Did you celebrating and have fun? You’d better have, because it was mandatory, just like a North Korea Rock Party Anthem! Seriously though, Mao has a very controversial legacy:
蔣介石 (Chiang, Kai-Shek)‘s military campaigns had successfully pushed the communists to the brink, and was the reason why they had retreated in what has now become known as “長征 (The Long March)“. It was here, that much more senior members of the party, like 周恩來 (Zhou, En-Lai) and others, acquiesced their powers to Mao. Mao came from a peasant family. Although people in China mention this part, they rarely ever mention that he was of a rich peasantry. You see, there are peasants that have to rent land, rent (tools), and livestock, and any bit of earnings they get, go into paying these off. Then you have the slightly better off middle-class peasants, who have their own land, but don’t have much more than that. And then, you have the rich peasants, who are the guys renting the stuff to the poor peasants, have tons of land, tons of money, ancestral halls, and can actually afford to put their children through school. The only free schooling poor people got, were if missionaries came into town, but that meant either converting, or waiting for a missionary to reach your town. In any case, Mao didn’t need to concern himself with their issues.
Some go as far as to say it’s because of his relationship to his rich peasant dad, who he viewed as tyrranical, and a bunch of other stuff, and lashed out on him with things like, the Land Reforms. Did he really care about the peasants and their plight, or was he really just expressing his anger towards his father? No one really knows. The land reforms initially took land away from land owners, and distributed them out to people. Of course, this wasn’t a smooth transition, and it was quite violent, but those who got the land were quite happy… For a short bit, that is. Collective farming was introduced, and sprouted the Great Leap Forward, and as the farming quotas from above kept increasing, communes.
And because China was trying to “catch up to Britain, and surpass America“. The whole thin was a flop, and caused widespread famine throughout. In fact, the famine was so severe, it was known as the “三年大饑荒 (Three Great Years of Famine)”.
Before we get to other disasterous decisions made after this incident, let’s talk about some of the other things that came about during this decision. Namely, the Korean War, where 毛澤東(Mao, ZeDong) had lost his son, 毛岸英(Mao, An-Ying). Many say, that if this hadn’t happened, China’s current situation would be pretty much like that of North Korea. A so-called “Communist country” ruled by a monarchy The thing is, we now have a so-called “Communist country” with a capitalist economy, and heavy collusion between the state and business. Many of Mao’s poor decisions, may actually stem from the fact that he lost a son he could have passed on the throne to. Since he had no way of ensuring his legacy, he was determined to do anything in his way to protect it himself.
The famines were a disaster, and one of the most vocal critics, was 彭德懷(Peng, De-Huai). Eventually, Mao couldn’t take any of this, and took him down. He laid in obscurity, but eventually made a tiny comeback, until a play called “海瑞罷官 (Huai, Rui, Dismissed from Office)”, which talked about a Ming Dynasty, 海瑞 (Hai, Rui), was wrongfully fired from his job for speaking his mind. Mao had enough sense, and connected some dots that weren’t there, thought the playright was actually criticising him, and had some more powerful people backing him up, why else would he be so bold as to do this? Silly reason, but this was exactly how the 文化大革命 (Cultural Revolution) was set off. It took down other people who Mao thought were in his way, like 劉少奇 (Liu, Shao-Qi), and a whole slew of others. Mao’s takedown of Peng, is probably more because Peng was the Chinese General in Charge during the Korean War, and Mao’s son, was killed under his watch.
The Cultural Revolution is just one of the more well-known outside of China. Of course, there was the…
- 鎮壓反革命 (Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries)
- 百花齊放 (Hundred Flowers Campaign)
- 三反五反 (Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns)
- 打麻雀運動 (Sparrow Campaign)
Probably one that deserves the Darwin Awards the most, would be the
And a whole slew of other campaigns during that period, pretty much brought the entire country to their knees. These policies pretty much covered the entirety of Mao’s time in office.
So with all this going on, why is he still so celebrated? One, he was the main guy who reorganized the party, the party that actually was consistent in trying to fight the Japanese during the 八年抗日戰爭(8 years of the Second Sino-Japanese War), where as opposed to their rivals the 國民黨 (Kuo Min Tang [KMT]/Nationalist Party), under the leadership of 蔣介石 (Chiang, Kai-Shek), was more worried about the Communists themselves, and didn’t realize the people were more concerned with Japanese aggression. So really, by being the leader of the party that fought against the Japanese, he’s celebrated for his anti-Japanese stance. That, and he killed off his political rivals, so however they may have contributed, has become obscured in history. Most recently, 薄熙來(Bo, XiLai) had sought to revive the whole Mao cult thing, and was a potential rival to a lot of people in power, which is why after he was taken down, the current leadership saw how popular his approach was, and has started to use it for themselves. Mao’s 120th birthday? Perfect timing!
I wonder if a Mao impersonator made an appearance.
Have yourselves a very “Merry Mao Christmas”!
COROLLARY: January 11, 2014
On how 習近平 (Xi, Jin-Ping) is capitalizing on Mao, and using it to strengthen his grapple over the government…