Unmasking Mao - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...

'Cold war' communist versus capitalist ideological struggle (1946 - 1990) and everything else in the post World War II era (1946 onwards).
Forum rules: No one line posts please.
By | I, CWAS |
Unmasking Mao
By Ronald Radosh

If you ask any literate student or scholar in China what they now think of Mao, they will tell you, “Mao was two-thirds good and one-third bad.” This reflects the official revised version of Mao’s standing by the current government, which allows one to reflect that some of what Mao did was unnecessary, since it is far too obvious that his own policies led to what they call the “excesses” of the Cultural Revolution.

It is the importance and power of the new biography by Jung Chang and her husband Jon Halliday that the world’s understanding of Mao is about to undergo a cataclysmic change. The authors are well equipped to undertake such a monumental task. Jung Chang, born in China in 1952, suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution, where she was assigned to be a “barefoot doctor” who treated peasants without any medical training, as real doctors were arrested or killed. Her international best selling memoir of three generations of her family, Wild Swans, captured the ways in which giant cultural change impacted on her own family’s life. Halliday, a Russian historian at King’s College in Britain, was a former editor of New Left Review, and during one period in the 1960’s, a supporter of the Communist regime in Albania. Halliday obviously had serious second thoughts, and in this book, any romance with Communism and illusions about its role in the world have thoroughly disappeared.

Before I discuss what the authors reveal about Mao, his beliefs and his policies, it is necessary to list in summary form much of what most of us have heard, digested and believed about Mao and the Chinese Communists. These commonplace views come from scores of books and reports appearing over the decades, such as:

  • Edgar Snow, author of Red Star Over China. Appearing in print originally in 1936, and based on Snow’s exclusive interviews with Mao held with the future “Chairman” in the caves of Yenan, Snow created the mythology of Mao as a brave Communist leader who invited a new rural form of Communism, in which the revolution would be made not by the industrial working class, but by the oppressed peasantry. Snow gave us the first influential account of the “Long March,” in which Mao told the gullible journalist how his troops outwitted and successfully fled the attacking Nationalist troops during the start of the civil war, until Mao and his brave legions settled in the protected safe area of China’s northwest. The heroic account of the bravery of Mao and his troops is most exemplified, Mao claimed, by the battle at the bridge in Dadu, where Mao and his troops triumphed despite the fire that enveloped the bridge as his troops valiantly crossed it. This decisive victory reported by Mao is one that proved his troop’s commitment and dedication to the world who first learned about it from Snow.
  • The writing of other Western visitors to China, such as Agnes Smedley, whose glamorized account of life with the 8th Route Army after it left Yenan, and her glowing account of Mao’s selfless dedication while directing his troops from the protected Yenan area, helped acquaint scores of Americans with Mao and his legend in the pages of the popular large circulation Saturday Evening Post, as well as in her own books.
  • The reports of a future generation of men who came to be called “the Old China hands; American diplomats such as John S. Service, John Carter Vincent, John Paton Davies, Owen Lattimore and John K. Fairbank. The list also included reporters and writers such as Barbara Tuchman and Theodore White, whose reports and books carried on the picture of Mao and his Communist troops as indigenous democratic rebels, seeking to end the capture of China by corrupt gangsters, militarist warlords, the Japanese imperialists and unpopular local lords. It was from these men that Americans were told the Communists were really “agrarian democrats,” leaders who sought to build a democratic China at peace with the United States, a goal sabotaged only by American policy makers, who bet on the wrong horse (Chiang) and thus pushed Mao and China into the Soviet Union’s hands.

