Alabama 3: Mao Zedong Says

Edited by a brother representing from a housing project in the Deep South. thanks to D.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Billy O'Connor

    What are those cinematic clips from, crawling on the chains and the parts that are subtitled?

  • The chains are the <a href="/" rel="nofollow">Dadu river bridge at Luding</a> -- one of the most famous encounters of the Long March.

    It is one of the greatest stories of heroic self-sacrifice in revolutionary history (up there with the heroic 1942 defense of Stalingrad from the Nazis.)

    The Red Army needed to cross the river in 1935 to avoid being pinned in by a large pursuing Nationalist armies. The boards of this famous bridge had been removed from much of the span and only its chains remained. And at the northern side, guns of the local warlord.

    Volunteers were called for, and they crawled those chains, taking bullets and dying as those behind them advanced. And the survivors leaped up and captured the bridge with grenades and enabled the people's army to pass over, and survive -- and ultimately win.

    The depiction here is from a recent movie on the life of Mao. Perhaps someone can post where to download that movie.

  • Guest - Otto

    It's hard to tell if this is meant to be a good or bad representation. Ronald Reagan sure believed that change only comes from the barrel of a gun. Of course the frase is right, unfortunately.

  • Knowing brother D, I'm confident the <em>intention</em> is a positive representation. And, of course, raw and unapologetic promotion of revolutionary violence often makes many people feel ambivolent.

    And, I think that there is (politically) some (uh) emphasis problems -- especially in the opening visuals.

    I.e. the treatment of cadre and officials during the Cultural Revolution is one of the contradictory episodes of the revolution, and not something that can be <em>simply</em> upheld or promoted. Even caputalist officials don't need to be manhandled and publicly humiliated during revolution -- though some of the worst and most notorious brutalizers of the people may need to be publicly tried and there need to be ways that the people (broadly) can experess their anger, experience and determination to seek justice etc.

    But when I was a kid, the sight of officials in duncecaps made me say to myself "I want to check out THAT movement." It was clearly something very different from "class society as usual" -- including of the very non-radical Soviet eastbloc kind.

    Mao's phrase is "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." And that concept (i.e. political power) is left out of the video (and removed from the Mao quote). That is a problem, and a revealing one. Our goal is not just to get a taste of justice (or revenge) but a new order. And for that you need power -- and also a creative sense of allies and mass line.

    And (of course) what you say is correct, Otto: It is true <em>for all classes</em> that political power grows from the barrel of a gun. It is not just true for the oppressed.

    In fact, it is true for the oppressed exactly because it is true for the oppressor.

  • Guest - gila monster

    Comparable to Stalingrad, really?

    The defense of Stalingrad was an act of sustained heroism involving millions of people who sacrificed everything imaginable. The battle took the better part of a year and required every coordinated effort from a nation of hundreds of millions of people to support the fight against the greatest war machine ever assembled in history. Casualties between the two sides numbered somewhere north of two million people, dead or wounded in a struggle to determine the fate of the city, the war, and in a real way the fate of the entire world.

    Luding bridge involved a small detachment of men marching very fast for one night, and then taking control of an old bridge. Wikipedia gives the numbers of soldiers involved as 22 on the red side (three lost during the action), against one regiment on the white side.

    True, the taking of the bridge involved real heroism from the men involved. Don't get me wrong, it is an excellent story displaying all the qualities that Mike said. It is a story I myself have told many times, and it's interesting to think about how such a small event can be (at least in some ways) as consequential as a world-defining event like the battle of Stalingrad. But still -- we're talking dozens of men and one night of fighting, versus what is likely the "greatest" battle in human history.

    I don't really want to pick nits, but I think it's important that we don't play fast and loose with history. We also need to be aware of the difference between the ways in which events may be hugely significant for us, and the significance those events have for the world at large.

  • Gila:

    No one argues that the battle at Luding has the same scope or historical significance as Stalingrad. No one is "playing fast and loose."

    Stalingrad changed the world -- it was an incredible effort that broke the back of the Nazi war effort, and literally millions were involved. (I am, at the moment, neckdeep in a history of Stalingrad -- and I have to stop occasionally just to catch my breath, because the scope of the conflict and the suffering is so overwhelming at times.... but that is another story.)

    The discussoin is about instances of heroism, not battles of worldchanging significance: "It is one of the greatest stories of heroic self-sacrifice in revolutionary history (up there with the heroic 1942 defense of Stalingrad from the Nazis."

    My point (made in passing) is the heroism of the troops who volunteered for what appeared to be a suicide mission (and that kind of heroism can be present in ones and twos as well -- or in a volunteer squad of twenty at Luding). And (in that sense) the Dadu river represents one of our history's great stories of heroism.

    And it is worth noting that, though it was numerically a small battle, it was in fact decisive to world history in one sense:

    If the Red Army had not been able to cross, and had been crushed (there on the banks of the Dadu river) modern history would be different, and (ironically) we would not even know what could have been. Sometimes great events hang on the actions of very few people -- and that too is worth remembering (and honoring).

  • Guest - Billy O'Connor

    Is it "The Founding of a Republic"?

    I'm only downloading it now, so I can't verify it yet.

  • Guest - Billy O'Connor

    It seems to be on youtube as well.

  • Guest - BJ Murphy

    Other clips come from the movie called "My Long March", found on youtube as well:


  • FYI I'm pretty sure that footage is from My Long March.

  • Guest - William Pratt

    The voice in the first minute and a half (and at the end) saying "Bullshit! Love is the only weapon?!" all the way through "We'll kill them if they come!" is Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana at a rally prior to the arrival of Congressman Leo Ryan. To put it mildly, Jones was fighting (and killing) for something very different than Mao. This is not the first time I've heard that clip used to represent a commitment to revolutionary struggle.

  • Guest - Greg McDonald

    Yes, William. I can't think of a worse exemplar of revolutionary politics than the Reverend Jim Jones.

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