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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Mao and His Rule

Early Life  

Mao Zedong, a ruthless leader and revolutionary communist, was born into a peasant family on the 26th of October 1893. His family were peasants, but relatively lucky compared to the people they were surrounded by. Mao's father, Mao Yi-Chang, had travelled around while in the army and picked up a few business ideas in Japan. Mao was the first son to survive beyond infancy, which developed a special bond between him and his mother. He moved out of town and lived with his mother's family until the age of 7. Mao didn't have to do any physical labour and seemingly enjoyed his life.  

Upon moving back to his hometown, he started going to school. This is where Mao began to struggle and clash with Chinese ideas. He read lots of Chinese classics and tended to argue and disagree with the ideas being taught in school. After being expelled three times, his father decided that school was not for him. He forced Mao to do physical labour, which he truly despised, and tensions only increased between father and son. To make matters worse, Mao's father married him to a woman 8 years older than Mao, which led Mao to become a passionate opponent of arranged marriages. He called it "A form of indirect rape." Mao later attended multiple universities and found his way into a Russian-led communist organisation. This later became Mao's CCP.  

Mao's Ideas  

Mao had a very firm set of ideas that brought him criticism from all over the world, and at the beginning, from inside his own party. Mao was a Marxist and saw Marxism as the only way to restore China to its previous greatness. However, his method of Marxism saw him get criticism even from Moscow, where he was first getting orders from. Mao knew that for Marxism to work in China he had to change certain aspects of it to fit the complicated situation that China was in. "Correct leadership should be based upon careful study of local conditions," Mao said about his rule. This showed in his ideas of revolution. Mao ignored the laws of dialect that tend to dictate the way revolutions work simply because he believed that they didn’t fit China.   

Mao knew that the urban population wasn’t large enough to state a revolution, and he believed it had to come from the countryside. Rural areas in China made up 88% of Chinas population while urban areas made up a mere 6% of the population. Mao cleverly adapted Marxism to fit the situation that he was in and stated that anyone who believed in revolution could be considered proletariat. This sped the revolution quite a bit as there was no need to wait for the growth of the proletariat and revolution could happen straight away.  

Becoming a leader  

Mao knew how to gain support from China; He instructed his soldiers to kill or exile landowners but treat the peasant that were willing to cooperate with great respect. Mao had an advantage over other parties as he had an unrivalled knowledge of peasants. Strangely, he showed no mercy to peasants not willing to cooperate, and during his rule, he didn’t sympathise with peasants or treat them any better than other classes. Once controlling the countryside, Mao's revolution was nearly an unstoppable force. There were, of course, obstacles along the way. The main one being the GMD. The Kuomintang was a nationalist revolutionary party that was the ruling party from 1919 to 1948 when Mao's CCP defeated them. In 1927, the GMD purged the communists and killed nearly all of them. Due to the fact that they failed to exterminate all of the CCP they inadvertently sparked the Chinese civil war. The GMD was undermined by their alliance with gangsters and their lack of knowledge on the Chinse population. They were unlike the CCP in the way that they ruled solely relying on fear.  

There was another major obstacle in Mao's way to becoming the ruler of China; The Sino-Japanese war. This was the obstacle that very temporarily united the CCP with the GMD due to a much greater terror threatening to destroy both parties chances at succeeding. The war started in 1937 after Japan decided that the small area of China that they occupied wasn't enough, they marched into the heart of China and slaughtered many natives in the process. Later, in 1941, the war saw China become part of the second world war and the GMD and CCP also formed an alliance with the U.S.A. The communists were showing great restraint by working with the GMD considering that they had almost annihilated them a few years earlier. This was another extremely smart move by Mao because it eased the tension between the parties, at least for the time of the war, and undecided people thought this made the CCP he sensible party. The war ended, but an idea began to manifest in Mao's head that for the revolution to succeed every follower of communism had to live by the exact rules or be punished. After the war, the CCP destroyed the GMD and rid itself of opposition. In 1949, Mao declared the creation of the Peoples Republic of China and became the sole leader of China.  


Mao's Rule  

Upon becoming the leader of China, Mao, surprisingly, did not rush to reform China and instead acted fairly cautiously. All of the public utilities were taken under state control. After seizing foreign assets and eliminating any traces of the GMD in China, Mao began his reconstruction of China. Although later known as one of the most brutal parties in history, their rule started being relatively free, which helped them gain an even larger support among peasants. Then things started to change, and Mao started to rule the way he intended to from the beginning. Mao defined three things that he wanted to eradicate in China: Waste, corruption, and inefficiency. Unfortunately for the people of China, Mao would stop at nothing to eradicate these things, including starving 10 million of his own people. Mao would purge anyone who didn't follow exactly, including members of the CCP that disagreed with him. Mao created a society ruled by mass terror, where anyone who was opposed to the government was killed. The CCP turned China into a place where neighbor spied on neighbor, workers spied on their colleagues, and even children reported their own parents. Each street had their own "watchers" who informed the CCP of everything suspicious. The aim of all of this was to destroy an entire class: China's bourgeoisie. The status of a god that he had achieved among his people only seemed to make him more distrustful of his colleagues. The more powerful he got, the more detached he became from his associates, to the point where he was paranoid.  

One of Mao's successful movements as a ruler was the five year plan of 1952-6. This was a plan targeting the growth of coal, steel, and petrochemicals. To boost the morale of the people, a number of civil engineering projects took place. The success achieved by the five year plan was very great. Their initial goal of getting to 52000 million yuan of gross industrial output was small in comparison to the 65000 that they managed to get to. This was extremely similar to the growth of the soviet union in the 1930's. But Mao didn't stop there, he made a second five year plan which  he later described as "The great leap forward for China" The aim of this plan were much more ambitious; Mao wanted to turn the PRC into a modern industrial state that would catch up with the leading nations and then overtake them. The second five year plan was a mistake. The increase in steel production combined with some natural disasters led to a 15% drop in grain productions in 1959 and another 10% drop in 1960. There was no recovery, but Mao's officials heavily unexaggerated the problem to him, so very little grain was on the market. This lead to the starvation of 30 million Chinese people. The great leap forward was estimated to have caused 45 million deaths.

From 1962-6 saw action in China die down, at least on the surface. There was some political turmoil, however, which saw Mao temporarily withdraw from the government.  Soon Mao began to feel that withdrawing from the political stage had been an error on his part, so he turned to his former defense minister: Lin Biao

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