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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-04-2006, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Mo' Mao

China in Revolt
By Gordon G. Chang From issue: December 2006
Thirty years ago this past September, Mao Zedong, hero to the Chinese nation, died in the Communist-party compound in the center of Beijing. During his tumultuous life he played many roles, but today the Chinese people are asked to remember him as a patriotic poet. Of all the memorable lines he left behind, they recall the one he used just before proclaiming the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1, 1949: “We the 475 million Chinese people have now stood up, and the future of our nation is infinitely bright.”

Because Mao, the Great Helmsman, is now a symbol of national assertion, the Chinese people are not officially permitted to remember that he essentially enslaved them. China’s Communist party has also forgiven him for some of the greatest crimes of the 20th century—crimes that led to the deaths of anywhere between 30 and 70 million people, virtually all of them Chinese.

Most of those deaths resulted from Mao’s attempts to remake Chinese society as he saw fit. After coming to power, he embraced the concept of “permanent revolution,” which soon evolved into “continuous revolution.” Beginning in 1957, he launched in quick succession the Hundred Flowers movement, the Anti-Rightist upheaval, the Great Leap Forward, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which ended shortly after his death in 1976.

Since then, Mao’s heirs have institutionalized themselves and transformed his revolutionary party into a ruling regime. Although, in theory, authoritarian systems are inherently fragile and eventually fall apart, the People’s Republic of China is now widely considered to be both resilient and durable. In the view of leading China specialists like Andrew Nathan, new mechanisms of governance developed by the Communist party since 1989 have given Chinese leaders the means to ensure the continuance of their rule despite rising popular discontent. Beijing’s autocrats themselves go so far as to credit these new institutions for creating some of the fastest economic growth in history.

This development has certainly given rise to profound geopolitical consequences. Asia’s small states now defer to the rulers in Beijing. Russia and India are learning to accommodate them. The United States hopes they will use their strength wisely. Although the 21st century has barely begun, many analysts have already decreed that it belongs to China, which the military historian Eliot Cohen has dubbed “the most important power in the world.”

China, the nation, will always be with us. But is the modern Chinese state, the Communist regime anchored in Beijing, similarly permanent? In fact, it is bedeviled today by a raft of problems: corrupt institutions, debt-ridden regional governments, a degraded environment, insolvent state banks, unprofitable enterprises, bankrupt pension funds, failed schools, and overburdened hospitals, just to name the most prominent. But the most serious challenge to the one-party regime is the Chinese people, who, almost independently of their government, are taking hold of their future. They also represent the greatest hope for the Chinese nation.


The assertiveness of the Chinese people is manifesting itself mostly out of sight of Westerners, but its one plainly visible form is protest in the streets. Once Mao consolidated his power over China, the People’s Republic became largely free of popular demonstrations, at least against the party or the state. Scattered worker and peasant protests, such as the wave of labor riots in Shanghai in 1957, were of no lasting significance. So strong was Mao’s grip that there were virtually no disturbances even during the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, when his industrial and agricultural policies led to the deaths of tens of millions. Nor were there anti-state protests of consequence in the later 60’s or the 70’s.

Mo' Mao at: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/cm...Article::10798
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-04-2006, 09:00 AM
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Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-04-2006, 09:02 AM
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But people love to be told what to do!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-04-2006, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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As Premier Wen Jiabao acknowledged this past September, “We need peace, we need friends, and we need time.” Unfortunately, at the very moment when the Chinese state depends critically on the good will of others around the globe—especially in the form of foreign markets, capital, and expertise—it has lost the confidence of its own most responsible citizens and placed itself at the mercy of some of its least responsible. The intensified internal repression of the last four years is a sign that the Communist party must increasingly rely on force to maintain its power, thus creating even more internal enemies and further delegitimizing itself in the process.

Leaving China a half-decade ago, an American banker remarked: “There’s a billion people here who don’t like following instructions.” If anything, Chinese society since then has become even more willful. It may not always be defiant, but it is frequently disobedient. For better and also for worse, we have entered a period marked by the emergence of a great people from millennia of autocratic rule. For better—because a nation that can barely govern itself will not be capable of dominating the other 200 countries on the planet. For worse—because so turbulent and fretful a society is unlikely to rise peacefully, or to accept its role as a great power in orderly fashion. Thirty years after the death of Mao, the Chinese people have unfinished business to conduct, and their transition into the future is unlikely to be smooth.
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Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history, such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. To interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this viewpoint is historical idealism.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-04-2006, 09:25 AM
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Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.
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