The Rise And Fall Of The “Up To The Mountains And Down To The Countryside” Movement: A Historical Review
The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside (UMDC) Movement (上山下乡运动) was an important event in the history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It changed the fate of a whole generation of Chinese and had far-reaching effects on the history of the PRC. As a nationwide urban-to-rural migration (i.e. the reverse of the urbanization process), it is also unique in human history for its complex origin and the wide scope of its impact (16 million urban youths and nearly every Chinese family), as well as its long duration, tortuous process, and contradictory attributes. However, compared to the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) and other political events of the 1960s, the UMDC Movement is rarely known to people who are unfamiliar with Chinese history. Even in the area of Chinese Studies, the UMDC Movement has been misunderstood as a constituent part or a ramification of the Cultural Revolution. This paper reviews the process of the development of the UMDC Movement and analyses the social structural factors in its rise and fall in Chinese history.
From 1967 to 1979, more than 16 million[i] Chinese urban youths were sent to the countryside to engage in agricultural production. This was known as the Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement (上山下乡运动). Those 16 million participants, who were named Zhiqing (educated youth 知青) after this movement, lived and worked in the countryside as ordinary agricultural labourers during their teenage years. In the early 1980s, when most Zhiqing eventually returned to the city, they were immediately faced with the residual issues of the UMDC Movement as well as the challenge of readjusting to urban society.
The UMDC Movement not only changed the fate of a whole generation of Chinese but also had far-reaching effects on the history of the People’s Republic of China. However, in overseas Chinese Studies, much less attention has been given to the UMDC Movement than to the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). For many researchers, the UMDC Movement is a constituent part or a ramification of the Cultural Revolution.[ii] In terms of the relationship between the two historical events, the Zhiqing Office of the State Council announced an official conclusion in 1981:
“First of all, the ‘UMDC’ was a major experiment carried out by the Communist Party fromthe 1950s, based on fundamental realities of the country, which then had a large population, a weak economic foundation, and employment difficulties; it was not the result of the Cultural Revolution. Second, the ‘UMDC’ was aimed primarily at resolving employment problems; during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, it evolved as a political movement under the ultra-left ideology and resulted in serious mistakes in practice.”[iii] (Gu 1997, pp. 283–285)
As indicated in the above quotation, the UMDC Movement was characterized by its complex origin, tortuous process, and contradictory attributes. Simply associating it with the Cultural Revolution has led to the neglect of these historical facts. Therefore, to clarify the unique and significant position of the UMDC Movement in Chinese history, this paper reviews its rise and fall and further argues that its origin, development, and termination were all rooted in structural and fundamental contradictions of Chinese society, as well as the evolution of these contradictions under different historical circumstances.
Another theme of this chapter is to identify the Zhiqing’s position in the history of the UMDC Movement and in Chinese society. The UMDC Movement created the Zhiqing group – a whole generation of youths who have been allocated “Zhiqing” as their collective identity. Based on the historical review, this chapter argues that the constitution of the Zhiqing group and the connotation of the Zhiqing identity both underwent transformations at different stages of the UMDC Movement.
To summarize, a comprehensive historical review lays the foundation for an advanced understanding of the UMDC Movement and Zhiqing. The following sections present a clear development process, including a pre-movement phase and three distinct stages of the UMDC Movement.
Pre-Movement Phase: 1953–1965
Mobilizing and organizing the Chinese youth to engage in agriculture can be traced back to the 1950s. After 1953, the problems caused by the country’s overheated economy became acute. Large numbers of rural youths rushed into the cities to search for jobs. To alleviate employment pressure in the cities, the state sought to encourage these rural youths to go back to their home villages and engage in agricultural production. Those rural youth were called HuixiangZhiqing to distinguish them from the subsequent Zhiqing – urban youth. Because they were originally from the countryside, their return was regarded as normal and they were not entitled to a resettlement fee or other preferential treatments which were provided to urban youth when they settled down in the countryside. In addition to urban unemployment, another influencing economic factor was the development of agricultural cooperatives. Mao Zedong, the major promoter of rural collectivization, emphasized his opinion that educated young people should move to remote rural areas to make contributions to the nation and achieve personal development.[iv]
Another significant development in the 1950s was youth reclamation teams, which were arranged, organized, and guided directly by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. The two models used for these teams were the Beijing Youth Voluntary Reclamation Team(北京市青年志愿垦荒队) and the Shanghai Youth Voluntary Reclamation Team (上海市青年志愿垦荒队).[v] Driven by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, youth reclamation teams soon spread throughout the whole country as a new trend. However, they came to an end in 1956 because of economic deficiency and poor management (Ding, 1998, pp.60–68). Moreover, the majority of the urban youths in these reclamation teams failed to adapt to intense farm work and harsh conditions, and they did not settle down in the countryside as they were supposed to (Ding, 1998, p. 60).
