In order to prepare for the History Internal Assessment Paper I will visit the Glendale Public Library to check out two books on China and a copy of “Mao”. Along with the books from the library, I will visit Glendale Community College to use their databases to find further information about Mao, Maoism, and the People’s Republic of China; while also searching their library for additional books dealing in the same area.
Summary of Evidence:
Mao “was born into a peasant family in a valley called Shaoshan…The date was 26 December 1893”1. Being a member of the peasant class and the son of a farmer, Mao was raised without excessive expenses being diverted to him. Therefore, he slowly gained a desire to improve his social level, but “did not imbue him with idealism about improving the lot of Chinese peasants”2. Throughout his youth, Mao devoured “translations of Western writings” to “free his mind of traditional constraints”3. Such actions embodied a “time of unprecedented personal and intellectual freedom” in which “everything that had been taken for granted was questioned, and what had been viewed as wrong proclaimed as right”4. After years of studying the revolutionary philosophies of individuals like Karl Marx, Mao created a philosophy of revolution that became known as Maoism, which is a reference to the “vision, ideology, and political viewpoint of Mao”5. However, it was not until Mao’s “’Report on the Peasant Movement in Hunan’”6 that the peasants were seen as “the main force of the Chinese Revolution”6. Mao did not believe that “some human beings should be sacrificed for the welfare of the majority, we are in favor of a moderate revolution, through education, and seeking the welfare of all…We regard Russian-style-Marxist-revolutions as ethically wrong”5. Maoism was based around three unique characteristics, the first of which being the “notion of permanetness in time and unlimitedness in space”6. The second “perception of revolution reflected the profoundly voluntaristic belief that human consciousness, rather than the material conditions of society, would determine the orientation of historical development”6 and the third “notion of revolution put greater emphasis on destruction than on construction”6. “Mao initiated the movement in order to prevent further development of a Soviet-style communism”7. Mao spent decades of his life climbing the political and military ladders, killing “70 million people by the time of his death”3 in order to complete his desires of establishing a new government in China and “on October 1, 1949, Mao was proclaimed president of the newly established People's Republic of China”8. “Mao persistently emphasized the necessity of “continuing the revolution" after the CCP seized power in 1949”6. By the time of the formation of the People’s Republic of China “the CCP claimed a membership of 4.5 million, of which members of peasant origin accounted for nearly 90 percent”9.
Source Evaluation A:
Origin: The novel, “Mao, the Unknown Story”, was written by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday and published on June 2nd, 2005 in the United Kingdom.
Purpose: The novel was written to inform people about the life and significance of Mao Zedong, the leader of a cultural revolution that ended with the creation of the People’s Republic of China.
Value: “Mao, the Unknown Story” provides a significant amount of valuable information in terms of the research question for this paper. To begin with, the novel, “Mao, the Unknown Story”, provides a look into how Maoism began by looking at the individual who eventually created that doctrine of thought. By better understanding the man that created Maoism, allowing the paper to provide a stronger background and reasoning for the establishment of Maoism. To continue with, the novel is valuable because it provides a look into the world that Mao was born into, providing a better understanding of why a doctrine like Maoism would come into existence and why it would grow to be as popular as it became. To conclude with, “Mao, the Unknown Story” is valuable because it is not a primary source of information. Unlike a primary source, a secondary source does not have as strong of an emotional attachment to the subject of discussion.
Limitations: “Mao, the Unknown Story”, although very valuable, has several limitations in terms of the research question being discussed in this paper. First of all, the novel is limited because it only discusses China before the People’s Republic of China through Mao. In order to truly understand why Maoism became popular in China, it is necessary to understand the life of the average citizen of China. Second of all, the novel is limited by its hindsight in that everything is told from a modern perspective rather than the perspective of the people of the time period. The change in perspective limits the novel in that it does not provide an understanding of the way of thinking during the time period of the formation of the People’s Republic of China. Third of all, the novel is limited by its attempt to look at Mao in an unconventional way. In their attempt to avoid conventionality, the authors miss a few details that must be found elsewhere.
Source Evaluation B:
Origin: The article, Maoism – Its Origins and Outlook, was first published in the Socialist Register and the Les Temps Modernes in 1964 by Isaac Deutscher and transcribed by Martin Fahlgren, but was only placed online in 2012.
Purpose: The purpose of the article is to show capitalist democracies that the ideas presented by Mao and Lenin are capable of success and the reasons for why Maoism gained success when Marxism did not.
