Mao: The Real Story

Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I. Levine, two China experts with superb credentials, have written a biography of Mao that is sweeping, fine in detail, well written, engrossing and ultimately problematic.

Mao: The Real Story is a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants to understand Mao’s life and times. It draws heavily on Russian and Chinese archives that have only recently been made available, and this is what makes the book special. The relationship between Mao and Stalin threads through nearly the entire book, at least from the point when Mao became a leader in the Communist party, and their relationship helps shed insight into many of Mao’s most important decisions, like entering the Korean War, cozying up to the Guomindang in the late 1930s and joining with them to fight the Japanese. Stalin was Mao’s Great Teacher and mentor, and most importantly his banker — even when Mao violently disagreed with his Soviet masters, he had little choice but to go along, as they controlled the purse strings. The Chinese Communist Party would scarcely have existed without Stalin’s generosity. As usual with Stalin, he used China as a means of fulfilling his own agenda, namely the spreading of Stalinist-style communism, and for more practical purposes such as keeping the Japanese busy with China so they’d be less inclined to attack the Soviet Union.

When the publisher sent me a review copy of the book I was intimidated, and wondered if I could read it; it is nearly 600 pages long. But once I started I quickly got swept up and finished it within a week. That is not to say it’s easy; it isn’t. There are so many names and so much minutiae I had trouble keeping up with who was who; I was constantly flipping back to double-check. Some of these details could almost certainly have been spared.

It was fascinating to learn of Mao’s transformation from an idealistic youth, inspired by anarchism and the promise of democracy, to an ideologue who cared nothing for the lives of his people and who was convinced of his infallibility, with tragic consequences. We watch him grow and develop, and pretty soon we can’t help but to be repulsed. As he became a hardened communist, he had basically one modus operandi, namely to slash and burn, to destroy, to encourage chaos, to weed out enemies, to promote endless class struggle and violence. He did relatively little building, and that which he did build often ended in catastrophe.

Throughout his life in the revolution Mao manipulated the basest of human emotions. It was not brotherly love that he conveyed, but rather enmity and universal suspicion. “Down with the landlords!” “Down with rich peasants!” “Down with the bourgeoisie, merchants and intellectuals!” “Down with those who are not like us!” “Down with the educated, with businesspersons, with the talented!” Down with all of them, down with them, down.

The story the authors tell of the early years of the Cultural Revolution is particularly upsetting, as Mao proclaims, “In the final analysis, bad people are bad people, so if they are beaten to death it is not a tragedy.” Mao’s use of “class struggle” to eliminate his perceived enemies was coldly and ruthlessly calculated, as was everything Mao ever did as a communist leader. He discarded people like worn-out shoes, and he looked on absolutely everyone with suspicion. He was, especially in his later years, a miserable, lonely man held captive by the very class struggle he so cunningly initiated. Enemies were everywhere.

And yet Mao did unify the country and make it independent. There is more to him than just pure badness. But here I believe the authors actually cut him too much slack. In trying to be balanced and to take the middle road, they take pains to say Mao was “complex, variegated and multifaceted” and a different kind of murderous dictator than Stalin. This argument was for me one of the weakest parts of the book: they claim Mao is different from the Bolshevik ideologues because he was “not as merciless” as Stalin. Many if not most of Mao’s enemies in government were allowed to live. “He tried to find a common language with all of them after forcing them to engage in self-criticism. In other words, he forced them to ‘lose face’ but also kept them in power.” Okay, it’s good he didn’t kill them, but he did make many of their lives miserable (think Liu Shaoqi banished and living in misery in a single room with a dirty stretcher on the floor). And think of the millions he did kill by inciting students to attack their teachers, and by doing nothing for years to stop the misery in the countryside thanks to the Great Leap Forward. It was almost contradictory for this book to reveal just how awful a person and a ruler Mao was, to examine all the misery he created for millions, and then to argue he was “multifaceted.” After reading the book you would not arrive at this conclusion, which the authors express in the epilogue. They really can’t have it both ways.