The Huixiang Zhiqing and the youth reclamation teams were the predecessors of the Zhiqing. Apart from this successive relationship, the dilemmas they faced in the 1950s continued to influence the UMDC Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequent history has demonstrated that these dilemmas, revealed later as inherent problems of the UMDC Movement, had determined in advance its direction and final results.
Of those dilemmas and problems, the most significant one was the employment issue, which cyclically intensified alongside general economic fluctuations. This was relevant with regard to the contradiction between population growth and development in the economy and education, as well as shortcomings in population, economy, and education policies. The second and consequent problem was that employment pressure and other social problems in the cities were often shifted to the countryside. Lastly, turning educated young people into simple labourers objectively resulted in a waste of human and education resources. Initially, it was hoped that young people would contribute to rural construction by exploiting their knowledge and skills and transforming the rural society with advanced urban culture. However, most urban youths failed to settle down in the countryside. So the ironic fact was that “educated young people were less capable than illiterate peasants” (Ding, 1998, p.63). It is clear now that this was due to the poor production conditions, which stopped these young people from using their advantages. However, in that particular historical period, these young people’s failure and resistance were interpreted ideologically as the weakness and individualism of the bourgeoisie.[vi]
After a few years of try-outs, in 1956, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the state decided to adopt mobilizing youth to the countryside as a conventional method to address the employment issue. This time, the urban youth became the target for mobilization. On 23 January 1956, the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee (中共中央政治局) issued an “Outline of National Agricultural Development from 1956 to 1967 (draft)” (1956 年到 1967 年全国农业发展纲要[草案]). According to Article Thirty of the Outline, graduates of urban secondary and primary schools, except for those who had managed to enter into further studies and those who had found jobs in the cities, should respond to the call and go down to the countryside and up to mountains to join in agricultural production and participate in the great cause of socialist agricultural construction. For the first time, “Down to the Countryside and Up to the Mountains” (下乡上山) appeared in an official document as a set term, though the sequence here was contrary to the later well-known expression, “Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside” (上山下乡).
In 1958, under the impact of the Great Leap Forward, the implementation of “Down to the Countryside and Up to the Mountains” was halted suddenly. By the end of 1962, the number of idle urban youths had reached 2 million.[vii] Soon, the UMDC work was brought back onto the agenda. In October of 1962, the Agriculture and Forestry Office of the State Council (国务院农林办) held the “Reporting Conference of Resettling Urban Redundant Staff and Young Students in State Farms, Forest Farms, Pastures, and Fisheries (关于国营农林牧渔场安置家居大中城市精简职工和青年学生的汇报会议). Zhou Enlai attended the meeting and delivered a speech. In this speech, he pointed out that resettling the urban population in the countryside was an effective solution to the problem of surplus labour forces in the city. Participants discussed a series of practical issues, including the target and methods of resettlement, expenditure, and resources, as well as corresponding policies, plans, and safeguards. At this meeting, the Leading Group of Resettlement Work of Agriculture and Forestry Office (农林办安置领导小组) was founded, which was the predecessor to the Leading Group Office of Zhiqing UMDC (知识青年上山下乡领导小组办公室). Read more
Founded in 1986, the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) aims to serve as a link between individuals and groups committed to, or interested in, basic income, i.e. an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement, and to foster informed discussion on this topic throughout Europe.
