Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Zedong) is a series of statements from speeches and writings by Mao bound in a bright red vinyl cover commonly known as ‘the little red book’. Marshal Lin Biao (Vice Premier of the Peoples Republic of China), directed the compilation of quotations and wrote an endorsing forward ‘study Chairman Maos writings, follow his teachings and act according to his instructions’. (This page was torn out following his death and public disgrace in September 1971). During the Cultural Revolution, every Chinese citizen was unofficially required to own, read and carry the pocket book at all times. Studying the quotations was a requirement in all schools and places of work. All writings and articles including scientific essays were to include quotations from Chairman Mao. Lin Biao also originated the ritual of waving the red book in the right hand by the Red Guards chanting slogans such as “long live the proletariat” promoting Mao’s cult of personality. The ‘little red book’ became a symbol of Mao Tse-tung thought or Maoism and is one of the most printed books in history.
The Great Leap Forward was a 5-year economic and social plan led by Mao Tse-tung in 1958, which aimed to use China’s vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern communist society through the process of rapid industrialization and collectivization. The hope was to industrialize by making use of the massive supply of cheap labour and avoid having to import heavy machinery. Mao believed that the best way to finance industrialization was for the government to take control of agriculture by establishing a monopoly over grain distribution and supply. Private ownership of land was abolished and households all over China were forced to live in state-owned communes with communal canteens. By the end of 1958, 25,000 communes had been established with the average of 5,000 households each. The communes were relatively self-sufficient co-operatives where wages and money were replaced by work points. The commune system was aimed at maximizing production for provisioning the cities focused on constructing offices, factories, schools, urban dwellings and infrastructure. A number of controversial agriculture innovations such as close cropping and deep plowing were introduced with the belief that they would lead to larger per-acre gains. Political meetings and propaganda sessions replaced most social activities. Mao saw grain and steel production as the key pillars of economic development so he encouraged the establishment of small backyard steel furnaces in every commune and urban neighbourhood. Huge efforts were made by peasants and workers to produce steel out of scrap metal. Thousands of large-scale state projects including mass mobilization on irrigation works were initiated requiring huge investments in technology. Engineers and skilled technicians from the Soviet Union came to help train the youth.