Other small things: the Great Leap Forward is given very little space and I would have liked to learn more about how Mao reacted to the plight of the starving, and more about his decision to end it. Its coverage of the early years of the Cultural Revolution is superb, rich in detail and deeply disturbing, as it should be. But then the book seems to shift gears; we learn the Red Guards were called off, but we don’t learn nearly enough about the last five years of the CR. At this point the book focuses instead on Mao’s efforts to build ties with the United States, and the CR seems to be forgotten.

That doesn’t makes this any less of an important and impressive book. I highly recommend it to anyone who isn’t afraid of long books and who has a thirst for understanding how Mao lived and thought, how he could have done what he did. For this, Mao: The Real Story is invaluable. It is especially impressive that the authors were able to take such a wealth of new materials, along with other sources like the diaries of those who knew Mao, and weave it all into a compelling and page-turning narrative. The book is imperfect, but it is also indispensable.

Let me just add as a side note that I am well aware of how defensive Chinese people, my good friends included, are of Mao, and I understand that. I understand also that they don’t like foreigners to tell them what they should think of Mao. I talked with my Chinese teacher about Mao just last week, and she told me that the GLF and the CR were unfortunate mistakes but dismissed them with the words that “we all make mistakes.” (She also corrected me when I referred to him as “Mao” without the “Chairman,” and told me Chinese people would never leave that out.) But as with any great figure of history, Mao is fair game and it would do a disservice to history not to explore his life and try to understand “the real story.” I only wish the book would be available in China, in Chinese.

The Discussion: 204 Comments

If Mao is so evil, as evil as Hitler or Stalin. Why is Obama administration a big fan of him?

1) His communications director openly said she admires Mao. (can you imagine any Western public figure openly admiring Hitler or Stalin?)

2) White house Christmas tree has Mao’s picture as one of the items hanging. (can you imagine White house having hitler or stalin picture hanging on the tree?)

December 12, 2012 @ 11:57 am | Comment

Some are already comparing President Elect Xi to Chairman Mao.

Who?

@Jxie. A Song type renaissance is a recursive, backward looking project, unsuited to 21st century China seeking its place in a globalised world much of which revolves around the digital economy where perceptions are formed. Poetry notwithstanding.
Wouldn’t a rejuvenation today be best served by a total hands off approach to the internet.
To be sure, it would give rise to a rancorous cacophony at first, but in the longer term the Chinese vox pop would be able to discern the difference between drivel and those cultural currents which are worth developing and expanding.
It is less about historical recovery and more about those positive and recent cultural strands which are presently lurking outside CPC management.

Not sure. China has never really, actually, critically–neutrally–examined its own historical philosophies. It would be neat to see a real renaissance take place. I mean, the Italians didn’t exactly go wrong to look at what the Romans and Greeks did.

That being said, I totally agree a rejuvenation today would be best served a loosening of internet and media controls, but I don’t see that happening in the near future–not because the Party Center is paranoid of new media, but because (to return to my old saw) censorship is big business; censoring search results generates what I would say to be hundreds of millions of RMB in revenues.

December 12, 2012 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

@Richard 49

Between the years 1949 up till the break with the USSR by the early 1960’s, Mao did ask the USSR for money. He got about $300 MM (not clear whether it was Rubees or US$ equivalent) in 1950 from Stalin. China also got more financial support (usually in the form of outdated machinery set at high prices from the USSR) during the ’50s. Russia provided materiels during the Korean War, but chalked those down as loans also. As far as I know, Russia provided very little in grants or aid. Mao’s China had to tighten belts to repay the Russian Big Brother.

China was truly on her own after the early ’60s, after the USSR pulled out the “experts” and demanded payback of loans. Mao refused to beg. The Chinese suffered through famines and nobody offered help. China survived. Technology had to be imported, and no doubt the people’s rations got cut to support the effort. But China survived.

Those are facts, and my interpretation.

December 12, 2012 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

Funny, Red Star, I don’t remember anyone saying Mao was as bad as Hitler or Stalin. What are you referring to?

