Nigel Harris


The Mandate of Heaven



The Communist party of China claims that it is the leadership of the working class, and that the Chinese working class leads the peasantry in a State which exercises the dictatorship of the proletariat. This book is an appraisal of these claims in the light of present-day reality in China.

The first part is a brief résumé of the party’s experience before coming to power in 1949. The second part describes the history of the new Chinese State and the problems it has faced in the period to 1977. Part three then examines the party’s relationship to workers and peasants in the People’s Republic. Part four appraises the degree of equality and democracy in China, and the ability of the new State to protect its hard-won national independence. Part five assesses the significance of China’s foreign policy and the activities of the supporters of Mao Tsetung thought abroad.

Throughout this account, a number of problems arise in relating the claims of the Chinese Communist party to the known record. Part six takes up these themes and attempts to offer an explanation of the past and the present, and so a suggestion as to the future course of events.

I am grateful for the discussions I have had with many people over the issues involved. Particular gratitude is due to Tony Cliff for his work in reading earlier drafts of the manuscript.

London, 1978


Last updated on 6.3.2002