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marnixR
Post  Post subject: the Great Leap Forward  |  Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:20 pm
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something i've been aware of for some time, but i only recently became aware of the extent of the famine caused by Mao's Great Leap Forward, as well as the reasons underlying it

in short, it's what happens when ideology denies reality

it all started with the party knowing better than farmers how to get the best out of the land, and the pressure (for fear of being called a rightist, something that was bad for someone's life excpectation) not to contradict the official line
so if the party said that certain measures such as deep ploughing and close planting would increase yields, then the lower level cadres felt honour-bound to declare higher yields even as the real ones plummeted
which means that the 50% cut destined for export on a fictitiously high number turned out to become a 75% cut or higher as real production levels dropped like a stone

and guess how the missing tonnages were explained ? not by admitting that someone had been fibbing about record harvests, but by accusing the farmers of hoarding grain for their own consumption

the wastefulness of making people work through the night, and performing futile exercises to produce fertiliser through some no-hope procedures, and then diverting their efforts from harvesting by making them work on dams and irrigation channels or set up backyard ironmaking furnaces when it was times to bring in the harvest just beggars belief - but what does more than beggar belief is that for 4 years even the suggestion that party policy did not just contribute but actually lay at the root of a growing famine marked you out as a "bad element"

i knew about Stalin and how his adherence to lysenkoism set agriculture and genetic studies back several decades, but Mao's denial of basic physical and biological constraints is on a totally different scale

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: the Great Leap Forward  |  Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:30 am
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In a less extreme sense, the same power dynamic operates in most Western corporations, also with adverse effects (although obviously not of an equivalent magnitude). Senior management decide what is the best way to achieve the corporation aims (strategies), mostly ignoring the people on the ground who know how to do the job in the sticky realities of grassroots, and then are surprised when their employees struggle to achieve the goal and instead massage figures or (more likely) focus on hitting on-paper targets rather than adding value.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the Great Leap Forward  |  Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:09 pm
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on the other hand, it is quite possible for employees to continue doing what they think is best and basically ignore the edicts from above - i know i have at times
it won't do you in favours in getting a promotion or a pay rise, but at least you won't get shot

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"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


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Falconer360
Post  Post subject: Re: the Great Leap Forward  |  Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:51 pm
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marnixR wrote:
on the other hand, it is quite possible for employees to continue doing what they think is best and basically ignore the edicts from above - i know i have at times
it won't do you in favours in getting a promotion or a pay rise, but at least you won't get shot

Hell that's true even in small organizations. I've ignored edicts from previous bosses, simply because I knew how to do the job and they only had an imaginary image of how to do it.

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