Mao’s Early Years

This is Chapter 24 of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course of a document written by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and is used as a study guide for their cadre. It is an exemplary summary and outline of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the history of the International Communist Movement. We have reposted this because we feel that people can learn a lot from studying this informative text.

Mao Tse-tung was born on 26th December 1893, in the village of Shaoshan Chung in the fertile valley of Shaoshan in the Hunan province of China. The district where Mao was born was a wealthy agricultural area. It was also a strategic area with all major routes by road or river passing through the Hunan province. Being at the crossroads of commerce the Hunan people were known for their peasant traders. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Hunan also became an intellectual centre and a centre of dissidence and revolt, producing many of China’s best scholars. It produced both the military generals who helped the Chinese Emperors, as well as the revolutionaries who overthrew their rule. It was also a major centre of the biggest peasant revolt of the nineteenth century – the great Taiping peasant uprising. Hunan provided lakhs of fighters for the rebellion, which lasted for 14 years from 1850 to 1864. This vast support for the peasant revolt was because of the severe poverty of the peasantry due to exploitation by the landlords and excessive taxation. Though the uprising had been brutally crushed, the memory of the revolt remained strong in the villages around where Mao spent his childhood and youth.

Mao’s father, Mao Jen-Shen, was born a poor peasant and was forced to become a soldier for seven years in order to pay off his father’s debts. Later through hard work and careful saving he was able to buy back his land. He grew to become a middle peasant and petty trader. The standard of living of the family, however, remained very poor. Even at the age of sixteen, Mao only ate one egg a month and meat about three or four times a month. Mao’s father put his children to work as soon as possible. Thus Mao started work in the fields at the age of six. Mao’s mother, Wen Chi-mei, was from Xiangxiang district just sixteen miles from Shaoshan. Mao was the eldest son. He had two younger brothers and an adopted sister. All three were among the members of the first peasant Communist party branch that Mao formed. All became martyrs in the Revolution.

Mao was a rebel from a very young age. He called his father the Ruling Power. He often united with his mother, brother and the labourer against the authority of his father. This was the opposition. At school too he opposed the old customs. Once in protest against his schoolteacher he, at the age of seven, ran away for three days and stayed in the mountains surrounding his village. After this protest – which Mao calls his first successful strike – he was not beaten in school.

Mao’s first school was the village primary school, which he joined at the age of seven. As soon as he learnt to read sufficiently, he developed a passion for reading. He preferred romantic books of rebellion and adventure. Very often he would read the whole night by the light of an oil lamp. Mao’s father, who himself had very little schooling, was not interested in Mao continuing his education for too long. He needed somebody to work in the fields and to maintain his accounts. So in 1906, he removed Mao from the village school.

Mao however continued his interest in reading and constantly demanded to be sent for further education. His father could not understand this interest of his son and thought the solution was in marriage. At the age of fourteen, Mao was married to a girl from the same area. Mao however refused to complete the marriage.

Meanwhile the revolutionary atmosphere was rapidly growing in the surrounding areas. Two rebellions took place in this period, which had a lasting impact on Mao. One was the revolt in Hunan in 1906 led by the revolutionaries of the party of the nationalist Sun Yat-sen. The other was a rebellion against a landlord by a group of peasants of Shaoshan itself. Both were crushed and the leaders were beheaded. Mao was very much affected by the injustice and longed to do something radical for the country and its people. He also longed to continue his education. Finally in 1910, he was sent to a Higher Primary School, in his mother’s home district, Xiangxiang.

The students in this school were all from landlord and rich background who initially looked down upon Mao. Mao however had soon outshone all the other students by his superior intellect and hard work and study. He would sit reading for long hours in the classroom after everyone had left. His teachers were highly impressed by his ability. Within a few months however he was restless to move on to a higher level. After a year he easily passed the exams for admission to Middle School which was situated in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. In September 1911, Mao walked the forty miles to Changsha. Mao, who was almost eighteen, was seeing a city for the first time.

Changsha, a city of scholars, was in extreme turmoil at the time of Mao’s arrival there. Revolutionary associations under various names had been formed by teachers and students. Underground literature was being circulated and an explosion was expected at any moment. Mao, who had already developed some radical thinking, was eager to participate in the events. Within a month of Mao’s arrival, the 1911 bourgeois revolution broke out under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen. Mao immediately decided to join the revolutionary army. The revolution, however, was soon betrayed and landed in the hands of counter-revolutionaries. Mao, after five months, resigned from the army and landed back in Changsha.

On his return, Mao was in search of what to do and what direction to take in life. Looking up advertisements in newspapers, he registered for a number of courses in schools ranging from a soap-making school and a police school to a law school and a commercial school. He finally sat for the entrance examination for the First Provincial Middle School in Changsha and stood first. After six months however he left the school and arranged a schedule of education of his own, which consisted of reading every day at the Hunan Provincial Library. For six months, he would spend the whole day from morning to night at the library with just a small lunch of two rice cakes. This period of intensive reading covered a very wide range of social and scientific topics of Western as well as Chinese authors. It laid the foundation of Mao’s education. Six months of such study, however, left Mao totally penniless. His father, who could not understand his son’s desire to just go on reading on his own, refused to support him unless he joined a real school.

Thus in 1913, Mao joined the Hunan First Normal College which was a Teachers’ College. He remained there for five years from 1913 to 1918. The collapse of the central Chinese government and the outbreak of World War I had created conditions of extreme upheaval throughout China and the world. In China wars between provincial armies of warlord generals became a common occurrence. It was also the period when Japan, making use of the involvement of the other imperialist powers in war, tried to achieve total domination over China. This led to strong opposition from Chinese intellectuals and revolutionary sections.

It was during these years that Mao’s political ideas took shape. In 1915 he became secretary of the Students’ Society at the Normal College, and created the Association for Student Self-Government. This organisation organised numerous agitations against the college authorities for student demands. Mao also led this organisation in street demonstrations against Japanese domination and their Chinese puppets. This organisation was later to become the nucleus for future student organisations in the Hunan province.

As the attacks of the warlord generals grew the students in many places formed self-defence corps. In 1917 Mao became the head of his college battalion. He obtained some arms from the local police and led the students in guerrilla attacks on warlord groups to collect more arms. Using his knowledge of guerrilla tactics used by earlier Hunanese fighters as well as the study of military theory, Mao build up the college battalion into an efficient fighting force. Mao also took a keen interest in all the major military campaigns of the ongoing World War I. He lectured and wrote articles on strategy and tactics.

Mao also involved himself in various other activities. He fought against social evils like opium taking and prostitution. He fought against oppression of women and tried to ensure the maximum participation of women in the students’ movement. He wrote and encouraged swimming, sports and intensive physical training among the students and youth. He himself maintained extreme physical fitness – took cold baths throughout the year, swam in cold water, went barefoot and bare-chested for long walks in the hills, etc. In 1917 he started an evening school where he and other students and teachers taught the workers of Changsha’s factories free of charge.

In 1918, Mao inaugurated the New People’s Study Society, which he had been planning for about a year. It was one of many such student groups, but grew into something else, the core of a political party. From the start it insisted on the action as well as debate. It would not only talk revolution but practise it, first of all revolutionising its own members, turning them into ‘new men’. It had girl members and took up among other issues, the oppression of women in the traditional marriage system. Its activities went according to a programme of debate, study and social action. Social action included night schools for workers, visiting factories, demonstrating against Japanese imperialism, writing articles, fighting for new ideas and the use of the vernacular language. In later years all thirteen of the original members of the society joined the Communist Party of China (CPC), founded in 1921. By 1919 there were eighty members, of whom over forty were to join the Party.

