The Ultimate Cancel Culture and Equality

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

A review of Mao’s Great Famine:  The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962, by Frank Dikotter (Bloomberg Publishing, Hardback Edition, 2010; Paperback Edition, 2017, 420 pages).

It is seen as gauche, hateful, and unenlightened on college campuses and like-minded places to quote Winston Churchill because he was an imperialist and colonialist. Okay, so go ahead and cancel me.

Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all others. He could’ve added that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all others.

My personal library has plenty of books that detail the abuses that have occurred under both systems. Many of them expound on the failings of the United States, including slavery, genocide against Native Americans, and experiments with mercantilism and imperialism.

Judging by the mindset on college campuses and the entrenched beliefs that many college graduates carry with them after graduation, college libraries and curricula consist of only this genre.

Plenty of other books in my library have an opposite theme. They detail the benefits of both systems, the positives of the United States, and the unequivocal, inherent evils of communism and other forms of totalitarianism and collectivism. Mao’s Great Famine joins these books.

The book is a masterpiece of research into archival documents of the Chinese Communist Party and correspondence between high-level party apparatchiks.

If I were a billionaire, I’d gift a large supply of the book to universities to make them free for the taking to students, with the condition that they be displayed in the school’s food court, next to the cornucopia of foods of just about every cuisine, where the problem is too many calories at relatively little cost or the polar opposite of the problem under Mao. The abundance of food is so widespread in the U.S. that using the word “fat” is considered body shaming and thus banned because the majority of Americans are . . . well, they’re overweight.

If students were to read the horrors described in the book, campus safe zones and student counseling centers would soon be overflowing with sobbing fragile students.

Dying of starvation is a terrible way to die. Even more terrible during Mao’s famine was the horror of parents watching their children die of starvation before they did, and their emaciated corpses left in fields and roadsides, along with the corpses of neighbors, because no one had the energy to bury them.

Equally horrible was the rendering of bodies to make fertilizer. This came after farmers had torn down their own homes to spread any organic material contained therein on fields as fertilizer.  This desperate and futile effort left them exposed to the elements without shelter.

The book claims that more property was destroyed during the Great Leap Forward than by all the bombing campaigns of the Second World War. “Up to 40 percent of all housing was turned into rubble, as homes were pulled down to create fertilizer, to build canteens, to relocate villagers, to straighten roads, to make room for a better future or simply to punish their occupants.”

One becomes numb reading the horror stories in the book, and one wants to spit on Mao’s large mausoleum in Tiananmen Square upon learning what led to the starvation of tens of millions.

The primary cause was Mao establishing the ultimate in cancel culture. Anyone who brought him bad information about his Great Leap Forward was called a reactionary, a rightist, a conservative rightist, or a capitalist, and was canceled from the Party or worse. Some party officials saved themselves by groveling and admitting their disloyalty in public shaming sessions. Almost all of them learned to keep the truth from Mao, to produce reports full of bogus statistics, and to demand the same loyalty and lies from their subordinates.

In that sense, Mao was parroting the leadership methods of Stalin, who, decades earlier, had starved tens of millions of kulaks while punishing party members who told him the truth. Also like Stalin, Mao, and his cadres eventually resorted to reeducation camps, forced-labor camps, and torture.

Women, children, the elderly, and the infirm were particularly vulnerable, as survival of the fittest became the norm.

In total, an estimated 45 million people died from starvation or related causes under the Great Leap Forward. The communist goal of perfect equality of results was achieved in the grave, where everyone ended up equal.

The Great Leap Forward was Mao’s egomaniacal fantasy of surpassing in short order the West in agricultural production, steel production, and industrial development. Farms were collectivized, the collectives were given impossible agricultural production goals, and villages were required to build small furnaces to make steel, typically by melting household items and farm implements, which in turn lowered agricultural output from what it had been prior to the Great Leap Forward.

At the same time, millions of people were conscripted to work with little food, shelter, or rest in building huge dams and other irrigation projects, primarily using shovels. Ignoring the advice of engineers, many of the projects were built incorrectly and in the wrong location, resulting in silting, salination, and massive leaks. Combined with poor workmanship and materials, this led to scores of projects being abandoned.

As people were dying in the hinterlands, Mao and his top cadres were living a life of privilege in Beijing—not the comparatively benign kind of privilege bemoaned by class and race warriors in America today, but the privilege that comes from having the absolute power of life and death over the masses. In a monument to themselves and the Party, and to snooker the outside world into believing that the Chinese version of communism was a success, historic buildings were torn down to expand Tiananmen Square and turn the vicinity into a Potemkin-like showcase.

Conditions were made worse by the fatal flaw of communism (and socialism): the replacement of the profit motive and market forces with central planning and pricing. Grain rotted in silos because trucks weren’t available to transport it; trucks weren’t available because truck parts weren’t available or were shoddy; too much of unneeded items were produced and not enough of needed items were produced, because central plans were way off and because prices were set at the wrong level; pilfering and loafing were endemic, due to everyone theoretically owning everything but no one actually owning anything; and mines and factories were dangerous hellholes where workers were worked to death or died in droves from chemical exposure or industrial accidents.

The book ends with party officials beginning to blame Mao for the tragedies of the Great Leap Forward. Author Frank Dikotter says that in order to continue to hide the truth and to keep history from seeing him as a monster, Mao would go on to unleash the Cultural Revolution and its young cadres on the people he saw as counterrevolutionaries. Another award-winning book by Dikotter details the horrors of that revolution: The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976.

The parallel between this and the whitewashing on American college campuses is striking.  Those who see themselves as “progressive”—one of the most misleading terms in history—attack and silence anyone with the temerity to factually point out where progressives have done great harm, such as their leadership of the eugenics movement, their embrace of President Woodrow Wilson’s arrest of reporters and others under sedition and espionage acts, their stereotyping of Eastern and Southern Europeans as inferior, their support of the 1924 Immigration Act to restrict the immigration of those inferiors, their adoption of social-welfare policies and programs that created dependency and made fathers unnecessary in the raising of children, and, most recently, their worsening of race relations with diversity and inclusion initiatives that are actually the opposite of what they are purported to be.

Oh, and don’t forget their portrayal of Churchill as being worse than Mao.


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