When Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party since 1943, died on September 9th, 1976, China was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, which Mao had initiated a decade earlier.1 This was meant to be the first of a series of revolutions to rejuvenate socialism, ridding it of capitalist corruption and bureaucratic rigidity.2 The Cultural Revolution had been preceded by a series of social and political campaigns relentlessly prosecuted by Mao to push China toward the promised paradise of socialism. Mao believed that China could shrug off poverty and jump on to the “golden highway” to socialism if, and only if, the Chinese people, united in thought and action, threw all their talents and energy behind the collective cause.3 Unselfish and property-less, the Chinese people would be reborn. Having shed the burden of history and Chinese feudalism on the one hand, and without the distraction of material interests and western capitalism on the other, the Chinese people would respond to nothing but the call of socialism. However, instead of paradise, Mao’s deeply flawed ideology and ill-thought-out revolutions not only brought to the Chinese people the most lethal famine in human history, but also cut them off from their cultural roots and the progress of modern times.4 An enterprising people were quickly reduced to lifeless cogs in the socialist machine.
KeywordsLocal Authority Central Planning Chinese People Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution
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