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Jim Cook

 

RUNAWAY SOCIAL SYMPATHY

Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

 
Commentary Of The Month
October 12, 2006
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THE LATE, GREAT HELMSMAN
by Bill Bonner

Eagles soar up the long vault
Fish fly down the shallow riverbed
Under a sky of frost, ten thousand creatures vie to impose their will
Touched by this vastness,
I ask the boundless earth:
Who after all will be your master?

Mao Tse-tung

The more history you read, the less you learn from it. Not that it isn't entertaining; to the contrary, history is nothing if not diverting. The trouble is, it is nothing more. In the end, all you take away is a gaping mouth and a mind pried so wide open it is ready to believe anything...and nothing.

We say that after reading a grand biography of Mao Tse-Tung, written by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. The authors must have spent many years trawling through the official records, listening to oral histories, and reading the newspapers. What they have come up with is extraordinary. And what is most extraordinary about it is that it shows how man - and here we speak of the species, not the gender - can get away with almost anything.

In the 20th century, man got away with more than usual. Murder, robbery, torture, starvation were not uncommon. And the people who committed these crimes often found themselves the subjects of popular adoration. Their silhouettes were recorded on paper currency. Likenesses of themselves were chiseled out of granite and hoisted onto public squares. Their quips and sayings were printed up in little books, distributed to the masses like Christmas candies...and studied by callow scholars as if they were Gospel lessons.

In the 1960s, we spent some time in a center of higher learning in Paris. We recall that the most difficult choice a young European intellectual faced was whether to sign up with the Trotskyites, the Leninists, or the Maoists. Each had his own special style and doctrine. Students stayed up late into the night arguing the fine points of one or the other, none of them with a single clue about who these men really were or what their bloody creeds really meant.

Now, with the opening of archives and the closing of the lives of most of the principals, we get to find out more of what really went on...and what these great revolutionary heroes were really like. And what a ghastly show it is! Hegel meets Helter Skelter. Das Kapital meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Chinese are a smart people; just look at the names that make it to advanced science programs at America's top universities. IQ aficionados tell us the Chinese and Japanese have an edge over the rest of us. But read the story of Mao; it makes you wonder: how could so many smart people do something so moronic...it would be flattery to call them stupid?

Who would have thought that one of the planets most ancient and refined civilizations would yield itself over to a lame-brained intellectual whose principle preoccupations were creating havoc...and making sure his own bowels moved? What went through the minds of his followers when they watched him order his trusted subordinates trussed up, tortured and murdered...? What did they think when their own general - faced with an implacable enemy who vowed to 'annihilate' all of them - set in motion a purge of his own forces that wiped out a third of his entire army...or dilly-dallied in hostile territory, against the orders of his superiors, and managed to lose 70,000 out of an original 80,000 of his long-suffering followers? What could they have thought when the man who claimed to be a champion of the poor starved, robbed, and tortured them without mercy...so ruthlessly that any peasants with the strength to escape ran off to the other side?

If they didn't flee, they hung themselves or opened their veins. When Mao first got his hands on a little chunk of China he immediately turned the place into a prison. Armed guards patrolled the streets and borders - prevent people from escaping. People were encouraged to denounce each other...torture was barbaric...executions were everyday occurrences. Families were not allowed to visit each other...as the authorities worried that they might be up to something. A family found to have welcomed a visitor was to be killed. Not surprisingly, people found this proto-Maoist worker's paradise rather depressing. Even top-ranking cadres began to take their own lives. "Suicides are the most shameful elements in the revolutionary ranks," came the slogan designed to halt the trend.

What were the Chinese thinking, to let Mao get away with it? It was as if they didn't think at all. During his career, Mao-Tse-Tung was responsible for more deaths - murder, starvation, torture...the usual ways of dying, plus a few novelties added by Mao and his thugs - than any other man in history. Seventy million is the sum given by Chang and Halliday. Even the entire Mongel reign of Genghis Khan and his whole line - who conquered three civilizations...Muslim, Chinese, and Hindu...and threatened to conquer Christendom too...didn't match Mao in killing people. You'd think one or other of the hundreds of millions of Chinese who suffered at his hands would have done something about it. Surely, millions must have realized what was up. It was obvious from the very get-go that Mao was a homicidal, incompetent tyrant. Why didn't one of them whose wife had been tortured abominably...or whose sons had been killed wantonly... or whose family had been starved or bayoneted...do something to get even? In the early days, it would have been fairly easy to ambush Mao. Maybe that's the trouble with the modern world; people don't take the obligation of revenge seriously enough. Mao died of natural causes, many decades later.

It is a relief to many that Mao was a communist and that bolshevism no longer fires hearts and heavy artillery. But it is a counterfeit comfort. Mao never cared about ideology. He murdered his keen communist followers as readily as capitalist roaders. He took money from Moscow...but he also turned his back on the Russians whenever he could get away with it. He might just as well have been a Republican. He went with collectivism only because it was stirred the pot...and the faster it swirled, the more ruthless bits of slime came to the surface. It was necessary, he wrote, "to bring a reign of terror in every country."

