chapter  2
30 Pages

The Origins of the Great Leap Forward, 1955-58

W hile the Great Leap Forward emerged rapidly after M ao’s rejection of opposition to rash advance at the Third Plenum, the origins of the movement are bound up in events stretching over the entire period from the second half of 1955. The crucial factor was the way in which these events were interpreted — above all by Mao — from the perspective of late 1957 and early 1958. As reflected in the imagery of U-shaped development and M ao’s complaint that duo, kuai, hao, sheng had been “blown away,” the rapid growth of cooperatives in 1955 was seen as evidence of what the mass movement could accomplish,1 while the now discredited fanm aojin policies represented “cold water” dampening the enthusiasm of the masses. Together with the tension created by the Anti-Rightist Campaign in summer 1957 and the generally disappointing growth during the year,2 the ideological, political, and economic conditions for a new developmental approach that did not rely on specialists or hew to concepts of balance had been laid.