Members of BIEN include academics, students and social policy practitioners as well as people actively engaged in political, social and religious organisations. They vary in terms of disciplinary backgrounds and political affiliations no less than in terms of age and citizenship. In the course of two decades, “BIEN” has become somewhat of a misnomer, as scholars and activists from other continents have actively joined the network.
Common to all is the belief that some sort of economic right based upon citizenship – rather than upon one’s relationship to the production process or one’s family status – is called for as part of the just solution to social problems in advanced societies. Basic Income, conceived as a universal and unconditional, if modest, continuous stream of income granted throughout life to all members of a political community is just the simplest and most striking element in an expanding set of social policy proposals inspired by this belief and currently debated, if not already implemented.
To actively foster this debate, BIEN publishes a newsletter which provides an up-to-date and comprehensive international overview on relevant events and publications. It organises bi-annual BIEN-congresses where people from more than twenty countries have met to report and discuss basic income and related proposals in connection with a broad spectrum of themes, such as unemployment, European integration, poverty, development, changing patterns of work career and family life, and principles of social justice.
BIEN expanded its scope from European to the Earth in 2004. It is an international network that serves as a link between individuals and groups committed to or interested in basic income, and fosters informed discussion of the topic throughout the world.
Go to: http://www.basicincome.org/
Part documentary and part cinematic art, this film follows a city in the 1920s Soviet Union throughout the day, from morning to night. Directed by Dziga Vertov, with a variety of complex and innovative camera shots, the film depicts scenes of ordinary daily life in Russia. Vertov celebrates the modernity of the city, with its vast buildings, dense population and bustling industries. While there are no titles or narration, Vertov still naturally conveys the marvels of the modern city.
Visits to the site continue to increase. This month, May 2015, we are approaching 15.000 monthly visitors. A 50% increase compared to last year. We are seeing an exceptionally large increase in the last 2 months, since in January we had 9.000 monthly visitors on average.
When we break down the numbers, there’s still slightly more male visitors to the site than female: 54 to 46 percent.
Sixty percent of our visitors is younger than 35 years old. Eleven percent is over 55.
Sixty-five percent of our visitors is on a desktop computer, 27% uses their mobile phone and 8% is reading this on a tablet.
The rise of the USA in the top 10 of visiting countries is notable. Almost a third of our visitors is from that country (27.8%). Also notable is the rise of Kenya, which is now 4th behind the Netherlands and South Africa. People from 154 countries have visited the Quarterly, although 26 countries only supplied a single visitor.
Together, they visited 160.928 articles between May 18, 2014 and May 18, 2015.
Top 10 of most visited pages/articles:
1. Home page ~ 12.317 visits
2. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni – The Ndebele Nation ~ 11.886
3. Heinz Kimmerle – Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art ~ 10.943
4. Knud S. Larsen, Reidar Ommundsen & Kees van der Veer – Attraction and Relationships ~ 10.807
5. Immanuel Wallerstein – Is another world really possible? ~ 8.916
6. Anthony Court – Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism – Part One ~ 5.452
7. Anthony Court – Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism – Part Two ~ 4.238
8. Anshu Padayachee & Ashwin Desai- Post Apartheid South Africa and the Crisis of Expectation – DPRN Four ~ 2.400
9. Jan Bart Gewald – Gold, the True Motor of West African History ~2.347
10. Sonia Nieto – Diversity Education: Lessons for a Just World ~ 2.308
We are in the luxury position of receiving many article submissions. Over 300 articles are currently awaiting publication.
We have published 4 new sections in the last few months. Two of them deal with the Great Dutch Empire (East & West Indies), the third one consists of the Proceedings of the IIDE Conferences, and in the fourth we are publishing research by the Bonger Institute.
We are looking to expand the website, which means we need funding. Besides calling on our readers for donations, we will begin placing ads on our website. Starting with Google Ads, but other advertisers are welcome.
If your institute or department is interested in presenting publications in a dedicated section, please contact us.
