(libcom.org) Notes on the early 20th century history of anarcho-syndicalism in China by Vadim Damier.
The history of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in the East is generally little known outside of the region. The few foreign historians who addressed this topic were unanimous in stressing big difficulties in it study. The main factor here is perhaps the fact that the Eastern libertarians did not fit into the framework of those myths and beliefs by which the “winners of history” in this region of the globe (liberal democracy, on the one hand, and the ideology of the Communist Parties, on the other) sought legitimize their victory (1). However, the studies show that the anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in many Asian countries were at the beginnings of the socialist movement, and they were often not inferior in strength and influence than their Marxist rivals or even sometimes surpassed them. They were able to leaving their specific and very vivid mark on the workers movement in their countries. The reason for this should probably be sought in the special nature of the Eastern societies of the early twentieth century: in the bitter resistance of communitarian social and ideological structures to capitalism and to ruthless invasion of a capitalist – industrialist modernization. Anarchist ideas were here (more than anywhere else) the banner of resistance. “Nul doute que l`aspiration kropotkinienne à un communalisme décentralisé unissant le champ, l`usine et l`atelier sur une base communiste a touché les fibres d`une société asiatique profondément rurale et collective, marquée par les pratiques et valeurs quasi communautaire de la rizi-culture irriguée », F. Pelletier, a French historian noticed. It was a tentative to combine the technical and scientific progress with our own communitarian structures and values, “débarrassée(s) des pesanteurs féodales, patriarcales et bureaucratiques” (2). The psychology and the feelings of rural communes perceiving themselves as “village – State – microcosm” (utilizing the words of the famous Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe) which opposed to the central government and lived according their own rules (3) , were very close to the idea of self-governing and mainly self-sustaining Commune.