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Al of Maoism has always extended beyond China Across the globe Maoism was a crucial motor of the Cold War it shaped the course of the Vietnam War and the international youth rebellion it triggered and brought to power the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; it aided and sometimes handed victory to anti colonial resistance movements in Africa; it inspired terrorism in Germany and Italy and wars and insurgencies in Peru India and Nepal some of which are still with us today – than forty years after the death of MaoIn this new hist Potential readers should understand what this book is not about it is not an evaluation of the merits of Mao as a military strategist or statesman Actually the book isn t even about MaoIt is in the first place a history of the worldwide impact of Maoist ideology especially in the 1950s and 1960s And this story is both fascinating and horrifying Lovell leads you from Beijing to African states that had recently acuired their independence to Vietnam Peru India Nepal Indonesia and even Western European countries The paradox is that this global influence almost didn t happen and Lovell explains why Most people know that after The long march the Chinese communists were or less finished So how did they bounce back One factor that is pretty well known is the role played by the war against Japan One factor that is less well known at least to me is the role played by the American journalist Edgar Snow who was smuggled from Beijing to Mao s lair and was allowed to interview Mao in depth Snow s book Red Star over China became an international bestseller that propelled Mao to international fame at a time when his leadership was far from secured and was a major inspirational force for communist insurgents all over the world Moreover its translation into Chinese convinced numerous young Chinese to join the communist party the description of which compared very favourably to the profoundly corrupt and cruel regime of Chiang Kai check So why is this so important Because it was all one big set up Snow wasn t a communist so he wasn t suspect as a source He had been invited by communist co travellers in Beijing who led very bourgeois lives and didn t really look like people who intended to install a murderous and repressive regime When Snow was in Communist territory all his movements were tightly controlled to ensure he would only see what the party leadership wanted him to see His accounts of his interviews with Mao were carefully checked to ensure that life under communism would be represented as paradise on earth Mao made sure to hide any authoritarian inclinations One can wonder why Snow played Mao s game One possibility is that as so many non communist westerners Snow really thought communism was basically social democracy on steroids A cynical explanation proposed by Lovell is that Snow knew that he had an incredible scoop and that he was prepared to embellish reality as the price for international fame Surely Snow continued to sing Mao s praise even when dozens of millions of people were starving to death during the Big Leap ForwardUnfortunately this episode turned out to be rather representative for future interactions between Maoism and its privileged guests who through a combination of pampering during their visits and being completely sheltered from the reality of living in Maoist China would uickly become enad with the Great Helmsman The book also sheds a new light on the importance communist regimes attach to health care In the 1960s while China was itself recovering from the Great Leap Forward China invested massively in assistance to newly independent African countries One of the key channels was medical aid Maoists understood how doctors through the sheer of people they were seeing could play a key role in the dissemination of Maoist propaganda However the irrational attitudes to Maoism were not limited to the fanbase The chapter on brainwashing is for instance completely baffling It is a word that has become so common that we forget someone actually invented it And there is a line here that leads almost directly to some secret programmes of the CIA and eventually to Guantanamo Bay The father of the terminology is Edward Hunter a journalist without any academic training in psychology or psychiatry The idea that Maoism had invented an innovative and particularly effective techniue for indoctrinating people was uickly picked up during the Korean War I suppose a key reason is that people in the West didn t understand that hundreds of thousands of volunteers would just throw themselves in the line of fire of machine guns little did they know that red armies all over the world have used their machine guns to motivate their soldiers to march to the enemy Anyway the concept really scared governments and several research programs were set up to understand how brainwashing works and how to unbrainwash people This was the time before ethical review committees The story is so crazy that I link it here Obviously if this how democracies fight totalitarianism you don t need totalitarianism At the same time other research programs showed that there was nothing path breaking about Maoist indoctrination techniues they weren t really different from techniues used by the Inuisition really But the damage was done The CIA learned a lot from its study of Maoist techniues and would enthusiastically apply it itself including in its fight against Al aedaNext to brianwashing the domino theory is another Cold War term that is now often derided as a chimaera that caused than a decade of needless suffering in Vietnam But Zhou Enlai explicitly justified the war in Vietnam as the starting point for world revolution and Mao saw road building in Laos as the stepping stone for road building towards Thailand With hindsight the biggest mistake both Americans and Communists made was to assume that Vietnamese Communists didn t have an agenda of their own Similarly African revolutionaries were happy to receive training and material help from Beijing but didn t feel obliged to pursue Beijing s agenda once they were in power Two of the most horrifying stories in the book are of course the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the Shining Path in PeruIn 1994 a rare surviving witness as interpreter of a discussion between Mao and Pol Pot revealed that Mao had confided that Pol Pot was implementing the policies Mao would have implemented in China if he hadn t been prevented by reactionaries After the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and toppled the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot and his acolytes were judged in absentia as you can t make this up a manifestation of the reactionary nature of both the Peking expansionaries and the genocidal criminals The story of the Shining Path also combines the horrible and the grotesue When the Shining Path was merely a small sect of Mao inspired ideologues in the 1970s the military dictatorship had accumulated a lot of information about them This information vanished in thin air when elected civilians took over government exactly when the Shining Path had moved on to the next stage of the revolution a series of gruesome murders intended to provoke a violent reaction from the state It s almost as if the Shining Path and the military regime has conspired to ensure that the reaction of the new democracy would be completely inept which it was In the next stage the Army moved to scorched earth tactics that not surprisingly increased the Path s membershipThe comical note is that the turning point came when the Peruvian government started investing in meticulous intelligence work instead of killing and burning It s pretty daft but it took than ten years of insurgency before Peruvian officers starting reading Mao forgetting that knowing and understanding the ennemy is a basic principle of the art of war Anyway after a while intelligence figured out that Guzm n was hiding in Lima and started observing one specific house Key elements that led to the conclusion that Guzm n hid there were the specific medications Guzm n had psoriasis and the make of the cigarettes bought by the lady of the house But the decisive factor wasthe size of the underwear brought home One does not always need big dataIn conclusion this is a truly fascinating book Moreover it is extraordinarily lively and well writtenAt the end of the day I have to admit I still don t completely understand Maoism s appeal beyond despairing and uneducated peasants Why are there so many smart and highly educated people who fell into it s traps Lovell suggests that often the leaders were people who were the first in their family to receive a higher education only to find out that the opportunities for them remained limited This sounds plausible but doesn t explain the fascination amongst the Western intelligentsia I am not sure this mistery will ever be solved

