Everyday Maoism in Revolutionary China

This week’s podcast is the seventh and final interview in REEES Spring series “Socialism: Part, Present, and Future.

In this series we’ve been exploring the experience of “really existing socialism,” grassroots socialist and communist movements, socialist-inspired economic development and state building, and visions of a socialist future from a global perspective.

Communist revolutions were reliant on a profound change in individual consciousness. It is not surprising that communist ideology spoke forcefully and often about creating “new people.” Revolutionary China was no different. But how did Chinese communists at various levels, from Mao Zedong to village cadres, understand their work to transform individual consciousness? What did “Maoism” mean in the everyday?


Aminda Smith is an Associate professor of history at Michigan State University where she specializes in social and cultural history of Chinese Communism. She’s the author of  Thought Reform and China’s Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People published by Rowman & Littlefield. She is currently writing a book tentatively titled Truth Revolutions: Consciousness and the Praxis of Chinese Communism, which investigates how Chinese Communists at various levels, from Mao Zedong to village cadres, understood their work as a global praxis that fomented revolution by facilitating profound and personal changes in individual consciousness.


Pyotr Leshchenko, “Zhizn’ tsyganskaya,” Zhizn’ Tsyganskaya.