And It Came to Pass, When Mao Destroyed the Cities of the Plain…

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When Maoism isn't being supplanted by the future, it's being absorbed by the past:

Even today, villagers in Hunan province enthusiastically recount three "miracles" that supposedly happened in 1993 on the 100th anniversary of Mao's birth.

According to local legend, the lorry transporting his bronze statue stalled as it passed through the eastern province of Jiangxi, giving rise to the myth that Mao's spirit wanted to spend the night at the place where he started a revolutionary uprising against the troops of the then ruling Kuomintang party.

Also on that day, the sun and the moon shone brightly in the morning above his home village and azaleas flowers miraculously flourished in mid-winter, residents said….

Mao is revered across the officially atheist China in much the same way the Virgin Mary is viewed by many Christians as a guardian and protector…."My mother doesn't believe in God or the Buddha, she puts all her trust in Chairman Mao all her life," said 27-year-old IT engineer Xiao Biqiang, who bowed at Mao's bronze figure on behalf of his sick mother.

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  1. There were similar ‘marxist miracle mongers’ claiming visitations from Lenin during the Brezhnev era in the Soviet Union. [I don’t know if it is still going on in Russia.]

  2. Ugh. I just finished reading Jung Chang’s and Jon Halliday’s new biography called “Mao, the Unknown Story.” Lots of new information gleaned from Soviet archives and hundreds of interviews of the Chinese survivors of his reign. After reading this horror show he gets my nomination as worst monster in history.

  3. Nothing like killing some 50 million people to inspire reverence and trust.

  4. It’s funny that Christians, Muslims and Jews will scoff at the primitive and stupid superstitions of these peasants, and never stop to wonder whether just maybe Jesus, Muhammed and Moses weren’t quite as nice as the later hagiographic traditions portray them.

  5. …and another thing. There’s something of a myth that Nixon opened up China when he went to meet the Great Helsman. But in fact this did little to open China. Mao only wanted contact with America so that he could gain technological knowledge. But very few westerners were admitted in the years 72 to 76. The ones who were admitted in were sheltered and closed off from the rest of Chinese society. China really didn’t open up until after Mao died. Nixon’s visit was merely window dressing and shamefully the Taiwanese were sold out on account of this. What’s more, Nixon offered to put nukes in China to protect China against the Soviets. Brezhnev was furious and warned the U.S. of doing such a thing – so the idea that Nixon’s dealings with China might have kept the U.S. safer from a war with the Soviets is actually backwards as it actually led us closer to that possibility.

  6. Vanya,

    It only took four posts! Quicker than even I originally suspected. Truth be told, I thought it would be Akira who brought that up.

    Anyway, cheers to the banal and predictable nonsequitor! Cheers to the watchdogs that don’t let a post go by on H&R without somehow, some way, reminding everyone of how the religious are stupid!

    Beat it.

  7. Sorry if I hit a nerve Kohlrabi. Apparently it’s not that banal a point if it got you so riled. I wouldn’t say the religious are stupid – I doubt very much that these Chinese are stupid. It takes a lot of intelligence to craft a coherent religious world view, just as it takes intelligence to be a convincing writer of fiction. But their beliefs are clearly unreasonable and founded mostly on lies, much like the 3 major world religions. To the extent Mao believers take comfort in those beliefs they’re not doing anyone any real harm and I wouldn’t advocate any energetic action to dissuade them of their beliefs.

  8. “According to local legend, the lorry transporting his bronze statue stalled as it passed through the eastern province of Jiangxi…”

    A Chinese truck stalling leads to a legend? I have seen films made in China, and the trucks all sound like they are about to blow a gasket. The miracle would have been a Chinese truck that did not stall…

  9. For another perspective,

    My wife is Chinese and I love to tell this story from our trip to China to visit her family. One day my wife, her mom and I were returning to her parents’s apartment in a cab. Her mom and the cab driver were talking when suddenly my wife burst out laughing.

    What was so funny, I asked.

    My wife said that her mom and the cabbie were discussing how bad things were in the 70’s when the cabbie said, “Chairman Mao really f***ed up this country”. When we got back to the apartment her dad agreed.

