Nationalists, Communists, and rural leaders: political dynamics in a Chinese county, 1927-1937
Barkan, Lenore, 1947-
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During the initial years of their rule, 1927 to 1937, did the Nationalists transform the politics of rural China? Through a study of Nationalist political organization and policy implementation in one particular area of China, Rugao County, Jiangsu Province, this dissertation attempts to answer the above question. It examines the establishment of the county's Nationalist Party and government organizations, the ways in which these organizations implemented policy, and the relationships that developed between the Nationalists and other political groups, especially the Communists and indigenous rural leaders. In 1927 the Rugao branch of the Nationalist Party briefly dominated county political affairs, but thereafter, because of the centrally-directed purge of Communists from Nationalist Party ranks, drastically decreased in importance. Between 1928 and 1930 the government tried to set up an enlarged, reformed political organization in Rugao, but because of the lack of higher-level support and local opposition was unsuccessful. After 1930 the indigenous local elite, as they had before 1927, once again exercised power and authority over Rugao political affairs. While the Nationalists never formally allied with local leaders, they often relied on them to carry out government policy. As a result, during the entire Decade the only Nationalist programs that were implemented were those in which local leaders took an interest. In the end, those most often were actions needed to alleviate a crisis, such as the rise of the Communists, or a natural disaster such as flooding, drought, or the appearance of locusts. Other long-term programs, such as water conservancy projects or agricultural improvement efforts, received little attention. Consequently, Nationalist rule in Rugao during the so-called Nanjing Decade can best be characterized as punctuated crisis government, and it can be seen that because the Nationalists in Rugao did not replace the pre-existing power structure, did not set up a sizeable political organization of their own, and did not implement most of their policies, that they failed to penetrate the Rugao countryside or to change the life of Rugao's residents.
- Political science