Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mao's monstrous legacy

What happens when you take central planning, socialism and authoritarian government to its extreme ? This article reflecting on the impact of Mao's rule on China gives a few clues.

His groundbreaking research demonstrated that about 30 million died, mainly of starvation, and that cannibalism became rife in some areas.

Becker writes: "The Communist Party's explicit aim was to destroy the family as an institution." Promised an era of abundance as a result of forced collectivisation, peasants ate grain that should have been held for seed.

Production soon collapsed, but Mao refused to believe it. Brutal tortures followed during anti-hoarding campaigns, to uncover nonexistent caches of secret food. Mao refused all offers of food help and doubled China's grain exports to fellow socialist countries.

"The more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are," Mao said as he later unleashed the tumult of the Cultural Revolution, for which academic studies blame him more than the official party scapegoats, the Gang of Four.