Was Mao Tse Tung a good leader?

1 Answer
Mar 19, 2018

This is a short but at the same time huge question.


Mao was one of the most influential figures in 20th century history and it can be argued that he was both a good and bad leader.

In terms of leading the communist party he was extremely successful. Surviving the purges in the 20's, the Long March in the 30's and both the civil war and war against the Japanese, Mao declared the Peoples' Republic of China o October 1st 1949. In so doing he was confirming the success of the communist party against at times, almost insurmountable odds.

His record as a leader of China is more mixed. Certainly he moved China forward from a feudal warlord state to one which, in theory anyway was owned by the proletariat through the Chinese Communist Party. Basic standards were guaranteed. These were very basic but significantly better than the arbitrary treatment of the peasantry beforehand.

However Mao was responsible for many failures and deaths. His attempts to improve industrial and agricultural production in the 1950's in the form of the Great Leap Forwards and organisation of land into massive communes proved disastrous.

The result was widespread famine and starvation and deaths are estimated at between 25-35 million although no-one is certain of the true figure.

In the 1960's his reaction to attempted reforms by his successors led him and his wife to unleash the Great Cultural revolution. This led to a further 10 years of industrial, political and social chaos with deaths estimated at over 100,000. It took the success of the moderate faction in overcoming his widow and allies after his death which led to the modernisation of China in the last 40 years.

yet in the context of the question although China has been transformed economically beyond recognition, many of the problems stemming from the contradictions inherent in capitalism have emerged. These were what concerned Mao, for example massive inequality, rampant corruption an the dimunition of the common good against individual selfishness and greed.