December 12, 2012 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

@Richard 49

On removing internet controls – it is rationally a nonstarter.

Chicoms looked at Symantec’s 2009 internet survey showed that the most popular search words for American children searching the internet, the 4th and 5th were “sex” and “porn” respectively. The system simply has failed the people, and as a direct result, the medical fact is that over 90% of Americans carry incurable STD (the herpes virus, according to the CDC – actually in a 2005 study the reported number was over 95% in the subjects tested).

As a direct result of the prevalence of porn on the internet in America, half of the population, nee the “fairer sex”, is perennially seen only as “c*nts” and valued accordingly. Today, the biggest application on the American side of the Internet is porn. You don’t believe me, try these search words and count the number of hits: FM, FFM, FF, MM, MMMMMMM, bi, trans, rape, barely legal, S&M, BDSM, snuff, etc. As a result, America is also a much more violent society. I think it was in a NPR interview a couple of years back, that the new chief of police in LA (Beck?) was talking about the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter by organized crime for “Internet Banging”. It’d give anyone rational pause, to open up the Net to such irresponsibility mistaken for freedom.

December 12, 2012 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

The bottom line on Mao for most Chinese, is that Mao is a national hero, the founding father of China. What gall is it and what right do foreigners presume, to attack Chairman Mao?

December 12, 2012 @ 12:31 pm | Comment

Chicoms looked at Symantec’s 2009 internet survey showed that the most popular search words for American children searching the internet, the 4th and 5th were “sex” and “porn” respectively. The system simply has failed the people, and as a direct result, the medical fact is that over 90% of Americans carry incurable STD (the herpes virus, according to the CDC – actually in a 2005 study the reported number was over 95% in the subjects tested).
As a direct result of the prevalence of porn on the internet in America, half of the population, nee the “fairer sex”, is perennially seen only as “c*nts” and valued accordingly. Today, the biggest application on the American side of the Internet is porn. You don’t believe me, try these search words and count the number of hits: FM, FFM, FF, MM, MMMMMMM, bi, trans, rape, barely legal, S&M, BDSM, snuff, etc. As a result, America is also a much more violent society. I think it was in a NPR interview a couple of years back, that the new chief of police in LA (Beck?) was talking about the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter by organized crime for “Internet Banging”. It’d give anyone rational pause, to open up the Net to such irresponsibility mistaken for freedom.

Zhu, the internet is not the cause of promiscuity or violence. It is simply a reflection of whatever cultural trends already exist in a society. Banning the internet to fix those symptoms is about as effective as breaking all the mirrors in your house upon finding out you are ugly.

Plus, if you look at what Chinese people use the internet for, it’s not really for “moral” stuff either. The most popular Chinese mobile app (I know this because it uses the same cell phone geo-location technology one of our Chicago startups used) is Momo, which lets people chat with nearby strangers on a real-time basis for the purpose of hooking up. It got 10 million users in 10 months, the fastest growth rate of any mobile app anywhere in the world.

December 12, 2012 @ 12:44 pm | Comment

“The Chinese suffered through famines and nobody offered help”

1: That’s because the famines went largely underreported and were covered up by the authorities. Shabad, writing in 1959 marvelled at the reported over-production of grain.

2: As to your notion of Mao as “just a MAN” – where do you draw the line? Theoretically with your line of reasoning, all crimes are forgivable as we are “just” people. You cite the Founding Fathers of the US and make negative aspersions, yet they laid the foundation for one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. Why do you not excuse their mistakes with the same “just a MAN” argument?

3: At what point do you view the CPC as becoming unnecessary? What level of development achieved (supposedly) under the auspices of the CPC renders them irrelevant, in your view? What kind or level of mishandling of affairs would it take to make you believe that they have become an encumbrance?

December 12, 2012 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

@Narsfweasels:

2. The comparison with the American founding fathers is to show that what Mao did (all within the first 30 years of the birth of New China) was not so bad, compared to the founding fathers of America.

