Bulletin N° 1017

“The Last Emperor”



by Bernardo Bertollucci


The Plot: By 1950, the 44-year old Puyi, former Emperor of China, has been in custody for five years since his capture by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. In the recently established People's Republic of China, Puyi arrives as a political prisoner and war criminal at the Fushun Prison. Soon after his arrival, Puyi attempts suicide, but is quickly rescued and told he must stand trial.

42 years earlier, in 1908, a toddler Puyi is summoned to the Forbidden City by the dying Empress Dowager Cixi. After telling him that the previous emperor had died earlier that day, Cixi tells Puyi that he is to be the next emperor. After his coronation, Puyi, frightened by his new surroundings, repeatedly expresses his wish to go home, but is denied. Despite having scores of palace eunuchs and maids to wait on him, his only real friend is his wet nurse, Ar Mo.

As he grows up, his upbringing is confined entirely to the imperial palace and he is prohibited from leaving. One day, he is visited by his younger brother, Pujie, who tells him he is no longer Emperor and that China has become a republic; that same day, Ar Mo is forced to leave. In 1919, the kindly Reginald Johnston is appointed as Puyi's tutor and gives him a Western-style education, and Puyi becomes increasingly desirous to leave the Forbidden City. Johnston, wary of the courtiers' expensive lifestyle, convinces Puyi that the best way of achieving this is through marriage; Puyi subsequently weds Wanrong, with Wenxiu as a secondary consort.

Puyi then sets about reforming the Forbidden City, including expelling the thieving palace eunuchs. However, in 1924, he himself is expelled from the palace and exiled to Tientsin following the Beijing Coup. He leads a decadent life as a playboy and Anglophile, and sides with Japan after the Mukden Incident. During this time, Wenxiu divorces him, but Wanrong remains and eventually succumbs to opium addiction. In 1934, the Japanese crown him "Emperor" of their puppet state of Manchukuo, though his supposed political supremacy is undermined at every turn. Wanrong gives birth to a child, but the baby is murdered at birth by the Japanese and proclaimed stillborn. He remains the nominal ruler of the region until his capture by the Red Army.

Under the Communist re-education program for political prisoners, Puyi is coerced by his interrogators to formally renounce his forced collaboration with the Japanese invaders during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After heated discussions with Jin Yuan, the warden of the Fushun Prison, and watching a film detailing the wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese, Puyi eventually recants and is considered rehabilitated by the government; he is subsequently released in 1959.

Several years later in 1967, Puyi has become a simple gardener who lives a peasant proletarian existence following the rise of Mao Zedong's cult of personality and the Cultural Revolution. On his way home from work, he happens upon a Red Guard parade, celebrating the rejection of landlordism by the communists. He sees Jin Yuan, now one of the political prisoners punished as an anti-revolutionary in the parade, forced to wear a dunce cap and a sandwich board bearing punitive slogans.

Puyi later visits the Forbidden City where he meets an assertive young boy wearing the red scarf of the Pioneer Movement. The boy orders Puyi to step away from the throne, but Puyi proves that he was indeed the Son of Heaven before approaching the throne. Behind it, Puyi finds a 60-year-old pet cricket that he was given by palace official Chen Baochen on his coronation day and gives it to the child. Amazed by the gift, the boy turns to talk to Puyi, but finds that he has disappeared.

In 1987, a tour guide leads a group through the palace. Stopping in front of the throne, the guide sums up Puyi's life in a few, brief sentences, before concluding that he died in 1967.





Subject: Who are we, as a social class? : Being in itself, Being for itself, and the Necessary Alliances.




Grenoble, France

New Years Eve 2021


Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


We end this year with our final CEIMSA bulletin in which we continue our presentation of Barrington Moore, Jr’s classic study, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the making of the Modern World (1966). In the first part of this book Moore analyzed the revolutionary origins of capitalist democracy in three countries: England, France, and the USA. (Please see CEIMSA Bulletin N°’s 1012, 1013, and 1015 for the presentations of these three chapters.) We now turn to the second part of Moore’s influential study, “Three Routes to the Modern World in Asia,” in which he compares the historical transition of Communist China’s political economy with the Fascist rise to power in Japan and democracy in India. We begin with a presentation of Chapter 4, “The Decay of Imperialist China and the Origins of the Communist Variant.”


China is the one of the oldest civilizations still in existence, and its population has retained its common identity through millennia.* Writing developed in this Neolithic farming culture in the region of the Yellow River during the Shang Dynasty (1706-1123 B.C.), where artifacts dating from around 1300 B.C. have been discovered.


*Note: A brief history of China is available at the Wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_China, but Moore’s interest is in an analytical attempt to explain how China’s past determined its course of development into a communist dictatorship (rather than a capitalist democracy).


