Mao Zedong’s Legacy
Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung) was a Marxist theorist and soldier who led the Chinese communist revolution, later became the Communist Party’s leader and eventually became the head of state and Party chairman. While he did not entirely rule China on his own, he can be regarded as the modern China’s principal architect. Mao is largely credited for the programs the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution.
Under Chairman Mao, China’s communism ideologically deviated from that practiced in the Soviet Union on account of the emphasis placed by the former on the role of the countryside peasantry in the communist revolution, a factor ignored in the Soviet paradigm centered on the urban classes.
The Great Leap was an economic and social plan of Communist China under Mao Zedong to rapidly industrialize the then principally agricultural-based country. The plan hoped to modernize the communist state by turning it into an industrial-based economy. It was however an economic debacle and aggravated by natural disasters, leading to the starvation and death of millions. The Cultural Revolution, on the other, was designed by Mao to get back at Party members who wanted to undermine his leadership.
Mao’s policies were a mix of successes and failures. Millions died largely because of the inherent flaws of the Great Leap economic policy. Millions were executed under the reforms of the Cultural Revolution but in return, millions of proletariat farmers were awarded their own land to till.
Among the long-term consequences of Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution policies was the decade-long widespread disruption in urban China of the education of many Chinese, giving their generation career and productivity disadvantages.
But Mao’s programs did leave lasting advantages for China, including the legacy of a considerably successful space program, nuclear weapon capability and the acquisition of a strategic territory. While the death toll under his leadership totaled to millions of Chinese who died either by executions or of famine, the architectural designing of China under his rule placed the country on the road to being a regional economic and political power that she is today. China is in fact currently being perceived by no less than the United States as a potential military threat. Pan, Esther.
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