Mao Zedong was another dictator of the 20th Century and the first dictator of Red China. Mae saw that the Chinese government was oppressive and he joined a revolution that began in 1911 and became part of its government, the Kuomintang. He was later influenced to join some Communist intellectual groups where he learned the ideas of Marx and Engels. When Mao heard of the successful Bolshevik Revolution he became more radical and helped organize the Chinese Communist Party. He became its leader by 1925. But a new leader became chair of the Kuomintang and sought to exterminate communists. Mao tried to fight back, but was defeated. Mao fled to the mountains and trained a small army of guerilla fighters. But he had to flee even farther and was forced to travel 8,000 miles to be safe.
Japan then invaded China and the Kuomintang now recruited Mao’s help in fighting Japan and helped defeat it in WWII, after WWII China had a bloody civil war between the two opposing political groups. Mao gained the upper hand and became the leader of China. He tried to institute reforms including promoting the status of women, doubling the school population and improving literacy, and increasing access to health care.
The people started to complain about the new system and he retaliated by cracking down and imprisoning or executing hundreds of thousands of dissidents. Then in 1958, he tried another new philosophy, called “The Great Leap Forward”. The idea was to increase agricultural and industrial production by organizing large communes of workers. This was initially a good idea but resulted in the worst manmade famine ever with 40 million people dead. The party pushed him aside in 1962 but in 1966 he made a remarkable comeback. This time he closed the schools and executed intellectuals, to make sure that he would not be criticized or pushed aside in the future. Mao died in 1976, leaving a legacy of both genocidal chaos (40-70 million) and political genius (uniting and restoring China)
Cambodia also went through a communist revolution in 1975 that lasted until 1979. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, tried to re-engineer the poor country to be more efficiently farmed, but caused further famines instead. The country had a total population of 8 million, but approximately 2 million died of famine or were executed by the government. The Khmer Rouge became stronger and attacked Vietnam but were quickly outnumbered and forced to flee.
I am noticing a rhythm to communism: Russia killed 60 million, China killed 40-70 million, and Cambodians killed 25% of their nation. And those are the only three we have studied so far.