Why did Mao invite criticism of the Communists in 1957? Why did Mao invite criticism of the Communists in 1957? Title: Start: Why might a leader or ruler ask those of lesser status to criticise them openly? Attack and hurt the rightists elements to protect the results of Socialism!
‘Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend ’ An Ancient Chinese Philosopher – the expression comes from a traditional poem. It means ‘to allow free expression and criticism’. Mao used this expression when, in 1956, he invited Chinese people to assess the performance of the Communist Party, and to offer it advice.
Mao on Tour: Context: Throughout the 1950’s, Mao travelled China extensively. He was welcomed by rapturous crowds and supportive slogans Convinced that he was in touch with the people, he decided that the time was right to allow greater freedom of expression within China. In particular, he saw an opportunity to allow those who might make constructive criticisms to do so, hoping to draw on the ideas of experts and intellectuals. This policy, sometimes referred to as ‘the Double- Hundred Policy’, or the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” was launched personally by Mao in 1957.
PEACE CHINA INDEPENDENT OF FOREIGN CONTROL WARLORDS AND BANDITRY SUPPRESSED LAND REFORMS FIRST FIVE YEAR PLAN – A SUCCESS 1950 MARRIAGE LAW + WOMENS’ REFORMS END TO PROSTITUTION + OPIUM TRADE
THE 1 ST FIVE YEAR PLAN [1953-57] led to... City populations rose by 40 million – due to peasants moving into cities. Severe overcrowding Food shortages – much food was sent abroad to buy weapons and machines Housing Problems COLLECTIVISATION 1955 + Peasants resentful at increasing control of CCP over their lives.
‘It is only by using discussion, criticism and reasoning that we can really foster correct ideas, overcome wrong ideas and really settle issues’.
What points are being made here by the cartoonist about Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign?
The Hundred Flowers Campaign The CCP is in full control of China - all counter revolutionaries had been eliminated Targets of the 1st Five Year Plan were achieved, but with great cost of the people o Mao wanted to speed up the process of economic change but was facing opposition of the politburo o People had started to become resentful at the increasing control of the CCP Mao feared that the greatest danger facing the CCP was the growing 'bureaucratism' o Envisaged the Hundred Flowers Campaign as a way where officials would be subjected to criticism from outside the party forcing officials to mend their ways
Minutes of the Central Committee Conference on April 25, 1956: Mao said: “The Party needs public feedback, disciplinary measures that prevent change should be eliminated. In the arts, let a hundred flowers bloom, in the sciences, let a hundred schools contend. This should be the direction we take.”
Hundred Flowers Campaign (1957) Mao indicated his supposed willingness to consider different opinions about how China should be governed Given the freedom to express themselves, the Chinese began opposing the Communist Party and questioning its leadership
Mao’s Speech on the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People February 27,1957: “Literally the two slogans let a hundred flowers blossom and let a hundred schools of thought contend have no class character; the proletariat can turn them to account, and so can the bourgeoisie of others. Different classes and social groups each have their own views on what are fragrant flowers and what are poisonous weeds. Then, from the point of view of the masses, what should be the criteria today for distinguishing fragrant flowers from poisonous weeds? In their political activities, how should our people judge whether a person’s words and deeds are right or wrong? On the basis of the principles of our Constitution, the will of the overwhelming majority of our people and the common political positions which have been proclaimed on various occasions by our political parties, we considers that, broadly speaking, the criteria should be as follows….”
Mao’s Speech Continued “1. Words and deeds should help united, and not divide, the people of all our nationalities.” “2. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to socialist transformation and socialist construction.” “3. They should help to consolidates, and not undermine or weaken, the people’s democratic dictatorship.” “4. They should help to strengthen, and not shake off or weaken, the leadership of the Communist Party.”
Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom Backfires Communist faith in moral perfectibility Re-education Camps Arts – Social Realism Mao invites intellectuals to “let a hundred flowers bloom” Anti-Rightest Campaign – 500,000 disappear into labor camps
Political Cartoon on Hundred Flowers Cartoon published in January 1957, from China Reconstructs- A Chinese Government Publication, illustrating how some party members took unofficial action against Mao’s intentions.
The people like many flowers. The old-fashioned Party man thinks they need only one…the one he likes.
