You want to defend/jusitify Mao’s record on death & destruction?
Bring it on dude…LOL[/quote]
Sure, let’s do it. How’re we doing the math?
If Mao is responsible for the death of 30 million dead in the GLF (a number that’s oft misquoted, since it refers to 30 million people who reportedly had their lives shortened as a result of famine)… then does he get some sort of positive credit for building up a national economy + stability that allowed the Chinese population to grow dramatically (in overall numbers, in standard of living, in life expectancy) from '49 until his death in '76?
Mao was hardly a saint; he wasn’t the sun, even if that’s what the songs said. He was clearly an over-bearing man who thought little of the lives of individual man, and who had no interest in the concept of sharing political power with anyone. He was an ideologue who, in his old age, became increasingly confused about what his ideology was really about. He proved far better at motivation and rabble-rousing than administration of a 600 million man nation.
I’m a better guy than Mao. I haven’t killed anyone (especially the innocent), or shortened anyone’s life significantly through my wrongful policies. I’m also a worse guy than Mao. I haven’t inspired the righteous action of a single man (forget the actions of hundreds of millions), and I can’t say with any credibility that I’ve improved the life of a single man (just struggling with my own!).
So. Let’s go. Who shall we compare him against? Gandhi, perhaps? Gandhi educated the human species to the amazingly empowering art of civil disobedience. He helped speed the end of colonialism in the third world; a remarkable man. But what exactly has Gandhi done for the people of India? Why is India/Pakistan still wracked with sectarian violence and unconscionable poverty?
What other great man should we be pointing to? The Dalai Lama? Certainly, he’s brought spiritual wealth to millions of Westerners over-bloated with their own material wealth; but what has he brought to his own people? Or, for that matter, what has he achieved for anyone in the third world?
Nelson Mandela? An inspiring man who ended the system of apartheid. Undoubtedly; an admirable man. Has anyone checked in on South Africa lately? A corrupt democratic political system where his own former allies and current heirs trade political favors for economic wealth. A nation that’s still wracked by poverty and pervasive violence. What has he actually done?
We can comment all day about the lack of “badness” inherent in all of these remarkable men. I don’t know if Mandela, the Dalai Lama, or Gandhi have ever intentionally wronged an innocent man. I don’t know if they’ve ever called upon their followers to attack anyone. Mao, on the other hand, was one bad-ass m$therfu$$er. He never compromised with his ideological or political enemies. Immoral effectiveness were preferred over moral impotence.
I think we all accept that soldiers and the generals that guide them do “horrible things” in war. They attack, they kill, and sometimes they’re ordered to die; there are no greater moral crimes any human being could possibly be guilty of. Well, that’s what China has been for most of the past two centuries: it has been at war. It wasn’t always a war against a visible enemy with guns/planes/tanks. But it was a war, nonetheless… against poverty, against those who preferred that disgusting status quo, against weakness, against backwardness… against the insidious nature of human civilization that allowed what was once the largest and wealthiest nation on earth to collapse into dust and ashes.
The China that Mao was born into was an ugly, dirty, violent place. Mao, as you’d expect, was an ugly, dirty, and violent individual. And yet
He has left China, both the nation and hundreds of millions of every day Chinese, with dramatic emotional scars that might never heal. But he also pacified and energized a China that had been in a self-destructive tailspin for a century.
He left a China that is adrift today, lacking a strong guiding ideology… but at least he also ripped out the old divisive feudal authorities and the religious factionalism that dominated old China. (How many Chinese lives were lost or “shortened” through the major religious revolutions of the 19th century: Muslim uprising in Gansu+Xinjiang, and the Christian-inspired Taiping rebellion of the east/south? How many Chinese lives were lost or “shortened” through the petty factionalism and warlord rivalries of the early 20th century?) He left a China that’s strongly convinced it owes a responsibility to improve the livelihood of all Chinese; we still lack the ability to do so, but don’t think for a second that we lack the motivation to do so.
He built a strong China that’s capable of independent policy, a China that’s capable of asserting its own interests without having to bow to any foreign colonial power, a China that doesn’t owe its creation and existence to any foreign nation or people.
And in those little points lie my final judgement about Mao… and I will pronounce it with great conviction: Mao left China a far better nation, than the one that he was born into. How many of us can claim the same?