Mao's Last Slaughter: China's Cultural Revolution 1966-1976

owedtojoy

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Given that Chairman Xi has now ascended to the level of Chairman Mao, it may be apposite to look at the latter’s last gift to China which convulsed the country for a decade, some fifty years ago.

The catastrophe of the “Great Leap Forward”, which Mao inflicted on the country in 1956 – 62, is described here:
http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/241694-greatest-monster-world-has-ever-known-my-candidate.html

1962 saw Mao at his weakest, with some event expecting him to step down. But Mao was transfixed by what had happened in the Soviet Union. There, Stalin’s legacy has been attacked by Khrushchev, and the Soviets seemed to have stepped back completely from world revolution. Convinced any weakness would see a Chinese Khrushchev emerge Mao went onto the counter-attack.

The Cultural Revolution incubated in the years 1962 to 1966. Vicious purges took place in the party, with tens of thousands accused of “taking the capitalist road”. Mao’s ally in this was Liu Shaoqui who had forced him to mitigate the measures of the “Great Leap Forward”. Mao awaited his revenge

Phase 1: The Red Years (1966 – 68)

In June of that year, students at Peking University began scrutinising the records of their professors and lecturers, accusing many of being capitalist-roaders. Their excesses were curbed by Deng Xiaoping and Liu, but Mao opportunistically took the side of the students. Soon, Red Guards were on the rampage in many cities and universities, dressed in quasi-military uniforms, waving Mao’s Little Red Book, burning books, subjecting teachers to public humiliation, and creating chaos. They were joined by many echelons of the lower party encouraged by the Chairman. Liu was purged, lost all his offices and died two years later. Deng barely survived.

The main targets of what was called the Cultural Revolution were the middle and upper party, but people who had taken the wrong side in the Civil War were also easy targets. Party leaders had first-class survival instincts, and knew how to divert the fury of the Red Guards elsewhere.

But the chaos got worse as the movement factionalised, and the factions began civil wars is many parts of the country. Internal trade was disrupted, and the country saw some of the hardships of the war and the 1950s return.

Historian Frank Dikrotter’s description of Mao at this time is worth quoting: “He may not have been in control, but was always in charge, relishing a game in which he could constantly rewrite the rules. Periodically he stepped in to help a loyal follower or to throw an old colleague to the wolves

Phase 2: The Black Years (1968 – 71)

The only solution was to call in the army to restore a semblance of order. Many Red Guards suffered the vengeance of the population, but others were useful scapegoats. Young women who had been dutiful Red Guards were purged and exiled to the countryside, to be raped and abused by local thugs. Murder, torture and beatings remained common punishments for capitalist-roading. Crazy local experiments in “self-reliance” continued in many parts of the country.

Mao had to share power with the Army chief and Minister of Defence, Lin Biao, but Lin began to build up his own power base and position himself in the succession stakes. He died in a mysterious plane crash in Inner Mongolia in 1971. One rumour had it that he was fleeing to Russia.

Phase 2: The Grey Years (1971 – 76)

The country was exhausted from nearly twenty years of purges and revolutionary frenzy. The credibility of the Party had been destroyed, and in manner places the Chinese returned to the pre-Mao economy of a free market, family farms and businesses. Many local parties went along to ensure people were fed and remained quiescent. That was the situation when Mao died in September 1976.

The death toll of the Cultural Revolution was probably upward of 1 million people in excess to the "normal" death rate. But it had a strange backlash, one Mao would not have appreciated.

Three years later Deng Xiaoping became General Secretary. There is a myth that Deng was a free spirit, independent of Mao, but that was not true. Like Chou Enlai, he had been as much a Mao lickspittle was anyone. His first instincts were to re-introduce Mao’s policies, but he soon perceived that the Chinese people had had enough of a command economy as practiced by the Great Helmsman.

So the Faustian bargain was struck – the capitalist road was at last triumphant, but the Party retained an iron-fisted control of the political sphere that has continued to this day.
 
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parentheses

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I,m a bit of a sceptic 're these horror stories.

I,m inclined to believe much of the horror stories are propaganda by a spooked and demoralised western establishment
 

owedtojoy

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I,m a bit of a sceptic 're these horror stories.

I,m inclined to believe much of the horror stories are propaganda by a spooked and demoralised western establishment
We are talking about a half-century ago, I was alive then, I read the newspapers, the Cultural Revolution was real, the evidence is there.

The Cultural Revolution
A People's History, 1962—1976


Frank Dikrotter, by the way, lives and writes in Hong Kong, hardly a member of the western establishment.

Denial of historical facts is a sign of a desperate clinging on to worn-out modes of thinking, like the Holocaust and anti-Semites. Or Stalin's purges and communists.
 

cricket

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Cork balladeer, Jimmy Crowley, wrote a play about a sit-in at a house which had a room given over as a bookshop by Maoists in the 60's and attracted hostile attention from the local priests, Legion of Mary, etc. A siege of sorts went on for a few days before petering out. Never got to see the play, but I knew one of the sitters in who went onto being a member of FF and a fairly successful businessman.
 

