Shamash meets Andy Warhol - Mao (1973)


This painting is entitled Mao (1973) which was created by Andy Warhol in 1973. The series of self-portraits of Mao painted by Andy Warhol are based on Mao's photo from the book Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung or from his English title, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (1964), this book is often known as the Little Red Book. This book is a small book with a red cover and fits in a pocket, it contains a collection of Mao's photographs, Mao's quotes, a collection of selected speeches and writings.

This book was originally compiled by Chairman Mao to prepare for the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) in China which then totally changed the political landscape of China, where the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism was spread in a structured, systematic, and massive way. School students and universities students are taught this book and they are screened for their understanding of this book; from there emerged a group of millions of Chinese youth who had been indoctrinated with Mao's teachings, then formed the Red Guards which then moved to carry out the Cultural Revolution.

When the anti-imperial rhetoric of the United States and Britain, as well as the powers of the western world, was incessantly incessant. Also anti-Soviet rhetoric because Mao and the Chinese Communist Party Politburo assumed that the Soviet Union was no longer a true communist and socialist state, but had become a "socio-imperialist" and "revisionist" state. According to Mao, the Soviet Union was a socio-imperialist country, that is, their clothes looked socialist even though they were imperialist in spirit. Mao thought that the Soviet Union from the time of Nikita Khruschev (1923 – 1971) had become a “revisionist” because of Nikita Khruschev's secret speech at a closed meeting of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956 condemning “Great Leader Joseph Stalin.” Khruschev condemned Stalin as a cruel and tyrannical dictator who led the Soviet Union in a totalitarian way and spread terror to the people, Khruschev also condemned Stalin's cult of personality which made communism in the Soviet Union deviate, because of the excessive cult of Stalin.

Absolutely this speech shocked the Soviet Union, as well as the communist world in general. The people of the Soviet Union and cadres of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, thought that Stalin was a 'Great Leader' who brought the Soviet Union into a superpower and succeeded in bringing the Soviet Union to victory in World War II against Hitler, as well as transforming the Soviet Union from a backward agrarian country into an industrial country. who advanced even though all these changes were made with an iron fist.

Mao was angry with Khruschev's attitude towards criticizing Stalin, this was followed by the communist Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha, who also criticized Khruschev. Moreover, Khruschev thought that in the application of Marxism-Leninism there could be revisions to its application because Marxism-Leninism had deviated from the time of Stalin. Suddenly this step was followed by several communist countries, especially members of the Warsaw Pact[1] and of course some world communist leaders, such as Ho Chi Minh from Vietnam who accepted Khruschev's steps and were ready to accept revisions to the implementation of communism. But not so with Mao Tse-Tung who considered Joseph Stalin his teacher and the true leader of the communist world after Vladimir Lenin, Enver Hoxha from Albania thought the same thing as Mao. Moreover, Enver Hoxha and Mao both apply the cult of personality in their respective countries. China's relations with the Soviet Union began to strain, even in their communist movement began to cross, Mao criticized Khruschev's move to invade Hungary in 1956, according to it was clear evidence of "Socio-imperialism of the Soviet Union."

Khruschev turned to attack Mao, this step was countered by Mao by stating that the world communist movement now needed a new leader. This statement of course says that Khruschev must be replaced and that Mao is more legitimate to lead the world communist movement. As a result, the alliance between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, which was signed on February 14, 1950, then foundered. The Soviet Union's request to be given access to a sea base in East Asian waters was not granted by China because Mao was disappointed that Khruschev did not defend him when China annexed Tibet to its territory and abstained from the UN vote, from here Mao began to see the Soviet Union was not a true ally.