3. When the Chinese achieve per capita GDP of mayhap 3/4 that of Americans, it is no longer a luxury to experiment with whatever political system, and the CPC can proudly retire as the sole party in power. How bad would the CPC have to screw up before the Chinese people get upset enough to do something? Probably 2% growth for a decade would do it.

December 12, 2012 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

How bad would the CPC have to screw up before the Chinese people get upset enough to do something? Probably 2% growth for a decade would do it.

2% growth for three or four years would bankrupt numerous cities and double the youth unemployment rate. A decade? That’s frightening. The Party is not that resilient.

December 12, 2012 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

@t_co 59

Worry not. Only if China adopts multi-party gridlock like America would the growth rate slow down to 2% a year.

With the world’s economy recovering (assuming that the American banksters do not repeat a 2008), it would not be surprising to see China’s economy growth get back to 10% a year. China today is uniquely endowed to take maximum advantage of globalization, by massively growing trade with the developing world. The merchandise mix is well suited for emerging middle class folks all around the globe. Most of the developed world is priced out of competition, and thus not able to participate much in the growth of developing nations.

December 12, 2012 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

@t_co 56

“Zhu, the internet is not the cause of promiscuity or violence. It is simply a reflection of whatever cultural trends already exist in a society.”

I would have to respectfully disagree with you on that one, unless you believe that American children are born with the conviction that all women are “c*nts” and nothing more. Environment is everything where it comes to culture, and the porn culture in America is irresponsibility mistaken for freedom. It breeds extreme contempt for women not only in America, but also demonstrates itself in rapes wherever American troops go, with the misconduct protected against prosecution under SOFAs. It breeds widespread STD.

December 12, 2012 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/11/study-income-inequality-skyrockets-in-china-now-among-worlds-highest/

The zoo-man likes his growth stats. Here’s something else that’s growing: China’s income inequality. 8% growth it might be, but only some people are seeing that 8%…CCP cronies, perhaps? Comrade Wen’s second cousin thrice removed?

December 12, 2012 @ 3:37 pm | Comment

@SKC 62

With the government’s taxing powers, a GINI index can be whatever the government wants it to be. It is just a question of redistribution.

A number of these nouveau riche got rich illegally, and move their money offshore beyond the reach of Chinese law. Reforms are needed. Remove all statute of limitations on monetary crimes, such as corruption, and do treble damages across the board. Add a 10% whistle-blowing provision. Do it for a decade, and things will get fixed.

December 12, 2012 @ 4:05 pm | Comment

“Do you still maintain he never asked other countries for money?”

Who knows, but Mao told Kissinger that he would throw in 10 million Chinese women, until an interpreter told him to shut his face since it was not a good look.

While Mao was making this offer for all the wrong reasons, it might have been a good idea in terms of improving the Western gene pool.

December 12, 2012 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

“GINI index can be whatever the government wants it to be.”
—so the CCP wants China’s income inequality to be the fifth (or seventh) highest in the world? Interesting. I’m sure Chinese people are very happy about that.

” Reforms are needed.”
—what? For those smart leaders of yours? What are they waiting for? This problem didn’t just crop up yesterday; it’s been foreseeable for years. And I believe the good Comrade Wen was giving blustery speeches about corruption not too long ago… I wonder how that turned out…pretty well for him and his family, it would seem.

December 12, 2012 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

Probably 2% growth for a decade would do it.

Ha! 6% for a couple of years and all bets are off.

December 12, 2012 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

Virtually NONE of zhu’s assertions on anything — even random passing comments on SOFA rules for US troops or STD infection in the US — fact check at all. All false. I’d rather read the Global Times or its sister publications, which are more intellectually honest (yes, they are) and to some degree reflect official thinking. I almost miss Cookie Monster.

December 12, 2012 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

Guys, why are you even letting this fool troll you?

December 12, 2012 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

@slim 67

If there be any take away, at least consider how grating and shrill your anti-China comments sound to the average Chinese.

Are you saying that Herpes is not a STD? Or that the CDC does not report that over 90% of Americans carry the virus? Or are you asserting that SOFAs do not keep American servicemen who raped locals from being prosecuted in the local courts?

