“During the War of Liberation, the U.S. imperialists and their running dogs -- the bureaucrat-capitalists, the landlords and the Kuomintang reactionaries who represented these two classes -- were the enemies of the people, while the other classes, strata and social groups, which opposed them, all came within the category of the people. At the present stage, the period of building socialism, the classes, strata and social groups which favour, support and work for the cause of socialist construction all come within the category of the people, while the social forces and groups which resist the socialist revolution and are hostile to or sabotage socialist construction are all enemies of the people.”— Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976), Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” Speech at the Eleventh Session (Enlarged) of the Supreme State Conference, Feb. 27, 1957
You know, I thought I had heard that phrase “enemies of the people” somewhere, before it was used in a recent speech in which Donald Trump lambasted the media. It turns out that Chairman Mao had employed it. He really hated the idea of contradiction and constant internal questioning of his policies. In this speech, given 60 years ago today, he set out how he would like terms of debate in his country to work.
“Nonantagonistic” contradictions, he explained, could be dealt with by nonviolent persuasion, but “antagonistic” contradictions—well, The Party (i.e., Mao himself) would have to be the judge of that.
Except for that little bit about “U.S. imperialists and their running dogs,” I don’t think there’s an awful lot that the Trump administration would disagree with about this approach by Chairman Mao. After all, the new President has spoken of Vladimir Putin being a “strong” leader, and by that yardstick, Chairman Mao may have been even stronger—not to mention Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
Oh, by the way: Did I mention that millions of people died in China under the eyes of this “strong” leader? Just something to think about the next time you hear a President refer to “enemies of the people.”