A Tactical Aside From Mao Zedong

It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Mark Twain

In Dan Kurzman’s fine book, Subversion of the Innocents, we learn that Stalin’s strategy in the early Cold War proved inferior to Mao Zedong’s strategy. Mao’s program was called “The Yenan Way” and relied on a special kind of deception. It was all about disguising communists as agrarian reformers. It involved winning over middle class opportunists, businessmen and the intelligentsia. In primitive areas of the world, like Africa, Mao realized that communist ideology did not matter – so there was every reason to ignore Marxist doctrines. Everything was reduced to anti-Americanism or anti-European imperialism. As Kurzman explained, “The central purpose of the Yenan Way is actually not so much to gain mass support as to win over influential noncommunist ‘friends,’ particularly in the political field, who can open channels for infiltration in the highest councils of the nation. Such friends are obtained by any means that will work – lies, flattery, threats, blackmail, bribery, or outright purchase.”[i]

Read more