Introduction: Standing at the Beginning
One of the most legendary and, at the same time, controversial historical figures of the XX century, Mao Zedong was keeping his personality behind a closed door for quite long. He was considered the “evil genius” of revolution by practically everyone; however, a closer look at his career and the evolution of his views, as well as his influence, may make historians change their minds. Although Mao Zedong is often referred to as the great dictator of the XX century, he, in fact, was considerably less harmful to China and its residents than the members of the political movements that were brewing in the state at the time (Cheek 116).
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China in the XX Century: Development Specifics
Discussing the evolution of Mao Zedong, one must mention the environment, in which the aforementioned evolution took place. There is no secret that China was under the aegis – or, to be more exact, absolute control – or Japan, which had a deplorable effect on the state economy and was clearly leading to the country’s downfall.
It should be noted, though, that Mao did not break new grounds in suggesting a different pattern of political behavior for China – several attempts at rioting have already been undertaken by a range of activists, though with little success. Negative emotions concerning the rule of Japan over China had been brewing for centuries up until Mao Zedong embraced the possibilities of socialism and the progress that it promised (Cheek 118).
Mao Zedong Emerges: What a Newspaper Article May Spawn
The fast pace, at which the principles of socialism were spread and accepted, was beyond shocking. Though one must give credit to Zedong’s political savvy, his success was predetermined by the desire of the Chinese citizens to make a change and shift from being an insignificant rudiment of Japan to a self-sufficient state with its own political strategy and economy (Cheek 125).
The Transformation Begins: Mao Zedong and His Reforms
However, like any other person, who is provided with unlimited dower over the state, its population and economy, Mao Zedong soon lost the ability to restrain his desire to shape the state policies to his will. As the study explains, once Mao Zedong realized that he finally reached the peak of his reign, he started abusing the power that he was trusted with by the Chinese people, and that can be considered the point from which the economy and politics of the state went downhill:
Comrade Mao Zedong’s prestige reached a peak, and he began to get arrogant at the very time when the Party was confronted with the new task of shifting the focus of its work to socialism construction, a task for which the utmost caution was required. (Cheek 217)
There is no surprise that shortly after Mao Zedong’s death, the above-mentioned Gang of Four emerged in order to seize control over the state that was literally falling apart. It is remarkable that Zedong’s principles of tyranny and total control not only failed to consolidate the state in the course of his reign but also contributed to the country’s faster decay after the great dictator rest in peace. In other words, it was obvious that the exposure to unlimited power over the entire Chinese population and the potential benefits that this control promised made the process of Mao Zedong’s transformation from a wise and reasonable leader into a despot all the more plausible (Cheek 177).
Tyranny Reaching Its Peak: The Results of the Cultural Revolution
Though the situation in China of the XX century was clearly unique, it still rubbed elbows with the Taiwanese crisis caused by similar issues. Though the Chinese government in Taiwan was the key rival of the Chinese Communist Party, it, nevertheless, the strategies are chosen by the state leaders, nevertheless, had many points of contact, which became even more tangible after the Chinese Civil War and the following conflict with Taiwan over its territory (Cheek 164).
Reconsidering the Influence of Mao Zedong: The One to Blame?
It would be wrong to claim that Mao Zedong was the concentrated essence of evil that the world media represented him. Quite on the contrary, Zedong himself was amazingly inactive after the revolution was finally over.
However, the Cultural Revolution has spawned a range of movements, most of which were famous for being especially radical. Many of the movements and parties that appeared at the time soon became infamous due to their crimes; however, none of them managed to reach the scale of the notorious Gang of Four.
In retrospect, Zedong’s tyranny did not express itself in the outrageous decisions of the state bodies as much as it did in the emergence of the aforementioned movements and the effects that these movements had on the social, economic and political life of the state. Indeed, taking a closer look at the China of the XX century, one will see inevitably that the direct negative effects of Mao Zedong’s rule were close to nil, whereas the riots started by the Gang of Four and their numerous followers were obviously the key factors defining the rapid decline of the support for Zedong’s rule and the increasing tension within the Chinese society.
Cheek, Timothy. Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Series in History & Culture). New York, NY: Bedford’/St. Martin’s. 2002. Print.