By Elizabeth J. Perry
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Additional resources for Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition
In drawing liberally upon both literary and military sources of power, the Communists demonstrated a grasp of the fundamentals of Chinese cultural authority. The parallel pull of wen (literary attainment) and wu (martial prowess) to the target constituency of male coal miners and railway workers was a magnetic force that Mao and his comrades redirected to their own advantage. 28 But it also bespoke an instinctive appreciation for the twin pillars of cultural and political authority more broadly conceived, one grounded in the literary arts (wenyi) and the other in the martial arts (wuyi).
During the 1920s, cultural positioning had enabled the communication of foreign concepts through familiar conduits in the making of the Anyuan labor movement; after 1949, cultural patronage elevated the history of that movement to an authoritative touchstone of political legitimation, conveyed through official media and designed to strengthen the standing of individual leaders as well as the Communist Party as a whole. The early Communist organizers had not shied away from exploiting personal charismatic authority to pursue their mission, yet such efforts were directed toward the goal of a collective awakening on the part of the proletariat and peasantry rather than a cult of personality to enhance the power of the political elite.
The Autumn Harvest Uprising in September 1927, which propelled Mao down the path of peasant revolution, was planned and launched from Anyuan with the participation of hundreds of coal miners. By the fall of 1930, thousands of Anyuan workers had enlisted as soldiers in the Red Army. Due to its close connection to these formative events, Anyuan affords a revealing vantage point for examining the origins and evolution of the Chinese revolution. The success of the Anyuan mobilization effort, we will discover, was closely related to the ability of the young Communist cadres to convert cultural capital into valuable revolutionary currency.
Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition by Elizabeth J. Perry