Mao Mutations

Reflecting on Chairman Mao Zedung, I can’t help but thinking of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to Ozymandias.

In the early 1980s, many in the world watched reports on the trial of the Gang of Five (Mao supporters).  

In 2000 China, Mao appeared to still hold a primo spot in the hearts of the masses. Forgiven his violence, he was seen often as the man who uplifted the poor and insignificant. Kitchen shrines smiled on him. “Mao gave every man a foot” (meaning nobody had to kneel anymore). 

This snapshot of Shanghai’s river walk in 2000 shows the prominent statue of Mao.

Tiananmen Square didn’t speak of the 1989 massacre, but reminded all who would hear that this was the balcony from which Chairman Mao proclaimed the Republic of China.

In 2000, I took the below photo in Chengdu. That was when most still needed to develop their film to see what the photos would look like. I recall my dismay when I saw this photo.

I wrote:  I swear on top of that building is a huge statue of Mao waving hello. Was he erased? Is he merely lost in the fog?

Then this Boston Metro photo filled in my memory. (What luck in this random photo used to reference China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization.)  This is the waving Mao, obliterated from my photo.

In 2008, Mao was removed from the ten yuan bank notes.

Now some may rightly argue that Mao had it coming. They say Mao’s Great Leap Forward program is the biggest mass murder on record. But given the current popularity of Ghengis Khan, I can’t help but marvel at the serendipity of the world.  

The Diplomat suggests that the current Party Leader Xi Jinping’s response to the 2023 Covid Crisis is akin to Mao’s rejection of food aid during the height of his Great Leap famine. In seventy five years, what will have happened to Xi’s legacy?

“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.” —Mao Zedong

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. It cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” —Mao Zedong

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