Even during the Cultural Revolution, these China hands stood resolutely with Mao, whose disastrous policies they supported. Harvard’s distinguished China scholar, John K. Fairbank, returned from a visit in 1972 to report that “the Maoist revolution is on the whole that best thing that has happened to the Chinese people in centuries.” When Harvey Klehr and I interviewed John S. Service for the good part of a day in 1985, (for a book we were working on) Service at that late date told us how he supported Mao thoroughly and how great the Cultural Revolution was for China. When Service was reporting back to the State Department from China in 1945, he wrote that the “so-called Communists” were only the prominent manifestation of a broad movement for “agrarian reform, civil rights, the establishment of democratic institutions.” As for Mao’s life in the caves of Yenan, Service had reported how Mao lived austerely in a mud-daubed cave carved out of the cliffs of the Yen River, and even Mao was forced to raise his own vegetables and tobacco in order to fill his own needs. At Yenan he reported what came to be the commonplace view: the high morale of the Red troops, their purposefulness, and the egalitarianism they all practiced. “All of our party,” he reported after six days, “have the same feeling- that we have come into a different country [than Chiang’s China]” where “bodyguards, gendarmes and the claptrap of Chungking officialdom are completely lacking,” where there was “no police,” “few soldiers” and most impressive, “no beggars, nor signs of desperate poverty.”

With reports like the above coming from our finest diplomats and China hands, it is not surprising that to “progressive” opinion, Mao and the Chinese Reds had developed a fine reputation and a heroic reputation- for honesty, egalitarianism, a lack of corruption and a dedication to the interests of the oppressed peasantry. It is a picture repeated often, that has lasted down to the present time.

How, one wonders, would Service and the others have responded, were they able to learn the truth given to us so boldly in the Chang-Halliday biography? That is why to understand the impact of their book, it is necessary to know how much of what they reveal about the real Mao undermines the view most Americans (if they have thought about China at all) have grown up with.

Then, of course, one cannot discount the impact of the 1960’s Left, much of whom glorified the Chairman as the world’s only remaining pure and selfless revolutionary. The support to the “Cultural Revolution” by many of that era’s New Left (a group of which co-author Halliday was once a part) was symbolized to me by the words of a well known Marxist-feminist, who upon returning from China, proclaimed that the Cultural Revolution “was about the freeing of women.” And the mythology extended to the Marxist intellectuals of the influential journal Monthly Review, whose editor Paul M. Sweezy pronounced that Mao was the world’s greatest Marxist, who had seen the need to break bureaucracy and keep the flame of Marxist revolution alive.

The brutal truth, to put it as starkly as possible, is that Mao Tse-tung was the last century’s most violent and vicious ruler – a power mad figure who dreamt of extending his rule to the entire world, a goal he pursued while engaging in murder, torture, rape and forced starvation, while demanding complete obedience to his every whim, all the while attended by personal servants who offered him every luxury he desired.

Let us begin by briefly describing the real story of the Long March. The authors demolish what is perhaps Communist China’s single greatest myth. Mao did not flee to save the Red Army from encroaching Nationalist troops, but rather, to defeat the forces of a popular competing general whom Mao sought to destroy politically. Rather than come to General Guotao’s aid, Mao left him vulnerable to defeat purposefully. Moreover, Chiang could have easily defeated Mao; but for his own reasons, especially the wish not to alienate Moscow, allowed his troops to escape. “The famed Long March,” the authors write, “was to a large extent steered by Chiang Kai-shek.” Moreover, Moscow had planted scores of secret Communist moles in Chiang’s Nationalists party, who both influenced policy and gave Mao vital military data.

Not only did Mao not suffer on the March, he was carried the entire thousands of miles on a litter, with porters assigned to carry all his luggage, books and belongings. In all details Mao was a new Emperor, who in practice never allowed egalitarianism to enter his private domain. Mao read as his carriers trekked up mountains, with their skin and flesh rubbed raw, as they sweated and shed much blood. As for the reported critical battle at a bridge over the Dadu river, a suspension bridge between two cliffs, Edgar Snow had reported that the wooden panels had been removed and Mao’s troops crossed on bare iron chains, facing machine gun fire as the remaining planks were burning. “Who would have thought,” Snow wrote, “that the Reds would insanely try to cross on the chains alone?” The truth is that the story is false. No battle took place at the bridge – a site picked by Mao to portray heroic deeds to the gullible Snow because it looked like a good place for them to have occurred! Later, a phony propaganda film was made in which a mock battle was filmed and offered as evidence.

