Mao’s Crimes Against Humanity

From Frank Dikötter’s short note at History Today:

In the People’s Republic of China, archives do not belong to the people, they belong to the Communist Party. They are often housed in a special building on the local party committee premises, which are generally set among lush and lovingly manicured grounds guarded by military personnel. Access would have been unthinkable until a decade or so ago, but over the past few years a quiet revolution has been taking place, as increasing quantities of documents older than 30 years have become available for consultation to professional historians armed with a letter of recommendation. The extent and quality of the material varies from place to place, but there is enough to transform our understanding of the Maoist era.


…What comes out of this massive and detailed dossier is a tale of horror in which Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962. It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten kilogram stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – punishment for digging up a potato.

…Fresh evidence is also being unearthed on the land reform that transformed the countryside in the early 1950s. In many villages there were no ‘landlords’ set against ‘poor peasants’ but, rather, closely knit communities that jealously protected their land from the prying eyes of outsiders – the state in particular. By implicating everybody in ‘accusation meetings’ – during which village leaders were humiliated, tortured and executed while their land and other assets were redistributed to party activists recruited from local thugs and paupers – the communists turned the power structure upside down. Liu Shaoqi, the party’s second-in-command, had a hard time reining in the violence, as a missive from the Hebei archives shows: ‘When it comes to the ways in which people are killed, some are buried alive, some are executed, some are cut to pieces, and among those who are strangled or mangled to death, some of the bodies are hung from trees or doors.’


Hyperbole noted, of the kind Robert Conquest was famous for with Stalin in Russian history.

And this: "When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. " - you cannot 'die of grief'. I've seen this sort of logic in "Greek history" about the Turks, including claims the Turks drove a stake through a man, via his anus, and spit roasted him alive for hours. Absurd.

Evidence please that this is hyperbole.

While of course people don't die of "grief" as the direct cause, there is scientific evidence that stress caused by grief can increase risk of dying, e.g. by heart attack. So "died of grief" isn't necessarily an inaccurate characterization:

Also these are documents created and maintained by the ruling party. Unlike a Greek history of the Turks, there is not an incentive to exaggerate atrocities that happened under one's own rule.

Are they? Or are they the report of one apparatchik on his enemy?

I don't doubt Mao was a horror of indiscriminate killing, but the more elaborate the anecdote gets, the more I suspect the detail of embellishment.

Maybe they thought it was evidence of how bad-ass they were and exaggerated their own claims.

People do lie in private diaries.

I've seen a man die of grief. It took several years, and was alcohol-assisted, but it was the grief that got him.

@dan1111 - thanks, but from the article you cited, the risk is very low of "dying from grief"- "The researchers also found that the increased risk of heart attack within the first week after the loss of a significant person ranges from one per 320 people with a high heart attack risk to one per 1,394 people with a low heart attack risk. " - I wager the father was probably healthy, heart-wise (skinny Chinese people don't have heart attacks as much as fat westerners) so his risk of 'grief-dying' was 1/1394, almost zero.

So much autism.

Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric's "Bridge On The Drina" gives a particularly vivid description of the use of the stake.

People die of grief all the time.
Brazilian writer and politician Ruy Barbosa famously died of grief ("moral traumatism", they used to say back then). The old Emperor Pedro II died in exile of grief (and diabetes). Former President Marshall Deodoro died of grief after resigning his job. Brazilian slaves died of grief all the time-- some times they sped up the proccess by eating dirt.

Foolish response. Technically, the only thing anyone "dies" of is lack of oxygenation to the brain. Causation has many steps (proximate cause, final cause, etc). It is well documented in the medical literature that grief can "cause" death.
More importantly, there is nothing hyperbolic about the excerpt. You need to read Dikotter's three recent books. Then read Wild Swans and A Feather in the Storm for good measure.

"the only thing"? Really? So head trauma can't be a cause of death? How about being at ground zero at T0? Oxygen deprivation? Generally, being categorical - especially without due consideration - is pretty foolish, don't you think?

That was a joke, reductive absurdity to its extreme.

"Die of grief" would be a Party-speak euphemism for "he committed suicide". They just don't say that because certainly there was no way that the party leadership's decision was a horrific over-reaction that caused the waste of two lives.

That would be my guess, too.

Absolutely. Not contemplating the cause of a suicide by a formerly happy, well adjusted person subsequent to huge emotional trauma is asinine. It is similar to the common left wing practice of saying there is no God, thus religion is a false practice of no value which should be prohibited while suppressing recognition of the comfort and stability it provides believers. A very subjective attitude!

Yeah, that Conquest ought to be ashamed of himself, ruining Stalin's reputation like that!

Later research showed Conquest's "20 million" was too high. Stalin himself said "six million Jews died in the holocaust" and most of that six million is exactly 3,000,000 who died in Poland, which common sense tells you is a crude estimate. So, it's up to you: do you believe in finding and telling truth, or in the Communist tactic of 'fighting fire with fire' and the 'ends justify the means'?

My father was a Chinese linguist who worked as a NSA-funded radio operator in in Taiwan during the 60s.