“A long, long time ago,” writes Barrington Moore at the beginning of his historical study of social class relationships in pre-modern China and the specific social origins of dictatorship in this nation,

there was a school of philosophers in China whose tenets called for a ‘rectification of names.’ They apparently believed that the beginning of political and social wisdom was to call things by their right names. Those who study China today are busy on a similar task; the names that they bandy about are words such as ‘gentry,’ ‘feudalism,’ and ‘bureaucracy.’ The issue beneath this terminological debate is the decisive one with which our inquiry must begin:

1)    How were the upper classes connected with the land in this society where the overwhelming majority were tillers of the soil?

2)    Did their power and authority rest ultimately on control of landed property or was it an outcome of their near monopoly of bureaucratic posts?

3)    If it was a combination of the two, what was the nature of this combination?


Some Western scholars stress the bureaucratic character of the Chinese Empire and de-emphasize the link between the Imperial service and landed property. Such an interpretation serves the dual purpose of suggesting grounds for criticizing the Marxist derivation of political power from economic power and for criticizing modern communist states as a throwback to an alleged form of Oriental despotism. Marxists, and especially the Chinese Communists, on the other hand, treat the Imperial era and even the Koumintang period as a form of feudalism, meaning a society in which most of the land is owned by landlords whose main income derived from rent. By de-emphasizing its bureaucratic character, Marxists conceal uncomfortable resemblances to their own practices. Feudalism is, if anything, an even less apt characterization than bureaucracy. There was no system of vassalage in Imperial China and only vary limited grants of land in return for military services. Nevertheless the Marxist stress on landlordism is thoroughly justified, as we shall see. In sum it seems to me that Western scholars are struggling desperately to deny the connection between landholding and political office, while Marxists try equally desperately to establish such a connection.

     What, then, was the connection? What were the decisive characteristics of Chinese society during the last great dynasty, the Manchu (1644-1911)? How did these structural features impart a direction to the subsequent development of China that culminated in the middle of the twentieth century in the communist victory? What characteristics of the Chinese landed upper class help to account for the absence of any strong push toward parliamentary democracy as the Imperial system broke down?

     A few simple points stand out upon which there is widespread agreement and that enable us to take preliminary bearings. First of all, long before our story begins, the Chinese polity has eliminated the problem of a turbulent aristocracy tied to the land. The stages by which this enormous transformation took place do not concern us, except to mention that the famous system of examinations, which helped the emperor to recruit a bureaucracy with which to fight the aristocracy, played a part in it. The examination system was in working order during the T’ang dynasty which ended in 907 A.D. By the succeeding Sung dynasty, not much is left of the ancient aristocracy. Whether this aristocracy was feudal, whether the earlier stage of Chinese society prior to its first unification under the Ch’in during the third century B.C deserves the appellation feudal, are questions that we may happily leave aside.**

     On the other hand, it is necessary to pay close attention to the problem of whether or not a landed aristocracy continued to exist under a façade of administrative centralization during the Manchu era, or the Ch’ing dynasty, as it is generally known among sinologists. Everyone would agree to the existence of a class of wealthy landed proprietors, though problems could arise in just where to draw the line between wealthy and merely well-to-do. There is similar widespread agreement on the existence of a class of officials and scholars, and again problems of drawing the line within this group, though the line between those who did and did not have tincture of academic culture was a sharp one. There is also agreement on the point that the two groups overlapped and were not absolutely identical. There were at least moderately rich landlords who did not hold any form of academic degree, and there were degree holders who owned no landed property. The exact degree of overlap is uncertain.

     To stop short at this agreement, however, is to obscure the essentials. Even if we had information about the exact proportion of individuals who belonged to both groups, who were both landlords and officials or scholars, we would not know very much. No physiologist would be content with knowing what percentage of the human body was bone and what percentage as muscle. He wants to know how bone and muscle work together in the course of the body’s activities. The same kind of knowledge is necessary to understand the connection between landed property, degree holding, and political office in China.

     The mechanism that linked all of these was the family, or more precisely the patrilineal lineage. In the agriculturally more productive areas, especially the South, the lineage was more extended and is known as the clan. The family as a social mechanism worked in the following manner. Fortunes acquired through the Imperial service were invested in land, a practice that continued well into modern times. A man accumulated this property for the sake of the lineage. In turn many families with aristocratic pretensions had to substantiate them by having a degree holder or prospective degree holder whom it supported in the quite justifiable hope that he should get an official position and use it to advance the family’s material fortunes. Through the Imperial post, the scholar recouped or extended the family fortunes and maintained the status of the lineage, thus closing the circle. The clan worked in the same way, though as a larger group it included a substantial proportion of straight-forward peasants. While official rank was in theory open to the meanest peasant with talent and ambition, the absence of any widespread system of popular education usually required that the student have the support of a wealthy family for the long years of arduous study. Sometimes a wealthy family whose children lacked academic promise would provide for a bright boy from a poor background. Hence the link between office and wealth through the lineage was one of the most important features of Chinese society. For these reasons it is justifiable to refer to this upper class of scholar-officials and landlords as the gentry. There are also other significant aspects of the connection that will appear if we look closely at each in turn.

