The Cult of Mao Tse-tung
Father of the Peoples Republic of China
From a strategic and tactical standpoint Mao patterned his use of asymmetric warfare after the great Sun-tzu. Mao recognized that if he were to lead his upstart Red Army over the well armed and trained Japanese Imperialist Army, he would need to adopt not only unconventional tactics but also create a mindset within his troops that would will his army of peasants to victory over their oppressors. Mao is considered the “father” of modern guerrilla warfare.
Mao’s operational procedures included “emphasizing that guerrilla operations must be combined in conjunction with conventional warfare tactics.” (1) This progressive approach to warfare included the creation of strategy “based primarily on alertness, mobility, and attack. It must be adjusted to the enemy situation, the terrain, the existing lines of communication, the relative strengths, the weather and the situation of the people.” (2) Ultimately Mao’s tactics were very simple:"The enemy advances, we retreat, the enemy camps, we harass, the enemy tires, we attack, the enemy retreats, we pursue." (3) His tactics may have been simplistic, however they were effective, and evened the odds as China fought for its independence from Japan.
Moving forward, Mao Tse-tung strengthened his “cult of personality” effect on the poor people of China via addressing the “needs” of the peasants of China. Mao Tse-tung manipulated China’s poverty stricken by instilling a false sense of compassion and concerned, that could be described as the “calm before the storm” in Mao’s 27 reign of power in China. As the architect of Communist China, Mao created the "Six Principles of the Red Army" which included; Put back all doors when you leave a house, Rice-stalk mattresses must all be bundled up again and returned, Be polite, Help people when you can, Give back everything you borrow, even if it’s only a needle, Pay for all things broken, even if only a chopstick. Don’t help yourself or search for things when people are not in their houses.” (4) Mao endeared himself to the “common people” of China with such fundamental, practical principles to live by. However during the subsequent years that followed the expulsion of the Japanese, and defeat of Chang Kai-Skek’s Nationalist Movement, it appeared that the true nature of Mao Tse-tung surfaced. Thus the turbulent years of Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.
It would appear that Mao Tse-tung may have shared a common trait with his nemesis Chang Kai-Shek; both leaders quite simply expected more than what the human beings that they were leading was capable of delivering. However in the case of Mao; if you failed him and or opposed you could face imprisonment or execution. Therefore his so called “Great Leap Forward” began to lose traction in 1959. (5)
As for Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” he “deliberately set out to create a cult for himself and to purge the Chinese Communist Party of anyone who did not fully support Mao. His main selling point was a desire to create a China which had peasants, workers and educated people working together – no-one was better than anyone else and all working for the good of China – a classless society.” (6) Again a classless society proved to be an unrealistic concept for Mao to achieve, however after removing all who opposed him Mao Tse-tung found no need to continue his three year “Cultural Revolution” and ruled China until his death in 1976 at the age of 83. (7)
In closing Mao Tse-tung’s legacy in China lives on when viewing his accomplishments from a modern day Peoples Republic of China’s perspective; Mao was the leader who vanquished their long time Asian nemesis imperialistic Japan from their homeland, and humiliated and exiled Chang Kai-Shek and Western influenced Nationalist Movement to Taiwan. Today the Peoples Republic of China is a powerful Communist nation and Mao Tse-tung is their “founding father” and thus he is revered.
(2) Maoist Documentation Project (2000); Mao Tse-tung Reference Archive (marxists.org) 2000
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