The Chinese in that era had _terrible_ communications security. Since my father's job was to listen to intra-chinese government communication, he had a front row seat for the Cultural Revolution.

Mao was a butcher and a mass murderer.

My father was not Anti-Asian -- he came out of the experience impressed with the political skills of Zhou Enlai and with a profound respect for General Giap, for example,.

He would never give me the specifics -- his work was classified, obviously -- but he made sure I knew from my youth that Mao was a sociopathic butcher on par with Hitler.

The anecdotes in post may or may not have happened as exactly described, but the stories absolutely convey a larger truth.

In some cultures dying of grief appears to be a thing. In Australia, traditionally dying of grief would consist of not eating, drinking, sleeping or protecting oneself from the elements. Dehydration and exposure would be the cause of death but "grief" would be why they were dehydrated and exposed.

How's this for "absurd"?

Search time on Google: 45 seconds.

It is perfect for absurd. I especially liked the part about the Romans imprisoning the poor Muslim chick. Boy, was she sure lost in time. Garbage in, garbage out. Still true after all these years.

Archival access grows out of the barrel of a gun

Maoists rank right up there with the other mass murderers of world history, including the Macedonians/Greeks (Alexander) and the Italians (Rome) and the Germans (Hitler). Each is marked by a cult built around an individual (in Rome a succession of emperors) who demands veneration and adulation. Why the human propensity for cultism? See Rene Girard for an explanation.

Clumsy analysis. Mao and his regime slaughtered their own people. Alexander, Augustus and Hitler were adventurer-conquerors who led their nations in imperial crusades.

Humans are hierarchical animals. I wouldn't describe Alexander and Augustus as cult leaders. Hitller perhaps, but there were plenty of Germans who were cynical about Hitler and the Nazis but were nonetheless patriotic Germans really pissed off about World War I. Purely socialist regimes, by contrast, must be wholly totalitarian (as opposed to authoritarian) since the entire regime is built on lies such as the labor theory of value. It takes a cultist, like Stalin or Mao, to be in charge of the monstrosity.

Interesting to read that Hitler, as opposed to Mao, didn't slaughter "his own people."

He "Other-ized," to use modern parlance, Jewish Germans, true.

"He “Other-ized,” to use modern parlance, Jewish Germans, true."

And gays, and communists, the disabled, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses...

Purely socialist regimes have little to do with totalitarianism. Typical bourgeois leg humper post. You follow dialectics rather than the reality on the ground.

What drove Asiatic communism had little to with "socialism", but anti-modernity. It is anti-modernity that drove the genocide. Maoism was very decentralized as well, bringing Communist party bosses in replacements for the old warlords.

The point? Maybe genocide isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hitler's certainly didn't do much bad. I would argue the US had plenty of killing in its past, all driven for modernity, which is far worse genocide. The amount of fat people describe this problem.

Socialist regimes are perforce totalitarian because they are at odds with reality. Value is subjective, not objective. Labor is not fungible. Blood is thicker than water. It takes massive brainwashing, propaganda and police state tactics to reprogram people to believe otherwise.

What utter garbage.

The analysis omits that fact that the cults of personality of Mao and Hitler were tied up with vicious modern ideologies that demanded pure devotion of mind as well as a body, something that was absent in the ancient world (see the wiser French guy, Tocqueville).

Why? Rome demonstrably also used sub-humanization of "barbarians" for propaganda value.

Sometimes you have to terribly murder a few dozen million people to peacefully usher in the worker's paradise! The more interesting question is how many people you have to murder as a leftist to get unequivocal condemnation from the western press. We don't yet know, because the number hasn't been reached. I'm sure Trump is worse though, based on my readings of the NYT.

"TRUMP 2016 - He's better than Mao!"

Good job. :-)

Trump is torn, though, because Mao was just so high energy.

Come on guys. Only one of the two candidates is wearing Mao suits.

Only one candidate has their wardrobe judged. And only one candidate is endorsed by North Korea.

Yeah, nobody ever says anything about Trump's appearance.

You mean other than the decades of jokes about his hair (a tupee is arguably clothing/hat) and recent jokes about his hand and dick size? Get back to me when we starting talking about Hillary's tits or her masculine look which drives Bill into the beds of other women.

You misunderstand. I have it on good authority that Trump is the worst, most dangerous, murderous, racist sexist to ever exist on planet earth (at least since Mitt Romney, the last guy with the effrontery to run for president without a "D" after his name). It's science, you wouldn't want to be a science denier would you? Mao was a piker compared to Trump! Look at the trail of bodies in his wake! Billions of them!

Always keep up the good fight, friend. Someone needs to defeat all these evil strawmen. Who knows what they are up to!

Barack Obama's convention speech: " “That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”"

Homegrown demagogues? The leader of BLM is on the DNC/Hillary campaign payroll.

Yes, JWatts, that quote is EXACTLY equivalent to what Tarrou wrote. No difference at all. Jesus Christ.

