Tania Branigan “China cancels plans for Mao's 120th but in one village, his spirit lives on” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/26/nanjiecun-commune-capitalism
Officials celebrate an icon of national revival and Communist party rule, rather than the revolutionary whose thinking was described as a "spiritual atom bomb".
Yet his promise of economic equality has renewed appeal in a country beset by corruption, injustice and a gulf between rich and poor, as the popularity of Bo Xilai's quasi-Maoist platform proved before the Chongqing party secretary's downfall last year*2.
With its dated atmosphere, quiet streets, wholesome ethos and street-corner Tannoys, Nanjiecun*3 is uncannily reminiscent of the 60s TV show The Prisoner: a staged, self-contained world out of place and time.
To Fan Jinggang*4, who manages Utopia*5, the Beijing bookstore known as a centre of modern Maoism, it is not an anomaly but an inspiration.
"If all villages in China took Nanjiecun's path, farmers' rights would be guaranteed and living standards would be higher than now," said Fan. "You would not see so many farmers exploited in cities. They would not be discriminated against … The rights of the proletariat would be guaranteed and the polarisation between rich and poor would not happen."
Many of the social ills he lists are also cited by the liberals he denigrates: environmental degradation, wasted resources, corruption, social discontent.
But his diagnosis is wholly different: "The transformation of the Communist party is the root of all problems in China," he said. "The rebels, to a large degree, have kidnapped the Communist party and the republic."
Current plans for reform suggest a further embrace of privatisation and marketisation, which he warned would intensify economic polarisation and social instability.
Fan points to the successes of Mao's reign: then, life expectancy soared from 35 to 68 years, workers were respected politically, and there were warmer relations between cadres and the people.
"History has proven that Chairman Mao's thought is the truth," he said.
But others remember him as the man whose leadership caused tens of millions of deaths in the Great Famine and the chaos and violence of the Cultural Revolution. When China embraced reforms after his death, hundreds of millions climbed out of poverty.
It is impossible to know how many in China share Fan's views, but it is probably true that their numbers are easily underestimated. Many are poor, often old, and they lack connections and influence.
Utopia's website was closed after Bo's purge, although a sister site still publishes leftist content. Fan complained that he could not share his opinions freely, blaming neoliberalism among officials and in the media, which does not run leftist opinions, and which attacks individuals and their point of view, he said.
Still, neo-Maoists are more tolerated by authorities than those calling for multiparty elections. And while they complain of being silenced, they are frequently intolerant of other views. When the prominent economist Mao Yushi*6criticised Mao Zedong as a "backstage orchestrator who wrecked the country and brought ruin to the people", leftists petitioned for his arrest*7 and threatened the 84-year-old with violence.
At its height, Mao's influence was felt not only in Asia but across Africa and in the bourgeois west. In Paris, student radicals waved their Little Red Books. The British left was less enthused, but when police arrested a man and woman in London last month on suspicion of slavery, it emerged that the roots of the case lay in a Maoist sect founded in the 70s*8.
"There was great variety in what people read into Maoism," said Julia Lovell of Birkbeck, University of London*9, who is writing a book on its global legacy.
"Some saw him as the heir to Stalin; a doctrinaire Communist leader. Others ran with the idea of Mao as an anarchic democrat; as a guerrilla leader; as a man of the people but also a philosopher and poet. You have this strange contradiction: admiration for him as a proletarian, but also as a cultured intellectual."
Peter Day “Nanjiecun: A village that still lives and works as Mao laid down” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25019716
*2:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120501/1335892449 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120619/1340122652 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120623/1340383501 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130725/1374743355 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130726/1374804095 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130922/1379863605
*5:「烏有之郷」。See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090514/1242326486 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20111120/1321760012 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120125/1327463364 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120627/1340723349 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20121006/1349459034 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20121013/1350097719
*6:茅于軾。 See eg. http://blog.sina.com.cn/maoyushi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Yushi http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%8C%85%E4%BA%8E%E8%BD%BC http://baike.baidu.com/view/291225.htm Also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110608/1307565298 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130709/1373392258
*7:“Liberalism under attack in China: Boundlessly loyal to the great monster” http://www.economist.com/node/18744533
*8:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131126/1385433093 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131129/1385699757 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131130/1385776637 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131201/1385907136
*9:See eg. http://www.bbk.ac.uk/history/our-staff/full-time-academic-staff/dr-julia-lovell/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Lovell Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131004/1380908298