Saturday, August 4, 2007

Communism: The Promise and the Reality - 4of6 - Great Leap Forward


 

In China, Communism got a second chance. Simpler and more radical than the Soviet model, Chinese Communism sprang from the countryside rather than from the city. Mao Zedong tried to build a Communist society free of the corruption and revisionism he believed had derailed the Soviet original.

Beginning with the overthrow of landlords, the people rallied behind Mao. Yet soon, the face of communism changed again when the state took control of the land, and the people, through unrealistic economic programs and production quotas. Only extreme poverty led to a change in course.

When Mao felt China was turning down “the capitalist road,” he proclaimed a Cultural Revolution, in which unspeakable violence against intellectuals and other “subversives” swept the country.

The people remember: Mao Zedong, "takeover" of 1949, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, arrest of Gang of Four, Deng's "Second Revolution," Red Guards, Tiananmen Square.
 

About Communism: The Promise and the Reality

Communism was the most cataclysmic social experiment of the century—a mass movement whose ideals promised hope to millions but whose methods claimed millions as its victims. Now, at the end of the century that it transformed, the time has come to document Communism's rise and fall.

In Communism: The Promise and the Reality, ordinary people describe how and why they were mesmerized by the promises of Communist regimes. With those regimes collapsing around the world, they are now able to speak openly and with perspective. Theirs are extraordinary stories—stories that describe courageous acts of rebellion and heroic endurances of hardship. Never before have so many paid a price for their idealism.

These witnesses participated in the most dramatic moments in the history of Communism—from the Bolshevik assault on the Winter Palace to the smashing of the Berlin Wall; from Mao's Great Leap Forward to Castro's invasion of Cuba; from the Tet Offensive to the Gdansk Shipyard strike. They also beheld the response to revolution—the crushing power of American and Soviet forces, the international arms build-up, the threat of nuclear weapons.

Their voices speak of Communism's horrors, but they remind us that there was hope—for education in Ukraine, self-determination in post-colonial Vietnam, land ownership in Cuba, religious freedom in Afghanistan, national strength in China, relief from poverty in Eastern Europe.

Communism did not achieve what it set out to do, but its unintended legacy, as evidenced by these witnesses, shows the power of human resilience.
 

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