It is probably inevitable, with his unhinged attack against China’s economy, countryside and populace, that Chairman Mao Zedong would be compared with Barack Obama. Both men lacked all background or instinct for leadership. Nor did they have any apparent interest in individual human beings.
Neither had they any specific training in the areas which they longed to remake the world. But both held the single qualification necessary for a narcissistic belief they could single-handedly change history—an infatuation with Karl Marx’s ideas.
How can anyone claim Obama is Marxist? Or, why would anyone compare Barack with one of history’s worst leaders? Because both Obama and Mao seem motivated by the same authority, namely—The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. Further, Barack has surrounded himself with staff who openly cite Mao as an inspiration and role model, which obviously suits him, as well. So why don’t we examine Mao & Barack’s actions and note the similarity.
So what did Karl Marx write that had such a great impact upon the world? In such legendary books as Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, Marx detailed a simple world in black and white terms, where the rich oppress the poor, religion is faked, and the workers are all oppressed. One writer sums it up here, saying,
Marx believed that society is dominated by conflicts between the powerful and the subjugated. The Marxists theorized that throughout history the government, the ruling classes, and the capitalists have oppressed the everyday working people, and that it is only through revolution against these rulers that everyone will enjoy true freedom and equality in a classless society.
They believed capitalists (those who owned the farms, factories, and shops) made their fortunes by exploiting the people, whom they called the proletariat. In Marx’s ideal world, everyone would work hard to better themselves and would cheerfully provide assistance to those who were unable to work. The Marxists believed that all farms and factories should be owned commonly. This belief in common ownership gave birth to the term “communism” to describe this economic structure. Marx called the idea “economic determinism”, because the economic conditions of the people would determine the political and social structures of such a society.
The Marxists also believed that organized religion was one of the tools that governments and the ruling classes (also called the bourgeoisie) used to keep the people, or the proletariat, from thinking for themselves and from being aware, or conscious, that they were being exploited.
In short, Marx was a total rebel who believed the entirety of society must be uprooted in a “revolution” so that it can all be replaced by socialist and communist institutions. Strangely, while Marx spilled much ink decrying capitalism, he produced no counter-system, just a fevered demand for change.
Marx taught that history, as it evolves from capitalism to communism, must pass through a dictatorship. Therefore, he did not believe people had innate rights as distinct from the government, as the Founders taught. Instead, it was up to the elites (technically, the vanguard of the proletariat) to run government and society. And since there was no rightful religious expression, there wasn’t a counter-veiling force against the government or political class.
Since everything else depended upon revolution, and since this was not a lawfully organized undertaking, there is no shame in doing any conceivable thing to foment revolution. Further, as the communist revolution is fated, all activities to hasten this end are moral since they help augur in the more perfect society.
When Chairman Mao committed himself to re-engineering society, this would naturally include adapting nature to communist man’s needs. Yet, the results were nothing short of a catastrophe. Mao Zedong (1893-1976) was China’s first communist leader. (see, Who was Chairman Mao, Lionized by Obama’s White house?)
Mao was a classic Marxist in that he always thought in terms of revolution, and the need to break and rebuild various aspects of society. He also had the Marxist opinion that society and government were headed by an elite, and only they had the proper pedigree to run a society.
Briefly, Mao attempted several audacious and utterly failed programs to remake the country and its residents in his image. More astonishingly, Mao had no background from which to draw wisdom or practical knowledge in his crusade. Instead, he merely went off his own instincts. And how did this work out? Judith Shapiro, in Mao’s War Against Nature, Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China, writes,
Few social experiments in history have had the scope and penetration of Chinese socialism. From 1949 to 1979 when Mao died, Mao and the Communist Party sought to reengineer Chinese society by remolding human nature. Less well known is their effort to reshape the nonhuman world, with severe consequences both for human beings and for the natural environment. Numerous campaigns suppressed elite scientific knowledge and traditional grass-roots practice concerning the physical world, stifling dissent through political labels, ostracism and labor-camp sentences..