Around the time of Mao’s graduation from the Normal College in 1918 he was joined in Changsha by his mother who came there for treatment. She however could not be cured and died in October 1918. After her death, Mao moved to Peking, the capital of China, where he for six months took up a very low paying job as an assistant librarian in the Peking University. This job was obtained through Li Ta-chao the university librarian, who was the first Chinese intellectual to praise the Russian Revolution and one of the first to introduce Marxist thought to China. Under Li Ta-chao, Mao rapidly developed towards Marxism. He started reading those works of Lenin, which had been translated into Chinese. Towards the end of 1918 he joined the Marxist Study Group formed by Li. He also met many intellectuals and Marxists. One who had an impact then on him was Chen Tu-hsiu, who was later to become the first Secretary of the CPC. Chen at that time was editor of the radical magazine, New Youth, which Mao had already written for and which had had an influence on him.

Mao spent only six months in Peking. During this period however he fell in love with Yang Kai-hui, the daughter of one of his Changsha College lecturers, who was now a Professor at the Peking University. She was then a student, doing a course in journalism at the university. For both it was their first love. Their love was of the type that was then called ‘new’ love where the partners made their own choice going against the traditional system of arranged marriages. For some time their love remained secret. They were not sure whether there was time for love when the country needed them so much. They decided to wait sometime before taking a final decision.

In April 1919 Mao returned to Changsha just before the outbreak of the historic May 4th movement of 1919. This anti-imperialist democratic movement shook the whole of China. Though initiated by the students, it rapidly covered vast sections of workers, merchants, shopkeepers, artisans and other sections. Mao immediately involved himself wholeheartedly in political agitation. On his arrival, he had immediately taken up a low paying job as a primary school teacher. All his spare time, however, was spent in organising agitations and spreading Marxism. He encouraged the study of Marxism in the New People’s Study Society and other students’ societies that he was in contact with. At the same time, he built up the United Students Association of Hunan which encompassed even young school students and girls students in a big way. Uniting all sections Mao organised a movement for the seizure and burning of Japanese goods. He brought out a weekly magazine the Xiang River Review, which quickly had a great influence on the student’s movement in South China. When the weekly was banned in October 1919, Mao continued to write in other journals. Soon he got a job as a journalist for various Hunan papers and set out for the big cities of Wuhan, Peking and Shanghai to win support for the Hunan movement.

However, when he landed in Peking in February 1920, he soon got involved with the plans to build the Communist Party of China. He held discussions with his university librarian, Li Ta-chao and other intellectuals. He visited the factories and railway yards and discussed Marxism with the workers. He did further study of the works of Marx and Engels and other socialists. He also met Yang Kai-hui, who had been studying Marxism. They discussed their dedication to each other and to the revolution. They got engaged.

After Peking, Mao spent four months in Shanghai, China’s biggest city and its biggest industrial and commercial centre. Here he held discussions with Chen Tu-hsiu and other Shanghai Marxists. To support himself he took a job as a labourer, working twelve to fourteen hours in a laundry. It was during this period, in May 1920, that China’s first Communist group was set up in Shanghai.

When Mao moved backed to Hunan in July 1920, he started working to set up a similar Communist group there. His father had died at the beginning of the year and Mao made his home in Shaoshan there initially. His two brothers and adopted sister were among his first recruits. He then moved back to Changsha where he continued recruiting. There he took up a job as the director of a primary school and also taught one class at the Normal College for which he received a comfortable salary for the first time.

Towards the end of 1920, Mao got married to Yang Kai-hui and they lived together for the one and a half years that Mao was in Changsha as primary school director. They were regarded as an ideal couple with Yang being also involved with the work of the Party of which she became a member in 1922. They had two sons, one of whom died in 1950 as a volunteer in the Korean War against US imperialism. The other became an accountant. Yang who performed secret work for the Party was arrested in 1930 and executed.

