In the previous installment of Bloody Revolution, the origins of the Communist ideology were explored, as well as the bloody and violent history of Marxist-style revolution since Marx & Engels published their infamous treatise on class struggle–The Communist Manifesto. The alleged evils of capitalism, as manifested in the industrialized West, are the root of all evil, according to the progenitors and supporters of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. Nothing has changed to this current day for the votaries of the Marxist-Leninist religion.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, the bloody revolution began to spread out its tentacles across the globe–all the way to China.
The Rise of Mao
When China finally opened its doors to the West in the Nineteenth Century, Europeans flocked there for primarily commercial reasons–particularly the British. After centuries of remaining a closed society, China was now being exposed to Western thought and ideologies.
One Western idea that held particular sway over China’s intellectuals of the time was Charles Robert Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. In 1895, Darwin’s famous work The Origin of Species was translated into Chinese. Harvard historian James Reeve Pusey wrote in his work entitled “China and Charles Darwin” the importance of Darwinian theory in Mao’s view of the world and society:
“The Thought of Mao Tse-tung was and remains a powerful mixture of Darwinian ironies and contradictions … Mao Tse-tung in an angry moment (as late as 1964) swore that ‘all demons shall be annihilated.’ He dehumanized his enemies, partly in traditional hyperbole, partly in Social Darwinian ‘realism.’ Like the Anarchists, he saw reactionaries as evolutionary throwbacks, who deserved extinction. The people’s enemies were non-people, and they did not deserve to be treated as people.”
–James Reeve Pusey
China and Charles Darwin
Harvard University Press, 1983, pp. 455-456
In addition, many of Darwin’s Western colleagues were quite popular with the Chinese intelligentsia–like fervent Darwin supporter Thomas Huxley (“Darwin’s bulldog”); Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, and a prominent racist; and social Darwinist Herbert Spencer, who applied Darwin’s theory to the social sciences.
In the Winter of 1918, Mao Zedong attended university in Beijing. Many of Mao’s views took shape during his student years in the 1920s. Mao began to study Western concepts, such as anarchism–which Mao rather liked–Bolshevism in Russia, liberalism, Utopianism … and every other “ism” one could think of. It was quite a revelation for a young man from the provinces.
“The basis of Chinese socialism rests on Darwin and his theory of evolution.”
Kampf um Mao’s Erbe (Struggle for Mao’s Legacy),
Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (German Publishing House),
One of Mao’s biggest influences was Marxist theoretician Chen Duxiu–who was himself greatly influenced by Darwin’s theories. Duxiu taught Mao both Communism and Darwinism. Mao Zedong admits:
“Nobody influenced me as much as Chen Duxiu.”
Triad Paladin Grafton Books,
Glasgow, 1984, (p. 27)
It was in Shanghai, in the French quarter during 1921, that Mao, with 12 other young men, met with agents of the Russian Comintern to found the Chinese Communist Party. Mao encouraged them to adopt a revolutionary world view, and provided major ideological support for the development of Communist movement in the country. The “social change” was all orchestrated by Mao.
At that time, Mao had a powerful adversary–the pro-Western Nationalist Party (known as the Kuomintang or KMT) leader Chiang Kai Shek. The Chinese middle-class were quite concerned about the direction the Communists would take China and typically sided with the Nationalist Movement. To the Communists, the middle-class were the Bourgeoisie–which needed to be eliminated. The stage was being set for a sustained and bloody conflict.
In 1927, violence exploded between the Nationalists and the Communists. Mao took leadership of the Communist Party in China during the last half of the 1920s, and led Communist guerrillas in a long war against the Nationalists.
In 1934, started the epic retreat known as the Long March–which took the Communists some 6,000 miles over the backwaters and rugged terrain of the interior. Some 86,000 Red Chinese set out on the Long March, fewer than seven thousand would return.
“Revolution is not a dinner party.”
Then, in 1937, the Japanese attacked China. Chiang Kai Shek reluctantly agreed to a truce with the Communists; thereby, forming an alliance with the Red Chinese to fight the Japanese aggression.