Mao's motives Historians have generally been divided into two schools of thought: o The Hundred flowers was a trap set by Mao to highlight the anti communist elements amongst the intellectuals o The campaign was launched for the good of China and it was a serious error of judgement
‘Intellectuals are beginning to... change their mood from cautious to open... One day punishment will come down on their heads... We want to let them speak out. You must stiffen your scalps and let them attack!... Let all those ox devils and snake demons... curse us for a few months. I am casting a long line to bait big fish ’ ‘How can we catch the snakes if we don’t let them out of their lairs? We wanted those sons-of-turtles [bastards] to wriggle out and sing and fart... That way we can catch them.’ Jung Chang: ‘Mao–the unknown story’, 2005. P. 435
Mao's motives "Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy of promoting progress" - Mao, Feb 1957 "In recent days... democratic parties and institutions of higher education have shown themselves to be to be the most determined and most rabid... They will then end up burying themselves" - Mao, May 1957 Mao's intentions evolved throughout the campaign By unleashing the campaign Mao would have settled his fear of bureaucratic behaviour emerging party officials >> tried to do it before with the Yan'an Ratification and the "Three Antis Campaign"
Historian's viewpoints "Few guessed that Mao was setting a trap that he was inviting people to speak out so he could use what they said as an excuse to victimise them" - Chang and Halliday C & H suggested that Mao's main intention was to trick the people and concocted a devious plan to pick out threatening intellectuals Spence on the other hand suggests that Mao simply wanted the best for his people "... not a plot by Mao to reveal the hidden rightists in his country... At its centre was an argument about the pace and type of development that was best for China." - Spence
Totalitarian power is peril! In not protecting citizens’ rights, today’s government is worse than the feudal dynasties or Chiang Kai-shek. The Constitution is no more than toilet paper Why is it necessary to have “leadership” in the arts? Who led Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Moliere?’ I have indeed heard about peasants... Dying from having just grass roots to eat, in areas so rich in produce that they are known as the land of fish and rice. But the newspapers say nothing about any of this...
Mao allowed critics to post their views at certain locations on walls or in small meeting rooms [known as ‘seminars’]. In this way their views could be easily controlled and not reach the masses – posters could be removed, meeting rooms only admitted small numbers.
Mao’s Abandonment of the Hundred Flowers Campaign
May 1957 Evaluation-Rectification Campaign Shift in strategy and policy Mao declared that the anti-Communists were like “du cao” or poisonous grass that needed to be weeded out “Poison grass needs to be weeded out. People on the right party must be ‘fixed.’ Battle plans must involve despising the enemy, war tactics must focus on the enemy. Failure to do so will result in grave mistakes. This must be done bit, by bit, kill off the enemy one by one.”
Who are ‘Intellectuals’? These are the ‘educated’ classes, especially those who have been to university. WHY PERSECUTE THEM? They valued freedom of speech. These were the people most likely to speak out against Communist rule, to criticise Mao. PROFESSIONS UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS JOURNALISTS WRITERS ARTISTS DOCTORS TEACHERS?
Nuclear scientists and technicians escaped the worst persecution of the Hundred Flowers campaign, because they were important to achieving Mao’s ambition to make China into a great military power, to rival America.
‘In Yenan was Chairman Mao, who had two dishes plus soup for every meal, having a hard time? Were the peasants, who had nothing to eat but bitter vegetables, enjoying the good life? Everyone was told that Chairman Mao was leading a hard and simple life. That son of a bitch! A million shames on him!... Our pens can never defeat Mao Zedong's Party guards and his imperial army. When he wants to kill you, he doesn't have to do it himself. He can mobilise your wife and children to denounce you and then kill you with their own hands! Is this a rational society? This is class struggle, Mao Zedong style!’ (Benton and Hunter p. 101).
Once critics of Mao revealed themselves, Mao retaliated and isolated them. Many were subjected to ‘Struggle’ sessions, where they had to listen to many hours of accusations and, ultimately, apologise for their supposed past ‘faults’ or ‘crimes’. A university professor being barracked by his students.
“Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom, Let a Hundred Schools of Though Contend” “Let a Hundred Flowers Blossom, Let a Hundred Schools of Though Contend” Task: Mao announced the ‘Hundred Flowers Campaign’ in a speech delivered at the main meeting of the PRC government. The speech was entitled: “On the correct handling of contradictions amongst the people” The speech was entitled: “On the correct handling of contradictions amongst the people” In it, Mao aimed to address some of the protests that had happened as a result of the difficult conditions created by the first Five Year Plan. Speech Analysis: 1.Using your copy of the ‘Hundred Flowers’s speech, summarise the main message being communicated in each paragraph 2.For each paragraph, identify the one key term you think best represents the paragraph, explaining why it does in brief. Speech Analysis: 1.Using your copy of the ‘Hundred Flowers’s speech, summarise the main message being communicated in each paragraph 2.For each paragraph, identify the one key term you think best represents the paragraph, explaining why it does in brief. “We do not approve of disturbances, because contradictions among the people can be resolved through the method of "unity -- criticism -- unity", while disturbances are bound to cause some losses and are not conducive to the advance of socialism. We believe that the masses of the people support socialism” Main message: Opposition to our way of thinking will not help the people, who support our methods Main message: Opposition to our way of thinking will not help the people, who support our methods Disagreement is fine (contradictions), but disturbances (disruptions) are not.
Mao’s U-Turn Context: Once Mao had launched the campaign, members of the Communist Party began to gradually point out mistakes that had been made Based on this information, leading figures in government, education and the arts were censured, often via public humiliation. However, Party members did not stop there. As they grew less suspicious of the campaign, they began to criticise Mao himself It was at this point that Mao drastically changed direction. He abandoned the Hundred Flowers Campaign, replacing it with a crackdown on those who had spoken out. It was at this point that Mao drastically changed direction. He abandoned the Hundred Flowers Campaign, replacing it with a crackdown on those who had spoken out. In effect, Mao had encouraged his opposition to show who they were, then repressed them as a result.
Results and Effects of Thought Reform, Hundred Flowers Campaign, and Anti- Rightest Campaign
Results of the Anti-Rightist Campaign 700,000 intellectuals were thrown out of their positions and professions In every factory, 5% of the workers had to be denounced as “rightists” All were sent to the countryside for reform – many died of malnutrition, illness, cold, overwork, and accidents doing unfamiliar jobs Some were executed or committed suicide
1. Mao silenced potential opponents. 2. He instilled fear amongst the educated classes who were now less willing to stand against Mao. 3. Mao prepared the ground for introducing the Great Leap reforms – communes, ‘backyard furnaces’ and an extreme form of communist society 4. China’s intelligentsia [brightest minds – artists, writers, journalists, etc] were decimated which set back China’s cultural development. 5. Many students had their education interrupted due to the death of so many teachers - some 5 million children had their schooling terminated 6. Some 4 million people may have lost their lives in the ‘Anti- Rightist campaigns which started after the Hundred Flowers.
Stalin, the hardline leader of Russia and the Communist world, died in 1953. He was followed by the more moderate Khruschev. Khruschev eased the repression but this led to demands for more freedom and in Hungary led to revolts. Russia sent in tanks to crush the rebellions If Mao introduced similar moderate reforms what would happen in China? What would happen to Mao?
‘The basic problem with some Eastern European countries is that they did not eliminate all those counter-revolutionaries... Now they are eating their own bitter fruit... Eastern Europe just did not kill on a grand scale. We must kill. And we say it’s good to kill.’
Looking Back on the Hundred Flowers & Anti-Rightist Campaigns Two Opinions on the Hundred Flowers Campaign: – From the start, it was a sneaky way to discover who truly opposed Mao – Mao intended to weaken those within his party who opposed him by having them bicker between themselves, but it backfired when people criticized him more than he intended
Consequences Party unity was strengthened Mao's position as leader of the CCP was at its peak Atmosphere of fear was created Intellectuals were silenced o 500,000 intellectuals were killed with another 100,000 put into re education camps/ lao gai's o Stasis on China's cultural development Used it as a foreground for the 'Great Leap Foward'
How it strengthened Mao's hold on power - The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the anti-rightist campaign into which it evolved served to silence the criticisms of the Communist regime by creating fear within the Chinese public and the intellectual community. -It also served to strengthen party unity under Mao against outside influence, in effect Mao was unchallengeable. -A popular saying of the time was 'after the anti-rightist campaign no one opens their mouth.'