Tensions increased because in 1961, Stalin's body was originally preserved and displayed next to Lenin's body, then Stalin's body was taken from Lenin's Mausoleum and then buried and a burial ceremony was held for Joseph Stalin where many leaders of communist countries were invited as well as leaders of non-communist countries. . Although China itself was present, represented by Premier Zhou Enlai; but Mao saw Khruschev's actions as impudent and disrespectful for removing Stalin's body from Lenin's Mausoleum. Enver Hoxha also condemned this action, because he himself sympathized with Stalin's teachings and adhered to Stalin's model of totalitarian government. No representatives of the Albanian government were present at the ceremony.

and Khruschev condemned Enver Hoxha as a stooge of Mao Zedong at the meeting of the Warsaw Pact, suddenly Albania left the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union then cut off diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in the same year and repatriated many of its experts who were sent to help China's development, de facto the alliance agreement between the two countries ended. Mao retaliated against Khruschev's move by breaking diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1962; Mao also condemned Nikita Khruschev as a “revisionist”, “socio-imperialist”, “traitor”, “revisionist-traitor”, “bourgeois”, “capitalist” and “imperialist.”

Mao eventually formed a new bloc in the Cold War, an "anti-revisionism" communist movement, Mao intending to carry out pure and consistent communist teachings. Mao's actions were welcomed by Enver Hoxha, thus creating the Sino-Albanian alliance or often called the "anti-revisionist alliance." The anti-revisionist group thinks that the revisionist group is far more dangerous than the imperialist-capitalists whose ideology can be seen from their clothes, while the revisionist group are people who act in the name of communism and hide under the clothes of communism when in fact they are not communists. This action split the world communist movement into pro-Soviet and pro-China camps, as a result, many communist movements in developing countries were also affected. This split was officially known as the Sino-Soviet Split which began in 1962.

The Soviet Union and China fought for influence in gaining support in third world countries, including helping the struggles of several African countries that had not yet achieved their independence. There were several communist movements that later supported China's anti-revisionism stance, such as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia led by Pol Pot and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) led by D.N. Aidit. When a communist regime in a country is established, but the regime is supported by the Soviet Union, then China will support its opponent even though it is not a communist ideology and the opposite attitude is imposed by the Soviet Union. For example, in 1962, there was the China-India War, on the border and the Soviet Union supported India and provided assistance and intelligence against China. Several countries became non-members of the Warsaw Pact, intending to maintain good relations with the Soviet Union and China, some were neutral and even joined the Non-Aligned Movement, such as Cuba and North Korea as well as some communist countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Benin, Nicaragua. There are even members of the Warsaw Pact, such as Romania who still maintain good relations with China and are neutral in this conflict.

Nikita Khruschev was ousted from his post as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, his position was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev who led the coup of the pro-Stalin party faction who felt hurt by Khruschev's actions against Stalin. Moreover, Khruschev is considered to have damaged the unity of the communist world. Also Khruschev is considered to have embarrassed the Soviet Union in the international arena by his gimmick of taking off his shoes and banging his shoes on the UN podium before he addressed the UN general assembly in 1960. Khruschev was forced to sign his resignation and lived under house arrest until the end of his life in 1971. Leadership The Soviet Union was continued by Brezhnev where he revived the Stalinist-style totalitarianism system, although diplomatic relations between China and the Soviets did not healed. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party called the Soviet Union led by Brezhnev a “revisionist clique.”

Who will benefit the most from all these divisions? Of course the archenemy of the Soviet Union, the United States. The United States sees this split as an opportunity that should not be wasted. The Cold War, which was originally a two polar cold war, turned into a three polar cold war where there was an additional bloc, the People Republic of China fighting the United States and the Soviet Union. It crossed the mind of the United States why not just apply a proverb: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The Soviet Union and China clashed at the two countries border for 2 weeks, in 1969 in an undeclared war. Although the two eventually stopped fighting, they both still suspected each other.

China was worried that if this problem was allowed to continue for a long time it could weaken China, moreover the Soviet Union began to adhere to the "Brezhnev Doctrine" which stated: "if a communist power is interfered by an evil imperialist power, it is the duty of other communist countries to intervene and defend the communist country that was harassed by evil imperialist power.” This doctrine was used to justify the Warsaw Pact attack on Czechoslovakia in 1968 in order to bring order to the communist regime which was considered to be hostile to the Soviet Union. Enver Hoxha feared that he would suffer the same fate as Czechoslovakia and immediately built 350,000 bunkers to serve as shelters in the event of a Soviet invasion. China was also afraid that the Soviet Union would attack China and build a pro-Soviet communist regime in China. This was not difficult considering at that time the Soviet Union had a stronger military than China, also China was not a member of the United Nations and its seat was filled by Taiwan or its official name, the Republic of China.

Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai began to think that it was much better for China to thaw relations with the United States. Who knows this could make it easier for China to retake Taiwan. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saw this opportunity, began a strategy: "the enemy rather than my enemy is my friend" was carried out. There was a secret conversation between the United States and China, until finally Richard Nixon and Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger visited China, this diplomatic visit was warmly welcomed by Chairman Mao. Suddenly the world was shocked by this move, of course many Chinese people were also confused. Because during the Cultural Revolution, they were indoctrinated to hate the United States as an “evil-bourgeois-imperialist capitalist” power, even among the Red Guards Nixon's face was targeted for gun training. Then how can Comrade Chairman Mao shake hands tightly with the leader of the "capitalist-imperialist-bourgeois"? Moreover, these two countries do not have diplomatic relations officially, the western world is confused about this step because the People's Republic of China is not a member of the United Nations so it is not really a sovereign country at that time.

Richard Nixon gave Chairman Mao a gift, a highly sophisticated breathing apparatus that Mao desperately needed and at that time China could not produce its own. Finally, China also normalized diplomatic relations with the United States. To answer the confusion of the Chinese people, a propaganda emerged:

“Chairman Mao normalized with China's longtime friend, the United States to fight China's real enemy, namely the Socio-Imperialist forces led by the Brezhnev Revisionist Clique. Because the imperialist group is not as dangerous as the socio-imperialist group because they do not hide behind the clothes of communism and socialism, so we can immediately know that they are not communists, so they are not wolves in sheep's clothing."

Mao's actions shocked the Soviet Union, so that Brezhnev would later sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States. The United States agreed to kick its own friend, Taiwan's seat from the United Nations and be replaced by China. Then China officially became a member of the United Nations as well as a member of the United Nations Permanent Security Council, and had veto power. Of course, the increasing number of strong enemies of the Soviet Union at the United Nations made the Soviets even more wary because China is now a sovereign country and has veto power. In subsequent steps, China condemned the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan and supported the main opponent of the Afghan communist group, the Taliban. There was also a civil war between pro-Soviet and pro-China communist groups in Ethiopia. The Three Pole Cold War began, in some cases China and the United States allied to combat Soviet influence in several countries. As can be seen from China's and the United States' criticism of the Vietnamese Communist Regime's Invasion of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge Communist regime in Cambodia.

This action angered Enver Hoxha, he felt abandoned by his own comrade, Mao Zedong. The Sino-Albanian Split began, where diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed. Albania condemned China's actions because it was considered to have betrayed the ideals of the struggle. Enver Hoxha condemned Mao Zedong as a "revisionist," a "traitor," and a "bourgeois collaborator." Enver Hoxha declared himself the only true communist leader and de facto, the sole leader of the anti-revisionism movement.

Amid the world's attention to President Nixon's visit to China, Andy Warhol painted a series of paintings of Mao. This series of paintings does not use the artistic, socialist realism style commonly used in communist countries. In contrast, in Warhol's signature pop art style, it can be seen from Mao's self-portrait taken from the Little Red Book, which is painted with a touch of pop-art colour. It could be that Mao is the only communist character in the world painted by a painter from a capitalist country and of course this painting is sold at a very capitalist price so maybe communist activists will not be able to buy portraits of their own figures.

[1] The military alliance bloc formed by the Soviet Union consisting of communist countries in Eastern Europe. This alliance was formed on May 14, 1955 in Warsaw, Poland as a reaction to the joining of West Germany to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which was formed by the United States and the Western Bloc countries in Europe on April 4, 1949. The Warsaw Pact has been dissolved since July 1, 1991, then some of its former members became members of NATO. Now NATO still exists and survives to this day.

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