Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mao - Comrade Chairman: A Historical Summarization on the Legacy of Mao Zedong


This is a brief work of mine, on the late Chairman Mao Zedong. Factual for the masses, and short enough to not fill a book. It is needed, with all of the slandering, and comparisons of Mao these days to terrible leaders and mass murdering dictators, such as Hitler.

Before I go forward comrades, I will let you know off the get right, I am mildly biased. My political alignment is to the left (though not radically, of course if I were born earlier this could be different as you will soon read), and I do not shy from the label of a communist. Now, that does not mean I do not have an open mind, (as you may have realized from reading my works) as I do fault leaders, institutions, and parties of the past, for the mistakes they have made. As a matter of fact, if I were in China circa 1970, I would probably have been called a Capitalist roader. However, on the other hand, I would not have learned from the mistakes that the comrades in question have made, if I were alive at the time. Now it is easy for me to look back and say "Well, they should have done this or that", after reading texts and standing on the shoulders of others. I do not like to do that often, but it is almost natural.

I think, given the circumstances, China is doing what needs to be done. Essentially, there are many reasons why a Soviet style economy did not work, and will no longer work (though with the right modifications it could very well in my opinion, I am no economist).

 I hope this brief introduction will help everyone begin to understand this view on Mao,  a more balanced and realistic view; as opposed to what the current western world tries to shovel toward you.

Mike Dolan, sums up the "popular" western viewpoint these days in a review he wrote up a few years ago on Mao: The Unkown Story (An excerpt below):

"When I watched the second Addams Family movie, I knew there'd be a "blockbuster biography" of Mao coming soon. The key scene comes as the Addams are trying to decide what to name their baby. Rejecting other, overexposed dictators like Stalin and Hitler, they pick "Mao."

That was it, the writing on the sten-gazeta: time for some enterprising literary entrepreneur to grind out a big fat book showing us all what a monster the Great Helmsman really was.

Even so, it's a shock to see how mechanically Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Halliday, have carried out their assignment -- and how eagerly the reviewers have endorsed the product. Every critic from Santa Barbara to Glasgow has joined the "Down with Mao!" chant, waving this big green book in an elbow-destroying parody of the Red Guards who used to whack capitalist roaders with Mao's little red one."

Ladies and Gents, a quick note: You will notice I say "Possibly", or "It is probable" etc., when talking about Mao. This is due to the fact that I do not like to say what another was thinking or what the reasons were for their actions often; although with this type of writing it is difficult. You will note a good example of someone doing this too often, when I speak on Jung Chang's book later in this writing. Also, this text may seem running into nothing at times, but it all falls together. I'm by no means a fantastic writer, though I'm above average, clearly.

Chairman Mao

Knowledge of Mao

I would not call myself a historian; however politics and history are my "forte". As far as Mao is concerned, I have read and studied tens of thousands of pages of text regarding him (paper and online sources included), or subjects closely relating to Mao. I have read the flattering (Red Star over China), to the obviously biased (Mao: The Unknown Story), and have formulated thoughts and opinion's by compiling all sources, and then analyzing them. As well, I have studied the obvious military, political, and poetry works Mao himself had penned. In my opinion, the most informative; and "closest to the truth" total work that has been done on Mao to date, is Dr. Li Zhisui's "The Private life of Chairman Mao".

Cover of Mao: The Unknown Story

Thoughts on Chang's Book Mao: The Unknown Story

This must be added due to the controversy this book has brought. No offense to Chang, as the book makes for a good story, but the book is shitty and has some glaring fallacies and blatant bullshit portions.

She claimed to have studied Mao for 10 years, and to have researched XXXX pieces of text. The problem is, as you probably know, she went around getting interviews from people who had something against Mao, and this is the kicker - people who no one else can seem to find after the fact.

She also has a tendency to try and tell you what Mao was thinking - constantly. (How the hell she was able to receive transcripts of Mao's thoughts, I am not sure, but the critics liked it).

Some of the lines in her book almost read like this: "As Mao looked up to the sun from a street in Changsha, he was thinking about how he would conquer China, then the world, and enslave the entire population of earth". A little exaggerated, but not much and you see the picture I am painting. Some how I doubt the soviet records she and her husband accessed had anything to do with what was on Mao's mind, at such and such points in time.

