Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Labour and Struggle (1960) - Technology, Innovation, Art and Popular Resistance in Chinese History

Today we are taking a look at a fascinating and illuminating booklet published in the People's Republic of China in 1960. Labour and Struggle: Glimpses of Chinese History is a combination of social history, history of struggle and outline of China's remarkable technological innovation over the centuries, that is illustrated throughout with art and examples of inventions/aspects of daily life.

It places a strong emphasis on the oppression faced by Chinese peasants and labourers throughout the feudal period as well as on their resistance to it and the role that peasant revolts played in propelling social change.

It ends with a poem by Mao, but also includes a powerful and moving excerpt from a peasant folk song of revolt that is nearly eighteen hundred years old.

This song reflects the constant spirit of human defiance and struggle in the face of brutality and hardship:

Our hair is like the leek; cut it off, it grows still!
Our heads are like the chicken's; cut them off they sing still...
Have no fear of the officials.
Don't hold the people too cheap.
(click on images to enlarge)

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