By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: During my 44-day journey across China, here is an aging poster of Mao Zedong in the hostel, where I stayed in Langmusi, Sichuan. He was popularly featured everywhere I went. The cognitive dissonance, with what I believed to be horrible truths about the man, made me compartmentalize the conflict – until I ate at a Cultural Revolution-themed restaurant. From that day onward, my life changed forever and for the better.
Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Jeff J Brown: Hello, everybody. Before we get started, if you think the work that I do is valuable and informative for you, please make a financial contribution to all of my hard work and efforts. There is every way to pay, to send me support on all of my podcast pages, as well as on the Substack and Brighteon pages. So, thank you.
After doing the exposé on Frank Dikotter last week, about what a fraud he was and still is, in terms of discrediting China, the Chinese people, Mao Zedong and the Mao Era, it made me reflect on a very interesting experience, I had during the time I wrote the book 44 Days Backpacking in China. I was coming off the Tibetan Plateau, which was an incredible experience in itself, coming down to go to Yunnan and Lake Lugu, with its matriarchal Mosuo people in Yunnan, and I spent the night in Xicheng.
Xicheng is in the southwest corner of Sichuan in Western China. Few people know where it is, and I spent the night there. It’s really in the boondocks. It’s like the last place you need to go to, or the first place to come into when you enter Sichuan from the North or you’re leaving Sichuan to go south into Yunnan. I was looking for a place to eat and I came across this restaurant called “Communist Food Party”. And of course, the “party” was the Chinese symbol for the Communist Party of China, not the party, as in having fun.
I thought, well, this is interesting. So, I went in and the whole thing was done up in the Cultural Revolution. Cultural Revolution motif, like when Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Hu Jintao and all these other millions of Chinese adolescents and young teenagers went out from the cities into the countryside to learn what it was like, at that time, for 85% of the people, how they actually lived and to get some boots on the ground experience, helping China’s farmers and rural people.
Up until this time, before we went back to China in 2010, I had read Frank Dikotter’s book “Mao’s Great Famine”, where he says 80 million people died during the Mao Era and I read “The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician”, by Li Zhisui. And I read “Mao Zedong – A Life” by Jonathan Spence and I read “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang, about the three generations of women, how their lives were supposedly destroyed by Mao.
And I read “Mao: The Unknown Story” by Jung Chang and her husband, John Halliday. And I also read “Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary” by Gao Wenqian, where he called Zhou “Mao’s dog”. I believed at that time, that in June 1989 in Tiananmen, the People’s Liberation Army set up machine gun nests on top of the National Museum and the Great Hall of the People and were gunning down, mowing down thousands of freedom-seeking students.
I believed all that, which is why when I was going up the Tibetan Plateau, and I was in a combi with a bunch of Tibetan monks and we stopped at a little army base, and a PLA Soldier got on – very nicely dressed. And I commented to myself, “Yeah, he would not hesitate to gun all these guys down, these monks, if given the order”, because I had that meme in my head.
During all this time, I kept seeing Mao posters everywhere. Mao’s everywhere. He was in hotel lobbies. He was in cafes. He was in people’s houses, because this was the summertime and they didn’t have air-conditioning, the doors were open. I could see Mao pictures, Mao posters framed and everything in homes, little shops and stands. Everywhere I went, I saw Mao posters from beginning to end. And I kept saying to myself, but how is this possible?
He killed 80 million people. I mean, I know it’s true because Frank Dikotter and Li Zhisui and Jonathan Spence and Jung Chang, and John Halliday and Gao Wenqian, they said it’s true. I know it’s true. Why are the Chinese venerating this guy? He didn’t have teeth, but had fangs His fangs had green moss between them, and he didn’t have fingernails. He had claws that were soaked with blood, and he woke up every day, just trying to figure out how he could kill a million more people.
This is what was going on in my mind. This was the monster and then the people, who have his poster everywhere, and then I come into a restaurant celebrating the Cultural Revolution, which was supposed to be one of the greatest human tragedies in the history of mankind, etc. Talk about cognitive dissonance, I was like, I can’t believe this.
And I did what everybody does. As humans, in order to survive unpleasant conflicting thoughts, psychologists call it cognitive dissonance, when you have two completely conflicting ideas coming at you at the same time. What do we do typically as humans, we compartmentalize them, so I just kind of forgot about it. But, it really stuck in my gut after I got back home to Beijing.
