Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 5, Militant Authoritarianism


In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

In the fifth post and conclusion of this series, I will focus on the militant authoritarianism present in the domestic and foreign affairs of both Ming China and the fascist states of Europe in the twentieth century.

Secret police played an important role in the administration of both fascist European countries as well as Ming China. For Mussolini’s Italy, the secret police, known as the Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism, or OVRA for short, worked to help keep Mussolini in power and combat Italian citizens opposed to him and his fascist ideology. In Nazi Germany, Gestapo played a similar role. Ming China’s secret police, the Jinyiwei, became influential following the execution of Chancellor Hu Weiyong for suspicion of conspiracy to overthrow the Hongwu Emperor.

The Jinyiwei’s rise was not the only way in which Ming China became more authoritarian following Hu’s execution. In fact, the Hongwu Emperor’s suspicions of his chancellor would lead him to completely abolish the chancellery and mandate that the responsibilities historically designated to the chancellor of China were now those of the emperor. Considering the chancellery had served as an important office in Chinese politics since at least the Spring and Autumn Period of the Eastern Zhou roughly two thousand years earlier, Hongwu’s efforts marked a greater concentration of power in the hands of the emperor of China.

In regards to foreign policy, fascist European states and Ming China both pursued aggressive expansionism. For Italy under Mussolini, this involved the conquest of Ethiopia and Albania as well as a consolidation of Italian political influence in Egypt, Libya, and Somalia with the intent of asserting Italian cultural supremacy in these places. In the case of Germany, Hitler would conquer such countries as Poland, France, Morocco, Greece, Denmark, and the Netherlands in the name of Lebensraum, or living space for the German people.

Ming Chinese expansionism stemmed  at least in part from the fact that it emerged from the rubble of the much larger Mongol Empire. This reality motivated Ming rulers to conquer territory that had been controlled by the Yuan Dynasty, but was not part of China proper. Perhaps the most notable areas the Ming conquered were on their southwestern frontier. The land they conquered there constitutes the present-day Chinese provinces of  Qinghai, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Cooperating with indigenous Salar, Uyghur, and Hui Muslim peoples who accepted Ming rule peacefully, Yunnan was conquered and subsequently subjected to settler colonialist policies. These policies dramatically changed the demographics of the region, as these lands, which had previously been dominated by such ethnic groups as the Miao and Yao peoples, developed a Han Chinese majority. These policies would lead to several unsuccessful rebellions by the ethnic minorities in these areas, which would be defeated by the establishment of governance intended to acculturate them into Chinese society.



About mlrock2012

I'm a Jewish, twentysomething Aspie living in New York City. I'm a huge politics and history buff interested in both domestic and international affairs.
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