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Mao Zedong was a poopy head

mao

Looks like the Chinese are getting stroppy again about people mocking Mao. I think that’s our cue to mock Mao, don’t you?

We know tens of millions died in Mao’s famines. Have you ever wondered if it was the passive incompetence of Communism, or whether he was an actively genocidal nutball? To examine the question, I mucho recommendo the book Hungry Ghosts. My copy is in a box somewhere, so I’ll pull this together from memory as best I can. And I’ll try to be brief.

Mao adored science. He was sure science would lift China to world dominance. Unfortunately, he had NO fucking idea what science was. He’d imprisoned most of the real scientists, anyhow, so he just took his best guess:

Communism + enthusiasm = science!

Mao believed nature actually worked on communist principles; that rice plants should be grown as close together as possible, since plants would cooperate, not compete. The propaganda rags of the day claimed elementary schoolchildren were making dramatic genetic breakthroughs in their school gardens during recess; that crops grown with communist methods were so thick, kids were photographed walking across the tops of the wheat stalks (it later came out they were standing on a bench); that it was unnecessary to build new roads when everyone in China would soon have his own personal airplane. Students declared the decimal point bourgeois and demanded the right to place it anywhere they liked. Oh, it was going to be Emerald City, man.

In short, the whole country went bugfuck crazy under Mao’s direction.

But, you know, when your boss is a nutcase who gets annoying people killed, you do your best not to be an annoying person. Provincial governors began to vie with each other who could promise the most balls-out insane wheat production numbers. Using Mao’s methods, you can produce twice as much wheat? Well, we can produce ten times as much! Oh, Yeah? Well, we can produce thirty times what we did last year! And so on. Anyone who didn’t play the game was out.

Beating the West at wheat growing (not really China’s crop) and steel production were Mao’s two biggest obsessions. But “steel production” isn’t what you think: you know, digging up iron ore and smelting it and shit. Oh, no. Peasants were made to build these makeshift furnaces in each village in which they melted down their own tools and utensils and hinges into useless lumps of mongrel metal. I am so not shitting you. AND, when they ran out of firewood, they burned their own furniture and doors to keep the fires going. AND, their best and strongest workers were drafted to run the furnaces (the ones that weren’t already working on wild-ass crazy projects like building earthen dams that would crumble to bits in no time) so that the fields were neglected.

And then, quite coincidentally, China had a bad growing season. Periodic regional famine is historically common in China, but this one — few tools, few workers, desperately wrong-headed stupid farming methods — was set to be a hum-dinger.

But when harvest time came around, Mao gathered his deputies and said, “okay — pony up!” (I paraphrase). And they’re like, “what?” And he goes, “you guys promised me a hundred times the grain we produced last year, so let’s have it!” And they said, “oh! Um. Sure, boss.”

But of course, they couldn’t scrape together half what they’d produced the year before, let alone a hundred times. So they came back to Mao with the only possible explanation: those bastard peasants are hiding it from us!

And, of course, the poor bastards were hiding some. The soldiers had come around again and again rounding up what little food they had, so of course they hid what they could or starved outright. If the peasants were caught hoarding food, they were taken to camps, or beaten to death on the spot. If they didn’t hoard food, they starved or ate dirt and died of stomach cramps. Ttwenty or thirty or even fifty million of them. All the while Mao was giving away food to friendly communist countries and letting much of the rest rot in warehouses. Because they had a hundred times the grain they needed, don’tcha know.

So! Was Mao a drooling bumpkin retard or a homicidal nutcake psycho? Do you know, I still have no idea.

sock it to me

April 17, 2009 — 8:03 pm
Comments: 30