Political Correctness is not too intimidating in most parts of our country and we have a fairly indulgent attitude towards it. But its purpose is to make you toe the party line, and to frighten you off from thinking or saying anything “incorrect.” It is what the Taliban do. It is what Stalin’s purges and Mao’s purges did. It is a form of terrorism to impose uniformity of thought. It is hostile to the individual, the unorthodox, the eccentric; and it defines any deviation as evil.
Reading The Tragedy of Liberation* recently I was reminded of our British forms of political correctness. In The Tragedy of Liberation Mao’s purges are described in detail. There were four main forms of intimidation:
- ‘Struggle meetings,’ in which the entire workforce of an institution gathered to see one of its members attacked by a local official for incorrect political attitudes; the crowd was under pressure to join in the attack;
- ‘Denunciation rallies,’ in which people proved their loyalty and deflected the danger from themselves by denouncing their colleagues or friends or neighbours for incorrect political attitudes;
- ‘Self-criticism,’ in which loyalists confessed that they had once had other views, or been tempted away from the true path (these self-criticisms were kept on the record and would condemn them some years later);
- And killing quotas. The usual killing quota for a Maoist campaign was between one point two and two point five persons per thousand of the population. That was the proportion that the leadership estimated would be sufficient to cow and terrify all the people. So, for example, 56,700 people in the province of Henan were killed in the purge of 1950; 45,500 in the province of Hebei; 61,400 in the province of Hunan, and so on. The total for six provinces out of the twenty six, reported to the central administration, was 301,800, so the country-wide total must have been four or five times as many. Unlike Stalin, who disappeared people in the night, without explanation, Mao made his terror explicit and public and forced everybody to watch. In following years there were similar campaigns aimed at ‘Entrepreneurs,’ ‘Capitalist Roaders’ and ‘Foreign Spies.’ When the local administrators had to find these sorts of numbers of ‘foreign spies’ to kill in every province – in a completely closed country – you can imagine how justice was served.
What I was reminded of was Tony Benn’s de-selection campaign in the Labour Party in the early eighties. He whipped up recruitment of young idealist Red Guards, urging committed left wingers to join local constituency Labour Parties and attack the sitting MPs in meetings modelled on Chinese struggle meetings and denunciation rallies – for being insufficiently left wing (which meant Bennite – the whole thing was a power grab to control the Labour Party, and ultimately the country). Ask Frank Field how it felt to be on the receiving end of a campaign of orchestrated vilification.
Far fetched? Bennite bullying did not include the killing quotas, I’ll grant you. Benn signed the book of condolence in the Chinese embassy when the monster Mao died and expressed his admiration for the vicious old brute. He was our Maoist.
The martyrs to Mao are seventy million dead. The number terrorised is an incalculable billion plus. The paranoia in China has not fully abated yet. As for North Koreans, still suffering what Stalin initiated and Mao perfected… may they find their liberation from the liberators soon.
*The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-57 by Frank Dikȍtter, published 2013 by Bloomsbury.