Mao and the Mao Era
A Balance Sheet
Andrew Walder (Stanford University)
As the Mao era, and in particular the Cultural Revolution fade in memory, its history has fallen out of focus and has been infused with myth. Drawing on his recent book, China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (Harvard 2015), Walder will take up two related questions. First, what were Mao’s intentions and what were the actual outcomes of his radical initiatives? Second, why did these outcomes occur? Mao emerges from the historical record as a revolutionary whose radicalism was undiminished by the passage of time. His initiatives frequently had consequences that he had not intended and that frustrated his designs. Despite creating China’s first unified modern national state and initiating its industrialization drive, Mao left China divided, backward, and weak.