Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung)

Mao Zedong

Born: 1893. Died: 1976.


One of the most prominent Communist theoreticians, Mao's ideas on revolutionary struggle and guerrilla warfare were extremely influential, especially among Third World revolutionaries.

Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the Chinese Communist party. He organized (1920s) Kuomintang-sponsored peasant and industrial unions and directed (1926) the Kuomintang's Peasant Movement Training Institute. After the Kuomintang-Communist split (1927), Mao led the disastrous “Autumn Harvest Uprising” in Hunan, leading to his ouster from the central committee of the party.

From 1928 until 1931 Mao, with Zhu De and others, established rural soviets in the hinterlands, and built the Red Army. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Jiangxi province. After withstanding five encirclement campaigns launched by Chiang Kai-shek, Mao led (1934–1935) the Red Army on the long march (6,000 mi/9,656 km) from Jiangxi north to Yan'an in Shaanxi province, emerging as the most important Communist leader. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) the communists and the Kuomintang continued their civil war while both were battling the Japanese invaders.

The civil war continued after war with Japan had ended, and in 1949, after the communists had taken almost all of mainland China, Mao became chairman of the central government council of the newly established People's Republic of China; he was reelected to the post, the most powerful in China, in 1954. In an attempt to break with the Russian model of communism and to imbue the Chinese people with renewed revolutionary vigor, Mao launched (1958) the Great Leap Forward. The program was a failure, 20 million people starved, and Mao withdrew temporarily from public view.

The failure of this program also resulted in a break with the Soviet Union, which cut off aid. Mao accused Soviet leaders of betraying Marxism. In 1959 Liu Shaoqi, an opponent of the Great Leap Forward, replaced Mao as chairman of the central government council, but Mao retained his chairmanship of the Communist party politburo.

A campaign to reestablish Mao's ideological line culminated in the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Mass mobilization, begun and led by Mao and his wife, Jiang Qing, was directed against the party leadership. Liu and others were removed from power in 1968. In 1969 Mao reasserted his party leadership by serving as chairman of the Ninth Communist Party Congress, and in 1970 he was named supreme commander of the nation and army.

The cultural revolution group continued its campaigns until Mao's death in September 9, 1976.

A month later its leaders were purged and Mao's surviving opponents, led by Deng Xiaoping, slowly regained power, pushing aside Mao's successor, Hua Guofeng, and erasing the cult surrounding Mao.

Major Books of Mao Zedong

- A Report of an Investigation into the Peasant Movement of Hunan, 1927
- Comrade Mao Zedong on Marxist Philosophy, 1960
- Dialectical Materialism (Lecture Notes)
- The Little Red Book, 1964
- Mao Zedong's Philosophical Thought, 1960
- The Poems of Mao Tse-tung, 1972
- Quotations From Chairman Mao, 1966
- Selected Readings, 1967-1968
- Supplement to Quotations from Chairman Mao, 1969
- Wind Sand Poem
- The Writings of Mao Zedong, 1949-1979: (1949-1955, 1956-1957)

Quotes from Mao Zedong

- "A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery." (from "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan", 1927)

- "War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups." (from "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan", 1927)

- "By May 1928 ... basic principles of guerrilla warfare, simple in nature and suited to the conditions of the time, had already been evolved, that is, the sixteen-character formula: "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."" (from "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", 1936)

- "History knows only two kinds of war, just and unjust. We support just wars and oppose unjust wars. All counterrevolutionary wars are unjust, all revolutionary wars are just." (from "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", 1936)

- "The object of strategic retreat is to conserve military strength and prepare for the counteroffensive." (from "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", 1936)

- "Our strategy is "pit one against ten," and our tactics are "pit ten against one"-This is one of our fundamental principles for gaining mastery over the enemy." (from "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", 1936)

- "To learn is no easy matter and to apply what one has learned is even harder." (from "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", 1936)

- "Historical experience is written in iron and blood." (from "Guerrilla Warfare", 1937)

- "Many people think it impossible for guerrillas to exist for long in the enemy's rear. Such a belief reveals lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water and the latter to the fish who inhabit it." (from "Guerrilla Warfare", 1937)

- "Proper guerrilla policy will provide for unified strategy and independent activity." (from "Guerrilla Warfare", 1937)

- The interdependence of the contradictory aspects in all things and the struggle between these aspects determine the life of all things and push their development forward. There is nothing that does not contain contradiction; without contradiction nothing would exist." (from "On Contradiction", 1937)

- "Practice, knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This form repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level." (from "On Practice", 1937)

- "Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed." (from "On Protracted War", 1938)

- "To wish for victory and yet neglect political mobilization is like wishing to "go south by driving the chariot north," and the result would inevitably be to forfeit victory." (from "On Protracted War", 1938)

- "We must oppose "only retreat, never advance," which is flightism, and at the same time oppose "Only advance, never retreat," which is desperate recklessness." (from "On Protracted War", 1938)

- "Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."" (from "Problems of War and Strategy", 1938)

- "We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun." (from "Problems of War and Strategy", 1938)

- "The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history." (from "On Coalition Government", 1945)

- "The right to vote belongs only to the people, not to the reactionaries. The combination of these two aspects, democracy for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, is the people's democratic dictatorship." (from "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship", 1948)

- "The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the U.S. reactionaries use to scare people. It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't. Of course, the atom bomb is a weapon of mass slaughter, but the outcome of a war is decided by the people, not by one or two new types of weapon.
   All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful." (from an interview with Anna Louise Strong, 1946)

- "Ask your subordinates about matters you don't understand or don't know, and do not lightly express your approval or disapproval." (from "Methods of Work of Party Committees", 1949)

- "Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy." (from "United Nations: Petition to Peking", 1950)

- "Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, the greatest genius of the present age, the great teacher of the world communist movement, the comrade-in-arms of the immortal Lenin, has departed from the world." (from "'The Greatest Friendship", 1953)

- "Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone." (from "Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?", 1963)

- "In the future there will be more people, and there won't be enough grain, so men will have to get food from minerals." (from "Chairman Mao Talks to the People: Talks and Letters: 1956-1971", 1974)

- "What [Marx and Lenin] say is that slaves should arise and struggle for truth. There never has been any supreme savior, nor can we rely on gods or emperors. We rely entirely on ourselves for our salvation. Who has created the world of men? We the laboring masses." (from "Chairman Mao Talks to the People: Talks and Letters: 1956-1971", 1974)

- "Dare to think and dare to do." (from "Red China Today" by Edgar Snow)

- "Dogma is more useless than cow dung." (from "Red China Today" by Edgar Snow)

- "I learned [as a youth] that when I defended my rights by open rebellion my father relented, but when I remained meek and submissive he only cursed and beat me the more." (from "Red Star Over China" by Edgar Snow)

- "In the world from now on, neutrality is only a word for deceiving people." (from "Reflections on American Diplomacy" by Henry A. Kissinger)

- "I have only been able to change a few places in the vicinity of Peking." (from "White House Years" by Henry A. Kissinger)

- "Maneuvering for petty advantage is short-sighted." (from "Years of Upheaval" by Henry A. Kissinger)

- "So many deeds cry out to be done, and always urgently. The world rolls on. Time passes. Ten thousand years are too long. Seize the day, seize the hour." (quoted by Richard M. Nixon)

- "The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it." (paraphrased by James MacGregor Bums)

- "Religion is poison." (remark to Dalai Lama quoted by Martin Scorsese)


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