Mao Zedong

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After graduating from Hunan Normal School, the highest level of schooling available in his province, Mao spent six months studying independently. Mao was first introduced to communism while working at Peking University, and in 1921 he attended the organizational meeting of the Communist Party of China (or CPC). He first encountered Marxism while he worked as a library assistant at Peking University.

Other important influences on Mao were the Russian revolution and, according to some scholars, the Chinese literary works: Outlaws of the Marsh and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Mao sought to subvert the alliance of imperialism and feudalism in China. He thought the KMT to be both economically and politically vulnerable and thus that the revolution could not be steered by Nationalists.

Throughout the 1920s, Mao led several labour struggles based upon his studies of the propagation and organization of the contemporary labour movements.[13] However, these struggles were successfully subdued by the government, and Mao fled from Changsha, Hunan after he was labeled a radical activist. He pondered these failures and finally realized that industrial workers were unable to lead the revolution because they made up only a small portion of China's population, and unarmed labour struggles could not resolve the problems of imperial and feudal suppression.

Mao began to depend on Chinese peasants who later became staunch supporters of his theory of violent revolution. This dependence on the rural rather than the urban proletariat to instigate violent revolution distinguished Mao from his predecessors and contemporaries. Mao himself was from a peasant family, and thus he cultivated his reputation among the farmers and peasants and introduced them to Marxism.[12][14]

His two 1937 essays, 'On Contradiction' and 'On Practice', are concerned with the practical strategies of a revolutionary movement and stress the importance of practical, grass-roots knowledge, obtained through experience.

Both essays reflect the guerilla roots of Maoism in the need to build up support in the countryside against a Japanese occupying force and emphasise the need to win over hearts and minds through 'education'. The essays, excerpts of which appear in the 'Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong', warn against the behaviour of the blindfolded man trying to catch sparrows, and the 'Imperial envoy' descending from his carriage to 'spout opinions' .


"Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."

Mao Zedong [15]

In 1927, Mao conducted the famous Autumn Harvest Uprising in Changsha, as commander-in-chief. Mao led an army, called the "Revolutionary Army of Workers and Peasants", which was defeated and scattered after fierce battles. Afterwards, the exhausted troops were forced to leave Hunan for Sanwan, Jiangxi, where Mao re-organized the scattered soldiers, rearranging the military division into smaller regiments.

Mao also ordered that each company must have a party branch office with a commissar as its leader who would give political instructions based upon superior mandates. This military rearrangement in Sanwan, Jiangxi initiated the CPC's absolute control over its military force and has been considered to have the most fundamental and profound impact upon the Chinese revolution. Later, they moved to the Jinggang Mountains, Jiangxi.

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