The establishent of the Chinese rural people's commune in 1958 as a new political and economic organization has aroused considerable interest among observers. One important question in this regard has been the role the commune has played in China's modernization. Since China is committed to both “socialist transformation and construction,” modernization in China involves two tasks: revolution and development. As for China's rural problems, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regards the commune as the best organization for achieving these two goals during its transition to communism. Yet the commune has undergone a series of changes as a result of interactions between the Party's revolutionary goals and its development requirements, presenting a microcosm of Chinese communism. This article is an attempt to account for changes and continuities in the political economy of the commune.