Chairman Mao Zedong
Among the great historical figures of the twentieth century, Mao Zedong is most widely known for his leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and revolution that helped transform China into a socialist state. He was a founder of the party and its most powerful leader.
Mao was a key figure in China’s political and social history, and his ideas are still influencing the country today. But the Chinese government is wary of his legacy, and it is trying to keep Mao’s words out of the public domain.
One of the ways in which the Chinese government is trying to stifle discussion of Mao’s ideas is by censoring online posts and discussions. One example is a recent article that highlighted how the Chinese government has cracked down on young Marxist activists who were helping workers organize labor unions and arresting a meal-delivery worker for organizing his peers to seek better labor rights protection.
Another way in which the Chinese government is trying to thwart the idea of Maoism is through vulgarization of Mao’s writings. During the Cultural Revolution, quotation mania swept through the nation, transforming the CCP’s “Three Articles” and the Quotations into the popular texts of the time.
The Quotations were recited by many people, including school children, even illiterates. The “Three Articles” were made compulsory for everyone to study, and some schools combined politics and language studies with the reading of Mao’s writings.
These vulgarizations of Mao’s writings led to a quotation mania that lasted for several years during the Cultural Revolution. Some students recited the entire text, while others memorized key sections.
In the meantime, Mao’s ideas were also being abused by counter-revolutionary revisionists who wanted to impose their own views on China. The result was the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” a bloody power struggle that shook the nation and led to the death of tens of millions of Chinese citizens from starvation, torture, and exhaustion.
During the Cultural Revolution, many artists were inspired by Mao’s revolutionary ideas and tried to create artwork that reflected his beliefs. Liu Chunhua, a member of the “Red Guard,” was one of these artists and created this painting in the early years of the revolution, focusing on social realism to convey Mao’s goals for the people.
As a work of art that was reproduced and distributed extensively during the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan served as a resonant symbol for the communist regime. The painting’s cool color tonalities were intended to capture Mao’s determination as he marched for the plight of those suffering.
This work is an important part of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda during the Cultural Revolution, and it continues to inspire Chinese people today. In fact, this painting was so popular that it was reportedly reproduced over nine hundred million times and circulated in print, sculpture, and other media.
It was also a popular painting for Americans, like the Du Boises, who came to China in 1958. While the Du Boises were in the country, a devastating famine was destroying China’s agricultural production. The resulting starvation killed a staggering 40 million people, making it the deadliest famine in human history.