. And after the first elections, Sun Yat Sen’s
party, the Guomindang were the largest, but they weren’t the majority. So Sun Yat Sen
deferred to Yuan, which turned out to be a huge mistake because he then outlawed the
Guomindang party and ruled as dictator. But when Yuan Shikai died in 1916, China’s
first non-dynastic government in over 3000 years completely fell apart. Localism reasserted
itself with large-scale landlords with small-scale armies ruling all the parts of China that
weren’t controlled by foreigners. You might remember this phenomenon from earlier in Chinese
history, first during the Warring States period and then again for three hundred years between
the end of the Han and the rise of the Sui. So the period in Chinese history between 1912
and 1949 is sometimes called the Chinese Republic, although that gives the government a bit too
much credit. The leading group trying to re-form China into a nation state was the Guomindang,
but after 1920 the Chinese Communist Party was also in the mix. And for the Guomindang
to regain power from those big landlords and reunify China, they needed some help from
the CCP. Now if an alliance between Communists and
Nationalists sounds like a match made in hell, well, yes. It was. That said, the two did
manage to patch things up for a while in the early 1920s, you know, for the sake of the
kids. But then Sun Yat Sen died in 1925 and the
alliance fell apart in 1927 when Guomindang leader Chiang Kai-Shek got mad at the communists
for trying to foment socialist revolution, to which the communists were like, “But
that’s what we do, man. We’re communists.” Anyway, this turned out to be a bad break
up for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because it started a civil war between the Communists
and the Nationalists. We’re not going to get into exhausting detail on the civil war
but, spoiler alert: the Communists won. But there are a few things to point out. First, even though Mao emerged victorious,
he and the communists were almost wiped out in 1934 except that they made a miraculous
and harrowing escape, trekking from southern China to the mountains in the north in what
has become famously known as the Long March, a great example of historians missing an opportunity
since it could easily have been called the Long Ass March, as it featured donkeys. Second, for much of the time the Kuomintang
was trying to crush the CCP, significant portions of China were being occupied and/or invaded
by Japan. Thirdly, the Communists were just better at
fighting the Japanese than the Nationalists were. In spite of the fact that Chiang Kai-Shek
had extensive support from the U.S. And each time the Nationalists failed against the Japanese,
their prestige among their fellow Chinese diminished. It wasn’t helped by Nationalist
corruption, or their collecting onerous taxes from Chinese peasants, or stories about Nationalist
troops putting on civilian clothes and abandoning the city of Nanking during its awful destruction
by the Japanese army in 1937. Meanwhile, the Communists were winning over the peasants
in their northwestern enclave by making sure that troops didn’t pillage local land and by
giving peasants a greater say in local government. Now, that isn’t to say everything was rosy
under Mao’s communist leadership, even at its earliest stages. By the way, that is an
actual chalk illustration. Very impressed. In a preview of things to come, in 1942 Mao
initiated a “rectification” program, which basically meant students and intellectuals
were sent down into the countryside to give them a taste of what “real China” was
like in an effort to re-educate them. We try to be politically neutral here on Crash Course, but we
are always opposed to intellectuals doing hard labor. But anyway, within four years of the end of
World War II the Communists routed Chiang Kai-Shek’s armies and sent them off to Taiwan,
and these military victories paved the way for Mao to declare the People’s Republic
of China on October 1, 1949. So once in power, Mao and the PRC were faced
with the task of creating a new, socialist state. And Mao declared early on that the
working class in China would be the leaders of a “people’s democratic dictatorship.”
Oh democratic dictatorships. You’re the BEST. It’s all the best parts of democracy,
and all the best parts of dictatorship. You get to vote, but there’s only one choice.
It takes all the pesky thinking out it. The PRC promised equal rights for women, rent
reduction, land redistribution, new heavy industry and lots of freedoms, including freedoms
of “thought, speech, publication, assembly, association, correspondence, person, domicile,
moving from one place to another, religious belief, and the freedom to hold processions
and demonstrations.” Yeah, NO. Even putting aside the PRC’s failure to protect any of
those rights, Mao’s China wasn’t much fun if you were a landlord or even if you
were a peasant who’d done well. Land redistribution and reform meant destroying the power of landlords,
often violently. But centralizing power and checking individual
ambition proved difficult for the government, and it was made harder by China’s involvement
in the Korean War, which helped spur the first mass campaign of Mao’s democratic dictatorship.
Designed to encourage support for the War, the campaign was called the “Resist America
