There are ideas that make people turn to revolution. In the Cultural Revolution, the idea
leading the people is what we call, "Maoism".
While Marxism or Leninism represented a collection of wisdom, Maoism belongs to just
one person, Mao Zedong.
Progress is born in chaos.
And originality comes from destruction.
Mao favored the word, "destruction". When he promoted the Cultural Revolution,
he preached that we had to destroy an old system of production, an old ideology and old
customs first. He thought that once the ideology had been established, productivity would
follow in a revolution. But as it was clear after the failure of the Great Leap Forward,
he lacked a knowledge of economics, the kind needed for a better and stronger China.
What was the social purpose of the Cultural Revolution? He mentioned entirel
"destruction", to "deprive", "criticize" and
"sweep", but he didn't refer what to construct clearly. Besides he also
suggested the construction of the "new four form", that is, new thought, new
trends and new customs. But he didn't make its detailed contents clear, it was merely an
We can know the social purposes of the Cultural Revolution from a letter that Mao sent to
Lin Biao. Mao drew an outline of the ideal society he pursued. It is that each worker,
peasant, student, solider; tradesman and party member should learn another occupation.
"A large school"
He wanted to teach industry, agriculture, war and taking part in criticism against the
bourgeoisie. China should be changed into "a large school". Because if in a
large school where everybody is treated equally, the three kinds of discriminationare
eliminated; that between industry and agriculture, city and countryside, then manual and
mental jobs will disappear naturally and all the people will be well-rounded and
self-sufficient. Consequently "the condition under which people are forced into a
division of labor like slaves," as Marx said, will vanish. But he never
mentioned the material foundation of communism, the development of science and culture for
that reason, and a process to make all the people cultured and communist.
The outline of society Mao suggested was not a passing fancy. A foundation of deep thought
lay there. It dates back to 1958. Back then he recognized that " we have to form a
large commune of industry, agriculture, commerce, education and military gradually, on
which we should build the basic form of society."
That year, the "People's Commune" was developed. He said that China was firstly
poor, secondly blank slates; China is poor economically and a blank slate culturally. He
thought that poverty was right because " If we are poor, we desire change and aremotivated
to revolution," and a blank slate is better because " Being blank, we can draw
the most fresh and beautiful characters or pictures on it ". He suggested that we
should make our thoughts free and think, speak, and act bravely. And he rejected
superstition and ordered that scientists or Marxists throw away superstition when they
studied. At last he said this; " The more books you read, the more stupid you
In an ideal society Mao felt that people should have things distributed: meals, clothes,
and money would be unnecessary. He hated money above all. Not only in Yan'an but also in
Beijing, he never had much money, he himself said that money was quite troublesome and
that there was no point in having it.
The Failure of Mao
Even if Mao had extraordinary talent and was an outstanding man, his perception couldn't
transcend the restrictions of the times. Besides because it was at a time that the
negative effects of socialism in the Soviet Union was being exposed, and technical
innovations in advanced Western countries was the capitalism Mao hated most, and couldn't
imitate. Therefore he was dependent on prospectives from his experience during the past
war or the literature on Marxism when he made his design of Chinese socialism.
No matter how great Mao may be, there was a possibility that he committed a greater
mistake because he had a good imagination and a firm belief.