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Do you agree with the assessment that Mao was nothing other than a ruthless dictator?

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Do you agree with the assessment that Mao was nothing other than a ruthless dictator? There are many contrasting views on Mao; some say he was a great leader who brought China forward however some see him as a ruthless dictator. There are many ways in which he was just a ruthless dictator. Mao did many things to increase his control and make China a one party totalitarian state. Firstly as soon as he came to power, Mao immediately started his own ?cult of personality? to have more power of China and set himself up as a legitimate ruler. The party officials were sent to spread the word of Mao and keep the people in check. He did allow free speech for a short period of time in 1956 with ?The Hundred Flowers? however it was abruptly stopped and the critics were sent arrested. Even his first Five Year Plan from 1953 was used as a major tool to have more control. ...read more.


The revolution began with schoolchildren and students; schools were closed for two years to rewrite the curriculum and they were encouraged to form military groups called Red Guards. They were to get rid of all bourgeois or capitalist influences in society, mainly in schools. They started with a campaign against the ?Four Olds? ? old ideas, culture, customs and habits in this they destroyed many historical and religious artefacts. They also campaigned for true communism instead of ?going down the capitalist road?. They became increasingly violent attacking anything remotely reactionary even people with western hairstyles or people with landlord parents. However despite all of this chaos Mao encouraged it saying ?to rebel is justified?. Estimates of the death toll are around a million with many more affected in other ways e.g. tortured but some estimates go up to 20 million as some even committed suicide and when told about this he dismissed it saying ?China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people?. ...read more.


Mao also managed to modernise China and make many positive changes. The revolution ultimately freed millions of Chinese peasants from serfdom which laying the foundations for modern China which is undoubtedly better than warlord China or China under the Guomindang. Wealth was redistributed as many landlords were stripped of their land during the Agrarian Reform Law and shared out between the peasants. He improved the rights of women introducing new laws to stop old practices and give them more rights e.g. husbands and wives jointly owned property. Literacy rates rocketed and the people were much better organised to maximise their working power. It is even fair to say his harsh dictatorship was needed to keep China stable as if critics were allowed to speak openly it could have plunged China into chaos once again. To conclude, the evidence suggests that although it was not all his fault and there were some successes, most of his big policies ended with millions killed and failed mainly and his Cultural Revolution was ultimately to get him more power no matter how many were killed and just caused chaos with no positives for the country as a whole. ...read more.

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