Now, I am not sure how many times this historical tidbit needs to be "discovered" before it will sink into the collectivist heads of the Left that, yes indeedie, central planning kills people. In this case, it was exceptionally bad central planning, but central planning is the culprit here.
Before we cross that bridge, we have to get it through their heads that it actually happened at all. If by chance you get a Maoist to agree that the famine did indeed happen, you then have to get over the "dust bowl" excuse. What is the dust bowl excuse, you ask? It is the utter nonsense that China's Great Leap Forward starvation of millions was due to bad weather "not unlike the American dust bowl of the 1930s."
Be forewarned, that is their answer for every Communist famine, including the Holodomor. No, I am not kidding:
- WHAT CAUSED THE FAMINE AND RELATED DEATHS? 1. Severe drought across the Ukrainian SSR and southern RSFSR from 1931 through 1933 literally burned up the crops in the field. Meteorological records from that time period can confirm this.The truth is, the Bolsheviks/Soviets, Red Chinese and North Koreans all used mass starvation as a weapon against their populations. The "famines" never started when collectivism was on the rise in popularity, it always appeared when voluntary collectivism stopped working.
2. Epidemics of typhoid, typhus, and dysentery broke out when much of the limited water supply was infected. Hundreds of thousands died from these diseases.
3. In resistance to collectivization the kulaks (private, rich peasants), with the blessing of underground White counter- revolutionaries, burned their crops and slaughtered their animals rather than bring them to market. This exacerbated the situation and cost hundreds of thousands of lives that could have been saved by kulak food supplies.
4. The incompetence of more than a few local Communist officials and, in many cases, their direct disobedience to the directives of the Central Committee and Stalin caused situations that contributed to the problem in a number of regions.
Mao's brilliant idea was to tell his staff to increase grain production, in part to pay back debt to the Soviets. Problem was, the grain quotas were higher than the farmers could produce. He piled onto that more brilliance of trying to industrialize his agrarian country "quicker" than the Soviets did theirs. Steel quotas were given to all of the collectives and the way they met it was to melt down everything they had made of steel. Soviet made tools, paid for with Chinese grain, was destroyed into "steel" that was not useable for anything.
Update: It is not like nobody was reporting this in the 1950s and 60s either. Witness the Modesto Bee, 27 AUG 1959
On 15 Nov, 1961 John Strohm of the Newspaper Enterprise Association reported - Red China's Population Hungry, Disillusioned, And In Rags, Writer Says In Report Of Chaos And he does not pull any punches.
Mao's intentional starvation of tens of millions has been well known and well documented since just a few years after it started. It was not like there was a Great Duranty making up stories for the New York Times was throwing anybody off the trail . . .
Oh, wait. Yes there was. For some reason, "The Great" never got pinned on John Roderick, so I will pin it on him. The Great Roderick was pulling Duranty duty in China during Mao's grand starvation:
- On 11 May, 1960 he waxes poetic about a Yellow River dam project - Project To Build Yellow River Dam Rivals Biggest Of Any Past China Engineering Feats
- On 3 Dec., 1961, The Great Roderick checked up a bit and did not go Full Duranty in - Industrial 'Leap Forward' Curtailed to Strengthen Farm Front Where I discovered that Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery was the one doing The Full Duranty.
By golly, here is one from 1997 covering that period. Includes testimony from Li Rui, Mao's Secretary speaking of the Great Leap Forward (about 0:36:00):