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 New Book - The Battle for China’s Past by Mobo Gao

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Revolution #140, August 17, 2008

http://www.revcom.us/a/140/CIO-Mobo_Gao-en.html

Check It Out
New Book - The Battle for China’s Past by Mobo Gao

We received the following "Check It Out" from the Set the Record Straight Project.

We urge Revolution readers to check out the new book The Battle for China’s Past: Mao & the Cultural Revolution, by Mobo Gao (London: Pluto Press, 2008). In recent years, many memoirs and histories have been churned out that paint the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976) as a disaster, and depict Mao Tsetung as a monster. The expectation is that anything written by someone who lived through this period will just have “horror stories” to tell. But Gao, who grew up in rural China and came of age in the 1960s, lived through the Cultural Revolution, upholds it, and carefully documents its achievements. How refreshing!

As the title of the book suggests, there is a real battle for historical truth about Mao and the Cultural Revolution. The current leadership in China has a vested interest in slandering the Cultural Revolution as a “decade of calamity.” After all, they are carrying out a capitalist program. And everything Mao stood and fought for was about uprooting exploitation and oppression and unleashing the masses to create a truly liberating society and world. And is it any wonder that the books about Mao that overwhelmingly get published in the West are negative portrayals?

Contrary to the standard claim that the Cultural Revolution was an exercise in “despotic terror,” Gao explains: “The Cultural Revolution involved many millions of people who willingly participated in what they saw as a movement to better Chinese society and humanity in general.”

Contrary to the endlessly repeated charge that China was a basket case under Mao, Gao cites numerous studies demonstrating that the economy, in agriculture and in industry, showed consistent growth during the Cultural Revolution decade, outpacing many developing countries. He shows that there was an explosion of cultural creativity among ordinary peasants and workers. He describes the historic breakthroughs in healthcare in socialist China. Gao also gets into other controversial issues, like the real positive changes that took place in Tibet in the 1949-76 period.

What makes The Battle for China’s Past especially valuable is that it takes on two books that have received wide promotion in the West and that have spread incredible misinformation, vicious distortion, and ludicrous speculation about Mao Tsetung.

The first is Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story. Gao shows how the book is dishonestly crafted, that the authors play fast and loose with facts, to argue that Mao is like Hitler. Gao shows how quotations are ripped out of context. He examines historical episodes like the Long March and the Great Leap Forward—and contrasts reality with Chang and Halliday’s scholarship of deception and invention. Gao goes on to detail the actual reality of the Cultural Revolution that has been suppressed and sums up: “The fact that the book [Mao: The Unknown Story] has been taken as serious scholarship by the popular media is an intellectual scandal.”

The other major book Gao critically exposes is Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman Mao. This is a sensationalistic account of Mao’s personal life that has the seeming “authority” of having been written by an insider: Mao’s personal physician. Gao discusses the contested character of memoirs—who does the remembering and how are memories reconstructed and manufactured? He challenges Li’s ability to have witnessed and known all of what he recounts (and Gao reveals politically-motivated discrepancies between the Chinese and English-language editions of this book). Gao makes the important point that for Li, everything is an elite power or personal struggle—the real issues of class struggle and the struggle over economic and social policies are barely mentioned in this doctor’s book.

The Battle for China’s Past is not intended as a comprehensive history or analysis of Mao’s theory of continuing the revolution under socialism. But this book fills a great need. It contests the anti-Mao memoir literature that has such influence in the West and punctures big lies about Mao and the Cultural Revolution.

Also, check out these other books that challenge the standard distortion that the Cultural Revolution was a terrible thing:

Mobo Gao, Gao Village (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999). Political struggles and social-economic-cultural changes in the author’s home village during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.

Xueping Zhong, Wang Zheng, and Bai Di, eds. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era (Rutgers University Press, 2001). A collection of memoirs. What was happening in families and neighborhoods; breaking with traditional gender roles; and going to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.

Dongping Han, China’s Unknown Revolution (paperback edition available in December from Monthly Review Press). How the Cultural Revolution opened educational opportunity and politically empowered peasants in the rural villages—based on extensive research and interviews.
  
