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By Maurice Meisner

Progressive and ruler, Marxist and nationalist, liberator and despot, Mao Zedong takes a spot one of the iconic leaders of the 20th century. during this new booklet, Maurice Meisner deals a balanced portrait and in-depth account of the guy who outlined sleek China.

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15 In January 1923 the CCP Secretary-General Chen Duxiu, impressed by the relative success of the Hunan labor movement, asked Mao to become a member of the Party's ruling C entral Committee in Shanghai. But before Mao left Changsha for Shanghai, the slaughter of striking railroad workers in central China dramatically transformed the prospects and the policies of the CCP - and terminated Mao's brief career as a workers' organizer. The "February Seventh Massacre" was ordered by Wu Peifu, the dominant warlord in north China, with whom the Com­ munists had been uneasily allied since 192 1 .

The new unions staged several successful strikes - notably ones by textile workers and miners - despite repressive political conditions in warlord-controlled Hunan. Moreover, the Federation of Labor Organiza­ tions established a network of evening schools for workers . And "workers' club s" (a euphemism for trade unions, which were banned by the provin­ cial authorities) offered innovative educational and recreational programs for workers . The most modern sectors of the Hunanese working class consisted of the tin and coal miners in the Anyuan area (north of Changsha) and the workers on the strategic Hankou-Canton Railroad which ran through Changsha.

He conveyed his enthusiasm to Mao, and his' many letters undoubtedly contributed to Mao's growing sympathy for the Bolshevik Revolution. By the beginning of 1 92 1 Mao Zedong's conversion to Com­ munism was unambiguous. He abandoned his anarchist beliefs as unprac­ tical (although not without some regrets) , proclaimed himself a Marxist and threw himself into Communist organizational activities . He con­ vened the inaugural meeting of the Socialist Youth League (later renamed the Communist Youth League) on January 1 3 , 1921, and simultaneously established a Communist "small group" in Changsha, consisting of five members .

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