As for the indigenous nature of Chinese Communism, the authors provide solid evidence proving how the entire Chinese Communist movement was funded, led and run by Stalin and the Comintern. The impetus for Chinese Communism came from Moscow, that had control of the Chinese Reds in the same fashion they controlled all Communist parties throughout the world. Chou en-lai was first picked by Moscow as their man to create an army and plant secret Reds in the highest ranks of the Nationalist forces, after returning to China for the Comintern. Chou also set up the Chinese KGB, ran its assassination squad, and showed total obedience to Stalin and Moscow’s line.

Another great myth destroyed by the authors is the long-standing belief that Chiang’s forces fought only the Reds, while seeking to avoid fighting the Japanese invaders – unlike Mao’s Red Army, which sought unity with Chiang and seriously harmed the invading Japanese troops. What Mao achieved was to do anything but fight the Japanese; indeed, he allowed and welcomed Japanese aggression as the mechanism by which the invaders would pulverize Chiang’s forces, allowing the Red Army to move in afterwards and gain control of the areas the Japanese had fought in. Mao’s goal was to destroy Chiang and leave himself as the only viable figure to lead China. Mao in effect sought and welcomed the Japanese fighters, and instead of responding to their aggression, allowed them to win as his troops did all they could to avoid fighting. Those who disagreed with his strategy were quickly purged, and sent to the torture palaces of Mao’s butcher, Kang Sheng, who headed Mao’s secret police.

What Mao was an expert in and took great delight was in the torture, repression and savage treatment of the peasants, for whom he had no concern at all. Rather than seek to build a peasant based socialism, Mao saw the peasantry as expendable; as a source of brute labor, who could always be forced to do without any basic means of simply having sufficient food necessary to live. Moreover, Mao was so unpopular with the people, that when the Red Army marched in to “liberate” cities in the last days of the civil war, in some areas not one person appeared to cheer them, since their population had experienced the wrath and reality of Mao’s terror in earlier days of temporary Red rule in the 1920’s.

From the start, Mao believed in force, torture and humiliation to gather total support. What the world came to witness when the truth about the late 60’s Cultural Revolution came out, was the means Mao used to rule from the very start of the first Red bases in the early days. “What fascinated Mao,” they write, “was violence that smashed the social order.” In the 20’s, Mao advised loyal followers that those who would not follow them should have the ankle tendons slit and their ears cut off. When Mao succeeded in creating Red bases in the late 1920’s, he brought thousands to witness the victory, as well as to hold public executions of so-called “bad landlords,” which meant almost any peasant who resisted his hold on power. Public killing became compulsory as a mechanism to put fear into the whole population, as they watched bloody butchering of Mao’s enemies. Other devices used by Mao regularly were to bury opponents alive, lead them around by wires drawn through their nose and ears, destroyed whole towns where suspected counterrevolutionaries lived, hold classic bandit raids to take food and goods from the local peasant population for his own forces, and force average Chinese to condemn and testify against their own family members and friends.

As to living in a cave in Yenan, Mao always lived the life of complete luxury. Wherever he went, his forces always confiscated the most luxurious homes of the wealthy for Mao’s personal use, and immediately, new quarters that were bombproof and completely isolated were built in grandiose fashion, should Mao need to retreat to them. At Yenan, where useful idiots like Snow and Agnes Smedley saw Mao in what was purportedly his cave, they did not know that Mao actually lived in a mansion in Phoneix Village, with a giant courtyard, decorated walls and central wall heating. He also moved soon to Yang Hill, in a mansion of the KGB compound called the Date Garden. Behind both of these residences Mao had built secret secure compounds for himself and his immediate staff. There, in addition, he had at his disposal glamorous educated young women, procured to service his sexual needs.

Mao’s base was not a supportive peasantry, but a population cowed into total obedience through the use of complete terror- a device perfected by Mao between 1941 and 1945. Areas controlled by the Reds witnessed interrogation after interrogation, and mass rallies, in which many were forced to confess to being spies and to name others in front of the large crowds that had gathered. All social life was banished – there was no singing and dancing allowed, and the only peace came from “thought examinations” in which people had to write at length about their own anti-Party thoughts. If one resisted, that was taken as proof that the individual was a spy; the purpose was to destroy all trust between people. Chang and Halliday argue that as a result, most of the people suffered what they call “brain death;” the inability to think or act on their own.

