To what extent was Mao Zedong a successful leader, in respect to the implementation of the Long March, his Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward,

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1 To what extent was Mao Zedong a successful leader, in respect to the implementation of the Long March, his Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution? Ilyasah Shabazz IB History of the Americas HL Internal Assessment Mr. Weeks Word Count: 1,801 May 2010

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 2 Summary of Evidence... 2 Evaluation of Sources... 3 Analysis...4 Conclusion...5 Bibliography...6 1

3 Introduction Success can be defined as a trait of a person or event that achieves its intended purpose. During Mao Zedong s rule over China, the implementation of the Long March, his Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution has proved to have affected China socially, politically and economically, but was Mao a successful leader in respect to these policies? A leader, in respect to this investigation, is a dominating figure that uses his policies, movements, and declaration of war as tools for bettering his/her society along with gaining the support of his/her people, while keeping his goals clear throughout his rule. By investigating the success of Mao s reform movements, his ideology behind these policies will be analyzed, as well as the short and long-term effects of these policies. To understand the success of Mao s dictatorship, various book and internet sources discussing the purpose and expectations of Mao s reforms and what factors limited or aided a successful execution of his plans will be evaluated to strengthen an argument that will conclude that Mao was successful in gaining support, but he was not a successful leader. Summary of Evidence In , Mao Zedong and his followers eluded Chiang Kai-shek s army. Chiang Kai-shek was the nationalist leader of China prior to Mao Zedong. Kai-shek s army was pursued for thousands of miles in an event often referenced to as the Long March. 1 The Long March was a period of constant fighting that resulted in a daily number of casualties. Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters moved to Taiwan and in 1949, Mao declared main land China communist and renamed it the People s Republic of China(PRC). As leader of the PRC, Mao Zedong had power with followers and military strength. The people of China supported Mao because he symbolized the people. His dictatorship was declared a people s dictatorship and he wanted equality for all. 2 When beginning his reign over China, Mao accepted aid from the Soviet Union and modeled his Five Year Plan after that of Joseph Stalin s. The Five Year Plan set in motion a Soviet-style development strategy with an emphasis in industry that proved to be successful with economic growth. 3 Although Mao Zedong was esteemed for helping China s economy, he believed strongly in keeping the economy agriculturally based and began to break away from the Soviet Union due to their differing ideals. In order to compensate for the loss of Soviet aid, Mao Zedong initiated the Great Leap Forward (GLF). The GLF was Mao Zedong s plan to modernize China and catch up with the West. Mao wanted China to thrive and become the leading communist country over the Soviet Union. 4 The GLF emphasized agricultural and industrial development. This plan placed the 1 Michael Lynch. Mao. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, Roderick MarFarquhar, John K. Fairbank, and Denis Twitchett. Cambridge History of China: The People's Republic, Part 2 : Revolutions within the Chinese Revolution. Oakleigh: Cambridge University Press, Maurice J. Meisner. Mao's China and after: a history of the People's Republic. New York: The Free Press, Stuart Schram. Chairman Mao Talks To The People. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.,

4 population on communes to increase productivity and assist in industrialization; however, peasants were in a state of famine as a result and the economy became destabilized. China lacked the necessary natural resources to implement this plan and the economy suffered as a result. The failure of Mao s Great Leap Forward resulted in Lio Shaoqi, Mao s successor, hoping to ease Mao Zedong out of power. In 1962, Lio had a plan for peasants to make a market economy. This plan prompted Mao to reform China to its rural roots in fear of China evolving into a capitalist nation. Mao s Socialist Education Movement made all of China assist in agricultural reforms; however, Mao Zedong was challenged by political figures, as well as media sources. Mao Zedong responded with the Cultural Revolution (CR). The Cultural Revolution encompassed social, political, and economic changes. With this reform movement, Mao wanted to purify the PRC through radical transformation. 5 He wanted to remove all traces of Old China and its hierarchal bureaucracy and emphasis on inequality. Mao Zedong targeted youth, thus the Red Guard was established. The Red Guard was revolutionary youth who led a struggle against elite China. The Red Guard terrorized citizens, especially those who did not follow the party line. When the Red Guard began to turn violent, China went into a state of chaos. Along with the establishment of the Red Guard, Mao Zedong destroyed any remnants of imperialistic or bureaucratic China and closed down schools and universities. 6 An emphasis was placed on elementary education to give all people the ability to learn to read and write but destroy the inequalities that came with a greater knowledge. Evaluation of Sources China in the 20 th Century by Jules Archer examines the Long March, the Five-Year Plan, and the Great Leap Forward from the perspective of Mao and the people. Jules Archer is an American historian who writes on various leaders throughout the twentieth century, including Martin Luther King Jr., Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong. This book explores the conditions of China during the time of these reforms, making note to social, economic, and political changes, thus making it important to my investigation. Jules Archer gathered information from primary documents and found quotes from people in China throughout the 20 th century. This creates a more reliable source for investigating the success of Mao s dictatorship. Mao: A Reinterpretation by Lee Faigon argues that the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution were beneficial to China because it broke China away from its ties to the Soviet Union. Lee Faigon is an American scholar who writes on the early China revolutionary periods, including the time when Mao Zedong was in power. Faigon is a current professor at Colby College. This interpretive study sets out to disclaim criticisms of Mao that stated he was a Stalinist and only remained an innovative and independent thinker until 1949; however, he does not hold bias in his arguments. 5 L. Cheng, and A. So. "The Reestablishment of Sociology in the PRC." Annual Review of Sociology, 1983: Stuart Schram. Chairman Mao Talks To The People. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.,