and Aid Korea campaign,” and it resulted in almost all foreigners leaving China. A second campaign, against “counterrevolutionaries”
was much worse. People suspected of sympathizing with the Guomindang, or anyone insufficiently
communist, was subject to humiliation and violence. Between October 1950 and August
1951, 28,332 people accused of being spies or counterrevolutionaries were executed in
Guandong city alone. A third mass campaign, the “Three Anti Campaign”
was aimed at reforming the Communist party itself. And the final mass campaign, the Five
Anti Campaign was an assault on all bourgeois capitalism, which effectively killed private
industry in China. Very few of the victims of this last campaign actually died, but capitalism
was weakened and state control bolstered. OK, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Mao and the CCP set out to turn China into
an industrial powerhouse by following the Soviet model. We haven’t really talked about
this, but under the Soviet system, Russia was able to accomplish massive industrialization–
not to mention tens of millions of deaths from starvation– through centralized planning
and collectivization of agriculture, following what were known as Five Year Plans. The Chinese adopted the model of Five Year
Plans beginning in 1953 and the first one worked, at least as far as industrialization
was concerned. In fact, the plan worked even better than expected, with industry increasing
121% more than projected. In order for this to work though, the peasants had to grow lots
of grain and sell it at extremely low prices. This kept inflation in check, and saving was
encouraged by the fact that the Five Year Plan didn’t have many consumer goods, so
there was nothing to buy. For urban workers, living standards improved and China’s population
grew to 646 million. So far, Mao’s plan seemed to be working,
but there was no way that China could keep up that growth, especially without some backsliding
into capitalism. So Mao came up with a terrible idea called the Great Leap Forward. Mao essentially
decided that the nation could be psyched up into more industrial productivity. Among many other bad ideas, he famously ordered
that individuals build small steel furnaces in their backyard to increase steel production.
This was not a good idea. First off, it didn’t actually increase steel production much. Secondly,
it turns out that people making steel in their backyard who know nothing about making steel…
make bad steel. But the worst idea was to pay for heavy machinery
from the USSR with exported grain. This meant there was less for peasants to eat — and
as a result, between 1959 and 1962, 20 million people died, probably half of whom were under
the age of 10. Jeez, Thought Bubble, that was sad. And then in happier news came the Cultural
Revolution! Just kidding, it sucked. By the middle of the sixties, Mao was afraid that
China’s revolution was running out of steam, and he didn’t want China to end up just
a bureaucratized police state like, you know, most of the Soviet bloc. And the Cultural
Revolution was an attempt to capture the glory days of the revolution and fire up the masses, and
what better way to do that than to empower the kids. Frustrated students who were unable find decent,
fulfilling jobs jumped at the chance to denounce their teachers, employers, and sometimes even
their parents and to tear down tradition, which often meant demolishing buildings and
art. The ranks of these “Red Guards” swelled and anyone representing the so-called “four
olds” — old culture, old habits, old ideas, and old customs — was subject to humiliation
and violence. Intellectuals were again sent to the countryside as they were in 1942; millions
were persecuted; and countless historical and religious artifacts were destroyed. But the real aim of the Cultural Revolution
was to consolidate Mao’s revolution, and while his image still looms large, it’s
hard to say that China these days is a socialist state. Many would argue that Mao’s revolution
was extremely short-lived, and that the real change in China happened in 1911. That’s
when the Chinese Republic ended 3,000 years of dynastic history and forever broke the
cyclical pattern the Chinese had used to understand their past. I mean at least in some senses, those
Nationalist revolutionaries literally put an end to history. That sense of living in a truly New World
has made many great and terrible things possible for China, but the legacy of China’s two
revolutions is mixed at best. China, for instance, made most of the camera we use to film this
video. And China made most of the computers we use to edit. But no one in the People’s
Republic of China will legally be able to watch this video, because the government blocks
YouTube. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. Our associate producer is Danica Johnson.
The show is written by my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer and myself, and our graphics
team is Thought Bubble. Last week’s phrase of the week was “Disco
Golf Ball.” If you want to guess at this week’s phrase of the week or suggest future ones,
you can do so in comments, where you can also ask questions about today’s videos that will
be answered by our team of historians. If you like Crash Course, make sure you’ve
subscribed. Thanks for watching, and as we say in my hometown,
Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