Without assuming that the landlord’s role was either more or less important than the official’s, we may begin with him. The first question that arises is how he managed to get the peasants to work for him in the absence of feudal compulsions. Though details are lacking and the subject to date one that scholars have yet to examine, the general answer is fairly clear: by tenancy arrangement that do not differ in any essential way from those under modern capitalism. With some regional variations, the tenancy was in essence a form of sharecropping supplemented by hired labor, at least by the beginning of the nineteenth century. The landlord, who was undoubtedly a more prominent figure in some areas than in others, furnished the land, and the peasants furnished the labor. The crop was divided between the two. Since the landlord hardly produced land in the same way that a peasant produced labor, we already have one good clue to the services provided by the Imperial bureaucracy: it guaranteed his control over the land. A rich peasant who did not have any pretensions to academic culture himself, but who might have hopes for his son, would work in the fields like any other. But the scholar did not work with his hands. Though the scholar-landlords lived in the countryside, unlike their English and German counterparts (even some of the Russian and French ones), they seemed to have played no part whatever in the actual work of cultivation, not even a supervisory one. Their social position presents the sharpest of all contrasts to the Japanese overlord, as we shall see in due course. Many of the differences between the political fates of China and Japan, in modern times as well as earlier, can be traced to this distinction. (pp.162-167)

 [**Note: What has been called ‘the examination system’ was introduced during the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) and had developed its maximum political influence during the Sun dynasty (960–1279 A.D.)


    Under this arrangement the landlords had a definite interest in what is loosely called overpopulation. An excess of peasants bid up the rents for the landlord. If one hungry peasant was willing to bid half the crop in order to have land to cultivate, a still hungrier one would be willing to bid a trifle more. Such competition, of course, was not all there was to the relationship. Both custom and the landlord’s own interest in the quality of his tenants prevented him from tightening the screw as far as possible. Still the landlord’s interest in having numerous peasants as at least potential tenants was a decisive element in the situation.

     Two features deserve special attention. Population pressure would serve the landlord’s interest only so long as there was strong government keep order, guarantee his property rights, and ensure the collection of his rents. This was the task of the Imperial bureaucracy. Hence the overpopulation was not a simple arithmetic ratio between land and men, but in China, as in Japan and India, it had specific economic and political causes. Secondly, the institutional causes long antedate the Western impact. Imperial concern lest the rising tide of population might break through the dikes thrown up by Chinese society and sweep away the entire system began to display itself as early as before the end of the second quarter of the eighteenth century. Thus the pressure of population on the land is not, as some Marxists have claimed, merely the consequence of the Western impact, or the prevention of industrialization, the destruction of native handicrafts, and the consequent ‘damming up’ the people on the land. All these things happened – and greatly intensified a situation that already existed. Still the parasitic landlord, whom we shall encounter in different forms and at different stages of development in Japan and India, originated in China, too, prior to the Western impact.

     As already indicated, the landlord depended on the Imperial bureaucracy to guarantee his property rights and to enforce the collection of rents in kind or in cash. The bureaucracy served his purposes in several other important ways. The landlord had a strong interest in proper irrigation in order to enable his tenets to grow good crops. Hence local landlord families were constantly pressuring the government to construct water-control systems, something they could do effectively only if some member had an academic degree and the official contracts that such a degree made possible. This type of wire-pulling appears to be the main economic contribution of the landlord, taking the place of direct supervision in the course of the agricultural cycle. Larger projects on provincial scale were the work of provincial landlord cliques. Imperial projects were the work of still more powerful cliques with a national vision. As Owen Lattimore has remarked, behind each Imperial project was a powerful minister, and behind each minister a powerful body of landlords. These facts, it seems to be, bring the notions of water-control and Oriental bureaucracy into correct perspective. Secondly, the bureaucracy, rather than land itself, offered the biggest material prizes. In the absence of primogeniture, a wealthy family might find itself reduced to penury in a few generations through equal division of inheritance. The main way to prevent this misfortune was to send someone with academic aptitudes into the bureaucracy. Making his fortune in this way, through formally illegal but socially accepted corruption, this member could add to the family fortunes. The practice of buying land as an investment and retiring to it after a career in office was quite common. Thus the bureaucracy constituted an alternative way to squeezing an economic surplus out of the peasants and city dwellers as well, about which we shall have more to say shortly. By and large, bureaucracy seems to have been a more powerful and effective instrument than landholding, though the one could not exist without the other’. Landed wealth came out of the bureaucracy and depended on the bureaucracy for its existence. On this score, the critics of a simplified Marxist view have a strong point. Finally, for the landlord, Confucian doctrines and the system of examinations gave legitimacy, at least in his own eyes, to his superior social status and freedom from manual labor as long as some member of the family, or an adopted bright youngster, could manage to acquire a degree.

