Today, Connor and Brittany dive into another scary “isms” and discuss how it’s impacting American politics.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: So today we are gonna continue with our seemingly never-ending discussion on isms. I feel like every time I think like we’ve covered all the isms, I’m like, no, we haven’t. We’ve got, there’s a lot, a million more isms. There’s a lot of isms. So we’ve done many of these. It’s honestly hard to keep track. But, the one thing I like to mention is as we dive into our newest ism, just like the other isms, these isms all relate to each other, right? They all are kind of building off of each other. Capitalism, individualism, liberalism, the right kind of liberalism, these are all similar, right? They’re all related, they’re a little bit different, but they all kind of build on each other. They’re about the individual and they’re about free markets. So they are all the same, but they’re similar. Now, the same could be set of collectivism, Marxism and socialism, right? They’re all alike, and they’re going to be favoring the group over the individual. And they’re not, they hate free markets to put it, to put it bluntly. So they’re extreme versions of the isms, right? Collectivism is really an extreme or a less extreme form of barely less extreme, but authoritarianism, right? This bigger thing that you just do, whatever the state wants you to do or whatever a big power wants you to do. So now that I’ve said that, we’re going to build off another scary ism that is more on the collectivism authoritarianism side, and it’s called Maoism. So this is kind of an interesting one because it’s very specific. It’s kind of like Leninism, which, Emma and I talked about, where it’s, it’s built around a specific person or Marxism even. So, like Marxism Maoism is named after a guy whose name is Mao, I’m gonna say it wrong, Zedong. I say.

Connor: Mao Zedong.

Brittany: So, he was a Chinese communist revolutionary, and he was actually one of the founding fathers of the People’s Republic of China, which is what we know today is, you know, the Chinese Communist Party. And as Connor and I talked about in another episode, a lot of scary things coming out of the Chinese Communist Party. So when you think of that, think that this guy helped lay the foundation for that. So right here we have hints, obviously, that this ism isn’t gonna be pretty specific to China, but we are seeing it trickle down into the US today. And, that’s kind of a weird thing to say. I know you’re thinking like, how is that possible? But we’re gonna talk about that. So basically, Maoism, unlike Marxism, it deals a lot with what they call class warfare. Connor, I’m gonna put you on the spot here and ask if you can explain a little bit of what class means.

Connor: So a class, in this context or situation, doesn’t refer to like your class at school or anything. It’s a class of people, a group of people, and it’s, basically, centered around economic status or your finances. So there’s the haves and the have-nots, the people who have a lot of money, and the people who don’t have, you know, any, you have, like in India, you have a caste system where people were, you know.

Brittany: Is it a caste I’ve been saying cast, cast for my whole life? I dunno, I don’t know.

Connor: There’s another homework for the kids.

Brittany: Yeah, There’s another homework.

Connor: C a s t e, I think it’s the case. And, maybe I’m wrong now. I’m d doubting.

Brittany: I don’t know, now I’m doubting myself.

Connor: So, you know, in India, you’re kind of bound to your station. You’re in your, you know, the level that you were kind of born in, places like America, you know, capitalism allows you to escape your class if you were born into poverty, but you’re willing to take risks and try, like, there’s all kinds of stories out there about, you know, immigrants who come to America, and they were maybe in the lowest class of their society and a country that, you know, had this strong class type system. But then they come to a country here where anyone can, you know, thankfully still, make it for themselves. And it’s not separated by these degrees, but a lot of people who want to gain power, like in China with Mao, they try and whip up, the fervor, the anger of a lot of the poor people. And they point, frankly, we see this in America. You see this with like AOC and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, these socialists who attack Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and these billionaires. And they paint them as the enemy that we need to take from the haves, those who have, and give to the have-nots. And so you these people are trying to create what’s called class warfare. They’re trying to turn the wealthy people and poor people into enemies rather than recognizing that they’re in a very complimentary relationship. And that rising tides lift all boats. What that means is, like, as people build more wealth, like, you know, Elon Musk or whoever, it’s creating a ton of jobs creating opportunity. It’s helping, you know, even poor people like Steve Jobs now, everyone has an iPhone. And, so, classes are just this kind of separation of people based on their money. but it’s typically used to kind of create this political power around it all.

