Mao Zedong



Course Instructor


Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong remains one of the most historical communist leaders remembered for series of historical revolutions including founding the Communist Party and starting the Cultural Revolution. Mao Zedong remains an important personality in world for some of his major failings that were inspired to his strong leanings on communist ideals. Other notable contributions he is famed for includes the Great Leap Forward[1]. Mao Zedong left a mark as one of the twentieth century’s great thinkers whose visionary leadership continues to attract blame and praise in many fields including philosophy and literature.

Mao was raised as a peasant in a small village called Shaoshan in central China[2]. As a young man, Mao trained as a teacher; a profession that saw him serves briefly as a librarian in a university in Beijing. Mao was an avid consumer of Marxist literature, which instilled the policies of literature to the young scholar[3]. Mao would later lead the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a founder member in 1921. A troubled alliance with Kuomintang Party (KMT) turned problematic when the communists turned against the CCP forcing Mao to flee with many of his supporters to establish an alternative operational base.

The second merger between CCP and KMT was primarily based on the need to engage the Chinese who posed a threat on the Chinese territory. Problems would later emerge between the two eventually culminating into a civil war. The outcome of the civil war favored the communists forcing the nationalists to KMT to flee. It was in 1949, after the civil war the Mao Zedong established The People’s Republic of China. Although the Chinese, at first, embraced the party, Zedong would later convert it into an oppressive edifice that was impatient with all forms of rebellion. The communist experimentation included the nationalization of all industry and the forcing of formers into some collective groups.

The communist leader then sought to customize his own brand of communism, which he thought would be Chinese in orientation[4]. Instead, he only succeeded in plunging the country into famine through the retrogressive policy well known as The Great Leap Forward. The failure of his style of politics mark the beginning of his decline in popularity as the people increasingly pulled back their support even as the regime vigilant against oppression. Some of the policies that collapsed during The Great Leap of Labor included his dream for mass mobilization of labor. This led to a decline in food production as the country grappled with the resultant famine.

Following the rising death toll that resulted from the drive, the regime was forced to abandon the project. Multiple issues engaged the attention of the regime’s critics. The emerging political reality led to the growth of dissidents who had to flee as the regime became increasingly intolerant to popular opposition. One of the strategies by which Mao sought to quell internal dissent was by the introduction of Cultural Revolution. The ruthlessness that followed, which included the use of the army led to the death of many dissenters.

The introduction of the Little Red Book marked the fervor with, which Mao Ze Dong sought to impress communist ideals within his own people[5]. The book marked an important part in the history of Marxism and the Chinese were forced to internalize the ideals, which were customized, summarized to suit the tastes of Mao Ze Dong as he wanted them. All Chinese were forced to carry the book and normally failure to comply was usually considered as a mark of treason. It is believed that police arrested thousands of Chinese people for non-possession of the book.

One of the most notable periods during Mao’s time was the Gang of Four. They comprised of Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing and some of three most trusted colleagues.These were Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, Wang Hongwen. These four were accused later after Mao’s death of systematically manipulating the structures of the Communist Party and the famous Cultural Revolution to entrench seemingly invincible image of Zedong. Their methods included the manipulation of the brutal police to suit their private ends and to silence critics and moderates. The Gang of four were later convicted and sentenced after it was found that they misused their closeness to destroy the ideals of the party. The coming to power of Deng Xiaoping changed the policies and ideas of communism by introducing various structures that moderated parts of the nationalized economy with elements of capitalism. As a result the country witnessed rapid economic growth and has managed to outperform former economic powerhouses such as Japan and Germany in many aspects of the economy.

Deng equally changed the political economy of China from a more aggressive one to a more cautioust one, which has helped  the answer to the political and economic mishaps that the People’s Republic incurred under Zedong’transform the economy in its world strength in a significant way, and in a short space of time. One of the notable features in Deng policies was the conversion of the previously nationalized policies to more a market oriented economy. Many historians and scholars of world politics would like to see Deng as the answer to the political and economic mishaps that the People’s Republic suffered under China.

Some scholars argue that Deng succeeded in introducing the most effective international strategy that has kept the Chinese outside the major political and economic mishaps that have gripped the world. Those who hold onto this position argue that the cautious approach has helped China to concentrate more on economics than expensive political rhetoric. The Tiananmen Square Massacre, as it is commonly known was triggered in great part by the economic transformations that were taking place during the Deng regime[6]. The protestors took place around Tiananmen and within the square. The opening up of the Chinese space to market economy made it easy for the Chinese to engage in private pursuits, some of which encouraged corruption and loss of provisions and opportunities for the masses.

These changes combined with the feeling of Chinese loss of popularity around the world to trigger disillusionment within the Chinese population. The protestors were equally angered by the death of Hu Yaobang a former leader of the Communist Party. The deposed leader was highly regarded as a faithful reformer who represented a break from the old tradition. The protests went on for several weeks as the protestors repeatedly spurned the various incentives and concessions that were availed by the government. In the very end the government had to opt for the use of brute military force to stop the protestors. The massacre at the square is considered one of the greatest in China. It also represented the tensions of a world at the cusp of change and the clamor for freedom of the people.









Karl, Rebecca, E. Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History. Duke University Press, 2010

Lusted, Marcia, A. Tiananmen Square Protests. New York: ABDO, 2010

Meisner, Maurice. Mao Zedong: A Political and Intellectual Portrait. John Wiley & Sons, 2007

Stewart, Whitney. Mao Zedong. Twenty-First Century Books, 2006

[1] Whitney Stewart. Mao Zedong. (Twenty-First Century Books, 2006), 24.

[2] Whitney Stewart. Mao Zedong. (Twenty-First Century Books, 2006), 36

[3] Whitney Stewart. Mao Zedong. (Twenty-First Century Books, 2006), 41

[4] Rebecca Karl E. Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History. (Duke University Press, 2010), 45

[5] Rebecca Karl E. Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History. (Duke University Press, 2010), 61.

[6] Marcia Lusted A. (Tiananmen Square Protests). New York: ABDO, 2010

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