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Thoughts from Abroad

December 30, 2010

One of the sweetest pleasures in British politics is watching the goody-two-shoes Liberal Democrats struggle with the responsibilities of office. The embarrassment over tuition fees is only the start. Next year the spending cuts really start grinding away and this populist political party will really feel the strain especially their vacuous leader, Nick Clegg, who had the luxury in this year’s campaign of being all things to all people in the style of a Bob Brown or the now-extinct Australian Democrats.

Polls show Lib-Dem support dropping sharply. Whether Labor or the Conservativese win the next general election they will not need to govern with these middle-way hand-wringers.

The self-correcting mechanism that purrs away in the political mechanism is a little wonder.

More on MAO…

I commented recently on the research that confirms the numbers murdered by Mao in the famine caused by the Great Leap Forward are now even higher than previously believed by historians.

I recent spoke to two Chinese and asked them about family histories. One told me his grandparents remember the time as one where they gave responsibility of feeding their kids to other parents . They had to take food from kids to keep going themselves and it was easier if another set of parents made the decision to take food off the childrens’ plates. The starvation was universal.

Another told me a relative had returned to China in these years and the famine was so savage and the exposure to suffering so traumatic the relative, on returning to Malaysia, had wept for months.

Mao’s China was worse in these years than even the sternest historians like Jung Chang have assumed. There has probably been nothing on this scale in human history.

In turn, it led Mao to launch his cultural revolution to purge the party of people who had opposed him during the Great Leap Forward. Its failure in turn left China so impoverished that going capitalist under Deng’s leadership was the only way forward – staying with a socialist system was just not an option.

This “sediment of suffering” in Chinese history deserves to be fully excavated. The victims deserve it, no less than the victims of Lenin and Stalin and Hitler.

One Comment
  1. Matt permalink
    January 1, 2011 9:57 pm

    It’s strange how culturally Mao escapes the kind of monster status given to Hitler and Stalin. There’s even a store in Surrey Hills selling kitch Mao propaganda products, you could imagine the outrage if someone was to open a store of these other 20th century dictators. One reason could be that Mao’s successors never trashed his legacy, even though it should have been, even the more moderate faction of the CCP has been so careful to never show anything less than reverence to the Mao legacy.

    I hope in time Mao is given proper cultural recognition as mass murderer he was – both in China and in the West.

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