  10. A Chinese friend of mine said that there’s actually something of a ‘joke’ that has quietly gone around China to the effect of “thank God for American bombs in the Korean war as otherwise China would be just like North Korea now.” In case anyone doesn’t know, Mao’s one sane off-spring was killed in the Korean war. So, apparently a lot of Chinese do understand what a monstrous tyrant he was, despite the propaganda they’ve been fed.

  11. Here’s some other interesting snippets from “Mao, the Unknown Story.” Apparently George Marshall was fairly critical to the success of the Reds. Chiang wanted to finish them off at one point but he was dependent on American aid. The Americans, led by Marshall were pretty luke-warm on Chiang though. They knew a lot about him and didn’t particularly care for some of his methods or personal issues. In contrast they had almost no dirt at all on the Communists, who ran an insanely tight propaganda machine, made effective through extensive use of terror. And they were also had some talented politicians in their camp, whose political skills would make Clinton seem like a dwarf – Chou Enlai in particular. The Americans had the wool pulled over their eyes quite easily by these tricksters, taking the CCP’s word for it that they were the ones wearing the white hats, completely oblivious to the terror campaigns the CCP had waged in their home terrorities in Yenan and elsewhere. So Marshall kept a leash on Chiang and let out a warning to him to halt when Chiang wanted to finish the Reds off in one of the later campaigns in the war.

    Earlier, Chiang himself, had let the Reds off during the “Long March” (where most of the leaders like Mao were actually carried all the way and treated like royalty, generally) because he wanted to box them into to select territories that were controlled by warlords. He calculated that the warloads would be so terrorized by the communists they would welcome the Nationalists in to drive them out, in doing so the Nationalists would then have control of those select territorities. But Chiang’s desire was not to finish the Reds off completely but just to drive them out of certain territories and winnow their forces down a bit. He didn’t want to finish them off completely as Moscow was holding Chiang’s son hostage – so he calculated that if he made it clear to Moscow that he had the means and opportunity to finish the CCP off completely (which he clearly did during the Long March) but only engaged in limited bombing leading the leadership of the CCP intact, this would be something of a signal to Moscow he was offering the CCP some breathing space, their armies mostly intact, in exchange for the return of his son.

    The long and short of it though is that there were plenty of opportunities to finish off these monsters (Chiang was no picnic but he’s a molehill compared to Mao’s mountain) but for various reasons they were let off. The tragedy is that people like Marshall and other gullible Americans couldn’t see through them – if only they had read and understood “The Road to Serfdom”(is the path less traveled?)? Mao’s terror campaigns and his quoted willingness – “If half of China has to die so be it” – to sacrifice tens of millions of Chinese people in the Great Leap Forward, where 40 million people died, puts him up there with the great monsters in history. Marshall, with backing from American presidents, helped to make Mao a reality. Shouldn’t this be a lesson for the ‘realism’ school of politics that largely ignores principled moral, political economic theories?

  12. Anti-mao, you’ve read a great deal of propaganda.

    There were never “multiple opportunities to finish off Mao” – whenever Chiang tried, he failed, even when the Americans gave him a great deal of support, because of his government’s corruption and incompetence. Marshall badly wanted to see the Communists defeated, but the same strategic and administrative perceptiveness that displayed during WWII led him to conclude that the Nationalists would never be able to defeat the Communists unless they got their house in order, which Chiang steadfastly refused to do, despite Marshall’s best effort.

    The only people who believed that George Marshall assisted the Communists are the McCarthyites of the 50s, and their acolytes. And we all know how accurate their accusations of traitors in uniform turned out to be.

  13. I’m with joe on this one. The Communists had foreign support and were extremely well-disciplined and competently commanded. Chiang had foreign support but discipline in the Nationalist camp was nonexistent. The generals embezzled the troops’ pay, nepotism and cronyism made units useless, and the Nationalists would have done better to hang Chiang and make Madame Chiang their new generalissimo.