100 thoughts on “Communists, Nationalists, and China’s Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37

  1. Damn, you're biased. Sun Yat Sen and Chang Kay Shenk is a fascist who had supported the rich and biased people with nationalism. Mao has liberated the people from that scum.

  2. In the Great Leap Forward, student even kill their teachers and cook their organs to eat to express their hatred

    In the culture revolution, those red guard can kill whoever they like because of the support given by Mao

    In the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, student protest for the democracy and reform, as they saw the break down of USSR and the free election happened in Eastern Europe, but got brutally suppress by the military force from the government, nearly a thousand student died

    Chinese student cannot learn some of the history since the government have banned them, but hongkonger can, so we knows China could be very horrible

    and this is why hongkonger protest for to provoke the extradition law bill allowing criminal in Hong Kong to send back to mainland china, mainland can take people who opposing the mainland government through this law, through different crime they set on that person, and punish him.

  3. so were just going to skip through how the ccp was funded by the soviets to take over china as one of there allies and a brief skim of japans role in the rise of the ccp. cool story bro

  4. nothing on how the soviets industralized by stealing american technology or how the subsidization of industry in the beginning almost brought down the soviets. more cool stories

  5. interesting that the worst thing he could say about early communist rule was that they made clever people do poor people work

  6. Hongkong in China and they don't ban the YouTube.
    The times to mention Mao in this video is more than I saw in Chinese history textbook LOL

  7. 2:10 and you screwed up the pronunciation of his name so much I literally didn’t realize who he is until you said “both sides agrees on”
    Still, Amazing video! Thanks!

  8. thanks for your video,finally, I understand what happened in china history. Coz my high school teach no mention about this history. one teacher tried to talk and got fired. As a chinese, I hope one day we have true freedom and democracy. Take down the firewall and the evilest CCP.

  9. I just returned to America after 4 years in China. I wouldn't watch this video there, even through a VPN. I have seen the inside of a Chinese interrogation cell(was not a guest there thankfully). Along with the sound proof walls, it had a list of recommendations on the wall, how best to act around the CCP Organs so as not to upset them. The room also had a sign on the wall behind the interrogator that read "IT IS BETTER TO BE CAPTURED AND DIE THAN TO LIVE AND BE HUNTED" needless to say i left China recently and will never be returning for any reason.

  10. "We like to stay politically neutral"
    lol please you didn't even try a little.
    I'm not here to defent Mao or modern China's politics, but you can't seriously play this back and tell yourself you presented a level-headed view of history.

  11. Youtube is blocked in China, but it's never illegal. Any one who knows about VPN or is clever enough to search online is able to watch Youtube. The idea is so that dumb people can't watch Youtube to get some dumb ideas that they won't let go. Dumb people don't deserve some privileges and it's better for the society this way.

  12. Lots of people writing "I'm watching this from China with VPN and it's not illegal". Is great that you can watch this and not get punished, but you're doing something the Chinese government clearly doesn't want you to do, since they blocked YouTube. They don't take action simply because only few people have the knowledge and methods to access VPN, so the knowledge won't spread. 27k people are insignificant compared to 1.3 billion. Assuming Control.

  13. Since 1975 the so-called book of Mao's sayings has gradually disappeared due to awareness of the harm of self-promotion. By the way, self-promotion did start when Mao was old. I think this should be mentioned when you talked about his good at self-promotion.

  14. Mao had so many bad ideas, but I'm always skeptical of the numbers of deaths attributed to whatever. How people even really know that, supposedly, 20 MILLION people died in three years? That sounds like unsubstantiated propaganda. I'm also sick of hearing the much vaunted "cOmMuNisM killed 100 million people"! As if you could calculate that, but supposing we did, how many has capitalism killed?

