26 Pages

Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) by Stuart R. SCHRAM

In the course of a long and eventful life, Mao Zedong (1893-1976) was shaped by various influences, both Chinese and western. The primary purpose of this article is not to lay out in detail his intellectual itinerary, but to assess his overall contribution as a philosopher. In so doing, it is not, however, appropriate to treat “Mao Zedong’s thought” as though it were some kind of timeless essence that could be reconstructed on the basis of evidence selected arbitrarily from the whole corpus of his writings. In a China undergoing constant revolutionary upheaval, Mao’s ideas often changed significantly from one decade to the next, and any serious assessment must take these changes into account. I will therefore review the main phases in Mao’s development, before offering some generalizations by way of conclusion.