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Mao Zedong and his policies

Mao Zedong and his policies have long been demonized in the West, with the Cultural Revolution considered a fundamental violation of human rights. As China embraces capitalism, the Mao era is also being surgically denigrated by the Chinese political and intellectual elite.

In his new book, The Battle for China’s Past, Professor Mobo Gao attempts to rescue the Cultural Revolution by claiming that it benefited both China and the broad masses of the Chinese people. In the process, Gao dismisses the neo-liberal agenda of the "capitalist counter-revolutionaries" inside the Chinese Communist Party and unmasks the reality of the growing divide between urban and rural China."

Mao's political experiment, the Cultural Revolution," writes Gao, "like all other social revolutions before it, claimed many victims. It did however, again like all other social revolutions, have some positive outcomes. It encouraged grassroots participation in management and it also inspired the idea of popular democracy. The mass criticism practised in the era of Mao in general and during the Cultural Revolution in particular, though ritualized and mobilized from the top, did provide a rich repertoire of protest techniques." (p.6)

The Red Guards, says Gao, "were not just passive followers of a charismatic leader, but agents actively involved in a variety of ideological disputes and contests for power. The Chinese were not the brainless masses manipulated by a ruthless dictator so often portrayed in the Western media. They must be seen as agents of history and subjects of their own lives like any other people