     In addition to the public works, mainly the irrigation projects already mentioned, the chief task of the Imperial bureaucracy in actual practice was keeping the peace and collecting taxes that became transmuted into books, painting, poetry, concubines, and similar paraphernalia that in other civilizations also make life rather bearable for the upper classes. The problem of keeping the peace was in China mainly a domestic one before the Western intrusion, which began in earnest during the middle of the nineteenth century when internal decay had already made one of its periodic reappearances. On the whole, the foreign threat was limited to periodic conquest by barbarians. When these had conquered enough territory and established themselves as a new dynasty, they adapted themselves to the prevailing social pattern. During the Imperial era, Chinese rulers did not face the problem of continuous military competition on more or less equal terms with other rulers. Hence the standing army did not absorb a large proportion of the society’s resources nor impose a bias on the development of the state as it did in France and even more in Prussia. Nor was the problem of keeping the peace one of checking powerful barons at home, though there were some similarities in a time of decay. Rather, it was one of not squeezing the peasants so hard that they would run off and become bandits or feed an insurrection led by dissatisfied elements in the upper class.

     The absence of any effective mechanism to prevent such a squeeze may have been one of the fundamental structural weaknesses of the system. It was in the interest of the dynasty to collect taxes fairly and efficiently. But it had few means to ensure that this was done, and very limited personnel. On the other hand, the individual official had a strong incentive to line his pockets as best he could, merely refraining from such flagrant corruption and extortion as to cause a scandal had hence damage his career. This point deserves closer examination. 

     In any preindustrial society, the attempt to establish a large-scale bureaucracy soon runs into the difficulty that it is very hard to extract enough resources from the population to pay salaries and thereby make officials dependent on their superiors. The way in which the rulers try to get around this difficulty has a tremendous impact on the whole social structure. The French solution was the sale of offices, the Russian one, suitable to Russia’s huge expanse of territory, was the granting of estates with serfs in return for service in the tsarist officialdom. The Chinese solution was to permit more or les open corruption. Max Weber cites an estimate that the extralegal income of an official amounted to about four times his regular salary; a modern investigator comes up with the much higher figure of some sixteen to nineteen times the regular salary. The exact amount will probably remain an historical secret; we may be content with the assurance that it was large.

     Naturally this practice substantially reduced the effectiveness of control from the center, which varied a great deal at different historical periods.

. . .

It seems fair to say that the system was highly exploitative in the strictly objective sense of taking more out of the society in resources than it put back in the form of services rendered. On the other hand, because it had to be exploitative in order to work at all, it also had to leave the undying population very much on its own devices. There was simply no possibility of reordering the daily life of the people in a way modern totalitarian regimes do, or even as formally democratic ones to a lesser extent do in the course of prolonged national emergency. There were futile attempts to control the life of the people, as will be discussed shortly. But deliberate cruelty on a massive scale, as compared with neglect and selfishness, was beyond the range of the system.

     Before discussing more specific problems connected with the final agony of this system, it will be well to notice one further structural feature, partly because of its comparative interest in relation to Japan. The examination system tended to breed an oversupply of prospective bureaucrats, particularly in its late years. At the bottom of the official system of ranking was large number of degree candidates (sheng- yüan), a transitional group between those qualified to hold office and the commoners. Whether they should be counted as regular members of the gentry or not is a matter of dispute among specialists. Their difficult position at the bottom of the ladder of privilege recalls that of the lower ranks of the samurai in Japan during the nineteenth century. Both contributed nuclei of opposition to the prevailing system. While in Japan a significant minority in this group provided much of the impetus toward modernization, in China this energy mainly dissipated itself in fruitless revolt and insurrection within the prevailing framework. Doubtless the cramping effect of the examination system was partly responsible for the difference. Still, the reasons run much deeper. They have to do with the way in which Chinese society choked off modernization until it was too late for piecemeal adoption. To some of the more recent aspects of this huge problem we may now turn.   . . . (pp.168-174)

The Gentry and the World  of Commerce.

     Imperial Chinese society never crated an urban trading and manufacturing class comparable to that which grew out of the later stages of feudalism in Western Europe, though at times there were some starts in this direction. Imperial success in uniting the country may be advanced as one of the more obvious reasons for the difference. In Europe the conflict between Pope and Emperor, between kings and nobles, helped the merchants in the cities to break through the crust of the traditional agrarian society because they constituted a valuable source of power in this many-sided competition. It is noteworthy in Europe the breakthrough occurred first in Italy where the feudal system was generally weaker. The Chinese examination system also deflected ambitious individuals away from commerce. This aspect is noticeable in one of the later abortive spurts toward commercial expansion during the fifteen century. A French historian goes so far as to speak of a ‘grand bourgeoisie finacière’ competing with the gentry for first place at this time, but adds significantly that this new bourgeoisie directed its children toward the examinations. Another historian makes the interesting suggestion that the diffusion of printing may have increased the absorptive capacities of the mandarinate. Printing made it possible for some of the smaller merchants to acquire sufficient literary culture to obtain an official post. Though the expense of taking the examinations remained an important barrier, access to official posts became somewhat easier. He presents some striking evidence of the attractiveness of the Imperial service. A number of these merchants castrated themselves in order to become eunuchs and enjoy a position close to the throne. Those who castrated themselves enjoyed a special advantage, since they already had the education ordinary eunuchs (the main competitor of the scholar-officials at court) were forbidden to seek.

