Last week, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) chalked up the Great Famine (1959-1961) to an “exploratory error.” The premier academic research organization castigated “Western hostile forces” for insisting that tens of millions of people died during the Great Leap Forward, a period of farm collectivization and other agricultural and food programs that converged with drought to kill anywhere from 18 million to 45 million people throughout China, more than died during WWI. (The Academy itself has recently been accused of harboring Western influence.) Instead, CASS explained, the deaths were the result of “exploring the construction of the socialist path.”
Cartoonists Kuang Biao and Rebel Pepper have grimly illustrated the “exploratory error.”
In Kuang Biao’s cartoon, three headless communists lead the way to nowhere. Skulls pave the land as far as the eye can see, sweeping into a dais where the three figures pose like martial arts heroes. Their “explorations” are blind, and only lead to destruction.
Rebel Pepper envisions a harbor built from skulls. A sign for “discovery communism” points to the ocean. Chairman Mao gazes into the horizon. One of his advisors, perhaps Liu Shaoqi, asks Mao what path of destruction should be built next.