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Politics with bloodshed: how Maoism changed the world

Mao Zedong inspired millions across the world to follow his revolutionary path—with disastrous results

Mao Zedong poses for a photograph in 1950. Photo: Getty/Prospect composite

Long after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, outbreaks of Maoism still bubble up in the most unlikely places. Two recent examples: in February at the University of California at Irvine, a speech by the climate-change writer Bill McKibben was repeatedly interrupted by loud cries of “Bullshit!” The abuse emanated from a handful of people wearing identical T-shirts and intense expressions—Maoist followers of Bob Avakian, founder of the US Revolutionary Communist Party, who wanted a revolution to…

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