Maoism in China: A Look at the Record

The current lie, or meme, in US, if not world, popular culture, is “Mao ruined China.” If they are being charitable, they say, “Mao nearly ruined China.”

People can and do say anything to further their cause, in this case, the cause of neoliberal capitalism and especially imperialism. Since Maoism is one of most potent enemies of both these days, it needs to be stamped out by any means necessary, lies, truth, whatever it takes, just take it out, who cares how you do it.

Let’s take a look at the real record here.

Keep in mind that the comparisons to India are because China and India were at the same level in 1949. The record below indicates how horribly India has failed compared to Maoist and even neo-Communist China. There’s no comparison. China kicked India’s ass. Indian capitalism has been nothing but 60 years of repetitive failure.

In 1949, the Chinese peasantry existed on the border of starvation and death. Life expectancy was 32 years. As if that was inevitable, note that in Russia in 1913, life expectancy was 32 years. By 1949, it was 63 years. A 32 year life expectancy for China in 1949 was not inevitable for any possible universe. More than anything else, that figure alone represents the utter and complete failure of Chinese semi-feudal capitalism.

If a peasant was ill, if he had money, he could go to a clinic in the city. If not, he would wait until he either got better or died. There were no medical facilities in the rural areas. People might add that this was inevitable in any possible China. But was it really? This was the situation in Russia in 1916. By 1949, there were clinics in every Russian village, and hardly a Russian lacked for medical care. Why was horrific lack of medical care inevitable?

By 1976, there was a polyclinic in every Chinese commune and a medical facility in every district.

Apologists, generally neoliberals who oppose all state spending on health care, since health care is a matter of private sector, say that this was inevitable. But was it really? Says who? China had not accomplished this in the decades before 1949, so why would they have accomplished it afterwards? Further, there are many nations where health care is still about as bad as 1949 China. The Maoist record on health care was so Earth-shatteringly great that even the UN’s World Health Organization complemented China on its achievement.

In 1949, China had serious problems with smallpox, leprosy, pestilence, cholera, malaria and tuberculosis. By 1976, they were nearly wiped out. Apologists say that this was inevitable? But why? The Chinese capitalists had failed, or not even tried to eliminate epidemic diseases before, why would they have suddenly changed their tune after 1949? Further, these diseases continue to be epidemic in many parts of the world, including India. India started out at the same place as China in 1949, so it’s a useful comparison.

Population growth was controlled, hunger was solved for the first time in Chinese history, and the principal fatal infectious diseases were controlled, in contrast to India, Indonesia and South America, where hunger and infectious diseases are still catastrophic problems. By comparing China to South America, India and Indonesia we can clearly see how disastrously capitalism has fared in those places and how totally Maoism has kicked capitalism’s butt.

Starvation, poverty and illiteracy were wiped out. China was self-sufficient in food for the first time ever. For the first time ever. For the first time ever. Repeat that as many times as you want to until it sinks in. So much for the lie that “Communism brings nothing but starvation.”

The industrial growth rate was double that of India. Keep in mind that China’s and India’s industrial growth rates were about the same in 1949. In industrial growth, Maoism has left India in the dust.

In 1949, China had about the same number of scientists per capita as India. In the meantime, China under Mao and his successors has completely devastated India in the number of scientists per capita. Communist China made huge efforts to increase the number of scientists in society through incredible increases in the availability of education and offering free education to the masses who only had private education for the rich before.

India’s education system is a catastrophe, and the nation places zero emphasis on producing scientists or educated people of any nature. The public education system is disastrously underfunded, and most Indians can’t afford to go to school. The rich send their kids to private schools, but that’s not good for society, as it does not produce the number of highly skilled people that a society needs to develop.

It will take India 150 years to catch up with China in the number of scientists per capita.

Most Indian scientists leave the country; most Chinese scientists stay in China and serve the nation. As you can see, the Communists have cultivated a love of service and of nation in their scientists.

Indian scientists are essentially traitors with purely capitalist values. They spout Hindutva nonsense and the Indian ultranationalist fascist mantras of the day, but they have no love of nation. Their only value is money, and they quickly hop the first plane out of India to hightail it to the UK or the US to cash in on the big bucks, leaving their catastrophe of a nation in the lurch.

From their new perches in the West, they preach contempt for the Whites that enabled them to earn these fat wads of cash while dishonestly singing jingoist praises for the glorious Jai Hind, Bharat India that they so unceremoniously dumped.

Consumption of electricity in agriculture went from 20m kilowatts/hour to 6,000m. Grain production rose 4% a year,increased 2.5X since 1949 and was double that of India, though only 8% of the land is cultivated. This shows how Maoism even beat the Green Revolution in India.