Though Mao participated in various agitations during this period, the main focus of his work was the formation and building up of the CPC. After forming a Communist group in Hunan, Mao went to Shanghai to attend the secretly held First National Congress of the CPC in July 1921. He was one of twelve delegates who represented only 57 party members at that time.

After the Congress, Mao became the Provincial Party Secretary of Hunan Province. From the very beginning, he paid particular attention to building the party in Hunan on the basis of Leninist party principles. He recruited youth from the existing revolutionary organisations as well as advanced workers who were won by extending the workers’ movement. He started two monthly magazines to raise the ideological and political level of the Party members and Youth League members and to help them to carry on Communist education among the masses.

It was during this period up to 1923 that Mao concentrated a great deal on the organising of workers in Changsha, the Anyuan Colliery (in the neighbouring Kiangsi Province) and in the Shuikoushan Lead Mine. By August 1921 he set up the first Communist trade union. In 1922 he formed the Hunan branch of the All-China Labour Federation, of which he was made the chairman. The Anyuan Colliery movement and organisation, in particular, was an excellent example of Communist organising. The Party at first ran spare-time schools for the workers of the colliery to carry on Marxist education. It then organised a trade union. Meanwhile, a branch of the Socialist Youth League was formed among the workers, the best members of which were later absorbed into the Party. The Anyuan Colliery saw major strikes, which had countrywide repercussions. It had a strong organisation, which survived even during the repression periods. The workers provided valuable support and participation at various stages in the revolutionary war. Anyuan was the liaison centre for the first Communist base area in the Chingkang Mountains.

Mao did not participate in the Second National Congress of the CPC, held in July 1922, as he missed his appointment. He participated in the Third National Congress of the CPC, held in June 1923, at which he was elected on the Central Committee. This Congress decided to promote an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal national front in co-operation with the Kuomintang Party led by Sun Yat-sen. It directed Communist Party members to join the Kuomintang Party as individuals. Mao did so and was elected as an alternate member of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee at its First and Second National Congresses held in 1924 and 1926. He worked as Head of the Central Propaganda department of the Kuomintang, edited the Political Weekly and directed the Sixth class at the Peasant Movement Institute.
Mao Tse-tung was born on 26th December 1893, in the village of Shaoshan Chung in the fertile valley of Shaoshan in the Hunan province of China. The district where Mao was born was a wealthy agricultural area. It was also a strategic area with all major routes by road or river passing through the Hunan province. Being at the crossroads of commerce the Hunan people were known for their peasant traders. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Hunan also became an intellectual centre and a centre of dissidence and revolt, producing many of China’s best scholars. It produced both the military generals who helped the Chinese Emperors, as well as the revolutionaries who overthrew their rule. It was also a major centre of the biggest peasant revolt of the nineteenth century – the great Taiping peasant uprising. Hunan provided lakhs of fighters for the rebellion, which lasted for 14 years from 1850 to 1864. This vast support for the peasant revolt was because of the severe poverty of the peasantry due to exploitation by the landlords and excessive taxation. Though the uprising had been brutally crushed, the memory of the revolt remained strong in the villages around where Mao spent his childhood and youth.

Mao’s father, Mao Jen-shen, was born a poor peasant and was forced to become a soldier for seven years in order to pay off his father’s debts. Later through hard work and careful saving he was able to buy back his land. He grew to become a middle peasant and petty trader. The standard of living of the family, however, remained very poor. Even at the age of sixteen, Mao only ate one egg a month and meat about three or four times a month. Mao’s father put his children to work as soon as possible. Thus Mao started work in the fields at the age of six. Mao’s mother, Wen Chi-mei, was from Xiangxiang district just sixteen miles from Shaoshan. Mao was the eldest son. He had two younger brothers and an adopted sister. All three were among the members of the first peasant Communist party branch that Mao formed. All became martyrs in the Revolution.

