A Critical Introduction to Mao
Mao Zedong's political career spanned more than half a century. The ideas he championed transformed one of the largest nations on earth and inspired revolutionary movements across the world. Even today Mao lives on in China, where he is regarded by many as a near-mythical figure, and in the West, where a burgeoning literature continues to debate his memory. In this book, leading scholars from different generations and around the world offer a critical evaluation of the life and legacy of China's most famous - some would say infamous - son. In the first section, chapters explore the historical and political context of Mao's emergence as a young man and revolutionary in the early twentieth century. Through this period it is possible to examine the nature of Mao's ideology in its purest form and to see why it was attractive to so many. This section also chronicles the main events of his life and individual aspects of that life: his key relationships with allies and foes, his followers and his public persona, his philosophy, and his relationship with women. In the final part, chapters debate the positive and negative aspects of his legacy; in China Mao has become a metaphor for the promises and betrayals of the twentieth century, in developing countries he remains a beacon of revolutionary hope for some, and in the West Mao continues to be the mirror of our hopes and fears. The book brings the scholarship on Mao up to date, and its alternative perspectives equip readers to assess for themselves the nature of this mercurial figure and his significance in modern Chinese history.
in which he gave three reasons for its founding.14 First, members wanted to improve their own personal qualities and felt that friends and mutual aid were essential. Second, the national currents of new thought and new literature led to the “sudden realization that it was all wrong to lead a quiet and solitary life, and that, on the contrary, it was necessary Zhonggong zhongyang wenxian yanijushi, ed., Mao Zedong Nianpu [Mao Zedong Chronology], Vol. 1 Beijing: (Zhongyang Wenxian Chubanshe,
retool urban managerial and entrepreneurial elites by having them study Mao Zedong’s writings and CCP policy. The regime in these hardened as the twin fears about corruption and internal traitors intensified. Those sent to revolutionary universities, who may have numbered hundreds of thousands, if not a million people, were compelled to write confessions and participate in criticism meetings. In 1951, the CCP began three interlinked campaigns: the Savings Campaign and the Three and Five Anti
senior figures present thought they had an opening in Mao’s recent criticism of Jiang’s excesses. But everyone understood the overwhelming authority of Mao, and when he came down on the radicals’ side, opposition melted away. Equally revealing of the need to be in tune with the Chairman were Zhou Enlai’s efforts to protect other top leaders, something he only did within his understanding of Mao’s wishes, and would crudely abandon when necessary. Thus, despite early efforts to provide some
the Chairman and reports directed to his photo (for more on Mao the Icon, see Chapter 9). Mao, previously a hero, had become a god. But more than religious piety was involved; as in many religions, fear accompanied belief. A graphic illustration occurred in the home of a Shanghai journalist as a child. When Mao’s portrait accidentally fell off the wall, his terrified mother fell to her knees before it, begging forgiveness.37 Yet, for all the extremity of the period, there were striking
Peng Pai signified revolutionary intellectuals’ awakening to the importance of their own honest selfexamination, self-reform, and willingness to move beyond their own intellectual-ideological universe to integrate their revolutionary theory into Chinese reality. Insufficient Political Commitment Antielitist elitism also emerged as revolutionary intellectuals pondered another important issue – their political commitment. Although radical intellectuals argued that class background determined