As for money, Chang and Halliday reveal the hidden truth that Mao got the funds required to control his conquered territories through the smuggling and sale of opium, as farmers were ordered to grow regular crops around the poppies to hide what the regime had ordered. 30,000 acres of the region’s best land was reserved for opium growing. While the lives of Party leaders got better – plentiful food and comfort was reserved for the elite – but it did not improve the standard of living of the regular population of Yenan. The lowest ranking Communist cadre had a meat ration that was five times that of a local peasant, where the mortality rate continually outstripped the birth rate by 5 to 1. In addition, opium production produced inflation, which further eroded the average peasant’s ability to live a decent life.

Finally, Chang and Halliday force a reevaluation of the role played by the United States in Mao’s rise to power. One is shocked to learn that in 1946, Mao was about to fail. Chiang’s army could not be stopped by them; the Red Army was in full retreat and about to fall completely, and as the Russians pulled out of Manchuria- where they had fought the Japanese- the Nationalists had seized every major city except Harbin, and the Red Army was in a state of collapse. The Reds were about to be forced to flee the border into Russian territory, or to form guerrilla units in the mountains. Lin Biao asked Mao for permission to abandon Harbin, and Mao was forced to acquiesce. But just as the Red Army was bound for failure, Mao “was rescued,” they write, “by the Americans.”

In a startling chapter called “Saved by Washington,” the authors reveal the brilliant ways in which Mao manipulated the United States to serve his ends. The US and its envoys, they argue, were already ill-disposed toward Chiang because of his relative’s blatant corruption, and hence susceptible to Mao’s phony claims that the Communists were democratic and potential friends of the United States. General George Marshall, whose plan to save Western Europe at the war’s end catapulted him to greatness, was taken in completely by Mao, falsely believing, and telling Truman, that the Reds were more cooperative than Chiang and the Nationalists. Marshall also told Truman that the Soviet Union was not supporting Mao. Mao received Marshall in Yenan in 1946, and he was ripe for the bait. He swallowed lie after lie and repeated it as gospel truth to the President, hence, as they put it, performing “a monumental service to Mao.” Just as the Chairman was facing his Dunkirk, Marshall put the decisive pressure on Chiang to stop pursuing Reds in northern Manchuria. The Generalissimo agreed to a ceasefire just at the moment when Mao had agreed to give up the remaining Red held cities in Manchuria and Harbin. The result was Mao’s victory in gaining a secure base in north Manchuria, a step which allowed him to regroup and to eventually win his civil war. With Moscow’s help, as the Soviets armed Mao to the hilt, and transferred Japanese POW’s to Mao’s control, the once ragtag Red forces became a formidable fighting machine. The authors explain:

“The goal the Communists had been secretly seeking for more than two decades, ‘linking up with the Soviet Union,’ had been accomplished- with help from Washington, however unwitting. Mao’s victory nationwide was only a matter of time.”

It was not the last time that Mao succeeded in manipulating America. In the 1970’s, the world witnessed the Nixon administration’s bold change in policy, and its opening to China that resulted in the President’s trip to the mainland, his meeting with Mao, and eventually, to American recognition of Mao’s Republic. But the authors argue convincingly that the Kissinger/Nixon/Mao rapprochement was also orchestrated by Mao, as Nixon and Kissinger fell readily into a trap laid by Mao, who thought out the entire scenario. Moreover, Kissinger even offered to surrender Taiwan to Mao, and promised that the US would withdraw from both Korea and Vietnam.

In the meantime, having conquered China, Mao encouraged Kim Il Sung to invade South Korea, a step necessary to reach his new goal- to build a world class war machine with economic and military aid from the Soviet Union, which would be forced by such actions to give China what it needed. Mao believed that if his troops would enter the battle, the Americans would be tied down, the balance of power would shift in Stalin’s favor in the world, and then he could get the money from the Soviet Union for a giant war machine, as well as enable the Soviets to seize Germany, Spain and Italy. As Stalin said to Mao, “If a war is inevitable, then let it be waged now.”