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Maoism A Global History

Ory acclaimed historian Julia Lovell re evaluates Maoism analysing both China’s engagement with the movement and its legacy on a global canvas It’s a story that takes us from the tea plantations of north India to the sierras of the Andes from Paris’s 5th Arrondissement to the fields of Tanzania from the rice paddies of Cambodia to the terraces of BrixtonStarting from the movement’s birth in northwest China in the 1930s and unfolding right up to its present day violent rebirth this is the definitive history of global Maoi This is a really interesting exploration of Maoism less as a philosophy and as a historical phenomenon across the world In the US we re often taught to focus on the USSR as the Communist opposition with China reduced to a secondary player predominantly in Vietnam and Korea so we pat ourselves on the back and say the West won after 1989 What makes this book so good is not just that Lovell shows that this is untrue but that she does so in a nuanced way None of the players are reduced to passive victimhood all have made choices Maoism had genuine appeal for people whether or not it lived up to its promises For itself China has been an active exporter of ideology and the power to back it since before Mao took power From his time in Yan an Mao used journalists to export a vision of himself that was what he wanted them to see the champion of the peasantry the man of the earth of good humor hard work anti imperialism and euality It worked His beliefs as structured for outsiders inspired others to follow They had reason to His anti imperialism was appealing to those people just emerging from colonial rule as in Indochina Indonesia and Africa His exhortations of the peasantry inspired those in deeply uneual societies in Peru and India China worked to develop those ties the Belt Road Initiative is in the news now but they were training ZANU rebels in Rhodesia now Zimbabwe in the 1970s and building projects in Zambia At the same time though Maoism often replicated problems in miniature the elites often dominated by men despite claims to gender euality dominated the upper ranks of revolutionary movements talking about the masses as lesser Naxalite leaders have profited from exploitation of natural resources even as they criticize the Indian state for the same Charismatic leaders like the Shining Path s Abimael Guzman led to terror and violence At its extreme Maoism led to the killing fields of Democratic Kampuchea and the closed personality cult of North Korea The book ends with a disuieting chapter how Xi Jinping is now taking on the trappings in a cut rate manner of the Mao cult looking to consolidate his power over China and through economics to expand his power abroad Maoism hasn t died

