The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954

Article 44 of the Common Program

In 1950, three social research institutes within the CAS (see article 43) are formed, archaeology, linguistics, and modern history. The so-called bourgeois social sciences (sociology, anthropology, political science, and law) are partly abolished. Smart (2006) observes "This state intervention directly and firmly contributed to the institutional dominance of ethnology over anthropology since the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, reinforced by state regulated funding policies and subsequent designation of ethnology as a first tier discipline as were sociology and archaeology. Anthropology was ranked as a second tier discipline." In 1953 the Institute of Economics, and in 1954 the Institute of History were established.
"There were some modifications to the courses as situation changed. For example, Foundations of Marxism and Leninism gradually changed into History of International Communist Movement, History of Chinese Revolution was renamed as History of the Chinese Communist Party. These courses flaunted Marxism, Leninism and Mao Ze-dong thought, advocated the cult of personality and upheld one-party system. At the same time, it expressed strong hostility towards other ideologies, and adopted historical materialism to interpret human history, with a special focus on the role of class struggle. By so doing, it legitimised the existing ruling system and ideology."
Here, two aspects of social science will be highlighted. The importance of the introduction of the evolution theory and the changing characteristics of historiography. In Article 48, the combination of traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine will be discussed.

Before and after 1949, intellectuals and politicians are trying to ban superstition and replace it with scientific knowledge. One way of reaching this goal is disseminating knowledge about human evolution. The understanding of human nature is considered essential for a materialist understanding of history and social development. "In 1950 and 1951, government officials and scientists produced a profusion of materials designed to familiarize “the masses” with the socialist interpretation of “human origins and development” and with the fossil evidence for human evolution in China. These materials included books written for all levels of education, articles printed in popular science and general-interest magazines, political lectures and cadre classes, exhibits in museums and other arenas, and lectures and slide shows presented in factories and other places of work."
Public health posters
A popular legend of the White-Haired Girl (who fled into the mountains because she wanted to escape a cruel landlord, turned into a ‘ghost’ because her hair and skin turns white.) is changed into an opera. "In the opera, however, socialist revolutionaries dismiss the local villagers’ sacrifices to the white-haired girl as superstition, and in the end they convince the girl to come out of hiding, denounce her abuser, and join the others in class struggle. Upon watching the opera, rural people familiar with the legends would undoubtedly have understood the message—even if they did not agree with it—that a socialist ordering of the world was to replace a mythological one." As for the SU, Darwin is considered an important scientist and although the People's Republic of China followed the ideas of Lysenkoism (see Article 43 ) Darwin’s contribution to science and to materialism was beyond doubt. The promoting of the human evolution theory is also a weapon against religion. God or the Chinese Nuwa (女娲) are replaced with Darwin’s evolution theory and Engels’s theory that labour created humanity.
Mao Zedong takes a pragmatic approach "We should run training courses of various kinds, military and political colleges and revolutionary institutes for the intellectuals and educate and remould them while availing ourselves of their services. We should have them study the history of social development, historical materialism and other subjects. We can induce even those who are idealists not to oppose us. Let them say that man was created by God, we say man evolved from the ape. Some intellectuals are advanced in age, they are over seventy, and we should provide for them so long as they support the Party and the People's Government."
Schmalzer (2008) concludes "In marshaling science to fight superstition (and religion), scientists helped reinforce the state’s position that only some forms of knowledge were worthy of study while others deserved elimination. If they expected their own scientific theories to be immune from this process, they were sorely mistaken. It would not be long before scientists with unorthodox theories faced treatment similar to what they themselves doled out to the most “superstitious” of “the masses."
She also sees the contradiction in the attack on superstition of the masses and the idea of Mao Zedong to learn from the masses. "They (the intellectuals) faced the pressure of serving multiple audiences: cadres, political leaders, and other scientists, in addition to the “great masses of the people.” It was not always easy to achieve the “correct” balance, given competing political priorities and the value placed on “serving the people.”"