5 While the investigation in this text differs from that of this investigation, Faigon uses his argument to disagree with considering Mao a Stalinist. He does so by noting the break from Soviet power nearing the end of the Five-Year Plan. Faigon argues that this break showed success in Mao s leadership because he was continuing on his dictatorship as an independent thinker and implementing his own plans that he thought would be beneficial to China s society and economy. This sources offers an opposing view to my argument, which is important in drawing a conclusion on whether Mao was a successful leader or not. Analysis Due to the success of Mao Zedong s army during the Long March, Mao s power was strengthened, in that Mao s army emerged as a stronger one following this movement. However, this military strength can be downplayed by the millions of Chinese peasantry 7 that suffered as a result of the fighting. It is through the deaths of over hundreds of thousands Communists and peasants that critics can draw the conclusion that Mao Zedong was a highly motivated leader. Mao Zedong was focused on the goal of transforming China to an agricultural-based society and emerging as the leading Communist nation and the means in which he took to achieve this goal had no restraints. Mao s desire to stand for all people of China helped put Mao in a positive light as China s front man; however, the love that existed for Mao can be interpreted as fear by the Chinese people. Mao Zedong possessed a powerful army, as well as trained the youth to take action against any of the Chinese who did not follow the party line. These actions as a leader alters the psyche of the people because they are no longer in control of their movements, but are rather dictated by the leader, hence creating fear in a society. This fear hinders the success of Mao Zedong in the eyes of critics, but allowed Mao to grow in China because little to no opposition existed. When Mao followed through with the Five Year Plan, China experienced a period of economic growth. By following the example of the Soviets, China was following agriculturallybased programs, as well as growing economically. This plan increased Mao Zedong s popularity among the Chinese people. Even though fear still existed, the people began to trust that Mao Zedong would be able to help them through economic downturns and make China a better country. However, after Mao Zedong moved away from Soviet guidance, the economy plummeted again as a result of his reform policies. Still keeping his goal in mind, Mao Zedong set the Great Leap Forward in motion. The execution of this reform policy was not successful because the people were again suffering and the country lacked the natural resources necessary for it to be successful; however, Chairman Mao declared the Great Leap Forward a failure, showing depth in his leadership by admitting his faults. Some Chinese people did, however, lose support for Mao as a result of the GLF. In response to the criticisms Mao received, he started the Cultural Revolution. 7 Goldston, Robert. The Long March. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc.,

6 The Cultural Revolution lasted for ten years and in the end, China suffered. Although Mao Zedong was successful in removing Old China, the Red Guard had to be rehabilitated and re-educated, as well as the people of China. Due to the damage to school and university facilities and the death of citizens, including teachers, it took time for schools to have the necessary resources to re-open. It has been argued that Mao s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution was a success, in that it broke away from its Stalinist past 8 ; however, the implementation of Mao Zedong s last two major reforms was a failure in Mao s leadership because Mao launched two plans that hindered China s growth. Although Mao Zedong failed at his attempt to help the Chinese economy grow with his implementation of The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution, he did not lose many of his followers, which can be interpreted as a successful factor in Mao s dictatorship. While support for Mao still existed, a shift to new leadership was desired in China. Conclusion Mao Zedong had a strong start as a leader, in that Mao gained the support of his people very quickly. He was successful in becoming the dictator of a nation that held him above the average man. His first policies helped him gain support and respect among the People s Republic of China; however, once he withdrew from the Soviet Union, his desire for China to flourish and prosper was stronger that the plans he implemented to do so. The Great Leap Froward and Cultural Revolution resulted in thousands of deaths through famine, torture, and murder. While Mao Zedong was able to remove Confucius principles from China and moved to a greater equality among the Chinese population, he was still unable to achieve true agricultural reform, which was one of his primary goals as a leader. Mao Zedong was successful in having a strong base of followers who kept faith in him through his failed policies; however, he was not a successful leader. Mao Zedong did not lead his country to domination. 8 Feigon, Lee. Mao: a Reinterpretation. Chicago: Library of Congress,

7 Bibliography Cheng, L., and A. So. "The Reestablishment of Sociology in the PRC." Annual Review of Sociology, 1983: Feigon, Lee. Mao: a Reinterpretation. Chicago: Library of Congress, Goldston, Robert. The Long March. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., Lynch, Michael. Mao. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, MacFarquhar, Roderick, John K. Fairbank, and Denis Twitchett. Cambridge History of China: The People's Republic, Part 2 : Revolutions within the Chinese Revolution. Oakleigh: Cambridge University Press, Meisner, Maurice J. Mao's China and after: a history of the People's Republic. New York: The Free Press, Schram, Stuart. Chairman Mao Talks To The People. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.,

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