Introduction: Comrade, Chairman, Helmsman — The Continuous Revolutions of Mao Zedong

  • Timothy Cheek
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


When Mao Zedong was thirteen, he had a huge fight with his strict father during a large party at their home. Mao recalled later, “My father denounced me before the whole group, calling me lazy and useless. This infuriated me. I cursed him and left the house. My mother ran after me and tried to persuade me to return. My father also pursued me, cursing at the same time that he commanded me to come back.” But Mao was sick of his father’s harsh treatment and refused to obey. In fact, Mao threatened to jump in the nearby pond and kill himself. Faced with this fierce resistance, Mao’s father gave in. They agreed: Mao would obey his father if his father would promise to stop beating him. “Thus the war ended,” Mao said, “and from it I learned that when I defended my rights by open rebellion my father relented, but when I remained meek and submissive he only cursed and beat me the more.”1 Mao carried this lesson into political life. He always sought revolutionary answers to the social and political problems he encountered. He was the continuous revolutionary — from his early days as a radical student in rural China in the 1910s to his last days as supreme leader in Beijing in the 1970s.


Qing Dynasty Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Land Reform Great Leap 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy Cheek
    • 1
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaCanada

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