The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 2 of 2

December 4, 2013

Mao (born 1893) grew up during a period of madness in China. To learn more, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness, which shows that world.

Then the Chinese Civil War lasted from 1926 to 1949 with a few years out to fight the horrors of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

The Long March experience by itself was enough to cause PTSD in all 6,000 of its survivors from the more than 80,000 troops that started the year-long journey of retreat, battle, and severe suffering that was surrounded by death on a daily basis.

After Mao was China’s leader, there was an assassination attempt by one of his most trusted generals, Lin Biao, a man Mao had named as his successor after he died.  In addition, during China’s Civil WarChiang Kai-shek ordered more than one failed assassination attempt on Mao.

However, the threats and violence that shaped Mao’s life began before The Long March and before he was a leader in the Chinese Communist Party.

As a child, he grew up among farmers and peasants with an average expected life span in China of 35 years. In the 1920s, as an idealist and a sensitive poet, he believed in helping the worker and led several labor movements that were brutally subdued by the Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek.

Once, he barely escaped with his life.

In 1930, Yang Kaihu, his wife at the time—Mao was married four times—was arrested and executed. In addition, Mao had two younger brothers and an adopted sister executed by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. If you had several close calls with death; lost a wife, two younger brothers and an adopted sister in this way, how would that affect you?

To judge Mao by today’s Politically Correct Western values is wrong, because he grew up in a world ruled by a completely different set of values that shaped him to be tough enough to survive and win.

Anyone that survived and went on to rule China at that time would have been judged as brutal by today’s Politically Correct Western values. In fact, Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator who ruled Taiwan—after he fled mainland China in 1949—under military marshal law until his death in 1976. But Chiang didn’t have as many people to rule over so the death count was smaller but no less significant.

The History of Humanitarianism shows us that this concept was born and nurtured in the West and developed slowly over centuries with the result that the individual was made more important than an entire population.

However, in China, the whole is still more important than one person is as it was during Mao’s time. If you were to click on the link to the History of Humanitarianism and read it, you would discover that China was not part of this movement while Mao lived. (Discover more about China’s Collective Culture)

PTSD as a war wound and a trauma was not recognized or treated until well after America’s Vietnam War.  Prior to its discovery, it was known as shell shock. The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the 1980s, and Mao died in 1976.

In fact, if Mao were alive today he would not be alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 7.8% of all Americans suffer from PTSD, and among that segment of the population, more than 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans have PTSD in addition to 1.7 million Vietnam veterans.

Return to or start with The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: Part 2 of 2

November 27, 2013

Imagine how Americans would have felt if China had deployed several of its army divisions in the United States to protect the Chinese living in America after the racist and discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by U.S. President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1886—this law would not be repealed until 1943.

Then there was Mao surviving Chiang Kai-shek‘s crack down on the labor movement led by the Communist Party. During World War II, Mao’s army not only fought Chiang Kai-shek’s troops but also the Japanese, who killed between 10 to 20 million Chinese in their attempt to conquer China.

The peasants trusted Mao’s troops but did not trust Chiang Kai-shek’s army. Do you know why?

Then there was the West’s wars in Korea (1950 – 1953: with an estimated 2.5 million killed/wounded) and Vietnam (1955 – 1975: with an estimated 3.8 million killed/wounded) in addition to America’s necklace of military basses surrounding China to this day. Source: Foreign Policy.com

Mao believed that socialism would create a better life for the Chinese. His failures were attempts to make China strong enough to defend his country against the foreign meddling and invasions that had plagued China since the 1850s.

Regardless of all the horrible facts the Western media keeps reminding the world about, there are a few facts that are not well known in the West about Mao and China—when Mao became the leader of mainland China in 1949, the average lifespan in China was age 35. When Mao died in 1976, the average lifespan had increased by twenty years to age 55—today the average life expectancy is almost age 75. In addition, the population of China was 400 million in 1949. Twenty-seven years later at the time of Mao’s death, China’s population had increased to 700 million.

These two facts alone call into question many of the alleged and inflated claims of deaths and suffering caused by the mistakes of the Great Leap Forward famine and the national insanity of the Cultural Revolution that are often trumpeted by China’s critics—some are quite rabid and idealistic and are more than willing to inflate and exaggerate the facts that are known.