It's clear that Tarrou was engaging in hyperbole. But it's also clear that Democrats have been tagging Trump as a racist, sexist, fascist, failed businessman for months.

Anybody with an IQ higher than 90 understands that Barack Obama was referring to Donald Trump with that comment and that he was lumping Donald Trump in with that unsavory mix as a form of Guilt by Association.

JWatts, that's because Trump is all those things. And he does threaten American values. Of course everyone knows Obama was referring to Trump, because plenty of us believe it to be self-evident.

Mike, do you believe that Hillary Clinton was grossly negligent in her handling of classified emails as Secretary of State?

@JWatts: one can believe Clinton was grossly negligent with those emails and still be light years more qualified to be president than Trump, because that's the plain truth.

As Scott Sumner has blogged, Clinton might be the second worst person in America to be president, but Trump is still the very worst.

Obama was right to tar Trump with that brush, he's the antithesis of what is great about this country.

I'm #FeelingTheJohnson because I don't live in a battleground state and I'd like for 3rd parties to get some traction in the US. If I were in a battleground I'd vote Her just to keep Trump a private citizen. Both candidates are awful but one is CLEARLY more so, and only ridiculous partisans feel otherwise.

msgkings, I think you're getting caught up in your own partisanship here.

Clinton had a short tenure in the Senate, and a disastrous stint as Secretary of State. Reasonable people can differ about whether she'd do better in the presidency than Trump. I don't mean that as some form of strong praise for Trump.

And one can believe Clinton was grossly negligent with those emails and skated on being charged with a felony. If that is true, there's no logical reason to believe that once she becomes President she'll become less criminal.

"and still be light years more qualified to be president than Trump, because that’s the plain truth."

No, that's not the "plain truth". It's an opinion.

If I'm given the choice between Trump, an outrageous carnival barker, or Clinton, a criminal who's too Big to Jail, I'm going to vote for the Carnival Barker. He'll do far less damage to our democracy. I won't vote for a competent criminal.

How am I partisan? A pox on both of them, I'm voting Johnson.

Clinton is awful, Trump is worse.

JWatts, it's hard to understand how someone can think the weird, narcissistic, paranoid, Russia-funded Trump can be less damaging for democracy than a typical shady politician like Clinton. She's 'typical', the system can handle her. Trump is an embarrassing wildcard.

I don't think either will be the end of the world, but one is obviously worse than the other. And both are obviously terrible.

I don't concede Clinton's competence. The evidence is pretty strong that she's not competent.

The difficulty of distinguishing Clinton and Trump is compounded by the fact that they aren't far apart on policy issues. Both are kind of center left.

But Trump has two policy positions that are prominent and unconventional, and they're the major reason for his success: (1) We should have less immigration and improve the usefulness of that we do have, and (2) We should negotiate more favorable trade terms and not just accept that any form of freer trade is the best we can get.

(3) The Geneva convention is shit, torture is awesome, topkek smug_pepe.jpg

I'm glad at least someone in the western intelligentsia realizes the horrors of Mao's rule, instead of romanticize the most detestable tyrant like some French leftist pseudo intellectuals (e.g. Alain Badiou) do.

So he was responsible for more deaths than Hitler and Stalin and the allies and WWI combined?

There was so much raw material to make corpse with

China's population was and is very large.

And that was without even trying very hard. The vast majority of the dead were from famines caused by economic incompetence.

When I was at Yale in the early 1980's I took a course on the history of China from Jonathan Spence a revered (by some) Sinologist and author. He was deeply in love with the cultural history of China. When it came time to discuss the Mao years and the reports of tens of millions of people killed, Spence would blow off the issue as so much conservative propaganda. He would refuse to take questions on the matter in class. Finally I got a meeting with him in his office about the issue and his attitude was essentially that those unpleasant facts were overhyped by Reaganites and in any case bad for business - that business being promoting Chinese history and culture. Thankfully we also had Donald Kagan there during that period of time.

One of the saddest aspects of the defeat of the communists was that their agents, collaborators, and useful idiots weren't punished suitably.

It is more glorious to be rich.

I had a friend who grew up in a reeducation village, after his family was sent down. He would pause to say yes, it was bad, and then tell funny stories, very American sitcom stories of growing up.

That nature, and optimism, and smarts got him out, and ultimately to being a California tech millionaire.

Basically, there are times when societies need to move on. It might have been suitable punishment if every American slave holder had been given labor as harsh as they had meeted out, but like China transition from their injustice, internal recognition of the horror comes in stages. It can take generations.

"Basically, there are times when societies need to move on."

Pretty sure that was Speer's defense at the Nuremberg trials.

There are times too when justice is possible, but consider, if at some point the Germans themselves had turned on the Nazis, would they have hung as many? There are social limits to how harshly a people can judge themselves.

South African "truth and reconciliation" was another social shift, and attempt to move on.

At this point, what difference does it make?

Getting rid of a third to half of a countries 'elites' is pretty hard.

I have yet to be convinced that bureaucrats didn't read Solzhenitsyn as a how to manual.

Interesting—would you elaborate?