Brittany: Yeah, I mean, we’ve seen that. It was out in France. We saw it in, you know, Russia, what was used to be the Soviet Union. That’s a big favorite of, collectivists. So to jump back into Mao real quick, so Mao, he comes from, and this is gonna tie into the class system we just talked about. Mao comes from a peasant family, but they’re a prosperous peasant family. So he’s not completely destitute. I mean, he’s not super, super poor, but he’s still in the lower class, the lowest class actually. So before he goes off to school, he’s, you know, pretty ingrained in this idea that there is class warfare going on because he’s living in a poor environment. So therefore he’s seeing the struggle between these haves and have-nots. And he’s thinking, why do other people have what my family doesn’t have? You know, this isn’t fair, this isn’t just, so eventually he ends up becoming kind of prominent in this revolutionary circle of people who were collectivists and they got a lot of their ideas from like the Leninist, Marxist, type belief. And eventually, he is one of the leaders in an uprising in China. And this was actually the uprising that installed the entire communist government. So in a lot of ways, you could say that Mao is 100% responsible for China being in the direction it is now. And if you like the Beatles, there’s actually a song where people think of the Beatles as being like a bunch of hippies who were very pro-like communism, but that’s not actually necessarily true. That’s a whole other conversation. But they have a song where they’re making fun of revolutionaries where they say, what is it? So if you go carrying pictures of revolution. Yeah, that’s obvious. If you go carry pictures of Chairman Mao, also, they’re actually making fun of, there were American kids who used to love Mao because they were like, oh, communism. It’s like, all right, that’s just like, not today.

Connor: You have kids with the Che Guevara.

Brittany: Yes, exactly.

Connor: It’s considering exactly. I think it’s important to understand though, the difference between, you know, Marxism or socialism and Maoism. So Marxism elevated, you know, what was called the proletariat, as the heroes of its beliefs. The proletariat was the working class the peasants and the poor people. they weren’t all poor, but you know, many were what we would think of, even middle class, the people who have to go to the nine to five and the daily grind, right? And minimum wage.

Brittany: The workers, they were the workers. Yeah.

Connor: And in Maoism, the peasantry, the truly poor people are the revolutionaries. But, cuz China, it was just these poor villages. I mean, there was just, it was this kind of, very simple society. There were a lot of peasants, but Maoism was also very nationalistic in nature too. So there’s another ism, nationalism, where it’s like the identity is built around the nation. And it’s funny, you know, cuz modern-day socialists say that nationalism is their enemy, but in reality, some of the beliefs are the opposite. You get this weird intertwine, I think of the Nazis who were called literally the national socialist. Yeah. and so sometimes they pretend to be opposites. Sometimes they’re very combined. But with Maoism, you know, it was the peasants, but it was also this kind of nationalistic pride. Mao wanted to establish Chinese dominant dominance in Asia, in the surrounding countries. And something I think that has come to fruition in many aspects. They’ve been very successful. And Emma and Brittany, I think you’re doing an episode about this soon. Yep. But, you know, Mao, he was for China first. I mean, in America, we have America first, right? And so Mao had his own version of that, and it was China first, communism second, and you know, he wanted China to take over Southeast Asia. He wanted, you know, picking China to be at the center. He, envisioned, kind of dominating the area and asserting this control, which frankly, I think is, you know, you have, many other aspirational people, Stalin and Lennon and Mussolini and others, right? People who are gaining the power to expand their power. So it’s not that Mao is unique in this regard, but his audience is a little bit different. It’s not just the working class, it’s the poor people. It’s very much this class warfare. Brittany, I wanna toss a question to you, like Maoism, okay, fine. Decades ago, whatever the guy lived, he died, he did horrible things. Like why is it relevant, to America, to why is Maoism important for us to think about today?

Brittany: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of parallels we see. And one of them is for Maoism. The landlords were like, they were like the devil, right? The landlords were the people, you know, oppressing the peasants and forcing them to pay to live. And this really sticks out to me because if you’ve been following what’s happened during the pandemic, the government did what’s called an eviction ban. So during the pandemic, anybody who couldn’t pay their rent, and it sometimes it didn’t even have to be for Covid reasons, they were allowed to stay in their, their apartment or their houses. Now, the people who are anti-landlord think like, well, that’s great because these people aren’t able to work, or they’re not able to do this. Okay, well what about the landlords? How do they make their money? They make their money by renting out their apartments or their houses. You know, a lot of people who are landlords, they’re not like big corporations. They’re somebody’s aunt and uncle who just happened to own a property or, you know, people like you and I, Connor. And so these people make their living off renting out their houses. But the government had declared that you know, landlords are just, you know, they’re evil and they’re oppressing the people. So we’re gonna ban evictions. And actually, I work for, a law firm that helped fight back against this. And we actually ended up, not our law firm, but we ended up winning in general. And they reversed the ban. But that stood out in my mind because Mao hated landlords. And so that stuck out to me is I’m like, Hey, we have a problem like that today.

