Few 20th century figures are more controversial than Mao Zedong. This was a man who essentially ruled China with an iron fist for a number of decades. He accomplished a great deal, over the course of his long life. Whether these accomplishments are good or bad can depend mightily on who you ask. However, to most individuals and historians, Mao Zedong was a cruel, monstrous figure. In order to decide for yourself, you are going to want to consider the major accomplishments of his life.
1. He Was Born Into Comfortable Circumstances
Although Mao Zedong would later become a popular revolutionary, he was born into fairly comfortable circumstances. Born in China’s Hunan Province in 1893, Mao’s parents were some of the wealthiest farmers in the region. However, going back to Zedong’s strong resistance to the Confucius-based teachings of his primary school and elsewhere, there is no question that Mao Zedong was not someone who was going to settle.
2. He Was Originally Going To Be A Teacher
Mao Zedong was a voracious reader, over the course of his youth, and later on into other aspects of his adult life. He was particularly fond in works of classical liberalism, as well as the best-selling novels of the day. After completing primary and secondary education, Mao Zedong enrolled in a teacher-training college. At this point, he began reading radical newspapers that were available at the school. Before long, he was contributing writings of his own.
3. He Began Building Connections
By the time he graduated from the teacher-training college, Mao Zedong was deeply immersed in revolutionary thoughts, groups, and practices. It was his belief that China needed to do away with their old-fashioned, autocratic ways, and embrace ideas and concepts more closely related to Western ideals. As time went on, he began to look for ways in which the Marxism of Lenin could be combined with traditional Chinese philosophies. He also began to amass a strong, dedicated following.
4. He Became More Active In The Communist Community
By the early 1920s, Mao Zedong had already accomplished a great deal as a radical thinker. He had organized groups, put out magazines espousing his viewpoints, and made considerable demands of his government and his people. He became more deeply involved in the Communist Party of China. After doing so, he established the Self-Study University. He made revolutionary materials available to everyday people. He also had numerous textbooks replaced with works by notable Communist thinkers.
5. He Saw Potential In The Peasants
The Communist Party of China did a number of things, in order to add to their stature and power. One of the most important things they did was establish an alliance with the KMT democrats. This would become a tricky relationship later on. Initially, it seemed to do a good job of serving everyone’s interests. At the same time, Mao begin to see considerable potential in using the peasants to create a powerful, nationalized Communist community.
6. He Endured The Communist Purge
A serious rift with the KMT led to a massive purge of Communists throughout China. This caused Mao and others to flee to the Jinggang Mountains of Jiangxi. Utilizing communities in the region, as well as his own fervent belief in Communism, Mao would establish the Soviet Republic of China. He became Chairman of this group, and began to gain considerable power and influence. Based on his earlier experiences, Zedong understood that he could get the power and support he needed from the farmers and others.
7. He Initiated The Long March
As government forces began to close in on Mao and his Communist party, Mao went on the defensive. It was during this time that he had initiated what would become known as The Long March. This march lasted for over twelve months, and it consisted of over 100, 000 people who supported Mao. Over the course of this staggering journey, tens of thousands died. There were very few left by the end.
8. He Rose To Power
Alliances, World War 2, and civil war all conspired to make Mao Zedong more and more powerful. During this period in which Zedong held power, numerous events occurred. Mao would be credited with raising the importance of women, promoting education, improving health resources, and much more. At the same time, we cannot forget that Mao was responsible for the deaths of millions. Further individuals were tortured and imprisoned, particularly if they disagreed with Mao.
9. The Great Leap Forward
Mao’s Great Leap Forward was designed to dramatically improve state production of agriculture and industry. What it wound up doing was costing millions of lives. Famine and poor harvests wound up crippling the country economically. Zedong briefly lost power.
10. The Cultural Revolution
Upon returning to power, Zedong implemented the Cultural Revolution. This event continued even after his death, and resulted in millions of deaths.