When Cultures Collide: How Primitive Masculinity and Class Conflict Derailed the Patrick J. Hurley Diplomatic Mission to China, 1944-1945
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Historians often criticize Patrick J. Hurley for the failure of his diplomatic mission to China in 1944-1945. Instead of acting as an impartial mediator during the negotiations between the Guomindang (GMD) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Hurley aligned U.S. policy with the GMD’s leader, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), who would come to lose the civil war against the Chinese Communists. Hurley’s unique position to create foreign policy resulted in the implementation of what became the established long-term policy in China. This policy eventually alienated the CCP and lead to the severing of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China for decades. Although historians have long since blamed Hurley’s personality and lack of understanding for the mission’s failure, no one has studied the role cultural influences had in shaping his attitudes and decisions. Hurley’s perception of China’s key actors and his own American colleagues, along with his subsequent behaviors, grew out of his life experiences, especially his cultural understandings of gender and class. Working-class men in the United States from the early-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century often fostered an aggressive model of manhood that opposed the Victorian values of the middle and upper classes. Instead of valuing restraint and respectability, social norms which governed behavior in modern business offices and in respectable middle-class family life, these men valued the display of passion and physical assertiveness. Hurley was largely influenced by this form of masculinity, which has been labeled “primitive manhood.” Constructions of gender and class can also be interconnected. Different socioeconomic classes often embrace varying ideals of proper gender roles. Hurley’s working-class origins and values would clash with the middle and upper-class backgrounds of the various State Department Foreign Service officers who counseled compromise with the CCP. His assimilation of these cultural constructs negatively affected his relationships with these diplomats and the CCP, resulting in his expulsion of all China experts who disagreed with his policy. No one was left to voice alternative viewpoints to Hurley’s successor, George Marshall, who ultimately continued Hurley’s misguided policy of upholding Jiang’s regime.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- A review of the scholarly literature on Sino-American relations -- Gender and class and Hurley's developing years -- The Guomindang, the Communists, and the China Hands -- Hurley's arrives in China and cleans house -- Hurley: he-man diplomacy -- Opposition silences, Hurley's policy winsvii, 50 pages