I kept thinking about it and I kept thinking about how the Chinese are not stupid. They wouldn’t be celebrating and venerating Mao, if he were the monster that I had been brainwashed into believing that he was, and they would not be celebrating the man who called for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. They would not be venerating this guy, if he really killed 80 million people.
So, what I did when I got back, first off, it was not even supposed to be a book, it was supposed to be a blog for when I got back, but I already had twenty thousand words written. And I thought, what the heck? I’m going to write a book, 44 Days Backpacking in China – book number one of the eventual China Trilogy (https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/06/30/praise-for-the-china-trilogy-the-votes-are-in-it-r-o-c-k-s-what-are-you-waiting-for/). Therefore, since I had been told that Mao and the Mao Era were just one big genocidal slaughter of the Chinese people, at least at that point, the arc of my awareness started to go up and I did research, as a comparison.
Since I still believed it happened in China, I got into moral equivalence. Well, Mao and the Chinese were bad and evil, but I did do research on the American Natives, and this is in 44 Days. In the book in fact, I include this during my time sitting in this restaurant, this Cultural Revolution restaurant. I did study the American Indians in fact. And I did mention that it’s been shown the West exterminated 100 million Natives.
I did go into Iraq, about the US invasion, how Madeleine Albright celebrated the killing of 500,000 Iraqi children. And I did talk about Palestine and the extermination and genocide of the Palestinian people, since 1917. I kept saying, so we did all that. I said, well okay, Mao and his gang of henchmen did this, but the West is just as bad.
After I wrote 44 Days, I could still not accept what had happened, because I was saying to myself, well, we in America, have expunged all this from our memory. We have been brainwashed that Korea was noble. We have been brainwashed that Vietnam was noble. We have been brainwashed that all of the hundreds of governments that we have overthrown, and all of the countries that we have occupied and controlled, we have expunged that and nuanced it, as is being normal for America. We are an exceptional nation.
However, all that’s been expunged. Everything that we’ve done Iraq, Afghanistan, all the wars that we have committed over the last, well if you’re an American Indian, since the first Europeans landed in – was it 1609 in Plymouth Rock? (note: actually 1607 in Jamestown). But I kept saying to myself, okay, we have pushed all this out of our collective consciousness, but the Chinese haven’t. The Cultural Revolution and the Mao Era are in their daily lives.
Those posters I saw, and even after I got home, I started noticing Mao posters all over Beijing. I mean in taxis, I even have a picture in one of my three books showing I was in a tuk-tuk, a little tuk-tuk. And there’s a Mao amulet hanging from the rear-view mirror, and I mean, he’s everywhere. So, what I decided to do, and this is how my second book China Rising came into being, as I said, I really, really had to dig deep into the West, I knew, in order to understand China.
And that’s exactly what I did. I did hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of research on the West, going back to the times of the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Roman Catholic Church, monarchy, colonialism, imperialism, world wars and hundreds and hundreds of hours. That’s why the first hundred pages of China Rising are all about the West and the evils of the West.
Another one of my huge awakenings when I start writing China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Social Destinations, was when I saw the 9/11 World Trade Center Building Number 7, a 47- story building just came down in free-fall, and being a certified science teacher, I knew that that was not possible, without it being collapsed with demolition charges. So, at that point, I really got into learning more about it. I took a long hard stare into my Western mirror, and a hard, sobering look into the West and I came up with it not being a pretty picture.
Then, I went back and started really doing research on Chinese history. I started reading Chinese books and started talking to people outside of these very multi-millionaire writers, who are paid to write these lies (Dikotter, et al.). I did several exposés on Tiananmen, and I realized that nothing happened like I was told. I now have a whole reference page on that, on my website (https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2022/06/03/this-webpage-has-the-biggest-and-best-collection-of-articles-videos-podcasts-and-images-about-1989s-tiananmen-square-protests-something-for-everyone/).
So, just sitting there for dinner in Xichang, in Southwest Sichuan literally changed my life. It made me realize that everything that is written in the West about China, the Chinese people and especially the Mao Era, the government, their governance, Baba Beijing, it’s all one massive Big Lie Propaganda Machine (BLPM) screed to discredit the people, the country and their government.
And across the ocean, like that great Pogo cartoon from 1970,
We have met the enemy and the enemy is us!
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