The fact that Mao’s poverty stricken nation and army entered the Korean War is again typical of Mao’s style of action. In future years, with the economy on a downswing and production plummeting, with mass starvation in much of the nation, Mao still spent a fortune in exporting foreign aid to various regimes, in order to win them to China’s cause. In one case, Mao gave a fortune to Stalinist East Germany, actually one of the most well off of Stalin’s Eastern European satellites, which meant taking money for food out of the hide of the peasant population. East Germany imported so much food it ended rationing in 1958. And yet, as tens of millions died of starvation in China, Walter Ulbricht, the GDR’s chief, asked for more food from China, and Mao complied. When others told him that the peasants might starve, he responded that they could eat tree bark. From 1953 to 1956, Mao waged a virtual war on the peasantry, for one purpose alone: to extract food to pay for the cost of making China a military superpower. His system was simple: “leave the population just enough to keep them alive, and take all the rest.”

None of what he did compared, however, to the disaster created between 1959 and 196l during the so-called “Great Leap Forward,” portrayed usually as an attempt by China to use its manpower to industrialize rapidly. Not only did the program fail; it produced mass starvation, with areas of China forced to resort to cannibalism. Mao proclaimed that China could industrialize in three to five years, not the originally conceived ten to fifteen year period. Peasants and city dwellers alike were forced to build home steel furnaces, and all metal implements- including pots and pans used for cooking- were to be smelt to turn each home into a local steel producing factory. Mao also ordered that all sparrows be killed, since they ate grain. The “bourgeois” bird was condemned; the result was upsetting of nature’s ecological balance, as pests and other birds once killed by sparrows began to attack crops. Before long, Mao was asking the Soviet Union to send them 200,000 sparrows from the Soviet Far East. Mao had said: “Half of China may well have to die,” and he was prepared for such an outcome. It almost came true. 38 million people died of starvation and overwork during the Leap and the subsequent famine, which lasted for four long years. The greatest manmade famine of the 20th Century, exceeding the deaths caused by Stalin’s collectivization of the Ukraine, could be added to the list of the Chairman’s great accomplishments. As Mao told his staff, “50 million” might have to die…you can’t blame me when people die.”

Finally, Mao would outdo himself with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, (1965-1976). Common belief is that the disaster and horror took place because Mao wanted to keep the flames of revolt alive, and crush a self-satisfied Party bureaucracy. Thus many fellow-travelers in the West praised Mao, and welcomed his attempt to keep the spirit and soul of rebellion alive. As the authors explain, however, the actual goal was quite different: to purge every past and possible future opponent, as a means to cement total power in his own hands and prevent any potential disillusioned leaders once in his graces turn against him. The means was to frighten the entire nation into complete and total conformity. Officials were ordered to have their children from “Red Guard” groups, who were told to embark upon atrocities, such as the torture and murder of teachers who taught the children of Party officials.

The first great victims were any of the upholders of traditional culture, both ancient Chinese and Western. Writers were attacked; musicians killed – a leading pianist had his hands cut off – and ancient landmarks and cultural artifacts were sacked and destroyed. Only an official decision to spare the destruction of The Forbidden City (which was surrounded by troops) allowed it to remain intact; all other symbols of the past, including great architectural artifacts, were destroyed by raging mobs. Homes were destroyed, books and paintings and musical instruments trashed, and owners of homes beat up and tortured. The Red Guards also served as proxy bandits, confiscating items of great wealth and handing it over to the State. Mao, who forbid the reading of books, personally acquired many captured volumes to add to his own library, which Western visitors saw and hence proclaimed Mao a great scholar and intellectual. One leading official, the Foreign Minister, correctly called the era “one big torture chamber.” By the time the Great Purge ended before Mao’s death in 1976, three million had died violent deaths, and one hundred million, one ninth of the population, suffered greatly.