What exactly are you saying? That Zhuubaajie is wrong, and you tried Google-ing “FM, FFM, FF, MM, MMMMMMM, bi, trans, rape, barely legal, S&M, BDSM, snuff” on the American internet and found NO ENTRIES in return? Or that “sex” and “porn” and “c*nt” are not top search words for American kids as young as 6?

December 13, 2012 @ 1:05 am | Comment

@SKC 65

What are they waiting for? The right time, the right strategy, the right plan, etc. What do I know, I only write comments.

Beijing is the most responsive major government. But China is the biggest ship there is, and plans have to be carefully made and executed, lest there be unintended consequences. But reforms are going at very impressive speeds already.

Xi has Mao’s charisma, and all eyes are on him to push through major programs that are going to again transform China in a major way. The press use the term “Zhong Xing” – but that is not really appropriate since China was never in decline after Chairman Mao – it was a steady, peaceful rise for 34 years, all without any major dips.

The truth about Mao is that he swept away all obstacles so that New China can rebuild at a comfortable, urgent speed, which still continues today. That’s another reason why the Chinese people revere the Chairman.

December 13, 2012 @ 1:13 am | Comment

Firstly, there is a burning desire to view Mao as “complex and multifaceted”. Otherwise the unpleasant question arises, why did the Chinese put up with his policies and even willingly participated in them? It helps that Mao is a much better calligrapher than Hitler was a watercolor painter.

Second, of course it’s moot to ask the question “what if” in history. Anyway, would the good things that are attributed to him, not have happened likewise in a Republic of China, after the Japanese had been beaten? Surely there are no more women with bound feet in Taiwan these days and the literacy rate is just as high.

December 13, 2012 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Should I ban the spam bot zhuzhu? He hasn’t broken any rules, but he is spamming. I’ll give him another chance but if he keeps repeating the same mantra I’m going to lose patience. Yourfriend’s comments at least have some variety.

December 13, 2012 @ 3:40 am | Comment

The truth about Mao is that he swept away all obstacles so that New China can rebuild at a comfortable, urgent speed, which still continues today. That’s another reason why the Chinese people revere the Chairman.

Sure, by 1956 or so. So what the hell was Mao doing for the next 20 years of his rule? Like I said, the man did not know when to just get out of the way and let more capable administrators take his place.

December 13, 2012 @ 4:02 am | Comment

When I mention income inequality, I could count on the cookie man to bring up wealth inequality instead. But with the zookeeper, it’s “they’re working on it…and oh the CCP is great, and Mao was the most awesome-est in the whole wide world…”. Like Richard says, at least the others have a slider or a hanging curve, but all zoolander has is the “fastball”…and even that tops out at 60mph. But he does like to speak on behalf of “average Chinese”. I guess since he’s already speaking for them, he figures he doesn’t actually need to ask them for their opinion.

December 13, 2012 @ 4:07 am | Comment

@Richard 72

It is your blog and you set the rules. But do define spamming. I am responding to issues raised with my views and facts and cites. How am I spamming?

Fact that you disagree with me does not make my views spamming. Or maybe it does in America?

December 13, 2012 @ 4:09 am | Comment

Getting back to the topic on hand. It is Richard’s thesis that Mao is BAD, and devoid of goodness. He granted that Mao may be “great”, depending on how you define it, because he did make big changes in Chinese society.

“Throughout his life in the revolution Mao manipulated the basest of human emotions. It was not brotherly love that he conveyed, but rather enmity and universal suspicion. “Down with the landlords!” “Down with rich peasants!” “Down with the bourgeoisie, merchants and intellectuals!” “Down with those who are not like us!” “Down with the educated, with businesspersons, with the talented!” Down with all of them, down with them, down.”

It wasn’t clear whether that was what Richard wrote, or what caught his eye. But it is a fair expression of someone’s opinion, obviously.