Mao’s approach to changing China is reminiscent of the modern liberal and Obama’s style and rhetoric. Shapiro lists “four core themes” which could apply today, in everything from economics, global warming, to health care: (1) Political Repression; (2) Utopian Urgency; (3) Dogmatic Uniformity; (4) State-Ordered Relocations.
What Mao stood for perhaps more than any other aspect was his commitment to overly dramatic mega-projects with back-of-the-napkin level of sophistication and planning. One of these was his Great Leap Forward. Jasper Becker, in Hungry Ghosts, Mao’s Secret Famine, describes how the naïve and ambitious Mao longed for the same kind of agricultural miracle Stalin achieved, and so launched the Great Leap.
Mao was presented to the Chinese populous as a world-class mind, a genius, much like Obama. Mao whipped up a frenzy of interest in his Great Leap Forward, which was primed by elevating his personal cult to unsavory new heights. Becker writes,
To launch the Great Leap Forward, Mao whipped up a fever of expectation all over China that amounted to mass hysteria. Mao the infallible, the ‘great leader,’ the ‘brilliant Marxist,’ the outstanding thinker and genius, promised he would create heaven on earth. Even in the 1940s, the Party had encouraged a personality cult around Mao but now this reached new and grotesque heights. Mao was portrayed as infallible, semi-divine. The Party, joined him in proclaiming that utopia was at hand..
One can quite easily see the analogy to 2007 when Barack was touted as a breathless genius who was so wise and intelligent, he needed no leadership experience. Writers like presidential historian Michael Beschloss claimed Obama’s “IQ was off the charts” and he was simply the smartest man to ever become president. Journalists universally proclaimed Barack a genius, whose past was literally irrelevant. Even today, Barack’s slavering lickspittles salute his scandal free reign as breathlessly as a nun on a papal visit.
As Mao prepared for the rollout of his signature program which he believe had the potential to end world hunger, his propaganda campaign was ramped up to rival even Stalin’s. Beginning in 1957, his portraits began to appear everywhere. Mao was compared to the sun, and much like Obama’s press, the age of Mao was declared a success before it began.
Why did Mao tout a new utopian age as a result of the Great Leap, and allow his Party to do likewise? He knew nothing of science and therefore had a childish faith in its potential. And the Chinese were promised utopian fool’s gold of limitless progress if they only cooperated with the scheme. Much like outdated healthcare plans in 2013, Mao prepared his people for change by destroying their past. This approach encouraged a “casual approach to facts.”
The Party encouraged a type of reckless faith in advancement, where even children could make extraordinary scientific breakthroughs if they caught the revolutionary zeal and rejected the trite conservatism of experts. Writes Becker,
All over China in 1958, the Party created thousands of new colleges, universities and research institutes, while real scientists were imprisoned or sent to do manual labor. In their place, thousands of untrained peasants carried out “scientific research.”
Mao’s twin goals were creating an increase in agricultural production of miraculous proportions, and also a bounty of steel. For creating a metals industry, Mao encouraged participation in the Make Steel program. This saw peasants liquidating their household implements and farm machinery in order to melt this down in backyard foundries to “make steel.” In their place, farm machinery was constructed out of wood, which was perfectly useless. But instead of steel, these backyard kilns simply converted the cannibalized metal into unusable blobs of pig-iron.
For the massive agricultural growth Mao called for, he turned to the theories employed by Stalin during his Five-Year Plan, and such illiterate charlatans as Lysenko. Apparently Mao was unaware that Stalin’s program was an unparalleled failure. So China inherited Russia’s failure, as well.
For example, Mao instructed the Chinese to use Lysenko’s close planting of seeds, and deep plowing of furrows, some of which reached 13-feet deep! Fields were supposed to be rotated from use every two of three years. And across the country, massive waterworks were commenced, and every town required to have a dam and canals for delivery to farms. The labor on these dams was conducted nonstop by conscripted peasants, working day and night under military-like organization. These were paid nothing. Also, the construction of these projects caused massive relocation of peasants. Yet, almost without exception, these dams failed. In one case, a dam collapsed killing 240,000 peasants, in Henan province.