Mao was not perfect by any means but even the Chinese—after his death—credited his leadership as 70% good and only 30% bad. You may not agree with this assessment, but did you live in China during and before the Mao era? Have you any idea how horrible life was for most Chinese before 1949?

Return to or Start with The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


From Mao to the Met

March 12, 2013

Arriving early at the local library to attend a lecture called the Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, I stopped by the library’s used bookstore first and found a three-dollar DVD of Hao Jiang Tian’s From Mao to the Met. Later that evening, my wife said she had been looking for that DVD, and she invited her sister and father to join us when we watched it.

Funded by the Committee of 100, this one-man show features Metropolitan Opera basso Hao Jiang Tian weaving song and story into a compelling tale of growing up in China under Chairman Mao, based on his autobiography (with co-author Lois B. Morris) “Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met“.

What I enjoyed most about the one-man show was that Tian never condemned Mao, the CCP or China for his bitter-sweet journey.

 

Instead, this fantastic opera singer says it was fate that led him from Mao to the Met. When you stop to think about it, fate is the river-of-life known later as history—the current that carries all of us through life often without much say in that history.

As a child, Tian hated his piano lessons. Then with the arrival of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Tian said, “So one happiest day came when I heard an announcement from the loudspeakers: My piano teacher was arrested as a counterrevolutionary. And then I was so happy. And so immediately I ran to the courtyard, screaming and jumping with joy.”

Thirty years later, Tian returned to Beijing and visited his piano teacher, who said, “Well, that was a crazy period, and it was so hard to figure out who was right and who was wrong.”

In his one man show, Tian performs songs of the Cultural Revolution, American standards such as “Some Enchanted Evening”, Irish song “Danny Boy” and operatic arias from his favorite roles; Tian tells the story of the music-and the woman- that changed his life.

NPR says, “For more than 20 years, the basso voice of Hao Jiang Tian has filled major American opera houses. As one of the few Chinese stars in opera, his life story is as remarkable as his work. … Tian is one of the few opera singers to emerge from China.” Source: NPR.org

Discover China’s Invisible Man – Liu Bolin

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Beauty of Art through Silence

December 11, 2012

The art displayed in this post comes from deaf artists, who are graduates of the Shandong Provincial Rehabilitation and Career School, an institute in China that trains young Chinese with disabilities.

 

In 1949, Mao Zedong launched the People’s Republic of China and ruled with an iron fist for almost three decades.

During Mao’s time, there was almost no free artistic expression in China unless the art served the propaganda needs of the state. But today, that has changed.

Zhang Guoli, Sons

After Deng Xiaoping opened China to a global market economy, the post Mao generation was introduced to Western art and theory.


Huang Jinpo, Earth

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that art from China started to emerge.


This is the dormitory where the artists live.

The photos in this post are presented with permission from “Embracing the Uncarved Wood, Sculptural Reliefs from Shandong, China“, which was made possible by a generous grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and with assistance from the Office of the Provost of Franklin & Marshall College. ISBN: 978-0-910626-04-0

Discover Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine SagaWhen you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Mao and Snow

December 3, 2012

During one of our trips to Shanghai, China, my wife and I went to see a film called Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow.

Edgar Snow (1905 – 1972) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.

The film was in Mandarin and wasn’t subtitled, so I had to watch carefully to understand what was going on. I Googled the move and found little about it on the Internet.

However, I discovered that Edgar Snow’s wife threatened to sue China if the movie was released but that didn’t stop the Chinese.

There’s no doubt that Mao had to have charisma to lead so many men in battle for so many years to win the civil war.


Edgar Snow and Mao

However, Mao changed after he became a modern emperor, and the power corrupted him. The evidence—the results of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the purges that killed so many.

There was a positive side too.  Mao’s success in the CCP’s war against poverty, the increase in life expectancy that almost doubled during Mao’s rule and the health programs that were implemented such as the bare foot doctors. The reason so many Chinese still think of Mao as the George Washington of China was because life after 1949 was better than life before the CCP won the Civil War.

Students of China may want to see this movie, but the only place one may buy a DVD of this movie is probably China.

When Edgar Snow came down with pancreatic cancer, Zhou Enlai dispatched a team of Chinese doctors to Switzerland to treat him.

The next best thing would be to read Snow’s book about Mao, Red Star Over China and/or discover about Health Care During Mao’s Time.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Cezanne

October 15, 2012

If our brains work, we all live and learn daily.