  
  

 
 
无限风光在险峰
顶端 Posted: 2008-09-08 03:46 | [楼 主]
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I downloaded this book from then gigapedia.com, but the site [later renamed library.com] is no more.
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2012-03-13 23:43 | 1 楼
ziliao
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Quote:
引用第1楼bookworn于2012-03-13 23:43发表的  :
I downloaded this book from then gigapedia.com, but the site [later renamed library.com] is no more.


try http://free-books.us.to/  or http://gen.lib.rus.ec/

but they are not so stable.
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2012-03-14 07:44 | 2 楼
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The Mao Era

Posted by Maoist Rebel News on 2010 07 05
Modern Chinese scholars often claim to represent the Chinese people as a whole, but they really don’t. How the Chinese view the Mao era is often, but not always, dependent on the individual’s class. The Chinese scholars, being the elite, naturally view it pretty negatively.

Mao and his comrades in the CCP are often accused of violence against people who disagreed with them. However, there was no official policy for violence. In 1966, the CCP approved a decree for the whole of China. It said that no school, mine, factory, administration, or any other unit could set up a makeshift court to persecute anyone. The official policy was “engaged in struggle with words, not with physical attacks”. This was recorded in an official Cultural Revolution document called “The 16 Articles”. Mao is often accused of creating the Red Guards. There were Red Guards, but no such singular group called the Red Guards.

It’s also claimed that official policy was to destroy traditional objects. Despite efforts by post-Mao Chinese authorities to denounce the Cultural Revolution, no evidence has been put forward to prove that physical destruction was officially sanctioned. The official policy was to protect cultural relics from destruction. In 1967, the CCP central committee issued a document called “Several Suggestions for the Protection of Cultural”. The number of archaeological discoveries were effective. Mao also promoted the use of traditional Chinese medicine. It should also be pointed out that tension between conservation and destruction of traditions has existed in China for thousands of years.

it is often said that Chinese Red Guards were responsible for the destruction of Tibet. However, only a limited number of ethnic Chinese Red Guards reached Tibet. Most of the destruction was done by rebels of Tibetan ethnic origin. Tibetan authorities often used the PLA to restrain such radical actions.

Many lower-class Tibetans responded to Mao in a positive way because he changed their lives with a revolutionary land reform and emancipation of slaves. They liked Mao because he respected the Dalai Lama, and had good political relations with him from 1950-59.

China is often accused of imperialism for taking control of Tibet, but we must differentiate between, for example, British Imperialism in India and Chinese “Imperialism” in Tibet. First of all, there were areas of Tibet that were already part of Chinese provinces before the communist takeover. Many Tibetans and Chinese lived in those areas for a long time. No major state recognized Tibet as independent during that time either. The Tibetan population has grown since it became part of China. Whether or not Tibet should be independent now, in the 21st century, is a whole other story.

Under Mao, inflation was brought under control, the currency stabilized, and there was redistribution of large estates. Between 1950-60 the number of teachers in China rose from half a million to 2 and a half million. The number of elementary school pupils rose to 100 million. The first 8 years of Mao saw more industrial output, development of roads, and development of railroads.

China’s economy was disrupted in 1967-8, but through the rest of the 1960′s and 70′s, it grew consistently. It had positive growth in agriculture and industry. The Cultural Revolution period had a rapid growth of rural industry. The US government acknowledged this in 1978. The average life expectancy for the Chinese rose from 35 years in 1949 to 63 in 1975. Mao set up the barefoot doctors, and set up better healthcare for the rural Chinese.

There was a lot of official, semi-official, and underground activity during those years. More than 10,000 different newspapers and pamphlets were published during the Cultural Revolution. Mao even read some of these publications. However, Western academics always use so called “Red Guard” publications to access the Cultural Revolution.

During the Cultural Revolution years of 1972 to 75, China had 4 national fine arts exhibitions with over 2,000 works selected from over 12,000 works of art recommended from all over China. The exhibits attracted 7.8 million people. Such a large audience was not seen before the Cultural Revolution. The number of cinemas, cultural clubs, public libraries, and museums increased between the years of 1965 and 1976.

During the GLF, the idea of backyard furnaces was proposed. Mao was skeptical of them. They weren’t Mao’s idea, but rather Bo Yibo and Liu Shaoqi’s idea. It was Mo who said that CHina could catch up to the UK in two years. Mao didn’t say any of that and was always skeptical. He always wanted them to be cautious. Mao told the media to tone down publicity about unrealistic production targets. Deng Xiaoping said himself and other leaders were to blame for the GLF disasters, and Mao wasn’t entirely at fault. Deng was in charge of implementing the GLF policies and worked as a middle man between Mao and the local leaders who put the policies into practice. Deng and others are mainly at fault for the GLF disasters, not Mao.

I recommend you read ‘The Battle for China’s Past” by Mobo Gao!
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2012-05-22 23:42 | 3 楼
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