Another issue I have is the fact that in her book Wild Swans, she talked of how horrible pre-1949 China was, and how some of her family had their feet broken and bound and then were sold to warlords as concubines. All the while Warlords where fighting across the country, foreign powers stepped upon the Chinese and she even mentioned body's strewn about the country side. During the writing of this book apparently she did an "about face". She now spoke of pre-Communist China as a place where one could live in complete bliss, occasionally jumping out of the path of an incoming bullet or piece of shrapnel here and there. In other words, this fantastic author lied in one of her stories, which are both true.

A scene in which Jung Chang was a participant in many times over, long before she wrote her long winded story book.

Simply put, I have read and researched a good amount of chinese & Mao works as well. She tried way too hard to turn Mao into a something he most likely was not, so she could sell books. I see no problem with books or authors listing his faults, or informing of the catastrophes from some of the policies Mao was involved with; but to use some of Phillip Short's words, turning Mao into a two-dimensional card board cut out of Satan is unnecessary and ridiculous.

Ending on this note, I give her props for writing another good story. I could not have written it. Bitch can write a book. However, be careful with what you take from this story, because I think that is exactly what it is, a story, not history.

Thoughts on Mao, as well as His Historical Achievements and Mistakes

Generally, I comply with the "7 parts good, 3 parts bad" line that the PRC has put forth. However, I go much deeper. I think those 3 "bad parts” included exceptionally large mistakes. What we have next, in general, is fairly usual when people argue about Mao. They look at the total number of deaths in a country over a period from anything and then say he was a power hungry maniac, and everyone who died during his reign must have been murdered by Mao directly.

Well, it is obvious that he did want personal power, which I see as something that happens quite often. SHOCK - He wanted some of this glory, and power.

However, how can those people say his goal, along with that personal power, was not to make China strong and assist the people to a better life, and a stronger country? The Great Leap Forward was a huge disaster, and this is now obvious. The reasons the GLF should be placed on his shoulders are 4 fold.

A) It was his plan
B) He was the leader of China
C) He did not like dissent from his opinions
D) He believed the positive lies of the comrades under him far to often.

From what I know, I can say Mao's goals for the GLF were most likely the ones always stated. To catch up to Great Britan, feed the masses, and make China strong in a short amount of time. I will give you a quote from Li Zhisui regarding Mao's actions during the great leap forward (Who as you know did not paint a very flattering picture of Mao):

'"But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation".

Of course, he was horrible in the field of economics, this was a horrible plan, and many people died. Mao was not aware just how bad the situation was, until it was out of control (as noted in the quote above), and it took another year before he "bit the bullet", stopped the GLF and imported grain. The fact that he gave up meat whether it may be small to some, is huge to myself, a man of the people. 

Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, during the waning days of the Cultural Revolution.

For example - Would Stalin ever give up meat in private because others had none? I think not. That right there should make naysayers stop the comparisons. While the disaster can surely be put on Mao depending on how you place responsibility, the reasons above are also the reasons I do not find Mao directly responsible for every single death during the GLF. The bottom line is, he did not want, or intend for so many to perish, and all of the blood is obviously not on his hands (In this case there was not actually much blood, we are talking starvation, though that does not make the deaths any less tragic).

I think another huge problem Mao faced was his eventual dedication to orthodox Marxism-Leninism. It would seem he eventually came to think, that an answer to any real world problems could come from applying Marxist theory (and later with his own theory's as well) without any modification. This is a problem of course. The world changes, the economy changes. You must make changes to succeed, and I am not sure he understood that. Revisionism was needed at the time. And, after the Sino- Soviet spilt, he most likely saw himself as the champion of orthodox Marxism-Leninism. He saw Krushchev's changes and secret speech about Stalin as a blow to the communist movement, and he decided to pick up the flag and continue to tow the old line. This would increase his (and China's) power internationally, and adhere to Lenin's version of Marxism. In these ways, his pride, desire for power, and dedication got the best of him.

Next, comes the the Cultural Revolution. Mao did not want to lose power, and at the same time he possibly wanted China to be the next Soviet Union in the world (The leading country in the communist bloc). A powerful country that could apply Marxist theory to its government, and lead the masses to a high standard of living. As you know, the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" led to many tragic occurrences. The economy came to a stand still, half the country was criticizing the over half and many lives where ruined. The GPCR also led to his "personality cult" being put into over drive. Although Mao many times said he did not want to be revered, of course he most likely enjoyed reaping those benefits. Who would not, really?

A large difference here compared to other countries was the actual adoration for Mao that the people had for him. People can argue the fact all they want, the adoration was a legitimate one for many. Even Jung Chang was a Red Guard, and I can tell you she was probably not forced to put the armband on at gun point. She was caught up in the revolution and Mao, and followed suit like so many others. The idea of the GPCR was obviously ridiculous and grand. How many other "dictators" would have dared to put so much power in the hands of the people? Mao knew it would not affect his power, but it would definitely affect the power of his establishment.

I am sure not one Red Guard was displeased by the new found power and benefits that came along with the title. (Free train rides all around the country, free lodging, etc). Like other movements Mao had introduced, it was all too late when he decided to stop it (or when he thought about stopping it). He probably thought he would die, China would be built from the ground up, strong, united, completely dedicated to Marxism-Leninism as an ideology, and he would go down in history like the emperors he loved to read about in the past, as a great leader, or at least a powerful one who is respected.

Mao, on display for viewing at his wake; before he was enclosed in a crystal coffin and enshrined inside his memorial at Tiananmen Square.


Mao was one of the greatest political leaders to have lived - Although it sounds like rhetoric (sadly), I really do believe that his achievements outweigh his mistakes; and that he had China's best interests almost at the top of his list, next to his interests. He may have been a dictator, but as far as I am concerned I like to apply the term "enlightened despot" to Mao. You must look at the situation he was placed in. This was not America, this was China. Broken apart by foreign powers, and being invaded by another at the same time. He used communism as a way to unite the country, and he paved the path (albeit a rocky one) to where China is today and that is most likely the closest country to becoming the next world super power.

He began to think he was infallible, due to his personality and the sometimes blind dedication of those around him. Being dogmatic, which he said he reviled, was one of the main factors that led to some of his biggest mistakes. If you take away the starvation deaths in the GFL, Mao is nowhere close to anyone like Hitler or Stalin. I do not take them away, but I do not attribute every single one to him; as I mentioned earlier. The thing is, he did not sign death orders and steal food from the masses like many others. I will argue rigorously against any claims that Mao was a mass murderer for that and other obvious reasons I have stated here previously. He did not expect the people to follow the state, he expected the people to follow communism, which while it may have been a lesser offense, it was another mistake. I myself am torn by my admiration for Mao, and the fact that some of those mistakes are unforgivable.

Mao once said that China never had a man in it's history comparable to George Washington. 

Mao was China's George Washington, in a different context. Not even George Washington was selfless in his duties. All too often others seem to forget, for lack of a better term, people are people. In my opinion the biggest problem most have with Mao is that he was a communist and he was one of the few who ended up doing a great deal of good for his country to go along with the bad, and people want his image to fall along with communism's and Lenin's. Then, they try to turn him into Hitler or Stalin. The Third Rich lasted a decade, and was run on dubious beliefs; I do not even see how it is comparable to Mao's China. The Soviet Union is gone, too many purges, and to much hold onto an outdated system. 

Mao's Communist Party is still kicking, and at least making it seem like they are helping the people (a good example is, they recently abolished the 1200 year old agricultural tax - But boy are they taking what Mao labeled the "Capitalist Road"). 

Mao united a fractured country, which was backwards and overrun by foreiners, and turned it into a united major regional power, now on the verge of becoming the only other superpower next to the US. He ended the prostitution and foot binding of the previous centuries, while literacy rates and GDP per capita rose substantially.

Really, once all of the bullshit is put aside, ask yourself this: Was Mao really the worst thing that could have happened to China? And who could have done better? If Mao did not unite China, and stand atop Tiananmen Square in 1949, where would that great country be today? Would it even be one country, better, ruled by foreigners or an even more corrupt Chinese government? Indeed, we will never know.

I guess the only thing left to say is Mao Zhuxi Wensui.


LouisianaFireGorilla said...

Did Chang say her book was history? Or is it actually meant to be just a story?

MT said...

Excellent user name. Yes, he book is written as if historical fact - Quite the money grab by her and her shady husband.

LouisianaFireGorilla said...

The Holocaust never happened. - That is my response to that.

MT said...

You are a terrible person. And Gorilla.

LouisianaFireGorilla said...

What time zone is this blog in? And Ill take that as a compliment, sir.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Metal. Informative at the very least.


MT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yeah definitely. Actually I was unaware of the person who wrote the negative book about Mao. Maybe on a weekend when you're feeling better and I'm not visiting Travis or going to a corn maze we can discuss it among a bunch of other things over some beers.

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