Account for the Rise of Power of Mao Zedong

Authors Avatar by peterealdoc (student)

Account for the Rise of Power of Mao Zedong

‘Few have exercised more power, personal and political, than Mao Zedong’. Salisbury’s opinion is a matter of little historical debate as the effects of Mao Zedong’s rise to power have been felt in all countries around the world. To create a Communist State in a country like China, with one of history’s oldest imperial traditions, from a Civil War where the Guomindang, Mao’s Nationalist Rivals, were superior to the Communists in terms of manpower, materiel, foreign aid to fund their war machine and international recognition as the legitimate Chinese Government, was a seemingly impossible task. Nevertheless, growing up in conditions where traditional Confucian Chinese values first began to be questioned enabled Mao to develop a political skill, a ruthless determination and a recognition of the peasants as a potential revolutionary force, from which the demagogue was able to successfully establish Soviets in Jiangxi and Yanan, an integral step in his rise to power. These Soviets were created according to Four Points of essential Sino-Marxist philosophy, namely the importance of political indoctrination, creating unity between the people and the Chinese Communist Party, creating unity between the people and the army, and most crucially the development of a mobile warfare strategy. It was this development of incredibly effective guerrilla war tactics combined with Mao’s flexibility and pragmatism that aided his rise to power, however such a feat as the establishment of a Chinese Communist State could never have been accomplished had it not been for the numerous economic, militaristic, political and personal failures of Chiang Kai Shek, leader of both the Guomindang and of the rapidly declining China.

Dissatisfaction and disappointment were rife in China, as the common feeling that China had been betrayed by its leaders rose while Mao grew up in the era of a falling imperial family and hostile warlords, and the conditions created where people were more inclined towards radicalism catalysed his rise to power.  The Chinese had experienced military humiliations throughout the late nineteenth century in the form of the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rising, yet it was the May the Fourth Movement that was ‘the spark that politicised a generation into political activity’, being later recorded in official CCP records as ‘part of the World Proletarian Revolution’. Part of this politicised generation was Mao, one of the increasing minority rejecting Confucianism and the social order it instructed. Growing up in a peasant family himself, Mao experienced firsthand the overwhelming taxes imposed upon peasants as well as the austere interest rates demanded by money lenders, some as impossible as 100% interest to be repaid in a matter of months. This experience, coupled with the influence of his employer at the library where he worked, Li Dazhao, who’s views on the peasantry as a potential revolutionary force Mao would later act upon, coupled with cutting edge literature such as Ibsen’s A Doll’s House which presented a modern view on women that also later became Communist policy, helped inspire the man Hollingworth describes as ‘a natural born rebel’ to do exactly that; rebel and join the fledgling Communist party and begin his rise to power.

Although by no means the undisputable leader of the CCP at the time of the Jiangxi Soviet, a symbol of how successful Communism could be, it was down to the Sino-Marxist principles that Mao developed that its successful rise to power was ensured; by 1934 there were an estimated 2-4 million people in Jiangxi as well as over 100,000 troops. The first of Mao’s Four Points was the importance of political indoctrination, which advocated winning over the hearts and minds of peasants. The reason for this was that Mao wanted people to be loyal to the ideology of his party and not just to its leader, as he suspected the case was with the GMD. In order to achieve this Point, Mao embarked upon a campaign of propaganda, surrounding the peasants with posters, radio and suchlike to exaggerate and publicise the failings of Chiang Kai Shek and the GMD as well as to recruit more peasants for the Red Army. Terror was also used to achieve political indoctrination, with numerous rectification campaigns that would later characterise Communist Rule, and the Futian indecent of 1940 evidencing Mao’s ruthless nature. Nevertheless, these campaigns were largely successful and established Mao himself as an exceptional political thinker.

Join now!

The second of Mao’s Four Points, creating unity between the people and the party, was also a crucial step in securing his rise to power. Mao was acutely aware of the disparity between the ruling class and the peasants, and worked towards the party being seen as champions of the peasants, presenting a sharp contrast to the GMD who seemed to have little concern for the plight of peasants.  In order to unite the people with the CCP, Mao’s cult of personality was developed, enabling him personally to be associated with providing for the peasantry and indeed CCP philosophy was ...

This is a preview of the whole essay