Red China: The Great Leap Backward

Mao Tse-tung's proudest contribution to Communist theory was the commune. Undreamed of by Marx or Engels, the commune was designed to mobilize China's peasant masses into huge work units, was a sharp point of dispute between Moscow and Mao. "Impracticably Utopian," said the Russian orthodoxy. Retorted Mao: "The best form of organization for the attainment of socialism and the gradual transition to Communism." But after nearly three years of all-out effort, it is apparent that Mao's communes have failed. They are now being abandoned, in fact if not in name.

The first...