I am not sure why agriculture has failed so badly in India, but semi-feudal relations in the countryside and lack of land reform must have something to do with it. As long as India is under capitalist rule, there will never be the necessary land reform that this suffering land needs, as the feudal lords have always owned the Indian state and always will until revolution sweeps them away.

Many or most Indian farmers are actually sharecroppers in perpetual debt slavery to large semi-feudal landlords. Until this system is eliminated, India will never develop into a real nation.

Production of chemical fertilizers increased 32X, steel 4.2X, oil 63X. Those figures are amazing. Fertilizer increased by 32 times! Oil increased by 63 times! Wow.

Why was this inevitable? If it was inevitable, why had capitalist China so failed to develop these essential industries before 1949? Easy. Because capitalist China, ruled by feudal lords, placed absolutely zero emphasis on the development of a national economy. The feudal lords of capitalist China cared only about increasing their own wealth,the nation be damned. Today we see the same thing in Latin America and the same underdevelopment that results. Some people never learn.

One argument which makes no sense is that India already tried socialism, and it failed. But exactly what kind of socialism was that, anyway? It was a fake crony socialism with a small public sector in which almost all of the economy was in private hands, mostly in the hands of monopoly capital. There was no land reform in the countryside where  semi-feudal relations continued to rule. Sure, the Communists have been running West Bengal for 20 years. Who on the Left thinks there is any kind of real socialism or Communism in West Bengal?

If China and India were practicing the exact same kind of system (they were not) then why was China creaming India every step of the way, year and year out, even all through the Mao era? Answer. Indian socialism wasn’t any good, and it hardly deserved to be called socialism.

There was nothing good about Indian “socialism.” It left 50% of the population malnourished, 200 million people living on the street, education and medical care ruined, few roads, few agricultural or irrigation projects, nothing. You call that socialism?

The state sector was and is tiny. The state sector in India, including local, state and national levels combined, is about 5-10% of the size of the US state, even under America’s eviscerated state with the current neoliberal regime. Can you imagine an America in which the state is 10-20 times smaller than it is today?

In India, for all intents and purposes, in most places, the state is nearly nonexistent. It’s always been that way, a tiny, corrupt, crony capitalist state, even during the Indian Socialism era. The Indian state is a neoliberal dream, with a minimal government and the ruined society that always flows from that.

Industry grew by 10% per year under Mao. Agricultural expansion also underwent rapid expansion. The supply of housing was dramatically expanded, educational facilities and health care underwent unbelievable expansion. Food was supplied to everyone, day care was provided to all working women, women were thoroughly liberated, and everyone was given a job. Does that sound like the same system as Indian socialism? Of course not. Indian socialism was not worthy of the name.

Looking at these figures with a clear eye, you can see why so many Indians are getting behind Maoism. True, Maoism has a spotty record, but compared to India, Communist China looks like paradise.

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8 thoughts on “Maoism in China: A Look at the Record”

  1. Robert,
    The economic model followed by the Indian political class post independence in 1947 was old-school Fabian socialism that they learned from the feet of their masters’ in England where it originated.
    Believe it or not, the Indian state was very heavily centrally-planned.
    China’s economic take-off dates from the economic reforms of 1978 which permitted free enterprises.

    1. I just answered that in the post. Indian socialism was nothing worthy of the name. It was socialism in name only. One need only compare India and China even under Mao to see how much better China did. China was creaming India year in and year out all during the Maoist era.

      Anyway, China’s economic growth did nothing to cure epidemic diseases, expand health care and education to the masses, feed the people, wipe out poverty, teach the people to read and write, liberate women, give everyone a job, or dramatically increase the number of scientists.

      In fact, since the reforms, many schools have been shuttered all over China. Most health care clinics in the villages have shut down, and health care now is for pay only. If you can’t pay, you suffer and or die. Millions of people are dying from lack of health care in China. And poverty has returned in a pretty bad way,.especially in the rural areas.

      Even with the reforms though, the Chinese system is still extremely socialist, especially by US standards. It’s not true at all that China has gone capitalist. That’s a neoliberal lie. If we were to implement the present Chinese system here in the US, the same idiots championing “Chinese capitalism” would scream bloody murder about Communism and socialism and never stop.

      China is very much a mixed economy and the state is tremendously involved in the economy in every way you can think of. It also spends a tremendous amount of money and has a national bank. The state bank is what insulated them from the World Recession.

  2. Dear Robert
    What Mao’s China, Cuba today and the Indian state of Kerala prove is that rapid economic growth is not necessary to improve vital statistics. What is required is mainly a government committed to improving the health and increasing the life expectancy of the population. This can be done by transferring human resources to the health sector and insuring basic nutritional standards for everybody. Obviously, an undernourished or malnourished population can’t be healthy.
    Mao’s China was not South Korea or Taiwan. It did not significantly improve the level of material consumption of the population, but it allowed the Chinese masses to live longer and healthier lives, not counting the famine years of the 1950’s. Let’s give credit where it is due but not more than what is due. Mao did not make China prosperous. That’s a fact.

