Mao’s Revolution

by Mark Chmiel

Yet a Maoist doctrine that played so vital  role during the revolutionary years, bringing about a historically necessary revolution in the social state of China, paradoxically had disastrous human and political consequences when it was received in the post-revolutionary era. Mao Zedong’s removal of Marxian restraints on the revolutionary will in the late 1950s opened the way for the catastrophic consequences of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. It was not Mao’s so-called “hardline Marxism” that was responsible for the debacles, but, in a sense, his lack of Marxism, or more precisely, his “utopian” departures from Marxian teachings on the imperatives of history. The inevitable failures of the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution ensured that China’s historical development would not, for the foreseeable future, proceed beyond bourgeois limits. The massive process of capitalist development in the decades since Mao’s death, perhaps the most dynamic process of capitalist development in world history, is thus both the product of Mao’s revolution and its negation, a capitalism that is at once the logical outcome of the Revolution that Mao Zedong led in an economically backward land and a capitalism that mocks his socialist claims and aspirations.

–Maurice Meisner, Mao Zedong: A Political and Intellectual Portrait