Mao was a rebel from a very young age. He called his father the Ruling Power. He often united with his mother, brother and the labourer against the authority of his father. This was the opposition. At school too he opposed the old customs. Once in protest against his schoolteacher he, at the age of seven, ran away for three days and stayed in the mountains surrounding his village. After this protest – which Mao calls his first successful strike – he was not beaten in school.

Mao’s first school was the village primary school, which he joined at the age of seven. As soon as he learnt to read sufficiently, he developed a passion for reading. He preferred romantic books of rebellion and adventure. Very often he would read the whole night by the light of an oil lamp. Mao’s father, who himself had very little schooling, was not interested in Mao continuing his education for too long. He needed somebody to work in the fields and to maintain his accounts. So in 1906, he removed Mao from the village school.

Mao, however, continued his interest in reading and constantly demanded to be sent for further education. His father could not understand this interest of his son and thought the solution was in marriage. At the age of fourteen, Mao was married to a girl from the same area. Mao, however, refused to complete the marriage.

Meanwhile, the revolutionary atmosphere was rapidly growing in the surrounding areas. Two rebellions took place in this period, which had a lasting impact on Mao. One was the revolt in Hunan in 1906 led by the revolutionaries of the party of the nationalist Sun Yat-sen. The other was a rebellion against a landlord by a group of peasants of Shaoshan itself. Both were crushed and the leaders were beheaded. Mao was very much affected by the injustice and longed to do something radical for the country and its people. He also longed to continue his education. Finally, in 1910, he was sent to a Higher Primary School, in his mother’s home district, Xiangxiang.

The students in this school were all from landlord and rich background who initially looked down upon Mao. Mao, however, had soon outshone all the other students by his superior intellect and hard work and study. He would sit reading for long hours in the classroom after everyone had left. His teachers were highly impressed by his ability. Within a few months, however, he was restless to move on to a higher level. After a year he easily passed the exams for admission to Middle School which was situated in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. In September 1911, Mao walked the forty miles to Changsha. Mao, who was almost eighteen, was seeing a city for the first time.

Changsha, a city of scholars, was in extreme turmoil at the time of Mao’s arrival there. Revolutionary associations under various names had been formed by teachers and students. Underground literature was being circulated and an explosion was expected at any moment. Mao, who had already developed some radical thinking, was eager to participate in the events. Within a month of Mao’s arrival, the 1911 bourgeois revolution broke out under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen. Mao immediately decided to join the revolutionary army. The revolution, however, was soon betrayed and landed in the hands of counter-revolutionaries. Mao, after five months, resigned from the army and landed back in Changsha.

On his return, Mao was in search of what to do and what direction to take in life. Looking up advertisements in newspapers, he registered for a number of courses in schools ranging from a soap-making school and a police school to a law school and a commercial school. He finally sat for the entrance examination for the First Provincial Middle School in Changsha and stood first. After six months however, he left the school and arranged a schedule of education of his own, which consisted of reading every day at the Hunan Provincial Library. For six months, he would spend the whole day from morning to night at the library with just a small lunch of two rice cakes. This period of intensive reading covered a very wide range of social and scientific topics of Western as well as Chinese authors. It laid the foundation of Mao’s education. Six months of such study, however, left Mao totally penniless. His father, who could not understand his son’s desire to just go on reading on his own, refused to support him unless he joined a real school.

Thus in 1913, Mao joined the Hunan First Normal College which was a Teachers’ College. He remained there for five years from 1913 to 1918. The collapse of the central Chinese government and the outbreak of World War I had created conditions of extreme upheaval throughout China and the world. In China wars between provincial armies of warlords, generals became a common occurrence. It was also the period when Japan, making use of the involvement of the other imperialist powers in war, tried to achieve total domination over China. This led to strong opposition from Chinese intellectuals and revolutionary sections.

It was during these years that Mao’s political ideas took shape. In 1915 he became secretary of the Students’ Society at the Normal College and created the Association for Student Self-Government. This organisation organised numerous agitations against the college authorities for student demands. Mao also led this organisation in street demonstrations against Japanese domination and their Chinese puppets. This organisation was later to become the nucleus for future student organisations in the Hunan province.