    Regards. James

  3. True, Maoism has a spotty record, but compared to India, Communist China looks like paradise.

    Well, compared to India, many parts of Oakland look like paradise!

    Under Mao, China experienced great famines, political repression, persecution of intellectuals during the cultural revolution, and other problems during the so-called “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution” (More like “Great Leap Backwards” and the “Cultural Devolution”).

    Only when Deng Xiaoping took over did China begin to prosper, which they did by adopting Capitalism. As he said, “I don’t care if a cat is black, white, red, or yellow, so long as it catches mice” (paraphrase). While China is more Socialist than India due to its relative absence of baseline poverty, China’s economic growth came more from Capitalism than Communism.

    Of course, let’s also not forget that China has a ton of people. Therefore, even if the vast majority of people are poor, there are at least 400-500 million well educated and middle class people, which is more than the entire population of the United States. I know that India also has a ton of people and they’re not doing as well, but you get my point. Besides, India’s on the rise.

    Robert, I think you too often conflate Capitalism with neoliberal economics and corporate America. Adam Smith hated corporations and believed in a truly free market. If he were alive today, he wouldn’t approve of corporations outsourcing jobs, corporate tax breaks at the expense of working people, or the fact that many politicians are on the payroll of corporations and special interests. He wouldn’t approve of monopolies that harm local industries and drive people out of business.

    I’m just as angry about corporate greed and theft as you are, but to attribute various ills to Capitalism is just wrong.

    Also, let’s be honest, Can you name a nation that became wealthy through an economic system that wasn’t Capitalism? Sure, you have European nations that are Socialist in many ways, but they got rich in the first place through Capitalism. The wealthy non-western nations (ie. Japan, South Korea, Singapore) became wealthy by adopting western ways, which practiced Capitalism.

    Robert, I understand where you’re coming from. There are many aspects of our economy that are negative. I too get frustrated over the amount of greed and corruption in this nation. However, I think your attacks on Capitalism are a bit unfair.

    The fact of the matter remains that Capitalism has a better track record than Communism.

  4. Robert,
    You are wrong.
    Life expectancy in China has nver been higher and is approaching western levels.Chinese hospitals have never been better equipped and staffed – they are now fully the equal of anything in the west.
    Furthermore, per capita income (the only statistic that counts since all health expenditure is directly related to the income of those who actually have to use the health provision – think, medicines, medical equipment and doctors actually cost money) has never been higher in China and rises on average year-on-year by 20%. American incomes haven’t risen in over 40 years!

    1. Yes, life expectancy has continued to rise, because China still has a socialist system in many ways. However, life expectancy increased faster under Mao than it has under Deng, for what it’s worth.

      And it doesn’t matter how well equipped the hospitals are (I really doubt if they are as well-equipped as US hospitals), since you have to pay for your medical care! Want to go to the hospital? Fork it over. Can’t pay? Too bad, then go die. The present system is killing millions of Chinese due to lack of health care. I say it’s not worth it.

      Your comment about the US is not true. US PCI has been rising steadily for the past 40 years.

      And all of that economic growth in China is occurring in an extremely mixed economy with very heavy socialist elements. Much of the growth is occurring in public firms. If the neoliberal cheerleaders of “Chinese capitalism” tried to import 5% of that system to the US, they would never stop screaming, “Communism!”

  5. The gains in life expectancy from sophisticated hospitals are small compared to the gains from providing basic nutrition, public health such as vaccination and basic medicine. If all transplant facilities and dialysis units were to disappear from the US today, the impact on life expectancy would be less than a year.
    There are diminishing returns in health care. If a population has a life expectancy of 32, then doubling it will require only a relatively small expenditure. Increasing it from 64 to 74 will require much bigger expenditures, and increasing it from 74 to 84 will require still bigger expenditures. Bear in mind that even a dirt-poor country like Haity has a life expectancy of slightly over 60 and an infant mortality of slightly under 60/1000.
    Regards. James

  6. Robert, the key to understanding India is to understand the caste system.Nothing in India makes senses without considering the caste system and even if you ignore caste, India is a nation riven by many, many big and fundamental differences in race, religion and language.
    Basically it’s every caste for itself – the upper castes who have money and good conditions literally could not give a shit about the lower castes (many have the occupation of sweeping up upper caste shit).
    They make the WNs you hate so much seem like rank amateurs.
    By contrast the chinese are largely a homogenous opoulation who have a sense of fraternity, plus having the genetic characteristics of hard work, industy, intelligence, cohesiveness, discipline etc that by and large the Indians don’t have.

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