Mao Zedung (Mao Zedong), Wade-Giles romanization Mao Tse-tung, (born December 26, 1893, Shaoshan, Hunan province, China—died September 9, 1976, Beijing), principal Chinese Marxist-Leninist theorist, soldier, and statesman who led his country’s communist revolution. Mao was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1935 until his death, and he was chairman (chief of state) of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1959 and chairman of the party also until his death.
Mao was the son of a prosperous peasant in Shaoshan, Hunan. He had a Chinese nationalist and an anti-imperialist outlook early in his life, and was particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919. He later adopted Marxism–Leninism while working at Peking University, and became a founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927.
On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the PRC, a single-party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years he solidified his control through campaigns against landlords, suppression of “counter-revolutionaries”, “Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns” and through a psychological victory in the Korean War, which altogether caused the deaths of several-million Chinese. In 1955-1957, Mao launched the Sufan movement and the Anti-Rightist Campaign, with at least 550,000 people persecuted in the latter, most of whom were intellectuals and dissidents. In 1958, he launched the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from agrarian to industrial, which led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of 20–46 million people between 1958 and 1962. In 1963, Mao launched the Socialist Education Movement, and in 1966 he initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements in Chinese society which lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts, and an unprecedented elevation of Mao’s cult of personality.
Tens of millions of people were persecuted during the Revolution, while the estimated number of deaths ranges from hundreds of thousands to millions, including Liu Shaoqi, the 2nd Chairman of the PRC. After years of ill health, Mao suffered a series of heart attacks in 1976 and died at the age of 82. During Mao’s era, China’s population grew from around 550 million to over 900 million while the government did not strictly enforce its family planning policy, forcing Mao’s successors such as Deng Xiaoping to take stricter policies to cope with the overpopulation crisis.
A controversial figure, Mao is regarded as one of the most important and influential individuals in modern world history. He is also known as a political intellect, theorist, military strategist, poet, and visionary. During Mao’s era, China was involved in the Korean War, the Sino-Soviet split, the Vietnam War, and the rise of Khmer Rouge; in particular, in 1972, Mao welcomed U.S. President Richard Nixon in Beijing, signaling the start of a policy of opening China to the world. Supporters credit him with driving imperialism out of China, modernizing the nation and building it into a world power, promoting the status of women, improving education and health care, as well as increasing life expectancy of average Chinese. Conversely, his regime has been called autocratic and totalitarian, and condemned for bringing about mass repression and destroying religious and cultural artifacts and sites. It was additionally responsible for vast numbers of deaths with estimates ranging from 30 to 80 million victims through starvation, persecution, prison labor and mass executions.
Kim Il-Sung, original name Kim Song-Ju, (born April 15, 1912, Man’gyŏndae, near P’yŏngyang, Korea [now in North Korea]—died July 8, 1994, P’yŏngyang, North Korea), communist leader of North Korea from 1948 until his death in 1994. He was the country’s premier from 1948 to 1972, chairman of its dominant Korean Workers’ Party from 1949, and president and head of state from 1972. A student of Joseph Stalin. Kim Il respected him immensely.
Despotic dictators learn from other despotic dictators all the time. About how to rise to power. About how to handle their opponents. About how to utilize extreme levels of violence, especially in the beginning to ensure mass compliance. As well as how to maintain their dictatorships for decades on end. So for many dictators, Joseph Stalin is actually a role model.
A master in the use of cult of personality; coming to power after the end of Japanese rule in 1945, he authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950, triggering an intervention in defense of South Korea by the United Nations led by the United States. Following the military stalemate in the Korean War, a ceasefire was signed on 27 July 1953. He was the third longest-serving non-royal head of state/government in the 20th century, in office for more than 45 years.
Under his leadership, North Korea was established as a communist state with a publicly owned and planned economy. It had close political and economic relations with the Soviet Union. By the late 1950s and during the 1960s and 1970s, North Korea enjoyed a higher standard of living than the South, which was suffering from political chaos and economic crises. The situation was reversed in the 1980s, as a newly stable South Korea became an economic powerhouse which was fueled by Japanese and American investment, military aid and internal economic development, while North Korea stagnated and then declined during the same period.