In one project, water from the Yangtze River was diverted to the Yellow River via a series of canals, dams, lakes, tunnels and ravines. Supposedly, more dirt was shifted during one day than by the entire Panama Canal project. Yet the dams in this scheme failed because they were built of dirt instead of concrete by peasants without any training, whatsoever. Echoes of the creation of the Obamacare websites!
In the midst of failed harvests and epic infrastructure boondoggles, a propaganda campaign was launched where it was relentlessly reported that production was record high. Mao, convinced his plan was succeeding even beyond his wildest dreams, commanded that everyone should eat their fill at every meal to help handle the surplus. In doing so, most communities laid bare their granaries before winter. During the coming famine, Mao refused to believe any scarcity existed, as he believed the peasants were hiding food. So he refused to open the state granaries and also doubled imports, giving away food to allies for free.
In 1958, Mao ordered the collectivization of farmers and farms while the famine raged. Afraid of resisting, officials continued the charade of pretending record harvests. Mao admitted to his doctor he had no idea how the communes would be organized, how the workers would be directed, how to measure productivity, or how payments for work would be arranged. When brave souls finally tried to bring the famine to Mao’s attention, he refused to accept the idea. Up to 40 million people starved to death or died as a result of the famine.
Nearly all the dead were ethnic Han, some 500 million who had been moved to Mao’s communes for which he had no plan to run. These communities did have bizarre rules, such as the forced separation of men and women such that families could no longer live together. The elderly were sent off to live in Happiness Homes while the children were separated out for nursery or boarding school. Family meals were not allowed, but food was cooked in large pots where villagers took their portion, then squatted in the dirt streets while eating. Even human waste was centralized and used for fertilizer. While the government claimed all this was to make work time sweeter for allowing couples to interact, the real purpose was to destroy the family as an entity. Quotes Becker, from the communist China Youth Journal,
‘The framework of the individual family, which has existed for thousands of years, has been shattered for all time. . . We must regard the People’s Commune as our family and not pay too much attention to the formation of a separate family of our own. For years motherly love has been glorified. . .but it is wrong to degrade a person from a social to a biological creature. . . the dearest people in the world are our parents, yet they cannot be compared with Chairman Mao and the Communist Party. . . for it is not the family which has given us everything but the Communist Party and the great revolution. . . Personal love is not so important: therefore women should not claim too much of their husbands’ energy.’”
While the Han peasants eventually regarded the communes as weapons of terror which were assembled sometimes as quickly as 48 hours, the inspiration was clearly ideological. Marx had stressed in the Communist Manifesto the need for peasants to be assembled into industrial armies to service agro-cities. This notion is shockingly close to the UN’s plan called Agenda 21!
Money was abolished, and Mao became so convinced that his communes were a success that he forbade the reward system for work and employed Marx’s cliché, instead: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Mao also dictated that the wealthier villagers must begin to redistribute their wealth to their poorer neighbors. Ironically, as famine set in, the cadres began to employ the rule that whoever did not work, would starve.
As the famine began to spread across the country, the Party leaders blamed the peasants, claiming they were hiding grain. Tortures and beatings were routinely handed out to the peasants, who driven mad by hunger, yet only had items like tree bark to eat. Ironically, the state granaries were full in 1958, while peasants starved. But by 1960, the entire country of China was in an advanced famine which killed tens of millions of peasants. Much cannibalism was practiced at this time.
Both Mao and Obama wanted and want to change the world into a utopia. Neither cared nor cares how many innocent persons are harmed. Both made gigantic, poorly designed and ruinously flawed plans to implement their ideas. Each seems driven by a vision of Marxism. And neither seems to have even the tiniest common sense or understanding of leadership. Admitting a mistake was made is impossible for both. Finally, both created the largest catastrophes in the history of their countries.
Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. He was born on the West Coast, raised in Las Vegas, and matriculated from the University of Oregon. After laboring for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland, he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia, where he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government. He spent a stint working as a researcher and writer of academic articles at a Miami law school, focusing on ancient law and society. He has also been employed as a university Speech & Debate professor. He then returned West and worked as an assistant district attorney. Kelly is now is a private practitioner with a small law practice in New Mexico. Kelly is now host of a daily, Monday to Friday talk show at AM KOBE called AM Las Cruces w/Kelly O’Connell
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