PROGRAMMING ALERT: On Sunday, March 1 at 10 p.m. and on Monday, March 2 at 1 a.m. ET, Fox News will air "The Unauthorized History of Socialism," hosted by Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who traced the history of socialism from its first failed experiment in America to the collapse of the Soviet Union, to its apparent revival today. The full six-part series is available exclusively on Fox Nation.
As Russian General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to rescue the failing United Soviet Socialist Republic in the late 1980s, in China the concept of socialism was being radically redefined, and it took a group of simple Chinese farmers to show millions of their countrymen the way.
"Deng Xiaoping said his reforms were creating socialism with Chinese characteristics," Fox News anchor Bret Baier narrates in the new six-part Fox Nation series, "The Unauthorized History of Socialism."
"Many observers thought it looked more like capitalism," Baier continued. "Whatever it was, it was changing the face of China."
China had just emerged from one of the most devastating periods in its history.
Deng's predessor, Mao Zedong, had implemented an economic experiment called the Great Leap Forward, which attempted to remake China's ancient agrarian society country into a communist uptopia.
Private farmers were forced to work in collectives and yields plummeted. It is estimated that the Great Leap Forward's policies led to the deaths of 30 million to 40 million Chinese peasants, many from starvation.
After Mao's death in 1976, Deng rose to power and expressed a new openess to reforming their failing socialist system.
"In 1978, 18 families in China's Wei Province made a secret pact to divded their collective farm into individual plots," Baier said. "They would work independently and each family could keep whatever profits they earned. If any of them got arrested, the others promised to care for their children."
"When Deng heard about this from one of his colleagues, who was the governor of the province where it began, he said, 'Don't stop that.' He said, 'Let's see how it works out.'" said Merle Goldman, author "Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China."
"When this governor then reported that incomes were increasing and harvesters were doubling, then Deng said, 'OK, this is the way to go.' And so they made this a policy. By the early 1980s," Goldman continued. "By 1982, this was the policy in the whole country. Every single commune was decollectivised."
The idea of capitalist enterprise unleashed pent-up energy in China that started a process that would propel the country out of widespread poverty into modernity.
"1984 marked the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China," Baier said. "According to the World Bank, China's economic growth had now reached 10 percent per year. It would remain there for more than a decade."
"But China was still ruled by communists," Baier continued. "Beneath the rising tide of economic and personal freedom, the political system remained largely unchanged."
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