PROBLEMS OF HISTORYPERSPECTIVES ON MAOS CHINA
WHAT IS HISTORY? Try to define history as you understand it. Is it the study of the past or of records of the past?
Mao Zedong What do you know about Mao Zedong? Why do many Chinese people still hang a portrait of him in pride of place in their homes? Why do Chinese people still cry when they visit his tomb?
Historical assessments of Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC)
1. Chinese official/primary sources 2. Pro-Guomindang (GMD) and later Cold War attitudes 1930s-1980s 3. Western, liberal sympathetic views 1930s -1980s 4. Literature of the wounded/scar literature since the death of Mao in 1976 5. Revisionist historians since the 1980s
1. Chinese official/primary sources There was always strict censorship in the PRC. Official Chinese history takes a pro-CCP stance. The current CCP line is based on the reassessment of Mao decided upon at the 6th Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP in 1981 . his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his mistakes.  The split of 70% good and 30% bad has become the accepted Chinese official assessment of Mao. Hu Yaobang cited in Hsu, I. The Rise of Modern China OUP New York 4th Edition 1990 p827 Mao swims in the Yangzi River 1966
2. Pro-Guomindang (GMD) and later Cold War attitudes 1930s-1980s 1930s and World War 2 the US government supported the GMD. Jiang Jieshi was recognised as the leader of China He had considerable support in the USA. Henry Luce of Time/Life published several favourable cover stories in Time magazine in 1930s. Jiangs American educated and Christian wife, Song Meiling, wooed the American public.
2. Pro-Guomindang (GMD) and later Cold War attitudes 1930s-1980s
GMD lost the support of the majority of the Chinese people. Patrick Hurley commented in 1944 that the Communists were the only real democrats in China  US tried to avert the Civil War. Beginning of the Cold War in 1947 prevented the acceptance of Mao and the CCP. Hurley cited in McDonald, D. Revolution: China HTAV Aust. 2005 p68 1945
2. Pro-Guomindang (GMD) and later Cold War attitudes 1930s-1980s Cold War hysteria about the spread of monolithic communism. Western fear was reinforced by the Korean War 1950-1. PRC was not recognised diplomatically by the US or admitted to the United Nations until after Nixons visit in 1972. This perspective is often negative and anti-communist
3. Western, liberal sympathetic views 1930s 1980s 1937 Red Star over China by an American journalist, Edgar Snow. Snow was one of the first foreign journalists to travel to Yanan and interview survivors of the Long March. He was after a world scoop. Much what he published was vetted by Mao and Zhou Enlai. Snows descriptions were idealistic and romantic Created a cultural myth of what the Communists were like  Snow cited in McDonald, D. op cit p55  ibid p55 Long March survivors in Yanan 1935 
Western, liberal sympathetic views 1930s 1980s Snow influenced a whole generation of China watchers and historians, Many felt that Maoism was the best way for China Included Harold Isaacs, Agnes Smedley, Anna Louise Strong, John K. Fairbank, Harrison Salisbury, Dick Wilson, Jack Belden, Simone de Beauvoir, Norman Freehill, Maurice Meisner and Ross Terrill.
4. Literature of the wounded/scar literature since the death of Mao in 1976
After the death of Mao there were many books published both inside China and in the West which examined the excesses of the Maoist period.
4. Literature of the wounded/scar literature since the death of Mao in 1976 In 1978, Lu Xinhua published The Wounded, a novel
that told of a former Red Guards coming to terms with that she had rejected her mother after she was denounced as a renegade. The story lent its name to a whole genre of scar literature, which sought to examine the wounds inflicted by the Cultural Revolution on the social body. Initially, much of this literature was written along the lines broadly acceptable to the leadership, but in the course of the 1980s, the writing took a darker and more searching turn..The proliferation of fiction and memoir in the mid-1980s served to question the official narrativeIn the West a host of shocking memoirs was publishedbut these works had relatively little impact inside the PRC  Smith, Steve Coming to Terms with the Past: China in History Today Vol. 53 No. 12 December 2003 History Today Ltd Britain p44
4. Literature of the wounded/scar literature since the death of Mao in 1976Chinese film examples: Zhang Yimous To Live (1994) and The Road Home (1999) Tian Zhuangzhuangs The Blue Kite (1993) Chen Kaiges Farewell My Concubine (1993). Western published books: Wild Swans by Jung Chang (1991) Bitter Winds by Harry Wu (1994) Maos Last Dancer by Li Cunxin (2003).
