Historical hard-head Keith Windschuttle has written a savage, fact-filled attack on Maoism for Quadrant magazine.
Windschuttle, who like many of us was a soft leftie until he grew up and got brains, rounds on the usual unreconstructed suspects.
In the Seventies, Maoism in Australia became radical chic. Celebrities such as advertising executive Phillip Adams and ambassador to China Stephen Fitzgerald turned Mao caps and jackets into fashionable attire. The collection of Mao’s revolutionary aphorisms, The Little Red Book, became a best-seller in left-wing bookshops. In 1971, a tract by two Danish authors urging children to defy authority and enjoy sex was published and sold in Australia by radical journalist Wendy Bacon under the name The Little Red Schoolbook . After New York ‘s Andy Warhol produced his silk screen multiple portraits of the great helmsman in 1972, the National Gallery of Australia purchased a copy. Sydney celebrity artist Brett Whiteley followed with a number of social realist paintings acclaiming life in China under Communism. As part of a series of portraits of his artistic heroes, van Gogh, Gauguin and Bacon, Whiteley added one of Chairman Mao in full military dress.
Importantly, Windschuttle draws on reputable sources to demonstrate just what an evil, genocidal tyrant Mao was. His slaughter victims top Hitler’s and Stalin’s combined.
It is unlikely that future Chinese anniversaries will be celebrated by anyone in the Australian media in the same way. Mao Tse-tung now stands revealed as the greatest mass murderer in human history. We now have plausible evidence that he was responsible for the deaths of more than 70 million people, a tally larger than that achieved by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin combined. In their new biography Mao: The Unknown Story ( Jonathan Cape, London, 814 pages, $59.95), Jung Chang and Jon Halliday attribute 38 million of these deaths to the great Chinese famine of 1958–61. Another 27 million were executed or worked to death between 1950 and 1976 in Mao’s gulag of prisons and labour camps. During the initial nationwide campaign of terror to consolidate his regime from October 1950 to October 1951, Mao oversaw three million Chinese killed by execution, mob violence and suicide. A further three million suffered the same fate after 1966 at the hands of the Red Guards and other protagonists of the Cultural Revolution.
I feel embarrassed that in my youth I thought this monster was a force for good. But I at least admit my folly. The silence from most publicly proclaimed Maoists of the 60s and 70s could lead many to believe they still hold those views. They don’t, surely?
Moreover, Chang and Halliday reveal how much responsibility Mao had for this particular catastrophe. Becker had attributed the famine largely to the ideological folly of a failed experiment in collectivization. Chang and Halliday produce new evidence to show it was more sinister than that. Mao’s regime confiscated Chinese harvests during the Great Leap Forward so it could export food to Communist-controlled Eastern Europe in exchange for armaments and political support. Food and money were also exported to support anti-colonial and Communist movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the first year of famine, 1958–59, China exported seven million tons of grain, enough to feed 38 million people. In 1960, a year in which 22 million Chinese died of starvation, China was the biggest international aid donor in terms of proportion of GNP in the world. Thanks to Chinese agricultural exports, East Germany was able to lift food rationing in 1958, and Albania in 1961.
In China at the same time a major food source for the urban population became the “food substitute” chlorella, a disgusting substance that grew in urine and contained a little protein. In the countryside, starving Chinese peasants were reduced to eating bark and compost and, in Anhui and Gansu provinces, to cannibalism. In Chinese cities in 1960, the maximum daily intake was 1200 calories, compared to the 1300-1700 calories a day fed to the inmates of Auschwitz .
Read the lot and reflect on the cult-following this maniac enjoyed in Australian universities and some unions 20 to 40 years ago. And consider that many of those followers hold positions in academia, politics and media. Perhaps Windschuttle’s sizzling essay will spark some expressions of remorse.
Hmmm, Porcine Airlines cleared for landing.
This letter to The Australian dumps on the sentiments of at least one former Monash Univeristy (60s-70s habitat of Aussie Maoists) activist. His brother, at least, saw the light.
IN rejecting his brother’s suggestion that radical Muslim preachers should be deported, Tim Costello has demonstrated his graduation from champion of the downtrodden to full membership of a contemporary version of “Mao’s Useful Idiots” (“Fear factor splits the two Costello brothers”, 24/11). That coterie of supporters of the world’s most murderous political system included crazed clergymen willingly and fatuously blinded to reality. Magnanimously Pastor Costello concedes the difficulty of dealing with suicide bombers, but regarding radical Muslim preachers he’s “not saying deport them. I’m saying publish them – publish, publish, publish – and debate it”. Well, I guess that is what supporters of appeasement no doubt pushed when confronted by Hitler’s demands in the 1930s. Debate and negotiation served no purpose then. Furthermore, what is the use of debate when the other side is utterly intransigent and prefers murder and mayhem to civilised discourse? Extremism knows no bounds, the stakes are now too high, so our tolerance should have limits. Apart from pious hand-wringing and mealy-mouthed pleas for more debate, will Tim Costello take any personal responsibility if, or rather when, it is demonstrated that the tolerance he demands for radical Muslim preachers has contributed to injuries and deaths from a terrorist strike in this country?