Mao Hero or a Villain of the Chinese Revolution Term Paper

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Mao Zedong - Hero or Villain of the Chinese Revolution

Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893 to middle class peasant farmers in Shaoshan, a village in the Shunan Province. Mao was the eldest of four children, and was born at a time when social and political upheaval was already beginning across China. Mao was born at a time in China's history when poverty and hunger levels were increasing across the country. The Chinese people were very discontent at that point in time. The people were not happy with the rule of Emperor Qing, and government corruption was widespread. Mao was enrolled in school initially, but was put to work on the farm at just 13 years of age, working all day and performing his father's accounting every evening. Mao hated this life and ran away with an uncle who allowed him to go to school, where Mao learnt to read ("Mao Zedong: Hero and Villain, 2005).

The Revolution which occurred in 1911 put a stop to this, as the country fell into civil war after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. Mao joined the army, which is where he was first exposed to the Marxist and Communist ideas which would shape his future and that of the country. In 1913 Mao returned to school, and went on to become a librarian, journalist, school principal and a political voice (Rogaski, 2007).

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There are many different terms which have been used to describe Mao Zedong, including champion of the poor, visionary leader and brutal tyrant. The question remains as to whether Mao was truly a heroic leader of the revolution, or an evil tyrant oppressing the Chinese people to meet his own ends. While it may be argued that he could be both depending on the perspective of the individual it is important to understand why there remain very different views of Mao as a leader. This essay will present the different achievements of Mao during the Chinese revolution, along with the actions of Mao which have led to many portraying him as the villain of the people of China (Mao Zedong: Hero and Villain, 2005).


Term Paper on Mao Hero or a Villain of the Chinese Revolution Assignment

By 1921 Mao had become a fully fledged Communist as a result of many factors which had impacted upon his life until that time. At 27 years old he led a team from Hunan to the first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai. It was here that he took his first political steps, and was declared secretary of the Hunan branch of the Chinese Communist Party. Mao quickly began to unionize the manual workers in the area, such as the railroad workers, carpenters and coal miners. Seen as a visionary, even at this early stage, Mao quickly rose up through the ranks of the Communist Party. In 1925 Mao was put in charge of the Nationalist Party's propaganda department, at a time when Sun Yat-sen was attempting to reunify China through cooperation between Communist and Nationalist parties. When Sun Yat-sen died at around this time, Chiang Kai-shek took over leadership of the Nationalist Party and banned Communist Party members from being in positions of power, which led to Mao being removed from his position. The cooperation between the two parties fell apart entirely in 1927.

This removal of power from Mao was a key turning point in his life. Mao decided to move back into rural China, where he began to build military power in the form of the Red Army. Mao also worked on building Party loyalty as he realized that this was the key to ensuring lasting power. The Nationalist Party made several attempts in these early days to suppress and destroy the Communist Party, although these attempts were largely unsuccessful. Mao had been born to a peasant family and appreciated the constant struggle which the peasant farmers in the country faced, despite the fact that they were the largest proportion of the population. When combined with other manual workers, they easily represented the vast majority of the country, and Mao did not believe that it was right that they should face struggle when a small minority of the people lived an easy life in the city. Mao considered any of the upper classes, along with the 'intellectuals', to be the ones who were contributing to the poverty experienced by those in the country. Mao was aware through his readings as a young man of the ways in which the previous rule by the traditional emperors had led to this oppression, and in the beginning it was this which guided Mao's forming of policy as he attempted to improve the lives of those he considered most in need (Spence, 1998).

The Communist Party did not fully take power in China until 1949, when Mao announced the official beginnings of the People's Republic of China and became known as 'Chairman Mao'. During this time there was still a great deal of unrest in the Chinese economy as a result of the poor management during the Qing Dynasty. Mao instigated many strategies which he believed would address the issues in the economy at that time. 'The Great Leap Forward' was one of the main examples of this policy. The move was designed by Mao to take advantage of the country's labor surplus and create vast amounts of steel. The intention was to create an economy which would rival the powers of the West, and Mao saw the manufacture of steel as the ideal was to achieve this goal. Mao saw the 'Great Leap Forward' as a way in which he could bring harmony to the people. Mao ultimately saw it as being highly beneficial to the country, and viewed it as the best way to solve many of the problems which were present in the economy and the country as a whole (Spence, 1998).

Throughout his rule, Mao overcame many adversaries and came through many episodes of turmoil, but retained his status of power. This showed great leadership skill and strategy design on Mao's behalf. Despite many episodes in which others should easily have been able to discredit and remove Mao from power he managed to remain firmly in control of the Communist Party (Spence, 1998). Many have compared the use of violence in maintaining this power to fighting a war, and have thus justified the killing of many of Mao's adversaries. There are many that would argue that Mao is a hero for managing to defeat adversaries which would not have acted in the interests of the peasant masses of the country should they gain power of the country. These sources therefore imply that the battle of Mao and the Communist Party for power was like a civil war between the peasants and the 'bourgeois', where Mao is seen as the hero for representing the power of the masses (Spence, 1998; Feigon, 2002).

Even after Mao's death, his impact upon the country is apparent. Many Chinese people today still regard Mao as a hero, and there are many who believe that the apparent success which China is enjoying in the world economy at the current time is largely due to Mao's influence. For many Chinese, the most likely reason that he is envisaged as a hero is that they see that Mao managed to achieve everything that he did when he had no advantages in life. Mao was seen by the majority of the country, particularly the peasantry, as being their voice. Most of these people perceived success in his actions, and even today still believe that Mao was successful in transforming the country from a peasant country in the eyes of the West to a potential world power (Chung, 1995).


Chairman Mao' did however cause great loss of life within the country. The social policies which he imposed on the country resulted in tens of millions of people across the country losing their lives, and almost completely destroyed China's economy.

Many of the policies which were designed by Mao to be beneficial to China were in fact horrendously damaging. For example during the 'Great Leap Forward' all efforts were concentrated on these efforts, which meant that very little else was manufactured during this period. Farm workers were also moved from the fields to take part in this manufacture. This meant that there was very little food produced during this time, leading to widespread famine between 1959 and 1961. This period was known as 'The Bitter Years', and estimates are that up to 50 million people died due to famine during this period ("Mao Zedong: Hero and Villain, 2005).

The catastrophe of 'The Bitter Years' did affect the popularity of Mao, and led to him being removed as the chairman of the central government, although he stayed in charge of the Communist Party, mainly due to the fear of reprisals which had already been instilled in the loyal members. In response to the problems which had arisen for Mao, he initiated the 'Cultural Revolution' in 1966. This was a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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