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Mao Zedong Thought

An Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan, 1927

What is Mao’s argument and why is it being made?

Mao argued that violence from the peasants was necessary in order to overthrow a deeply entrenched part of the hierarchical society (otherwise, the feudal class). Although he generally talks about all revolutions at first, he specifies the term ‘rural revolution’ to appeal to local Chinese situations later on.

Mao Zedong Thought (Marxism)

  • Based on Marxist-Leninist theory of revolution and overthrow of capitalism
  • A separation from the Soviet model – focused on the peasantry and agricultural nature of China at that time (peasants made up approximately 88% of the population)
    • Thus orders to Red Army to treat peasants with respect and not loot/plunder as the warlord troops had done
  • Should ‘listen to the masses’ and win over ‘their hearts and minds
    • ‘The KMT seek to govern, so the CCP will seek to represent’
  • Included land reform in Yan’an – land was taken (violently) from landlords and redistributed to peasants who had no land to the farm or had been made to pay extortionately high rents
    • In Leninist theory, it was the redistribution of the means of production; In Maoism, it was the redistribution of the land  
  • CCP increased its numbers from 700,000 to over a million from 1935 to 1945
  • Disagreement with the ‘28 Bolsheviks’ group led by Wang Ming. They were Russian-trained Chinese Communists under Stalin’s orders to reinforce orthodox Russian communist teachings in China which focused on proletarian, urban workers
  • Problems of Strategy in Guerilla War (1938). Mao wrote, “China’s revolutionary war is waged in the specific environment of China and so it has its own specific circumstances and nature… we must value more the experience of China’s revolutionary war because there are many factors specific to the Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Red Army.”
    • Mao can argue that he is doing it in the favour of the Chinese rather than for Russia as Stalin’s puppet

How and why was Mao Zedong thought important in increasing the popularity of the CCP?

As Maoism was central to the ‘specific environment of China’, he was able to appeal to the mass as he placed China’s interests as his top priority. His thought contrasted the 28 Bolsheviks who were essentially Russian puppets whose goals were to initiate a Russian-style revolution that would benefit Soviet Russia in the long term. Despite their similarities in ideology, Mao was able to distinguish himself from his European counterparts by properly recognising the needs of the Chinese peasantry. He was able to directly target the social classes that needed the most representation (the peasantry rather than the urban working classes the Russians targeted).

  • The KMT was heavily focused on fighting against the Japanese, thus committing a lot of violence which is contrasted by the CCP who abstains from much of the battle but initiates guerilla warfare tactics at certain points
    • The CCP were able to build up an easily romanticised myth figure to idolise 

Mao’s Rectification Campaign

maos rectification campaign table summary