     Probing a little deeper, one may readily perceive that money-making activities represented a dangerous threat to the scholar-officials because it constituted an alternative ladder of prestige and an alternative ground of legitimacy for high social status. No amount of Confucian talk and no amount of sumptuary legislation could be expected to conceal forever the simple fact that someone who made lots of money could buy the good things of life, including even a substantial measure of deference. If the situation were allowed to get out of hand, all the painfully acquired classical culture would become useless and obsolete. Behind this conflict of cultures and value systems, and as its very root, were powerful material interests. Tradition as such was a feeble barrier to commerce; those who wanted to could find justification for it in the Confucian classics. At any rate the gentry were perspicacious enough, in the short run, to see to it that the situation did not get out of hand. They taxed commerce to absorb the profits for themselves. Or they turned it into a state monopoly and kept the most lucrative positions for themselves. The salt trade” was the most important monopoly. The attitude of the officials was mainly exploitative. Commerce, like the land, was something to be milked for the benefit of a cultivated upper class. Once again we see that the Imperial bureaucracy served s an instrument for pumping resources out of the population and into the hands of the rulers, who remained careful in the meantime to control any developments that might threaten their privileges.

     With the decay of the Imperial apparatus, noticeable before the end of the eighteenth century, its capacity to absorb and control commercial elements inevitably declined. Even if the Imperial system had been in full vigor, it could scarcely have resisted the new forces undermining it. For behind these forces came the military and diplomatic thrust of the West, blunted only as the greed of one power checked the cupidity of its rivals. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the traditional rule of scholar-official had disintegrated in the coastal cities. There a new hybrid society had already emerged in which power and social position no longer rested securely in the hands of those with a classical education. After the conclusion of the Opium War in 1842, the compradors spread through all the treaty ports of China. These men served in a variety of capacities as intermediaries between decaying Chinese officialdom and the foreign merchants. Their position was ambiguous. By shady methods they could accumulate great fortunes to live a life of cultivated ease. On the other hand, many Chinese condemned them as servants of the foreign devils who were destroying the foundations of Chinese society. From this point onward, much of China’s social and diplomatic history becomes a record of Chinese attempts to keep this hybrid society in check and of contrary efforts by stronger powers to use it as an entering wedge for their commercial and political interests.

. . .

     Not until 1910 did the Chinese business class begin to show some definite signs of emerging from official influence and domination. A recent study gives the impression that the Chinese merchant was well on the way toward emancipation from dependence on the foreigner by the end of the nineteenth century. Still the decisive areas remained in foreign hands for much longer. The whole indigenous commercial and industrial impulse remained puny. By the end of the Imperial regime, there was said to be some 10,000 ‘factories’ in China. Of these, only 363 employed mechanical power. The rest used only human or animal power.

     Thus China, like Russia, entered the modern era with a numerically small and politically dependent middle class. The stratum did not develop an independent ideology of its own as it did in Western Europe. Nevertheless it played an important part in undermining the mandarin state and creating new political groupings in the attempt to replace it. The growth of this class along the coast combined with the breakup of the empire into regional satrapies in a way that foreshadowed the combination of ‘bourgeois’ and militarist roles in the hay-day of the warlords (roughly 1911 to 1927) and on into the Kuomintang era. An early example (1870-1893) of this general development is Li Hung-chang, who for twenty-five years ‘moved toward single-handed control over foreign affairs, domination of the maritime customs revenue, monopoly of armaments production, and complete control of the military forces in the northern half of the empire. Furthermore a substantial amalgamation gradually took place between sections of the gentry (and later their successors turned landlords pure and simple) and urban leaders in trade, finance, and industry. This amalgam provided the chief social underpinning of the Kuomintang, an attempt to revive the essence of the Imperial system, that is, political support of landlordism with a combination of gangsterism indigenous to China and a veneer of pseudo-Confucianism that displays interesting resemblances to Western fascism, to be discussed in more detail later. This combination arose in very large measure out of the gentry’s failure to make the transition form preindustrial to commercial forms of farming. The reasons for this failure will not occupy our attention.(pp.174-178)

The Failure to Adopt Commercial Agriculture.

     A cultural and psychological explanation, to the effect that the methodical pursuit of profit even in agriculture was incompatible with the Confucian ideal of stylized leisure, rapidly runs into difficulties. Western scholarship, it seems to me, has overemphasized the significance of the condescending attitude of the Chinese upper stratum toward the Western barbarians. As mentioned in the preceding section, where the Chinese gentry had the opportunity to take up the technical civilization of the West and even some of its some if its social habits, there were a number who did not hesitate to do so.

. . .

     A more convincing explanation may be constructed from an examination of the material and political conditions (that existed in China at the time that the modern world made its impact. Although cities existed in China, there was no rapidly growing urban population with at least moderately diffused and increasing property that could act as a stimulus to rationalized production for the market. To judge form the situation at a later date, the proximity of a towns or city mainly served to stimulate peasant truck gardening, the cultivation of fruit and vegetables that could be taken into the market by hand. Imperial policy in the early and vigorous days of the dynasty may have opposed the formation of large landed estates. In the second half of the nineteenth century big estates did dominate parts of the empire. Although the point would bear further investigation, it seem that a big estate was often simply an agglomeration of small properties, that is, composed of more peasants who therefore gave the proprietor a larger aggregate rent.