Pol Pot didn't find it too hard. First, you and your friends go study in Paris. Then you go home. Then... year zero.

Heh. I had a class on China at (right-wing) UChicago in 1985. Same thing, complete whitewash. Mao meant well.

I didn't know. I was a dumb kid. I did know how to pass the class though.

I took a course on 20th Century Chinese history at night in the '80's at the University of Minnesota. I don't remember any discussion at all about the killings during the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. I don't know the political leanings of my professor, but I think it was just because the West simply didn't know. Yes the hard right wingers talked about it, but it really was propaganda at the time. They didn't really know.

Yes we knew even then that Mao betrayed those who responded to "Let a thousand flowers bloom" in the 50's, and we knew that the Cultural Revolution was anti-intellectual and destroyed a generation of scholars. But all the murders, no. I wasn't part of the academic world, so I don't know if the academics were ignoring evidence they should have paid attention to, but I don't think any western Chinese scholars knew that much.

John Lennon was clued in by 1968 though.

I'm surprised to read this. I've read his "Search for Modern China" and I assure you the deaths and violence associated with the GLF and Cultural Revolution are covered in some detail. It was the first of many serious books I've read about China, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

From a NYT John Burns review of Spence's Mao biogrpahy:

"In the case of Spence and Short, their conclusions seem uneasily close to the Chinese Communist Party's own verdict, delivered in 1981, in which Mao was deemed to have committed ''gross mistakes'' but to have had merits that outweighed his errors, in the proportion of 7 to 3. As the authors show, Mao was a political and military genius who towered over his contemporaries, remade the most populous nation on earth, and placed it, after centuries of humiliation, on the path to modernity. But he also devastated the lives of tens of millions of his countrymen and women, many of whom still struggle with the consequences. Westerners, free to reach their own conclusions, may make their own judgments. For now, that is a liberty the Chinese people, still laboring under the weight of the Communist system that Mao bequeathed, do not share. But in time they too may conclude that the human price of their ''liberation'' was too high. "

I think this is a fair reflection of Spence's view. Spence also has been forced to come to grips with increasingly irrefutable evidence that in 1981 he was not yet willing to do, and was certainly in the "let's take the big picture" camp at that time.

Also, I think it 1981 it was a very anti-Reagan time on liberal college campuses. Any criticism of communism was generally viewed as "Reaganesque" by most of the faculty and therefore not PC. Yale had a remarkable number of Marxists in the humanities and a remarkable tolerance for their views at that point in time.

Yawn. Did anyone seriously doubt this? Even the Black Book of Communism was published almost 20 years ago! So I suppose the important, Straussian point of this post is that yes, there were and still are many people who seriously doubt this — and might just possibly be persuaded by authentic self-incriminating documents. True believers, of course, won't ever be persuaded of anything that reflects badly on the object of their worship.

It is true that this should be common knowledge everywhere, but it is not, as you point out. While the true believers may never be convinced, there are plenty of people who simply are ignorant of this, because of a dominant narrative that downplays the evil of communist regimes.

This is a drum that we need to keep on beating.

I have never heard anyone ever say Mao was anything but a mass murdering disaster, and that the cultural revolution was one of the top few despotic and dysfunctional episodes in the history of the world. There is no way that the "dominant narrative" can be positive. You are completely ignorant of the world you live in.

That is because people want to play dialectical games. Asians have a brutal brutal history with large population concentrations of people. Mao was a despot who killed people. Hardly the first. Hitler was not a rarity either and would have killed 10's of millions more if he would have lasted longer. The British caused the Potato famine and Bengal famine in India. 10's of millions dead.

People like Glibertarians want to use "Asiatic" Communism that started under Stalin and put it to all "socialism". It simply doesn't work that way. They hurt themselves in the argument and come off looking stupider than ever

The British did not cause the Irish potato famine, unless they invented a potato disease. In both the Irish and Indian famines the argument is that the British should and could have provided more charity and some of their leaders were a bit rude about the local population. That is not really equivalent to Maoism.

And I thought nobody (except Cowen) liked the Chinese. Maybe some people like the Chinese when they are slaughtering each other but don't like the Chinese when they are slaughtering markets. Whatever. Arguments about who are the worst human beings in history are pointless. I might argue that the Italians were the worst since they killed God; although historical revisionists who don't like Jews have pointed the finger at Jews rather than the Italians. I might argue that the Germans were the worst since the Germans slaughtered non-Germans while the Chinese restricted their slaughter to each other. Indiscriminate slaughter strikes me as worse, but is it possible to describe mass murderers as discriminate.

Terrible comment. This is not about "the Chinese", it's about a specific regime.


As you well know, lots of people (present company included) "like(d) the Chinese". Mao is another matter. Jung Chang has written several excellent books on the subjects (Mao, China, her own family). Jung Chang is clearly not "anti-Chinese" and not necessarily anti-Communist (she came from a family of dedicated Communists). She is fiercely hostile towards Mao (she blames Mao, correctly, for killing her father).