4. Literature of the wounded/scar literature since the death of Mao in 1976
Many of these memoirs published in the West have confirmed existing negative views of Maos China Yet there is a high degree of correlation between the content of these books and of works published in China.
5. Revisionist historians since the 1980s The scar literature, both Chinese and Western published and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 led to many observers and historians changing their views about Chinese history. Former Western, liberal sympathetic historians such as Meisner and Fairbank have revised their views. Both new light on the history of the late Mao period and the passage of timehave prompted the writing of this new edition. Part V, on the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, has been considerably revised and expanded to take into account an abundance of new facts and new scholarship.  Meisner, M. Maos China and After The Free Press USA 1986 pxii
5. Revisionist historians since the 1980s In 2005 Jung Chang and Jon Halliday published their book Mao the Unknown Story Gives the impression of scholarly research, But seems to be fuelled by an unrelenting hatred of Mao Zedong and a determination to pile up evidence to blacken him as totally selfish and sadistic. McDonald, Hamish Throwing the book at Mao in The Age 8 October 2005 Fairfax Aust
5. Revisionist historians since the 1980s
This book has caused considerable controversy and debate since its publication Francesca Sisci, a China reporter with Italys La Sampa newspaper stated this demonisation of Mao seems the other side of the coin of the previous idolisation of Mao: you love him or you hate him..You dont feel cold analysis in the book, you feel hatred, which helps to make it a wonderful read. But history should not work this way.  Sisci, F. cited in McDonald, Hamish Throwing the book at Mao in The Age 8 October 2005 Fairfax Aust
THE LONG MARCH 1. Mao Zedong (1935) TheLong March is the first of its kind ever recorded in history, that is it is a manifesto, an agitation corps, and a seeding machine 2. Joe Rich (1970) As the communists travelled they tried to win support; they confiscated the property of the wealthy, distributing among the poor and in the villages they called the people into public squares, inciting them to hate, attack and kill the landlords.  Mao Zedong cited in Bown, C. and Edwards, T.
Revolution in China 1911-1949 Heinemann Educational Books Ltd London 1974 History Broadsheet No. 10a seeding machine  Rich, J. Asias Modern Century Longman Aust 1970 pp26-7
THE LONG MARCH 3. Harrison Salisbury (1985)
a great human epic which tested the will, courage and strength of the men and women of the Chinese Red Army. 4.
Sun Shuyun (2006) It was the first time I learned in such vivid detail about the hostage-taking and ransom demands by the Red Army. Shock is too weak a word to describe my reaction.  Salisbury, H The Long March: The Untold
Story Macmillan London 1985 p1  Sun Shuyun The Long March Harper Press London 2006 p101
Swiftly taking Luding Bridge
THE LONG MARCH
Simon Winchester (1986) asks whether it was merely the stuff of a superheated Mao legend, with a rabble of a cast performing in an undignified shambles that has since been rendered truly fantastic by the skills of Chinese story tellers? 5.
Chang and Halliday (2005) .desertions soared. A Nationalist report showed that while Maos troops were in one county alone, Minxian, over 1,000 Red Army men gave themselves up. On 2 October Mao ordered the security forces to collect stragglers. Collect often meant execution.  Winchester, S The Truth About Maos Long March in The Australian 11 October 1986  Chang, J. and Halliday, J Mao the Unknown Story Jonathan Cape London 2005 p172
Mao and peasants at the start of the Long March 1934
Great Leap Forward and famine
Go out and aim high. The East leaps forward, the West is worried, 1958
1. Chinas Peoples Daily newspaper (1958) today, in the era of Mao Zedong, Heaven
is here on earth
2. New York Times (1960) The system of peoples communes, with its fantastic effort to reduce the individual Chinese peasant to the status of a work-ant in an ant colony, has played a role in the present economic catastrophe.  Peoples Daily 1958 cited in Williams, S. China Since Mao Macmillan Education London 1981 p16  New York Times 30 December 1960 cited in Bown, C Bown, C. The Peoples Republic of China Heinemann Educational Books Ltd London 1975 History Broadsheet No.6
Great Leap Forward and famine
The commune is like a gigantic dragon, production is visibly awe inspiring, 1959
Simone de Beauvoir life in China is exceptionally pleasant  Norman Freehill ...Today all is confidence and hopefulnesstoday no one starves in China  Video clip from Twentieth Century History No.13 One Mans Revolution BBC Enterprises 1977 The Times (1963) In China a relatively efficient rationing system now spreads the burden, whereas in the early decades of this century death by starvation ran into hundreds and thousands every year  de Beauvoir cited in McDonald, D. op cit p91  Freehill, N. cited in ibid p91  The Times London 1 January 1963 cited in Bown, C. (1975) op cit No. 6
Great Leap Forward and famine4. Zhisui Li, Maos doctor (1994) - The leading cadres of the party and the first party secretaries were ingratiating themselves with Mao the greater the falsehoods, the more people died of starvation. 
