This book, The Cultural Revolution, by , is right up Fat Mac’s street, with tales of ‘last fag, up against the wall’ executions, massed proletariat movements, revolution after revolution, dictators, witch hunts for counter revolutionaries, purging of the bourgeois, central planning of every aspect of life, re-education camps, ideological uniformity, capitalist roaders getting banished to country collectives, and so on. All the stuff that he loves and would like to see happen in Scotland is described here.
Of course, in the case of the Cultural Revolution in China, just like the Great Leap Forward and various other screwball initiatives, it was all eventually disastrous and held up the development of the country for decades. Millions starved, were banished or executed. Chairman Mao’s main obsession was with retaining power for himself, and he would sacrifice anything to that end. He played the Red Guards off against the students, then the students off against the workers, then the workers off against the Party, and so on, and on.
The Cultural Revolution, is not an easy read, mainly because, as the subtitle “A People’s History” indicates, everything is put in the context of examples from general society in China, rather than as political or economic history. There are 37 pages of Notes, referencing each instance of things or opinions from various parts of the country.
Particular things I learned include, how seriously China prepared for war with the Soviet Union in the early seventies. They really did think that war was going to happen. In Shanghai tunnels were built which could hold 2.5 million people. 1,500 factories were dismantled and moved towards the east of China. Secondly, how much they railed against Khrushchev, whom they thought had compromised the true proletariat revolution. Thirdly, about the earthquake in Tangshan in 1976, which killed at least a quarter of a million people.
Mao is still revered by many in China, even though his leadership caused more deaths, problems, upheavals and misery than almost certainly anyone else in history.