>Enough to transform our understanding of the Maoist era

I take it when he says 'our' he is referring to academics, policy makers, politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, business leaders. The cream of American society.

Only the stupid people needing nudges or forced into compliance knew this stuff decades ago.

This is misleading for people who do not know that most of the deaths were due to the famine caused by crop failures due to bad agriculture policy, bad distribution, and bad weather. It was not the first time millions of of people died due to famine in China. I suspect the denial in the US during the Reagan years of the horrors of what happen during the famine was not just the Mao apologizest but the pro lifers who were critical of their one child policy. It is now something global warming deniers do not want to talk about because we still do not have enough excess food to prevent famine in Chhina if they have large scale crop failures

Half of me says this is a great parody, the other half says not.

Hillary, is that you?

I doubt the pro lifers would sympathise with the Chinese over the one child policy. You have that backwards.

Also, the comment on global warming is odd. Warming and increased CO2 is good for crop yields, and it is the alarmists are exactly the type who oppose GMO, also very good for yields and resistance to failures.

" Warming and increased CO2 is good for crop yields, and it is the alarmists are exactly the type who oppose GMO, also very good for yields and resistance to failures"

1) Bring on that 3 degree C rise!

2) What has GMO ever done for you?

"This is misleading for people who do not know that most of the deaths were due to the famine caused by crop failures due to bad agriculture policy, bad distribution, and bad weather."

LOL, of course millions of these deaths were tortures and executions, also.

Actually, millions of deaths were not due to torture. Most were indeed due to famines. Ditto "Joe Stalin's" genocide, which at its most "real" was the worst in the Ukraine. That is why numbers there have been getting revised downwards.

The 45 million stuff is trying to hard. China had a 20+ million death famine in the 19th century with a smaller population.

"Actually, millions of deaths were not due to torture"

Yes they were.

"Not all deaths during the Great Leap were from starvation. Frank Dikötter estimates that at least 2.5 million people were beaten or tortured to death and 1 to 3 million committed suicide."

The Holodomor was caused by a very bad agriculture policy indeed.

Why "Crimes Against Humanity"? Surely the horrible crimes were visited, quite specifically, on the Chinese.

What on the earth is the point of this comment?

What on earth is the point of the fatuous expression "crimes against humanity"? Pompous twaddle. It was the poor bloody Chinese who got it in the neck, not posturing westerners.

As a reminder to other dictators that the international community sometimes gives a shit. Mao was able to get away with it. Slobodan Milosevic did not.

Yeah, yeah. You'll get off with it if you're powerful enough. Nobody is going to convict W or O of "Crimes against Humanity".

Also "the international community": spare me!

What a lot of bullshit.

Marginal Revolution got blocked by the great firewall of China today (it usually isn't). I suspect this posting is to blame.

The Earth isn't flat, matter/energy can be neither created nor destroyed, and the germ theory of disease are also in need of posting here, right? News indeed.

Unlike those, the mass murders in Communist regimes are not universally known, and there is a significant contingent of people trying to deny or downplay the evil of communism.

lol, well the name "communism" is itself a intellectual word. How many "westerners" died in the "capitalist" famines of the 19th century? 1 million 35 million?

Asiatic communism really was a anti-modernistic force. This paradox goes beyond your weak minded thinking.

Imagine that every Chinese peasant had a gun. Imagine that every Russian or Cuban peasant had had a gun. You cannot do this kind of thing to 'free' people and 'free' people own guns. Now imagine why the left wants to outlaw guns in the U.S.

This was more or less the situation in the 1930s, were China was a kind of Somalia, ruled by many warlords. This not prevented the Communists to take power (like someone said, exactly about the question of Communist China and gun control, "Mao didn't come to power in China by tricking the populace into surrendering their arms. He pummeled his well-armed opponents in a stand-up fight. There's a big difference between unable to fight back, and fighting back but losing")

Not exactly a straight up fight. From 1945-1949, Stalin backed Mao to the hilt. In contrast, the US kept forcing Chiang to agree to ceasefires (which only benefited the Communists as they broke them whenever they had recovered strength), and placed an arms embargo on him (so he couldn't even BUY munitions from the US) for most of the war. Chiang received very little aid during WWII (because the Burma Road had been cut, and most supplies sent over the Hump actually went to the US Army Air Force). Most of the aid received early on in postwar was actually moving Japanese soldiers out of China back to Japan, moving the Chinese Army to Manchuria, and refugees aid. In terms of fighting the civil war, it was only after it was too late that the US approved real aid to the Nationalists and most of that was never sent.

Chiang certainly made several critical errors postwar (all of which he quickly fixed once he was in exile in Taiwan). However, if the US supported Chiang as the Soviets supported Mao, there would still be a mainland state for the ROC. At best, Mao would only have been able to keep Manchuria. Truman should have listed to the recommendations of General Wedemeyer. We'd be living in a far different world if he had.

The Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War is one of those subjects that people think they know what happened based on a few aphorisms. The details of these wars are not well known. Instead, people repeat whatever mythology they've been given. And while the American far right certainly has their own mythology about this, the standard history most people know is actually the Communist mythology peddled by their apologists and agents in the West.

