Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mao's Great Famine

The story does not fall within the scope of this blog. It has nothing to do with therapy or culture or coaching issues. Not even remotely.

But I am linking Frank Dikotter’s article: “Mao’s Great Leap to Famine” for its historical significance.

Mao’s Great Famine is perhaps the most important underreported stories of the past century. The famine continued from 1958 to 1962.

According to Dikotter, it was caused by Mao’s economic policies, and the means he used to impose them and his Communist ideology on the Chinese people.

The result, in Dikotter’s words: “In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

“Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.”

He continues: “As the catastrophe unfolded, people were forced to resort to previously unthinkable acts to survive. As the moral fabric of society unraveled, they abused one another, stole from one another and poisoned one another. Sometimes they resorted to cannibalism.”

Perhaps the most important point, for our understanding of history, is the fact, as Dikotter points out, that the Great Famine was the “turning point” in the making of modern China. It led to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which led to Deng Xiaoping’s takeover, and the subsequent rise of a new and revitalized China.

In Dikotter’s words: “Mao’s Great Famine was not merely an isolated episode in the making of modern China. It was its turning point. The subsequent Cultural Revolution was the leader’s attempt to take revenge on the colleagues who had dared to oppose him during the Great Leap Forward.”

Mao’s Communism mixed an obscene ideology with deranged economic policies and tried to enforce them with terror. However much certain people still try to romanticize Communist revolution, Mao’s Communism was surely one of the greatest crimes against humanity that the world has ever seen.

Certainly, it one of the least recognized.

While reading this article, I could not help recalling that many of my politically savvy French friends in the 1970s were singing the praises of Mao and proclaiming themselves to be diehard Maoists.

Perhaps they didn’t know what was going on? Perhaps they didn’t know what had gone on? Some of them had in fact visited China during the Cultural Revolution, another time of extraordinary political terror, and had come away impressed.

Let’s not forget that when Nixon opened up relations with China in 1974, the American press was falling over itself trying to exclaim China's greatness.

The next time you hear someone try to romanticize Communism, recall the victims of Mao's Great Famine.


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman, et al.
RE: Not Just....

The next time you hear someone try to romanticize Communism, recall the victims of Mao's Great Famine. -- Stuart Schneiderman

...that, but:

• Lenin's mass murder of the kulaks.
• Stalin's forced famine in the Ukraine.
• Pol Pot's Cambodian 'Killing Fields'.
• The Laotian's treatment of the Hmong.
• The Vietnamese treatment of the Montagnards.

The list goes on and on. It's the same old horrible story repeated down through the ages by totalitarians everywhere. Today's totalitarians are the communists, a.k.a., amongst US as 'progressives'. Given the chance, they'd do the same here, to all those who disagree with their approach to economics or civil 'liberties'. I've seen them doing the same locally as their ilk did in China in the 1930s and 1940s, when they were NOT in power, just yet.


[History repeats itself. That's one of the problems with History.]

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I am thinking that Mao simply perfected the art of destroying human lives.... I did not mean to omit the other horrors that Communism perpetrated on people.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Oh....

....I got that. In spades. I was just piling on for the edification of people who graduated from the vaunted American public education system since 1980. They probably didn't learn about those other items in that system of 'education'.


[Education is supposed to replace an empty mind with an open one. These days, that isn't the case.]

Xing Xing Zhi Huo said...

Mao was in fact responsible for the greatest decline in mortality in human history.

In fact more people were added to China's population in the 27 years of his rule than in the previous century leading up to 1949.

Under Mao, population grew at about 4 to 5 times the annualised rate as the fifty years before his rule.

We know under Mao there was a period of significant decline in fertility.

So what happened to cause the population to double under him?

Obviously a huge decline in mortality.

Corresponding perhaps to the most rapid increase in life expectancy in history.

This has been verified by Western demographers. Refer Judith Banister's work. You don't need to rely just on official figures. These can be corroborated by looking at the demographic profile today.

If mortality and life expectancy trends of China, had followed the typical course of countries such as India, Indonesia etc, China would have lost well over 100 million more people than she did under Mao.

Socialism in China saved lives. In fact there is an argument that Mao saved more lives than any other man in human history.

The mortality rates of the GLF were in fact higher than those of pre-revolutionary China only in 1960, and in fact during the other years of the leap about the same as India and Indonesia and other developing countries.

The Great Leap was not the greatest catastrophe in China's history. It was perhaps the greatest temporary reversal in China's history, and only be crediting the communists with greatly reducing mortality in the first decade of their rule, can you get this great relative change in mortality - which hucksters such as Dikotter term mass murder.

Don't trust me.

Go check out the figures yourselves, even Dikotters fgures, and Banisters. Then compare them with the situation in other developing countries of the time.