     Here we approach the nub of the matter. The Chinese landlord-tenant relationship was a political device for squeezing an economic surplus out of the peasants and turning it into the amenities of civilization. (What the peasant did and did not get out of the relationship is an important aspect that we may neglect for the moment.)In the absence of a big urban market, there was little reason to change it, perhaps even less possibility of doing so. Ambitious and energetic individuals under the Empire got themselves a bureaucratic  post in order to add to the family acres.

. . .

     Thus it does not appear that any innate lack of adaptability prevented the Chinese gentry from making a successful transition to the modern world. More important was the lack of incentive and the presence in this historical situation of other and readier alternatives. For much of the time there was not enough of a market to make the effort worthwhile. When and where the market did appear, it turned the gentry into rentiers with political connections rather than into agrarian entrepreneurs. Only a minority made this step. .. .  Given the conditions that they faced, it is very difficult to see what else they could have done. Like the decline of any ruling class, the fate of the Chinese gentry, far from the most unattractive ruling class in history, has its share of tragedy.(pp.178-180)

Collapse of the Imperial System and the Rise of the Warlords.

In all the major countries of Europe the struggle between the crown was for a very long time one of the decisive elements of politics. Everywhere, even in Russia, one may perceive at some point the development of estates, what German historians call Stände, status groups with a substantial degree of corporate identity and publically recognized immunities that they defended jealously against other groups and especially against the crown. The onset of modernization affected this struggle in a variety of ways depending on the time and situation in which it began. In England it was favorable to the development of parliamentary democracy; on the continent, it was much less so or even generally unfavorable, though there was usually at some point an aristocratic liberal opposition.

     During the period under discussion, the Chinese landed upper classes did not develop any significant principled opposition to the Imperial system. There were no doubt some who took up Western parliamentary notions as an intellectual plaything,  but there was no political movement of opposition with substantial roots in Chinese conditions. Some circumstances favoring such a development were present. The Chinese official class – here I speak of degree holders whether landlords or not – had a strong sense of corporate identity, as well as privileges and immunities recognized by the Emperor and to a considerable extent by wide sections of the public. In Europe under feudalism aristocrats created privileges, immunities, and a sense of corporate identity, institutions that some historians regard as a major part to the impulse that culminated in parliamentary democracy. In China any such impulse faced much greater obstacles. Landed property in Chinese society would not easily serve as a basis for political power separate from the political mechanism that made it pay. The Imperial system was not only a way making property pay, it was a way of getting property, too.

     The fact that circumstances generally precluded the emergence of a liberal aristocratic opposition decreased the flexibility of China’s response to a totally novel historic challenge and helps to explain one new feature that we encounter in the Chinese case, the nearly complete disintegration of the central government. A regime, many of whose key features had lasted for centuries, simply fell apart in less than a hundred yeas under the impact of Western blows.(pp.181-182)


We will conclude this discussion of social class consciousness and the necessary alliances in Chinese history next year . . . .  



The 20 + items below offer CEIMSA readers analyses and interpretations of current events that have survived the anti-intellectual onslaught in the corporate media and on the streets. These materials are offered as subjects for public discussion.




Francis McCollum Feeley


Professeur honoraire de l'Université Grenoble-Alpes
Ancien Directeur des Researches
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The University of California-San Diego




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Assassination of Dr. Andreas Noack


by Andreas Noack





From: News from Underground [mailto:nobody@simplelists.com]
Sent: Monday, December 27, 2021 1:25 AM
Subject: Daily digest for


1)      Booster #17 - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 11:17 EST)

2)      How to tell if you've been jabbed with an especially toxic brew - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:27 EST)

3)      New York Times editor drops dead hours after his booster shot, as NOT reported by the New York Times (or any outlet other than the COVID Blog) - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:34 EST)

4)      BBC DJ/broadcaster Janice Long, 66, dies "after a short illness" - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:48 EST)

5)      While no one on "the left" admits they LOVE Trump's push for "vaccination," Alex Jones and David Martin tell it like it is - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 13:08 EST)

6)      SMOING GUN: First systematic "vax" death autopsies show kill lymphocytes attacked hearts, lungs and other organs, in 90% of sudden deaths - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 14:12 EST)

7)      CORRECTION: US pilot deaths have increased by 85%, NOT by 1,750% - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 16:45 EST)

8)      Journalists Against COVID Censorship call for Christmas truce between the "vaccinated" and "unvaccinated" - Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 17:52 EST)



1)    Booster #17 by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 11:17 EST)
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2)    How to tell if you've been jabbed with an especially toxic brew by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:27 EST)
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From Dr. Mike Yeadon:

This extraordinary “web app” permits anyone with a Covid19 vaccine batch code to enter that code & learn whether you’ve been injected with a “hot lot” or something less harmful.


