The relationship between pragmatism and Chinese Communism is a question important in its consequences but ambiguous in its content. By careful reading of the intellectual history of China during past half-century, certain implications on the intertwined relationships between them can be easily detected. For example, both pragmatism and Marxism were introduced to China during the May Fourth era, a time of unprecedented intellectual ferment. Their common belief in the Western materialist tradition had not only paved the way for a brief united front in the struggle against the dead weight of the Confucian tradition, but their shared emphasis on scientific culture reinforced their common goals and made “science” one of the most worshipped watch-words in contemporary China. Such backgrounds have in fact led many to think that pragmatism represented only a transitional stage on a road that “led naturally and easily to communism as the science of society.” Some claimed that pragmatists not only tended to be tolerant of dialectical materialism and the Communists, but they admired the Communist movement as an integral part of the democratic ideal and helped to prepare the way for the spread of materialism in China in the next few decades. Although the precise relationship between pragmatism and Chinese Communism remains undefined to this day, the pragmatic element in Chinese Communism is a popular theme which has gained wide currency among some recent interpretations.

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