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You are here: Home » Documents » On the role of Mao Zedong - In 1995 a foreign reporter interviewed me about Mao. She sought me out as someone who had met the man in person and openly admired him over the years. She asked, "What about all the people he killed? What about all those famine deaths? And what about all the suffering and destruction of people in the Cultural Revolution?" With these questions she lined herself up with the current media line on Mao, the line of conventional wisdom, which is to present him as a monster—Mao, the monster. The Mao-the-monster thesis depends on two major charges. The first makes him responsible for all the euphoria and excesses of the Great Leap Forward and the organization of people’s communes, which, so the charges go, led to a collapse of production and finally to famine in China. (Isn’t it indeed strange that this famine was not discovered at the time but only extrapolated backward from censuses taken 20 years later, then spinning the figures to put the worst interpretation on very dubious records.) I do not mean to say that there were no mistakes in policy, no crop failures, and no starvation at all, but the hardships of those years are advertised as the greatest famine in human history, a conclusion that I do not accept. The second charge blames Mao for the extremes of violence and all the personal tragedies that occurred during the Cultural Revolution. Must Mao take the blame for all these phenomena? » Send this page to somebody

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