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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday October 25 2005

Arts & Letters Daily links to this review article by Arthur Waldron prompted by Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, and also to lots of other Mao Zedong-ery.  What a horrible man.

Excerpt:

Mao’s hatred of learning was coupled with a passion to destroy China’s cultural heritage. In 1949, when he came to power, the Mongol-Ming-Qing capital of Beijing (Peking) was still intact, with its massive dressed stone walls and gates, its hundreds of temples, its traditional courtyard houses with their exquisite tile roofs, its memorial arches or pailou, and its distinct drama, cuisine, customs, and traditions. Everything had survived the war with Japan; were it extant today, it would constitute one of the world’s most magnificent historical sites.

But Mao decreed its obliteration. In 1958, on the eve of his campaign, roughly 8,000 historical monuments were listed as still standing in the capital. Mao planned to keep only 78 of them; most were destroyed.

It think it was Harold Nicolson – truly not sure but a Nicolson or a Nicholson of some variety – who said, following (a) the death during World War II of his son, and (b) the destruction of the library at Monte Cassino during the battle of that name, that it was (b) that upset him more.  It’s a little presumptuous to say such a thing, but me choosing those two paragraphs from out of all of all the stuff about Mao Zedong’s numerous crimes reminds me of that.

Mao also killed many sons:

Most importantly, Mao was the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century.

Indeed.

image

As Waldron points out, you wouldn’t see a Hitler picture displayed thus.  I took that photo at the huge Chinese shopping centre way up there on the Northern Line somewhere, Colindale I think.  On the one hand Mao has clearly lost the battle of ideas to Fanta etc.  On the other hand he still partially wins, because he still shares totally undeserved billing with Fanta.  Mao never did anything for humans as good as Fanta.  Fanta never harmed anyone, while Mao murdered millions.

The good news is that this book, and this review article, look like being parts of a general intellectual and moral offensive by civilisation against the many ghastlinesses of how China is ruled and misruled now, this particular book being compared by Waldron with The Gulag Archipelago in its potential impact.  The Chinese Government really really does not like it.

Good.  For a long time, China kept its head down and Civilisation was preoccupied with reducing the USSR to ruin.  But now the USSR is duly ruined, and China has attracted serious worldwide attention through its remarkable economic surge, the obvious basis for a bid for eventual global hegemony.  So now Civilisation, albeit somewhat diverted by Islamic foolishness, is turning its intellectual guns onto China.

Personally I think Civilisation should trade with China, if only because so much of Chinese trade is itself surely very civilised.  But Civilisation should also engage politically, by supporting Chinese oppositionists, by, e.g. re-telling and linking to the stories they are now telling.  Civilisation should use the trade links to send political messages in and out of China alongside goods and commercial messages, rather than vainly try to end the trading.  Let the Chinese despots worry about the impact of all this trade on them.  The point, as with the USSR ruination project, is to do what works, rather than merely to soothe the Western conscience.  If I was the Chinese government, I would far prefer futile attempts at trade embargoes to focussed political campaigns, such as for instance, an enthusiastic attempt to spread news of this book around, a mass willingness to buy it (already a fact apparently), and then actually to read it, and then to spread its many memes and messages far and wide.

The way I see it: two down, two to go.  German Nazism, Soviet Communism, Islamofascism, Chinese Despotism.

Please note that the list does not read: Germany, Russia, Islam, China.  Identifying the exact enemy and learning all about his exact nature is crucial to winning these things.  By this standard the seeing off of German Nazism was a seriously Pyrrhic victories, and the ruination of the USSR, because it now seems to have involved the continuing ruin of Russia also, was not much better.  This latter process, as Mark Steyn explains, is also doing a lot to inflame Islamofascism.  But the moral of these Pyrrhic victories by Civilisation ought to be clear.  Don’t mess with Civilisation; if you do, the people you now tyrannise over and whom you say you represent are liable, along with you of course, to be the big losers.

Is Civilisation strong enough to deal with the last two on the list simultaneously?  And can it win these last two contests less destructively than the first two?  I want to think so, if only because all that trade with China is making Civilisation, as well as China, rich.