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have clearly written what will be regarded as the book of the year: the book that finally will have told all the bitter truth about Mao, and thus which will have completely destroyed any remaining reputation he may have had as an individual who helped free China from submission and imperial control. Under Mao, China slipped back from a move towards the modern world into pure barbarism, and the hell Mao created far exceeded any of the difficulties confronting the Chinese people during the short reign of Chiang’s nationalists.

It is hardly a surprise to learn that the current government in China – a regime that has moved China economically into the modern world by taking what Mao had condemned as the “capitalist road” – has moved to suppress the book and prevent its appearance and publication in the mainland. Politically the regime still calls itself Communist. It operates a one-party state, controls all sources of information , suppresses dissidents, imprisons them in the Chinese gulag, and engages in mass suppression of the peasants and factory workers, who are forbidden to organize and try to rectify the horrific conditions in which they live.

The ability to try to push this book past the walls of the Chinese government censors, and to make its findings known in the internet and then through China, is itself part of the struggle that will have to be made to improve the chances for a democratic development in China’s future. It is a difficult, but not impossible task. The Chinese people will someday thank and honor Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.

By malachi151
Hmm... a completely unsourced article, imagine that.... :roll:
User avatar
By Eddier1
All of it is taken from:
Mao : The Unknown Story

The author and her husband are not objective about the facts. It is a
subjective viewpoint on her individual life in China as the daughter
of parents who were anti-Mao from the standpoint of being lackeys
of the incipient bourgeois class that staggered to arise and provide
a dialectial opposition to Mao's revolution.. All of Zedongism is
beyond the capacity of the "poet" author, who emotes from her
bowels while pretentiously trying to give the impression that
she has an inside track to Zedongism. They (her husband and she)
competely ignore the 'New Democracy' that Mao put forth for
the future of China, It is really only for them
that the great proletarian Cultural Revolution was a "bad thing",
even though it was necessary
because of creatures like her and her husband.

The China of the New Democracy has come to pass
in an astounding way, socially and economically, in that the capitalist
leading nation of the U.S. is in 'hock' to China
to the tune of billions of dollars. Mao put the
New China in the cat's bird seat with his policy of the New
Democracy. He gets the credit for making China the international
socialist giant that it is today.

Why anyone would want to offer a reviewer's screed that is
obviously written to spur the sale of a dunderheaded book is
pathetic. Let the author of the "Wild Swans" write her poetry, and
refer to the poetry of Mao if she wishes, and shut-the-hell up about
politics, which she obviously knows nothing about

By Crazyvichistan
I don't think that Mao was "the last century’s most violent and vicious ruler," but he is certainly not a hero. He represents yet another authoritarian oppurtunist in the world's, and China's, history, one that should neither be loathed or admired. Also, it can hardly be argued that Mao's practices were out of line with the practices of imperial rule.[/quote]
By The Decay of Meaning
Although critical of Mao, I think we can see some positive aspects.

* End of footbinding

* The campaigns and hard work for equal rights and equal status between man and women

* Industrialization

* China's independence

Some negative aspects:

* Homosexuality frowned upon

* Banning the violin, describing the instrument as "bourgeoisie"

* Great Leap Forward

* Some could also criticize the Cultural Revolution

* The killings of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them landlords condemned to death for abuse of peasants. If not a "negative" aspect, it remains controversial.

* Industrialization; A higher priority than feeding people

* The personality cult around Mao

* Keeping power largely inside the party
User avatar
By C.J. Griffin
Some negative aspects:

* Homosexuality frowned upon

* Banning the violin, describing the instrument as "bourgeoisie"

* Great Leap Forward

* Some could also criticize the Cultural Revolution

Gee, you think? It only involved the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of people - perhaps more than a million.

* The killings of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them landlords condemned to death for abuse of peasants. If not a "negative" aspect, it remains controversial.

Yeah, wholesale mass murder does tend to be seen as a "negative" thing by most.

