Totalitarianism, Maos China Essay

Mao turned China into a complete Totalitarianism state. It was the Communist ideology that ran the country. All social, political, economic, Cultural and intellectual activities were in some way controlled by Mao. Mao set many rules by which the people were to live by making China at the time, a totalitarianism state.

At the time of Mao’s birth, Emperor Yuan ruled China in the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty had been controlling China since 1644 and had never been popular. Members of the Qing dynasty were called Manchu’s. Many Chinese by no means accept rule from the Manchu’s and many illegal secret societies were formed to try and weaken the government.
A major conflict between these societies and the government was the ?Taiping’ rebellion led by Hung Hsiu-Ch’uan. Tens of millions of peasants joined the Taiping armies. They took over most of Southern China and the capital, Nan king (now Nanjing). They would have defeated the government, but the west intervened and supplied the Government forces with arms and soldiers. They did not want China to become strong. The forces beat the Taiping very quickly in one of the largest mass slaughters in History. The Chinese had become convinced that the West was now invincible.

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China had lost a large amount of national self-confidence. During Mao’s youth it was time for people to look for new ways to overcome these problems.
Mao Zedong (1893-1976), also known as Mao Tse-Tung was born on December 26th 1893, in the small village of Shaoshan in the Hunan province. He came from a peasant family whose father had prospered from hard work. In Mao’s seventh year in his village school there was a large attempt to drive out all foreigners, which was defeated by an international force of 2100 men. Violence was beginning to move closer Mao.

SanYat-Sen, the leader of the Chinese nationalists party (called the Kuomintang) believed that a change within the government system was not possible. He believed that China must not only get rid of all the Manchu’s, but also the emperors. In 1911 he organized a revolution in the aim of establishing a republican government.
In October Mao joined the republican army for six months. Although this is only a short time it showed his determination by enlisting as a private in the regular army rather than a member of a student militia like most men with his education would do.
The majority of southern China was now under control of the control of the republican armies. However, Yuan Shihkai, the former commander of the emperor’s, forces continued to maintain control of northern china. Sun Yat-Sen and Yuan made a deal whereby Yuan would be named the president of the new Republic of China if he persuaded the emperor to step down. On February the 14th, 1912, General Yuan Shihkai was elected the first president of the Republic of China
China was very close to Chaos when Mao graduated from College in 1918. He went on to study Western philosophy and economics at Changsha’s public library. He was influenced greatly on Marxism based on the theories of German Karl Marx. This saw history in terms of the struggle of workers against Capitalists. It was the philosophy of the revolutionaries, which had recently taken control of vast land in Russia. It is known as Communism. Communism meant the end of power from the rich and privileged; it meant the communal ownership of all property. It would mean an end to the traditional ways of governing and recent experiments of Western style republicanism and democratic thinking.
Mao became an assistant librarian at Peking University, the countries leading intellectual centre. Here, he met Chen Duxiu, a literary scholar who had moved from Peking to Shanghai, and Li Dazhao, the university librarian. More than any others, they were responsible for the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

On May 4th 1918 in Peking, Mao witnessed a large student demonstration now known as the May fourth incident. It symbolized the rejection of liberal and moderate western models of development in favour of the radical Marxist-Communist approach. Two months later, Mao wrote, ?The world is ours, the nation is ours, society is ours. If we do not speak, who will speak? If we do not act, who will act??
While being chased up by the military government of Hunan, Mao was forced to flee where he moved to Canton, the main base of the Kuomintang. There, he became the acting head of the propaganda department and server in the peasant movement institute where they wanted the peasants to rise up the government. He was now fully committed to Marxist Communism: ?Once I had accepted it as the correct interpretation of history, I did not afterward waver?
The Chinese Kuomintang, allowed the Communist party to join them after advise from the Soviets to reorganize the Kuomintang and its feeble army. The now allied Kuomintang and Communist parties joined against Feuding local warlords in an attempt to push them out and rule China, it was then Mao became a full-time party worker.

In 1924 ? 25 Mao returned to his village, Shaoshan where he witnessed demonstrations by the peasants against the shooting of several dozen Chinese by foreign police in Shanghai. He wrote a report on ‘The Peasant Movement in Hunan’. He argued that peasant discontent was a major force in China and deserved Communist support. His advice was rejected because the Moscow based Comintern wanted to keep the alliance with the Nationalists.

In March 1925, after the death of SanYat-sen, Chiang Kai Shek became the new leader of the Kuomintang party. The Communists had got on very well with the Nationalists under the leadership of SanYat-sen. However, Mao wrote his report on the peasant movement the same year SanYat-sen died.

Nevertheless, the Nationalists later launched an attack on the communists for the reason that they wished to stay away from Soviet influence. They suppressed a group of uprising peasants, killing thousands in Shanghai which some estimate to be up to 25000 communists. Many Nationalists were disgusted at Chiang and left to join the communists such as the warlord Chu Teh. Mao, one of the survivors after the massacre, led several hundred peasants into the mountain areas of Kiangxi. Village power was critical giving the Communists a substantial advantage.

For seven years, after the Communists had broken with the Nationalists the Communists were split into two different groups, both with different ideas on how the revolution should be waged. One faction, based in Shanghai, still believed a revolution would start on the Russian pattern (as written by Lenin Marxist) when the workers rose against their masters. The other faction with Mao believed the key to a revolution was with the peasants. The party’s top governing body was its Politburo.

Despite Mao’s lack of military training, he became the Communists leading rural tactician. He turned the Communist party temporarily into an army, which was called the ?Red army’. The army took in peasants, former nationalist soldiers and even bandits who were ready to reform and follow his principles. In April 1928 Chu Teh who was against the Shanghai faction arrived at Mao’s base with his army bringing up the numbers of the Red army to over 10000.