Practically everything about Mao Tse-Tung was a lie or a swindle. In that sense, he made a perfect leading man for a great public spectacle. And as it turned out, he was perfect for the role. He was all show...all humbug...all mountebank.

As a soldier, Mao was a disaster. He absented himself from the fight on every possible occasion...usually holing up in the biggest, safest, most luxurious house in the area...generally feasting and resting...while his gang of killers did their work. Ordered by the Marxist hierarchy to join the battle, he would take his army in the opposite direction...or just wait out the fight and then come in afterwards. Why the party leadership didn't kill him is a mystery...an oversight that they later greatly regretted.

Very early in his career, he experienced the thrill of brutality. It gave him "a kind of ecstasy never experienced before...it is wonderful...it is wonderful..." he said. To say that he was hard-hearted was a bit like saying the Peking sewer is malodorous; it fails to capture the smell vividly enough. Mao would take part in torture sessions. He would condemn entire villages to starvation. He would waste his own soldiers in pointless battles and unnecessary suffering. Even on the famous 'Long March' he did little marching himself. His skinny soldiers had to carry him on a litter!

Military men are often blockheads, at least the best of them are, but Mao was in a class by himself. The Long March was so long partly because Mao wasn't going anywhere. He marched his men uphill and down...hundreds of miles this way and that...with meager rations...and almost no medical attention, even to the wounded...just to avoid going to a rendezvous that might weaken his political grip. He was supposed to link up with another army boss, one just as ruthless as he was.

The communists' main enemy at the time - almost everyone hated them - was Chiang Kai-Chek. But Chiang had already decided to let the Reds get away. Still, Mao managed to stir up fights that decimated his little army. At Tucheng, for example, Mao put his own troops in about the worst possible position - with their backs to the Red River - and faced the best of Chiang's force. Naturally, the communists were nearly wiped out...while Mao watched from a nearby mountain. Of those red soldiers who weren't killed in the fighting itself, many soon died of cold and wounds...or were killed by the local farmers who were getting even for way they communists had treated them. Wherever he went, Mao handled the locals with such naked brutality...he caused revolts - against the revolutionaries!

The whole Long March is nothing but a recitation of one Mao-caused calamity after another. But the gods must have had a sour sense of humor in the 1930s...they let Mao, Adolf and Josef rise to power anyway.

While Mao was a dud of a general, he was a bad joke of a political philosopher. Early in his life, he might have been a follower of Ayn Rand. "People like me only have a duty to ourselves, " he wrote. We have no duty to other people." Later, he dipped his fork into Marxism like a Western teenager sampling sushi. He was not too sure what was in it, and wasn't too eager to find out. Instead, he took Emperor Qin Shihuangdi (221-206 BC) who founded imperial China as his model. Qin's empire lasted nearly two thousand years. Not only did he build the Great Wall, he also killed Confucian scholars, burned classical books, and persecuted thousands - perhaps millions - of people.

It was his single-minded pursuit of power that made Mao so successful. His rivals actually believed the Marxist claptrap. They took their orders from the party hierarchy and earnestly tried to implement many silly and impossible programs. When Mao gained the support of Moscow, his Chinese contemporaries felt their hands were tied; they knew he was trouble, but they couldn't get rid of him.

Mao operated under no such restriction. He eliminated enemies and friends - as it suited him. He listened to Moscow when he wanted to; when Moscow gave him directions he didn't like, he ignored them. He was not a 'good communist.' He was hardly a communist at all.

"Communism is not love," he said. "Communism is a hammer we use to crush the enemy."

But it is in his relations with the fair sex, that the worst of Mao is visible. When it came to women, the Great Helmsman was more than a bungler... or a brute....he was a cad.

He married one woman...and then dismissed her. The next bore him two children. Scarcely 18 months later, he was conducting some atrocious campaign of murder...and brought his army up near where she lived. Mao could have and should have immediately gotten his wife out of harm's way...but he didn't. His enemies seized the poor woman and put her to death, hoping to strike a blow at Mao's heart in that way. But the man seemed not even to notice. He had new paramour by then and had forgotten spouse number two.

The new girlfriend, Gui-yuan, then became his third wife and had a baby during the Long March. Again, Mao was nearby but did not come to see her. Thinking to save her baby from the appalling conditions prevailing, she gave it to a local farmer, along with a sum of money to pay for its care. It soon died.

Then, Gui-yuan herself nearly died when she was struck by one of Chiang's bombs. Doctors said she only had a few hours to live and her pain was so great that she even begged her comrades to put her out of her misery. Once again, Mao, who was in a nearby village, said he was too 'tired' to come see her.