“What [Mao] wanted was an entirely joyless nation – without culture, without the presentation of human emotions, populated by a numb herd that automatically follows his orders. […] In this regard, Mao was more extreme than Hitler or Stalin, since Hitler allowed apolitical entertainment and Stalin appreciated and preserved the classics.” (translated by AK)
Jung Chang, Jon Halliday (2005): Mao. Das Leben eines Mannes. Das Schicksal eines Volkes. Blessing, p. 637
“I think that Maoism is a creative shift in the whole history of thinking and in communist action[.]” (translated by AK)
Alain Badiou in: Alain Badiou, Jean-Claude Milner (2012): “Controverse. Dialogue sur la politique et la philosophe de notre temps”, p.22
Judgements of Mao Tse-Tungs contribution to (Chinese) history are still unstable. An event like the cultural revolution produced or attracted various convictions, interests, and emotions that induced narratives of Mao’s decisions, political ideas and personality. As an experiment, lets categorize them in two groups, based on the distance:
- Some narratives are connected with direct and local effects of Maos political ideology: The main author of a popular Mao biography, Jung Chang, was a teenager when she and her family (her father was a party official) were affected by the violence during the cultural revolution.
- Other people have been affected from distance: french intellectuals like Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the young Alain Badiou related the “May’68” events in Paris to the cultural revolution, which was a source of inspiration and reference. In the case of Alain Badiou, he still relates Mao quotes with contemporary events, as you can see in an article about the events in turkey.
The spectrum varies from Mao as scapegoat or monster (similarly evil as Stalin or Hitler) to Mao as wise and visionary superhero that created a model for organized revolutionary movements. Lets look at it in more detail…