This is the second of a two-part article on ‘what Maoists, Naxalites and Communists need to know about Mao Zedong’.
Dr Li Zhisui, Mao’s personal physician, has written “The Private Life of Chairman Mao,” a 663-page memoir of the imperial court of Mao that, in absolute contrast with the official image, portrays it as a place of boundless decadence, licentiousness, selfishness, relentless toadying and cut-throat political intrigue.
Mao indulged his every sexual caprice. The Communist Party and army procured young illiterate village girls for him every day. Mao desired to have a virgin girl every night. These girls staffed his villas and served as dancing companions at the leader’s exclusive parties when such dancing was banned for ordinary Chinese.
According to Li, Mao used to host weekly dances in the palace where he lived even though ballroom dancing had been banned after the revolution as decadent and bourgeois. “I walked into the huge Spring Lotus Chamber with Mao,” Li wrote, describing one of the dances. “He was immediately surrounded by a dozen attractive young women, who flirted with him and begged him to dance. A band was playing fox trots, waltzes and tangos and Mao danced with each of the young girls in turn. His dancing style was a slow, ponderous walk. After each dance, his partner would sit with him and chat, only to be replaced by a new one a few minutes later.”
Mao Zedong behaved like a Casanova and had over 3,000 concubines, for sexual entertainment. A special sloping bed was designed for his use which was used by him to seduce countless peasant girls brought by Communist cadres for satisfying his sexual cravings.
“As Mao got older,” Li wrote, “he became an adherent of Taoist sexual practices which gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for pleasure but to extend his life. He claimed he needed the waters of yin—or vaginal secretions—to supplement his own declining yang—or male essence, the source of his strength, power and longevity”. He regularly took Novocaine injections believing that it would increase his virility and also prolong his life. Like Emperor Qin, Mao believed that the best immortal elixir was the secretion of women’s bodies. (For The Time Being by Annie Dillard, Chapter VI).
Many of the women that Mao slept with were daughters of poor peasants who Li said believed that sleeping with the chairman was the greatest experience of their life.
According to Dr Li, Mao was happiest and most satisfied when he had several young women simultaneously sharing his bed, and he encouraged his sexual partners to procure more girls. He made the young women to read the Taoist sex manual “The Plain Girl’s Secret Way”, in preparation for their trysts.
Young women from cultural troupes or from the Communist Party secretariat, women who Dr Li says were “selected for their looks, their talent and their political reliability,” came to the dances and Mao commonly chose one or more of them to be entertained in his room, or in his special train, or in the guesthouses where he stayed when on one of his many “national inspection tours.”
“Mao’s sexual activity was not confined to women,” Li claimed. “The young men who served as attendants were invariably handsome and strong, and one of their responsibilities was to administer a nightly massage as an aid to sleep. Mao insisted that his groin be massaged. In 1964, I saw Mao, naked, grab a young guard and begin fondling him. At first, I took such behaviour as evidence of a homosexual strain, but later I concluded that it was more an insatiable appetite for any form of sex.”
Mao’s sex drive increased as he got older. Mao worried that his sexual energy would begin to decline dramatically after he was 60. Mao believed in the Daoist lore that sexual activity leads to longevity, or, at least, the Daoist lore “gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for pleasure but to extend his life.” His doctors used to give him injections of ground deer antlers, a traditional Chinese aphrodisiac.
Mao never bathed or even washed his hands or face. Dr Li says that during the day his bodyguards went into the room and wiped his body, his hands and his face with hot towels. He never brushed his teeth, which Dr Li says were coated with a green patina. Mao’s habit, shared by many peasants in China, was to wash his mouth in the morning with tea and then to eat the tea leaves. When, once, Dr Li suggested to him that he should use a toothbrush, Mao’s reply was, “A tiger never brushes his teeth.”
His hygiene was even more revolting; according to Li, Mao’s “genitals were never cleaned.” Instead, Mao said, “I wash myself inside the bodies of my women.”
Mao was a gourmet. His favourite foods were flown to Beijing from all over the country, including a special kind of fish from Wuhan, more than 600 miles from the capital, kept alive in a plastic bag filled with water and accompanied by a servant responsible for administering oxygen. For ordinary Chinese, fish was a rarity; at better times, the monthly ration of meat per person in privileged urban areas was about half a pound. Although Mao announced that he would “share weal and woe” during the Great Famine, he developed a taste for meat-rich European dishes and had a menu designed with seafood, chicken, duck, pork, lamb and beef (Mao’s Private Life and Sexuality). While the vast majority of the Chinese starved or were on compulsory frugal rations, Mao Zedong luxuriated eating exotic foods.
Mao died on 9 September 1976, at the age of 83—half-blind, totally paralysed, deaf, dumb and unable to swallow, but mentally clear. Thus came the end of an era of great turbulence and upheaval that cost millions of innocent Chinese lives. The Indian Maoists, Naxalites and Communist cadres who blindly idolize him and kill fellow Indians wantonly, need to be told that the hero whom they deify is a hypocrite, a drug addict, a debauch, and an uncouth being. Counter insurgency campaigns need to focus on changing the public perception of Mao Zedong. His charade of being an invincible leader who successfully led the Cultural Revolution is a flawed narrative, and the Maoists should be made to see the reality that he was just another double faced, hypocritical tyrant with his own eccentricities and quirks. The Maoist-Naxalites would never have been told about Mao Zedong’s hypocrisy and weirdness. If they get enlightened that Mao Zedong was just a licentious reveller and a lascivious libertine, a selfish and capricious leader, who caused death and agony to millions of his countrymen, the mask of their revolutionary leader will peel off, and the Maoist-Naxalite movement will disintegrate.
The security forces who are confronting the Naxalites in the Red Corridor should conduct regular classes for the villagers and the surrendering Naxalites about the truth of Mao Zedong. Once the true facts spread about Mao’s real personality, the aura will fade off, leading disenchanted cadres to abandon Chinese inspired insurgencies.
Dr G. Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) PhD (Narcotics), is former Director General, National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics.