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Mao Zedong and the Myth of Mass Murder

"We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view." - Mao Zedong

We offer the deepest respect to Joseph Ball for the following very deeply scholarly 2006 defense of Mao's amazing work as his socialist policies transitioned China into the modern era.


Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?

Over the last 25 years, the reputation of Mao Zedong has been seriously undermined by ever more extreme estimates of the numbers of deaths he was supposedly responsible for. In his lifetime, Mao Zedong was hugely respected for the way that his socialist policies improved the welfare of the Chinese people, slashing the level of poverty and hunger in China and providing free health care and education. Mao’s theories also gave great inspiration to those fighting imperialism around the world. It is probably this factor that explains a great deal of the hostility towards him from the Right. This is a tendency that is likely to grow more acute with the apparent growth in strength of Maoist movements in India and Nepal in recent years, as well as the continuing influence of Maoist movements in other parts of the world.

Most of the attempts to undermine Mao’s reputation center around the Great Leap Forward that began in 1958. It is this period that this article is primarily concerned with. The peasants had already started farming the land cooperatively in the 1950s. During the Great Leap Forward they joined large communes consisting of thousands or tens of thousands of people. Large-scale irrigation schemes were undertaken to improve agricultural productivity. Mao’s plan was to massively increase both agricultural and industrial production. It is argued that these policies led to a famine in the years 1959-61 (although some believe the famine began in 1958). A variety of reasons are cited for the famine. For example, excessive grain procurement by the state or food being wasted due to free distribution in communal kitchens. It has also been claimed that peasants neglected agriculture to work on the irrigation schemes or in the famous “backyard steel furnaces” (small-scale steel furnaces built in rural areas).

Mao admitted that problems had occurred in this period. However, he blamed the majority of these difficulties on bad weather and natural disasters. He admitted that there had been policy errors too, which he took responsibility for.

Official Chinese sources, released after Mao’s death, suggest that 16.5 million people died in the Great Leap Forward. These figures were released during an ideological campaign by the government of Deng Xiaoping against the legacy of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. However, there seems to be no way of independently, authenticating these figures due to the great mystery about how they were gathered and preserved for twenty years before being released to the general public. American researchers managed to increase this figure to around 30 million by combining the Chinese evidence with extrapolations of their own from China’s censuses in 1953 and 1964. Recently, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday in their book Mao: the Unknown Story reported 70 million killed by Mao, including 38 million in the Great Leap Forward.

Western writers on the subject have taken a completely disproportionate view of the period, mesmerized, as they are, by massive death toll figures from dubious sources. They concentrate only on policy excesses and it is likely that their views on the damage that these did are greatly exaggerated. There has been a failure to understand how some of the policies developed in the Great Leap Forward actually benefited the Chinese people, once the initial disruption was over.

U.S. state agencies have provided assistance to those with a negative attitude to Maoism (and communism in general) throughout the post-war period. For example, the veteran historian of Maoism Roderick MacFarquhar edited The China Quarterly in the 1960s. This magazine published allegations about massive famine deaths that have been quoted ever since. It later emerged that this journal received money from a CIA front organization, as MacFarquhar admitted in a recent letter to The London Review of Books. Roderick MacFarquhar states that he did not know the money was coming from the CIA while he was editing The China Quarterly.

Those who have provided qualitative evidence, such as eyewitness accounts cited by Jasper Becker in his famous account of the period Hungry Ghosts, have not provided enough accompanying evidence to authenticate these accounts. Important documentary evidence quoted by Chang and Halliday concerning the Great Leap Forward is presented in a demonstrably misleading way.

Evidence from the Deng Xiaoping regime Mao that millions died during the Great Leap Forward is not reliable. Evidence from peasants contradicts the claim that Mao was mainly to blame for the deaths that did occur during the Great Leap Forward period.

U.S. demographers have tried to use death rate evidence and other demographic evidence from official Chinese sources to prove the hypothesis that there was a “massive death toll” in the Great Leap Forward (i.e. a hypothesis that the “largest famine of all time” or “one of the largest famines of all time” took place during the Great Leap Forward). However, inconsistencies in the evidence and overall doubts about the source of their evidence undermine this “massive death toll” hypothesis.

To continue reading this article follow the link below:

#refusetocooperate, #getyourhouseinorder, #wearewatching, #deathbeforedishonor, #paindonthurt, #communism, #capitalism, #classwar, #marxism, #leninism, #maozedong, #maoism, #revolution, #peasantry, #guerillawarfare, #bourgeoisie, #greatleapforward, #culturalrevolution, #beijing, #china, #revisionism, #statistics, #betrayal, #CIA, #unitedstates
Mao Zedong and the Myth of Mass Murder
Mao Zedong and the Myth of Mass Murder

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"The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history." - Mao Zedong

The Early Years

Mao Zedong was both a product and a part of the revolutionary change in twentieth century China. He was born on December 26, 1893, in the small village of Shaoshan in Hunan province. Although he described his father as a "rich peasant," the family clearly had to work hard for a living.

From an early age, Mao was a voracious reader. He particularly liked popular historical novels concerning rebellions and unconventional military heroes. At age thirteen, after five years of education in the local primary school, he was forced by his father to leave school and return to the farm. Mao continued to study on his own and at age sixteen left home to complete his elementary school training in the Hunanese capital of Changsha.

It was here that Mao began to experience the powerful revolutionary waves engulfing Chinese society. He read the works of nationalist reformers such as Kang Yuwei. He developed an admiration for the strong emperors in earlier periods of Chinese history and for certain Western statesmen including George Washington. Mao also watched as China's last dynasty, the Qing family, crumbled after nearly three hundred years on the throne.

Mao's career in the army was brief and uneventful. From 1913 until 1918, he was in the First Hunan Normal School. His reminiscences indicate that he took himself and his convictions seriously.

In 1918, Mao graduated from Normal School and then traveled to Beijing. There he got caught up in the intellectual and political activity of the May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement was a cultural and intellectual awakening that started as a student movement and then spread to a larger group of Chinese, bringing significant social change in urban China. He received a minor post at the Beijing University Library where he was exposed to Dean Chen Duxiu and Librarian Li Dazhao, who later became co-founders of the Chinese Communist Party.

Moving between Changsha and Shanghai in 1919-1920, Mao picked up odd jobs but devoted his energies to reading, writing, and talking about revolution. By 1920, he described himself as "a Marxist in theory and to some extent in action," and in July of 1921, he was among the small group of people that founded the Chinese Communist Party.

Mao became a major participant in the United Front. Of great importance to his later career was his appointment as head of the KMT, or the Nationalist Party, Peasant Movement Training Institute. His work at the Institute, which included ideological and organizational instruction for peasant leaders, opened his eyes to the revolutionary potential of the Chinese peasantry.

In 1921, Mao married Yang Kaihui, the daughter of one of his mentors at Beijing University. She was later executed by the Kuomintang, in 1930. However, in 1928, Mao had begun to live with a young girl of eighteen, He Zizhen. Over the next nine years they had five children. In 1937, he divorced He and married Jiang Qing.

The year 1927 would prove to be a cataclysmic year for everyone involved in the Chinese Revolution. After the April Shanghai coup, Mao and his Communist cohorts were involved in the futile uprisings in southern China. This experience led to a lifelong distrust of Soviet advice and intentions, a deep animosity toward Chiang Kaishek and the Nationalists, and a search for new approaches to a mass based revolution.

Mao retreated with a small band of followers to Jinggangshan, a mountainous, forested region in the southeastern province of Jiangxi. It was here he faced the reality of rural revolution.

Leader of the Chinese Revolution

Mao Zedong was one of the most influential historical figures of the twentieth century. A co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party, he played a major role in the establishment of the Red Army and the development of a defensible base area in Jiangxi province during the late 1920s and early 1930s. He consolidated his rule over the Party in the years after the Long March and directed overall strategy during the Sino-Japanese War and the civil war. He formally assumed the post of Party Chairman in 1945. His reliance on the peasantry, a major departure from prevailing Soviet doctrine, and dependence on guerrilla warfare in the revolution were essential to the Communist triumph in China.

Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Mao was responsible for many of the political initiatives that transformed the face of China. These included land reform, the collectivization of agriculture, and the spread of medical services. In particular, this leader of the revolution remained alert to what he saw to be new forms of oppression and was highly sensitive to the interests of the oppressed. In 1958, he advocated a self-reliant "Great Leap Forward" campaign in rural development. Due to the poor results of the program, Mao decided to share many of his governing responsibilities with other party leaders. Among these leaders were men like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, and several others.

During the early 1960s, Mao continued his restless challenge of what he perceived as new forms of domination. In his own words, he was looking out for efforts at revisionism and capitalist restoration. In foreign policy, he led China's divorce from the Soviet Union. Domestically, he became increasingly wary of his subordinates' approach to development, fearing that it was fostering deep social and political inequalities. When Liu, Deng, and others seemed to be ignoring his call to "never forget class struggle," Mao in 1966 initiated the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," exploiting discontent among some students, the "Red Guards," and others. The Cultural Revolution was successful in removing many of the men who were pushing reactionary policies in the Chinese government. However, this did cause some serious public disorder, which at one point in 1967, required Mao to call in the military to restore order.

In 1969, Mao designated Defense Minister Lin Biao, a Cultural Revolution ally, as his heir apparent. But Mao came to have doubts about Lin and soon challenged him politically. One of the issues of debate was the opening to the United States, advocated by Mao and Zhou Enlai as a counter to the Soviet Union. In 1971, Lin was killed in a plane crash while fleeing China after an alleged assassination attempt on Mao.

Until his death, a failing Mao refereed a struggle between those who benefited from the Cultural Revolution and defended its policies, and rehabilitated veterans who believed that the Cultural Revolution had done China serious harm. It seemed for a while that the veterans, led by Deng Xiaoping, had won the day. But the radicals, either by manipulating Mao or by appealing to his basic instincts, regained momentum after Zhou Enlai's death in January of 1976. Despite this, Mao chose the more centrist Hua Guofeng to carry on his vision. The Chairman died on September 9th. Four weeks after Mao's death, Hua ordered the arrest of major radical figures, four of whom, Zhang Chunqiao, Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, and Yao Wenyuan, were dubbed a "gang."

The post Mao era has seen a reversal of much that Mao stood for and the eclipse of many individuals, living and dead, that he stood behind. His leadership, especially the Cultural Revolution initiative, has been hotly debated. In June of 1981, the Party Central Committee approved a resolution that criticized Mao's rule after 1958, but still affirmed his place as a great leader and ideologist of the Chinese Communist revolution.

During his lifetime, Mao was also a voracious writer. He wrote countless works of literature, more than can all be enumerated here, but of his works eleven standout. These are On Guerilla Warfare (1937), On Practice (1937), On Contradiction (1937), On Protracted War (1938), In Memory of Norman Bethune (1939), On New Democracy (1940), Talks at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art (1942), Serve the People (1944), The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains (1945), On the Correct Handling of the Contradiction Among the People (1957), and The Little Red Book (1966). Mao was also a skilled Chinese calligrapher with a highly personal style. In China, Mao was considered a master calligrapher during his lifetime. His calligraphy can be seen today throughout mainland China. His work gave rise to a new form of Chinese calligraphy called "Mao-style" or Maoti, which has gained increasing popularity since his death.

The Cultural Legacy of Chairman Mao in China

This section was provided by China Daily (

The year is 1967, and it is May 4, a day dedicated to the youth of China in memory of the first student revolution. At the second gate of Beijing's Tsinghua University, an inauguration ceremony is taking place to unveil a statue of Mao Zedong. The occasion would make headlines throughout China and trigger a countrywide trend that would see dozens of Mao statues erected throughout the ten years of "cultural revolution," 1966-76.

But, the Tsinghua statue was not the first. The first statue outdoors erected in honor of the late Chinese leader was built in 1952, high on Mount Yamalike in the southwestern corner of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

After the first rush that lasted until the late 70s, there was a lull in the enthusiastic homage until 2008, when a statue of Mao Zedong again made the news. This was the unveiling of a 20 meter high stainless steel monument at Chongqing Medical University, the tallest statue of the revolutionary leader.

"To set up statues of Mao Zedong has been a university campus tradition for decades," Beijing Morning Post quoted a spokesman as saying in the southwestern Chinese city. "The purpose of the statue is to encourage and give confidence to our teachers and instill national character and patriotism in our students."

At Tsinghua, where the tradition started, the original statue has become part of the University's landscape, and more.

"If we had set up the Mao statue earlier, no one would have dared pull down the original gate," 70-year-old Gao Luji recalls with regret, adding that the image would have been an insurance for the preservation of the Tsinghua landmark. He should know, since he was part of the team that built the new monument.

In 1967, Gao was a fresh civil engineering graduate from Tsinghua University and he was appointed to lead the project because of his artistic skills and his knowledge of concrete construction.

More than 30 sculptors from fine arts academies and other units were quickly assembled to work on the statue.

Among them was Zhang Songhe, a sculptor of legendary renown. In joining the project, he managed to escape the "revolutionary" turbulence during which artists were often given a hard time and interrogated. And, as a Communist Party member, he was handed the assignment of crafting the statue's face.

It was often dangerous work. Chen Shuguang, Zhang's wife, who also participated in many of Mao's statue projects, said there were no safety harnesses. Zhang had to perch on ten meter high wooden scaffolding to reach the top and worked for several hours at a time from the lofty heights.

"If he had not served in the People's Liberation Army, he would not have endured it. He kept working through his sheer enthusiasm," Chen said.

After the Tsinghua statue was unveiled, there was a rush to learn how to construct similar statues. The Tsinghua team worked day and night to compile brochures which explained the process and the university's Department of Architecture formed a team to make molds to meet the surging demand.

On June 11th the same year, another Mao statue was put up at the Beijing PLA Political Institute, a copy of the Tsinghua original. After that, many copies of the Tsinghua model would be replicated all over the country, from Youyi County in Heilongjiang province to Duyun in the southwestern Guizhou province.

At Fudan University in Shanghai, the Mao statue has achieved a different attention.

The imposing memorial on its campus has some magical numbers, which the university termed the "3-figure" formula.

The height of the statue is 7.1 meters, commemorating the birth of the Communist Party of China on July 1. Its base is 5.16 meters tall, a reference to the "516 Announcement" drafted by Mao Zedong which set out the "guidelines for cultural revolution." If you added both sets of numbers together, their sum total came up to 12.26. December 26th is the date of Mao Zedong's birthday.

The formula captured the imagination of many, including the architects of Mao's statue in his hometown of Shaoshan, which also erected its own monument according to these magic numbers.

Cheng Wenjun is a photographer who has taken countless pictures of the statues through the years. He says the statues of that revolutionary period mostly portray the "Great Helmsman" as an older man, usually wearing an overcoat and either standing looking out into the distance or waving to an unseen crowd. Most are fairly formal, and serious.

The building of a Mao monument was equally serious business, and often it was a matter of patriotic pride and politics.

Hou Yibin, another photographer who has taken photos of Mao statues since the 1980s, says "sculptors of the statue were under great pressure, considering the job a significant political assignment."

In the early years of the economic reforms that began in the 1980s, many of these statues were quietly dismantled, and usually removed at night.

Even the famous statue at Tsinghua's second gate was torn down. In its stead, a sculpture of Mao in relief was placed in the main building of the university.

Photographer Cheng says Beijing now boasts about 20 statues of the great leader, while it is almost impossible to find one in either Tianjin or Guangzhou.

"Those statues which survived are modern historical relics."

New ones are also very different from the standard-issue Tsinghua replicas. On December 26, 2009, an enormous new sculpture of a young Mao Zedong appeared on Juzi island in the central city of Changsha.

It caught the country by surprise with its depiction of Mao as a young man, with a full mane of windswept hair. It also showed him seated, and is believed to represent 32 year old Mao when he composed a poem about Changsha in 1925.

The head of the creative team for this innovation was Li Ming, dean and professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. He said his primary concern was "uniqueness and artistry."

"It was no longer a political assignment. We were free to let our creative juices flow and we were particularly concerned with differentiating it from past images."

The other difference was: Li and his team went after the project, wooing it for three years in order to win the bid. They felt it was a challenge, and "great allure for any artist." Li said their intention was to present the young Mao as a cool, good looking idealist, rather than a god on a pedestal.

While this new look was praised for its innovative approach, it also took some brick bats. Some web users compared it to the Sphinx.

The Political Legacy of Mao Zedong Around the World

The Communist Party of Peru, more commonly known as the Shining Path, is a Maoist guerrilla group in Peru. When it first launched the internal conflict in Peru in 1980, its goal was to overthrow the state and replace it with "New Democracy." The Shining Path believed that by establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat, inducing cultural revolution, and eventually sparking world revolution, they could arrive at full communism. Their representatives stated that existing socialist countries were revisionist, and that the Shining Path was the vanguard of the world communist movement. The Shining Path's ideology and tactics have been influential among other Maoist insurgent groups, notably the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and other Revolutionary Internationalist Movement affiliated organizations.

The Shining Path is classified by the Peruvian government, the U.S., the European Union, and Canada as a terrorist organization. Since the capture of its leader Abimael Guzmán in 1992, the Shining Path has declined in activity.

The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups, known as Naxalites or Naxals, and the Indian government. The conflict in its present form began after the 2004 formation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a rebel group composed of the People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Center. In January of 2005, talks between the Andhra Pradesh state government and the CPI-Maoists broke down and the rebels accused authorities of not addressing their demands for a written truce, release of prisoners, and redistribution of land. The ongoing conflict has taken place over a vast territory, around half of India's 29 states, with hundreds of people being killed annually in clashes between the CPI-Maoists and the government every year since 2005.

The armed wing of the Naxalite–Maoists is called the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army and is estimated to have between 6,500 and 9,500 cadres, mostly armed with small arms.

The Naxalites control territory throughout Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh states and claim to be supported by the poorest of the rural population, especially the Adivasis. According to a study by the newspaper The Times of India, 58% of people surveyed in the state of Andhra Pradesh, have a positive perception of the guerrillas, against only 19% against it. The Naxalites have frequently targeted tribal, police, and government workers in what they say is a fight for improved land rights and more jobs for neglected agricultural laborers and the poor. The Naxalites claim that they are following a strategy of rural rebellion similar to a protracted people's war against the government.

In February of 2009, the Indian central government announced a new nationwide initiative, to be called the "Integrated Action Plan" for broad, coordinated operations aimed at dealing with the Naxalite problem in all affected states, namely Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. This plan included funding for grassroots economic development projects in Naxalite affected areas, as well as increased special police funding for better containment and reduction of Naxalite influence. In August of 2010, after the first full year of implementation of the national Integrated Action Plan program, Karnataka was removed from the list of Naxal affected states. In July of 2011, the number of Naxal affected areas was reduced to 83 districts across nine states. In December of 2011, the national government reported that the number of Naxalite related deaths and injuries nationwide had gone down by nearly fifty from 2010 levels.

The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel.

The New People's Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It was formed and founded by Bernabe Buscayno, "Commander Dante," and Lucio Manlapaz on March 29, 1969. The Maoist New People's Army conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of protracted people's war. The Philippine Army estimated the New People's Army strength to be at least 3,200 fighters at the end of 2015.

Until 1992, the Philippine government treated the New People's Army, along with the Communist Party of the Philippines, as an illegal organization. The Anti-Subversion Act of 1957, which outlawed the group, was lifted during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos. The New People's Army continued to operate. It was in 2011 that peace talks resumed.

The New People's Army collects revolutionary taxes, mostly from businesses, in the areas where it operates. The Communist Party of the Philippines refers to the New People's Army as "the tax enforcement agency of the people's revolutionary government." In 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, speaking for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said "the communist rebels have lost their ideological mooring and are now engaged in extortion activities." He said this ignoring the fact that many of the people and businesses in the areas where the New People's Army operates welcome them as a needed defense against the rampant oppression that they experience by the hands of the Philippine Government under President Rodrigo Duterte. Much of what the "Rebels" collect from the people and businesses are given willingly as gifts.

Peace negotiations have reached an impasse. The Philippine government has specifically drafted a "new framework" which seeks to end the 27 year long stalemate in the talks, hoping to build ground with the leftist rebels that is more comprehensive than human rights, the only issue on which the negotiating parties agree.

However, relations with the government soured in late 2017 when President Rodrigo Duterte officially designated the group as a terrorist organization. The United States and the European Union both had already designated the New People's Army as a terrorist organization prior to the Duterte government.

#refusetocooperate, #getyourhouseinorder, #wearewatching, #deathbeforedishonor, #paindonthurt, #communism, #capitalism, #classwar, #marxism, #leninism, #maozedong, #maoism, #revolution, #peasantry, #guerillawarfare, #bourgeoisie, #greatleapforward, #culturalrevolution, #beijing, #china
Mao Zedong - Teacher of the Masses
Mao Zedong - Teacher of the Masses

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