Many genuine tyrants lived and died in the twentieth century. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot are some of the more prominent ones. Some, like Kim Jong-il, Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro are still alive. However, few can compare with Mao Zedong, who committed so many crimes that it would be impossible to list even a fraction of them.
The life of this brutal dictator is the subject of a 2005 book, Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. After reading it, one is amazed that even today there are Mao apologists living in the freedom-loving countries of the West.
Mao: The Unknown Story gives a chronology to and reveals the scope of Mao’s atrocities. It also uncovers the depraved Marxist philosophy behind his notorious crimes.
Already in youth, Mao’s moral corruption was easily recognizable. At twenty-four, he revealed what was to become his philosophy of life. In a commentary on a work of ethics, he stated: “I have my desire and I act on it. I am responsible to no one.”
Mao believed man is ruled by impulse and the only purpose of conscience is “to restrain, not oppose.” In other words, man should be free to satisfy any desire or pleasure. The conscience exists merely to discourage excess. One of Mao’s lifelong pleasures was the torture and murder of millions. Evidently, he did not consider that to be excessive.
Early on, Mao acquired a love for brutality and violence towards his opponents that is well-expressed in a motto of the early Chinese Communists: “Burn, burn, burn! Kill, kill, kill!”
His training by Russian revolutionaries formed Mao’s method of suppressing dissidents among his men. After discovering that the less radical elements of his cadre were hesitant to shed blood, he began forcing these “mediocre” Communists to torture and kill their victims with a special brutality.
Thus, Mao achieved three goals in respect to his men. First, he hardened them to his ruthless means of action. Second, he secured their loyalty; these crimes were so atrocious that if anyone of his group defected, they would be executed for the role they had played in them. Last, he weeded out all those who still maintained a speck of conscience by executing anyone who hesitated.
Mao: The Unknown Story also deals with the role other nations played in Mao’s ascension to power. One aspect that is disconcerting for Americans is the complicity of the U.S. and British governments. Without their collusion, Mao never would have gained control of China.
With the help of his right-hand-man, Chou En-Lai, Mao manipulated political leaders from both London and Washington and convinced both nations that his guerrilla troops were not communists, but proponents of democracy trying to improve the lot of peasants and women.
They persuaded these western powers that the Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek were to blame for China’s woes. Thus, England and America diminished the material and diplomatic assistance that the Nationalists needed. The United States also pressured them to seek a peaceful solution, affording the Communists time to arm and maneuver their forces.
In 1949, Mao conquered China for the Red sect. He immediately strove to make China a world power. This was merely a means to an end. His ultimate goal was communist world domination. Thus, Mao focused all China’s resources towards industrialization, with utter disregard for human life.
This is illustrated by a 1960 famine in which 22 million Chinese starved to death. A major factor in the shortage was Mao’s confiscation of grain, which was sold abroad to finance further industrialization and weapons manufacturing. This single famine immortalized 1960 as the year with the greatest death toll in the history of mankind.
Still, many of Mao’s projects came to naught. To enforce his unrealistic industrialization plans, Mao refused to accept figures that were below speculation and often punished the truth with death. This created an atmosphere of terror in which no one had the courage to report true production figures. Everyone preferred to inflate the numbers and gain Mao’s good graces. The result was a vicious circle. “Industrial” China produced machinery that did not work and buildings and damns that collapsed.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Mao’s rule was the Cultural Revolution of the sixties during which Mao attempted to rid China of anyone who did not offer him total allegiance. Bloodthirsty bands of youth ran the streets, torturing and murdering anyone deemed “counter-revolutionary.” Sometimes the police and army, shocked at the brutality, would try to intervene, only to be ordered not to interfere.
This sad period of China’s history is epitomized by some of the laws instituted. One such law made it a counterrevolutionary “crime” to own any book other than Mao’s The Little Red Book. All knowledge, other than Mao’s thought, was considered useless and even harmful.
In one of the last but most interesting parts of the book, the authors expose another black mark on American history: the role of President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in improving China’s international image.
Nixon and Kissinger were infatuated with China. When Mao accepted a state visit by Nixon in 1972, Kissinger wrote: “Nixon was excited to the point of euphoria.” During this visit, Nixon flattered Mao, saying: “The Chairman’s writings have moved a nation and have changed the world.”
However, flattering words could not prevent the inevitable. In 1976, Mao died alone, with neither God, family nor friends. To this very day, his portrait and body are central figures in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the Chinese government highly acclaims his life and reign.
Sadly, this story is not over yet. The West continues to sell information and technology to Mao’s proud successors who are only too eager to use them against freedom-loving nations around the globe.
Mao: The Unknown Story ought to serve as a wake up call for the West. By revealing the demonic personality of Mao Zedong and the nefarious philosophy that motivated him, it should increase the vigilance of the Western world towards Communist China today.
This means taking a much stronger stand with China, before it is too late. It means checking a trend that shifts Western manufacturing jobs to Chinese sweat shops where slave-laborers are forced to endure subhuman conditions for pennies a day. It means shoring up the industrial and military information leaks that pour vital information into China. Most important, it means doing what is best for America’s future, regardless of economic consequences.