Differences emerged between North Korea and the Soviet Union, chief among them was Kim Il-sung’s philosophy of Juche, which focused on Korean nationalism, self-reliance and socialism. Despite this, the country received funds, subsidies and aid from the USSR (and the Eastern Bloc) until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The resulting loss of economic aid adversely affected the North’s economy, causing widespread famine in 1994. During this period, North Korea also remained critical of the United States defense force‘s presence in the region, which it considered imperialist, having seized the American ship USS Pueblo in 1968, which was part of an infiltration and subversion campaign to reunify the peninsula under North Korea’s rule. He outlived Joseph Stalin by four decades and Mao Zedong by almost two and remained in power during the terms of office of six South Korean Presidents, ten US Presidents and the rule of British monarchs George VI and later his daughter Elizabeth II. Known as the Great Leader (Suryong), he established a personality cult which dominates domestic politics in North Korea.
Kim Il, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-un have all used the state of North Korea as nothing more than a bolster to prop up their megalomaniacal, despotic “power trip” regimes.
And thus their delusionally extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the North Korean people. It would appear that extreme mental illness is a genetic trait deeply embedded within the DNA of these men.
As it is widely believed that Kim Jong-Il drowned his younger brother in the family swimming pool when they were children to get rid of the “competition” for his father’s attention, and eventual leadership position. Also of note, Kim Jong-un had his step brother assassinated just a few years ago. An “open secret” among anyone paying the least bit of attention to world affairs.
Pol Pot[a] (born Saloth Sâr;[b] 19 May 1925 – 15 April 1998) was a Cambodian revolutionary and politician who governed Cambodia as the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea between 1975 and 1979 that imposed severe hardships on the Cambodian people. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist and a Khmer nationalist, he was a leading member of Cambodia’s communist movement, the Khmer Rouge, from 1963 until 1997 and served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea from 1963 to 1981. Under his administration, Cambodia was converted into a one-party communist state governed according to Pol Pot’s interpretation of Marxism–Leninism.
His radical communist government forced the mass evacuations of cities, killed or displaced millions of people, and left a legacy of brutality and impoverishment.
Born to a prosperous farmer in Prek Sbauv, French Cambodia, Saloth Sar was sent at age 5 or 6 to live with an older brother in Phnom Penh, where he was educated at some of Cambodia’s elite schools. A mediocre student, he failed the entrance examinations for high school and so instead studied carpentry for a year at a technical school in Phnom Penh. In 1949 he went to Paris on a scholarship to study radio electronics. There he became involved with the French Communist Party and joined a group of young left-wing Cambodian nationalists who later became his fellow leaders in the Khmer Rouge. In France he spent more time on revolutionary activities than on his studies.
His most significant friendships in the country were with Ieng Sary, who had joined him there, Thiounn Mumm and Keng Vannsak. He was a member of Vannsak’s discussion circle, whose ideologically diverse membership discussed ways to achieve Cambodian independence. In Paris, Ieng Sary and two others established the Cercle Marxiste (“Marxist Circle”), a Marxist–Leninist organization arranged in a clandestine cell system. The cells met to read Marxist texts and hold self-criticism sessions.
Sâr found many of Karl Marx‘s denser texts difficult, later saying he “didn’t really understand” them. But he became familiar with the writings of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, including The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks). Stalin’s approach to Marxism—known as Stalinism—gave Sâr a sense of purpose in life. Sâr also read Mao’s work, especially On New Democracy, a text outlining a Marxist–Leninist framework for carrying out a revolution in colonial and semi-colonial, semi-feudal societies. Alongside these texts, Sâr read the anarchist Peter Kropotkin‘s book on the French Revolution, The Great Revolution. From Kropotkin he took the idea that an alliance between intellectuals and the peasantry was necessary for revolution; that a revolution had to be carried out without compromise to its conclusion to succeed. Follow through until the bitter end. No matter the cost (usually if not always in spilled blood and lives lost), never stop halfway; and that egalitarianism was the basis of a communist society.
His scholarship was cut short after he failed his second-year examinations two years in a row, and he returned to Phnom Penh in 1953 where he involved himself in the Marxist–Leninist Khmer Việt Minh organization and its guerrilla war against King Norodom Sihanouk‘s newly independent government.
Following the Khmer Việt Minh’s 1954 retreat into Marxist–Leninist controlled North Vietnam, Pol Pot returned to Phnom Penh, working as a teacher while remaining a central member of Cambodia’s Marxist–Leninist movement. In 1959, he helped formalize the movement into the Kampuchean Labour Party, which was later renamed the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). To avoid state repression, in 1962 he relocated to a jungle encampment and in 1963 became the CPK’s leader. In November 1965, Saloth Sâr flew from Hanoi to Beijing, where he witnessed China’s ongoing Cultural Revolution, influencing his later policies.
