Communism is really a European ideology, first proposed by European philosophers and put into effect for the first time by European activists. It's really nothing more than the result of the materialist hostility towards religion that took root in Europe. It is curious that this ideology reached and took root in an isolated country like China, so distant from Europe in every way. But if we look at China's recent history, a familiar pattern emerges: the coming of Communism to China meant the coming of atheism which took root thanks to Darwinism.
Until the end of the 18th century, China was an inward- looking society, isolated from Western culture. The coming of English merchants in the 19thcentury, brought many changes to the country. With them, these merchants brought a substance called opium, unknown in China before. Consumption of opium spread like an epidemic in Chinese society and was the cause of two wars between England and China. Finally, England preponderated over China. Hong Kong and other important Chinese cities fell under English influence.
Darwin, Huxley and Galton were three influential evolutionists who led some of the Chinese intellectuals to Fascism and Communism.
In this way, English imperialism entered China and with it, came Darwinism that gave imperialism scientific support. In the 19th century, the materialist and Darwinist ideas that had dominated Europe began spreading quickly among Chinese intellectuals. In The Encyclopedia of Evolution, Richard Milner writes:
During the 19th century, the West regarded China as a sleeping giant, isolated and mired in ancient traditions. Few Europeans realized how avidly Chinese intellectuals seized on Darwinian evolutionary ideasand saw in them a hopeful impetus for progress and change. According to the Chinese writer Hu Shih (Living Philosophies, 1931), when Thomas Huxley's book Evolution and Ethics was published in 1898, it was immediately acclaimed and accepted by Chinese intellectuals. Rich men sponsored cheap Chinese editions so they could be widely distributed to the masses.57
Just as young Turks were captivated by Western materialist ideas at the end of the Ottoman period, so in China, ideologues appeared who adopted materialism and Darwinism. As a result, the Chinese Empire that had lasted thousands of years was abolished in 1911 and replaced by the Republic of China. Those who founded the republic, no matter how anti-Western their rhetoric and policy may have been, adopted the same racist and Social Darwinist understanding that had justified Western imperialism. In an article in the American magazine New Republic, senior editor Jacob Heilbrunn writes:
The idea of using Western ideas and inventions against the West was at its zenith in those days. In the wake of the famous May 4, 1919, demonstrations in Beijing, calls for modernity and patriotism, science and democracy, gained currency among intellectuals. ..."Lurking behind the scenes," as Tu Wei-ming [a professor of Chinese History and Philosophy] has pointed out in the winter 1996 issue of Daedalus, "was neither science nor democracy but scientism and populism.... [I]nstrumental rationality and Jacobin-like collectivism fundamentally restructured the Chinese intellectual world in the post-May Fourth period." Reformers, such as Liang Qichao, who edited a clandestine journal, were influenced by a debased but popular version of Darwin and Spencer. They saw race war as the key to progress.58
The racist thinker Herbert Spencer, mentioned in the quotation above, was a contemporary of Darwin, whose theory he adapted to social science. Among other violent, unjust and cruel ideas, Spencer proposed the superiority of the European races and the need for continual conflict among races and nations, suggesting that society should not assist its poor and weak members.
Darwinism fostered Communism and Fascism in China.Fascist leader Chiang Kai-Shek was influenced by Darwinism..
Among Chinese intellectuals influenced by Darwin and Spencer were Yen Fu and Ting Wen-chiang, whose ideas greatly influenced the foundation of modern China. In Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao, the American historian Benjamin Schwartz emphasizes Yen Fu and his Darwinist ideas significantly. According to Schwartz, Yen Fu takes the Western ideologies and theories he reads such as Spencer, and sees them as prescriptive ways to transform society and achieve the goal of wealth and power.59 Schwartz states that Darwin's theories do not merely describe reality. They prescribe values and a course of action.60
Ting Wen-chiang was another important Chinese ideologue and leader in Communism, whose views were founded on nothing other than Darwinism. Ding was the most important representative of the "New Culture"movement that influenced China in the 1910s and '20s. This movement's most important feature was its opposition to Confucianism, the religion of the Chinese people, and its seeking to replace it with a materialist world view. (Ironically, the New Culture movement was a leading inspiration of both Mao's Communism and its rival, Chiang Kai-Shek's Fascism.)
In Ting Wen-chiang: Science and China's New Culture, the American historian Charlotte Furth examines Ting Wen-chiang, the dean of the New Culture movement, in considerable detail. According to her, Wen-chiang merely translated the ideas of evolutionist ideologues such as Darwin, Huxley and Spencer into Chinese. For this reason, Furth even refers to Ding as the "Huxley of China."61 (Huxley, Darwin's biggest supporter, was known in his day as "Darwin's bulldog.")
Ting Wen-chiang studied zoology and geology at Glasgow University in Scotland. Returning to China in 1911, he exerted great efforts to spread materialist and Darwinist ideas in the newly-founded Chinese Republic, even supporting the theory of eugenics proposed by Francis Galton, Darwin's cousin.62 (Eugenics proposed the disposal of those within a race who were sick or disabled, thus ensuring so-called universal advancement by the "mating" of the healthy ones. This theory was applied most widely in Nazi Germany.)
James Reeve Pusey, a Harvard professor of history and an important commentator on the New Culture movement, says:
The New Culture Movement's cries were all cries Darwin had backed before, and he now backed them again in the same old way. He [Darwin] was the patron saint of the New Culture Movement. . . [H]is theory, so the New Culture Movement's leaders still insisted, "proved". . . that "the present surpasses the past, and the future surpasses the present." That was the faith behind the Anarchists' injunction to tsun chin po ku (respect the present and belittle the past) and the Communists' later injunction to hou chin po ku (extol the present and belittle the past). 63
As a result of the spread of Darwinism in China, the emergence of this kind of Chinese ideologues at the beginning of the 20th century gave birth, first, to the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang party with its fascist tendencies, then to Chinese Communism. In an article written in the periodical New Scientist, Michael Ruse, a Canadian philosopher wrote:
These ideas took root at once [In China], for China did not have the innate intellectual and religious barriers to evolution that often existed in the West. Indeed, in some respects, Darwin seemed almost Chinese! …Taoist and Neo-Confucian thought had always stressed the "thingness" of humans. Our being at one with the animals was no great shock…Today, the official philosophy is Marxist-Leninism (of a kind). But without the secular materialist approach of Darwinism (meaning now the broad social philosophy), the ground would not have been tilled for Mao and his revolutionaries to sow their seed and reap their crop.64