Jiang Jieshi on his New Life movement (1934)


In 1934 Jiang Jieshi delivered a speech in Nanchang, in which he explained the ideas and objectives of his New Life Movement:


“The general psychology of our people today can be described as spiritless. What manifests itself in behaviour is this: lack of discrimination between good and evil, between what is public and what is private… Because there is no discrimination between good and evil, right and wrong are confused; because there is no discrimination between public and private, improper taking and giving [of public funds] occur… As a result, officials tend to be dishonest and avaricious, the masses are undisciplined and calloused, youth become degraded and intemperate, adults are corrupt and ignorant, the rich become extravagant and luxurious, and the poor become mean and disorderly. Naturally it has resulted in disorganisation of the social order and national life, and we are in no position either to prevent or to remedy natural calamities, disasters caused from within, or invasions from without. The individual, society, and the whole country are now suffering…

In order to develop the life of our nation, protect the existence of our society and improve the livelihood of our people, it is absolutely necessary to wipe out these unwholesome conditions and to start to lead a new and rational life…

In short, the main object of the New Life Movement is to substitute a rational life for the irrational… By the observance of these virtues, it is hoped that rudeness and vulgarity will be got rid of and that the life of our people will conform to the standard of art. By art we are not referring to the special enjoyment of the gentry. We mean the cultural standard of all the people, irrespective of sex, age, wealth, and class. It is the boundary line between civilised life and barbarism…

By the observance of these virtues, it is hoped that social disorder and individual weakness will be remedied and that people will become more military minded. If a country cannot defend itself, it has every chance of losing its existence… Therefore our people must have military training. As a preliminary, we must acquire the habits of orderliness, cleanliness, simplicity, frugality, promptness, and exactness. We must preserve order, emphasise organisation, responsibility and discipline, and be ready to die for the country at any moment.”