This week, in part 1 of a special two-part edition of ChinaEconTalk, Jordan interviews Professor Julia Lovell, author of the recently published book on Mao’s international legacy entitled Maoism: A Global History. In this episode, Lovell introduces the core tenets of Maoist thought and its complex impact on both the Chinese Communist Party and other, offshoot devotees around the world. She outlines the key events in Mao’s life, the events that helped shaped his ideology, his idea of “violent, tumultuous world revolution,” and the friction during the Cold War that eventually culminated in the Sino-Soviet split.
Quotes to listen for in this episode:
15:10: “Maoism, although it has this singular name, it doesn’t actually correspond to a single, unitary phenomenon…it’s a set of ideas and practices that is living and breathing that has been translated and mistranslated across different decades and across many different regions. And above all, it’s a set of often very contradictory ideas. And this is no coincidence because Mao himself was a great admirer of the idea of contradiction. He saw contradictions as possessing a kind of primal energy. He saw them as something that drove history on. So when there were contradictions in his own ideas or when he perceived them around him, he tended to embrace them. Inconsistency didn’t bother him.”
43:48: “The intellectual, political nub of it is that Mao feels that after Stalin’s death, Khrushchev is losing the Soviet Union, losing their revolutionary bite. They’re making nice with the United States and they’re turning their backs on the idea of a violent, tumultuous world revolution.”
46:03: “Throughout his career and particularly toward the end of his life, he consistently saw himself as a rebel, as an outlier, as someone who made trouble. You see this very strongly in the Cultural Revolution, but you also see this in the way he tries and often succeeds to provoke the Soviets.”