A big leap

Article

August 8, 2022

The Great Leap Forward is an economic and political campaign in the People's Republic of China from 1958 to 1960, aimed at strengthening the industrial base and a sharp rise in the country's economy, which, however, led to tragic consequences for the Chinese people. At that time, China was a 90% agrarian country in dire need of modernization. Mao Zedong justified the policy of the Great Leap Forward with the help of Marxist theory of productive forces, but his attempt to increase economic growth through drastic collectivization and replace professionalism with enthusiasm, as well as bad decisions in the field of agriculture turned into a disaster: the result of the Great Leap Forward was the death of 20 to 40 million people, and this made it the greatest social catastrophe of the 20th century.

Historical background

The Great Leap was preceded by complex events in Chinese history. The country gradually recovered after the long war, industry was organized. A number of reforms were carried out - in particular, religious organizations and mystical rituals were banned, partial collectivization was carried out and small peasant farms were formed, the state took over control over the distribution of agricultural products. China initially tried to follow the path of the USSR and used Soviet specialists. After the revelation of Stalin's personality cult, which Mao could not like, contradictions arose between China and the USSR. According to the instructions of Mao Zedong, the Chinese media had to keep silent about the decision of the XX Congress of the CPSU in order not to arouse "unhealthy interest" among the Chinese people. Contrary to the decisions of the XX congress, the leadership of the CPC put forward in May 1956 the attitude "let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools compete." In fact, it was a provocation that made it possible to identify all the ideological opponents of the Communist Party's dictatorship." In the left wing of the Communist Party of China, the idea appeared to force the development of the economy, relying on the general enthusiasm of the population. In May 1958, the Second Session of the VIII Congress of the Communist Party was convened, which worked in closed mode. It approved the "new general line" proposed by Mao Zedong. A course of "three red flags" was proclaimed: "a great leap", a people's commune and a "new general line". More pragmatic