The Magazine

Mao's Madness

When the Great Helmsman declared war on his people.

Mar 19, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 26 • By ROSS TERRILL
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Under the aging Mao, power's corruptions ebbed across China like an epidemic; today, money's corruptions join in. A dangerous dance, unique in the history of Leninist regimes, unfolds as huge sums of money slosh around with Communist bureaucracy. No rule of law exists to adjudicate the encounter.

How this dance ends will determine China's future for decades. So far, no Leninist regime has ever presided over prolonged economic success, and no Leninist regime has ever come to an end without a political crunch. Could Beijing, having half-buried Mao already, though not roundly denounced him, possibly slide into post-communism with a whimper instead of a bang?

Ross Terrill is the author, most recently, of The New Chinese Empire.