* Industrialization; A higher priority than feeding people

* The personality cult around Mao

* Keeping power largely inside the party

To be included are the "anti-Rightist campaign," the "reform through labor" camps (lao-gai - in which millions perished from overwork, starvation, execution and suicide) and the genocidal massacres in occupied Tibet.
By Sans Salvador
There is no evidence that millions perished in the labor camps. There is little reliable quantitative information about them, but the amount of people in them was likely much less than people like Harry Wu claim and was probably a similar percentage of the population as Americans who are imprisoned today. The only reasonable way to estimate a death rate so far is of the "rightsts" sent to the camps in the late 1950s who were released in the 1970s and 1980s. Judging by them, the death rate wasn't that much higher than the death rate for the regular population.

The Cultural Revolution shouldn't be criticized or applauded. It was something which was inevitable and was a result of tensions among the people, the confused and incompetent attempts of various CCP leaders (including Mao) to use it for political gain notwithstanding. However, it can be blamed on Mao somewhat because the tensions were a result of a heirarchy among the people which resulted from Mao's hereditary class labels.
User avatar
By C.J. Griffin
There is no evidence that millions perished in the labor camps.

Chang and Halliday estimate the death toll could be as high as 27 million:

"In all, during his rule, the number who died in prisons and labor camps could well amount to 27 million."

They elaborate on this:

"By the general estimate China's prison and labor camps population was roughly 10 million in any one year under Mao. Descriptions of camp life by inmates, which point to high mortality rates, indicate a probable annual death rate of at least 10 percent." pg 338

The Black Book of Communism estimates 20 million deaths. Others, such as atrocitologist R. J. Rummel estimate it at 15 million. The true numbers will probably never be known, but after reading about the horrible conditions of these camps in such books as Prisoner of Mao by Jean Pasqualini (Bao Ruo-wang), Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China's Gulag by Harry Wu and Eighteen Layers of Hell: Stories from the Chinese Gulag by Kate Saunders, I believe it is safe to say these hell-holes claimed millions of lives.

The Cultural Revolution shouldn't be criticized or applauded.

Seems to me that there is plenty to criticize about the Cultural Revolution. Here's an incident (one of many) that certainly doesn't deserve any applause:

“One of the worst-ravaged provinces was Inner Mongolia, where Mao harboured suspicions about a plot to detach the province and link it up with Outer Mongolia and the Russians. The new boss there, General Teng Hai-qing, vigorously investigated this suspicion of Mao’s, using torture on a large scale. According to post-Mao revelations, cases included a Muslim woman having her teeth pulled out by pliers, then her nose and ears twisted off, before being hacked to death. Another woman was raped with a pole (she then committed suicide). One man had nails driven into his skull. Another had his tongue cut out and then his eyes gouged out. Another was beaten with clubs on the genitals before having gunpowder forced up his nostrils and set alight. Post-Mao official figures revealed that over 346,000 people were condemned and 16,222 died as a result in this one case. The number of people in the province who ‘suffered’ in some way was later officially put at over 1 million - of whom 75 per cent were ethnic Mongols, which means that at least 60 per cent of all Mongols in the province – men, women and children – were plunged into hell.” – Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, pg 567

In Mao: A Life, Philip Short cites almost the exact same numbers for this one incident:

“But the most extraordinary case of all was in Inner Mongolia. There 350,000 people were arrested; 80,000 people were beaten so badly they were permanently maimed, and more than 16,000 died.” p. 571
By Sans Salvador
Chang and Halliday's book contains, as I have pointed out a few times, a number of factual errors. Your little game of trying to have a bunch of sources doesn't work, because Rummel is one of Chang and Halliday's sources for their claim. They also have a Russian and French source which I can't read, but it should be known that no one takes Jean Luc-Domenach (who estimated that a total of 50 million passed through labor camps under Mao) seriously.

The black book of Communism uses Domenach as a source (They also use his estimate of CR deaths, while noting that it is 5 to 2 times higher than all others, but don't say why it is better). Even worse, they also use Harry Wu as a source on the labor camp population under Mao (As does Rummel IIRC). Harry Wu is known for making up ridiculous lies. New Ghosts, Old Ghosts by Seymour and Anderson is known as the most authoritative study of Chinese labor camps in the 1990s (AFAIK, it hasn't gotten a single negative review) and they refute all of the claims Wu has made about camp population in recent years. Why accept his unsourced claims about the Maoist era? [url=http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/~matloff/CRRC/Articles/Misc/Fan.html]Here is an accurate if vitrioloic account of Wu's claims and how Seymour and Anderson refuted them.

