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Wylie, Raymond F. (1976) Mao Tse-tung, Ch'en Po-ta, and the conscious creation of "Mao Tse-tung's Thought" in the Chinese Communist Party, 1935-1945. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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One of the most distinctive aspects of modern Chinese politics is the role of "Mao Tse-tung's thought." This study investigates the concrete political and ideological process which gave rise to Mao's thought within the Chinese Communist Party, with special reference to the years 1935-45. This decade, which overlaps the Yenan period in Chinese Communist historiography, opens with Mao Tse-tung's rise to power at the Tsunyi Conference, and closes with the formal incorporation of his thought into the new CCP constitution at the Party's Seventh Congress. In the course of the study, it became apparent that Mao Tse-tung played a strong personal role in fostering the cult of his own person and thought. However, he received the enthusiastic support of a small group of Party intellectuals who gathered around him, of whom the most important is Ch'en Po-ta. Pending further research, conclusions regarding Ch'en's role must remain tentative, hut the initial evidence does suggest his influence on certain aspects of Mao's thinking, and in the formulation of a historio-philosophical rationale for Mao's claim to ideological supremacy. The study falls into two main periods; 1935-40 were years of ideological creativity, when the basic ideas behind Sinified Marxism were worked out by Mao and Ch'en; 1940-45 were years of ideological console idation, when the two men worked to systematize and disseminate Mao's thought as the CCP's official guiding doctrine. The conclusion emerges that the cult of Mao and his thought was not merely a simple concomitant of Mao's rise to power during this period. Rather, the dual cult was consciously created and propagated within and without the CCP as a deliberate act of policy on the part of the ascendant Maoists, with Mao and Ch'en very much at the core of this policy. From time to time, developments within the CCP, in Chinese domestic politics, and in the international arena intervened to accelerate or retard the Maoists' deliberate campaign to foster the ascendancy of Mao's thought. However, by the time of the CCP's Seventh Congress in 1945, the victorious Maoists had succeeded in their joint drive for the ''primitive accumulation" of political and ideological power. Mao's power was by no means absolute, but the Chinese Communist Party -- and shortly the entire nation -- had entered the era of "Mao Tse-tung's thought." In sum, this study contributes to our understanding of the Chinese Communist movement in four areas. It develops previous discussions of the ideological history of the CCP, especially regarding the emergence of the concepts of the "Sinification of Marxism" and "Mao Tse-tung's thought." In using these ideological concepts as points of reference, this thesis also offers a distinctive approach to the study of elite politics within the CCP during the Yenan period. At the same time, Mao Tse-tung's personal role in fostering the twin cult of himself and his thought is brought into sharper focus than in previous studies. Finally, our knowledge of the early career of Ch'en Po-ta is considerably enhanced, particularly regarding his role as Party ideologist and historian in the service of Mao Tse-tung.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11

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