Shakespeare Club learns about Revolution and Civil War in China

The fifteenth meeting of the Fredonia Shakespeare Club was held on Feb. 21 at the Edwards Waterhouse Inn hosted by Priscilla Bernatz. Sixteen members were in attendance. Vice-President Dr. Minda Rae Amiran welcomed members and thanked our hostess.

Secretary Bernatz read the minutes from the Feb. 21 meeting. The minutes were approved with one correction. The last sentence of Linda Dunn’s summary should read, “The Jews accepted the terms of the UN partition plan, the Arabs did not.”

Club members voted on the area of study for the 2019-2020 year. Results will be announced at the next meeting.

The Club’s area of study this year is The World Between WWI and WWII. Dr. Amiran presented her paper “Revolution and Civil War in China” which is summarized as follows:

During the first part of the 20th Century, disgraced monarchies were replaced by republican forms of government in five large countries: Spain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and China. In all five countries, the republican governments were short-lived and were overthrown by brutal dictatorships of various kinds. Although the circumstances were different in each country, you have to wonder whether there was something inevitable about the process, whether anything could have been done to prevent the immense suffering and early deaths of tens of millions of quiet citizens at the hands of those dictatorships. In particular, I wondered why democracy failed in China, and whether the civil war that resulted in Mao Tse Tung’s coming to power could have ended otherwise, or could have been avoided altogether.

A complicated picture emerges. Sun Yat Sen’s republican revolution turns out to have been supported for reasons of their own by many people who had no interest in forming a republic, and Sun had no mechanism for realizing his insufficiently worked-out aims. He was succeeded in power by a general who wanted to be emperor, and when that man died the ancient system of loyalties and obedience led to the chaos of the very many “war lords.” The new Bolshevik regime in Russia saw its opportunity in helping a tiny Communist group ally itself with Sun in his attempt to regain control of the country. When Sun died, Chiang Kai Chek, one of his officials, used the Communists to come to power and then, instead of coopting them, turned bloodily against them in a continuing civil war, while enforcing a corrupt and brutal regime. Japan used this situation to its advantage in invading China, and because of the USSR-proclaimed Common Front, the Communists, now under Mao, rejoined with Chiang against the Japanese. But after the war, extremists on both sides sabotaged a shared-government agreement brokered by the United States, and the resulting renewed civil war led to the disciplined Communist’s victory over Chiang’s corrupt and incompetent forces.

Dunn assisted at the tea table.