Value: Maoism – Its Origins and Outlook is valuable for numerous reasons. To begin with, the article is valuable because it provides some of the major factors that led socialist ideas to take over in China in ways that it was never able to do in Russia. In order to understand how Maoism was able to lead to the formation of the People’s Republic of China, it is important to understand what events, social turmoil, and beliefs going on in China led to the acceptance of Maoism. To continue with, the article details a few of the differences between Marxism and Maoism; which helps to better the essay through the improved understanding of Maoism. In order to fully understand the success of Maoism over Marxism, it is important to understand the slight differences between them. To conclude with, the article is valuable because it only discusses the lead up to the formation of the People’s Republic of China without discussing the issues that came about after 1949 and stays mainly within thirty years of its creation.
Limitation: The article is limited for several reasons including its socialist leaning and focus on Marxism. First of all, the article is limited because it has a socialist leaning that drives it to display Marxism and Maoism in a light that is created to lead people with anti-socialist views to move towards socialist ideals. In order to better understand Maoism, it is important to see both the good and bad in it to determine what might have held it back. Second of all, the article’s focus on Marxism is limiting because the essay is based on Maoist ideals and not the comparison of the two ideologies.
Maoism is a reference to Mao Zedong’s political and ideological system of thought that helped in the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Unlike Marxism, the revolutionist system of thought created by Karl Marx and the principle source of Mao’s system of belief, Maoism was able to help Mao obtain his revolutionary goals and create the People’s Republic of China through the directing of a massive peasant following. Maoism shares many core ideas with Marxism because of Mao’s desires to form a governmental system similar to what Karl Marx believed would be the most effective, but Mao did not believe that “some human beings should be sacrificed for the welfare of the majority” desiring “a moderate revolution, through education, and seeking the welfare of all”5. Even though both Marxism and Maoism shared many core similarities, it was Mao’s three unique characteristics and the conditions in China that provided Maoism the fuel it needed to create a peasant based revolution capable of establishing a new government and placing himself at the top.
To begin with, Mao believed that his revolution would have to be unlimited in time and space. Unlike the majority of other revolutionary systems of thought, Maoism relies on continuing the revolution even after a new governmental system is put into place. Even after the creation of the People’s Republic of China, Mao desired to continue his revolution against anyone in opposition to the new system that he had created. When Mao references an “unlimitedness in space”6, he is making a statement that any revolutionary actions that are taken up against the government of China must be taken up against any and all individuals who desire to go against the grain. The idea that revolution cannot simply be targeted towards the aristocrats in society and must continues well after gaining victory separates Maoism from the failed concepts presented by many other revolutionaries.
To continue with, Mao’s belief that “the profoundly voluntaristic belief that human consciousness… would determine the orientation of historical development”6 is possibly the most influential of Maoism’s beliefs because it made use of a blossoming Chinese citizenry. During the time of Mao’s rise to power, China was just beginning to experience a “time of unprecedented personal and intellectual freedom”4 that was unlike any other time in China’s history up until that time. While Mao was rising to power, many individuals throughout China were freeing their minds and proclaiming everything that was once thought of as wrong, as right. However, “Soviet-style communism”7 remained a system that few were willing to accept and Mao used the fear of the people to manipulate them into helping him create a system that would keep them safe from Stalin’s communist society. The peasantry class was targeted by Mao to be used as the principle force of Mao’s revolutionary army because many peasants thought traditional ideas were unjust and desired to move up the class system by any means.
To conclude with, Maoism was centered on construction instead of destruction. The idea that Mao’s revolutionary group was focused on the reconstruction of China more so that the destruction of anything standing in the way of revolution provided Mao’s revolutionary army to gain acceptance as the group bring about a new China, instead of a group determined to eradicate the mere idea of the China presently in place. Previous revolutions, like the French and Russian Revolutions focused solely on the dissolution of the government in place and did not place any attention to the destruction being done until after the goal of revolution was accomplished. Maoism‘s desire to bring about the reconstruction of China during its revolution was a unique characteristic that provided a reason to support the revolutionary actions taking place under Mao.
In conclusion, the revolutionary philosophy that Mao presented under the name, Maoism, provided him with a guide to political success. Maoism was capable of providing Mao with the presidency and government system that he desired because of its three unique characteristics and the conditions arising in China. Mao placed construction ahead of destruction, believed that voluntary peasant participation would lead to success, and desired to continue a revolution after gaining the goals he set out to obtain. Even though Maoism’s unique ideas provided a strong base for a successful revolution, the conditions in China, including the newly gained intellectual freedom and fear of the communist system seen in Russia provided the necessity for revolution that allowed Mao to act quickly and forcibly to obtain a new government in China. Therefore, the conditions in China and Maoism’s ideas provided Mao what he needed to create the People’s Republic of China.
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Explanation of Student Work
The essay above is my internal assessment paper for IB History IV HL and is an attempt to understand how Maoist ideals and the conditions in China during the rise of Mao Zedong led to the formation of the People’s Republic of China. The paper provides a firsthand look into the difficulties that will be faced in college.