A team of five independent scientists / researchers (four of whom are very capable data analysts) have reviewed the data in VAERS, discovering that, while most batch numbers are associated with low numbers of adverse event reports, around 1% of batches are associated with extraordinary rates of adverse events including deaths.

We understand that the vaccine makers have legal immunity against prosecution.

That means if you’ve been injured, you can’t sue them.

But their indemnity does NOT cover breaking various federal laws relating to product consistency. It’s a very serious crime to allow “adulterated product” to be sent out. When such products cross a state line, further offences are committed.

Legal eagles are moving on this aspect & I hope the revelation that there are extraordinary degrees of variability, batch to batch, in terms of toxicity.

I hope this information & tool will be of use to some people seeking answers.

Best wishes,


Dr Mike Yeadon

Ps: please distribute this as widely as you can.



3)    New York Times editor drops dead hours after his booster shot, as NOT reported by the New York Times (or any outlet other than the COVID Blog) by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:34 EST)
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From Prof. Alonzo Bickerstaffe:

The Media Lie: Carlos Tejada, Deputy Asia Editor for The New York Times, Dies at 49 - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The Media Truth: Carlos Tejada: 49-year-old Wall Street Journal and New York Times writer posts booster shot photo on Instagram, dead hours later - The COVID Blog

The way you tell the lie is always with a fairly consistent pattern of telling 2/3rds of the truth: 1.) Yes, he died. 2.) Yes, he died of a heart attack. 3.) Omit: his heart attack was caused by the booster.


“The Reality is that all is vanity, and the Truth is that everything is a gift of God. Reality prevents the Truth from being an evasion, while the Truth prevents Reality from being hopeless.”

Jacques Ellul, Reason For Being (Meditations on Ecclesiastes)


4)    BBC DJ/broadcaster Janice Long, 66, dies "after a short illness" by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 12:48 EST)
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This is big news throughout the British press, with all the usual ostentatious grieving and NO clue as to exactly what that "short illness" was.



5)    While no one on "the left" admits they LOVE Trump's push for "vaccination," Alex Jones and David Martin tell it like it is by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 13:08 EST)
">Reply to list

Dr.David Martin: Why does Trump keep promoting the ‘vaccines’?

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

December 26, 2021


Alex Jones Issues Emergency Christmas Message to President Trump on Covid Injections


December 26th 2021, 6:53 am



6)    SMOING GUN: First systematic "vax" death autopsies show kill lymphocytes attacked hearts, lungs and other organs, in 90% of sudden deaths by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 14:12 EST)
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Dr. Bhakti deals with this latest discovery in his most powerful video yet: 


First Systematic Vaccine Death Autopsies Show Immune System Attacking Own Organs, Politicians on Notice | Coronavirus News

Dec. 24, 2021


Politicians on notice of Crimes Against Humanity.

At a “Gold Standard Covid Science in Practice: Interdisciplinary Symposium,” a virtual event on December 10, 2021, a top German pathologist presented findings from a first-ever comprehensive, independent set of autopsies of people who died soon after the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA experimental COVID vaccine products. Most of the deceaseds’ immune systems had attacked the body’s own organs, showing similar patterns of lymphocytes accumulation in never-before-seen phenomena.

The findings are announced as doctors and scientists who have long disapproved of and called for a halt to the mass roll-out of the substances long before Phase III clinical trials are complete, which is at the earliest the end of 2022, say that too little is known about the mRNA spike protein”s long-term effects in the body. [Links to doctors’ calls for halts to mass “vaccinations,” partial list: 12345. ]

The autopsies were performed by ProfessorDr. Arne Burkhardt, former head of Institute of Pathology in Reutlingen for 18 years. Dr. Burkhardt taught at the Universities of Hamburg, Berne and Tübingen. Subsequently, he worked as an independent practicing pathologist with consulting contracts with laboratories in the US. Burkhardt has published more than 150 scientific articles in German and international scientific journals.  He has audited and certified institutes of pathology in Germany.

Click on the link for the rest.


7)    CORRECTION: US pilot deaths have increased by 85%, NOT by 1,750% by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 16:45 EST)
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From Kathy Dopp:

CORRECTION of 12/13/2021 article: US pilot deaths increase by 1,750% after covid vaccine rollout 

I was contacted by a pilot who suggested some corrections: He said,

" I am a retired United Airlines pilot. As far as I know the deaths are reported and published when ALPA is notified of the death. The deaths are only reported once in the magazine. In the October, 2021 issue the list for 2019 shows one pilot dying. That does not mean that only one pilot died in 2019. In the October, 2020 issue 4 deaths are reported for 2019 and 34 for 2020. In the Jan/Feb 2021 2 deaths are reported for 2019 and 26 for 2020. You have to tabulate the number of deaths for each year by using the data from each monthly magazine to find out the total number of reported deaths in a particular year."