Following the end of World War Two, a major geopolitical upheaval was occurring in China. Two titanic forces were now in a lethal fight to gain control over a population of some 500 million people–the Nationalists v. the Communists.
The Nationalists resumed fighting against the Communists after their brief alliance during World War Two. The excesses of Chiang Kai Shek via his brutal reprisals, and military blunders, led to defeat for the Nationalists in China.
From the BBC:
“In 1946, civil war broke out between the KMT and the Communists. In 1949, the Communists were victorious, establishing the People’s Republic of China. Chiang and the remaining KMT forces fled to the island of Taiwan. There Chiang established a government in exile which he led for the next 25 years. This government continued to be recognised by many countries as the legitimate government of China, and Taiwan controlled China’s seat in the United Nations until the end of Chiang’s life. He died on 5 April 1975.”
The long war between the Communists and the Nationalists led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
In 1949, Mao declared himself the Supreme Ruler of all China. Communist flags flew all over Beijing. Mao declared “Marxism-Leninism is our only guide.” But those who were so enthusiastically applauding Mao’s victory were soon to become his victims.
Shortly after taking power, Mao traveled to Moscow to meet with then Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. Stalin considered Mao an ally and close personal friend. Mao even appears to have picked up some of Stalin’s mannerisms–the ever-present cigar, the self-congratulatory hand-clapping, the fatherly figure persona, etc. Stalin believed China would become a Soviet satellite state after his own image.
Mao immediately set out to implement the Marxist policies of collectivization and the confiscation of all private property. Businessman who had their assets seized put on false displays of joy for the Communist cameraman, along with their wives and families.
During Mao’s first years in power, the People’s Courts are set up. Hundreds of thousands are humiliated and harangued in front of the masses. Many are condemned to death for the most minor infractions and alleged crimes.
Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”
Mao’s goal, like the Soviet Union, was to try and catch up with the “advanced nations of the West.” It all started with the slogan of doubling China’s agricultural and industrial production. This became known as Mao’s notorious “Great Leap Forward.”
Most Chinese farmers and peasants lived in poverty. But they were able to produce enough from the land to at least feed themselves. This all dramatically changed when Mao, like Lenin and Stalin, forced independent farmers into huge collectives under military-like discipline. Mao would regularly inspect the fields and the villagers.
Mao then launched an all-0ut assault on “pests.” Rats, flies, mosquitoes, and–above all–sparrows, were all declared “enemies of the state,” so to speak. Chinese peasants spent inordinate amounts of time and resources attempting to eliminate rodents, insects and birds. Mao felt such pest control measures were necessary in order to decrease the damage to crops inflicted by such undesirables. Hundreds of thousands employed stones, slingshots and guns to kill as many sparrows, and other vermin, as possible.
Unfortunately, the killing off of the sparrows had the unintended effect of increasing the insect population, since their natural predator–the sparrow–had been practically eradicated. This led to even greater crop losses than before. When the campaign failed, the target was discreetly changed to bed bugs.
Mao wanted China to double its industrial production. Factory workers’ shifts were doubled and machines began to work around the clock until they broke down. They were not even allowed down-time for maintenance … factories were ruined.
Mao also demanded steel production be doubled in one year–not only from industry, but by small furnaces built by the masses. Everybody joined in the production of steel. Even people in the cities–like doctors–were obligated to produce steel after their normal working hours. Forests were plundered to provide firewood for the primitive furnaces. Anything containing iron was melted down–saucers, cups, tools, etc. But, in the end, the steel being produced was of such poor quality that it was utterly useless. It was a colossal waste.
Following the collectivization of agriculture by Mao, Chinese communes began staging competitions in 1958 to see who reached or exceeded their quotas. Every commune swore to reach higher quotas. Next, the communes all claimed to have exceeded their quotas. But the statistics did not add up. They had resorted to deception to give the impression they had produced more.
The communal systems led to false statistics. On average, an acre could produce around one ton of rice. But some communes were claiming upwards of 20 tons of rice from one acre–impossible.
