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Violence in Revolutionary China: 1949-1963

Zhou, Xun (2020) 'Violence in Revolutionary China: 1949-1963.' In: Edwards, Louise and Penn, Nigel and Winter, Jay, (eds.) The Cambridge World History of Violence Volume 4 AD 1800-AD 2000. Cambridge Histories, vol.4 . Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781316606148

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This chapter shows that terror and violence were integral part of the Great Leap Forward in Mao’s China. From the outset of the collectivisation in 1958, terror and violence was used to whip those unwilling individuals into joining collectives. Mao conceived of the People’s Commune as an environment without legal safeguards, which operated strictly as a military organization, meaning that violence could be practiced with impunity. Terror and repression were used against a much wider population, and the level of violence intensified. For many, the practice of violence became a habit that needed no intellectual rationale. Endless ‘struggle’ meetings also provided opportunities for venting personal revenge and for other selfish pursuits. Grass-roots cadres used their positions of power to extract as much benefit for themselves, while punishing anyone they disliked or with whom they disagreed. To survive, peasants fought against peasants in the People’s Commune, and in some cases even family members fought one another. In the pursuit of Mao’s utopia, unleashed by totalitarianism, between 2 to 3 million people were tortured to death or were killed deliberately during the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1961.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 18 May 2017 09:07
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 01:00

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