Mao Stands Alone Part 3

We already know Mao was plotting for a comeback.    His jealousy of Liu Shaoqi, his probable envy of Liu Shaoqi’s romantic situation, his purported angst with the direction China was taking and then the play of Wu Han all combined to drive Mao crazy.

But this play of Wu Han’s did the most damage.  Because everyone could surely see the emperor was Mao.   

But was it really so straightforward?  

I don’t think it was. 

We have to remember where Mao came from.  Though his father was a wealthy landlord, Mao himself was a nobody outside of his own backyard.   He also spoke terrible Mandarin.  (Many a laowai today speak better Mandarin than Mao did.)  

I remember my Chinese teacher telling me that when listening to Mao on the radio he could barely understand him.  

In the early days very, very few Chinese could speak proper Mandarin.  That is, clear Mandarin without a hint of any local dialect.    From Deng Xiaoping to Song Meiling, the evidence is beyond dispute.    (I for one was appalled at Song Meiling’s mandarin when I finally found a video of her on youtube. )

One’s status, scholarly gravitas, was largely dictated by one’s ability to speak proper Mandarin.  One must remember the place of education where Mao worked:  北大。As Mao’s mandarin was dominated by a thick Hunan accent, how could one take him seriously?  I think this is where Mao developed a distaste for intellectuals.

Where did Wu Han go to school?  QingHua of course!

In Mao’s eyes, this whole thing was started by an upstart.  Some punkass intellectual that in Mao’s youth would have unhesitatingly looked down upon the Chairman himself.    Wu Han without doubt believed himself superior to Mao in intellect.   One could even say he was “taunting” Mao.  And Wu Han wasn’t even a real Communist!  Rather, Wu Han became a CCP Member only in the 1950’s to expedite his career more so than in any strong belief in Marx!

Wasn’t this the kind of person Mao would’ve despised in real life?  Remember, May used the “100 flowers movement” to get rid of people like Wu Han.  Encouraging them to give constructive feedback and revealing themselves before having the CCP Machine spring upon and crush them.
If Wu Han had been a peasant, ie someone not seen as a threat by Mao, maybe things would have gone differently.   Because a peasant wouldn’t have written such a “hit job” on Mao.  Only an intellectual.   

Wu Han represented the remnants of an intellectual class within China that had become more brazen,  more daring in how Mao was being obliquely analyzed within China.  If Mao did not act, surely the “re-evaluation of Mao” himself would gain speed.  But now it was worse than that.  While Mao had successfully shunted aside those who had looked down upon him all those years ago, he still had one category of enemies left.   The Peng Zhen’s and the Liu Shaoqi’s and the Deng Xiaoping’s.  They all had to go.   Intellectuals none, perhaps.   But contemporaries all the same.  The very few within China that looked not upon Mao as a God, or a Pagan, or an Oracle.  But the very flawed and vulnerable Man they knew him to be.

To be successful in life one needs luck.  Just a little.  

What if Sun Weishi had not turned down Lin Biao’s marriage proposal?  As the son in law of Zhou En Lai does one actually think for a moment that Lin Biao would’ve been an ally of Mao?

But she did turn Lin Biao down, and China suffered the consequences.  But only because Wu Han felt he was unassailable.   After all, his protector was Peng Zhen, the damn Mayor of Beijing.  And his laoda was Liu Shaoqi himself!

Only Mao could’ve brought all three down.

So the first thing Mao does is order a criticism of Wu Han’s play/essay on Hai Rui.   Mao’s sense of self demanded it.

But who can handle this task for Mao?  After all, Mao has been in seclusion for so long, that literally the entire upper CCP establishment is beyond his reach.  What to do?

Finally he hit upon the idea of his wife Jiang Qing.    She the former movie actress.  The only problem is that she and Jiang really didn’t see much of each other.  Hardly ever.   She would try and visit Mao in Beijing, and time and time again his guards would simply usher her away. But now he needed her.   And probably not at all to his surprise, she was happy to be needed.    

Jiang Qing’s base of power was in Shanghai.  She had no power in Beijing.  And as we all know, Hangzhou is geographically very close to Shanghai.  Thus Jiang Qing and Mao were able to frequently meet.    She found a young firebrand named Yao Wenyuan to write an article criticizing the play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office.

Who was Yao Wenyuan?

Yao Wenyuan was a passionate believer in the Socialist Road.  Or maybe just an opportunist?    He took his time and attacked Wu Han’s play.  I say took his time because his attack was 10,000 words.    
Give Yao Wenyuan credit for reading the play(I haven’t).

To his credit, he freely admits China had endured three successive years of hardship, but rather than putting any responsibility on the Party(Mao), he simply says “natural calamities” are to blame.    And Capitalists.

Then he attacks the principle of land ownership and individual farming.  That is, he attacks Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi. 

When his article is published, it is published in Shanghai.  But not Beijing.  Mao is furious.   As long as Peng Zhen controls the People’s Daily, it will not be published.   Rather, a committee announces that Wu Han’s play is simply “academic” in nature and “not political”.    This was total bullshit, as we know.

But as long as Liu Shaoqi was the President of China, why should anyone worry? 
Not one person in China’s leadership openly supported Mao. 

Not one.

Mao was truly alone.


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