Darwinism's influence on 20th century China was so great that the famous Harvard historian, James Reeve Pusey, devoted a book entitled China and Charles Darwin to this one subject. In this book he relates how Darwin's Origin of Species, published in England and translated into Chinese 36 years later in
1895, spread with incredible speed among Chinese intellectuals, with immense social and political effects. in the preface to his book, Pusey writes:
"The weaker go down before the stronger" – After 1895, the Japanese-Chinese translation of the famous Spencerian slogan, "the survival of the fittest,"yu sheng lieh pai (the superior win, the inferior lose), ...was to force its way into a thousand essays and dominate for a time the Chinese editorial mind as the argument for almost any course of action.65
In China and Charles Darwin, Harvard University historian James Reeve Pusey explained that Darwinism had great influence in China and prepared the foundation for both Communist and Fascist ideas.
In the same book, Pusey examines the currents of thought developing in China in the first half of the 20th century and tells how they established the foundation for Maoism. One of the people he considered was Liang Chi-chao, was a well-known writer of the time who was captivated by Darwinism and materialist philosophy.
He [Liang Ch'i-ch'ao] mentioned idealism and materialism at least as early as the October 16, 1902 issue of the Hsin min ts'ung pao [a Chinese journal]. Probably he had mentioned them somewhere before, for he gave no explanation of their meaning, and yet he did imply that materialism was the better and that it was winning out over idealism, thanks to Darwin. "How great," he wrote, "is the world of the last twenty-four years, a world belonging to the theory of evolution. Materialism has arisen and idealism has cowered in a corner..."66
China and Charles Darwin relates how Darwinism was responsible for establishing China's disputatious revolutionist culture and its great influence on bringing Maoism to power:
Darwin helped inspire a true renaissance of Chinese thought by specifically challenging (or seeming to challenge) certain favorite traditional ideas and by discrediting all ancient authority...But it was cut short—by the early imposition of a neo-orthodoxy, the Thought of Mao Tse-tung.That "imposition," of course, also owed much to Darwin. For Darwin had legitimized violent change and revolution. Surely that was one of the most momentous things Darwin did to China... At any rate, those Chinese who were convinced that China needed rebellion were desperately in need of some legitimizing theory, for without the Mandate of Heaven rebellion for three thousand years had been one of the two cardinal sins (the other being filial impiety). It was that powerful sense of sin that Mao Tse-tung, Wu Chih-hui, Sun Yat-sen, and even Liang Chi'i-ch'ao combated so strenuously in all their Darwinian protestations that revolution was legitimate. Mao Tse-tung finally claimed that Marxism-Leninism could all be boiled down to one sentence, tsao fan yu li—"To rebel is justified" ...[That expression] meant that rebellion was a natural law, and that lesson had been taught to Mao Tse-tung not by Marx but by Sun Yat-sen and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, who had learned it, rightly or wrongly, from Darwin.Darwin justified revolution and thereby helped the cultural revolutions of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Hu Shih and Mao Tse-tung (and, of course, so many others), and the political revolutions of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang K'ai-shek, and Mao Tse-tung....Marxists I assume, would not like this analysis. They would probably say that Social Darwinists were not responsible for their victory... There was indeed "people power" at work at the end of the Communist Revolution, people power generated by landlord oppression, capitalist exploitation, and imperialist (at the last, Japanese) aggression. But that people power could have been tapped by many forces. (The Nationalists could have tapped it.) It was tapped by Marxists because there were Marxists ready to tap it. But the Marxists were intellectuals. ...Marxism converted intellectuals—but intellectuals who were already converted to Darwinism. If the intellectual Marxists were the "prescient," the hsien chich hsien chueh, who awakened the masses, China's earlier Social Darwinists, Yen Fu, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Sun Yat-sen, Li Shih-tseng, Wu Chih-hui, were the "prescient" who awakened the Marxists....The question remains, "In fitting China for Marxism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung, what did Darwin do to China?" This question must be asked.67
His analysis clearly shows how Darwinism became the basis of Chinese Communism. For thousands of years, China had been an isolated empire. In a matter of ten years it became Red China, and the motive power behind this change in thinking was Darwinism.
But what did Darwinism do to prepare China for Maoism?