An actual book used by Mao Zedong to "brainwash" the Chinese children during his Cultural Revolution. Included quotes from the communist leader as well as many nationalistic items. During the revolution, Mao turned many children against their elders, encoruaging them to report any statements or actions that seemed anti-communist or against the ruling class

The Little Red Book was actually compiled by members of the Gang of Four as part of their campaign to nearly deify Mao Zedong in order to ride on the crest of the wave that they were raising him on. It certainly was a prominent tool during the Cultural Revolution of the mid-1960s and was even brandished by rioting students in Paris during the incidents of 1967. Consisting of excerpts from various essays written by Mao in the 1950s but also a few bits from the days of the Long March, one that stands out for me is "Power flows from the barrel of a gun."

Then, of course, there's always John Lennon's "Happiness is a Warm Gun". I could make a joke about (Groucho) Marxist-Lennonist thought here but just won't.

Mao's Little Red Book

After a dim sum lunch today, I went to the Shanghai Book Center to look for a copy of the Little Red Book. I was thinking about noding it once I get my hands on a copy. Yeah, it's an absurdly horrible piece of literature, but as propaganda, it was masterful. Anyways, upon my arrival at the "Political Science" section of the bookstore, I finally found the Maoist section, off in a dusty corner. Interesting. "The Great Helmsman" given such a lowly position in Shanghai's biggest bookstore?

After a bit of digging around, I did not find a single copy of the Little Red Book that people are so familiar with. You know, the little pocket-sized books that the Red Guards used to wave around and treat as their bibles? I couldn't find one. I did however, find a collection of "Maoist Essays", written by himself. After scrolling through some, it turned out none of the essays had anything to do with Marxism, Maoism, revolution, or anything. It was more essays regarding recent Chinese culture and history.

I recall that the Little Red Book was originally compiled as an anthology of quotes, essays and tidbits regarding Mao Zedong. According to my parents, thirty years ago, you could have bought a copy for two cents off in any store. Suddenly, they all disappeared. I think it was the early 80's when they were suddenly cut from circulation, probably on Deng Xiaoping's order. I read an old copy belonging to the parents of my friend in Australia. I couldn't find a copy of it any more.

The official Chinese government line on Mao is that he was "70% right and 30% wrong". That's a pretty high number for the wrong, considering this man was worshipped as a God just a few decades ago. The abadonment of communism/Maoism in China can be proven by a trip to the bookstore. IMHO, the first thing they need to do is tear that nasty giant poster of Mao Zedong down from the Forbidden Palace. You can imagine what the protestors at Tiananmen Square felt when they saw his fat, bloated face staring down at them. After all, the entire protest was against the corruption of the hardliners in government, who descended from the Maoist faction (no, it wasn't about democracy).

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