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The Compelling IdealThought Reform and the Prison in China, 1901-1956$
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Jan Kiely

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300185942

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300185942.001.0001

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The Indispensable Regime: Thought Reform in Wartime, 1937–1945

The Indispensable Regime: Thought Reform in Wartime, 1937–1945

(p.214) 6 The Indispensable Regime: Thought Reform in Wartime, 1937–1945
The Compelling Ideal

Jan Kiely

Yale University Press

This chapter illustrates how the imperatives of wartime mobilization produced a stunning escalation of earlier developments. Once unleashed by the eruption of full-scale war in 1937, the intense collective emotions for patriotic resistance to Japan were harnessed to support and inspire processes of reformation by the Chongqing KMT and Yan’an CCP governments. All the major wartime states, including the Japanese occupation authorities and their Wang Jingwei government collaborators, relied on prisons to support the war effort and constructed political prisons led by militarized security-service agents and party activists in part to convert and recruit through thought reform redeemable political enemies. There were also initiatives adapting Japanese and Soviet influences which attempted to develop comprehensive, multi-pronged regimes of custodial and noncustodial thought reform to “re-educate” and so win over “offenders” as well as those recruited to their organizations and members of targeted groups within society that might lead community mass mobilization. Out of the wartime crucible, the regime of reformation/thought reform proliferated not as an alternative to coercive violence, but as a mutually reinforcing companion and enabler of it in the state projects of making war and revolution.

Keywords:   penal reformation, thought reform, Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), political indoctrination, mass mobilization, Kuomintang Chongqing government, Communist Yan’an government, Wang Jingwei Nanjing government

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