Connor: I think another aspect that we can see is through critical race theory. we’ve talked about this before. It’s this idea that you know, the version in America that we see right now is we have to look at history through this racial lens. We have to understand that there are oppressors and the oppressed, and, we need, you know, reparations, which is, oh, the white supremacists have this whole, you know, the system of government and an economy that’s helping them. So we need to again, take from the haves and give to the have-nots. It’s this very kind of, communist Marxist, even Maoist, kind of approach to things. And so, that’s critical race theory. Mao you know, he is like, like with critical race theory and this kind of class warfare, he’s focusing a lot on classes. And really hyping the division. And you were kind of touching on this, Brittany, I think we see this in America right now. This divide even between like, you know, the woke and the unwoke. It’s the people who put pronouns in there, you know, bio versus those who don’t. It’s fact our science episode of people who follow the science versus people who don’t. And it’s this division in our society where it’s not just this kind of live and let live, you know, you do you like, whatever you’re gonna believe is cool. And I’ll believe what I’m gonna believe now. It’s this kind of fight all the time. It’s this, you know, fight for 15. Like, oh, you’re oppressing poor people. We need a minimum $15 minimum wage. It’s, just, it’s toxicity, it’s combat, it’s contention, it’s division. And that is central to political change in the Maoist, you know, a stripe of things. It was very much, we need the peasants to have an uprising. We need people to get angry and get out into the streets. And so we need to foment or encourage this division. And so there’s this amazing activist who escaped communist China, the name is, Lily Tang Williams. And, you know, Lily’s story helps us understand Maoism a little bit better and how it impacts us today. And so she’s saying that Mao’s cultural revolution, which was like this, this big revolution that he was leading, sought to destroy the four olds, this old way of doing things, traditional ideas, culture, habits, and customs, traditional ideas, culture, habits, and customs. These were seen as the old way of life that we need to have a revolution from. So this next quote is gonna be a little bit longer. I’m gonna read it and then I’m gonna unpack it a little bit. It says, identity politics. So like how your identity is part of who you are, and we need to have government care about what my identity is. And you need to treat different people based on their identity, right? Identity politics was a hallmark of Maoism dividing people into five red classes and five black classes. The red classes were identified as poor and lower-middle-class peasants, workers, revolutionary soldiers, and revolutionary martyrs. The black classes were landlords, rich farmers and counter-revolutionaries. So people who didn’t support the revolution were bad influencers rightists. So Mao shut down the schools and universities. He urged the youth to hate and hold what were called struggle sessions, to shame the black classes publicly by forcing them to criticize themselves, to confess their crimes, and to denounce themselves. The consequences for defiance, for opposing this was assault, torture, or imprisonment in a reeducation camp, which is just propaganda. Some children were so brainwashed they would even change their last names, cut ties with their families, and publicly denounce and betray their families. So, really quick to unpack that, it’s that Mao was separating society and encouraging the red classes, that the favor you know, group to attack the other side and using political power to attack them, to imprison them, to use propaganda, to torture them and to use the youth to go after the kids and get them to shame their parents and to propagandize or to share propaganda with the young. So they would grow up in believing these ways. So, Brittany, we don’t see any of this playing out in America today, right? Totally.

Brittany: Oh, I wish. But, the whole idea of wokism, you know, it’s, dividing people. It’s telling people, don’t talk to your parents if they don’t agree with you 100%. And start these political arguments over your holiday dinners because you need to shame your parents if they don’t believe in, you know, what we call post-modernism, which is like a rejection of tradition, which is just what, Lily said that was happening in China. And, you know, they want to dismantle and take apart everything that Western civilization like our American founding and, you know, the good version of liberalism. All these things that it created. And we saw people tearing down statues, you know, last summer. And I’m not saying every founding father was a good person, you know, some of them did hold slaves, but they’re taking down the statues as actually, them trying to denounce tradition. They’re saying, we know best. These people didn’t have any wisdom for us. And like Lily said, you know, it’s, that’s what Maoism did. It tried to take away tradition and install it with something new. So I think we’re seeing it everywhere.

Connor: I think we are too. And I think we need to be very, very cautious. You have people who have you know, fled China, or even other countries like North Korea, and they give warnings to Americans. Like, I’m seeing the same thing in America that we had, you know, happening during the revolution in China, right? The cultural revolution. You need to be careful, you need to, and of course, everyone here’s like, oh no, we’re different. You know, it’s like, well, wait a minute, it’s happened before it can happen again. We need to be on guard here in our, whether you live in America, obviously, we have many podcast listeners who live elsewhere. And so we have to be on guard for these things and make sure that we do not entertain these ideas, that we recognize them for what they are. Guys, check out the resources on the show notes page This is an important topic. These isms are critical. If we’re gonna understand what we believe, we need to understand what other beliefs and ideas are out there. So make sure to take the time to study, listen to some of our other ISM episodes, and make sure you’re subscribed. Brittany, as always, thank you. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.