“Once again, this experiment aimed at achieving high-modern socialist goals by state-collectivist means […] the August 1958 decree establishing the communes specified that they ‘should build public dining halls, infant nurseries, kindergartens, homes of happiness (xinfu yuan) for the elderly and public shower halls in order to establish a new collective life and raise the collective consciousness of peasants’. That the Bolsheviks, as urban cosmopolitans, were contemptuous of the peasantry was only to be expected: Trotsky described the countryside as ‘the Russia of icons and cockroaches’. But even Mao, coming to power behind a peasant army, was determined to turn the peasants into a proletariat, socialism’s only progressive class, by stripping them of their petty bourgeois property: land, trade, shops and finally the domus. Thus atomised [possibly an example of state socialist reification?], they could be reconstituted as military units – militias, battalions, brigades – and mustered into combat as units of production in the drive to modernise China.”

(from “Tyranny of the Ladle“)

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