Mao Zedong - Hero or Term Paper

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This was mostly carried out as an attempt to further instill fear within the Party, and to remove anyone that Mao considered to be a potential rival. Mao used the Red Army as his tool for the 'Cultural Revolution' relying on the ideologies of the young members to drive them on (Rogaski, 2007).

Through 'The Cultural Revolution', members of the Red Army were given the permission to create chaos and lawlessness across the country. In effect this created a similar situation to that which had been the case with governments under the Qing Dynasty, which brought China around full-circle. In the end it can be seen, therefore that Mao did not succeed in removing the corruption which he had aimed to rid the country of, but in fact created huge losses of life in his attempts to do so.

During 'The Cultural Revolution' Mao elevated himself to the status of a demi-god, with the 'Little Red Book' containing all of Mao's thoughts on Communism forming a type of Holy book. Despite no longer being the chairman of the official party of the country he was still the supreme leader of the country by 1970 due to the tactics of violence which he employed in removing all adversaries ("Mao Zedong: Hero and Villain, 2005).

Although Mao managed to remain in power through a great deal of adversity within the country, the vast majority of this was through Mao's own design (Spence, 1998). Even the periods for which Mao had not planned, such as the periods of famine, were a direct result of Mao's controversial policies and should have been obvious if Mao had thoroughly thought through his actions. A book by Chang and Halliday (2005) was written regarding extensive interviews which were conducted with those who had met Mao, and involved a large number of people from 35 different countries. The book reports that Mao's intentions to his actions were completely egoistic, and that the pretence of acting on behalf of the peasant's was simply a tactic to gain ultimate power. The book claims that those who knew Mao recognized that he was extremely skillful in recognizing the strategies which would be successful in gaining him power. He recognized at an early stage that the peasants outnumbered the other members of the population in a massive way, and were therefore the key to gaining power, through securing the majority of the population (Rogaski, 2007). It was unimportant to Mao how many died in his gaining power, as long as he retained the masses on his side (Chang and Halliday, 2005).


Overall, Mao should not be considered a hero in the context of the Chinese Revolution. It is unclear as to the exact motives of Mao in his seeking of power. It is originally believed that Mao sought to liberate the masses as he was born to a peasant family and saw the oppression which was present across the country. There are others who argue that his motives were entirely selfish, using the peasants as a pretext to ensure that he gained support by a majority of the country, enabling him to dispatch with all possible adversaries. Whatever the originally motives behind Mao's policies, it cannot be doubted that they resulted in massive loss of life, largely in the peasant masses which he originally claimed to be empowering. The loss of life which resulted from his earlier policies did not cause Mao to change his behavior, but he maintained strategies which led to further losses of life. For this reason, Mao could not possibly be considered a hero. The implication that Mao used this loss of life to his own advantage by engineering propaganda and creating further chaos suggests that Mao was in fact more a villain in the revolution than hero.


Chang, J. And Halliday, J. (2005) Mao: The Unknown Story. New York: Alfred a. Knopf.

Chung, T. (1995) Mao Zedong - the Product of History. China Report, 31, 135.

Feigon, L. (2002) Mao: A Reinterpretation. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.

Mao Zedong: Hero and Villain." (2005) Minnesota-China Connection. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Available [online] at[Accessed 6/11/2007].

Rogaski, R. (2007) "Mao Zedong." Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. Available [online] at[Accessed 6/11/2007].


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