Julia Lovell Õ 7 review

Since the heyday of Mao Zedong there has never been a crucial time to understand MaosimAlthough to Western eyes it seems that China has long abandoned the utopian turmoil of Maoism in favour of authoritarian capitalism Mao and his ideas remain central to the People’ Republic and the legitimacy of its communist government As disagreements and conflicts between China and the West are likely to mount the need to understand the political legacy of Mao will only become urgentYet during Mao’s lifetime and beyond the power and appe Page 59 my book Somehow Maoism is the creed of winners and insiders of losers and outsiders of leaders and underdogs of absolute rulers vast disciplined bureaucracies and oppressed massesMaoism is here to stay so with the current economic ascendancy of China It was said during the 1980s and 1990s that as China was embracing economic capitalism they would become like us and embrace political liberalism it now seems that the world is becoming like China politicallyIn contrast to the Soviet Union China was a country who liberated itself from imperialist oppression with Mao as the leader This had a vast appeal to Third World countries who had like China been dominated for centuries by European powers The start of the cult of Maoism began when an American journalist visited Mao in 1936 and then published his now famous book Red Star Over China which was translated into many languages including Mandarin Edgar Snow was duped by Mao and his cohorts the book paints a very rosy picture of a utopian egalitarian communism of Mao s revolutionaries Mao edited much of what was transcribed in Edgar Snow s book and Snow did not see all the hardships and problems that the Chinese communist revolution was enduring It was true that at this time China was a very fractured state in civil war with itself and the Japanese invaders Also several warlords were vying for territorial power Over the decades this book influenced many revolutionaries or would be revolutionaries the world over It and the Little Red Book became standard reading material for all leftistsThere were several characteristics common to all Mao groups that sprang up over the decades One was the cultish atmosphere There was a religious feeling to belonging to a Mao group Just as in China dissension or the uestioning of the leader was not tolerated Violence would always be an essential parameterOne of the main axioms of the Chairman aka the Great Helmsman is Power comes out of the barrel of a gun Pol Pot of Cambodia took Maoism to its extreme endThis also illustrates another appeal of Mao His writings and expressions are accessible simplified and straight forward none of the complex dialectics of Marx and LeninMaoism encourages dictatorship a leader who is absolute and ruthless in eliminating anyone perceived as an enemyThis book examines Mao groups that sprang up in Indonesia Peru The Shining Path Nepal and India where there is a still a large swath of territory controlled by Maoist groups The interesting feature of all these Maoists is that they were started and lead by university educated elitists intellectuals for the most part They were not poor and disenfranchised It is similar in Western Europe and North America however I kind of take issue with the author and feel overall that many who joined are rebellious than Maoist The Mao emblem was like a lure for these middle class Europeans and North Americans perhaps a similar parallel to joining a motivated religious groupPage 137 A billion copies of the Little Red Book were printed in dozens of languages between 1966 and 1971The author also points out that China did play a significant role in foreign countries during Mao s lifetime even if China wants to minimize knowledge of this Many of the revolutionaries from abroad made multiple visits to China and became inspired but not allPage 206 John Hevi a student in China from Ghana What sort of freedom can Africans expect from the hands of those who keep their own people in such subjection China provided much aid to African countries like Tanzania over the years This influence of China in Africa goes on to this day with Africa being used as a resource for China s vast manufacturers for on this see China s Second Continent How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard FrenchThe author interestingly gives us the Vietnam War from the Chinese perspective and the tensions that existed between China Vietnam and Cambodia Vietnam at war s end minimized the aid provided by China during the long war and was seen as ungrateful by China The Vietnamese viewed the Chinese as meddlesomePage 225 The Vietnamese feared that Indochina would become China s domino while the Cambodians and the Chinese were suspicious of Vietnamese ambitions to dominate the region Another appeal of Maoism was that it gave women at times a significant rolePage 400 Kamala a female in Nepal As an individual disadvantaged by gender ethnicity and social class from one of the most underdeveloped parts of the country Kamala drew from the Maoist movement organizational ideological physical and moral support in her fight for self realizationThe scope of this book is vast and Maoism and its many offshoots around the world are given a uniue coverage


10 thoughts on “Maoism A Global History

  1. says:

    Mao's great talent lay in turning the Chinese people into slaves while making them feel like they were the masters of the country All the world's dictators have studied MaoJulia Lovell's Maoism A Global History provides a comprehensive history of the origins and influence of Maoism It has crossed cultural and language boundaries to be a wo

  2. says:

    After a lengthy and challenging introduction Julia Lovell analyzes Edgar Snow's 1937 'Red Star Over China' and its effect

  3. says:

    Page 59 my book Somehow Maoism is the creed of winners and insiders of losers and outsiders of leaders and underdogs of absolute rulers vast disciplined bureaucracies and oppressed massesMaoism is here to stay so with the current economic ascendancy of China It was said during the 1980s and 1990s that as China was embracing economic capitalism they would become like us and embrace political liberalism; it now

  4. says:

    This well researched wide ranging book analyses the spread of Maoism; both as an independently transmitted ideology and as

  5. says:

    Somehow Maoism is the creed of winners and insiders of losers and outsiders of leaders and underdogs of absolute rulers vast disciplined bureaucracies and oppressed massesIt is remarkable how one man can change the course of history inspiring millions and sparking revolutions across the globe That man was Edgar Snow whose 1937 book

  6. says:

    Potential readers should understand what this book is not about it is not an evaluation of the merits of Mao as a military strategist or states

  7. says:

    This is a really interesting exploration of Maoism less as a philosophy and as a historical phenomenon across the world In the US we're often taught to focus on the USSR as the Communist opposition with China reduced to a secondary player predominantly in Vietnam and Korea so we pat ourselves on the back and say the West won after 1989 What makes this book so good is not just that Lovell shows that this is untrue but t

  8. says:

    Maoism A Global History by Julia Lovell is a history on the idea and application of Maoism Maoism is a form of communism that focused on Chairman Mao founder of the People's Republic of China Maoism features num

  9. says:

    Hitler Stalin and Mao were at one time popular yet all with dedication caused the deaths of millions of their own people Even today each has admirers in Germany Russia and China where you would think they would be despised As generations have arrived that did not know the horrors of the times of their elders thoughts of national greatness can eclipse the monumentally disastrous events gone byTo try to understand the popularity of

  10. says:

    The book shines most in its discussion of Maoism outside of China If anything the reader is left with an appreci