Ron Suskind's profile of George W. Bush reminded me eerily of Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Suskind portrays Bush as filled with unwarranted certainty, sure that God is speaking and working through him, and convinced that decisive action shapes reality in ways that make it unnecessary to first study reality.
This approach to policy-making, it seems to me, should be called Right Maoism. The History Learning Site reminds us that in 1958 Mao initiated what he called the "Great Leap Forward" with the aim of boosting both Chinese industry and agriculture, through the reorganization of China into over 25,000 communes.
In 1960 alone, as a result of Mao's faith-based initiative, 9 million persons starved to death. The total toll from famine, hunger, and illness in 1959-1962 was around 20 million dead.
The above description of the way in which China fell apart under Mao sounds eerily like contemporary Iraq under Bush, since both situations were produced by the same mantra. Reality doesn't matter. Power creates reality. Suskind says that a senior Bush official told him, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." This official may as well have been quoting Mao's Little Red Book: ""it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever."
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Magical Thinking III
Where others see madness or New Age mysticism, Juan Cole sees Maoist-flavored irationality:
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