This morning I awoke to discover two books printed in Mandarin, not English, that had been tossed on the floor. It seems my wife read both books in one night and didn’t get much sleep. She reads much faster in Mandarin than in English and can polish off books as if she were eating cookies.

When I asked about the two books, it turned out that one of the books was the biography of Wu Guanzhong (1919 – 2010), the father of Chinese Expressionism. This was the first I’d heard of him.

I learned he is considered the Chinese Cezanne. In fact, he is one of the fathers of expressionism.

Wu was born in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China. He was a graduate of the National Art College in 1942, and then studied oil painting in Paris from 1947-1950.

When Wu returned to China in 1950, he taught Western art to his students at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing to 1953. He then taught art at Tsinghua University in Beijing 1953 – 1964.

Due to criticism that Wu had been influenced by Western Bourgeois ideas, in 1966, during the beginning of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Wu was told he could not paint or write about art. To avoid persecution and possibly execution by the rampaging teenage Red Guard, he burned many of his paintings.

In 1970, he was separated from his wife and spent three years working at hard labor in the countryside as part of Mao’s re-education program.

After Mao died in 1976 with China now led by Deng Xiaoping, Wu was allowed to paint again. He had his first professional solo exhibition in 1979, and succeed as a professional artist in the 1980s.

His painting of Shakespeare’s hometown was listed to sell for
RMB: 2 million ($US 318,878) – 2.5 million ($US 398,597).

During his life as an art teacher and a professional artist, his goal was to introduce French modernism to the Chinese world of art while preserving China’s cultural identity.

Wu combined his French training and Chinese background to develop a semiabstract style to depict scenes from the Chinese landscape. Before he died, Wu had solo exhibitions in major art galleries and museums around the world, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Korea, England and the US.

In 1992, Wu was honored by the French Ministry of Culture. He died at age 90. You may see a sample of his art from the embedded video.

Discover Silence to Beauty

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 5/5

December 19, 2011

As you have discovered, while many in the West praised Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao as an accurate portrait of a manipulative egomaniac with little tolerance of dissent and a penchant for young women, the book was also criticized in China by those closest to Mao and by both eastern and western scholars of China.

In addition, many in the West have rejected or ignored what Dr. Li wrote about Mao and the famine during the Great Leap Forward.

According to some of the people that knew Mao best, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware that the situation amounted to more than a slight shortage of food.

Li wrote, “But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation” Source: Answers.com

While many in the West believe most of what Li wrote of Mao in his memoir, those same people do not accept what Li says about the famine because to do so would be to admit Mao wasn’t the butcher of 20, 30, or 40 million people due to famine and starvation during the Great Leap Forward.

This is known as “cherry picking”, which is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position [opinion], while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

This is also called “confirmation bias“, which refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already believe while ignoring evidence that refutes their beliefs. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs upon faith, tradition and prejudice.

An example of this comes from Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter’s book on the great famine where he claims that Mao was responsible for the famine and did nothing to save lives.

The point I want to make is if the West accepts the revised and sensationalized English version of Li’s memoir of Mao as accurate, how can anyone dispute what Li said about Mao not knowing the extent of the Great Leap Forward famine?  By 1959, Dr. Li had been Mao’s physician for almost three years and according to author Troy Parfitt was with him daily and knew intimate details of Mao’s life.

On the other hand, if we accept that Dr. Li’s memory was wrong about Mao and the famine in 1959, how many other claims in his memoir of Mao are inaccurate?

In fact, it was mentioned in Mao’s Alleged Guilt in the Land of Famines that Dikotter sensationalized his book [as Random House did to Dr. Li's memoir of Mao] by increasing [inflating] the mortality numbers by 50% to allow for possible under-reporting and came up with a claim that 45 million died of starvation during the GLF famine when in fact, the numbers may have been much lower.

Is it possible that Mao’s image in the West has been unwittingly engineered by the media to be worse than it should be?

We know that memory is imperfect. Gore Vidal said, “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” — from Palimpsest by Gore Vidal (Penguin, 1996).

In fact, “Memoir writers must manufacture a text, imposing narrative order on a jumble of half-remembered events.” — William Zinsser, “Introduction.” Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir. Mariner, 1998

However, in the case of China and/or Mao, many in the West do not trust what the Chinese claim unless told what they want to hear. Everything else is to be considered a lie.

Return to On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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