The defacing of the Mao portrait in Tienanmen Square, which I saw back in my more “fellow traveling” days, calls to mind what most of us are beginning to realize. Communism, indeed leftism in general to a great extent, has shifted over from a political ideology to a religion. Mao is almost inarguably the greatest mass murderer in human history. An estimated twenty-thirty million deaths are on his hands, nearly all of them Chinese. And yet the Chinese themselves “religiously” guard against his image being defaced.
Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Furthermore, China today is hardly Communist at all, or even socialist. They are a kind of rigid state capitalism out to compete for all they are worth in global markets. Mao is used as an icon to preserve the perquisites of the ruling classes, which now have gone far beyond the traditional communist nomenklatura. If one were to be honest, it should be Chairman Deng, not Chairman Mao whose image dominates Tienanmen. But Mao the Mass Murder must stay, to serve his religious function. Perhaps soon there will be a resurrection from the Lenin-like tomb where he has been so meticulously embalmed.