Mao and Chu Teh worked out new orders for the army. The beating of men by officers was strictly forbidden as was stealing items from the people. There would be no mistreatment of civilians or you were severely punished. It was to adopt the Communist ideology, after each battle a meeting would be held where anyone could speak up.

There was a lot of disagreement in Mao’s tactics. But late in 1928, there was a Communist party meeting in Russia because no Chinese city was believed to be safe. Mao was elected to the Party’s Central Committee, whose authority was just below that of the Politburo.

By late 1930, the Red Army controlled an area of 19000 square miles consisting of 3 million people. In Shanghai there had been a shake up in the Communist party leadership and Mao was placed on the Politburo. The leadership was moved out of Shanghai and used Mao’s base in Kiangxi to set up an opposition government.

The part of Kiangxi that Mao’s troops controlled were now called a Soviet meaning a Communist state. There were also many other small Soviets around China. In the autumn of 1931, a large Communist party conference was held, where Mao was voted the Chairman of the new Soviet Republic of China, by far the most important position in the party.

The province of Kiangxi, now known as Jiangxi
In the spring of 1934 Chiang set 700,000 men to create a blockade around the Communist bases. Many Communists were killed until there were only around 100,000 left. Eventually they burst through the blockade and Mao led the Red Army on a 9600-kilometre march (known as the Long-march) where they set up new bases. Mao was now recognized as the National leader.

Mao Zedong in the mountains of Jangxi
Mao had moved his army to the town of Yenan. Here, the Japanese would have to fight through his forces in order to get to the rest of China. Mao had allied with the Nationalists to fight against the Japanese but they never really helped and eventually changed his mind about Cooperation with the Communists. At the end of the War, a million Red army men were moving about Communist controlled territory.

Ever since the Japanese surrendered, there continued to be clashes between the Communists and Nationalists. In July of 1946, Chiang launched a full-scale war on the Communists. The Red army was now called the ?Peoples Liberation army’ (PLA) and out numbered three to one by the Nationalists. However, by the autumn of 1948 the PLA numbers had been largely increased by Nationalists defectors and outnumbered Chiang’s forces.

Mao stated ?This army is powerful because all its members have a conscious discipline; they have come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation?
In 1949 the Nationalists were defeated and the remaining members fled to Formosa now known as Taiwan. They took control of Taiwan and Chiang proclaimed his new capital there. The Communists were not bothered with this. They now held total control of China.
Taiwan, Formally Formosa
After victory over the Nationalists, Mao established the Peoples Republic of China. Mao began to make many changes. Firstly he established Communism by bringing down the power of the rich and privileged and making everyone equal. The government set up mass food distribution. He was bent on changing the traditional ways of China. He allowed Women to own land, making the equal to men and basically abolished the class system. ?In order to build a great socialist society it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity. Men and women must receive equal pay for equal work in production.?
He followed the Soviet model of economic development and social change until 1958, then broke with the USSR and launched his ‘Great Leap’, which encouraged the establishment of rural industry. The failure of the Great Leap lost him much of his influence, but in 1966 he launched the Cultural Revolution, which lead to widespread terror and chaos.
After the failure of the great leap, Mao no longer had as much power as before. He concerned himself, still with the Communist ideology. However, it was the pragmatists, particularly Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping who were setting the overall tone of China.

Under the pragmatists, the Communists ideology was not so much being adopted. Factory managers were given wide authority, as their work methods did not have to fit any ideological interpretation as long as they were effective. Mao didn’t like this; he came to feel he was forgotten. Factory managers were forgetting ideology and peasants were becoming capitalists and he knew whom to blame.

Mao had decided on a world revolution, an attempt to go beyond party rectification plans to eliminate those in leadership who dared to double cross him. In the autumn of 1966 posters began to go around calling people to engage in virtually, another civil war. He labeled the revolt ?Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution?. The idea behind was to return to Mao’s way of Chinese communism.

Mao spoke mainly to the country’s youth, the 300 million Chinese who were too young to experience the first revolution. Young people from around the country were organized, fed, and transported to all the important cities by the PLA, led by Lin Biao. These youths were designated as ?Red Guards’ and given military uniforms and arms. Mao assured them that ?To rebel is justified? told them they had a license to knock down the old.

Before the autumn was over, they were raging all over the country. Wherever they went the carried copies of the little red book waving it almost in a religious sense. They attacked anyone they felt was not fit for Mao’s thought. Intellectuals were the main to be lashed against, and the pragmatists who had taken power from Mao.

By the start of 1967 there was no sign from Mao that he felt restraint was needed. The country was in chaos. All schools and universities were closed. The Red Guard had split into 100’s of factions and were soon attacking each other. Before 1967 was over, virtually every official with any prominence with the exception of Mao had been denounced.

Late in the year, Mao ordered the Red guards to go home and back to school. He called in the army to restore order. China was being run mainly by the military. There had been no real lasting reorganization of society from the Cultural Revolution. There was a shift in personnel and new leaders. Mao had again emerged in China as the number one man.

Mao was beginning to look very old and in September 1976 he died. The pragmatists again held the power, not the radicals who followed Mao. In the summer of 1981 the Communist party central committee officially declared that Mao had been wrong in emphasizing a constant struggle and launching the Cultural Revolution.

? Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99
? Encyclopedia Britannica 99
? Cheng J, Mao, Beijing, Beijing Press, 1993
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? Cheng J, China: Communist Revolution, Beijing, Beijing Press, 1991
? Poole F, Mao Zedong, USA, Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data, 1982
? Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, Peking, Foreign Languages Press, (No other information)
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