Monday, October 24, 2011

Hip to like Mao?

The other day I was watching a TED Talk featuring Bunker Roy, an Indian social activist. I wanted to find out more about him so I did a google search and read a few articles. The one thing that struck a nerve in me was his acknowledgement of being influenced by the philosophy of Mao Zedong. This is not the first time I have read about an intellectual being influenced by Mao but I find it odd that it is largely acceptable to publicly acknowledge it.

To make my point, lets take a look at some of the atrocities committed under the rulership of Mao.

1949 - The People's Republic of China was established on October 1 under Mao Zedong.

1951- "Inside China the policies of moderation are replaced by a campaign against 'enemies of the state' that will affect millions. Foreigners and Christian missionaries are branded as spies. Landlords and wealthy peasants are stripped of their land. Intellectuals, scientists, professionals, artists and writers are forced into 'self-criticism' and public confessions of their failings in relation to communist ideals."

"Incompetent and politically unreliable public officials are purged. Corrupt businessmen and industrialists are removed from the system. The bourgeoisie are held in suspicion. Reports suggest that from one to three million are executed during the campaign." (1)

1958 - "Mao launches the 'Great Leap Forward' to accelerate the development of all sectors of the economy at once...It soon becomes apparent that the Great Leap Forward is an ill-considered failure. Rather than boosting production, the Great Leap Forward brings shortages of food and raw materials and the demoralisation and exhaustion of the workforce...Widespread famine results, especially in rural areas.

It is estimated that from 1958 to 1961, 14 to 20 million more people die of starvation than in similar years of poor harvests. The number of reported births is about 23 million less than under normal circumstances.

Other estimates place the number who die because of the famine at between 23 and 45 million

Mao refuses to recognise or deal with the reality of the situation, saying "When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill." (1)

1959 - "In April the fallout of the Great Leap Forward sees Mao resign as chairman of the People's Republic, although he remains chairman of the CCP." (1)

1962 - "Mao returns from the 'second line' of decision-making and begins a campaign to purify the party of 'capitalists' and 'counter-revolutionaries', using his enormous status to hold sway. His 'Socialist Education Movement' seeks to restore ideological purity and intensify the class struggle, calling on the population to to learn from the People's Liberation Army', which in turn is asked to promote 'Mao Tse-Tung Thought' as the guiding principle for a renewal of the revolution.

The school system is reorganised to accommodate the work schedule of communes and factories. Intellectuals and scholars are 'reeducated' to accept that their participation in manual labour is needed to remove 'bourgeois' influences. The education movement will become increasingly militant" (1)

1966 - (Cultural Revolution) "Schools, colleges and universities are closed. Virtually all engineers, managers, scientists, technicians, and other professionals are 'criticised,' demoted or 'sent down' to the countryside to 'participate in labour.' Many are jailed. Management of factories is placed in the hands of ill-equipped revolutionary committees. As a result, the country experiences a 14% decline in industrial production in 1967.

China's traditional respect for learning and the experience of age is turned on its head. Many cultural artefact's are damaged or destroyed. Cultural expression is severely curtailed. Religious practices are suppressed."(1)

The cultural revolution continues for ten years during which time millions are persecuted and suffered abuses such as torture, imprisonment, rape and seizure of property.(2)

This is by no means a complete summary, I'm just highlighting major events.

Bottom line, Mao was a bad guy. If Bunker Roy said that he was influenced by the philosophies of Hitler no one would give him the time of day. How strange it is that Mao doesn't seem to produce the same illicit response.

(1)More or Less:Heroes and Killers
(2)Wikipedia: Mao Zedong

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