In the Soviet bloc socialism was gradually emptied and attenuated, drained by growing dissidence and economic and political stagnation. China experienced an opposite process: saturation. Socialism in China was pickled by the contradictions of state-led egalitarianism and popular power enthralled by an icon. After saturation, reform and economic growth required repudiation of socialism, but the continuity of the Communist Party required its retention. In 1981, its sixtieth year and five years after Mao’s death, the Communist Party of China delivered a ceremonial verdict:
Comrade Mao Zedong was a great Marxist and a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist. It is true that he made gross mistakes during the ‘cultural revolution’, but, if we judge his activities as a whole, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his mistakes. His merits are primary and his errors are secondary.