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Politics "Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -and both commonly succeed, and are right." -H.L. Menken

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Old 04-25-2012, 05:22 AM   #51
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Dude that was awesome. I think it was shrewd to compare the death percentages at the beginning so as to dispel initial bias in the audience and have them listen to the rest with a truly open mind, to make them more receptive.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:14 AM   #52
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Alan, What's your opinion of the 100 Flowers Movement, especially with regard to Mao:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Flowers_Campaign
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:31 PM   #53
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I apologize for taking this long to respond, I don't know why I didn't do so sooner.
You can see that the intentions of the movement were very beautiful and idealistic:

"Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend."

First of all, my main contention with this would be a philosophical one. The biggest break between Maoism and European Marxism has to do with the concept of contradiction. In the West, Marxism is very Hegelian, so a contradiction naturally arises from any point of affirmation, and it will have to deal with this contradiction to overcome it, or rather sublate it. In Maoism, being influenced by Taoism, the contradiction also naturally arises from the affirmation, but there is no synthesis, there is no sublation, only further division, the famous 'one becomes two' over and over again.

So to Maoists, the hundred flowers blooming are a hundred different communisms, because once communism wins over the people, it can only divide itself even further.

So I'm not sure if I agree with this, but I definitely like the idea and it resonates a bit with Deleuzean rhizomatics - although Badiou, having been a Maoist, definitely would say that Deleuze still doesn't champion the 'many' as he claimed he did.


From a political perspective, though, we can see a huge problem emerging, but even by reading the wikipedia entry we understand it so I don't need to say much about it:
What if it was just a ploy? What if it was just a plan to make dissenters feel confident that they could criticize the state so that the state could find them and then repress them? Isn't that sort of what happened? And by 'sort of' I mean 'EXACTLY' what happened?

Well, the answer that I give to that might feel like handwaving the issue, but with what I explained in the audio I believe it makes sense. The answer is that whether this was planned all along as a means to consolidate power, or it was a genuine and honest idea, that does not matter. What matters is that the people themselves saw it as a new stage of greater freedom of speech and higher level of criticism and discussion, and that's what they were determined to get.
Sadly it didn't happen, in the same way the anarchist communes in Spain also didn't last against Franco's fascist military machine. But for a little over a month, people made sure to lay the foundations of a new society with genuine freedom of speech, assembly, and information. The defeat wasn't because of an internal problem that made the movement unsustainable, or an inconsistency in the structures set in place. The defeat was an external issue, the power of the Communist Party, even as led by Mao, and it was the Communist Party and not the people who decided to backpedal from the Hundred Flowers Campaign. Because the Communist Party had already consolidated their military power, in direct contrast to the early Mao who preached that the People's War meant that the military cannot be distinct from the masses themselves, it was easy to crush such a movement.

So we see that the failure of this movement is the same failure of pretty much every other revolutionary event: the creative affirmation of the multitude gets crushed by the conservative might of the State.

The lesson here, then, is not that Maoism, as exemplified by the Hundred Flowers Movement, failed because it was too extremist. It failed because it didn't go far enough.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:25 PM   #54
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If it helps at all my Chinese professor was of the opinion that they were genuine about the hundred flowers, but felt overwhelmed and threatened once they realized how many had different ideas and complaints.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:42 PM   #55
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Didn't the Cultural Revolution wither because Mao died? The upheaval was Mao's attempt to purge the supposed wishywashy and consolidate power against others in the party.

Didn't go far enough or just didn't have the arms to fight the military controlled by the rest of the party? Didn't go far enough principle wise to gain the support of the military?
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:17 PM   #56
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Sorry again, it took me a whole week to come back to this thread this time.
Well, the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 and Mao did die in that same year, but Mao had actually tried to 'officially' end the Cultural Revolution within his lifetime. It still kept going even after Mao didn't want to, and even by Mao's wife herself. So the end of the Cultural Revolution as we know it is linked to Mao's death because that's the opportunity the Communist Party seized to put on trial the Gang of Four.

Your two questions, in my opinion, should be cut up and pasted into one to understand the full extent of that going beyond which I'm talking about. They didn't go far enough in the principles they espoused, not to gain support of the military, but to have more military power than the military. It was a part of Maoist principle that the military should not be separate from the civilian population. This doesn't mean that the military should just in principle support the people, but rather that an official and bureaucratic military branch shouldn't exist, and that people themselves are the military branch.
This, interestingly enough, echoes a lot of the sentiment of right-wing libertarians about how the United States should be armed by militias and so on. The principles of Maoism and the real examples of pretty much all Latin America just shows the real consequence of such an espousal of guerrilla civilian movements, instead of pretending these right-wing gun nutjobs could honestly mobilize as egotist individuals against a state without having class consciousness.
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