Sunday, February 19, 2006

Comrade Mao: necessary, evil, or a necessary evil?

Mao is the latest 'dead male' to get a going-over at indymedia, courtesy of Dean Parker's curious mixture of anecdote and lofty condesencion. The Chang-Halliday biography Parker reviewed for The Listener enjoyed a blaze of publicity in the media immediately after its publication, but has since attracted the ire of a number of academic comentators. Of course, the pointy-heads take longer to chew over the evidence than the feature writers of the mass media, and their verdicts tend to be more cautious, and less easily coralled by sub-editors into sensational headlines. It'll be no surprise, then, if the more extraordinary claims of Chang and Halliday stick in the public mind.

Perhaps more important than the debate over the details of Mao's political career is the debate over how to define the society he created. In the comments boxes at indymedia Dave Brownz has done the great service of presenting Peter Taafe's orthodox Trotskyist analysis of Mao's China. Dave notes that:

"[I]t matters a lot whether Mao was a crazy capitalist, or a ruthless bureaucrat. If the former view is correct t leads to the conclusion that Mao's rule was nothing but an exercise in primitive accumulation, in preparation for a full-blown market capitalism. If Taafe is right, then despite Mao's dictatorship China was a degenerated workers' state that had gone beyond capitalism and created a planned economy as the basis for a healthy workers' state...[therefore socialists] would fight for the overthrow of the bureaucracy and the defence of state property against those who wanted to restore capitalism..."

What Dave brings out is the fatalism of the view that Mao was some sort of inevitable stage in Chinese history. Read Peter Taafe's article and decide for yourself. I'm off to buy some golden roast potatoes...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mao lives, unlike you!

6:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mao is the number one killer in human history, he killed 5 times more Chinese than Japanese did in WWII, yet today he is still admired and worshipped by Chinese, what can you say? Hitler and Stalin are nothing compared to Mao.

2:43 pm  
Anonymous Lofty said...

Strange way to spell condescension.

1:41 pm  

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