  15. Why does everyone on CrashCourse’s videos comment about having a AP History test coming up and using this channel to study? Not sure if this a joke that picked up and everyone just says the same thing or if Teenagers are just too lazy to study now adays…im sure its a little bit of both tbh lls

  16. the communist won the civil war against nationalist for several other reasons that were not mentioned in this video. For one, the communist fled and hid in the mountain during the japanese occupation and let the nationalist elite forces fought the war while they waited and built their forces. The so called long match was nothing glorious but a strategic and despicable retreat of the communist to abandon its people at the front line. secondly, the communist tricked the leader of the nationalist to sign a temporary peace treaty during the japanese occupation in the name of unity to fight foreign invasion, but the communist was actually taking command over some of the nationalist army and resource to build their own army. last but not the least, the communist is very good at propaganda. they spreaded unfavourable rumors about the nationalist army and used them to recruit forces and support. so at the end, it was the treachery and dishonor of the communist that won the war.

  17. I disagree that dynastic rule ended, the CCP is basically like a ruling dynastic now that is just not family based.

  18. Democratic dictatorship is not an oxymoron. There's only one candidate, but not only one choice. Your choice is yes or no. It's similar to retention elections in bourgeois countries like the US. Do you want to keep John Green (R) as the District 8 judge of Johnson County? Yes or no.
    That's what they have for every candidate. If the majority vote no, which has happened hundreds of times, then the party has to select a new candidate.

    Additionally, the candidate chosen for the ballot is often nominated by the party after an extensive democratic process to come to a consensus. So the actual ballot is more of a "check and balances" kind of thing to make sure that the public meetings to debate on and determine candidates are adequately representing the will of the people.

  19. The famine was not caused by the Great Leap Forward, it was merely exacerbated by some policies of the Great Leap Forward. Even if you consider the failures of pig iron, the sparrow thing, etc. the Great Leap Forward was still a resounding success. Calling it a terrible idea is simply wrong.

  20. "Hard to say China is socialist today"
    Mr. Green! Mr. Green! With a strong communist party and 50% of the economy being state-owned, no it is not hard to say that at all lol

  21. The day of the dictator is not over but one day it will be. Authoritarianism will come and go but it will always fail and people will prevail.

  22. “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.” – Charlie Chaplin

  23. Republic of China is the only true and real China🇹🇼
    中華民國是唯一正統中國,而不是對岸的土匪政府🇹🇼

  24. This is really old, but I just want to say it's not cliche to use the colors chosen by the country you are talking about. It's the color of the party and the flag. It is also a color with a lot of historical significance in older Chinese culture. By not choosing the color they chose you are enforcing your own biases and disallowing them to represent their self.

  25. I'm surprised that those 50 Cent Party are not here. Nice to see people from mainland china discuss things polity and reasonably. It's getting harder to see these days….

  26. I doubt anyone reads this but I have thought about China in WWII and concluded that Japan is responsible for bleeding, impoverishing and destabilizing China and inadvertently opening the door for the communist takeover. The American liaisons, like Stilwell, and foreign policy heads were not up to managing relations effectively.

  27. Sadly, Mr. Green, You have literarily no knowledge of what Chinese history was in the 20th century. I concede that what Mao did in his last years was severely detrimental to China, and even the CCP authority recognizes it. But what the Communists did in their first decade in power was the greatest change and revolution to the entire China civilization. We can finally get rid of the want of food and the fear of war. Astonishing to you Americans, who lived in posterity and blooming throughout your entire history, we the people of China have suffered a long period of starvation, warfare, and famine, probably longer than your entire history of merely 250 years. I, a normal Chinese who received a decent education in both China and the U.S, think the conclusion of this video is both misleading and misconceiving. Plz, in your next videos, pay a closer look at the lives of the normal people in my country and stop making such arrogant and shameless allegation to a country that you do not even carefully examine.

