New Mao biography angers some true believers
Being a leftist means never having to say you were sorry -- or wrong. In spite of a groundbreaking new biography of Mao that debunks all the glorious myths promulgated by the starry-eyed left over the years, and instead portrays him as an evil, mad despot who delighted in creating violence and chaos, the old die-hards of the left are not amused -- or convinced. Don't confuse them with the facts, their ideological minds are made up. Mao was wonderful. The Cultural Revolution was a necessary evil -- and you can't make an omelette without scrambling a few eggs. That's the quaint way in which the apologists for murder in the guise of leftist ideology describe the deaths of millions of innocent citizens. I don't know about you -- but I'll take the word of two authors who spent 10 exhaustive years interviewing close associates, combing archives and searching through old files (one of whom grew up there and experienced the horror first hand) -- over the no-nothing pronouncements of some "volunteer" in a Berkely bookstore (complete with sandals and beard no doubt). Wake up people -- there is no glorious communist revolution just over the horizon, and all that communism has ever succeeded in doing is creating a hell on earth.
BERKELEY / Mao debunkers defend their book / Critics call it effort to discredit communism
The husband-and-wife team of Chang and Halliday supported their archival research with interviews with 150 former Mao lieutenants, concluding that Mao was not only bloodier than Hitler or Stalin but worse in his destruction of culture. Chang is the author of the best-selling "Wild Swans: Three Daughters in China," a memoir detailing her family's suffering during the period.
"During the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, he turned China into a cultural desert," she told the crowd at Haas. "He made torture public. My mother went through over a hundred of those denunciation meetings. She was made to kneel on broken glass and so on. China must be the most traumatized nation in the world."
Halliday said Mao appealed to "a large group of fantasists" who gullibly thought he was the real thing. Halliday said Mao also attracted leftists who tolerated violence.
Maoist intellectuals have counterattacked, saying the book negates any historical grounds for the Chinese revolution and positive changes in what had been a corrupt society before Mao's military victory in 1949.
"It's just outrageous," said Gary Miller, a volunteer at Berkeley's Revolution Books, as he leafleted the authors' event on campus. "A lot of people look with a great deal of affection at the Mao years because China's been turned into one giant sweatshop."
In October, the city of Berkeley celebrated Bob Avakian Day in honor of one of the city's most stalwart revolutionary sons. A few weeks later, Raymond Lotta, a Chicago-based Maoist political economist and author, spoke to students at UCLA and UC Berkeley in what he called a bid to set the record straight.
"What sets this apart from other historical studies is that this person Mao, who led an historic revolution and changed the landscape of China and was an inspiration throughout the world -- they're saying this was a scheming, bloodthirsty opportunist who was evil from the day he was born to the day he died and who hijacked a revolution," Lotta said. "I think it's part of a continuing attempt to discredit communism and Maoism and any alternative to the current world order."