Assessment of “Why Did It Go So High" Using Dragon's Village (Essay Sample)
Yuan-Tsung Chen's The Dragon's Village and Yu Liu's “Why Did It Go so High? Political Mobilization and Agricultural Collectivization in China” both deal with the land reform movement in China. Chen's book is a memoir; Liu's article is a scholarly analysis. For this essay assignment, you are required to use Dragon's Village to evaluate the argument presented in “Why Did it Go so High?” Does the evidence presented in Dragon's Village confirm Liu's findings, or call them into question? Note that in writing your essay, you are free to focus on a particular part or parts of Liu's argument—there's no need to evaluate the entire argument. (Indeed, you most likely do not have the background to evaluate her comparisons with the Soviet Union.) You should also feel free to discuss the problems and limitations of Dragon's Village as a source.
Your essay should be approximately 1200 words (about five pages) and is due on April 10, at 10 AM. Please do not bring a hardcopy to class. Instead, upload your paper using the “upload assignments” tab on Blackboard. Papers submitted after the deadline will be marked by the system as “late,” and will be downgraded. As on your last essay, you will be judged by the extent to which:
You offer a sound and convincing argument;
You demonstrate careful reading of the sources;
You include ideas from lecture and other assigned readings as appropriate;
You craft a well-written and well-constructed essay;
You demonstrate an understanding of the history presented thus far in class;
You are able to write a paper that is free of careless errors.
Please be certain to cite the readings you use. Your citation format can be informal, but it should cite the reading and page number. For example, (Dragon's Village, p. 25). No use of other than assigned readings is permitted. Do not use sources from the Internet. Please be careful to guard against plagiarism and other forms of cheating. If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism please contact me or Nick Mason.
An Assessment of “Why Did It Go So High" Using Dragon's Village
An Assessment of “Why Did It Go So High” Using Dragon's Village
“Why Did It Go So High” and Dragon's Village are vastly different texts written at different times. However, they share the commonality of attempting to explore the impact of land reforms in China and how political mobilization and agricultural collectivization in China were implemented. In essence, both texts attempt to highlight the process through which land reforms were executed and how they managed to become successful in the end. However, it must also be noted that there is a stark dissonance between the contexts and perspectives of these two texts. While Liu's article looks to historically analyze the factors that contributed towards the success of the land reform movement in China, Chen's book provides an account of the process through which the land reforms were implemented in China. The result is a glaring difference in terms of perspective, which further makes it difficult to reconcile the findings of both authors. While Liu's article hails the land reforms like a massive success in hindsight, Chen's book paints the horrible conditions and actions that resulted in the implementation of said land reforms. Nonetheless, it is quite clear that Dragon's Village not only confirms some of Liu's findings but also provides deeper context on the ways in which land reforms were implemented in China.
Impacts of Land Reform
Land reform was an important tool in the development of a new China. It essentially transformed the entire country into a productive one that not only effectively utilized the land, but also one with much less conflict surrounding said land issues. This was an important issue insofar as building a new China is concerned, particularly because it worked to ensure that the government-controlled how land was used and not the rural peasant families (Liu, 2006 p. 733-734). In this way, the government managed to re-concentrate social power from the rural peasant families and back to the government. Liu affirms the importance of this re-concentration to establishing a new and united China ruled in totality by the Communist Party. Her article finds that by eliminating traditional self-rule among the peasantry in rural China, the government could impose the rule of the Communist Party among the people, effectively ensuring that the entire country moved forward in a similar direction, as opposed to having different centers of power (Liu, 2006 p. 735).
However, it must also be acknowledged that this process was a difficult one. As espoused in Chen's book, many of the rural landlords had a difficult time relinquishing the power that they had insofar as land ownership is concerned, which translated into numerous attacks on the cadres promoting land reforms as well as the peasant villagers that supported them (Chen, 1980 p. 49,63). The result is a life filled with suffering, revenge, and secrecy. Furthermore, the new land reforms implemented by the Communist Party essentially overturned the entire system of land ownership in China where ruling elites lorded over the peasantry. By replacing such elites with party loyalists, land reforms were implemented and all peasants were provided with the means necessary to support and provide for themselves (Liu, 2006 p. 734). This endeared the Communist Party to many peasants that supported said reforms, but also sparked the wrath of the ruling elites in rural China as they worked hard to stifle the success of the cadres and their land reform subject matter through avenues that resulted in extreme poverty and hunger in the rural villages, as confirmed by Chen.
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