To create a ‘new’ China, a reinterpretation of the history of China is taking place. First of all, the role of historians has to be defined. In the imperial past, the relation between historiography and state is intense. Historians are ‘servants’ of the state and history is used as the propagating and legitimizing agent of the state. The second model is the state-historian relations in the Soviet Union. Historians educated in the West introduce a third model in which history is separated from politics. Nevertheless Ng (2008) remarks "Already highly politicized in their works, they would want to serve the state and use their knowledge of history as a guide to do so." History is used "…as the source of legitimacy for the regime. In the imperial past, a new dynasty claimed the rights of rule, based on the concept of ‘Mandate of Heaven’…In the case of the PRC, their ‘Mandate’ or legitimacy came their fights for the proletariat and rural classes, who had supported and carried them to power” “…‘there was nothing good or hopeful in the China of the preceding regime, that everything had improved since the Liberation.’9 In the initial years of the CCP, those who challenged the legitimacy or even praised the GMD would be branded as a counter-revolutionary and be imprisoned and even executed accordingly"
History could only be interpreted according to the accepted materialistic framework and ‘scientific reality’ of Marxism, based on the Soviet expertise. All other views or interpretations would not be tolerated. "...the biggest difference between the CCP and the dynasties of the past. In the imperial past, a new regime merely required the loyalty and services of the literati. But the CCP demanded not only the loyalty and services but also a total change of mindset and values." The Propaganda Department of the CCP oversees Chinese historiography. In reality, the Central Committee's Political Studies Department, is much more active and staffed by Chen Boda, with deputies Hu Sheng and Tian Jiaying . All of them have a direct link with Mao Zedong. In 1952, the first book of 12-part research project in the Chinese modern history series is released. It deals with the Boxer Rebellion. . In addition, in 1952 the series on the Taiping rebellion is completed. Already in 1953 both series are reprinted.
Despite these publications, Domenach (2011) remarks "La rareté des publications et la prudence de leur contenu s’expliquent en partie, on peut le penser, par la crainte de ranimer les désaccords sur un passé encore très proche. Mais il est une explication probablement plus pertinente encore : la méfiance de Mao Zedong lui-même à l’égard d’une histoire dont il se réservait à la fois l’écriture, la fabrication politique et la réécriture." In 1951 the first volume of four of the selected works of Mao Zedong is published .
The new historiography emphasized nationalism not only based on Han-centrism but on multiethnicity. (see article 50) Ethnic minorities are represented as valuable members of the People’s Republic of China, in contrast to the US, which is a nation of racism, social, and economic contradictions. Dikötter (1996) remarks "Racial frames of reference never disappeared from the People's Republic of China: Although the idea of "nation-race" was officially extended to include all the so-called "national minorities" living within the political boundaries of the country, in practice it has remained confined to the "Han" only. Similar to the racial taxonomies used by the reformers at the end of the nineteenth century "national minorities" are represented as less evolved branches of people who need the moral and political guidance of the "Han" in order to ascend on the scales of civilization."
Teaching of history is divided in 2 sectors, Chinese history and world history. The interpretation is according Marxist theory. A new interpretation of the history of China is needed. The emphasis is placed on China's modern history after the Opium War in 1839. The rewritten Chinese history shows that all history is the story of class struggle. Rebels heretofore held in disrepute are now hailed as "people's heroes of revolution" while many respected historical figures are now condemned as "reactionaries" or "tools of feudalism." World history is taught in the light of the world revolution. The information for the latter existed mainly from translated Russian books and articles.
It is not just the history that needs to be reinterpreted but also the perception of art. "All of New China's people should perceive paintings from a nationalistic perspective, and consider ancient paintings as part of our mother country's great artistic heritage.” , (and using) … class-oppression as a framework to interpret objects as well as events,… to integrate Marxist terminology into their articulation of Chinese cultural heritage." Museum collections are described in a different way. For example, ancient bronze relics are as follows: "Only the extorting classes could use bronze crockery...the repressed and extorted masses used pottery, bamboo, or bone utensils”.118 Student scribbles in the margins of one pen edition repeated, “Shang dynasty had slave mentality, slavery still existed.”"
In May 1949 the CCP Committee to Control Cultural Affairs issued an order "… collect revolutionary documents and artifacts. It focused on two areas: first, all documents related to the Communist Party’s clandestine or openly published newspapers, pictorials, proclamations, slogans, photographs and woodcuts; and secondly, artifacts such as the relics of communist martyrs, flags, official seals and stamps.8 This was the first step towards the eventual establishment of a museum of the Chinese revolution."

Smart (2006). Page 74 [↩] [Cite]
Yang (2002). no page number. [↩] [Cite]
Schmalzer (2007). Page 234 [↩] [Cite]
Schmalzer (2008). Page 58. In 1950 the story is transformed into a movie [↩] [Cite]
Schmalzer (2008). Page 57 [↩] [Cite]
Schmalzer (2008). Page 116 [↩] [Cite]
Ng (2008). Page 11 [↩] [Cite]
Ng (2008). Pages 12-13 [↩] [Cite]
Ng (2008). Page 16 [↩] [Cite]
Translation: The rarity of publications and the caution of their content can be explained in part, one might think, by fear of reviving disagreements about a past still very close. But there is an explanation probably even more relevant: Mao Zedong's own distrust of a story which he reserved for both writing, political fabrication and rewriting. Domenach (2011). Page 9 [↩] [Cite]
Dikötter (1996). No page number [↩] [Cite]
The renowned historian Hu Sheng declared in 1954 that the Taiping Rebellion, the violent anti-foreign Boxer Uprising of 1900 and the anti-Manchu Revolution of 1911 were the ‘three revolutionary climaxes’ that would constitute the basic paradigm or narrative of modern Chinese history." Duara (2008). Page 57 [↩] [Cite]
Lu (2012). Pages 57 and 59 [↩] [Cite]
Lu (2012). Page 59 [↩] [Cite]
Hung (2005). Page 916. "This museum, although inspired by Soviet museums, shall be distinctly Chinese. This future museum would serve as a place both to preserve and to reconstruct an indigenous political memory. ... insisted that a future Chinese revolutionary museum would be unique in its dissemination not only of Marxism but also of “the thought of Mao Zedong.”" Page 919 [↩] [Cite]
Chapter 5 of Common Program