Poor Leadership: Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong was born to a peasant family on December 26, 1893.  He grew up loving classic Chinese literature and culture.  During his college years, he became very interested in Marxism, which was a political philosophy and economic practice based upon a materialistic interpretation of society.  Marxism is composed of three main beliefs.  First, society’s history results from its internal conflicts between social classes and the forces of production, such as technology and labor.  Second, in a capitalistic society, the bourgeoisie (upper class) exploit the proletariat (working class).  Third, in a capitalist economy, the workers are alienated from society because they do not control their labor.

mao zedong

On July 23, 1921, Zedong attended the first session of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai.   After only two years, Zedong was elected as one of the five commissars of the party; his position as a commissar was roughly equal to that of a military commander or a government minister.

On October 1, 1949, the Communist party took power in China and established the People’s Republic of China.  Mao Zedong was made the Chairman of the PRC.  In 1953, he launched the first Five-Year Plan, in an attempt to end China’s dependence on agriculture and transform China into a world power.  This plan did not work, so in May of 1958, Zedong implemented the Great Leap Forward.  Zedong hoped to surpass both Great Britain and the United States economically by modernizing China.  This program led to a failure in food production and the starvation of many people in China.  Mao died in 1976 and Deng Xiaoping took over as the new ruler of China.

Mao was an example of a poor leader.  He correctly used his influence to secure a position of leadership, but he did not seek council from the other leaders that are there to support him.  By ignoring their advice, he chose a path that only he believed would work, and it failed.

What could Mao have done differently?