In June 1970, Sâr left Vietnam and reached his K-5 base. In July he headed south; it was at this point that he began referring to himself as “Pol”, a name he later lengthened to “Pol Pot.” Following the Vietnamese invasion of his country, Pol Pot withdrew to bases in Thailand to lead the Khmer Rouge forces against the new Hanoi-supported government in Phnom Penh, which refused to consider peace negotiations as long as he remained at the head of the party. Although ostensibly removed from the military and political leadership of the Khmer Rouge in 1985, he remained a guiding force in the organization, which continued its guerrilla campaign into the 1990s, though with diminishing intensity. By 1997 the Khmer Rouge were in deep decline, their ranks riddled by desertions and factionalism. In June of that year Pol Pot was forcibly ousted from the organization’s leadership and placed under house arrest by his colleagues, and in July he was convicted of treason. Pol Pot died of natural causes in 1998.
Taking power in Cambodia at the height of Marxism–Leninism’s global impact, Pol Pot proved divisive among the international communist movement. Many claimed he deviated from orthodox Marxism–Leninism, but China backed his government as a bulwark against Soviet influence in Southeast Asia. To his supporters, he was a champion of Cambodian sovereignty in the face of Vietnamese imperialism and stood against the Marxist revisionism of the Soviet Union. Conversely, he has been internationally denounced for his role in the Cambodian genocide, regarded as a totalitarian dictator guilty of crimes against humanity. During his time in power, Pol Pot killed over 1/7 to 1/5 of the entire population of his country.
The Khmer Rouge sought to create the “purest form of Marxist Communism.” And like all the rest before them, they failed miserably.
“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”― George Orwell
The Death Tolls…
Whether far Right or far Left, the results have always been the same. A massive death toll. Regardless of the “title” of each particular incarnation Marxism has taken, be it Socialism, which is merely soft-core Communism, Hardcore Communism, Leninism, Stalinism, Nazism, or Maoism; at the core of them all we find the misguided, yet romantically appealing inapplicable theories of Karl Heinrich Marx. This has now been proven without a shadow of a doubt by history, bloodshed, imprisonment, and the factual accounts of those who managed to survive, and or escape it.
On November 17, 1917, a coup d’état in Russia led by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin opened a dark communist era, marked by fear, death, economic chaos and a complete assault on individual freedoms. Communism was implemented in Russia 100 years ago and spread throughout much of the 20th century to Eastern and Central Europe, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, parts of Africa, Afghanistan, North Korea and Cuba. It is estimated that communism was responsible for over 100 million deaths– more casualties than those in World War I and II combined. –
“The Dangers of Forgetting the Legacy of Communism: Communism as Antidevelopment”
– Romina Bandura Brunilda Kosta Faculty of Economics, University of Tirana, Albania · Management PhD Candidate
“Reflections on a Ravaged Century”by Robert Conquest W.W. Norton / 336 pages
The End of Communism by Josh London”One death,” Joseph Stalin was said to have remarked, “is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” What about, one must wonder, 80 or 100 million deaths? In reading the “Black Book of Communism,” a groundbreaking effort by a group of French scholars to document the human costs of communism in the 20th century, one is immediately confronted with such discomfited figures. Stephane Courtois, in his introduction, crunches the numbers:
U.S.S.R.: 20 million deaths; China: 65 million deaths; Vietnam: 1 million deaths; North Korea: 2 million deaths; Cambodia: 2 million deaths: Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths; Latin America: 150,000 deaths; Africa: 1.7 million deaths; Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths; The international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power: about 10,000 deaths… The total approaches 100 million people killed.”
“100 Years. 100 Million Lives. Think Twice”
“Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped. They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.
Last month marked 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution, though college culture would give you precisely the opposite impression. Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative.
Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins.
A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world” – Laura M. Nicolae November 20, 2017
“The Black Book of Communism” (Crimes, Terror, Repression)
“Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit,” Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience—in the China of “the Great Helmsman,” Kim Il Sung’s Korea, Vietnam under “Uncle Ho” and Cuba under Castro, Ethiopia under Mengistu, Angola under Neto, and Afghanistan under Najibullah. The authors, all distinguished scholars based in Europe, document Communist crimes against humanity, but also crimes against national and universal culture, from Stalin’s destruction of hundreds of churches in Moscow to Ceausescu’s leveling of the historic heart of Bucharest to the widescale devastation visited on Chinese culture by Mao’s Red Guards.
As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century
-Stéphane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Margolin, Edited by Mark Kramer