    The US sent their most experienced general (Stilwell) and mountains of aid to Chiang, but his units remained useless until Stilwell flew them to India where they could be trained outside of the influence of Chiang’s clique. The handful of really good units in the Nationalist camp were semi-independent divisions commanded by coopted warlords. Chiang did not tamper with these units, knowing he might need them some day. In the event, many of them were coopted again by the Communists and used to lead off the assault against UN forces in Korea. They did very well but were eventually ground down by US firepower: a very clever way of making the most of them and getting rid of them at the same time.

    Incidentally, during the campaign against “bandits” that led to the Long March, the Nationalist forces were advised not by Americans, but by German staff officers. Among other notable contributions to military history, it was during this campaign that artillery “fire bases” were used for the first time to support anti-guerrilla operations.

  14. Well, Joe, funny how everyone believes their own version of history is the Gospel Truth and everyone who disagrees with that version is being led by propaganda or bias. And your little attempt to smear a different version from your own with the taint of ‘McCarthyism’ suggests to me that there is much more ‘bias’ and ‘propaganda’ than substance to your remarks.

    Chou had told Marshall that the CCP preferred ‘a democracy based on the American style’ among other things to Marshall who relayed these remarks to Truman and later also said the Reds were more cooperative than the Nationalists. Marshall did want to know if the Chinese Communists were being advised by the Russians. But he was pretty much won over by Chou on this point as he in February of 1948 he told the U.S. Congress that “in China we have no concrete evidence that (the Communist army) is supported by Communists from outside’. This was even despite the evidence from the cable they had been intercepting. Some American officials did believe a strong link was there but to no or little effect on Marshall – Averill Harriman, the ambassador in Moscow, worried over Marshall’s appointment precisely because he didn’t believe Marshall saw the danger this link posed or understood enough of how strong the link was.

    After Marshall visited Yenan, the headquarters of the Communists, in 1946 he had this to say to Truman: “I had a long talk with Mao Tze-Tung, and I was frank to an extreme. He showed no resentment and gave me every assurance of co-operation.’

    The 31st of May in 1946 Marshall wrote to Chiang: ‘Under the circumstances of the continued advance of the Government troops in Manchuria, I must…repeat that…a point is being reached where the integrity of my position is open to serious question. Therefore I request you again to immediately issue an order terminating advances, attacks or pursuits by Government troops…’

    At this point Chiang caved and agreed to a 15 day ceasefire. A point when Mao had actually resigned to abandoning posts in Manchuria (Marshall had been convinced there was no contact between leaders in Yenan and the Manchurian forces). Had Chiang been able to press on the Reds wouldn’t have been able to establish a strong base there, a critical point in the war.

    When two anti-Nationalist intellectuals were slain in the nationalist territority American opinion shifted strongly against the nationalists – only 13 percent of the populace continued favoring Chiang. Truman wrote a stiff message to Chiang saying “The American people view with violent repugnance” the events in China. He threatened to ‘redefine America’s position if there is no progress toward a peaceful settlement.’

    This is not to say there wasn’t incompetence and corruption on the nationalists side. There was plenty of that. And it’s not to say there weren’t some competent operatives and generals in the CCP. Some of them were, though Mao’s skill was not in the military or in organization: his genius was in triangulation and manipulation of people and in creating terror to enforce his will along with a completely merciless willingless to sacrifice untold numbers for his objectives to be achieved. Too much is made of this supposed competence of the CCP when so much of it was reallhy about the ability to enforce terror, and the ability of the CCP to creatively play off various forces, Russians, Americans, Chiang, etc. against each other – much more important a role than the overstated competence of the CCP generals.

    American forces might not have been ‘advising’ Chiang’s forces on the ground during the long march but Chiang was definitely ‘advised’ by Americans such as Marshall and Truman that his aid or support could be cut off he disobeyed their positions.

    Of course, no version of history is completely without blemish and I’m sure that as time passes even more information will come to light regarding these events to alter the record, if ever so slightly.

  15. WIKI
    It should be noted that the term Mao Zedong Thought has always been the preferred term by the Communist Party of China and that the word Maoism has never been used in its English-language publications except pejoratively.

  16. It’s just not cool to bash communism. My cool friends might desert me, calling me a McCarthyite or a Red Baiter. Nope, better to be cool and pretend no one was ever gullible about communism’s danger to us all.

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