Once Again, Long Live Chairman Mao The Atlantic

WHEN Mao Zedong died, in 1976, and his wife, Jiang Qing, was arrested as the leading spirit in the Gang of Four, the Great Helmsman’s legacy presented Deng Xiaoping, his reform-minded successor, with a dilemma. To de-emphasize Mao’s legacy in China, as Khrushchev had tried to "de-Stalinize" the Soviet Union, would have shaken loose the keystone of the ideological arch that still held up the Chinese Communist Party’s right to rule unilaterally in the name of the people. However, to continue emphasizing Mao’s militant class-based ideology would have collided with the kinds of economic reforms that Deng, who had himself been accused of being a "capitalist roader," and had suffered grievously as a result of Mao’s whimsical dictates during the Cultural Revolution, viewed as essential for the transformation of China into a modern country.

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