Great Leap Forward
I know – once again I’ve managed to shock you haven’t I?
All that’s really happened is there is now proof that is hard to ignore or deny. Communism (simply a brand of "totalitarianism") kills and China is – I was going to say "living proof" but that would be inappropriate – is proof.
Remember the Mao inspired "Great Leap Forward" launched in 1958 Communist China? It was the forced "communization" of the population which had resisted it up until then. I.e. the people were pushed into communes where, they were told, life would be infinitely better because, well, because Mao said so.
Now it appears some initial estimates may have been a little low about the number of lives that forced move cost.
Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died. But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate.
Yes, I agree, that’s criminal. It is monstrously criminal. Why? Well obviously the force used to make people do what the state decided to do makes it criminal. What makes it monstrously criminal? Well the number of people that died from it and this:
In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.
Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.
They were tortured to death or summarily executed because they disagreed with who should run their lives or for doing something that those who had assumed control of their lives (by force) decided was deserving of capital punishment.
One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilo stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.
When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot. The report of the investigative team sent by the provincial leadership in 1969 to interview survivors of the famine records that the man died of grief three weeks later.
Yes, these are the brutal and criminal acts of a ideology that holds the “rights” of the state far above any rights for individuals. An ideology that many collectivist fellow travelers right here in the US used to defend as the humane answer to capitalism and the “cult” of the individual. And make no mistake the USSR was no better. It too resorted to forced collectivization. In the Ukraine alone, it is estimated that 3.1 to 7 million died from the famine the forced collectivization induced. In the Soviet Union, almost 2 million kulaks – probably what we would describe as “middle class farmers” were transported to the Gulags or executed. All their land was confiscated and collectivized. It wasn’t hard to become an “enemy of the people” just by being born to the wrong people or having worked hard to get ahead.
And as the artificial shortage they call “famine” worsened, what do you suppose those who represented the state did in China (and most likely the USSR)? They used it to continue the oppression of the people and extend their control. It became of tool of dominance and it cost many, many people their lives:
Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”
Imagine that – purposely starving people to death if they wouldn’t cooperate or were too sick to work. Any guess as to what that drove some too?
One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: “Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother. Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.”
‘”Livelihood issues? Good lord. And what did the icon of the collectivist fellow travelers have to say about all of this?
At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman [Mao] insensitive to human loss: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”
Freakin’ amazing. For those who continue to wear their Mao T’s there’s your hero and his accomplishments in spades. And he’s absolutely no different than Che or Fidel or any of the rest of the murdering scum that brought the collectivist, murderous totalitarian socialism known as communism to power.
They should forever be relegated to the same status as Adolf Hitler because in every way they were as bad, if not worse, than he was.
Thomas Friedman is at it again. He finds our method of governance just too cumbersome and one which mostly yields “sub-optimal” results. I mean, look at the Chi-coms:
TOM BROKAW: Tom, are we at a kind of turning point in America in terms of being able to make this a functioning country again, or are we dysfunctional?
TOM FRIEDMAN: Well this is what worries me. I’ve been saying for awhile Tom, there’s only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, the Chinese form of government, and that’s one-party democracy. In China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down, OK. Here when you have one-party democracy, one party ruling, basically the other party just saying no, every solution is sub-optimal. And when your chief competitor in the world can order optimal and you can only produce sub-optimal? Because what happens, whether it’s health care or the energy bill, votes one-through-fifty cost you a lot. Fifty to fifty-nine cost you a fortune. And vote sixty: his name’s Ben Nelson! And by the time you’ve made all those compromises, you end up with the description David [Brooks] had of the health care bill, which is this Rube Goldberg contraption. I really hope, I hope personally it passes. I hope it works. But I can’t tell you I think it’s optimal.
Well, of course mandating one child and one child only was certainly considered to be “optimal” by the leadership. The polity didn’t agree. And now the mostly male generation which has since grown up and is experiencing a vast shortage of women doesn’t either. Damn law of unintended consequences – it always tends to screw up “optimal” top-down decisions, doesn’t it?
And as I recall, they certainly considered the “Great Leap Forward” to be “optimal”, didn’t they? What are a few million, er 14 to 20 million deaths, when the “top down” solution is so, uh, “optimal”. Indeed, with those 14 to 20 million deaths, the plan ended up working rather well – except for those cases of cannibalism – because there was more for those who were left.
And the “Cultural Revolution” was pretty “optimal” as well, wasn’t it?
It was certainly “optimal” for Stalin to declare the Kulaks “enemy of the people” wasn’t it? It allowed him to essentially steal their farms and “collectivize” them while deliberately starving millions of those “enemies” of his “optimal” plan to death in 1933. Yup, very “optimal” if you’re Joe Stalin and you get to make those “top down” decisions, isn’t it?
I assume Hugo Chavez thought it was an “optimal” solution to nationalize the oil industry Venezuela. None of that sloppy law and democracy stuff for him, by George. And that’s worked out so well, hasn’t it?
Would someone buy Mr. Friedman a one-way ticket to China please? There he can forever bask in the goodness of top-down “optimal” decisions and glory in them like so many millions have already done there since the imposition of “optimal” top-down decisions.
That would be an “optimal” result for me.