Expose the lot of them

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Cork balladeer, Jimmy Crowley, wrote a play about a sit-in at a house which had a room given over as a bookshop by Maoists in the 60's and attracted hostile attention from the local priests, Legion of Mary, etc. A siege of sorts went on for a few days before petering out. Never got to see the play, but I knew one of the sitters in who went onto being a member of FF and a fairly successful businessman.
Seem to remember that it was Stephie Coughlan who did the rabble rousing to remove the Maoists from Limerick, with violence. I am sure you remember the bould Stephen, a "labour" Mayor.
 

parentheses

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if Mao was so bad then how did China double its population and life expectancy in a few decades?

the improvement in Chinese life expectancy seems stunning

Between 1950 and 1980, China experienced the most rapid sustained increase in life expectancy of any population in documented global history./
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25495509
 
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owedtojoy

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if Mao was so bad then how did China double its population and life expectancy in a few decades?

the improvement in Chinese life expectancy seems stunning

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25495509
It had nothing to do with Mao - any leader would have introduced modern medicine and made it available to the Chinese people. Other countries made equal or better advances - India, Brazil etc.

The catastrophe of the Great Leap Forward is visible on the chart - the massive hole that suddenly appeared in the birthrate in the late 1950s. That was 100% caused by Mao's reckless policies.



Mao was no beneficiary - communism has clearly failed and been abandoned for capitalism. There is not a planned economy now, as there was under Mao.

To the CP, he is a convenient totemic figure, but that is all.
 
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owedtojoy

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Cork balladeer, Jimmy Crowley, wrote a play about a sit-in at a house which had a room given over as a bookshop by Maoists in the 60's and attracted hostile attention from the local priests, Legion of Mary, etc. A siege of sorts went on for a few days before petering out. Never got to see the play, but I knew one of the sitters in who went onto being a member of FF and a fairly successful businessman.
The Maoists were very much a phenomenon of their time.

I remember one in college who loudly protested at a visit by De Valera himself, "traitor to the Irish working classes!", and got arrested.

He is now a quiet GP, somewhere is Munster, who would not day "boo!" to a goose, probably plays golf.
 

owedtojoy

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razorblade

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Among the biggest tyrants in history whos policies inflicted untold misery over millions.
 

Who is John Galt?

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Some historians consider it to be too onesided, but Jung Chang's book Mao: The Unknown Story gives excellent coverage of the despot's life .
Nearly a thousand pages but remains a page turner with excellent research notes and backup.
 

Accidental sock

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Good OP.....gets the highest praise I can give in this place lately ...i.e. read your post, now I'm compelled to go and do some more reading

Kudos.
 

parentheses

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It had nothing to do with Mao - any leader would have introduced modern medicine and made it available to the Chinese people. Other countries made equal or better advances - India, Brazil etcall.
No. I don't think Brazil or China managed to equal the Chinese achievement in life expectancy gains
 

Clanrickard

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I,m a bit of a lunatic and I am prepared to post any ol shyte 're these horror stories.

I,m inclined to believe much of the horror stories are propaganda by a spooked and demoralised western establishment
That's much more accurate.
 

Dame_Enda

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An evil man on par with Hitler in the numbers killed by massacres, wars and artificial famines.
 

Volatire

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Mao's collectivist fantasies cost 78 million lives in the 20th century. Far more than Hitler and Stalin put together.

Funnily enough, this doesn't stop stupid Irish lefties from spouting socialist claptrap.
 

Who is John Galt?

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Ye all have heard about the famous Long March?
For Mao, it was more the Chaise Longue March.
His minions had to carry the bastard most of the way.
Crossing one particular rocky outcrop, they were reduced to walking on their knees while he sat in his sedan chair.
Their knees and shins bled for weeks afterwards.
Power to the proletariat!
 

RasherHash

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It had nothing to do with Mao - any leader would have introduced modern medicine and made it available to the Chinese people. Other countries made equal or better advances - India, Brazil etc.

The catastrophe of the Great Leap Forward is visible on the chart - the massive hole that suddenly appeared in the birthrate in the late 1950s. That was 100% caused by Mao's reckless policies.



Mao was no beneficiary - communism has clearly failed and been abandoned for capitalism. There is not a planned economy now, as there was under Mao.

To the CP, he is a convenient totemic figure, but that is all.
Communism hasn't been abandoned for capitalism but has been mellowed into a form of socialism.

Socialism is a mixture of communism and capitalism. Most countries in the world are now socialist including the US and China :)
 

razorblade

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Mao's collectivist fantasies cost 78 million lives in the 20th century. Far more than Hitler and Stalin put together.

Funnily enough, this doesn't stop stupid Irish lefties from spouting socialist claptrap.
Indeed an absolute blight on humanity who should never ever be glorified may himself and communism burn in hell.
 


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