Where Chairman Mao and Teenage Nihilists Got Their Motivation
Nov 12, 2009
What propelled Mao Zhedong to become the biggest mass murderer in world history? Let a professor of Chinese history answer the question. James Pusey (Bucknell U), writing in Nature this week for a series on “Global Darwin,” was explaining the vacuum left by the collapse of the reform movement in the early 20th century. A “group of intellectuals” found Marxism attractive. It was the fittest ideology:
"Many tried to fill it: Sun, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kaishek) and, finally, the small group of intellectuals who, in indignation at the betrayal at Versailles, found in Marxism what seemed to them the fittest faith on Earth to help China to survive.
"This was not, of course, all Darwin’s doing, but Darwin was involved in it all. To believe in Marxism, one had to believe in inexorable forces pushing mankind, or at least the elect, to inevitable progress, through set stages (which could, however, be skipped). One had to believe that history was a violent, hereditary class struggle (almost a ‘racial’ struggle); that the individual must be severely subordinated to the group; that an enlightened group must lead the people for their own good; that the people must not be humane to their enemies; that the forces of history assured victory to those who were right and who struggled.
"Who taught Chinese these things? Marx? Mao? No. Darwin."