Yet Chiang's armies - and the other war lords'-- failed to stop Mao. Maybe if Chiang had more guns..., but it is different from the "non-Commumist Chinese had no guns" (as in the fantasy, the pro-gun lobby peddles non-stop). The same is true about the pre-communist Cubans, the Eastern Europeans et al. All of them had had their own armed anti-commumist movements that had guns before the revolution or conquest. It justnwasn't enough.

Mao required young men to learn how to shoot and carry firearms. It makes sense in many respects.

Ah but you miss the point grasshopper in your zeal to dismiss the pro-gun lobby. The question was not what if both sides were armed? The question is what if every peasant had had a gun when they came to kill him? Big difference. What if every jew in Germany in the 30's had a gun? It is difficult to gen up the excitement among the oppressors to rape and pillage the villagers when the villagers shoot back. It's impossible to round up and kill 50 million people when all 50 million are waiting with a gun in hand. .

Anti-communist resistance units were abandoned by the U.S. It was a simple matter to defeat them in detail. In Ukraine, the Soviet troops surrounded partisans and tightened the noose. Their troops were virtually shoulder to shoulder. Partisans are not meant for much more than sabotage and harassment anyway. When the Lord returns to the earth they're supposed to combine and overwhelm the regular forces of the occupying power but it never gets to that stage.

Many millions of the deaths were from famine. How would a gun help with that?

Not to mention that the Chinese were dirt poor. A gun would be a luxury purchase for most.

Is this really news? The Black Book of Communism came out in 1997 and it had estimates of tens of millions slaughtered by Mao and also by Stalin.

The order of magnitude of the number of deaths during the "Great Leap Forward" was well known, even well before the Black Book of Communism. What was not well-known was that a significant portion of the deads were tortured and killed instead of just starved to death by bad policies.

My friend was working on a PhD in the Communist Party's actions against the Catholic church in China and applied for access to official party records. The official story is they did not interfere at all. He applied and was surprised that he got access. He flew to China, went to the get the records and the people there were shocked that he had access. They questioned him a bit but eventually gave him the records. He did a quick glance through that night and faxed home a few copies where the church was mentioned in the official meeting records... some planning about how to interfere with the church, of course. The next morning there's a knock on his door with two or three officials telling him to come with them. They take him down the hallway into a different hotel room and interrogate him for a few hours, eventually telling him to hand over all the records... apparently he convinced them he was an academic and hadn't read anything yet. The stupid thing was he didn't hand over all the records. They came back later and chewed him out for a few more hours in his hotel room. He handed over the rest of the records, they let him go, he packed his stuff and took the next flight out to Taiwan. This was back in 2006 or so.

Sounds to me like they just weren't trying communism hard enough. Better luck next time, right?

I was going to post that even in the eighties and very early nineties, it was not unusual to see denials of the deaths of the Great Leap Forward among respectable people and prestigious academic institutions. I remember even in college in the mid-nineties a speaker desperately trying to limit how many people were killed so that it just seemed in line with previous famines (done during a feudal structure, a divided country, or war) and therefore not really the fault of Mao. For a long time, this was denied as right wing slander. I am actually surprised that on this blog there are multiple (!) people actively denying this or trying to exculpate Mao and the Communist Party.

I like Ray Lopez's comparison to Robert Conquest as if that is supposed to discredit Dikotter's work. Conquest's work is no longer controversial as people have accepted he had been right all this time.

Attributed, albeit rather approximately, to Conquest: "I told you so, you fucking fools!"

"After the opening up of the Soviet archives in 1991, detailed information was released that Conquest argued supported his conclusions. When Conquest's publisher asked him to expand and revise The Great Terror, Conquest is famously said to have suggested the new version of the book be titled I Told You So, You Fucking Fools. In fact, the mock title was jokingly proposed by Conquest's old friend, Sir Kingsley Amis. "

As I said "albeit rather approximately". Whether those two celebrated topers really knew who said what initially, I don't know.

I do know that drunk they were worth more than a hundred average writers sober.

Except the Stalin era "genocide" is now being downgraded. Remove the famine and he killed less than Hitler. Matter of fact, the great terror only happened because Stalin was so paranoid that people would blame the famine on him..........because he purposely confiscated the grain for the newly built urban centers.

You ever wonder why so many Russians still have "fond" memories of Joe, well, that is what their parents and grandparents told them. Yeah, the "purges" sucked, but those were "traitors". Hitler would not have cared. He would have owned up to it and said all those people who died were mongrel trash.

I'm certain that Stalin was very concerned about public opinion.

" Remove the famine and he killed less than Hitler. "


What is a "sizzling tool"? Does it sizzle before pressed against the flesh of the enemy of the state? And does it have any other purpose?

No-True-Scotsman defense of Communism coming up from one of the usual suspects in

The reason that the Western propaganda machine portrays Mao negatively is that he fought for China’s independence, while his rival Chiang Kai Shek fought for China’s dependence on the US. This doesn’t mean that Mao didn’t kill any people. He must have, though surely not as many as the Western propaganda machine alleges. But that violence wouldn’t have been the reason for the Western propaganda machine’s hatred of Mao. Independence must have been the reason.

