Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Huong Wei Bping

Kelly would seem to be pretty informed of Chinese politics, with jokes over my head. Sort of like going the Huong Wei on a Won Wei Street.


  1. Well, here's a sort of thumbnail synopsis:

    In the late '50s and very early '60s, Mao pushed an ambitious program called (in translation) “the Great Leap Forward”. The idea was to push-up agricultural production, and then use the increase directly and indirectly (by export earnings) to fuel industrialization. In particular, it was believed that great gains could be accomplished by increasing technological efficiency through collectivization. Local officials made extravagant promises which many or most of the officials of the central government (being, well, twits) simply accepted at face value. Since production didn't really increase by the promised amounts, these local officials supplied agricultural product to the central government by literally starving their communities. By the time that the central government realized that they had a disaster on their hands, literally millions of people had died.

    The catastrophic performance made Mao's position of power significantly more tenuous than it had been. So, in 1966, Mao repositioned himself and the rĂ´le of the Communist Party by launching “the Cultural Revolution”, ostensibly to renew the system by purging it of elements supporting “bourgeois” notions of personal and economic liberty.

    The Revolution brought-out fanaticism and fantastic aspirations in many of the participants, most of whom were minor players but many of who had significant positions of power. Millions more people were killed (some out-right and some in labor camps), historical treasures were destroyed, and Mao himself was seen by some as an obstacle to dreams of Utopia or of personal power. At times, it was not clear that he would emerge in power or even alive from his Revolution.

  2. It's such an amazingly complex subject to bring into a comic strip and deal with in just several panels, when it just didn't mean that much to Americans who had their own cultural revolution to deal with.

    It would have been nice if someone at the time had done an in-depth interview with Kelly as to what his intentions were with these strips. I could see why he might take on 'The Great Society' with LBJ as the Loan Arranger, but why the Chinese society with its power struggles?