Historical materialism entered Chinese thought as part of the new wave of socialism during the New Culture movement. By the late 1920's, during the ebb of communism as a political movement, it had gained a foothold in the consciousness of many Chinese intellectuals. Its application to the analysis of Chinese history reached its peak in the “social history controversy” of the late twenties and early thirties.1 After the mid-thirties interest in the Marxist discussion of history dwindled, not reaching a comparable degree of intensity until its revival after 1949.

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