Riding The Transitional Rollercoaster ~ The Shifting Relationship Between Civil Society And The Constitution In Post-Apartheid South Africa
South Africa is fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the formal adoption of its Constitution. Not only does this provide an opportune moment to critically reflect on how this widely celebrated Constitution has shaped South Africa’s overall political, economic and social journey, but also on the path that the consequent relationship between the Constitution and civil society has travelled.
Casting our minds back to a time before the 1994 democratic breakthrough reminds us that the central political, social, economic and cultural edifice of the apartheid system in South Africa was built on the racialised foundation of a legally-framed, institutionalised violation of basic human rights. Indeed, the struggle against apartheid was, at its core, a struggle for the democratic reclamation of those human rights, whether civil-political or socio-economic. It was the popular strength and depth of this struggle that was primarily responsible for bringing an end to the apartheid system and ushering in a new democratic dispensation.
Within this historical setting then, it makes sense that one of the key requirements of a postapartheid South Africa would be to lay down a new foundation; a deracialised, legally-framed and institutionalised affirmation of basic human rights. The adoption in 1996 of South Africa’s new Constitution, containing a specific ‘Bill of Rights’ as well as the institutional architecture of a democratic system, represented the foundational layer of such an affirmation. The underlying rationale being that all the rights contained therein are, in and of themselves, basic human rights that are inherent, universal, inalienable and indivisible to every human being (in this case, as applied specifically to those living in South Africa).
Regardless of the historic and ongoing debates (some of which will be touched on later in this report) around whether South Africa’s Constitution and constitutional framework represent a legalinstitutional affirmation of basic human rights or alternatively, a well- constructed ‘mask’ that affirms and entrenches the social and economic status quo, the fact is that 20 years on the Constitution remains essential to any serious analysis and understanding of South Africa’s developmental journey. Central to that journey is the relationship between the Constitution and civil society.
It is within such a contextual frame that this report is located. Conceived as one component of a multi-faceted research and archival project through the South African History Archive (SAHA), the primary aim is to explore the changing relationship between civil society and the South African Constitution. The core material used derives from thirty-three interviews conducted with leaders of a range of civil society organisations (CSOs) as well as individual activists, academics and lawyers [see list of interviewees at end of document]. Taken together, the interviews cover the three main ‘sectors’ of civil society which this research targets – namely:
– legal / litigation;
– NGO / academic;
– community / union / activist.
The interviews have been complemented by desktop research on crucial constitutional rights cases that have come before the Constitutional Court as well as relevant academic, legal and activist materials written over the past two decades on civil society’s commentary on, outreach / advocacy about and interactions with, the Constitution.
Key issues informing this research are:
– The impact of the Constitution on the work of civil society;
– The changing attitudes of civil society towards, and levels of trust in, the Constitution;
– The extent to which the Constitution is accessible to civil society as a tool for transformation.
Download from: http://www.saha.org.za/transitional_rollercoaster.htm
The report is now available as a free download from the SAHA website, as are the transcripts of the interviews (now archived in SAHA Collection AL3287: The Constitution and Civil Society Project Collection.) You do have to be registered with the SAHA site to download publications and archival materials – one of the slight annoyances with being an organisation that has liberation struggle materials with complex copyright considerations as part of our archives (but it is quick and easy to register here, if you haven’t before – http://www.saha.org.za/users/register.php )
Wie een thuis zoekt, een vaderland, geborgenheid, moet zich uitleveren aan het geloof. Maar wie vasthoudt aan de geest, keert niet terug. Telkens weer zijn andere ogen nodig om op een andere manier zichtbaar te maken wat allang gezien, maar niet bewaard kon blijven. ~ Helmuth Plessner
De afgelopen decennia laten een groeiende belangstelling zien voor het werk van de Duitse bioloog, filosoof en socioloog Helmuth Plessner (1892–1985). De organisatoren van het eerste Internationale Plessner Congress, dat in 2000 in Freiburg plaatsvond, durfden zelfs te spreken van een Plessner Renaissance. Misschien is dat enigszins ongelukkig uitgedrukt, omdat eigenlijk alleen van een wedergeboorte gesproken kan worden in Duitsland en Nederland, de twee landen waarin hij werkzaam is geweest. Buiten deze beide landen is het werk van Plessner tijdens diens leven vrijwel onopgemerkt gebleven, zodat daar eerder gesproken moet worden van een late geboorte van een Plessner-receptie. En zelfs in Duitsland en Nederland, waar Plessner een zekere bekendheid verwierf als een van de grondleggers en belangrijkste vertegenwoordigers van de twintigste-eeuwse wijsgerige antropologie en ook als een scherpzinnig interpreet van de ideeënhistorische wortels van het nationaalsocialisme, heeft zijn werk altijd in de schaduw gestaan van zijn tijdgenoot Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).