Thus, here are the pilot deaths known now by year for 2019, 2020, 2021:

2019: 1 + 4 +2 = 7 pilot deaths reported in total

2020: 34 + 26 = 60 pilot deaths reported in total

2021: 111 pilot deaths reported in total as of Oct 2021

Thus, the US pilot death rate increase in 2021 is more correctly reported currently *so far* is 85% higher than in 2020 (the pandemic year) and is 1486% higher than in 2019?

And the pandemic death rate increase in 2020 was 757% higher than in 2019?


8)    Journalists Against COVID Censorship call for Christmas truce between the "vaccinated" and "unvaccinated" by Mark Crispin Miller (26 Dec 2021 17:52 EST)
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A noble gesture, if, surely, futile.

Ramola D posted: " Holding the Line Press Release | Ramola D | Dec 26, 2021 Journalists united against Covid censorship in the UK, USA, and elsewhere, including this writer, call for a Christmas truce between the vaccinated and unvaccinated factions and urge a revisitin"

New post on The EveryDay Concerned Citizen

Holding the Line, Journalists Against Covid Censorship | Journalists call for Christmas truce to stop division turning into war

byRamola D

Holding the Line Press Release | Ramola D | Dec 26, 2021

Journalists united against Covid censorship in the UK, USA, and elsewhere, including this writer, call for a Christmas truce between the vaccinated and unvaccinated factions and urge a revisiting of awareness of basic freedoms for all people of speech, discourse, and medical choice. Christmas Press Release re-posted below, please share widely. Holding The Line posts important news on censorship versus freedom at their website.

From Sainbury’s Christmas Truce commercial marking the 100th anniversary of this WWI phenomenon/Christmas Day 1914 when Germans, French and British marked a truce along the Western Front

1914 Christmas Truce/Image: Public Domain

Society has become polarised around the issue of Covid vaccines and it is worrying to imagine where this schism could be pushing normally right thinking people.

There are two camps drawing battle lines in the digital world, those who are injected and demand everyone else be injected, and those who want to remain uninjected for now or permanently while keeping their freedoms.

In the non-digital world there is another group, which outnumbers both the other two groups put together, that simply wants the vaccinated and unvaccinated to be able to coexist in peace.

Let’s move back to the first group for a moment, though, as it seeks to influence the largest of the three groups. This group is small in number but sometimes has the platforms to shout loudest.

Without naming names, as HTL understands that hostility against journalists and commentators is rising in parallel with hostility against the unvaccinated, here are some headlines from this month.

The unvaccinated have become a lethal liability we can ill-afford

Make the unnjabbed face their own lockdown so we can live our lives

It's time to punish Britain's five million vaccine refuseniks: They put us all at risk of more restrictions. So why shouldn't we curb some of their freedoms?

There have been several precursors to the robust views above that have also been topped by equally strong headlines in national newspapers this year, including: “No job. No entry. No NHS access; It is only a matter of time before we turn on the unvaccinated.”

The language is stark and unambiguous, and appears to be written by people who believe the unvaccinated are a huge problem for society, a problem great enough to warrant the loss of freedoms and punishment.

The power of these headlines should not be underestimated, indeed many readers only ever read the headlines of a story and perhaps the first two or three paragraphs if the author is lucky.

So how will those headlines make the third group feel, the one that wants to live in peace with their unvaccinated/vaccinated brothers and sisters?

If they are unvaccinated they are possibly going to be feeling anxious and this could lead to fear and even anger against the vaccinated. Perhaps they will be led into thinking many injected people share the opinions expressed in those headlines.

If they are vaccinated they are also possibly going to be feeling anxious and this could lead to fear and even anger against the unvaccinated. Perhaps they will be led into thinking the uninjected could be disrupting everyone’s lives or, worse still, causing the death of others.

And so we now have a split in this third group, many of whom will join with either of the other two groups, depending on their vaccine status.

Is the language used in those headlines something we should be worried about? Are polarised splits in opinion a fact of life, something we just have to deal with? Or is there a way we can encourage respectful debate and perhaps even move aside the debate altogether and allow for peaceful coexistence between opposing groups?

Perhaps a Christmas truce is needed. Even if it is temporary, let us for today try and live with each other, injected and uninjected, accepting and respecting other points of view.

If we can then perhaps hold on to that feeling of mutual respect, it can lead to understanding, and from there to coexistence in peace.

We emailed four major UK newspapers for a right of reply to this article but none responded within the specified time frame of three working days.

Happy holidays to one and all from the team at HTL.

Date: December 25, 2021


Newsbreak 137: Active Censorship by New York Times & Washington Post of Scientific Research on Vitamin C Benefits Exposed by Holding the Line Journalists Against COVID Censorship

Ramola D | December 26, 2021 at 10:41 am | Tags: against censorship, Christmas Truce, Freedom of Speech, Holding the Line, medical freedoms | Categories: COVID-19, Vaccinations, Vaccine Mandates, Vaccines, Waking Up | URL: https://wp.me/p4RXGz-eAi

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From: The Grayzone [mailto:grayzoneproject@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2021
Subject: Leaked files expose Syria psyops veteran astroturfing BreadTube star to counter Covid restriction critics




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