The “basest of human emotions.” That certainly is a tall order, and requires some examination. Putting it in context, Mao was in power in New China only 27 years (New China debuted in 1949, and Mao died in 1976). So his “reign”, if you can call it that, was in the context of the first years of the founding of the new polity. How did his actions and planning compare with those of the founding fathers of America?

Most Americans think of founding fathers as lofty persons – actually deified persona, great people who did great things. Yes, indeed they did LARGE things. Population of natives vs. whites in 1776? We don’t really know. The first census was taken in 1790, which reported 3.93 million in total, with 760K black slaves (about 20%). The estimate is that the population of the 13 colonies were about 2.5 million, with a similar percentage being black slaves. Most scholars writing at the end of the 19th century estimated the pre-Columbian population at about 10 million.

Then with their lofty declarations that everyone is born equal, the founding fathers of America set out to exterminate the natives, and keep more black slaves, and prevent women from voting or having property rights. They did BIG things for America, certainly. They were very effective also. The Black Hills carvings is truly diabolical and symbolic of the ruthless predation – they must have consulted with FengShui masters – have the white faces sitting atop the dragon-vein of the native mountain ranges and sacred burial grounds, thereby forever symbolically breaking the backs of native America joss. With the foundation built by the American founding fathers, who are still revered by all Americans, natives were wiped out and blacks remained slaves for many, many years.

In percentage comparison, in terms of efficacy in wiping out the hapless and helpless, Mao was a dwarf compared to the American founding fathers.

So why do you begrudge the Chinese people’s respect for Chairman Mao as founding father, while you continue to revere your own? It does not make rational sense.

December 13, 2012 @ 5:01 am | Comment

Is that considered spamming?

December 13, 2012 @ 5:04 am | Comment

“So why do you begrudge the Chinese people’s respect for Chairman Mao as founding father”
—but do they? “respect”, that is.

Was China in 1949 comparable to the New World in the 1600’s, or to the advent of the US in 1776? Is so, how so? China was the 5000 year civilization yada yada. “America” was a newly/recently discovered continent.

December 13, 2012 @ 5:22 am | Comment

@SKC: 78

1776 was not the dark ages. I was not there, but I presume that by 1776 Europeans did treat other Europeans as human beings. I assert that the conduct by whites against the natives in America, and against the blacks of America, evinced much more of that “basest of human emotions” that Richard was blabbing about.

December 13, 2012 @ 5:33 am | Comment

At the risk of drifting off topic, I will correct myself:

1776 was not the dark ages. I was not there, but I presume that by 1776 Europeans did treat other Europeans as human beings. I assert that the conduct and plots by American founding fathers against the natives in America, and against the blacks of America, evinced much more of that “basest of human emotions” that Richard was blabbing about. In comparison Mao was not as BAD. To the extent that American founding fathers are revered by Americans, so should Mao be, in view of all the great things he accomplished for the Chinese nation.

December 13, 2012 @ 5:37 am | Comment

“evinced much more of that “basest of human emotions” that Richard was blabbing about.”
—actually, Richard was quite specific about which base emotions he was referring to. He was talking about the hatred that Mao stirred up in one Chinese person towards another. Those don’t really apply (at all) to the Washington’s and Jefferson’s of the world.

Early American treatment of natives should not be lauded. They’re also not comparable to the specific crap that Mao did.

December 13, 2012 @ 6:05 am | Comment

@SKC 81

So one kind of BADness is different from another, and they cannot be compared? Mao should be singled out for badmouthing? WHY? Because he is Chinese, and Westerners rightfully cannot allow the Chinese can have a national hero to revere?

This is more than just shaking my snout. This should be poignant – do unto others, Richard.

December 13, 2012 @ 6:17 am | Comment

To be fair, it IS very much about FACE and about Chinese culture, which Westerners (even someone like Richard) rudely ignore, and self-righteously assume they can ignore.

Mao is a Chinese national hero. It may very well be well and good and justified for the Chinese to analyze and criticize him behind close doors, it is NOT kosher for foreigners to do so. Good and bad are not objective factual things like the temperature in a room – they are value judgments. Most Chinese would take serious umbrage with a foreigner opining negatively on a Chinese national hero.

