chapter  3
48 Pages

Policy Making While Leaping Forward, 1958

W hat was the nature of economic policy making and CCP politics more broadly once the Great Leap approach became unambiguously dominant by early 1958' through its utopian phase which began to wane in the late fall of the same year? The patterns revealed at the Nanning conference continued to prevail throughout this period — above all the dominance of Mao Zedong. M ao’s exceptional authority was not unique to the new period, it rather reflected the fundamental leadership equation since 1949: whenever Mao forcefully expressed a preference he prevailed regardless of the forces arrayed behind contrary views, and extremely few actors ever contemplated opposing the Chairman in such circumstances.2 Yet this authority was different in that it was now asserted in a manner which precluded discussion and brought enormous political pressure to bear on the (earlier) proponents of contrasting views; while Mao clearly gained the willing support of an overwhelming majority of the leadership, it was in essence a move to one-man dictatorship.