chapter  4
39 Pages

Evolution of the Commune System

WithChu-yuan Cheng

This chapter analyzes the communes of 1958, traces their evolution and identifies the factors that caused change, depicts the structure and functions of the commune, evaluates the impact of the communes on agricultural production, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the system. The emergence of the rural commune was the result of two significant developments in late 1957 and early 1958. The first was the cluster of unsolved problems arising from the agricultural collectives. The second was the widening gap between industry and agriculture created by the First Five-Year Plan. The commune is a much larger and more advanced form of collectivization than the collectives. The introduction of the rural commune helped to alleviate the shortages of labor and capital that had been created by the Great Leap Forward. For long-term purposes, the communes were intended first to destroy the family system and then to lay the cornerstone of collectivized life, or the creation of the so-called Communist man.