The false statistics and deception led the Communist government to claim China had more grain than was needed, and that they would have to give priority to other tasks. Tens of millions of peasants were therefore removed from the fields and forced to work on the construction of a giant canal at the edge of the Tai-hang mountains. Tens of thousands were killed in accidents during the construction of the canal. The Communist regime promised the project would be over in a matter of months–it took over ten years.
In 1959, while people are making steel and canals, the fields were left unattended. Within a few months, a famine broke out–worsened by a severe drought. In 1960, the worst famine in mankind’s history erupted. 38-40 million people starved to death in just two years. According to Chinese historian Ying Jisheng, the number of those who died of starvation jumped from 1.4 million in 1958 to almost 10 million by 1960.
As had happened in Russia under Lenin and Stalin, the famine led to cases of cannibalism–even parents eating their own children.
The Cultural Revolution
Following the disaster of the Great Leap Forward, Mao went into seclusion and became more and more reclusive. Although Mao was out of the spotlight, he continued to plot on ways to further his Communist revolution. Mao thought the Communist ideology had not been spread sufficiently. Tens of millions of copies of Mao’s Little Red Book–a collection of quotes and sayings from Mao– were published and handed out to the masses. The Little Red Book became a necessary accoutrement for the Chinese masses. The Communist propaganda machine portrayed Mao as a god.
“From May 1966, student members of the Communist Party were encouraged to carry copies of Mao’s Little Red Book of quotations. Acting under Mao’s leadership, these ‘Red Guards’ used his quotations in their mission to weed out intellectuals. With themes such as Correcting Mistaken Ideas and All Reactionaries are Paper Tigers, the quotations became the standard by which all revolutionary efforts were judged.”
Mao, known as the Great Helmsman, reemerges in the late sixties. Students at the Tsinghua University Middle School form a group known as the Red Guards–the militants of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution. One million gather in Tiananmen Square–trampling each other to get a glimpse of their dear leader. The young militants shout, “We left our schools to rebel. We will overthrow all the capitalists within the Party.”
“The first students to call themselves ‘Red Guards’ in China were a group of students at the Tsinghua University Middle School who used the name Red Guards to sign two big-character posters issued on May 25 and June 2 of 1966. The students believed that the criticism of the play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office was a political issue and needed greater attention. The group of students, led by Zhang Chengzhi at Tsinghua University Middle School and Nie Yuanzi at Peking University, originally wrote the posters as a constructive criticism of Tsinghua University and Peking University’s administration, which were accused of harboring ‘intellectual elitism’ and ‘bourgeois’ tendencies. However, they were denounced as ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and ‘radicals’ by the school administration and fellow students, and were forced to secretly meet amongst the ruins of the Old Summer Palace. Nevertheless, Chairman Mao Zedong ordered that the manifesto of the Red Guards be broadcast on national radio and published in the People’s Daily newspaper. This action gave the Red Guards political legitimacy, and student groups quickly began to appear across China.[...]“
Nie Yuanzi, ex Red Guard leader, claims Mao said:
“This is the declaration of the Beijing Commune–the Paris commune of the Twentieth Century … even better and more brilliant than the declaration of the Paris Commune….”
This was the opening salvo of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
One of Mao’s most favored quotations, on part of the rebels, was: “without destruction, there is no construction.” First, destroy … then on the basis of destruction will arise something new. Mao debased the traditional arts and introduced conflict and violence into the mix.
The Red Guards took Mao at this word. As was done in other Marxist insurrections around the world, they began to ransack religious institutions and monasteries as far away as Tibet–unprecedented in Chinese history. Anyone suspected of Bourgeoisie tendencies was publicly humiliated–even beaten and–or–killed. A witness to the zealousness of the Red Guards described a scene at a campus where university professors were being detained during the Cultural Revolution:
“… Before a new four-story classrom building, I saw rows of teachers, about 40 or 50 in all, with black ink poured over their heads and faces … They all wore dunce caps and carried dirty brooms, shoes and dusters on thier backs. Hanging from their necks were pails filled with rocks … Finally, they all knelt down, burned incense, and begged Mao Zedong to ‘pardon their crimes.’… Beating and torture followed. I had never seen such tortures before: eating nightsoil and insects, being subjected to electric shocks, being forced to kneel on broken glass, being hanged ‘like an airplane’ by the arms and legs.”
