"Given this kind of official condemnation of the Great Leap Forward, one might expect lower-level federation leaders –women who advocated on behalf of women – to be critical of this period as well. But many former Women’s Federation leaders whom I interviewed described the Great Leap Forward as the high point of women’s liberation in China."
Kimberly Manning, “Making a Great Leap Forward? The Politics of Women’s Liberation in Maoist China” (via club-des-jacobins-morts)
The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of excess deaths. Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million to 45 million, with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million. Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history.”
The years of the Great Leap Forward in fact saw economic regression, with 1958 through 1961 being the only years between 1953 and 1983 in which China’s economy saw negative growth. Political economist Dwight Perkins argues, “enormous amounts of investment produced only modest increases in production or none at all. … In short, the Great Leap was a very expensive disaster.”
In subsequent conferences in 1960 and 1962, the negative effects of the Great Leap Forward were studied by the CPC, and Mao was criticized in the party conferences. Moderate Party members like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping rose to power, and Mao was marginalized within the party, leading him to initiate the Cultural Revolution in 1966.
>tumblr leftists in charge of not being supportive of state orchestrated mass murder
>tumblr leftists equating the mass murder of tens of millions of innocent people, the collapse of a nation’s economy and social well being to something that was great for women’s liberation.
shiggy diggy day a wiggidy woo
Oh wow, the Great Leap Forward was actually bad? How embarrassing for me! I’m so glad that someone came along and quoted Wikipedia to set me straight.
Or no, actually — like anyone else who grew up in a society where anti-communist lies and distortions are common currency, I’ve almost never heard the Great Leap mentioned without breathless denunciations of the bloodthirsty tyrant Mao and sympathy for those poor innocent Chinese ground under his heel.
The thing is that unlike you, I read past the first Wikipedia article to come across my browser and eventually I realized that there is exactly zero evidence of the “mass murder” and Communist perfidy of the usual telling, and that the actual legacy of the GLF is much more mixed.
It turns out that the available evidence overwhelmingly points to a well-intentioned and plausible campaign to develop the country’s economy, which failed overall because of an unprecedented series of floods and droughts, the major loss of Soviet aid, as well as human level at individual and systemic levels. It should go without saying that the death counts are endlessly inflated in a political and academic environment where there are no penalties for exaggerating any bad aspects of communism. I’m a little bit surprised that Wikipedia limits itself to claiming 45 million dead — check back in a couple weeks and you’ll probably learn that Mao personally killed 80 million people during this period.
This is exactly the context for the quote that I originally posted. The Mao-as-monster school of history not only turns the GLF into a three-year orgy of fire and death but it also overlooks inconvenient facts like the fact that Chinese women themselves experienced it as a high point of liberation. For example, one of the systemic or institutional errors which exacerbated the food problems during this period was the creation of public mess halls across the country — which freed women from the burden of cooking for their families but also proved wasteful of food overall.
The period also succeeded in creating infrastructure which underlay the agricultural stability of the following period, which is why China has never again suffered from famine — something never achieved over such a timespan in 3,000 years of imperial history. But that’s a subject for another post.
If you’re actually interested in learning about this period, I would suggest first of all looking at this review which shows the utter fraudulence of the Dikotter book which you quoted via Wikipedia. Then read Joseph Ball on “Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?” If you want a more detailed academic investigation by an author who is certainly no communist, try Y. Y. Kueh’s Agricultural Instability in China, which precisely analyzes the relative contributions of weather, technology and human error in causing the failure of the GLF as well as more accurately estimating the relevant casualty numbers.
Nice reaction pic tho.
(Source: clubjacobin, via diarrefpuckhookyplay-em-offs)