As the attacks of the warlord generals grew the students in many places formed self-defence corps. In 1917 Mao became the head of his college battalion. He obtained some arms from the local police and led the students in guerrilla attacks on warlord groups to collect more arms. Using his knowledge of guerrilla tactics used by earlier Hunanese fighters as well as the study of military theory, Mao builds up the college battalion into an efficient fighting force. Mao also took a keen interest in all the major military campaigns of the ongoing World War I. He lectured and wrote articles on strategy and tactics.

Mao also involved himself in various other activities. He fought against social evils like opium taking and prostitution. He fought against oppression of women and tried to ensure the maximum participation of women in the students’ movement. He wrote and encouraged swimming, sports and intensive physical training among the students and youth. He himself maintained extreme physical fitness – took cold baths throughout the year, swam in cold water, went barefoot and bare-chested for long walks in the hills, etc. In 1917 he started an evening school where he and other students and teachers taught the workers of Changsha’s factories free of charge.

In 1918, Mao inaugurated the New People’s Study Society, which he had been planning for about a year. It was one of many such student groups, but grew into something else, the core of a political party. From the start, it insisted on action as well as debate. It would not only talk revolution but practise it, first of all revolutionising its own members, turning them into ‘new men’. It had girl members and took up among other issues, the oppression of women in the traditional marriage system. Its activities went according to a programme of debate, study and social action. Social action included night schools for workers, visiting factories, demonstrating against Japanese imperialism, writing articles, fighting for new ideas and the use of the vernacular language. In later years all thirteen of the original members of the society joined the Communist Party of China (CPC), founded in 1921. By 1919 there were eighty members, of whom over forty were to join the Party.

Around the time of Mao’s graduation from the Normal College in 1918, he was joined in Changsha by his mother who came there for treatment. She, however, could not be cured and died in October 1918. After her death Mao moved to Peking, the capital of China, where he for six months took up a very low paying job as an assistant librarian in the Peking University. This job was obtained through Li Ta-chao the university librarian, who was the first Chinese intellectual to praise the Russian Revolution and one of the first to introduce Marxist thought to China. Under Li Ta-chao, Mao rapidly developed towards Marxism. He started reading those works of Lenin, which had been translated into Chinese. Towards the end of 1918 he joined the Marxist Study Group formed by Li. He also met many intellectuals and Marxists. One who had an impact then on him was Chen Tu-hsiu, who was later to become the first Secretary of the CPC. Chen at that time was editor of the radical magazine, New Youth, which Mao had already written for and which had had an influence on him.

Mao spent only six months in Peking. During this period, however, he fell in love with Yang Kai-hui, the daughter of one of his Changsha College lecturers, who was now a Professor at the Peking University. She was then a student, doing a course in journalism at the university. For both, it was their first love. Their love was of the type that was then called ‘new’ love where the partners made their own choice of going against the traditional system of arranged marriages. For some time their love remained secret. They were not sure whether there was time for love when the country needed them so much. They decided to wait sometime before taking a final decision.

In April 1919 Mao returned to Changsha just before the outbreak of the historic May 4th movement of 1919. This anti-imperialist democratic movement shook the whole of China. Though initiated by the students, it rapidly covered vast sections of workers, merchants, shopkeepers, artisans and other sections. Mao immediately involved himself wholeheartedly in political agitation. On his arrival, he had immediately taken up a low paying job as a primary school teacher. All his spare time, however, was spent in organising agitations and spreading Marxism. He encouraged the study of Marxism in the New People’s Study Society and other students’ societies that he was in contact with. At the same time, he built up the United Students Association of Hunan which encompassed even young school students and girls students in a big way. Uniting all sections Mao organised a movement for the seizure and burning of Japanese goods. He brought out a weekly magazine the Xiang River Review, which quickly had a great influence on the students’ movement in South China. When the weekly was banned in October 1919, Mao continued to write in other journals. Soon he got a job as a journalist for various Hunan papers and set out for the big cities of Wuhan, Peking and Shanghai to win support for the Hunan movement.

