The Cult of Mao was an excellent example of Machiavellian scheming and the manipulation of an entire nation to one man's will.

Mao was an acknowledged master of propaganda, subterfuge and misinformation, his actions in the Great Leap Forward were testament to that. The entire nation was in a state of doublethink; Mao managed to use his God-like status to initiate a campaign against "rightists", a move eerily resembling the witch-hunt that took place in America under Joseph McCarthy. In fact, he was so effective, he even got rid of some of his allies that were beginning to show signs of dissent. Mao was only stopped by the deaths of 30 million peasant Chinese.

The cult itself really started in 1964, in a period of reformer insurgency. Mao came out of his old haunts and presented a rather innocent looking social reform plan, the now infamous "Lei Feng" campaign. Lei Feng turned out to be a superlative propaganda success for Mao, for underneath every single mention of Lei Feng, Mao Zedong would be credited. The ravages of the famine forgotten, Mao began to return to power. The installation of his wife, Jiang Qing, into the propaganda department proved useful.

The Chinese have dreamed of peace and stability for three millenia, and by giving them that Mao achieved God-Emperor status doing this. After Lei Feng came a flurry of propaganda designed to invoke anger at the past under the imperial dynasties, the juxtaposition between emperor and Mao wasn't too different, but to the Chinese Mao was their savior. The Little Red Book was published to further cement his power.

What came next was all too well-known to the rest of the world, the Cultural Revolution. At this point, the Cult of Mao was absolute. In the chaos, Mao discreetly purged his entire Politburo, Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai. In fact, he even managed to turn the Red Guards against the People's Liberation Army, two factions formerly in unison.

Just like much propaganda today, the entirety of the Cult of Mao was focused on the youth, the Red Guards, the schoolchildren. Mao's opponents appealed to the intellectuals, and for that they were purged. There is no arguing with a pack of fanatical young murderers. Warping culture begins with the gullible youth. Just like Pol Pot, and to a degree, America today.

"Father is close, Mother is close, but neither is as close as Chairman Mao."

Chinese Nursery Rhyme

Stepping carefully on the worn, slippery stairs, you pry open a long-abandoned entryway, entering into a dark, dismal hallway. Slowly, behind you, the sun sets, and with the last light of day, you reach into your Bag of Holding for a torch, and focus your failing mental energies into a small spark. Instantly, the torch lights, and you are blinded for just a moment as your eyes adjust to the torch's unnaturally bright light, for they had already adjusted to the surrounding darkness.

As your vision returns, you gaze around, staring in awe at the arcane designs etched into the walls of this sanctum. Quickly glancing back, you notice with some distress that the entrance had already closed as you struggled to light the torch, and the patterns etched into the wall continue seamlessly over the only exit. Resigned to your fate, you continue forward, holding the torch in front of your face, scanning intently for traps.

You blink once, and already it appears as if the patterns had already shifted. As you watch, the runes carved on the walls slither snakelike, dancing, forming new and more intricate designs. You hardly notice as a sudden draft extinguishes your torch, as the hypnotic runes now glow with their own light. Slowly, almost hesitantly, they peel from the wall, and circle around you, surrounding you in a field of glowing, writhing magical energy.

Sight,

sound,

scent,

taste,

touch

slowly fade as the light solidifies and envelopes you, and an infinitesimal eternity passes before consciousness returns. You find yourself standing on the center of a perfectly circular obsidian disc, suspended in the middle of an inky void.

Levitating slowly from high above, a single white rectangle lands in the centre of the disc. As it touches the ground, veins of white light issue forth from the disc's centre, forming a spider's web of illumination. The rectangle itself glows as well, with some mysterious, shadowy light of its own.

Taking slow, nervous steps, you walk to inspect this strange artifact. Nine perfect rubies, each the length of your arm and shaped into a perfect diamond form are embedded on the surface. Slowly, realization dawns that you are standing atop a huge playing card. Too late do you realize what the old man in the village meant when he warned you to beware the Cult of Mao, and you hear an almost tangible, thundering voice boom,

"Failure to play within five seconds."

All too late do you see another card fall from the heights, and though years of practice have honed your reflexes, still you are too slow to avoid the falling weight. For but an instant do you feel the crushing weight atop your puny body.

As your life-force slowly drains away, six black-robed figures gather in a circle above you, and laugh, all in the same voice, heralding your doom.

... and another one bites the dust...

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