December 13, 2012 @ 6:25 am | Comment

“So one kind of BADness is different from another, and they cannot be compared?”
—sure there are different kinds of “bad”. That should go without saying. You can compare anything you want, but valid comparisons require that you compare comparables. I’m just sayin’.

“Mao should be singled out for badmouthing?”
—not necessarily. You can badmouth Washington all you want, for whatever bad stuff he did. The “comparing” part, however, is rather pointless. Mao did bad stuff. That requires no comparison. Now, if Richard said Mao was the worst person in human history, THEN you can compare away. And remember, even if someone did stuff that was worse than Mao does NOT make the stuff Mao did any LESS bad. You CCP apologists often get tripped up on what should be a basic point of logic.

“Westerners rightfully cannot allow the Chinese can have a national hero to revere?”
—oh puh-lease. If he is truly a Chinese national hero, are Chinese people so weak-minded that they would change their attitude based on what Westerners say about Mao? Again, your lack of confidence and conviction is showing through. If Mao was universally revered in China as much as you like to think he was, then some westerners dissing him should have absolutely no effect.

“it is NOT kosher for foreigners to do so”
—huh? That is lame apologist-speak. If it’s crap, it’s crap. Doesn’t matter who’s telling it. Only those of weak mind and poor principles take issue with the messenger, rather than the message.

December 13, 2012 @ 7:01 am | Comment

Should I ban the spam bot zhuzhu? He hasn’t broken any rules, but he is spamming.

He hasn’t broken any rules. Doesn’t this answer your own question, Richard?

I wrote on the “Peaceful-Rise” thread (#7) that zhubajie didn’t appear to be “terribly welcome”. You said he was indeed welcome (#18). My point then was this: When you find someone’s attitude or behavior disgusting, you should be frank about that. The problem with people like zhu – it’s a point he refers to himself – is that they are pretty much about “face”. Just their face, of course, even if they suggest that they can speak in the name of more than a billion people. When you tell them that they are welcome, they will feel at home.

Obviously, you make people feel at home, and still kick them out. Contrary to what zhu says (#75), that isn’t censorship. It’s the right of a blogger. But the best way to deal with “spammers” (I’d use different and – in my view – more descriptive – words, but understand that you probably don’t want to read them here) is to show them the contempt they deserve, and then to ignore them. Zhu spammed much more in the beginning, than now.

Attention spells reward. So does banning: “Oh, I’m so American-dissident/ so victim-of-American-censorship / too clever (virtuous, reasonable, thought-provoking) to be tolerated” (tick the line of choice, or add any of your own).

Obviously, someone who thinks that he can speak “for China” will also believe that a blogger’s decisions are America’s decisions. I think they call that negative self-verification.

Sois humain. If you ban zhu, where else can he go?

December 13, 2012 @ 7:32 am | Comment

“it is NOT kosher for foreigners to do so.”

Mao was a murdering genocidal maniac. The people who love him are brainwaashed by his murderous henchmen.

Sorry, had to be done, really couldn’t resist it 😉

December 13, 2012 @ 7:33 am | Comment

correction: Obviously, you can make people feel at home.

December 13, 2012 @ 7:35 am | Comment

The people who love him are brainwaashed by his murderous henchmen.

That may be true. But they are still people who are responsible for their own talk. I wouldn’t blame Mao or his henchmen for a lot of things, but not for that – especially because those who glorify him invite the henchmen back again.

December 13, 2012 @ 7:37 am | Comment

@justrecently 85

Zhuubaajie actually goes everywhere where there are lies being told about China. Huffpost, New York Times, CNN, The Economist, etc. I also love going to redneck or neocon sites.

December 13, 2012 @ 8:00 am | Comment

@SKC 84

It is OK for me to badmouth my parents, it is not OK for you to do so. If you don’t even understand that, you are not very Chinese, despite being born and raised in Hong Kong.

December 13, 2012 @ 8:04 am | Comment

“It is OK for me to badmouth my parents, it is not OK for you to do so. .”