Voor het aanvankelijk uitblijven van een omvangrijke werkingsgeschiedenis van Plessners gedachtegoed zijn meerdere redenen te noemen. In de eerste plaats is er nog maar weinig vertaald van zijn omvangrijke oeuvre, waarvan een substantieel deel tussen 1980 en 1985 door Suhrkamp is uitgebracht onder de titel Gesammelte Schriften in 10 Bänden.[i] Bovendien zijn, met uitzondering van de Nederlandse, de meeste van deze vertalingen (in het Italiaans, Nederlands, Engels, Spaans, Frans, Pools en Russisch) van recente datum, en dan gaat het voornamelijk om artikelen en andere kleine geschriften.[ii] Zijn omvangrijke filosofische hoofdwerk, Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch (1928), is tot op heden onvertaald gebleven (hoewel er al enige tijd een Engelse vertaling in de maak is).
Dat zijn omvangrijke oeuvre tot dusver te weinig aandacht heeft gekregen, komt ook doordat Plessner na de machtsovername door Hitler als Halbjude zijn universitaire lesbevoegdheid in Duitsland verloor en van 1933 tot 1952 – met uitzondering van de jaren tussen 1943 en 1945, waarin hij als onderduiker op verschillende adressen in Utrecht en Amsterdam verbleef – werkzaam was in Groningen, eerst als buitengewoon hoogleraar sociologie en later als hoogleraar filosofie. Deze bijzondere omstandigheden hebben ertoe bijgedragen dat hij aanvankelijk nauwelijks school heeft gemaakt. En voor zover Plessner zelf deel uitmaakte van een filosofische ‘school’ – die van de wijsgerige antropologie[iii] – werd de praktische samenwerking met de twee belangrijkste mederepresentanten, Max Scheler (1874-1928) en Arnold Gehlen (1904-1976), verhinderd door respectievelijk een verstoorde persoonlijke verhouding en een tegengestelde politieke ideologie.
Met dat laatste hangt wellicht de derde reden samen voor de vertraagde receptie van Plessners werk. Zijn bereidheid om zijn eigen denken altijd weer kritisch te blijven bezien, viel op een weinig vruchtbare bodem in een eeuw die bijzonder vatbaar was voor totalitaire verleiding. Waar tijdgenoten als Heidegger en Gehlen de totalitaire ideologie van het nationaalsocialisme omarmden, belichaamt Plessners werk een radicale scepsis ten aanzien van iedere totalitaire ideologie.
Een dergelijke scepsis heeft ook aan het begin van de eenentwintigste eeuw nog niets aan betekenis verloren. In dat licht bezien komt de historische biografie van Carola Dietze als geroepen. Plessners persoonlijkheid, biografie en werk zijn namelijk nauw met elkaar verbonden. Het duidelijkst komt dat tot uitdrukking in zijn politiek gemotiveerde geschriften. Zijn pleidooi voor een open pluralistische samenleving in Grenzen der Gemeinschaft: Eine Kritik des sozialen Radikalismus (1924) vormt een reactie op de overspannen utopische gemeenschapsidealen die in de Weimar-republiek zowel door rechts – de national-völkische beweging – als links – de communisten – werden uitgedragen. En in het in Groningen geschreven en in Zürich gepubliceerde Das Schicksal deutschen Geistes im Ausgang seiner bürgerlichen Epoche (1935, in 1959 in een uitgebreidere editie heruitgegeven onder de titel Die Verspätete Nation: Über die politische Verführbarkeit bürgerlichen Geistes) analyseert hij de religieuze, sociale en filosofische wortels van het nationaalsocialisme, de beweging die hem veroordeelde tot het bestaan van politiek vluchteling. Read more
This document was deliberately written as a spoken text. It forms the basis of a series of public lectures given at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), at conversations with the Rhodes Must Fall Movement at the University of Cape Town and the Indexing the Human Project, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Stellenbosch. The nature of the events unfolding in South Africa, the type of audience that attended the lectures, the nature of the political and intellectual questions at stake required an entirely different mode of address – one that could speak both to reason and to affect.
