Mao debunkers defend their book

From "David Ewing" <>
Date Fri, 25 Nov 2005 16:07:27 -0800

I will be on Bonnie Faulkner's KPFA radio show on November 30 at 1pm talking 
about the Mao book. The book is an imaginative re-write of Chinese history 
in the vein of the newly done American neo-con bios of Lenin, Stalin and new 
work on Spain and "the Gulag."  Many of these books are produced by the Yale 
University History of Communism Project.  Jung and Halliday got a jump on 
the Yalies and make many bold NEW anti-communist assertions about Mao, 
Stalin, WWII, the Korean war, etc.   Unlike the neocons at Yale, Jung and 
Halliday are less sophisticated enthusiasts -- they overplay their hand. 
Their claims about Mao are so outrageous, and so obviously biased with 
anti-communism, that the book falls apart.  All their new sensational claims 
can either not be substantiaited or, in some cases, can be proved false -- 
but they are sensational. Here are just a few: 1) WWII was NOT started by 
the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937.  It was started on Stalin's orders 
via a Communist mole in the KMT who "provoked" the war AFTER this 
"incident".  2) Chiang Kaisheck protected the CCP during the Long March so 
that the CCP would not be defeated.  3)  Chiang lost the Civil war only 
because all his leading generals were Communist moles.  4)  Stalin provoked 
the Korean War and deliberately withheld the Russian veto in the Security 
Council that would have prevented war in the name of the UN.  Stalin's 
purpose was to punish the USA by letting Mao's troops chew up as many 
American soldiers as possible.  Stalin and Mao dragged out the war while Kim 
Il Sung begged them to stop.  Exceptfor #4, which I think can be proved 
false, these are all in the "can't be proved" category.  The sources for 
these claims are interviews with surviving critiics (or their spouses) of 
Mao and Stalin.  Very weak, and contradictory too.

>From: steve zeltzer <>
>To: International Discussion Group <>
>Subject: [IDG] Mao debunkers defend their book
>Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 08:16:31 -0800
>Mao debunkers defend their book
>Critics call it effort to discredit communism
>- Rick DelVecchio, Chronicle Staff Writer
>Friday, November 25, 2005
>In Berkeley, where revolutionaries schooled in the '60s tilt against
>global capitalism and post-socialist state China is a growing field of
>academic study, radicals and scholars alike are coming to grips with a
>new biography that paints Chinese communist icon Mao Zedong as pure evil.
>In "Mao: The Unknown Story," authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday portray
>Mao (1893-1976) as a cynical hedonist who rose to absolute power on
>Soviet strongman Josef Stalin's muscle and his willingness to crush
>millions of peasants in famine, war and sadistic repression.
>The authors, who spent a decade on the project and scoured private and
>government records in China and Russia, say Mao killed 10 times more
>innocents than Hitler and was as pitiless as he was incompetent as a
>revolutionary. The fabled Long March of the 1930s? Bungled. The Cultural
>Revolution of the '60s and '70s? Nothing more than a murderous fit of
>pique by a tyrant upset that he'd been crossed by rivals and enamored of
>public torture.
>Mao was, however, a genius of spin. The authors say he sold
>international leftists a fairy tale of a corrupt state transformed by
>revolution from the bottom up.
>"It was mainly, I think, hot air," Halliday dryly told a large crowd
>during an appearance at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business earlier
>this month.
>The assertion that Mao used the bloody turmoil of Marxist revolution for
>purely egotistical ends has prompted praise in some quarters and outrage
>in others. The controversy comes as China's 20-year economic boom is
>creating growing social disparity -- and the ruling Communist Party
>worries about Maoist nostalgia among a new generation of have-nots even
>as it holds up Mao as a symbol of its historical legitimacy.
>"But overall," said Qiang Xiao, director of the Berkeley China Internet
>Project at Cal's Graduate School of Journalism, "the government doesn't
>allow the truth about Mao to come out. The information is suppressed. I
>believe the book is a very good thing.
>"I do not see much positive out of what he has done to China," said
>Xiao, who devoted himself to human rights after the Tiananmen Massacre
>in 1989. "I saw the devastating result, not only then but still lasting
>The husband-and-wife team of Chang and Halliday supported their archival
>research with interviews with 150 former Mao lieutenants, concluding
>that Mao was not only bloodier than Hitler or Stalin but worse in his
>destruction of culture. Chang is the author of the best-selling "Wild
>Swans: Three Daughters in China," a memoir detailing her family's
>suffering during the period.
>"During the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, he turned China into a
>cultural desert," she told the crowd at Haas. "He made torture public.
>My mother went through over a hundred of those denunciation meetings.
>She was made to kneel on broken glass and so on. China must be the most
>traumatized nation in the world."
>Halliday said Mao appealed to "a large group of fantasists" who gullibly
>thought he was the real thing. Halliday said Mao also attracted leftists
>who tolerated violence.
>Maoist intellectuals have counterattacked, saying the book negates any
>historical grounds for the Chinese revolution and positive changes in
>what had been a corrupt society before Mao's military victory in 1949.
>"It's just outrageous," said Gary Miller, a volunteer at Berkeley's
>Revolution Books, as he leafleted the authors' event on campus. "A lot
>of people look with a great deal of affection at the Mao years because
>China's been turned into one giant sweatshop."
>In October, the city of Berkeley celebrated Bob Avakian Day in honor of
>one of the city's most stalwart revolutionary sons. A few weeks later,
>Raymond Lotta, a Chicago-based Maoist political economist and author,
>spoke to students at UCLA and UC Berkeley in what he called a bid to set
>the record straight.
>"What sets this apart from other historical studies is that this person
>Mao, who led an historic revolution and changed the landscape of China
>and was an inspiration throughout the world -- they're saying this was a
>scheming, bloodthirsty opportunist who was evil from the day he was born
>to the day he died and who hijacked a revolution," Lotta said. "I think
>it's part of a continuing attempt to discredit communism and Maoism and
>any alternative to the current world order."
>Tom Gold, associate dean of international and area studies at UC
>Berkeley, said he visited China on a guided tour in 1975 and was
>impressed. "You can't just say it was one evil person," he said in a
>phone interview. "What Mao did was tap into some sort of psychology. You
>cannot get away from saying that Mao tapped into something."
>Connie Wu, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2004 with a degree in
>international political economy, traveled throughout China as a Haas
>Scholar. She talked to Chinese who grew up under Mao and are adjusting
>to life in a capitalist economy.
>"A lot of their response would be, 'Materialistically it's great. We can
>get whatever we want. We don't have to wait in long lines.' But they
>also said that morally it's really going down because now it's a money
>society," she said.
>Seyron Foo, a UC Berkeley freshman active in the campus Asian Political
>Association, reflected on Mao's legacy:
>"He may have made the devastating decision with the Great Leap Forward
>and the purposeful destruction of Chinese history, beliefs and culture,"
>Foo said in an e-mail. "However, Mao, according to the elderly I've met,
>helped to end the brutal Japanese occupation of China (which, if the
>authors want to discuss evil, that subject should be examined) and
>removed the Western powers who treated the Chinese in their own nation
>as second-class citizens."
>Relatively absent from the debate are young Chinese. They've seen the
>future, Wu said, and it's not ideological.
>"They're the MTV generation," she said. "Sure, politics are important,
>but what's more important is how do I get the tools and materials needed
>to succeed in this modern China? They identify themselves with these
>capitalist features."
>E-mail Rick DelVecchio at