However, when he landed in Peking in February 1920, he soon got involved with the plans to build the Communist Party of China. He held discussions with his university librarian, Li Ta-chao and other intellectuals. He visited the factories and railway yards and discussed Marxism with the workers. He did further study of the works of Marx and Engels and other socialists. He also met Yang Kai-hui, who had been studying Marxism. They discussed their dedication to each other and to the revolution. They got engaged.

After Peking, Mao spent four months in Shanghai, China’s biggest city and its biggest industrial and commercial centre. Here he held discussions with Chen Tu-hsiu and other Shanghai Marxists. To support himself he took a job as a labourer, working twelve to fourteen hours in a laundry. It was during this period, in May 1920, that China’s first Communist group was set up in Shanghai.

When Mao moved backed to Hunan in July 1920, he started working to set up a similar Communist group there. His father had died at the beginning of the year and Mao made his home in Shaoshan there initially. His two brothers and adopted sister were among his first recruits. He then moved back to Changsha where he continued recruiting. There he took up a job as the director of a primary school and also taught one class at the Normal College for which he received a comfortable salary for the first time.

Towards the end of 1920, Mao got married to Yang Kai-hui and they lived together for the one and a half years that Mao was in Changsha as primary school director. They were regarded as an ideal couple with Yang being also involved with the work of the Party of which she became a member in 1922. They had two sons, one of whom died in 1950 as a volunteer in the Korean War against US imperialism. The other became an accountant. Yang who performed secret work for the Party was arrested in 1930 and executed.

Though Mao participated in various agitations during this period, the main focus of his work was the formation and building up of the CPC. After forming a Communist group in Hunan, Mao went to Shanghai to attend the secretly held First National Congress of the CPC in July 1921. He was one of twelve delegates who represented only 57 party members at that time.

After the Congress, Mao became the Provincial Party Secretary of Hunan Province. From the very beginning, he paid particular attention to building the party in Hunan on the basis of Leninist party principles. He recruited youth from the existing revolutionary organisations as well as advanced workers who were won by extending the workers’ movement. He started two monthly magazines to raise the ideological and political level of the Party members and Youth League members and to help them to carry on Communist education among the masses.

It was during this period up to 1923 that Mao concentrated a great deal on the organising of workers in Changsha, the Anyuan Colliery (in the neighbouring Kiangsi Province) and in the Shuikoushan Lead Mine. By August 1921 he set up the first Communist trade union. In 1922 he formed the Hunan branch of the All-China Labour Federation, of which he was made the chairman. The Anyuan Colliery movement and organisation, in particular, was an excellent example of Communist organising. The Party at first ran spare-time schools for the workers of the colliery to carry on Marxist education. It then organised a trade union. Meanwhile, a branch of the Socialist Youth League was formed among the workers, the best members of which were later absorbed into the Party. The Anyuan Colliery saw major strikes, which had countrywide repercussions. It had a strong organisation, which survived even during the repression periods. The workers provided valuable support and participation at various stages in the revolutionary war. Anyuan was the liaison centre for the first Communist base area in the Chingkang Mountains.

Mao did not participate in the Second National Congress of the CPC, held in July 1922, as he missed his appointment. He participated in the Third National Congress of the CPC, held in June 1923, at which he was elected on the Central Committee. This Congress decided to promote an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal national front in co-operation with the Kuomintang Party led by Sun Yat-sen. It directed Communist Party members to join the Kuomintang Party as individuals. Mao did so and was elected as an alternate member of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee at its First and Second National Congresses held in 1924 and 1926. He worked as Head of the Central Propaganda department of the Kuomintang, edited the Political Weekly and directed the Sixth class at the Peasant Movement Institute.

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