An ideological battle between left and right has been in the spotlight lately, especially with the “red culture” campaign by Bo Xilai in Chongqing. The Economist reports on a group of leftists who are campaigning for the arrest of liberal economist Mao Yushi:
All year the Communist Party has been jittery about the possible spread of Arab-style “jasmine revolution” to China. (The word “jasmine” has been all but banned in the media, as has the flower itself in markets.) Now the party is all the more anxious as it prepares to celebrate, on July 1st, the 90th anniversary of its founding. It does not want the occasion to be clouded by misgivings about the man who led it to power. Mao is too intimately linked with the party’s identity to allow any further examination of the “mistakes” the party sheepishly admitted he made, five years after his death in 1976.
Mr Mao’s essay said the party’s takeover of the country in 1949 did not bring happiness to China: “On the contrary, it plunged [the Chinese] into an abyss of misery for 30 years.” Mr Mao said 50m Chinese died as a result of Mao’s policies, “for which he felt not the slightest remorse”. He did not fully account for the figure, but the 30m deaths he attributed to Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950s is a mainstream estimate among historians; meanwhile around 2m were slaughtered in various political campaigns. A portrait of “the backstage boss who wrecked the country and ruined the people” was still hanging in Tiananmen Square, Mr Mao noted. (The boss’s corpse also lies, unmoved, in the square.) It was time, Mr Mao said, to end all the “idolisation” and “superstition” surrounding Mao and assess him as an ordinary man.
Mr Mao says that people have since telephoned him, threatening to beat him up. Language on the internet is strong. “The whole nation is waiting for the dawn, the dawn of a day when Mao Yu-Shit (sic) and other anti-Mao reactionaries who vilify Mao are annihilated,” one person commented on Utopia, a website which is leading the campaign to get Mr Mao indicted. Utopia accuses Mr Mao of subversion and libel. It says funding given to Unirule by the Ford Foundation, based in New York, is evidence of “collusion” with foreigners in his alleged crimes.
For more on the left-right debate, see: “Why China’s Left Is Up in Arms” from China Media Project and “China’s Party Princelings Fight for a Chance to Go Back to the Future” from Sydney Morning Herald.