Well sure, that and all the murdering.

Most of the deaths under his rule don't seem to have constituted murder.

Sure, use the Hillary defense. Incompetence!

Again, your a bourgeois leg humper. Society since the beginning of time is led through with mass death. This is one of the few oasis's in time when that isn't going on and it won't last forever.

Dependence on the U.S. Of course, that's why Chiang despised Joe Stillwell and resisted his pressure to send his best troops into Burma. On what planet to home-grown national leaders who came to power without foreign support yearn to become lackey's of a foreign power? Running dogs, as it were?

Sure. We despised Kim Il-sung because he wanted to be independent. That was it.

Back in January 2015 I did several short blog posts on the role of American Communists/sympathizers in seeing to it that Mao won the power struggle with Chiang, in the end. If anyone is interested, here's the first one;

On March 5, 1952 the New York Times printed a piece by William S. White that reported that Prof. Owen Lattimore acknowledged during his eighth day of testimony before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee, that Truman Administration policy toward China in 1946 had been 'closely similar' to his own thinking and proposals. The next paragraph in White's report was;
He asserted, however, that it was "an absurd exaggeration *** an absurd invention" to suggest that he had dictated or molded that policy, either as an individual or as a trustee of the Institute of Pacific Relations.
As White recognized, this was at last to the heart of the issue--what influence, if any, he had exerted in the State Department's adoption of what its critics call a "soft" line toward the China Communists. Because, two years earlier in front of a different Senate body--The Tydings Committee--Lattimore denied, under oath, that he was what Senator Joseph McCarthy had called him, i.e. the chief architect of United States' policy in China post WWII.

Lattimore then quickly published a vituperative, slanderous, short book repeating that denial; Ordeal By Slander (Little, Brown and Company; July 1950). So, Lattimore was faced with a problem when the SISS, chaired by Nevada Democrat Pat McCarran confronted him ....

Hence the blackened reputation of Joseph McCarthy...for getting it exactly right about China. All the way back in 1950.

Well, other than Joe McCarthy being financed by zionists and using it to force in the military industrial complex and global capitalism. Your sound like another bourgeois leg humper, who doesn't want to see the reality.

Sullivan, Communism was a scam financed by Wall Street. They ushered in the Bolshevik revolution and when Stalin kicked them out of "Russia", they then begin pushing for "Communism" in Asia while publicly decrying it. A big part of the "famines" were rapid industrialization efforts. One that failed in China because of its decentralized nature.

Lets also note, "anti-Communism" was a capitalist scam as well. John Birch Society? Rockefeller invented via Wall Street investment houses.

You forgot the Bilderbergers. And the Freemasons.

Oh, you're one of those....

I must remember to characterize debate opponents as "leg humpers" in order to increase the effectiveness of my counter arguments in the future.

China's population was around 670 million in 1960. So 45 million deaths, largely due to famine, would have been around 6.7% of the population.

By contrast, in the Irish Potato Famine, during which British soldiers occupying Ireland enforced the continued export of food out of Ireland into England, it's estimated that 12% to 20% of the Irish died. Furthermore, the population of Ireland has never recovered demographically to pre-famine levels.

Shouldn't you also mention the import of food into Ireland? I mean, you don't want to be accused of doctoring the data, do you?

Many people also say the US slaughtered 97 million Indians.

"Many people also say the US slaughtered 97 million Indians." oh but that massacre was not by communists and eventually it paved the way for establishing a capitalist economy, so I guess it is OK. Perhaps it was necessary.

Many people also believe in the Tooth Fairy, that Obama's a natural born citizen, that we have a "living Constitution," that emanations from penumbras reveal important constitutional truths, that most Congressional Republicans are not spineless weasels, that the Interstate Commerce Clause is implicated in every activity known to man, that Hillary Clinton made some $100,000 in cattle future trading by reading the Wall Street Journal financial pages, that 50,000 of Hillary's emails pertained to Chelsea's wedding, and that printing money is healthy for the economy.

"Yale had a remarkable number of Marxists in the humanities and a remarkable tolerance for their views at that point in time." What is wrong in having faculty whose ides differ from the mainstream? If a right-winger like Alan Bloom was tolerated in American academia, why not a Marxist?

I had to withdraw from an English class because I wouldn't write an essay about how Chaucer was sexist. That'a what was wrong.

What happened to you was wrong. So was the notorious witch hunt against Marxists by a notorious American Senator . By the way I am not a communist

Could you name a few of the witches McCarthy persecuted?

I think you may be referring to "the great American patriot and hero, Sen. Joseph McCarthy."

Because Marxists embrace ridiculous and destructive economic ideas, despise what America is, and think it is amusing to work to undermine one of the best country that ever existed on the planet.