In which case there is no future or function for the justice system in any state: you are effectively saying no-one has the right to judge another without a prior relationship. If you cannot call someone a criminal because you are not related to them, nor have any kind of connection to them, then judges and magistrates have been wrong for the last several thousand years. :/

December 13, 2012 @ 9:06 am | Comment

“It is OK for me to badmouth my parents, it is not OK for you to do so.”

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.

December 13, 2012 @ 9:52 am | Comment

“Zhuubaajie actually goes everywhere where there are lies being told about China”

Sooooo, this wumao thingy, it’s commission based, you say? Hmmmm, interesting…

December 13, 2012 @ 9:54 am | Comment

Tanks – China: 0. USA: 149.
Vehicles: China 0: USA 3800 (1 per 4 soldiers)
Armored vehicles – China: 0 . USA 35.
Artillery: China 66. USA: 300.
Mobile rocket launchers: China: 27. USA: 550.

When a weak nation is invaded by a stronger one, that the weak can resist with all its might until the last breath is already an heroic feat. For a weak nation to challenge a strong one by going outside of her own borders, that had never been tried before.

When Man Anying, his son, was killed on the battlefield in Korea. Mao himself, upon being delivered the news, said famously: “Hundreds of thousands gave their lives on that battlefield, we can’t dwell on just one person. What happened happened, let’s move on. I’m the leader of the nation, I’m the one who decided to send our troops to Korea. If my son doesn’t go, how can I convince the nation to support this war? He’s Mao Zedong’s son, there can be no other way.’

When Mao shook hand with the mother of Huang Jiguang, another PLA soldier who gave his life in Korea, we saw no sadness on the mother’s face, only smiles.

Why? Because she knew. She knew that of the arsenal of heroes who were forever resting on that battlefield, her son was among them, but so was Mao Zedong’s. The person now shaking her hands and sending his condolenscnes, was also a family of the war hero. From this mother we saw a spirit larger than life, a spirit of fearlessness, a spirit of sacrifice, a spirit of idealism, a spirit of a hero, a spirit of a mother.

Those are also the spirits of Mao.

Mao belongs to China, but he also belongs to the world. He is of the Chinese people, but also of the world’s people.

[ Huang ji guang’s mother shaking hands with Mao, 1954 ]

http://i0.sinaimg.cn/book/excerpt/sz/2008-06-23/U2883P112T3D239013F1819DT20080623144433.jpg

December 13, 2012 @ 10:20 am | Comment

To 84,
The Chinese thing is to not air a family’s own issues out in the open, and to keep things in house. So if you said “my dad is a douchebag” in public, that would indeed not be very Chinese. But once it is out in the open, like with mao’s idiotic misdeeds, there is nothing un-Chinese about calling an ass an ass. Those who think it is wrong for non-Chinese to criticize Mao are almost uniformly ccp apologists or Mao worshipers. Of course, you happen to be both.

So if the reasons why you dad deserves bad-mouthing is a matter of public knowledge, then he’s fair game to anyone and everyone. Once again, if the message is legit, don’t blame the messenger.

December 13, 2012 @ 10:21 am | Comment

Oops, sorry, that was to #90.

December 13, 2012 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Mao is a Chinese national hero. It may very well be well and good and justified for the Chinese to analyze and criticize him behind close doors, it is NOT kosher for foreigners to do so. Good and bad are not objective factual things like the temperature in a room – they are value judgments. Most Chinese would take serious umbrage with a foreigner opining negatively on a Chinese national hero.

I would imagine Deng to be far more worthy of praise than Mao was.

December 13, 2012 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Now, if you’re saying you are just cursing at your dad like some delinquent teenager, then no, I wouldn’t join in on that. But the criticisms of Mao are not the flippant musings of delinquent teenagers.

December 13, 2012 @ 10:26 am | Comment

To T-co,
agreed. Deng is the one who ushered in China as we know it today. And he had only 1 really bad day. Mao had thousands of bad days (like all of GLF and CR, at a minimum).

December 13, 2012 @ 11:20 am | Comment

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