As for the death rate itself, it is impossible to take C&H seriously. "Descriptions of Camp Life by inmates, which point to high mortality rates, indicate a probable annual death rate of at least 10 percent." So they estimate the death rate without any statistics? What the fuck kind of scholarship is this?

The best we can know about the death rate is that in 1957-8 250,000-400,000 "rightists" were sent to labor camps. There were massive amnesties granted in 1962 by Shaoqi and in the early 1970s by Enlai. In 1976-1981, 110,000 were released.Even ignoring the earlier amnesties (as well as the fact that 20,000 likely died in the famine which would be a likely outcome anywhere in the country, imprisoned or not) and that baout 10,000 were released later, and assuming 400,000 in prison camps, a 10% death rate is a completely impossible figure.

Therre is scanty information on all this, nothing reliable about prison camps in the Mao era at all. However, that is the best way we have of estimating a death rate.

My point about the CR, which was mostly bad but had some excellent accomplishments and was quite heterogenous across the nation, was that iit was simply going to inevitably happen. That's why there is no reason to praise or criticize it any more than the need of humans to eat food and drink water is the real culprit behind the famines of 1958-61.
User avatar
By C.J. Griffin
Your little game of trying to have a bunch of sources doesn't work, because Rummel is one of Chang and Halliday's sources for their claim

So? His numbers are different from theirs.

They also have a Russian and French source which I can't read,

Perhaps there's something in these sources.

but it should be known that no one takes Jean Luc-Domenach (who estimated that a total of 50 million passed through labor camps under Mao) seriously

According to whom?

The black book of Communism uses Domenach as a source

They use plenty of other sources as well. I believe I listed some of them in a previous thread on this subject.
By Sans Salvador
What sources other than Wu and Domenach do they use for that particular claim (50 million passed through labor camps under Mao)?
User avatar
By C.J. Griffin
On laogai estimates (pg 714) they list Domenach; 1992 (and you've given me no other reason to dismiss this guy entirely other than you say we should), Bao & Chelminski (whose book Prisoner of Mao just arrived the other day. I haven't had much chance to go through it); Rummel, pp. 228-33

Wu isn't listed.
By Sans Salvador
I was tlaking baout the BBOC (I don't have it on me but my notes say Domenach and Wu), you just gave the citation from Chang and Halliday's book.
User avatar
By Ideational Ontarian
So, what happened during the cultural revelution? I mean was there no one who was agaisnt the communists?
By Sans Salvador
None of hte major groups were against communism, there may have been individuals who were. Basically, in the early days of the PRC a very rigid heirarchy was established based on hereditary class origin (former landlords and KMT and their children were at the bottom, whereas pre-1949 communists and laborers were at the top. The conditions of people in the "bad" class origins, in the factory and school, got very bad and tnesions grew. When it seemed like they were going to rebel, the CCP leadership made statements to the rebels. They were all confused and contradictory statements, but on the whole Mao supported the rebel red guards (those of "bad" class orgins) and his enemies in the CCP the loyalist red guards (those who had been priviledged in the CCP. Both sides of the CCP tried to take advantage of the situation for political power. There was alot of violence, most of it was loyalist agianst rebels, with the rebels attacking the bottom few rungs of the heirarchy to prove that they were communists. There were other things which were more good than bad. In some (but a minority) of areas the rebellion was successful and expanded education, healthcare etc... more than they had been before.

Best source for this is Anita Chan "Dispelling Misconceptions About the Red Guard movement" Journal of Contemporary China (1992) 1.1

They turned stoic stuff and stiff upper lip into […]

I won't respond to strawmen arguments. I am not i[…]

You mean they care about the people in the car[…]

@Potemkin , @Tainari88 , @Godstud , @Verv[…]