Sorry I should have said witch hunt against those even suspected of having anything to do with Marxists, though not Marxists themselves. That made it worse. Again, imposing feminism or Marxism on students is wrong but so is imposing libertarian ideology . Some how, libertarians don't see anything wrong with imposition of their ideology

Sorry Freethinker if I sound critically nitpicky, I am not too sure of what I "know" about libertarians. Sometimes I listen to/read about/get news about them and they sound like the tin foil hat brigade ready to be netted and sometimes the delivery sounds sane. In essence, I always thought they were still working with some amorphous cloud of ideas rather than an entire handbook of instructions on how to give up your freedom set down by ONE malcontent living way out on the fringes. In your experience, is libertarianism a problem with being forced onstudents as you describe?
I am neither Dem NOR Repub, but a moderate conservative who who would dearly love to see a smaller, more rational government. And neither socialism nor communism fits those parameters. IN a period where my choices for president seem to be a choice between whacking myself in the head with a hammer or trying out that exciting new home self-circumcision kit I just got at Walmart, some alternative to the big two would be great in 2020.
BTW-- McCarthy was a swine but his success was a product with some merit after the communist/socialist/trade union BS of the first part of the century and the need to divest ourselves with our NEW ally, Stalin

Why are you unable to give us any names of people unfairly suspected by McCarthy of being Marxists?

Remember, it is not the communism that is bad. Nor was Mao or his party minions evil. They were socialists

"That Communism is essentially negative, confined to the prohibition that one shall not have more than another. Socialism is positive and aggressive, declaring that each man shall have enough.

It purposes to introduce new forces into society and industry; to put a stop to the idleness, the waste of resources, the misdirection of force, inseparable, in some large proportion of instances, from individual initiative; and to drive the whole mass forward in the direction determined by the intelligence of its better half. "

'its better half' that slaughtered millions of people to 'put a stop to the idleness, the waste of resources.'

Irony! We don't get many around here who do irony anymore.

Just like other monsters such as Castro, Stalin, Hitler, Lincoln and Napoleon, Mao couldn't personally strut about China with a gun in his hand intimidating the locals into bad agricultural practices and the re-education of academics. He needed lots of assistance. There's never a shortage of henchmen available for getting rid of the competition for money and power. France had battalions of their own Nazis in WWII, the Chinese had millions of Maoists that were happy to enslave their own countrymen. It isn't any different now.

You have a great career as a comedian ahead of you. Or as a high school textbook editor.

Idiotic Argumentation:

1. Forced, ideologically led, massively sub-optimal agricultural policies leading to massive starvation is not a crime in the sense that murder is. It certainly is.

2. Killing and torturing millions of people directly is not a big deal because: 1. China has a lot of people 2. Other people killed more people 3. More people starved than were shot 4. A bigger percentage of people were killed in other countries 5. Mao did some good stuff too. 6. Combinations of 1-5.

What is it about this Communism = Brutal Dictatorships = Massively Bad Stuff Happens that you people don't get?

It's not a crime in the sense that murder is. Murder is a specific type of homicide. It's not a catch all term for any and all homicides or actions that result in death.

If we're going to treat something rationally, then it makes sense to take into consideration ratios and proportionality.

Actually *Not A Communist* , those "famines" were not so much famines as years of poor yields where Mao (like the English during the Irish Potato Famine) made a clear, ruthless decision that the limited amount that was produced should still provide the amounts be sold on the international market for capital (or whatever a communist calls it) per his master plan which knowingly created the starvation. I would say that is remarkably similar to murder, certainly on manslaughter level, at least.
He did something VERY SIMILAR years earlier as he was being chased across the central plains with the nationalists hot on his heels, he had the dikes the adjacent large river (after centuries of diking, the bottom of the channel was feet above the plain) blown to flood the plain and hinder Chiang Kai Shek. Many thousands drowned because of that. NOT MURDER! He was an evil toad willing to do anything for a half baked political system.

And what's your conclusion, Bob?

It's a big country. The truth of one situatoin on one place does not refute the situation of another.

Don't forget that most of those people in a famine, not "mass murder". As far as homicide is concerned, it rates at about 10 times smaller than the Taiping rebellion a century previous.

When you're speaking to a rising power with claims like "your founder was perhaps the most evil man ever", such details are certainly not trivial.

The big country bit: i.e., the fact that it was about landlords, etc. in one or many areas does not imply that no other situations existed across those hundreds of millions of souls. Nor would situations of close-knit communities trying to keep the state out of their business be evidence that the quasi-feudal scenario was not common in many other areas.

I somewhat doubt that Chinese are taught (or generally believe) that the situation was ubiquitous through the country with respect to overthrowing the quasi-fedual order.

Is it (feudal aspects which were the cause for revolution) overestimated in the historical representation from the Chinese perspective? If so, that would put it on about status quo with any country, right? But is this a misrepresentation to the tune of 1-2% of the story to be refined, or is it more as the reader is supposed to assume - that China deviously plotted to trick people into thinking that they were fighting against a quasi-feudal capitalist landlord class that had quasi-enslaved the common man by virtue of the property distribution and economic system, etc.?

How about Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans)?

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