Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ken Livingstone on the gains of Maoism

The mayor of London offers us his insights into the social gains resulting from Chinese Stalinism:

‘One thing that Chairman Mao did was to end the appalling foot binding of women …That alone justifies the Mao Tse-tung era.’

Er ... not really, Ken. While the barbaric practice of foot binding is no more, most women in China are still subject to unimaginable oppression on the basis of gender. Tens of thousands of baby girls – considered useless by parents desperate for a son - are left to die each year. A feminist utopia the country is not.

Looking at the bigger picture, there’s no dispute that major advances were achieved as a result of the revolution lead by Mao.

China could not have reached its present level of prosperity – for a small minority, at any rate -had Maoism not forced through the necessary break with feudalism, and built up basic industry.

But the end result has been the unleashing of perhaps the most exploitative brand of neoliberalism anywhere in the world, without even the partial offset of democracy and human rights.

And then there’s at the rest of the balance sheet. Even chairman M’s devoted fans in the Maoist Internationalist Movement don’t bother hiding their hero’s taste for bumping off ‘counter-revolutionaries’:

‘Mao did claim government responsibility for 800,000 executions between 1949 and 1954.’

Mao oversaw the creation of a gulag system, in which millions perished; the Great Leap Forward, which cost 20-30m lives in the resultant entirely avoidable famine; and the Great People’s Proletarian Revolution, which – as even the MIM concedes - probably entailed millions more fatalities.

Less of the flip one-liners, Mr Livingstone. They are not doing you any favours.



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