I just finished reading a fascinating and yet horrifying biography called "The Unknown Story MAO" by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. This book opened my eyes to the forces that shaped and continue to shape the Chinese culture.

Mao was born on December 26, 1893 and died on September 9, 1976 at 82 years old. He became the undisputed leader of China in 1949 through manipulation and fear. He reigned for a little over 25 years and was responsible for well over 70 million deaths during peacetime (pg. 3). During the "Great Leap Forward" from 1958 - 61, he starved and overworked around 38 million people to death (pg. 430) for his dream of becoming a world superpower. In 1960 at the peak of this famine "urban housewives were getting a maximum of 1,200 calories a day. At Auschwitz, slave-labourers got between 1,300 and 1,700 calories per day (pg. 429)." The "Cultural Revolution"from 1966 to 1976 terrorized the entire nation in his goal to purge his party and maintain absolute power.  The reasoning was that the officials who were in charge of cultural offices were "following a black line opposed to Mao Tse-Tung Thought (pg. 493)." During this purge "at least 3 million people died violent deaths, and post-Mao leaders acknowledged that 100 million people, one-ninth of the entire population, suffered in one way or another (pg. 536)."

Mao's goal was to rule the world. His method was fear. "Mao intended most of the population - children and adults alike - to witness violence and killing. His aim was to scare and brutalize the entire population, in a way that went much further than either Stalin or Hitler, who largely kept their foulest crimes out of sight (pg. 319)."Although he wanted his subjects to live in fear, he also lived in constant fear of assassination.

How could one man control a population of over 900 million people? Mao was only good at one thing and that was manipulating people. Through public displays of violence and shaming he was able to put the fear of Mao into almost all of the Chinese people. This is a good lesson in how we as human being are easily manipulated by people who prey on human weaknesses. Very people have the courage to stand up against these powerful cultural influences. Mao may have used fear to control the Chinese people, but we in the West are controlled by greed and sexual appetite. Are we really free?


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