  28. I think there is a very large problem with characterizing the Cultural Revolution as anything different than the swamp calling for itself to be drained. Mao was not trying to revitalize socialism but his own power by blaming the bureaucracy that he stood at the top of as the result of cadres having wrong/bourgeois ideas as opposed to merely being facilitators of a structural bureaucracy that was created from the top. It was a way of deflecting criticism of the exploitative nature of the regime and its blind high speed industrialization on the backs of the chinese proletariat and peasantry. If you are starving because of high clip industrialization blame the personalities of particular cadres or the few or many bad apples but please dont have a genuine proletarian revolution against our pseudo socialism. I think this video was highly informative but I think it also lends itself to future Red Scares and McCarthyism by rightfully critiquing the authoritarian anti democratic violence of the Mao and his Republic while still calling this highly anti egalitarian society "socialist" without analyzing the ways the People's Republic characterized a new class society(not socialist!) that continously waged class warfare on its population by extracting extreme levels of surplus from both the industrial workforce while fleecing the peasantry by paying bottom edlund prices for their produce. Revolutionary Socialism without Revolutionary Democracy isnt revolutionary or democratic or (most importantly) SOCIALISM!

  29. This isnt the first time communism clashed with nationalism.

    Whenever communism tries to infect a whole country, theres always a massive revolt against it. And that is nationalism.

    The chinese went through it. The germans went through it, and they not only crushed the communist party, but boosted their nationalism so hard they waged a continental war into the homeland of communism to try and eradicate it.

    The same process is currently going on today. Communists are clashing with nationalist parties in western countries like the US.

    I can see why general patton thinks we fought the wrong enemy. While nazi germany killed civilians, the idea of communism infects young minds and can tear a country from within.

    The idea of a 2nd civil war in the US has been simmering in the heads of both parties

  30. Great info, but slow down a little. Non-native English speakers are going to struggle to keep up, and, even for a native speaker, it’s hard to absorb so much info when you’re rattling it off as fast as your mouth can move. It doesn’t make the presentation sound any cooler to adopt such a style. People watching this are here to learn, remember. Otherwise, it’s well done.

  31. The CCP was awful at fighting the Japanese they launched one large offensive and got dunked on. Deapite destroying a lot of Railways and communication lines, the Japanese immediately punished the CCP. With the Japanese employing the kill all, burn all, destroy all policy that reduced the population of the provinces near Ya,an from 44 milllion to 22 million. The CCP then immediately ceased all large front offensives, consolidating the remaining forces, the CCP then waited for the end of the war to finish the Nationalists

  32. The United States of America $upports communisum…In China.. wondering what Donald j Trump. Thinks about his July 4 1776.. American republic these days..?!?

  33. Eating cupcakes is just the most subtle way to support liberalism. A regulated economy would never, ever allow anyone to make cupcakes. I hate cupcakes, that's why I'm 100% communist! If are going to make a cake make it for everyone, and throw a party with it!

  34. Hi John,

    I know you're aiming to provide an overview here but I do think you could have been a little more specific about the CCP's role in WWII. Specifically, while it is true that the Communists' guerrilla tactics were more effective than Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek)'s, it's also true that the forces they faced were different. Whilst Jiang faced the vast majority of the IJA's attacks, Mao Zedong and his allies were in the mountainous, rugged, and economically bereft region of Yan'an, in which Japan was uninterested. Thus, the CCP were able to choose their battles (and, when the CCP tried set-piece fighting, such as in the Hundred Regiments Campaign, it went terribly), while the GMD had to fight Japanese along the entirety of the front.

  35. im watching your video in China🇨🇳,What you said is consistent with what we learned in history textbooks,actually VPN is everywhere in China. Many universities can connect YouTube without VPN on their campus networks.

  36. just say fuckcommie and Mao sucks,and you can make a vedio like that.if you want to know about the real condition of Chinese modern times history,just read some pertinent books.And if you just wanna fuckcommie and jeer,please watch more junk vedios like this lol

  37. National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion

  38. Only 20 Million died during cultural revolution?

    I've read the other extreme of 75 million, and other numbers in between.

  39. Democracy/Equality + people doing hard labor = good
    Autocracy/Monarchy + people doing hard labor = bad

    Because when you have democracy, freedom, equality, school exams, job interviews etc you have unlimited power and you choose everything.
    I mean that's what society told me, so it must be true.

    >> "Did you choose to born with organ failures?
    Did you choose to born in a place where you would get poor education/healthcare/security?
    Did you choose to die at birth?
    Did you choose awful parents?
    Did you choose to die in an accident?
    — Well, that was your freedom, congratulations for using it."

  40. You better update that video brother the only reason the comments one is because the Nationals did it so much of the heavy lifting a fighting Japanese.

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