What is a Maoist, anyway?

This new article examines the question.

(Short answer: A perpetrator of the greatest blight on civilization ever known to man.)

The Discussion: 11 Comments

The greatest? I still place Mao third, behind Hitler and Stalin — which says something about the sheer awfulness of the 20th century, doesn’t it?

February 6, 2004 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

I think the Nazis were worse, but they were only in power 12 years. The collective damage to society, not to mention the environment, under Mao and his successors over the last half century is simply incalculable. (If I remember, your friend Joe Katzman places Mao as the world’s No. 1 mass murderer.)

When you reach scales of evil as massive and overwhelming as that of Stalin, Hitler and Mao, it’s hard to measure which one was worse. Looking at the long-term fallout, I see Mao as a worthy candidate.

February 6, 2004 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

Yes, any attempt to rank mass murderers is bound to fail, because if we say that (for example) Mao was THE worst, then we also diminish the incredible suffering caused by Stalin and Hitler — not to mention other equally “deserving” perpetrators like Pol Pot, and those who committed the Rwandan genocide.

February 6, 2004 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

In numbers, Mao may have it, but there is just something especially horrific about the systematic genocide of the “final solution” that puts Hitler first in my book — it just “feels” worse. And, certainly not to defend Mao, but many (but certainly not all) of his deaths came as a result of idotic failed policies (e.g., the Great Leap Forward), whereas when Stalin killed it was deliberately and in cold blood. Mao’s famine was not intentional, whereas Stalin’s, in he Ukraine was deliberate murder.

All that said, ranking monsters is a fruitless exercise when there are so many worthy candidates. Imagine what Pol Pot could have accomplished if given a bigger canvas.

February 6, 2004 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

Actually, I always do give Hitler the gold star — he is the very definition of evil, taking it to an all new level. It’s so fascinating, the world’s three most dangerous pricks, all coming to power within such a close time period.

True enough that many of Mao’s victims were “passive victims,” dying of unintended starvation. But 20 million were murdered during the Cultural Revolution, and plenty more before that.

February 6, 2004 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

Maoism is really a more radical version of Marxism-Leninism that emphasize on elimination of everything thought to be elitist or classist. However, it is a terrible ideology that destroyed million of lives during its height in the GLF and the Cultural Revolution. Actually, one should see it as a political tool for Mao because base on Maosim, he could call his Soviet rivals “shameless revisionist” of Marxism-Leninism while his domestic rivals like Liu Shaoqi and Deng guilty of “bourgeois liberialism” to discredit them and get rid of them. Unfortunately, others also joined these purges and his “revolution” ended up devouring its own children.

February 7, 2004 @ 10:57 am | Comment

SP, I don’t know who you are but you have it right. I would have to say that like Nazism, Maoism has no redeeming features, nothing to recommmend it, no positives. That’s because the only way it can work is by browbeating and terrifying the subjects into total submission, reobbing them of their humanity. And for some reason, its centerpiece, be it in China or Cambodia, seems always to be the identifying and murdering “enemies of the revolution.” This is turn leads to quotas, so soon everyone is informing on everyone and no one is safe. Hideous, horrible and totally fucked up. I despise anyone who today would call him or herself a Maoist — they are either idiots or morally bankrupt.

February 7, 2004 @ 11:07 am | Comment

Nicholas, the “uniqueness of the Holocaust” conversation is one of those super-loaded topics I tend to avoid. I’m of the school that it was unique, despite other examples of genocide throughout history, and that’s for a lot of reasons. (And luckily, whatever I believe is the truth here.) Thanks for that link.

February 7, 2004 @ 11:11 am | Comment

You’re welcome. I’d be interested to know why you think it’s morally unique (I can think of a number of ways it’s unique in other ways, of course)–I agree more with Sasha V myself. Of course I’ll understand if you don’t want to go into that here; I don’t see why it should be such an explosive topic, but I can’t deny that it is!

February 7, 2004 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Nicholas, I’ll put up a separate post about it, even though I said I didn’t want to go into it. Writing about it here will throw the comments way off-topic.

February 7, 2004 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

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