"But this was just the beginning of the great mistakes that were made at this time," said Steve. "A year later, in 1958, Mao's Great Leap Forward was launched that began the massive economic reform of China. But Mao was a blind man in terms of economics. He didn't have a clue what an economy is, not unlike most leaders in the West today. Mao was an idiot in that respect, doing everything wrong. His collective farm system was a disaster. Production dropped, 15% in the first year, than another 10% the next years, and so on. With corruption added to the mix and falsified figures being boasted, more grain shipments were commandeered than the system could give, and as a consequence tens of millions of peasants died of starvation. Some called this the greatest holocaust of famine in all of human history, up to this time. In order to make the Great Leap appear to be a success, record harvests were claimed by the officials, and China even became a net-exporter of grains while its peasants were dying of starvation. The death toll from this mistake is estimated to have been in the range of twenty to seventy million. The Great Leap Forward ended in 1962. a year before its expected completion."
"Four years later the next catastrophe was started," said Ushi. "It was called, the Cultural Revolution. In real terms it was a revolution in insanity. Mao was gripped with fear that he might be losing his place on the political stage. His answer was the Cultural Revolution that turned the entire country upside down in an orgy of sheer madness that began in 1966. Certain liberal elements of society were labeled 'class enemies' that threatened the socialist framework of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' as the communist system was then called. Mao had envisioned the Cultural Revolution as a means for circumventing the communist hierarchy by means of giving power directly to the people, to the Red Guards. The Guards were groups of ideologically trained young people, many of them teenagers, who set up their own tribunals and reigned in a fury of hell over the country. Countless millions were prosecuted in this modern version of the Spanish Inquisition. Mao closed the schools and sent the intellectuals living in cities to the countryside. The ensuing revolution of madness destroyed much of China's cultural heritage and caused general economic and social chaos all across the country. Millions were imprisoned and millions more had their lives ruined during this revolutionary cultural destruction that cut deep into every part of Chinese life. Many people committed suicide. After three years of chaos the Guards were disbanded. By then the Cultural Revolution had gone far beyond Mao's original intentions. It had created a mess as things spun out of control, by which Mao's personal authority dwindled further and further. His chief lieutenants, Lin Biao and Mao's third wife came to his aid and manipulated the turmoil by glorifying Mao as a godlike figure. After all, Mao's famous Red Book had been spread across the country by then with over 350 million copies having been printed. People had come to hail Mao with the slogan, 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years.' Ironically his trusted supporter, Lin Biao, and Mao's wife used this campaign as a screen to consolidate their own power. Lin Biao, who had already codified himself as Mao's successor, launched a coup against Mao over an issue of power sharing. As the coup failed, and while trying to escape the country, Lin's plane 'crashed.' Mao lived for another five years. He died eight months after the death of Premier Zhou Enlai. In those years after the coup he tried to establish another successor, which of course failed as he no longer trusted anyone. But he did set the stage of change. In the aftermath of the attempted coup many officials that had been criticized and dismissed during the Cultural Revolution fiasco were reinstated. Among these was Deng Xiaoping who ended up saving China from the grip of the Gang of Four."
"Oh yes, the Gang of Four," said Steve. "They add to the color of China.
Mao's last wife Jiang Qing, became estranged from him and formed a political power alliance against him with three of her closest associates. The resulting Gang of Four effectively controlled the institutions of power in China during much of the Cultural Revolution, especially during the latter stages. It becomes unclear therefore which of the major decisions were made by Mao or by the Gang. The Gang, together with general Lin Biao, were the main counter-revolutionary forces that turned the Cultural Revolution upside down, purging the country of their own opposition. They caused the country to be forced into two conflicting directions at once. This dual purge caused much of the societal chaos that ensued during the ten years of turmoil that the Cultural Revolution became. The Gang was fully in control of China when Mao died, but its rule was short lived. A mere month after Mao's death, the Gang that would rule China was quietly arrested and their supporters with them under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping. The news of the arrests sparked major celebrations on the streets of Beijing. It also ended China's turbulent era that the Mao era undoubtedly was."
"The fact remains that Mao changed the face of the communist movement worldwide and is still honored to the present day for his part in the history of China," I said Steve.
"The reason for that was that something profound did come out the long struggle," said Steve. "Before Mao took power the literacy rate was 20% and life expectancy was a mere 35 years. By the time of Mao's death the literacy rate was up to 93% and the life expectancy had doubled to 70 years. The total population of China had remained constant at the 400 million mark for the century-long period between the Opium Wars and the Chinese Civil War. Then, suddenly, in a quarter century the population increased to 700 million. In spite of all the horrors of the wars and persecution China, had won a huge achievement, and this against all the opposition from outside the country, which had become a world of Empire. Under Mao's regime, China gained a new face. It ended the century-long humiliation that started with the Opium Wars. China became a major power. In spite of his economic fumbling Mao industrialized China to a considerable extent. He gave China sovereignty as fast as America and Europe was loosing theirs to the forces of empire. Mao wiped the slate clean for future generations to build upon. He brought to China a high level of morality and empathy with a sense of the general welfare that was not seen before in Asia, that helped stabilize this largest country on the planet in the absence of a national religion, or guiding spirituality. He created an atmosphere that was virtual free of corruption with a general happiness in society at levels that have not been seen in China in its entire history, while the West began drowning in corruption. This was the precious thing that was on the table on the 4th of June in 1989. Something precious had been wrought in China at the price of millions of lives. Historians point out that the price that was paid in human lives to get to this point paled in comparison to the number of deaths caused by famine, anarchy, wars, and foreign invasions in the years before the Communists took power. Sure, much of that was overturned when Deng Xiaoping came to power at the end of 1978 and opened China to the masters of Empire and their slavery, but much was also retained. And that is what was now threatened to become lost as well. The new leaders of China decided, the puck stops here!"
"What was achieved during the Mao period was precious to those who understood the real history of China," said Ushi. Those who understood this history heard the cries for democracy on Tiananmen Square in a different way. They heard the cries of a chorus paid for by the moneybags of the masters of Empire. They knew that giving in to democracy in the stile of Empire, was to put the country onto the highway to hell, and betraying all the struggles, tears, and sacrifices of the past. The leaders stood their ground therefore, on June 4th. On this one day after seven weeks of escalating tensions the confrontation took on a life of its own. The army was brought in to restore order to save the nation. The army had been blocked by the agitated mobs before, on earlier calls to enter the capital to restore order. This time it succeeded. After seven weeks of tensions with the nation existence being at stake, and ever larger crowds becoming agitated, chaos broke out in the heat of the confrontation and the shooting began. A few hundred people died that day. In the end, China survived. The rape of China by the masters of Empire did not succeed on that day.
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