This Friday is the 40th anniversary of a very important day for China. It is the day that Mao Zedong died. In 1949, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China. He ran the country until the day he died, on Sept. 9, 1976.
An important historic figure on a global level, Mao Zedong is crucially significant in China. His memory is something is still present in what is, basically, a communist country. The legacy of the man can still be felt in the country. And he is well remembered. For those who did not live to see those days, he is a cultural icon.
The Figure of Mao
The years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) had a certain radicalism to them. Those who lived through those years may have a mixed opinion about Mao. But recent generations follow in the line of thought of the Communist Party of China. That Mao Zedong was a great figure that was mostly right about everything.
China is very different now from the way it was in 1976. The change is phenomenal. But Mao’s influence and presence still lingers in Chinese society.
Mao Zedong is still a revered figure. Shaoshan is a small village in Hunan province. There is nothing particularly special about the village. Except that it is where Mao was born. The village sees millions of visitors every year, keeping the myth of Mao alive.
But a visit to the village of his birth might not be enough. If you want to visit Mao Zedong’s mausoleum you can. His embalmed body is housed in a large mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Gate is where he proclaimed the foundation of the new Chinese communist state on Oct. 1, 1949. The Gate still has a large portrait of him hanging there, in Beijing.
And Mao Zedong’s picture is still on Chinese currency that the Chinese people handle every day.
His presence towering over Chinese society is about how he became a symbol of the Chinese state. A symbol of the country itself, aside from the ideology. That is why the myth of Mao has endured. Even in an era where China is industrialized and increasingly capitalistic. And has moved away from Mao’s ideal of a radical communist state. With its ethos founded on agrarian virtues and equalitarian ideals.
Mao and Today’s Communist Party
Mao Zedong believed that the Communist Party should maintain control over society at all times. He advocated an approach to governing that saw the Party be an integral part of everyday life. Mao wanted for the Communist Party to control all aspects of life.
The totalitarian state that Mao Zedong led is in the past. And so is that form of authoritarian rule over citizen’s lives. But today’s Communist Party is built on the foundation of Mao’s Communist Party. And that is something that still shows.
The Communist Party in China still has an iron grip over political power. It does not allow dissent in any form. And still very much seeks to ideologically control the country.
Image source: here.