Twenty one years after freedom, we have now fully entered what looks like a negative moment. This is a moment most African postcolonial societies have experienced. Like theirs in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, ours is gray and almost murky. It lacks clarity.
Today many want to finally bring white supremacy to its knees. But the same seem to go missing when it comes to publically condemning the extra-judicial executions of fellow Africans on the streets of our cities and in our townships. As Fanon intimated, they see no contradiction between wanting to topple white supremacy and being anti-racist while succumbing to the sirens of isolationism and national-chauvinism. Many still consider whites as “settlers” who, once in a while, will attempt to masquerade as “natives”. And yet, with the advent of democracy and the new constitutional State, there are no longer settlers or natives. There are only citizens. If we repudiate democracy, what will we replace it with?
Our white compatriots might be fencing off their privileges. They might be “enclaving” them and “off-shoring” them but they are certainly going nowhere. And yet they cannot keep living in our midst with whiteness’ old clothes. Fencing off one’s privileges, off-shoring them, living in enclaves does not in itself secure full recognition and survival. Meanwhile, “blackness” is fracturing. “Black consciousness” today is more and more thought of in fractions. A negative moment is a moment when new antagonisms emerge while old ones remain unresolved.
It is a moment when contradictory forces – inchoate, fractured, fragmented – are at work but what might come out of their interaction is anything but certain.
It is also a moment when multiple old and recent unresolved crises seem to be on the path towards a collision.
Such a collision might happen – or maybe not. It might take the form of outbursts that end up petering out. Whether the collision actually happens or not, the age of innocence and complacency is over. When it comes to questions concerning the decolonization of the university – and of knowledge – in South Africa now, there are a number of clear-cut political and moral issues – which are also issues of fairness and decency – many of us can easily agree upon.
One such issue has just been dealt with – and successfully – at the University of Cape Town. To those who are still in denial, it might be worth reiterating that Cecil Rhodes belonged to the race of men who were convinced that to be black is a liability.
During his time and life in Southern Africa, he used his considerable power – political and financial – to make black people all over Southern Africa pay a bloody price for his beliefs. His statue – and those of countless others who shared the same conviction – has nothing to do on a public university campus 20 years after freedom.
The debate therefore should have never been about whether or not it should be brought down. All along, the debate should have been about why did it take so long to do so.
To bring Rhodes’ statue down is far from erasing history, and nobody should be asking us to be eternally indebted to Rhodes for having “donated” his money and for having bequeathed “his” land to the University. If anything, we should be asking how did he acquire the land in the first instance.
Arguably other options were available and could have been considered, including that which was put forward late in the process by retired Judge Albie Sachs whose contribution to the symbolic remaking of what is today Constitution Hill is well recognized.
But bringing Rhodes’ statue down is one of the many legitimate ways in which we can, today in South Africa, demythologize that history and put it to rest – which is precisely the work memory properly understood is supposed to accomplish.
For memory to fulfill this function long after the Truth and Reconciliation paradigm has run out of steam, the demythologizing of certain versions of history must go hand in hand with the demythologizing of whiteness. This is not because whiteness is the same as history. Human history, by definition, is history beyond whiteness.
Human history is about the future. Whiteness is about entrapment. Whiteness is at its best when it turns into a myth. It is the most corrosive and the most lethal when it makes us believe that it is everywhere; that everything originates from it and it has no outside. We are therefore calling for the demythologization of whiteness because democracy in South Africa will either be built on the ruins of those versions of whiteness that produced Rhodes or it will fail.
Read more (PDF-file): http://wiser.wits.ac.za/AchilleMbembe