Ken Ling, Miriam London and Lee Ta-ling,
Red Guard: From Schoolboy to “Little General” in Mao’s China,
London, McDonald, 1972, pp. 18-21
The Red Guards attacked Western diplomats, burned books, sacked museums–after which fighting broke out between Red Guard factions. Factories, schools, hospitals all stopped functioning. Mao eventually disbanded the student Red Guards and sent them to work in the fields. But, by then, more than one million Chinese had been killed during the Cultural Revolution.
Additionally, at this time, Sino-Soviet relations were breaking down. Skirmishes with Soviet troops became commonplace on China’s border. The Russians began to ask themselves whether the two countries were headed for war.
The End of Chairman Mao
As was the case with Lenin and Stalin, Mao saw anybody who was not in complete agreement with his views as a direct threat. Mao turned on the old Marshall and Minister of Defense Peng Dehuai–who was publicly humiliated, detained and tortured for many years. Mao also saw his likely successor, Lin Biao, as a threat to his power. But Lin Biao did not buckle under to Mao’s wishes, but instead tried to flee China. Biao’s plane ran out of gas and crashed–killing all aboard. Head of State, Liu Shaogi, had felt the sting of Mao’s vengeance when he questioned the Chairman’s policies during the “Great Leap Forward.” Just like with Lenin and Stalin, the most dangerous place to be within the Communist apparatus was the inner-circle of the Supreme Leader.
In 1973, Mao made his last public appearance. Mao died on Sept. 9, 1976 from a rare disorder of the nervous system known as Lou Gehrig’s disease–leaving 50 million dead behind him.
Despite the piles of corpses and the colossal failures created by the policies of the so-called Great Helmsman, Mao’s ideology continued to spread to places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Albania and North Korea.
“The peoples of the world should have courage … they must dare to fight and advance wave upon wave. The whole world will belong to the people and all demons will be eliminated.”
Although Chairman Mao attempted to put his own spin on Marxism-Leninism, it still produced the same bitter harvest as it did in Russia. The collectivization of agriculture led to famine and mass starvation … religious institutions were profaned and ransacked. Anyone suspected of “Bourgeoisie tendencies,” or “capitalist sympathies,” was persecuted, imprisoned, tortured or killed–or all of the above.
Cossacks, priests, businessman–practically all the thinking element of Russian society before the October Revolution–were systematically liquidated in Russia. The same terror perpetrated against intellectuals in Russia was repeated in Communist China under the merciless reign of Chairman Mao and his sycophant followers.
Of course, as in all state machines, all of China’s industry and production was nationalized … all private assets were seized. The individual was snuffed out–even the concept of individualism.
While the Soviets employed their dreaded Cheka (forerunner of the KGB) to instill fear and terror in the populace, the Communists in China did the same by employing the Red Guards and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army). Torture, executions, abuse of power and genocidal policies are part and parcel with the Communist system. For example, the Chinese Communist regime killed 26 million Uighur Turks between 1949 and 1975 by a variety of means. Stalin also wiped out entire indigenous populations within the borders of the Soviet Union during his reign of terror.
It is more than a little disturbingly ironic the ideology of Communism–a philosophy allegedly supporting a classless society devoid of racism–in practice, leads to genocidal persecution of ethnic groups and socio-economic classes within a de facto Communistic society. Yet that is exactly what has occurred in every bloody Marxist revolution to date.
“We will change this country. We will change the world.”
From TRP: The soundtrack in the following video is not the best–the music overpowers the narrator at times. But it still provides a fairly comprehensive treatment of Mao’s bloody reign in China.
Mao’s Bloody Revolution