Zhisui Li cited in McDonald, D. op cit p91
Strike the battle drum of the GLF ever louder, 1959
Great Leap Forward and famine5.
Video clip from Peoples Century No. 14 Great Leap BBC Worldwide Ltd 1997 Lynch (2002) - Intended to be the Great Leap Forward, the Plan fell short of its production targets. The extent of the failure was hidden from the people, but what the authorities could not conceal was the widespread famineThe dislocation location produced a national catastrophe. Between 1958 and 1962, 30 million Chinese died from starvation.
 Lynch, M. Mao Zedong: Liberator or Oppressor of China in History Review No. 43 September 2002 History Today Ltd. Britain The power to fight disasters is strong to quicker raise the levels of production and life. Peoples communes are good-9 1960
Great Leap Forward and famine Chang and Halliday (2005) Close to 38 million people died of starvation and overwork in the Great Leap Forward and the famine, which lasted four years. The figure is confirmed by Maos No. 2 Liu Shao-chi [Liu Shaoqi] himself. Even before the famine has ended, he told Soviet ambassador Stepan Chervonenko that 30 million had already died.Mao knowingly worked these tens of millions of people to death.  Chang and Halliday op cit pp456-7 The communes are big, the people numerous, the natural resources abundant, it is easy to develop a diversified economy. Peoples communes are good5. 1960
Cultural Revolution1. Mao Zedong (1967) The present day Great Cultural Revolution is only the first; there will inevitably be many more in the future. The issue of who will win in the revolution can only be settled over a long historical period. If things are not properly handled, it is possible for a capitalist restoration to take place at any time.  Mao Zedong quoted in Peking Review 18 June 1967 cited in Bown, C. (1975) op cit No.12 Hold high the red banner of Mao Zedong Thought to wage the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to the end. Revolution is no crime, to rebel is justified. 1966
Cultural Revolution 2. The Times (1974) The programme of sending educated youth to the countryside is not the only social sphere in which alarm signals are increasing about the extent of backslidingTaken together with the recent encouragement for schoolchildren to criticize their teachers, and for reforms of an anti-academic nature in the university entrance system, these various campaigns seem to represent a new drive to prevent a slackening of political zeal  3. Wilfred Burchett and Rewi Alley (1976) explained that the four olds campaign was to uncover illegally hoarded treasures in the form of gold bars and foreign currency, arms, radio transmitters, Kuomintang [Guomindang] uniforms 
 Burchett and Alley cited in McDonald, D. op cit p101  Bonavia, David in The Times 14 January 1974 cited in Bown (1975) op cit No.12 Hold high the great banner of Mao Zedong Thought thoroughly smash the rotting counter revolutionary revisionist line in literature and art. 1967
Cultural Revolution 4. Jung Chang (1992) wrote about 1972. We visited many friends of my parents. Everywhere we went, they were being rehabilitated. Some had just come out of prison..In almost every family, one or more members had died as a result of the Cultural Revolution..Tragic stories cropped up in every household.  Chang, Jung Wild Swans Flamingo London 1992 pp600-1 A struggle session during the Cultural Revolution
Immanuel Hsu (1990) - In retrospect, the Cultural Revolution ushered in a decade of turmoil and civil strife that drove the country to utter chaos and the brink of bankruptcy. The party had been decimated and many of its leaders purged or dismissed.Poignantly, the Cultural Revolution turned out to be anticultural, anti-intellectual, and anti-scientific, for knowledge was considered the source of reactionary thought and action. Jack Gray (1990) - Maos two great attempts [GLF and CR] to transform Chinese socialist society had ended in failure. Both had proved destructive, demoralizing, and disastrous. His two great campaigns had aimed to democratize socialism, but the result was to identify him not with democratization but with personal dictatorship and ruthless coercion.  Hsu, I. op cit p703  Gray, J. Rebellions and Revolutions OUP New York 1990 p374
The Luding Bridge
THE LUDING BRIDGE Your verdict?