Aug 18, 2018

Mao & Trump

This comparison of Mao & Trump is interesting:

The active phase of the Cultural Revolution, from 1966–1971, lasted little more than one U.S. presidential term. At its height, Chairman Mao, who like Trump fits the description of a malignant narcissist, had been adored and worshipped like no other modern world leader before or since. I remember my parents telling me that they had to get up in the middle of the night to walk the streets, shouting slogans and singing songs that glorified Chairman Mao and Maoism. Every citizen carried the “little red book,” which contained selected statements from speeches and writings of Chairman Mao. If there had been Nielsen ratings, Mao’s ratings would have been off the charts, and Mao would have watched it zealously. Mao would be as obsessed about the size of the turnout at his speeches as Trump apparently is.

More insidiously, young, naive people were incited to defend and glorify Maoism, and to attack any institution, person, or tradition that stood in the way. Fervent about the communist ideal and fearing the return of the bourgeois ways and exploitation of the disenfranchised, those people formed “Red Guards” and stormed libraries and schools, Confucian and Buddhist temples, municipal governments, and even army barracks. Mao openly scorned intellectuals and mercilessly put down anyone who voiced even a timid disagreement. Violence escalated rapidly, when one of Mao’s cronies, the national police chief, said that it was “no big deal” if Red Guards were beating “bad people” to death. When I heard Trump’s fact-free attacks on judges and journalists, his airy reference to “second amendment people” taking matters into their own hands, or his admiration for Putin and downplaying of the dictator’s likely war crimes and killings, I felt a familiar chill.