4. DIFFICULTIES-part four
The improvisations made by the mechanics are amusingly illustrated in this letter to Alley from one of the C.I.C. workers, Michael Hu:
"I think you will be interested in my small result in making alcohol. I made up a distilling apparatus, using printing-ink, milk, cigarettes and a kerosene can, so small that I called it 'Guerrilla's Alcohol Still.' I got alcohol 95 percent with it.
"I am continuing to make various experiments, because I believe that to improve a native industry is far easier than to build a new one."
The cooperative form of management is found to be easily applicable in China and this is a minor problem, though a good deal of education is required to make fully-conscious cooperators of all the workers. The Chinese have always had guilds, various kinds of"huis" and mutual protection societies, so the idea is nothing startling. Fortunately, too, most of the cooperators are too poor to have conservative ideas, for it is in the propertied class that one finds the old system so firmly entrenched. The C.I.C. is building a totally new structure, and up to now has not had to compromise with the old system as the rural cooperatives have been obliged to do. It has nothing to do with the former guild methods, which have been a drawback to industry due to their medieval craft jealousy, secrecy, and provincialism. The cooperative engineers immediately make blueprints and drawings of all improved or adapted industrial processes, and four technical magazines are published for the purpose of disseminating this information widely.
The war emergency makes it possible to create a modern cooperative system in China, for it has broken down provincialism and old prejudices. Every cooperative center has men and women from many different provinces, working together in harmony in their mutual struggle for a livelihood, and each group soon develops a new national consciousness and pride in building cooperative industry. It is of great importance to note the possibility of extending the system on a large scale to Tibetan, Mohammedan and tribal areas, which for so long have been the scene of bitter warfare against the Chinese as well as against each other.
The Chinese worker is far more advanced than the peasant and much more capable of cooperation. What C. F. Strickland has said of the rural cooperatives, might be applied with greater emphasis to workmen's cooperatives:
"The three outstanding qualities of the Chinese farmer are (1) his honesty, (2) his common sense, his fitness for understanding simple business, and (3) his community spirit. I have seen few countries in Europe and none in Asia, in which a sum of money, lent to a handful of peasants with so little prior training or subsequent guidance in its management, would be divided so fairly, repaid so punctually, and so seldom misappropriated, as by the cooperative farmers of Hopei province. Hopei has longer experienced cooperation than the rest of China, but elsewhere too, the societies, where allowed a reasonable discretion by the officials or banks, have shown themselves worthy of trust. The failures appear to me to be due either to excessive interference in details from above, or to inadequate teaching of co-operative principles and methods; and usually to both these causes."