In this essay I’m going to compare and contrast the developmental paths for China proposed by Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong. I’m also going to asses the overall effectiveness of each path. Mao Zedong is best known as the founder of People's Republic of China. His opinion about the developmental path of China ranged from utopian to pragmatic visions. Therefore, some people believe him to be one of the most brutal dictators in the world’s history, whilst others consider him to be the national hero of China.
The core of Mao’s ideology was Marxism-Leninism, but it was adapted to Chinese circumstances. Mao’s notion of democracy was associated with the leading position of the Communist party, which was a highly disciplined organization able to inspire the masses. Indeed, “the most famous phrase from this resolution is the populist credo of Maoism: ‘Correct leadership must come from the masses and go to the masses. ’”
He introduced the concept of People’s Democratic Dictatorship lead by the working class and based on the joint action of workers and peasants: “Mao assumes that democracy means a government that reflects the interests of China's ordinary people; he does not mean elected representative government in the American sense. ” (Cheek, 2002:77) The proletarian revolution resulted “in the establishment of a new democratic society under the joint dictatorship of all the revolutionary classes. ”
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Along with being a prominent leader, Mao was a great thinker and writer. He tried to understand the events of his lifetime in the general context of Chinese history. Numerous revolutions had taken place in the country by Mao’s times, and he believed that “the revolutionary shift makes sense in Marxist terms – from bourgeois leadership of the old revolution, which achieved national independence in 1911, to proletarian leadership of the new revolution, which was to achieve socialism in the future.
” The developmental path proposed by Mao had many features of authoritarianism, for instance, “one of the core aspects of Maoism, this is the process of changing the way a person thinks, known in the West as brainwashing. ” While Mao was able to develop a strong and stable system of party leadership and unified the country, some of his ideas were absolutely utopian: the event of 1958 “produced the big push for Mao's utopian scheme, the ‘people's communes,’ and ushered in the high tide of the Great Leap Forward.
” The most well-known policies by Mao Zedong are Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, and both failed. Great Leap Forward was “industrial and agricultural program, which did not have the success he expected. He urged to construct backyard steel furnaces to gain the Western steel production. This unrealistic project was not without a certain good will, although results were tragic: about 30 million people died in the famine, when ill-trained peasants were forced to carry out the gigantic industrialization plan.
” Cultural Revolution was a response to the political destabilization in the country and direct threat to Mao’s authority. Within this policy “Red Guards were formed in 1966 and sent into the countryside to force bureaucrats, professors, technicians, intellectuals, and other nonpeasants into rural work. In the vengeful outburst of hatred and ignorance, tens of thousands were murdered or forced to give up their jobs, and China's economy suffered.
” As for Deng Xiaoping, he managed to unite communist ideology with functioning market economy. He declared that “while it must modernize, China would not liberalize nor take the capitalist road. ” (Marti, 2002:17) But in fact Deng Xiaoping believed that within a “Marxist government which practiced a Marxist, centrally-controlled economic system, allowance would be made for the local, limited practice of capitalist economic methods. These local capitalist initiatives of diversified economic components were mainly characterized by joint ventures and enterprises run by foreign businessmen as sole proprietors. ”All these initiatives boosted Chinese economy to make it one of the most competitive in modern Asia. Simultaneously, westernization and liberalization didn’t lead to destabilization of the communist system.
This scenario of development was possible because Deng Xiaoping “stressed that while the modernization program would continue to draw upon the expertise and experience of foreign models, the process would be integrated with the universal truths of Marxism and the concrete realities of China. ” But Deng Xiaoping took a different developmental path not only in economic life. One of the important social innovations was his policy called Beijing Spring, “which allowed open criticism of the excesses and suffering that had occurred during the period.
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