Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 2/4

Another fact that The Economist left out of Boundlessly loyal to the great monster was that Mao was not in charge of The Cultural Revolution. He started the movement to retain power then put his wife in charge. While she was busy dismantling the nation, Mao was hanging out inside the walls of The Forbidden City.

His wife put students in charge of the schools and made teachers victims.

Before that, Mao turned butchers and peasants into doctors without any medical education to guide them in the healing arts. These untrained doctors were known as bare-foot doctors with little to no training, which I wrote about at China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time.

However, as crazy as it may sound, the bare-foot doctors worked.  Life expectancy was about 35 when Mao launched this program and by the time Mao died, life expectancy had increased by twenty years.

The people that Mao liberated from feudalism know that Mao Zedong was also a poet long before he ruled China. The years of Civil War from the early 1920 to 1949, assassination attempts and broken promises by Chiang Kai-shek , and fighting the brutal Japanese during World War II must have changed Mao. For sure, The Long March was a bloody influence that possibly led to a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which tends to make one paranoid.

After all, fighting a Civil War for almost 25 years and living in caves had to have an impact on Mao.  If US soldiers come home with PTSD after one tour of combat, imagine more than two decades living a life of combat.

The Maoists that The Economist mentions mostly want to have the power back but not necessarily the purges and/or denunciations of The Cultural Revolution.

With nostalgia, this minority of Maoists remembers a different time from a different perspective since they may have been the peasant leaders of the adolescent Red Guard.

Many in the West probably do not know that the Red Guard and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were two different forces and the PLA for the most part was not involved in The Cultural Revolution.  In fact, several times the PLA stopped the rampaging Red Guard from some of its destruction of all things old in China.

Continued on July 1, 2011 in Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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